Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ultrasound Bill casts glimpse inside abortion debate

It isn’t often that a piece of legislation comes along and exposes rhetoric so hollow that it results in the systemic collapse of an argument. Such is the case with The Ultrasound Bill recently introduced in the 2011 Kentucky General Assembly.

For years, abortion supporters have circled the wagons around the idea of “choice,” aiming to convince the uninitiated that abortion is “a difficult decision that should be between a woman and her doctor and ultimately a choice only the woman should make.” That’s the line anyway. But what do you do with an abortionist who doesn’t want women to have all the information before they make that “difficult decision”?

This is why SB 9—The Ultrasound Bill, has passed the Senate by landslide margins in each of the past four sessions. The latest effort, which passed the Senate on Jan. 6 by a vote of 32-5, simply mandates that abortionists give a woman an opportunity to see an ultrasound picture of her unborn child. It doesn’t force the woman to look. Nor is she coerced or penalized if she doesn’t. The bill also bans late-term abortions and exacts heavy fines on abortionists who skirt the law and keep valuable information from their patients.

Ultrasound technology gives us a glimpse inside the womb, but ultrasound legislation casts a glimpse inside the abortion debate. And it is becoming clear that some choices are simply unacceptable to self-designated “pro-choicers,” especially if that choice might result in life.

This is reminiscent of the controversy over Madonna’s 80’s hit Papa Don’t Preach. The song so perturbed the abortion crowd because she vowed to “keep her baby,” which left them concerned that pregnant teens might actually follow her lead. Mandating ultrasound availability could do the same thing, but how choosing life for an unborn child would be bad has yet to be explained.

Last year, 1.2 million babies were aborted in this country. Many women come to regret their decision, wishing that they had more information and better counsel. Of course, an abortionist’s best allies are disinformation and obfuscation.

Shouldn’t we be just as angry at those who prefer to keep women in the dark as the abortionist in Philadelphia who kept his illegal practice out of the public spotlight for 18 years? Kermit Gosnell was arrested in January for practicing late-term abortions on six-, seven- and eight-month-old pre-born babies and committing infanticide on those born alive. It’s people like the $15,000-profit-per-day Gosnell who’d prefer to keep the public attention off his grisly practices, but what about the practices going on inside Kentucky’s two remaining abortion clinics?

Who could be opposed to forcing an abortionist to at least make an ultrasound available to a woman in his office?

Answer: Kentucky House Leadership which has been beholden to their Party’s pro-abortion wing for the last six years – killing all pro-life legislation passed by the Senate.

The Ultrasound Bill has deadlocked twice in Tom “if-you-send-it-to-my-committee-I-will kill-it” Burch’s Health and Welfare Committee. He publicly announced he’d kill the bill in 2009; killed it again in 2010; and he will kill it this year if the Leadership sends it there.

Twenty-one states have some kind of law requiring abortionists to offer women an ultrasound before allowing an abortion. Isn’t it time for Kentucky to ensure that women have this choice?

As for the “pro- choicers” who want to avoid an identity crisis, can they do anything but support the bill if they want to live up to their name?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

“Potential evangelicals” need not apply at UK

Kentuckians love to cheer on their Big Blue at this time of year so when Federal District Judge Karl Forester recently called foul (not on Coach Cal, thank God) but on the UK astronomy department for religious discrimination it gave spectators a glimpse into the intellectual climate of academia. And it ain’t like being at Rupp.

Martin Gaskell, a well-published astronomer with impeccable credentials, was likely to get the job as the new director of UK’s student astronomical observatory until one search committee member suspected that he was “potentially evangelical.”


Gaskell, who advised the UK astronomy department in the development of the student observatory that he sought to direct, was blackballed for a lecture he delivered called "Modern Astronomy, the Bible and Creation.” In it, criticizes materialistic evolution and shares some of the beliefs of Newton, Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus. All by the way were Christians, and each would be summarily rejected by UK’s astronomy department for the same reason Gaskell was if the same search committee was in place.

On Nov. 23, Judge Forester found a smoking-gun-of-an-email that implicates several members of the search committee of violating Gaskell’s civil rights. One search committee member worried that Gaskell was "something close to a creationist." Another said that hiring him would be a "huge public relations mistake." A biology professor wrote to a colleague "we might as well have the Creation Museum set up an outreach office in biology.” Memo to future search committees: carefully consider the idea of Creation Museum Outreach next time.

The star witness in the case, otherwise known as the chair of the search committee, said “If Martin were not so superbly qualified, so breathtakingly above the other applicants in background and experience, then our decision would be much simpler. We could easily choose another applicant, and we could content ourselves with the idea that Martin’s religious beliefs played little role in our decision. However, this is not the case. As it is, no objective observer could possibly believe that we excluded Martin on any basis other than religious.”

When intelligent people downgrade a candidate from “superbly qualified” to an embarrassment because they might be “potentially evangelical” they are by definition practicing bigotry, regardless of how well cloaked in sophisticated language it may be. In his 2008 documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” Ben Stein revealed just how close-minded the university can be when it comes to protecting the institutionalized theory of evolution.

When the arbiters of truth discard an applicant like yesterday’s lunch all because of a competing theory of origins—differences that the search committee members admitted had nothing to do with the job, then something is lost in our halls of higher learning. Places that once welcomed free and open inquiry now shut it down, and positions that were once opened to the best qualified candidates are only open to ideological clones.

What would UK have done if Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health applied for a job there? Collins directed the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and wrote a book called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006). Collins has one of the brightest scientific minds of our day. He’s also an evangelical.

Interestingly, both Collins and Gaskell are not creationists, but apparently any talk of the possibility of God so threatens the exclusive platform of their peers that excommunication from the Church of Darwinian Fundamentalism is in order.

It seems the UK debacle is really a chess match of ideology and Gaskell merely a pawn. It was his non-conforming ideas that threatened the status quo; Ideas that UK gatekeepers will be keen to censure in the future. But when a university breaks the law as UK is charged with, they are in danger of becoming an institution plagued by what one its own faculty members called a “McCarthyism of the Left.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Don’t Change It

The U.S. military has been embroiled in two foreign wars for much of the last decade. Now it faces an internal conflict over whether to allow open homosexuality in the ranks, and it is not a fight many military leaders are looking for. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony last week from U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Marine Commandant General James Amos. Both oppose repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which prohibits open homosexuality in the military.

Casey said changing the policy would “add another level of stress to any already stretched force.” Amos said that “assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat.”

Amos’candor, a breath of fresh air in a politicized debate that has been filled with more smoke than fire, was not appreciated by his superiors, most notably Commander in Chief Obama, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. All three are pushing to overturn DADT. The Associated Press (not to be confused with the Ministry of Propaganda) touted the recent Pentagon study as proof that enlisted members support lifting DADT. But the report failed to directly ask whether the ban on open homosexuality should be repealed. Of course, truth is the first casualty in war.

Other findings of surveyed soldiers not widely reported for reasons unknown: Thirty-seven percent believe the presence of a homosexual service member in a combat unit negatively affected or did not help the unit's combat performance. Nearly 44 percent object to sharing bathroom facilities with an open homosexual in their unit. And 61 percent predict a negative, very negative or mixed outcome for the unit's ability to "pull together to perform as a team.”

What isn’t proved by the study or any other argument is that overturning DADT is necessary to make our military stronger. Nor is it suggested that the change will help unit cohesion, strengthen morale or improve combat effectiveness. So why the strong push for open homosexuality in the ranks?

We live in a highly individualized age where self actualization reigns supreme. Army slogans haven’t helped either. “Be All You Can Be,” and “An Army of One,” are far cries from self-sacrifice and teamwork needed to protect the country. Should DADT be dropped, the next slogan might be “Half the Effectiveness, but Openly Embracing Your Lifestyle.”

Embracing open homosexuality in the armed forces raises many questions. Will army chaplains with moral convictions that homosexuality is a sin be dismissed? Will the military have to accept enlistments from gay couples who hold marriage licenses from other states? What will become of family housing? Such questions only get in the way of those who view the military as a playground for social engineering. After all, soldiers are supposed to play nice.

The truth is that soldiers don’t play nice. Their job is to fight and win wars, and rules are in place to achieve the best chances for success. That’s why the armed forces have all kinds of restrictions on who can enter (it is not a right to join). They also have numerous expectations and regulations for enlisted soldiers (they lose their civil rights once enlisted). So to lower a standard thought to be critical to success for centuries in order to appease the gods of self-actualization and political correctness should be shot down, figuratively speaking of course.

As it is, approximately 200,000 soldiers are discharged (mostly honorable) from the armed services every year. Only 428 were discharged for open homosexuality in 2009, and roughly half of those are discharged during their initial training.

It is interesting that the fight to legitimize open homosexual behavior in the armed forces is couched in terms of respecting one’s personal privacy, which is of course lavishly afforded via the current policy of DADT. Overturning DADT is something entirely different and makes sexuality in the military a very public venture.

As one of my old high school friends who is in the army recently said, “I don’t want to know about your sexuality.” Neither does most of the general public who are concerned more about policies that promote the strongest fighting force we can muster.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is marriage’s turkey cooked?

A new survey by the Pew Research Center and TIME called The Decline of Marriage And Rise of New Families is certain to ruffle a few feathers—especially as families gather around Thanksgiving Day tables this Thursday. In it, researchers find that 39 percent of Americans believe that marriage is obsolete, but before social engineers declare this turkey cooked, they ought to take a second look.

Buried in the 108 page study were encouraging morsels to those who still believe in the traditional family. 69 percent of Americans still believe that out of wedlock births are a bad thing; 61 percent say that a child needs both a mother and father to grow up happily; And 58 percent say that marriage is not obsolete. Please pass the gravy.

Yet the idea that marriage is obsolete is capturing the headlines and has marriage deconstructionists as giddy as children on Christmas morning. But before they stick a fork in it, they ought to ask their three compatriots who used to sit on the Iowa Supreme Court about the wisdom of legislating into obsolescence traditional marriage. Of course, Iowa voters unelected them on Nov. 2.

This isn’t the first time in our history that marriage was thought unnecessary. In the 1960’s, no-fault divorce laws swept through state legislatures and paved the way for the divorce boom of the 1970’s. Children, the biggest losers in this societal bargain that promised to eliminate acrimonious divorce proceedings, still suffer from the fallout and emotional trauma from divorce. Marriage wasn’t obsolete for them. Nor is it to the children growing up in single parent homes who yearn for a mother or father. As it is, 41 percent of all children today are born out of wedlock, up from 5 percent in 1960.

The question du jour? Is marriage the bulwark to society or is it just like another ornament that will adorn our Thanksgiving tables this Thursday? Marriages are not as durable as they once were, but just because many marriages aren’t surviving—thanks to easy divorce and a culture that scoffs at commitment, doesn’t mean the entire institution should be scuttled. When the two parts of humanity are joined together in a lifelong covenant it brings untold benefits to themselves, their offspring and society at large.

People who are married live longer, are healthier and happier than their unmarried peers. They earn more and are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and receive public assistance. According to marriage expert Mike McManus “the primary cause of poverty is not joblessness but marriage, or rather, marriage absence.” In September, The Heritage Foundation published the report “Marriage: America’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty,” and found that the probability of child poverty declines by 82 percent when they live with both parents who are married. According to 2008 statistics, only 6.4 percent of married, two-parent families are poor compared with 36.5 percent of families headed by a single mother. The proof is in the pudding: marriage is a key ingredient to family financial stability.

Indeed, marriage is more than just a tool to fight poverty or part of an economic calculation toward prosperity. It is an absolutely crucial social arrangement that civilization depends upon and it’s an institution that our children need to thrive, whether we admit it or not. We should no more give our children homes without marriage than we would give them a Thanksgiving without a turkey.

Fodder for discussion around the dinner table for sure. Let’s hope it doesn’t cause much heartburn.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sensitivity police's war on honesty claims another victim

If America’s freedom of speech is the envy of the world, then political correctness must be its bane. Some political candidates and news commentators this election season are finding that out the hard way. Just last week, the monster of political correctness raised its ugly head and resulted in the firing of Juan Williams by National Public Radio.

Williams, a long-time civil rights advocate, told Bill O'Reilly that "political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality… when I get on a plane… if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried, I get nervous.”

Is this not the same thought also shared by many frequent airline travelers? Yet because of the perceived offense, it was a thought NPR execs believed best kept out of the public arena, so they fired him.

But was it really a wise move in a time when the divide between the political left and right has never been greater? NPR reported that Williams' presence on “Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives.” Why? NPR is known for its eloquence and dialogue, but instead of fostering communication between the two sides, they fired an accomplished ambassador for the left. Even as William’s actually warned O’Reilly against painting Muslims with broad brushstrokes, NPR painted him with a broad brushstroke and fired him. So the cold war of ideology continues.

What thinkers on both the left and right can agree upon is that the war radical Islam has declared on the West has kindled the fears of many, and has sometimes led to intolerance and bigotry toward Muslims who don’t subscribe to violence. But the war on ideas and politically incorrect opinion by the speech patrol has wider ranging consequences. We should insist upon respect and high standards of dialogue, but don’t we expect our leaders and analysts to tell us the truth? Or are some thoughts just too offensive to be aired publicly? Juan Williams is no Bobby Seale. Nor was he advocating the burning of the Koran. So why was he lumped in with extremists?

I have a friend in Belgium who has decried political correctness in Europe for years. It is now a rare individual who speaks out against radical Islam. And for those who do—including journalists who caricature Mohammed, they face death threats. If they are willing to come out of hiding, then they face legal proceedings from a society so steeped in political correctness that it has lost its ability to think or respect individual thought.

A new Rasmussen Reports released on Oct. 19, found that 74 percent of Americans regard political correctness as a problem in the United States today. Rasmussen also found that 63 percent blamed political correctness for preventing “the U.S. military from responding to warning signs that could have prevented Major Nidal Malik Hasan from massacring 13 people and wounding many others at Fort Hood, Texas.”

When the whitewashing of language and laundering of ideas leads to collective stupidity, then it’s time to reevaluate. When political correctness out of fear of offending someone or some group eviscerates civil discourse, what have we gained? Respect and tolerance have always been and always should be benchmarks of civil discussion and standards by which any media should live by. But as George Orwell once said, “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

It’s time as Americans to assert that we still have the right to restate the obvious. Hopefully, the rest of the media will join us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Casino corruption rocks Alabama Legislature

Last year, the Kentucky House passed a casino expansion bill, but not without lofty promises and heavy political pressure. Many have questioned the tactics of the casino lobby whether they are public pie-in-the-sky promises or private behind the scenes promises that border on bribery. The latest example of the corrupting influence of the casino lobby on the legislative process comes from Alabama where its legislature was rocked earlier this week when the major media reported a major gambling related scandal.

Eleven people were arrested by federal authorities for soliciting and receiving bribes in exchange for pro-gambling votes. Four of those arrested were state senators. James Preuitt (R-Talledega), offered to sell his vote for $2 million in campaign contributions. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division said in the 39 count indictment. "The people of Alabama, like all our citizens, deserve to have representatives who act in the public’s interest, not for their own personal financial gain. Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished." To read more about the 39 count indictment go to:

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Show-Me" state puts a wrap on SOB's

Just days ago, a Missouri Circuit judge upheld a state law that places tough restrictions on sexually oriented businesses (SOB's). Attorney's for the SOB's challenging the law said it would provide an economic hardship in times when the economy is already in dire straits.

Judge Jon Beetem said “The law will undoubtedly change the business practices of the plaintiffs, and they will likely suffer some economic loss,” Beetem wrote. “But economic loss alone does not alter the analysis of the legal issues surrounding Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges.”

When asked about the economic impact more restrictions will have on Missouri's SOB's, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon said “I don’t think the future of my state will be built on that industry."

Analysts are saying the "Show-Me" state may now be known better for what won't be showing at certain business establishments. Family advocates say that's a modest step in the right direction.