Saturday, January 29, 2011

Remembering the Challenger: 25 Years Later

Yesterday marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. For those who remember the day we were shocked by the disaster. Americans had erroneously believed that spaceflight had become almost routine. Challenger would remind us just how dangerous the business of space flight really was. It's surprising then, in retrospect, to realize that CNN still covered the launch live.





It's a national tragedy such as this that brings out the best and worst in a nation's leaders. President Ronald Reagan rose to the occasion. He was supposed to give the annual State of the Union address that evening. However, in light of the tragedy it seemed far more appropriate to pay tribute to the fallen seven astronauts.



It would be the first time America lost a crew in space. Unfortunately, it would not be the last. But they understood the risks they were taking and for that they are properly remembered as heroes.

President Reagan appropriately borrowed his closing line from the poem High Flight which is a mantra for pilots: "And slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Palin Hatred and Modern Feminism

James Taranto has a great column on the Left's hatred of Sarah Palin that serves to perhaps explain why so much vitriol has been lobbed at her in the past few weeks. But he goes further in explaining how feminism and liberalism are hopelessly intertwined and exposes the hypocrisy of those who are theoretically in favor of a "women's right to choose":

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, "feminist" is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it.

That is because what used to be called feminism--the proposition that women deserve equality before the law and protection from discrimination--is almost universally accepted today. Politically speaking, a woman is the equal of a man. No woman in public life better symbolizes this than Sarah Palin--especially not Hillary Clinton, the left's favorite icon. No one can deny Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments, but neither can one escape crediting them in substantial part to her role as the wife of a powerful man.

But there is more to feminism than political and legal equality. Men and women are intrinsically unequal in ways that are ultimately beyond the power of government to remediate. That is because nature is unfair. Sexual reproduction is far more demanding, both physically and temporally, for women than for men. Men simply do not face the sort of children-or-career conundrums that vex women in an era of workplace equality.

Except for the small minority of women with no interest in having children, this is an inescapable problem, one that cannot be obviated by political means. Aspects of it can, however, be ameliorated by technology--most notably contraception, which at least gives women considerable control over the timing of reproduction.

As a political matter, contraception is essentially uncontroversial today, which is to say that any suggestion that adult women be legally prevented from using birth control is outside the realm of serious debate. The same cannot be said of abortion, and that is at the root of Palinoia.

To the extent that "feminism" remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the "right to choose," but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree--that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

To a woman who has internalized this point of view, Sarah Palin's opposition to abortion rights is a personal affront, and a deep one. It doesn't help that Palin lives by her beliefs. To the contrary, it intensifies the offense.

It used to be a trope for liberal interviewers to try to unmask hypocrisy by asking antiabortion politicians--male ones, of course--what they would do if their single teen daughters got pregnant. It's a rude question, but Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy coincided with Mom's introduction to the nation, answered it in real life.

Recently we were at a party where a woman in her 60s, a self-described feminist, called Palin a "moron" for having encouraged her daughter to carry her child to term and "to marry the sperm donor." Even apart from the gross language, this was a completely irrational thing to say. First, that Palin's values are different in no way reflects on her intelligence.

More important, why is Bristol Palin's decision to carry her child to term any of this lady's business? Those who claim to be champions of privacy and choice need to do some serious soul-searching if they have so much trouble tolerating the private choices of others. (emphasis added)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Best to Leave This to the Professionals

All I can say after reading this story is that I have to wonder how this guy made it through law school.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thinking About Tuscon

Like a lot of folks, I've been watching a lot of news coverage of this past weekend's shooting in Tuscon. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

A couple of thoughts about the tragedy and its aftermath:

1. I never fail to be surprised at the lengths people will go to score political points from such a tragedy. I think most voters see such politicians for what they really are and they'll get their just desserts the next time an election rolls around.

2. A Predictable Tragedy in Tuscon in today's Wall Street Journal is a worthwhile read. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with political speech. Instead, it focuses on one of the most underreported aspects of the story: the fact that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, had untreated mental illnesses. As long as we continue to ignore the problem of how we as a society deal with treatment of the mentally ill we'll see these type of events continue to occur. All you have to do is look back at similar events and see how many of the perpetrators had a history of mental illness.

3. A related point to #2 above: Tuscon police missed the warning signs about Loughner's behavior?

4. Another question that is begging to be asked and answered: why weren't the police at Congresswoman Giffords' event? If the political rhetoric is as dangerous as Sheriff Dupnik says then why didn't he have any deputies there to provide security?

5. A natural response in the aftermath of a tragedy such as this is to talk about passing tougher gun control laws. But consider this quote:

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book

6. Leave it to Michael Ramirez to provide astute media analysis.