Tax-funded abortion coverage: Who’s being warned?

The Associated Press’ Philip Elliott, writing about the massive health care overhaul that is lagging in support as it becomes clear that it is massively expensive as well  as devious in its intentions, mischaracterizes a statement by New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg on the effect of abortion services in the legislation:

Republicans paint Obama’s proposals as a massive tax that would leave small businesses wounded, employers shifting away from private plans toward a government-based system, and workers without coverage. Some GOP members have also cautioned that the legislation could fund abortions, a fear crucial to the social conservatives who hold sway inside the Republican Party and a proposition Orszag would not rule out.

A key Republican, however, warned his party not to scuttle health care legislation over abortion.

“No matter what your views are on abortion, you shouldn’t ask people to use their tax dollars if they think that abortion is taking a life,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. “I would hate to see the health care debate go down over that issue. … Hopefully we won’t get ourselves wrapped around the wheel of abortion in this debate.”

Is Gregg really warning Republicans when he says “you shouldn’t ask people to use their tax dollars if they think that abortion is taking a life”? I would say that it is a warning to Democrats not to attach what is most definitely a poison pill to what is already a bloated bill. The fact that Elliott makes this quote a warning to Republicans is yet another case of either shoddy writing by the AP or an attempt to create confusion. I would say the case is the latter since it’s not just “some GOP members” who are saying that the legislation could fund abortions. This is an actual amendment that was voted on and attached to the legislation.

Perhaps this story will be edited at some point to clear up that portion, at least. Until then, the Associated Press seems content to throw out a story that misleads on a serious matter. Once again, it’s a bad job by the AP.

Inflicting pleasure: Perhaps Huxley was right?

From the foreward of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, where he suggests that Aldous Huxley may have had a better idea of what the future held than George Orwell did in his classic 1984:

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’sBrave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

Drawings by Stuart McMillen, Recombinant Records

 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust [1] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. — Matthew 6:19-20

 

HT: Justin Taylor

Iran blocks access to Facebook in run-up to June elections

Put this in the keeping-up-with-the-times category. Repressed countries like Iran can’t let technology get away from them. By all means, let’s “dialogue.” From the BBC America:

 

Facebook
Facebook says it is investigating reports of the ban

Iran’s government has blocked access to social networking site Facebook ahead of June’s presidential elections, according to Iran’s ILNA news agency.

ILNA suggested the move was aimed at stopping supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi from using the site for his campaign.

Facebook, which claims to have 175m users worldwide, expressed its disappointment over the reported ban.

So far there has been no comment from the authorities in Tehran.

‘Access not possible’

“Access to the Facebook site was prohibited several days ahead of the presidential elections,” ILNA reported.

 

Mousavi registers at the interior ministry in Tehran
Mr Mousavi was Iran’s prime minister when the post was abolished in 1989

It said that “according to certain Internet surfers, the site was banned because supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi were using Facebook to better disseminate the candidate’s positions”.

CNN staff in Tehran reported that people attempting to visit the site received a message in Farsi that said: “Access to this site is not possible.”

Facebook expressed disappointment that its site was apparently blocked in Iran “at a time when voters are turning to the Internet as a source of information about election candidates and their positions”.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, is seen as one of the leading challengers to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 12 June elections.

His page on Facebook has more than 5,000 supporters.

 

The Kindle DX is here. Can it save newspapers?

kindledxAmazon today announced the new 9.7-inch Kindle DX, along with deals from textbook and newspaper publishers. The new e-reader is priced at $489 and will be shipped this summer.

What’s the big deal? According to MacRumors:

The Kindle DX, now available for pre-order at a price of $489 for shipment this summer, contains a 9.7″ screen and is being positioned as a device for reading documents such as newspapers, textbooks, and research journal articles whose formats have not worked ideally with the smaller 6″ screen of the current Kindle 2 model.
The Kindle DX features a built-in accelerometer that allows for auto-rotation of content between portrait and landscape orientations, and increased storage over the Kindle 2 of 3.3 GB, which provides space for up to 3,500 books periodicals, and documents. Like the Kindle 2, which will remain available at its current price of $359, the Kindle DX offers free 3G access through Sprint’s network to allow downloading of content on the go. Native PDF support is also included.
The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Washington Post are all planning to offer long-term subscriptions for Kindle newspaper editions at discounted prices.

The Kindle DX is being positioned as a device for reading documents such as newspapers, textbooks, and research journal articles whose formats have not worked ideally with the smaller 6″ screen of the current Kindle 2 model.

The Kindle DX features a built-in accelerometer that allows for auto-rotation of content between portrait and landscape orientations, and increased storage over the Kindle 2 of 3.3 GB, which provides space for up to 3,500 books periodicals, and documents. Like the Kindle 2, which will remain available at its current price of $359, the Kindle DX offers free 3G access through Sprint’s network to allow downloading of content on the go. Native PDF support is also included.

The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Washington Post are all planning to offer long-term subscriptions for Kindle newspaper editions at discounted prices.

Hysteria about torture answered soberly

Porter Goss, who served as director of the CIA from September 2004 to May 2006 and was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 1997 to 2004, wrote Saturday in the Washington Post about the current political climate concerning perceived torture by U.S. interrogators dealing with al-Qaeda suspects:

A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation’s intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:

  •  The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.                              
  •  On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed “memorandums for the record” suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately — to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president’s national security adviser — and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted. And shifted they have.

Related to that, in the video below, Liz Cheney absolutely destroys MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell as O’Donnell tries to feed more slop about the whole torture debate. Watch as Cheney uses sound argument to head off hysterical bluster.

Liz Cheney
Click on image to view video

New York Times: In the tank for Obama

From a story by the Philadelphia Bulletin:

A lawyer involved with legal action against Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 The New York Times had killed a story in October that would have shown a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign because it would have been a “a game changer.”

It’s no surprise, really, but you can read the story here.

That’s not the way it is: How the media misleads on stem cell research

Josh Brahm, who works with Right to Life of Central California, has written a devastating analysis of 9 Things The Media Messed Up About the Obama Stem Cell Story. While this is an issue we’ve visited here, it is educational to see names named and sources cited to clearly demonstrate what we’re talking about. As I’ve said before, there is either a laziness or a willful intention to deceive by media members that is going on with the issue of stem cell research. While some of the media offenders in Josh’s analysis are in his immediate area in California, there are still plenty of national news media organizations who are guilty of misreporting the issue.

I would highly recommend not only reading Josh’s excellent work yourself but helping those around you understand it better as well. The media, for the most part, is not helping in this matter and, in fact, is making it worse by doing shoddy work.

Time Magazine notices: There’s something about those Calvinists

Time Magazine lists Calvinism — or rather, the “New Calvinism,” as it calls it — as one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World Now. It comes in at No. 3:

Calvinism is back, and not just musically. John Calvin’s 16th century reply to medieval Catholicism’s buy-your-way-out-of-purgatory excesses is Evangelicalism’s latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination’s logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time’s dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision.

Read the rest here.

Update: The AP is the one playing politics on stem cell research

So, yesterday I posted about a story from two Associated Press reporters, Ben Feller and Lauran Neergaard, who couldn’t find anyone to quote about their objections to President Obama reversing Bush policy to restrict funding for embryonic stem cell research. What did they do? Find a scientist to better frame the debate? Nah.

Instead, they updated their story with a quote from Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council. Oh, wait, that’s the conservative Family Research Council:

“Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for experiments that require the destruction of human life,” said Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council. “President Obama’s policy change is especially troubling given the significant adult stem cell advances that are being used to treat patients now without harming or destroying human embryos.”

After a cursory summary of the potential of adult stem cell research over the last eight years the article veers back to the left and states that scientists, not politics should judge. OK, who just inserted politics into this story? Anyone? Yes, that would be reporters Ben Feller and Lauran Neergaard (and, most likely, the anonymous editors) of the not-conservative Associated Press.

Now, to be fair, that quotation from Perkins might have been in the original story but was cut by an editor. But I’m going to say this anyway. Listen closely , AP: There are plenty of scientists (not politians or activists) who I’m sure would like to talk about their research with adult stem cells and give you balanced feedback about this. If you want to do your politics story and talk to people like Tony Perkins — who does have a point — then do it in another story with activists who are pro-embryonic stem cell research. And, if you really did talk and quote adult stem cell research scientists and then cut it, then shame on you.

But to frame this as a science-vs.-politics story is completely manipulative on your part. Again, your story (even updated) is still cheerleading.