When Does Life Begin?

Reposted here from the FTL forum.


Always, when discussing Abortion (as I have a few times) the question of whether an abortion is murder or not revolves around when life begins; after all, a civilization does not condone murder of the innocent and still remain a civilization in anything but name. So inevitably, the concerned individual asks these questions of himself. Does life begin at conception? (the typical religious answer) When the brain shows activity complex enough to signal consciousness? When the child is born? When the individual develops? (2 or 3 years of age) When does life begin?

How about the missing option? That life has no beginning point. Living tissues from the parents combine to make a living creature that grows in independence until one day it borrows the car keys and crashes the family car, moves out on it’s own and doesn’t call except when it needs something, and eventually confines you to an old-folks home. C’est la vie.

Well, if life doesn’t have a hard and fast beginning point (as the argument usually evolves) when does interrupting the process of growth constitute muder? That is a tricky question. I think we can afford limited legal protection of the fetus sometime in the third trimester, because that is when limited consciousness occurs.

A parent who kills their own child under a certain age (2 or 3) should not be guilty of murder in the normal sense. Psychologically, they are killing a part of themselves, and this changes the crime from the normal homicide to something else. Sterilization of those types of people should be a punishment option. People who kill children should not have more children that they can then also abuse.

A person is entitled to be free from aggression against his or her life.

“Free from aggression” is a dangerous phrase. What about punishment? Time-out? Every method for modifying behavior at a parents disposal can and will be seen as aggression by the child. I know that you mean aggression in a life or death sense, but the best of intentions can be perverted to the worst of uses.

Children remain emotionally and mentally attached to their parents long past the point when they can realistically be called children. (I really hate it when people refer to 16-18 year olds as ‘children’. They aren’t. In the same sense, I know plenty of 20 year olds who don’t deserve the label ‘adult’. Hence the phrase…) Young adults should be able to declare themselves emancipated when they deem that the time has arrived. Until that point they remain tied to their parents in some form, and so cannot be “Free from aggression” in the normal child rearing sense.

Although you may argue that the woman has the right to rescind her consent to carry the baby, once the fetus has reached the level of consciousness required to qualify as a person, then the child’s rights must also be considered.

In a theoretical/legal sense, perhaps. Realistically, I have to fall back on the “How do you protect children from their own parents” point that always seems to get overlooked. Unless you are willing to separate parent and child forcefully, you really can’t. Someone else mentioned an outreach program designed to intervene in late term unwanted pregnancy cases. A program designed to reimburse the mother-to-be for agreeing to carry the child to term and then adopt it out.

…That sounds like a good solution on the surface. I would still object to labeling a woman who had a late term abortion (or the doctor who performed it) a ‘murderer’. There are plenty of medically valid reasons why a pregnancy cannot be carried full term; reasons that might not be detectable until late in the pregnancy. If you have to make a choice, better to save one life than loose both.

Who’s a Libertarian?

This is a post I circulated concerning the speaker at the 2004 Libertarian convention. This was the beginning of my dissatisfaction with sharing air with Anarchists.


The tempest in a teapot concerning Boortz speaking at the National Conference isn’t about Boortz; It isn’t even about war vs. antiwar. If you go back and read all of T.L. Knapp’s “Life of the Party” series, it becomes plainly clear that the issue goes much deeper than that. It’s why the Boot Boortz camp have the audacity to suggest that those in agreement with Boortz should …be shown the door.

The issue ladies and gentlemen is this: Is government necessary or not? Does the structure we call government serve a legitimate function in a truly libertarian society; or is each individual capable of governing themselves sufficiently to render government as we know it useless? Let me explain why this is what is being argued about.

Libertarians don’t agree on whether or not government should exist. On the one hand you have those who believe that government is not necessary, and they offer suggestions for its eventual replacement by voluntary structures. Generally those that offer these types of arguments are known as anarchists. On the other hand you have objectivists and others who believe that government serves a vital, albeit limited function, and it should be maintained in some minimal fashion so as to preserve liberty. The label that has been generally applied to these types is minarchist. Not everyone accepts the above labels, and the current LP membership includes views, like those of Constitutionalists, that don’t fit in either camp.

The anarchist/minarchist schism has existed within the party nearly since its inception. There have been various attempts to settle disputes between the factions, none of them very successful. The most successful was the Dallas Accord in which the libertarians of the time agreed that they would not discuss whether or not government was necessary, and focus on the more important issue of personal liberty. The agreement has worked until recently.

What’s changed? 9/11, that’s what has changed. The foreign policy blunders that the federal government has committed for the last hundred years have come home to roost with a vengeance. The ‘terrorists’ have declared war on us, and we are under threat. We are now faced with a situation that must be dealt with, and all of the effective options involve the use of government power. The problem is this: If you acknowledge that government has a reason to exist, then that reason will most likely include defensive measures designed to secure us from the aggressive actions of others. No matter how you slice it, 9/11 comes under “attacks against the territory of the United States”, and we have the obligation to make sure that any more threats of that type are dealt with, and the guilty parties that conspired to conduct the attacks are hunted down and exterminated.

To further extend the logic chain, one can extrapolate several strategic reasons for a large ground force in the area that the attackers called home (the Middle East) and the benefit of soundly defeating the ‘biggest bully on the block’. Whether you agree with the strategy or not, it makes sense from a military standpoint… If you acknowledge that government has a reason to exist.

However, if you don’t believe that government should exist, then any action of the government is damnable from the outset; and any action which benefits the government directly (such as a war) is the worst kind of evil imaginable, and therefore must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

…and that ladies and gentlemen is why the disagreement over Boortz speaking has taken on a life of its own. He has had the audacity to apply logic to the situation and determine from his own perspective that the threat posed by the ‘terrorists’ is sufficient to require actions against other countries. …and to further determine that the largest most vocal segment of the antiwar movement are also anti-american. To add insult to injury he speaks his mind about his beliefs to an audience of thousands, and categorizes himself a libertarian. As others have pointed out, on every other issue other than the war, Boortz is solidly libertarian. But because of this one issue, his belief that government has a reason to exist, he can’t be a libertarian.

Now the anarchists are regretting ever letting non-anarchists into their club; and some of them would like to institute a purity test so that the membership can be limited to those who profess correct beliefs. To hell with them. This is the reason why everyone who has an interest in furthering the LP needs to go to the convention and actively participate in the sessions. The core of the party has been controlled by too few for too long. If we are going to succeed in changing the policies of the current government, we are going to have to include more people, and gain influence. You don’t do that by kicking out those you disagree with.

For my part, I wouldn’t mind if they asked Rush Limbaugh to speak at the convention. It might make for some interesting conversation. It doesn’t even offend me when Bill Maher calls himself a ‘libertarian’. He just makes himself look like a fool to those who know better. To take exception to Neal Boortz speaking at the convention is more than a waste of time; it is the equivalent of picking the scab off of a festering sore. It will only delay the time it takes for the underlying disagreements to recede into the background where they belong.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

Charles Darwin

9-11 Truth & Pyromaniacs in the Reichstag

Stepping back from the previous posts on the subject of 9-11 (well, other than the rebuild ’em post, that is. The effort to get the twin towers rebuilt may or may not be going anywhere, but it remains the right thing to do) The latest alert from Downsize DC says it all:

Here is the truth, with a little “t,” about 9-11: It was a day of massive government failure. No one in government, and no institution of the government, was held accountable, or paid any price, for this failure. The federal government, and the people who run it, were actually rewarded for their failure on 9-11, instead of being held accountable.

…And most importantly:

It makes zero sense that the Bush administration would have been capable of such a massive crime, but incapable, a few months later, of planting WMD’s in Iraq. On this basis alone, most of the 9-11 conspiracy theories are non-starters.

read more | digg story

Which sums up the argument against the popular conspiracy theories quite nicely, while at the same time pointing out the governments possible/probable duplicity in allowing the attacks to occur in the first place.

Day of Deceit outlines, in various forms, how the Pearl Harbor attacks were allowed to occur despite several warning signs that should have been evident; and that the attacks were even desired and encouraged, leaving the pacific fleet out as bait for the attacks, while FDR and the Naval department put it’s 8 point plan into action, luring the Japanese into committing the aggression so that we could enter the war with public support. Whether or not you buy into all of the claims in the book, these hard facts are beyond dispute.

Why then is it so hard to believe that something similar occurred on 9-11?

Which brings me to the film that I should have promoted when I instead blogged on the subject of Loose Change.

9-11 Press for Truth. I have yet to see the entire film, but if the trailer is truly an example of the film’s content, then it’s something I want to see, and most Americans need to see.

read more | digg story

This subject dovetails nicely with the latest offering from Dan Carlin. If Pearl Harbor lead the way for our entry into WWII, then 9-11 leads directly to Bush granting himself near dictatorial powers in the event of an emergency, as was discussed in Dan Carlin’s podcast.

From WorldnetDaily:

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.
The “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive,” with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.
That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for “National Essential Functions” of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president’s directives in the event of a national emergency.

The directive loosely defines “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”


Which means the sitting president can declare an emergency pretty much anytime he wants.

Don’t hold your breath, because this isn’t the end of the problem. The next terrorist attack is just around the corner (all the pundits agree on this fact) and the next terrorist attack will most likely result in the end of the US as we know it, although imperial Washington may continue stumbling along for quite some time afterwards.

At what point does freedom cease to exist? How long can we continue to insist that we are a ‘free people’, when every day some other limitation on our freedoms is established by a government that only “wants to keep us safe”?

Time to fall back on that other Franklin quote about Security and Freedom. I’m sure you’ve heard it.


I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  If you didn’t come here from this post, you probably should go check that one out before drawing any conclusions. Resisting the urge to press delete on this entire post. The stupidity.  It hurts.

June 23rd Serenity Screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, Drafthouse closing that week

The link for the event:
http://austin.cantstoptheserenity.com/

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007
Alamo Drafthouse Downtown
Time and Special Guests TBA
Schedule of Events TBA

Can’t Stop the Serenity 2006 raised over $65,000 for Equality Now, and we are looking to raise $100,000 in 2007!

For more information about the screening, visit our Theatre page (coming soon). We are in need of volunteers. See our Get Involved! page, as well as our News section below to keep apprised of our volunteer opportunties and descriptions. We are also looking for individuals and businesses to donate items to be used for our raffle and silent auctions. Based on donations and sponsorships, we will try to offer door prizes. More information about that will be available in our News and Theatre section.

Long on talk, very short on pertinent information (such as availability of tickets)

The calendar for the theatre holding the event:
http://www.originalalamo.com/Calendar.aspx?l=2

Which does not (at this writing) have any events for the month of June at the Drafthouse Downtown.

As a side note, This event will occur 4 days prior to the closing of the Downtown Alamo Drafthouse, the “Original Alamo”. It will be reopening on 6th street in the newly remodeled Ritz theatre. http://originalalamo.blogspot.com/2007/04/its-official-final-day-at-alamo-is-june.html

I’ve never been fond of the downtown location for the Drafthouse, and I think the Ritz will be a nice step up for them. On the other hand, the Drafthouse has been at it’s current location for 10 years now, so it’s closing will be a bit of an event. One that I’m also hoping to attend.

It’s at this point in the post that I’d like to mention that Tim League completely stole this whole “restaurant in a theatre” idea from me, and the move to the Ritz proves it. It was at an office party held in the building that was/will be the Ritz, about 17 years ago, that I first conceived of the idea.

Three beers down, playing pool with a few co-workers, I look up and notice that the ‘screenwall’ of the former theatre dominates the room, screaming for something to be shown on it. And it suddenly hit me, why not? Why not serve food and drinks, maybe even play pool, while watching a film?

The difference between Tim and I is, I just talked about it, he went out and did it.
Congrats on 10 years Tim. Here’s hoping for 10 more that are just as successful.


Still not much information on the Can’t Stop the Serenity page; however, the event is now up at Alamo Drafthouse downtown (if you look closely at the date on the calendar, you’ll notice it’s only one of three tributes to Joss on that day. Seems it’s his birthday or something…) The Last Night at the Alamo event is also posted.

Ron Paul Wins MSNBC Debate Poll

Not even MSNBC is bothering to report this (the only mainstream news outlet that is reporting it appears to be the The Chattanoogan) But Ron Paul won the straw poll following the MSNBC debate.

MSNBC is, in fact, interpreting their results to tell us that Romney “won”. Why are they intentionally mis-representing their own results?


Ron Paul Wins MSNBC Debate Poll

Ron Paul steps into national spotlight

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2007

ARLINGTON, VA – Congressman Ron Paul finished first in the MSNBC poll following the GOP primary debate last night held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. Dr. Paul received 43 percent, beating the second-place finisher by five points, and crushing the rest of the field.

“Last night, Americans met Ron Paul and loved what they heard,” said Ron Paul 2008 campaign chairman Kent Snyder. “Dr. Paul’s message of freedom and limited government resonates with Republicans hungry for a return to their party’s core values.”

“Ron Paul is the only true conservative in the GOP race. Americans saw that last night,” continued Snyder. “The campaign looks forward to further debates and opportunities so even more Americans will discover Dr. Paul’s message of freedom, peace and prosperity.”

-30-


We need Dr. Paul as the Republican nominee for president.

…And if you missed his performance on MSNBC the other night, here is reprise of his portion, as well as some other highlights:

Ron Paul in Debate at Reagan Library (May ’07)

Mea culpa review 2019. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects. Scare quotes. Dead giveaway for the depth of libertarian delusion I was under. Didn’t even blink at the fact that Ron Paul was a racist and a misogynist. Just glossed right over those facts.

Loyalty Day

May first has been National Loyalty Day since 1921. One wouldn’t know this by observation, I didn’t see one extra flag on display today, even though displaying the flag is the encouraged method of observing the day.

I didn’t even bother to display my flag, something I generally look for excuses to do. Of course, I don’t display the Stars and Stripes, but instead declare my allegiance to the original concepts behind the formation of the American union. I fly the Gadsden flag, and declare my intentions to be independent with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me”. I have always found the story behind the evolution of the flag to be inspirational.

On the other end of the spectrum, the word loyalty has a chilling effect when I think about it these days. I seem to hear it most from nationalists calling for the average citizen to show their allegiance to their gov’t, right or wrong. Like children mouthing the pledge every morning, but having no understanding of the meaning behind the words of the pledge (James Clavell‘s The Children’s Story paints a pretty clear picture of just how frightening this can be) calling for loyalty without question or reason destroys whatever value the concept of loyalty might contain.

Loyalty, like respect, has to be earned; and once betrayed, is nearly impossible to regain. The sitting president can sign a proclamation every year calling for displays of loyalty to the U.S. government, and it will mean nothing in the long run if he continues to betray the trust of the people of the United States, as far too many of his predecessors have also done.

Total Recall: Alzheimer’s-like Mice Regain Memory

“Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists report the successful restoration of memory in mice”   

Scientific American

Good news for any of us who have watched loved ones turn into strangers in recent years, while suffering from this disease. Here’s hoping that a therapy can be developed for humans out of this research.

Special needs and Government Schools

One of the arguments in favor of government schools that I frequently hear is how the private schools cannot handle the requirements of special needs children, and how only the government funding of schools allows for the proper education of these children.

I happen to know that this is a fabrication. I have watched a close friend engage in the endlessly frustrating task of trying to find a school, any school, which can meet the requirements of educating her special needs child. The charter schools were simply disappointing, because they have so far failed to deliver on their promises of being able to teach her child. At least, with the charter schools, it was a simple matter to find another charter that might do the job better.

The government school (frequently mislabeled as public school) was a complete disaster by comparison. After taking months preparing an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for her son, which she was involved with to such a large extent that she even attended school classes with him in order to help guide his progress; the school decided they couldn’t educate him the first day that they were left alone with him, and called the police to have him arrested (he’s 10) for leaving his classroom.

What the police would have done is anybodies guess, but the crisis was averted by her timely arrival and permanent removal of her son from the only available school system in her area.


Enter Texas SB 1000, which will allow the parents of children with autism to receive vouchers so that they can seek an education for their children outside the restrictions of the government run system. She’s understandably interested in this bill’s passage. So am I, but for different reasons.

I have paid for private school for my children, and found charter schools for them when I could no longer afford private school. The government school system is so lackluster that I wouldn’t subject even normal children to it, much less one whose needs are more demanding than others. I have supported vouchers for Texas in the past, and I will do it again in the future. I think that providing vouchers to children with Autism is an excellent test, a chance to prove how much better an open market can deal with the requirements of educating the children of Texas.

Naturally, the supporters of state schooling are foursquare against this proposal, because they understand the threat that vouchers pose to their ill-performing monopoly. They are so frightened by this that they would do anything to defeat the proposal.


Enter the former mayor of Austin, Kirk Watson. He’s moved up in the world, taking over the designated Democrat representative seat in the State Senate, replacing the drunken Gonzalo Barrientos as the senate representative for the Austin area.

Far from being the friend of business that he has been credited with being, Watson has proven himself to be a pretty predictably average mercantilist or corporatist, handing out favors to large corporations and interest groups while mayor of Austin, and stifling small businesses and individuals with ill-founded proposals, such as the recent toll road proposals.

Watson is, also predictably, against vouchers. I’ll let him speak for himself:

Subject: Autism Services Accessibility
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 11:58:46 -0500
From: Senator Kirk Watson

Dear Mr. Steele:

Thank you for your letter regarding your support of Senate Bill 1000, relating to the use of public money for private school tuition for children with autism. I appreciate you sharing your views with me.
I am committed to ensuring that we have an adequate and equitable funding structure for public education. The issue of vouchers has always been a controversial one, and I believe that we must carefully consider the options available for public school funding before we come to any decision regarding alternative education systems. We need to find ways to strengthen public schools and not weaken them by draining them of money and students.
I support providing teachers and teacher’s aides with up-to-date information and training on programs and best practices on educating students with disabilities. I also support keeping parents well-informed on and involved in their child’s education.
To that end, I have filed several bills to improve public school services to children with disabilities.
  • Senate Bill 1490, which requires the Texas Education Agency to update the Guide to the Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) Process to ensure that teachers have current information on the process by which an individualized education program (IEP) is developed for a student in a special education program and the rights and responsibilities of a parent concerning the process;
  • Senate Bill 1491, which permits the Texas Education Commissioner to make grants, consisting primarily of federal funds, to school districts to cover the high cost of educating students with disabilities;
  • Senate Bill 1625, which allows a teacher to be more involved in the development and implementation of a child’s IEP and to request any necessary training to ensure the child’s needs are met; and
  • Senate Bill 1686, which allows parents and teachers to discuss and consider teacher qualifications and the need for teacher training with the ARD committee for their school. This committee reviews the special education programs and personnel for each school and helps establish the individual education program for each student who requires special education.
I appreciate that you took time to contact my office. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance to you in the future.
Sincerely,
Kirk Watson

Personally, I don’t think he’s that sincere. If he was sincere, he might have taken the time to remember a few facts before replying to my letter with his standard boilerplate response.

Facts like these:

The public school system already costs (at least) twice as much as private school, where teachers are selected by parents to teach exactly what and how the parents want. “Draining the school of students and funds” in that light yields a net gain to the Texas taxpayer, and a benefit to the children of Texas by allowing them to attend schools of their choice rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all, centralized, micro managed, antiquated system.

Looked at from another perspective, adding another facet to the already over-burdened bureaucracy in order to deal with special needs children simply adds an even greater expense to a government school system that is already cash strapped and in need of re-organization. Allowing children with special education needs to leave the government school system assures that these children will get the education they need without exacting a greater cost on a system that is already stressed to the breaking point.

Or these:

Four bills introduced with the best intentions at heart, I’m sure. All of which will do exactly what I predict, increase the cost of administrating the schools by adding another facet to the already overly complex state school requirements. They will increase the cost of training teachers to meet every eventuality, rather than allowing them to specialize in the types of children they wish to teach.

Four bills, all of whose goals could be met, simply by allowing the parents to take their children and their money out of the system. Which is what the one bill, SB1000 will do.

Why don’t we do what the parents of children with Autism are asking us to do? Let their children out of the system. It’s the smart thing to do, for so many different reasons.