Abortion of Common Sense in 2008

This past presidential election seems to have left many trying to appease their conscious. The largest group seems to be prolifers who voted for Obama. These people tended to declare themselves prolife and yet in the same sentence managed to say that politics, especially this election would not really affect that issue. Their reasoning was, we had a Republican president for eight years and still have abortion.

Issues of policy are not easily overturned. But take time based on their legislative and case history. Abortion will require steps to change and overturn. It is easier to expand than restrict. Before voting, people need to inform themselves about the candidate, and the positions of the parties, especially when they claim to believe in, or an issue is important to them. One should not vote because of the suave appeal of the candidate, history has repeatedly shown where that leads.

To those who believed Bush did not have any effect on the abortion issue, and that Obama was not the most prochoice politician we have seen to date, pay attention to the coming years. Some of Bush’s policies on abortion were blasted across the news during his presidency. Bush passed and ordered numerous measures to curtail abortion.

In fact, he started within days of getting into office. One of the first things he did as president was to stop international funding for abortions. Bush did so through an executive order, in which he stated, “It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad.” Obama however, has twice voted against bills prohibiting tax funding to be used to fund abortions.

Within the same year, he issued another executive order restricting federal funding on embryonic stem cell research. (One should note he did not forbid such research. For those supporting such measure it is still open to public funding…). Bush issued two vetoes in the previous years to reject legislation that would ease restrictions on the funding. Obama has said he will reverse such a decision. What is to prevent creating fetuses merely for their stem cells? Abortion could thereby be encouraged and justified because it provides the needed fetuses.

Bush supported the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. If a baby is born alive it is given the legal rights of a human under federal law. This is regardless of what stage they were born in or if the birth occurred during an abortion. The bill was to provide medical treatment for babies who survived premature inducement for the purpose of abortion, and for babies (not those to be aborted) who were born prematurely. Only 15 members of the house opposed, and it unanimously passed in the senate. NARAL Pro-Choice American did not even oppose the bill. During this same time, Obama was a state senator, and a similar bill came forward on the state level. Obama refused to support such legislation, his reasoning was he did not want to admit that such babies were people. Because if these babies, which were fully born and outside of the womb, where considered people, they would be protected by the Constitution under the 14th amendment.

The bill came before the Judiciary Committee, on which Obama was a member. The first time he voted present and the second no. The bill was then sent to the senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, which Obama chaired and he never called the bill up for a vote. Obama explained in 2001, “It would essentially bar abortions because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this was a child then this would be an anti-abortion statute.” However, this bill just like the federal one did nothing to overturn or even oppose Roe. Obama (along with numerous others) had been assured of, but still continued to use it as an excuse to oppose the bill and later to justify his opposition.

What Bush is best known for is the partial birth abortion ban. This was, and still is, a very controversial and contested issue in the media. It was immediately contested in various state courts, the main one in Nebraska. But in April 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the ban. The bill stops doctors from performing abortions on second and third trimester fetuses. The procedure this late in the pregnancy involves delivering everything but part of the fetus (usually the head), and at that point the horrid act is performed. Such a bill had been raised by the Republicans twice during the Clinton years but twice he vetoed it. Once the bill was finally passed under Bush the fight was far from over. Bush however, was not going to bow down to the courts and let liberals once again have their way. He stated, “the facts about partial-birth abortion are troubling and tragic and no lawyer’s brief can make them see otherwise. The executive branch will vigorously defend this law by any who would try to overturn it in the courts.” Finally they were victorious, but the fight is far from over.

Given Obama’s record measures to overturn will most likely be taken during the Obama years, and similar cases could overturn or modify this decision since the members of the Court are likely to change. Michelle Obama even sent out a letter in 2004, explaining how partial birth abortion was an important medical procedure and needs to be protected. When the partial birth abortion ban was up in the Illinois Senate he voted present twice.

Bush also signed the Unborn Victim’s of Violence Act of 2004. The bill is also known as Laci and Conner’s Law, after Laci Peterson and her unborn son. The bill lays out 60 federal crimes in which an unborn child can be considered a legal victim. An example was Scott Peterson, he was charged with double homicide, Laci and her unborn son. At its signing ceremony Bush said, “Any time an expectant mother is a victim of violence, two lives are in the balance, each deserving protection, and each deserving justice. If the crime is murder and the unborn child’s life ends, justice demands a full accounting under the law.”

Bush also appointed judges to the various courts that would uphold these positions, and largely those of his party. The Supreme Court appointments were a fierce battle in Congress because the democrat senators fight to keep anyone, no matter how qualified, off of the bench who may, even slightly, lean to the prolife side.

For those who used Bush’s abortion record to justify voting for Obama, I challenge you to look at what Bush accomplished and Obama’s opinion on these policies (most he has said he will reverse). There are reasons he was considered the most liberal member of the senate.

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40 Years After His Death Did America Finally Elect Norman Thomas?

Forty years after his death he would never live to see the possibility of what would now seem like his almost prophetic words come to fruition.
The name Norman Thomas perhaps isn’t familiar to most Americans, outside of perhaps the ACLU, to which he founded the predecessor to, even to people in New York, who now have at least a school named after him or those attending Princeton, who have a library named after him. The six time candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, picking up where Eugene Debs left off at the time of his death in 1926, Thomas would defiantly proclaim, as it looked more and more like his dreams of a Socialist America would not be reached within his lifetime, “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.”

Not even the New Deal under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which greatly expanded the role of the Federal Government, or the Great Society under President Lyndon Johnson would seem to go far enough for the New York Socialist, even if they were steps in the right direction.

Yesterday though, it would seem that there quite possibly has been a flying leap in towards the future that Thomas dreamed of as, for the first time in history, the American people willingly elected a president who has openly spoke about the need for wealth redistribution.

With over 300 electoral college votes, even taking Virginia, the first time a Democrat has been capable of doing that in 44 year, Illinois Senator Barack Obama beat out Republican challenger Arizona Senator John McCain to end the eight year Diaspora that has kept the White House just out of the reach of his party. Rushing to begin the transitional process to ensure that there is an easy shift in power when he assumes office in January, the wild speculation has turned to what the Obama cabinet is going to look.

But perhaps the better question would be what will this Obama Presidency look like?

Though he compared himself to another New York Politician at least at one point during the Presidential Campaign, the late, great Al Smith, the former Governor and 1924 and 1928 Democratic Candidate for the White House, Senator Obama seems more prone, more likely, to take a page from Thomas’ book.
 

 

Barely even the President-Elect now for 24 hours it’s hard to necessarily say what will happen, especially if experience is used as the lamp to enlighten Americans. A flash in the pan United States Senator the people of Illinois elected an empty seat to the chamber four years ago when they trusted the young State Senator’s promises that he would be a strong voice for them in if they put their trust in him. With no experience, no record, no major legislation or anything of the such, just one speech he gave, he immediately began running for the next big thing, hoping the vetting process wouldn’t catch up on him.

Turns out it never quite did.

With every major story about who he was and what he stood for that contradicted the carefully honed media image put together by his image consultants, Senator Obama brushed by them with little to no question about himself any deeper than what had been crafted for the race. But sparks of the real Obama came out…. A “Spread the Wealth” Democrat with the believe that that wealth must be redistributed to ensure the person behind got their cut from the hard work of those more successful than themselves, whether they worked hard to get it or not…

In other words, under the banner of liberalism, under the name of liberalism, American’s elected a man with a track record of promoting a socialist agenda.

Four years….

Now, with at least four years to go, and control of the House and Senate for at least two of them, there is a distinct possibility that America will embark upon the socialist experiment once dreamed of by Thomas and Debs, brought about in the exact way that Thomas said that it would happen. It gives powerful poignancy to another statement Thomas would make, this time of himself, when referring to what had seemed like the lost cause of socialism in America, “I am not the champion of lost causes, but the champion of causes not yet won.”

There has to be a sincere hope that Senator Obama will do better or offer better than what it seems like he would be prone to, but the sheer level of indignation offered by his campaign during the course of the election towards anyone who seemed to bring these issues up or question his motives has to leave many wondering what is going to happen? Is Senator Obama, now President-Elect Obama going to take this country down a road in the mold of Democratic Socialism in order to try to fulfill the expectations placed on by his supporters?

He is on a tight rope in that sense. On one hand if he doesn’t do what these people believe he will be marked as a traitor and apathy will go up, leaving many of his voters to stay at home on election day in 2012. On the other hand to do it means he will lose any of the so called Obamacans, those Republicans who backed him, and any of the Conservatives who were serenaded by his sirens song.

There, in a very real sense, it isn’t an enviable position to be in, one of those grand paradoxes that seems to come to those who try to be everything to everybody and yet find they are incapable of being any of it to anybody. Then, once all the glitz and glamor is worn off and the honeymoon period is over, there will be many questions raised by those who turned a blind eye to the Junior Senator’s short comings and faults, feeling their direct effect on their lives and the urgency that it breeds.

Hopefully, by then, it won’t be too late.

But then just a few thoughts I suppose…

Do We Really Know Him?

“The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!” It’s a passage from the book of Lamentations, contemplating the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. For their sins would find themselves amidst the ranks of the exiled.
Perhaps it seems a bit of an abstract allusion to apply to the election with just under a week to go, yet, without a doubt there, are those who have pre-determined the fate of this election. The New Mexico Sun has declared Illinois Senator Barack Obama the winner without a ballot being counted and it seems that New York Magazine has their asterix beside their Obama Victory edition already out , other news sources are stating that Republican strategists and the campaign of Arizona Senator John McCain are already ready to concede, aiming their focus on the pending Senate and House elections with there messaging, while others are saying that all that’s left is one last, desperate swing by the GOP Campaign.

The fault for this fall from grace? Much of it they blame on the so called sins of President George W. Bush, forcing the party into a political Diasphora. Even before the Democratic Primary ran its course New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama were eager to paint Senator McCain with that brush in the hopes that the current notions and opinions about the President would be enough to tar and feather the Arizona Senator’s hopes in November.

Of course the problem is that, with even less than a week to go, nothing is determined yet.

Without question, with a tight race ongoing and yet a seemingly constant Obama lead, as narrow or as large as it may be, depending on the poll one would tend to believe, a deep and abiding sense of arrogance has guided these calls and the actions of a great number of supporters for the Illinois Senator. So much so that they have decided the outcome before it ever happened. There isn’t much surprising there though. After all, for the last few months, since Senator Obama finally secured his nomination after that long drawn out primary battle where he was unable to seal the deal until the very last vote was counted, despite the ample opportunities he had, the rant from various supporters to those backing McCain has ended with the same mumbled phrase, “Just wait until Obama wins”, as if a threat of sorts.

But then, as it stands, why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t they find themselves a little bit on the arrogant side? The simple truth of the matter is they have pulled the wool over the eyes of a large segment of the American population.

Take, for example, his assurances that he does not stand for higher taxes and wealth redistribution. Throughout the majority of the election, as the charge has been levelled at him, he has carefully repeated the same mantra, he is for lower taxes on the middle class and job creation. Trying to sweep aside those allegations he has tempered his rhetoric for the occassion and sought to waylay fears each and every step of the way.

Far from the scripted dialog of his stump speeches now comes the interview he gave 7 years prior in 2001 for Chicago Public Radio. In his own words, in his own voice the Illinois Senator talks about the need for Supreme Court mandated wealth redistribution and his disappointment with the failings of the Civil Rights Movement and Chief Justice Earl Warren to bring it about, saying that we must get rid of the constraints placed in the Constitution by the founding fathers.

In other words, despite all his denials, there would come proof that once the surface is scratched there is a vastly different Senator Obama than this carefully honed, carefully carefully crafted public image that he has for this Presidential campaign.

But it doesn’t just stop there…

Throughout this election there has been talk that, for the first time in as many years, there could be a shift in the Cuban American votes. Largely considered to be a secure Republican Bloc there has been talk that they could swing, on mass, to Senator Obama, impressed by him and his support of Cuban issues. At the heart of that is his promise to ease relations with the small island nation while still mantaining a strong stand in support of the Embargo. He would stand before them and give his assurances that he wasn’t like most politicians, coming down, telling them that he wasn’t like most politicians, making idle promises and then going back home or back to Washington and forgetting all about them.

Left out of that rhetoric are his statements made four years prior, when, running for the United States Senate, he would, at a debate at Southern Illinois University, offer a starkly different picture. There his position wasn’t that the Embargo was a good policy or a strong policy. Rather it was that it was a bad idea, that it was a failure.

Or then there has been his multiple positions on Iraq, far too many to count it would seem. Now for a timeline for withdrawal, he would once take to the air on Chicago Tonight just after his election to talk about how timetables were out of the question. Consider that and then contrast it with his statements to the New Trier Democratic Organization while running for Senate, stating that he would vote against troop funding. If he was opposed to troop funding and to troop withdrawal, then what? What was it that he was trying to suggest they do?

Well, it’s of little consequence, getting to Washington, Senator Obama would vote for troop funding, well that was before he voted against it at least. His argument there, slightly different than the argument he made in New Trier. At that meeting he said that Democrats needed a candidate who would stand up to the President. His argument when voting for it? Well that he wasn’t willing to “play chicken” with the President.

The list seems to go on and on, with Senator Obama changing positions as quickly as he can, hoping nobody notices.

Yes, there is a lot there for Obama supporters to be arrogant about. But then, if the Illinois Senator does win, it will have more to do with the fact that he was able to put a compelling argument forward that he wasn’t who he is, one convincing enough that perhaps he might have even convinced himself.

The simple reality of the Obama campaign is this though, there is one reason and one reason alone that a Senator with less than two years experience in the Senate, and no national profile outside of one speech given at the Democratic National Convention lets lose his Presidential ambitions that early in his career. He is hoping that the rock star persona, a celebrity appeal that has propelled him this far, will wow enough people that they just won’t take a long, hard look at who he is beneath the surface.

The problem is not all that glitters is gold, and there the real hope of the Obama campaign hasn’t been the message he has brought, but that people won’t find out who he is and what he stands for before the end of the race.

So far there is a real possibility that they won’t.

But then just a few thoughts I suppose…

Is America Ready for Illinois Style Government?

In just over a week…

It won’t be that long now before Americans from all corners of the country go to the polls and cast their votes, finally watching as the long, drawn out battle that seems to have taken the nation by storm draws to a close. Perhaps it’s nothing as widely anticipated or as exciting in many peoples minds as the results from American Idol or Dancing with the Stars but then, really, what is?

Still, across the nation people will be casting their votes for President, for Senators and for Congressman, looking to the next few years and determining the cause and the course of the Republic.

Most of the polls, as the currently stand paint a picture, as narrow as it may be, of a victory for not just Illinois Senator Barack Obama, a scenario that would see to it the return of the Democrats to the White House after eight years in exile, but a victory across the board for his party. A return to a Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid, a return to a congress ran by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, perhaps with even larger majorities then they had when they left Washington to embark upon the campaign trail.

For Democrats it perhaps seems like a picture perfect scenario, one that they haven’t seen since the opening days of the administration of Bill Clinton, before the Republican Revolution of 1994, under the leadership of Congressman Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, swept the GOP back in control of both Houses for the first time since Harry Truman was in the White House. A turn of fortunes that a few short years ago perhaps seemed impossible, a turn of fortune that a few short months ago seemed out of their grasps as they played out their brutal primary battle as if determined to grasp defeat from the clutches of victory. There has to be many at the Party Headquarters, not least of all Chairman Howard Dean, wringing their hands in delight, determined not to let this opportunity slip by.

But for the rest of the country it has to raise serious questions as to what this actually will mean for the people.

Well for that, perhaps it’s best to consider Senator Obama and his own background. A man who takes considerable pride in his political start in Illinois, from his days as a community organizer learning the backrooms of Chicago’s Democratic Political Machine, to his time as a State Senator serving Illinois 13th District in Springfield he often times points to that experience as crucial to his ability to serve as President. There he was present for the take over of 2002, as the Democrats took control of the State Senate and the Governor’s mansion, for the first time in 30 years, amidst the clouds that hung over the Republican Party and the scandals surrounding then Governor George Ryan. Among the earliest support the Illinois Senator received was from his brothers in arms within the state, not including the relationship between him and Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a man listed as his “political godfather”, helping to secure his seat in the United States Senate in 2004.

So what can be learned from Illinois?

Well, simply put, that the one party state just doesn’t work.

Every facet of political life in the Land of Lincoln is controlled by the Democratic Party it would seem, and despite the common ideology and the common party affiliation, government does not run any smoother. As a matter of fact one has to wonder at times if it doesn’t run a whole lot worse with them in control of everything.

Consider last years budget crisis. Despite complete control, it would seem that they would have had a hard enough time governing a playground, let alone a state. Rumors of a possible government shut down, name calling, infighting, and all as the people suffered. The drama, one that was perhaps more fitting for the stage of Drury Lane if it involved Governor Rod Blagojevich breaking out into song, played out each day in the papers and in the news, causing a crisis of confidence in the ability of state legislators to actually carry out the tasks that they were elected to.

The least popular Governor in the country, in part, no doubt due to the allegations of corruption and scandal surrounding the office, his low approval rating, hoovering around 4 percent, has been helped by the ongoing feuds he has had with his own party. But then absolute power corrupts absolutely and there can be little doubt that half of the things that the Governor has tried to get away with were because he felt that with his party in control of the state, a blind eye would be turned to him and his doings.

Now, perhaps Senator Obama and his colleagues wouldn’t be this bad. After all, more than representing the will of his constituents the good Senator represents the will of his party’s leadership, voting with Reid and Pelosi 96 to 97 percent of the time since he arrived in Washington from Springfield four short years ago. But still, it has to raise serious questions about the capacity of one party, especially one under the leadership of a man who made his name amidst a state party so prone to scandal, corruption and infighting as each of the big players vying for their share of control, believing somehow that their piece should be larger.

It’s a grim thought to be considered as we consider our votes next week but one that should be taken seriously in thought, especially when considering the man who, at one point, chaired the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, using that as his stepping stone to bigger and better things. A committee now known for their lack of accountability and their difficulty in telling where the money went to when questioned, a committee who, for all their large talk of reforming the education system, largely ran contrary to the measures of reform that others, in the position to actually implement change, where trying to bring about.

It’s just not a pretty picture of things to come if the Senator and his colleagues find themselves with the overwhelming control they are now poised to take.

But then just a few thoughts I suppose….