A Dark Day for Democrats

Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012. Though Andrew Sullivan can be expected to persist in his quest to deploy U.N. inspectors to Palin’s uterus, the nation’s less-cracked Obamatons will have to build a new uber-bogeyman to juxtapose with the Lightworker.

Thoughtful liberal is too heartbroken to castigate Republican misogynists today.It’s not fair. Why, Andrew just blogged his little heart out about evil Sarah a few hours ago! And what did he have to say about the man who just executed a U.S. citizen without even the pretense of due process?

Obama has ended torture and pursued a real war, not an ideological spectacle. He has destroyed almost all of al Qaeda of 9/11 (if Zawahiri is taken out, no one is left), obliterated its ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found and killed bin Laden, in a daring raid pushed relentlessly by the president alone, capturing alongside a trove of intelligence, procured as a consequence of courage and tenacity rather than cowardice and torture. …

Back in 2001, I wondered if Bush would be the president to win this war, while hoping he would. I wondered if his errors might lead to a successor who learned from them. That hope has now been fulfilled – more swiftly and decisively than I once dared to dream about.

Get Ready for the Next Great Human Rights Crusade

A mere day after the forces of light and progress ensured that no American can be deprived of his or her God-given right to kill foreigners, a new crisis of conscience emerged. A Chicago Sun-Times editorial from Sept. 21 has the details:

Give military women equal abortion rights

Every woman who gets health insurance though the federal government faces a ban on coverage for abortion. We don’t support this policy, but the government at least allows for a few crucial and humane exceptions. For nearly every group, abortion is covered in the case of rape or incest.

But one maddening and profoundly unfair outlier exists: the U.S. Department of Defense.

If a U.S. servicewomen is raped — a shockingly frequent occurrence — she not only must navigate a sometimes sexist military culture as she attempts to get care and justice, she also must pay for the abortion herself.

And because some overseas military bases don’t provide abortions, this can include a costly flight home to find a doctor who will provide an abortion.

So, before we go any further, this is most emphatically not about the right to an abortion.* It’s about who should pay for certain abortions, which is a topic for another site. What I’m interested in is the “shockingly frequent” rape that’s going on in our most trusted institution. Let’s read on:

Servicewomen have lacked a rape exception since 1981, with a brief respite under President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, the number of assaults against women have skyrocketed. In 2010, nearly 3,200 sexual assaults were reported in the military, a number that studies show represents just a fraction of total assaults. …

One young woman we spoke to, Jessica Kenyon, says she got no support and was ostracized after saying she was raped and sexually assaulted.

Kenyon strongly supports the rape exception but worries women will continue to be left to fend for themselves.

“There is so much torture when you report an assault,” Kenyon told us. “What will women have to do to prove they were raped?”

Given the context — and everything we’ve learned since Abu Ghraib — is there any reason to believe that she’s using the word “torture” in a strictly figurative sense? Do these rapists hold themselves to a higher standard than the Army Field Manual?

That seems unlikely. So what we have here is an organization speckled with rapists and sadists who are so depraved that they can’t even keep their hands (and other parts) off their comrades — yet this doesn’t raise any broader concerns for the Sun-Times. For instance, the editorial makes no mention whatsoever of all the women and girls (and men and boys) who didn’t volunteer to join the U.S. military but who are subjected to its “bad apples” all the same. Who will pay for their abortions (or funerals)? Who cares? Bigger evils must be confronted. Gay soldiers are being booed!

*Rest assured, gentle reader, that when it comes to abortion, you and I are on the same page. I believe wholeheartedly in whatever slogans you believe in, so there’s no need to post them in comments.

Don’t Like the Drugs, but the War Must Cease

We’ve been devoting more coverage to the War on Drugs lately, so it’s worth noting when a politician says anything about it other than “full speed ahead.” It’s especially worth noting when a presidential candidate says “I fear the War on Drugs a lot more than I fear the drugs themselves” on a wildly popular TV show:


It’s true that he did not pledge to undo “America’s history of state-enforced slavery, apartheid, and sexism” and return all “land stolen from indigenous people” — which you can be sure the Obama administration is working on right this minute, with Marty Peretz’s blessing — but he might be onto something.

Gallows Humor

My neck will grasp as the rope descends
How much the ass weighs in the end.
~Francois Villon

Paul Krugman got a lot of applause from progressives last week for blasting the politicians and pundits who “cash[ed] in on the horror” of 9/11. A few days later, as if to prove that even Donald Rumsfeld makes good decisions occasionally (albeit for bad reasons), Krugman twisted Rep. Ron Paul’s answer to a why-are-libertarians-so-awful question at the tea party debate.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”

And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”

The incident highlighted something that I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.

Perhaps. Someone definitely needs to visit a moral ophthalmologist, anyway. Erik Wemple of The Washington Post remarked, “The distortion of which Krugman is guilty on this front summons parallels to Hannity and Limbaugh.” Ouch. Welcome to the club (Read Jeremy Hammond for more on Krugman’s breezy dishonesty. Hat tip to Matt Welch.)

While we’re on the subjects of death and debt and Ron Paul and Paul Krugman, I ask you to consider the non-hypothetical case of a terminal glutton and spendthrift:

Our government is utterly broke. There are signs everywhere one looks. Social Security can no longer afford to send us our annual benefit statements. The House can no longer afford its congressional pages. The Pentagon can no longer afford the pension and health care benefits of retired service members. NASA is no longer planning a manned mission to Mars.

We’re broke for a reason. We’ve spent six decades accumulating a huge official debt (U.S. Treasury bills and bonds) and vastly larger unofficial debts to pay for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits to today’s and tomorrow’s 100 million-plus retirees.

The government’s total indebtedness — its fiscal gap — now stands at $211 trillion, by my arithmetic. The fiscal gap is the difference, measured in present value, between all projected future spending obligations — including our huge defense expenditures and massive entitlement programs, as well as making interest and principal payments on the official debt — and all projected future taxes.

The data underlying this figure come straight from the horse’s mouth — the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO’s June 22 Alternative Fiscal Scenario presents nothing less than a Greek tragedy. It’s actually worse than the Greek tragedy now playing in Athens. Our fiscal gap is 14 times our GDP. Greece’s fiscal gap is 12 times its GDP, according to Professor Bernd Raffelhüschen of the University of Freiburg.

In other words, the U.S. is in worse long-term fiscal shape than Greece. The financial sharks are circling Greece because Greece is small and defenseless, but they’ll soon be swimming our way.

I say sharks gotta eat, same as worms, but I’m waaaaay further out than The New York Times editorial page can even imagine. Back in the realm of red and blue, wacko wingding extremist Ron Paul calls for reducing the national debt, preferably by scrapping the most harmful, counterproductive government spending (hint: it’s not on Grandma’s prescriptions). Sober, wise, compassionate Nobel laureate Paul Krugman and other serious liberals have a different moral vision.

But whatevs. In the long run, we are all dead.