Daily Archives: November 24, 2009

Torture and Dick Cheney’s Moral Calculations…

I just purchased Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?  On an NPR program today, Sandel had some interesting comments on  Dick Cheney’s moral calculations on torture and the limits of the same.  Before discussing those comments, let me first set the stage for them.

Sandel is a philosphy professor at Harvard University.  He specializes in Moral Philosphy AKA Ethics.  Dick Cheney is a policitian.

In Dick Cheney’s moral calculation if torture “saves lives” torture is not just permissible, it is a moral imperitive.  Like really good teachers, Sandel asks questions that helps one understand the limitations of one’s argument.  His question was, “if torture is good and the only way to get our Arab captive to tell us where the bombs are, it is necessary to torture his 12 year daughter – be aware, she has no idea where the bombs are located, but torturing her will have an impact on our captive – in this case, is torture permissible?”  Sandel believes that even Cheney might blanch at that thought (I’m not so sure, however).

This link is to a lecture series done by Sandel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBdfcR-8hEY .  An interesting detail:  supposedly some of the writers for The Simpsons took Sandel’s class – Sandel is the model for the character Mr. Burns.  I am assuming that Mr. Burns is Sandel’s evil twin – they do look, at least a little, alike.


Filed under torture

How About the Full Range of Reproductive Rights?

This is an exchange between myself and a local woman who is a well known reproductive rights advocate.  I will label myself as ME, and her as RRA.

ME:  Should the Democratic party and liberal thought continue to support the right to abortion? I have pretty liberal friends, one is in my friend list here, whom I know contribute considerable resources to alternatives to abortion. Should those type of efforts be advertised by “our movement” to the same degree reproductive choice is? Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts.

RRA: Liberals have always supported sex education, contraception, and other such actions to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies. I’m not sure what type of efforts you’re referring to, but you’re referring to those crisis pregnancy clinics, I would never support those places. The people who work there lie to women and they really don’t provide all that much help. If the Democratic Party continues to turn its back on abortions rights, I will have to leave the party.

ME: Yes I am aware that those “crisis” places are a sham. I know of people who will financially help a woman carry a pregnancy to term if that is her choice and assist with adoption afterward.

I am concerned about the black and white position of all abortions that could happen, must happen. I have wondered is there a Clintonesque (Bill, that is) third way possible?

I favor that the abortion rights continue to exist. Some people want and need that – it should be their right. But is the Democratic party advanced when we refuse to consider other options that are positive in my view? That is at the heart of my question….

I was hoping you would weigh in. Thank you.

RRA: What would that “third way” be? Policies regarding women and children in this country don’t favor motivating women to have children if they have to consider keeping their jobs and finding childcare. When my kids were young, I had a terrible time finding adequate child care for them, and I was a married, middle-class woman. Here’s what I see–we … Read Morewant women to give birth, but we do nothing to help them in the job of mothering.

I would like to know what specific options the Democratic Party should consider. We already have the Bliue Dogs, who want to get rid of abortion rights. A woman is never half-pregnant, so half measures won’t do.

ME: I have two friends who are serious democratic activists. They both teach on the university level – you may even know one or both. They tell me that they would like to not own the abortion position. They say “we lose people with that position and we get clobbered on the head all the time by the other side because of abortion.”

My counter to that is that the party needs to be the advocate for reproductive choice – the full spectrum of reproductive choice which would include carrying a child to term to then adopt out. Or, having a kid and keeping it – regardless of one’s marital status.

You are correct women are definitely “dis-incentifized” in our culture to reproduce. That should change and we could look to Europe as models to consider. We need more people. Our largest demographic is growing older and we will likely have to depend upon immigrants to take care of our aging population. [I have nothing against immigrants, btw, and I think it is too bad, that I have to stipulate that].

This position of mine is more of a general one at this point and I don’t have figures to consider what kinds of costs we are talking about. Again, Europe may provide some clues on that.

Though you can’t make everyone happy, it does seem like taxpayers are less adverse to social programs if they help children/families.

Thank you for this interesting discussion.

RRA: Your friends don’t have to “own” the abortion position, particularly if they’re men who will never have to have an abortion. I don’t know what their status as university professors has to do with their attitudes on abortion. If they look at people who win elections, they will see that a pro-choice candidates win in most places around the country. … Read MoreNot in Kansas, that’s for sure, but around the country. Obama is pro-choice. He won easily. The majority of Americans are still in favor of abortion rights, even those who consider themsevles “pro-life.”

More people is not what this suffering, polluted earth needs. I used to belong to a group that advocated for zero population growth. I still think that’s a good idea. Eventually, Mother Nature is going to turn on us and wipe us out anyway. We won’t be able to breathe the air or drink the water, what’s left of it.

What most people don’t seem to understand is that the abortion rate remains consistent over time no matter what the laws on abortion are. The only thing that changes is the risk women have to endure if abortion is made illegal. If the Democrats want to turn their backs on abortion rights, then I will turn my backs on the Democrats. I won’t be alone. Pro-choice women, and men, who have consistently supported the Democratic Party will leave it behind. Even now, I don’t send money to national party because I don’t want my money going to anti-choice candidates. So….

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Evidence there is not a unified Liberal position on this complicated subject.  Let’s hear from you bloggers.  What do you think?  If “Read More” messages make it into the final post – ignore them – you are reading the complete post and responses.


Filed under abortion

Tuesday, 11/24/09, Public Square

Evolution Day is the anniversary of the first publication of The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859.   Also celebrated is Darwin Day which commemorates the birthday of Charles Darwin who established the theory of natural selection which provided for a biological process behind evolution.

The year 2009 will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin as well as the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.



Filed under The Public Square