Down syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Those diagnosed with the syndrome experience mental disability and a plethora of physical challenges. But, is that really justification for abortion? Ethologist Richard Dawkins thinks so. When a Twitter user asked his opinion on whether she should abort a child after learning he or she would have Down syndrome, he was harshly straightforward:
@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
Because of the criticism he received as a result of the tweet, he wrote a response on his website, richarddawkins.net. He apologized not for the content of his tweet, but for the “feeding frenzy” it prompted, blaming the backlash on the fact that Twitter limited his response to 140 characters. So, he took the opportunity to offer a more in depth answer:
“Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do. I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.”
His expanded explanation may have been more elaborate, but it’s no less rational. One’s quality of life should not determine whether that person lives or dies, for every life has a purpose. In 140 characters, Dawkins was simply summing up his tragic point: a life with Down syndrome is not a life worth living. I would challenge Dawkins to consider this statistic: 99 percent of those with the condition report being happy with their lives.
But, he tweeted this defensive follow up trying to justify that other numbers are on his side:
In point of fact, a majority of Down Syndrome fetuses in Europe and USA are aborted. What I recommended is not outlandish but the norm.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
Again, it may be the “norm,” but that doesn’t make it morally right. Sadly, 90 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Why should this be the case? Shouldn’t we be encouraging mothers that yes, their child will have obstacles, but they are strong enough to overcome them? Won’t that mother’s love for her child ultimately trump the challenges that will arise from his or her physical setbacks?
Dawkins didn’t offer any of these considerations and was unapologetic about his first argument:
To conclude, what I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most us, I presume, espouse. My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand.
One mother who gave birth to a child with Down syndrome isn’t letting Dawkins get away with his insensitive comments. Former Governor Sarah Palin had this to say:
“I’d let you meet my son if you promised to open your mind, your eyes, and your heart to a unique kind of absolute beauty,” Palin wrote.
“But, in my request for you to be tolerant, I’d have to warn Trig he must be tolerant, too, because he may superficially look at you as kind of awkward. I’ll make sure he’s polite, though!”
For the owner of Bailey's Pizza in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas, keeping the Scripture and the sausage separate is something he believes he should not have to do.
As a new business that opened less than two months ago, owner Steven Rose started to offer a discount for those who bring in their church bulletin. When the Freedom From Religion Foundation got word of this small, 10% discount, they sent a letter demanding he stop honoring the reduction saying it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rose, a Christian who is actively involved in his local church, told KTHV that a wall inside the store reads, "God is the center of our lives, so our scripture wall is the center of Bailey's Pizza."
Rose told Fox News:
“I’m just selling pizzas, I love my Lord and you see it expressed all over my building – but I’m just selling pizzas. To me, if making a pepperoni pizza furthers the Kingdom – well I’m excited about that."
When a North Carolina restaurant started offering a discount for those who pray before their meal, the FFRF did the same thing and got their way.
“We are no longer issuing the 15% praying in public discount,” read a sign posted at the Mary’s Gourmet Diner. “It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for any offense this discount has incurred.”
Rose told TheBlaze.com that he does not plan on getting rid of the price cut for church-goers. Conservative legal firms have volunteered to represent Bailey's Pizza in the event the FFRF takes legal action over a discount that is a mere ten cents on the dollar.
There is, as Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende has argued, a distinct correlation between the president's job approval rating and how his caucus performs down-ballot every election cycle. And President Obama’s sinking numbers seem to be immensely benefiting none other than New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown -- a GOP hopeful many pollsters believed had little chance of winning just a few weeks ago.
In July, according to a WMUR Granite State poll, incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was crushing her presumptive GOP opponent by a dozen percentage points -- 50 percent to 38 percent, respectively. Now, however, the same in-state survey shows the race is very much in play:
Last month, Brown trailed Shaheen in the WMUR Granite State Poll by 12 points. The new poll shows Shaheen leading brown by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent.
"I feel very good because when I'm going out and about into people's businesses, holding town halls -- town halls are an important thing -- and conveying my thoughts about being an independent voice for New Hampshire, it's resonating," Brown said.
"This will go down as one of the most important days of this New Hampshire U.S. Senate contest," said James Pindell of WMUR Political Scoop. "For much of the year, this race appeared to be slipping away from Scott Brown, but now he's back and within the margin of error."
Some pollsters argue Brown’s newfound popularity is inversely proportional to the president's sliding approval ratings, which currently sit at 38 percent in New Hampshire. The candidate himself, however, disagrees. Instead, he thinks it has more do with how hard he’s working, and his willingness to hold town halls all over the state:
Either way, Mitt Romney's endorsement last month only bolstered his cause. After all, the former Massachusetts governor is fairly popular in New Hampshire and won the first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary in 2012. And although Brown isn’t the GOP nominee yet, he is showing signs of improvement.
Still, we probably shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves:
There is still plenty of room for movement, as the poll shows that 60 percent of voters have not definitively settled on a candidate.
Lots of undecideds out there, in other words. So keep that in mind
For what it’s worth, Republicans need to net-gain six Senate seats to wrestle majority-control of the upper chamber from Democrats.
President Obama may be in denial over the serious threat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) poses to the U.S., but senior military officials are not.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described IS as an “imminent threat to every interest that we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.”
He was also asked directly about the threat posed to the United States and if it's comparable to 9/11.
The Islamic State is “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen,” he replied. "They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of ... military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we've seen."
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Islamic State has an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” and “will eventually have to be defeated.”
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were worried about the possibility that European or U.S. nationals, radicalized after fighting in Iraq or Syria, would return to their home countries.
Dempsey suggested Islamic State would remain a danger until it could no longer count on safe havens in areas of Syria under militant control. [...]
"To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border."
It was only in January that President Obama described the group as “jayvee.”
Members of the National Religious Broadcasters have landed back in the United States after concluding a four-day Christians in solidarity trip to Israel this week.
“Our purpose was two fold. One, to show the people of Israel we support them in a time of crisis because Hamas is attacking them and this isn’t a time for neutrality. Hamas is a terrorist organization, we saw that, that they were using terror and the Israelis are trying to protect innocent civilians. It was good for us to see that and just show solidarity with those who were under attack,” NRB President Dr. Jerry Johnson said at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv before boarding his flight back to the United States early Friday morning. “And then also with the tourism industry just to say you know, 'We think other Americans should come, other Americans should get flights and hotels, go to the restaurants. It’s a time to support the economy and the life, the nation of Israel.'"
Johnson brought 10 Christian broadcasters on behalf of the NRB to Israel who have a combined listening audience of 60 million people per day through religious radio and television programs. He put the trip together specifically because Israel is under attack from Hamas and to combat rising anti-Semitism not just in the United States, but also around the world. Participants included President of AnGeL Ministries and daughter of Billy Graham Anne Graham Lotz, President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins, President & CEO of the Total Living Network Jerry Rose, Evangelical Action Director at The Institute on Religion & Democracy Chelsen Vicari, Co-Founder of Precept Ministries Kay Arthur and others.
NRB board member and President of Son Broadcasting Annette Garcia, who visits Israel often, also stressed how now is an important time to visit the Jewish country.
Editor's note: I was in Israel this week on a trip sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.
I wrote a post about the Islamic State’s now-deceased press officer two weeks ago; he was a central figure in part 1 of Vice News’ multi-part documentary profiling the terrorist
army organization and their warped ideology. You’ll recall he gracelessly insulted our men and women in uniform and vowed to "raise the flag of Allah” inside the White House.
Thankfully, that'll never happen. Why? Because he's already met his maker (via Noah Rothman):
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) put it rather well this week when describing the rabidity of death-loving fanatics like the late Abu Mosa: “ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”
I don’t disagree. Therefore, the more Abu Mosas we send to an early grave, the better.
Are we seriously going back to this drivel? Although, it’s not a national campaign, John Foust, the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, recently slammed his Republican opponent, Delegate Barbara Comstock, for not holding a “real job.” Yeah, this lunacy is back (via Ashburn Rising) [emphasis mine]:
While earlier this week in Ashburn, Comstock left much of the harsh rhetoric to her supporters, Foust took the reins of criticism in his own hands during a stop at his new campaign office in Leesburg.
On creating jobs, Foust said, “In her mind that means giving tax benefits to special interests and the super wealthy. I don’t think she’s even had a real job.
Back in 2012, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen ignited a firestorm when she said that Ann Romney hadn’t worked a day in her life. Pretty much everyone distanced themselves from her comments and called them inappropriate, including President Obama; Rosin later apologized on CNN.
Yet, while being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, Comstock has conquered on both fronts. She’s the mother of three children and was an aide to retiring Rep. Frank Wolf. She later became chief counsel for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
And, that is why her candidacy possibly reignited the “Clinton Wars.” Foust’s supporters are probably ignorant of the fact that Comstock was the point of the lance, alongside the late Barbara Olson, in digging up information about the alleged shady dealings within the Clinton administration. As a result, the Clinton White House named them the “Barbarellas” (via Politico):
Comstock’s history with the Clintons dates back to 1993. At the time, she was working as an aide to GOP Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia when some of his constituents lost their jobs in the White House travel office. Wolf tasked Comstock with finding out why the firings happened and whether the Clintons were trying to make room in the office for their personal allies.
Republicans won the House majority in 1994, and Comstock became the chief counsel on the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
Comstock’s legal training prepared her to burrow through mounds of government documents, spotting patterns in discrete facts that eluded others. She deposed countless high-level White House officials and allies, including John Podesta and George Stephanopoulos. When Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung appeared before the committee in 1999, Comstock did the grilling.
The other trait Comstock’s admirers and critics consistently point to: a work ethic bordering on compulsive.
“Late night calls from Barbara Comstock were not unusual,” David Brock, the onetime conservative opposition researcher and Comstock confidant, wrote in his 2002 book, “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative.” “She often telephoned with the latest tidbit she had dug up in the thousands and thousands of pages of administration records she pored through frantically, as if she were looking for a winning lottery ticket she had somehow mislaid.”
The late Barbara Olson, Comstock’s co-investigator on the committee, wrote in her own book that the two took extraordinary measures to prevent Clinton backers from sabotaging their work.
“We changed our locks; not even the cleaning crews had access to our tiny room,” Olson wrote in “Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” published in 1999. “I generally arrived at 6:30 a.m. and tried to leave for home before 8:00 p.m. My colleague Barbara Comstock continued the vigil and wouldn’t leave until 4:00 a.m.”
Foust is quoted in the piece saying he was unaware of the dynamics of the “Clinton Wars” since he was busy getting his law firm off the ground and raising his family. Nevertheless, the Clinton crew is fearful of Comstock returning to Congress and getting back on the “warpath,” especially with the Benghazi investigation still ongoing.
In the meantime, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright is hosting fundraisers for Foust and Jamie Gorelick, who served as Clinton’s deputy attorney general, gave him a $1,000 donation. She responded to many of Comstock’s subpoenas, according to Politico.
It looks like the Clinton people are out for a little revenge.
"No excuses. Do what it takes to get the job done." That's the Alaskan way of life, according to Steve Perrins, owner of Rainy Pass Lodge, the oldest hunting lodge in the state. One person who doesn't seem to share this mentality, however, is Senator Mark Begich (D-AK). In a new Americans for Prosperity ad, Perrins questions Begich's absenteeism in the nation's capital:
"I think our state is a little ticked off that our senator, Mark Begich, is not showing up for his job."
Alaskans are being kind on the senator. Last year, Begich missed more votes than 80 percent of all senators.
AFP President Tim Phillips commented on the senator's disappearing act:
"When it comes to critical issues facing Alaskans, Mark Begich seems to have more important things to do than fight for them in the United States Senate. Missed votes means the voices of Alaskans are marginalized and unheard. With one of the worst voting records in the Senate, Begich has failed to represent Alaskans on important issues like government spending, energy regulations and agricultural policy. Unfortunately, Mark Begich just hasn't been showing up for work."
How long, really, does it take to give a 'yea' or 'nay'? Representing his constituents in Congress certainly doesn't appear to be too high on Begich's agenda.
Perrins asked the important question:
"How can we count on Mark Begich to fight for Alaskans when he won't show up to work in Washington, DC?"
Most people who don't show up to work lose their jobs. Alaskans, therefore, have more than a right to fire Begich.
Watch the entirety of the effective ad here:
...before the 2014 midterm elections, that is. After that all bets are off, it seems, and there are no guarantees.
And yet public opinion shows pretty convincingly that Republicans were on the losing end politically of last year’s partial-government shutdown. For two weeks, government offices, major tourist attractions, and even the open-air World War II Memorial in D.C. were temporarily closed. And while Republicans did their best to expose the White House’s calculated and incredibly petulant efforts to exploit the crisis, most Americans pinned the blame squarely on congressional Republicans. No surprises there. You might even recall that's exactly what happened the last time congressional lawmakers found themselves negotiating during a government shutdown.
Nonetheless, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told Roll Call that House Republicans have supposedly learned from their past missteps. To that end, he said, they are committed to passing a spending resolution funding the government at least through December:
On a possible government shutdown: In his book, Ryan calls the 2013 shutdown a “suicide mission” for the House GOP, and on Wednesday he told CQ Roll Call he agreed that Republicans were easy to blame for the events that transpired.
But House Republicans won’t repeat that mistake this September, Ryan predicted: “We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down … it will be patently obvious … that they are playing politics with this, and trying to trigger a shutdown so they can blame us, but we’re really blameless in this particular situation.”
Ryan’s confidence that his conference will cooperate in passing a stop-gap spending bill free of controversial policy riders — ”until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking,” said Ryan — contradicts Democrats’ cries over the past few days that the GOP is spoiling for another shutdown that could cost them the election in November.
The last thing the GOP needs, I think, is to be blamed for another government shutdown just before Election Day 2014.
What, if anything, could damage or diminish their electoral prospects more?
Another example of the "how would this be handled if a Tea Partier were the jerk" question [Please read Mary Katharine Ham's excellent post from yesterday on this]. It sure wouldn't be patience, toleration, extended coverage in order to reconcile matters, and a long-extended bro handshake. G'me a break! Note how the "white supremacy" line is not even noticed by Don Lemon.