“Pure Hate”

Must read opinion piece in today’s Washington Post — “Facing The Reality Of Choice” by Marie Myung-Ok Lee.

The author–40, married, one child–suffered from “blighted ovum,” a type of miscarriage that develops when a fertilized egg implants in the uturus but does not develop. “Instead,” the author writes, “there was no one home inside my womb, only an empty gestational sac and hormones, somehow tricked, careening inside me.”

Instead of waiting weeks to be admitted to a hospital, Mrs. Lee decided to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have the contents of her uturus removed.

But, while politically pro-choice, I didn’t think that my situation had anything to do with the whole abortion debate, and so I put it out of my mind, so much so that when my husband and I drove to Planned Parenthood the morning of the procedure and found our car immediately surrounded by gesturing people, we both thought, “How nice of the Planned Parenthood people to make sure we knew where to park.”

As I exited the car like some kind of odd celebrity, I wasn’t prepared for the older woman who shoved her face an inch from mine and screamed that I was murdering my baby. I wasn’t prepared for the looks of pure hate, no, the looks that could kill. I seem to vaguely recall being warned not to make eye contact, but I did, and I saw what I thought was someone who would gladly murder me to keep me from entering the clinic.

“What baby?” I blurted. Then a real Planned Parenthood escort took my arm, told me not to talk to them and led me inside. The two minutes had felt like a siege.

The article is somewhat marred by the obligatory “balance”–

Both sides of the debate are so heavily sunk into their bunkers. On one side, it seems monstrous that a handful of people, mostly men, decide on a procedure that involves, criminalizes and punishes women, and I know there are conservative, Republican, so-called pro-life women who feel they sit on the morally superior side but then end up having an abortion for the same reasons we pro-choice women are driven to it. But pro-choice people must also acknowledge somewhere in their hearts that this procedure is not the moral equivalent of merely surgically removing tissue.

I believe most pro-choice people, especially those who are parents, do acknowledge somewhere in their hearts that this procedure is not the moral equivalent of merely surgically removing tissue. But short of going around in sackcloth and ashes, exactly how are we supposed to communicate to the world that, yes, it’s not just surgically removing tissue. We understand. But if we say it’s a personal choice, then it’s a personal choice, and unlike the haters outside the clinics we don’t go about butting into other people’s personal choices.

That said, I think it would be wonderful if we could be open and honest about our choices. Mrs. Lee mentions that in Japan there are shrines for aborted and miscarried children, and mothers can go there to openly express their grief without being judged or condemned. That could never happen here. If the Fetus People were to catch wind of a shrine like that, by the next day they’d have it surrounded so they could harrass anyone who showed up to mourn.

Justice Goes the Way of FEMA

Dan Eggen writes in today’s Washington Post:

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which has enforced the nation’s anti-discrimination laws for nearly half a century, is in the midst of an upheaval that has driven away dozens of veteran lawyers and has damaged morale for many of those who remain, according to former and current career employees.

Nearly 20 percent of the division’s lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration’s conservative views on civil rights laws. Longtime litigators complain that political appointees have cut them out of hiring and major policy decisions, including approvals of controversial GOP redistricting plans in Mississippi and Texas.

None of us alive today will live long enough to see all the damage corrected that the Bushies have done.

At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.

Get this:

The Bush administration has filed only three lawsuits — all of them this year — under the section of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits discrimination against minority voters, and none of them involves discrimination against blacks. The initial case was the Justice Department’s first reverse-discrimination lawsuit, accusing a majority-black county in Mississippi of discriminating against white voters.

Why are we not surprised?

Steve Soto:

This is your Bush Justice Department at work, five years along now, ignoring votings rights and race, age, and sex discrimination cases against employers in favor of directing its Civil Rights Division staff towards deportation cases. In other words, Bush is turning a blind eye to the original mission of the division, and pleasing his corporate check-writers in the process, by having newly hired and more ideological attorneys pursue politically-driven immigration and deportation cases. These cases don’t deal with the civil rights of our citizens, and should be handled by attorneys elsewhere in the federal government. …

The administration’s defense is that each administration gets to do what it wants, as it reflects the voters’ preferences. Really? I don’t remember voters telling us that they support letting Big Business dump older white workers to be replaced with younger cheaper staff. I don’t remember voters telling us that they want the concerns of women and minority workers ignored. And I don’t remember voters telling us that they want voting rights cases ignored either. Yet that is what the Ashcroft and Abu Gonzales Justice Departments have been doing

DemFromCT says,

We hurt ourselves when we give up the moral high ground. It’s a theme that you can’t repeat enough. We see it in arguments about terror and torture, about Abu Ghraib and “tough treatment” (e.g. waterboarding). We’ve begun to see it in arguments about immigration (think Minutemen). And this administration, led by Cheney and his new chief of staff, have led us down (not up) in these last five years.

To a rightie, “moral high ground” is “whatever I feel like doing must be right, ’cause Jesus loves me.”

The only saving grace is that the incompetence of many of the Bush appointees prevents the complete control of the levers, but (alas) this seems to be the one thing they’re actually good at. And the trust issue at some under the surface level is wrapped up with this as well. If you don’t hold the moral high ground, how can you trust the President in wartime or disaster time or at any time?

Just Don’t Call It Torture

And we know for a fact that information wrung from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others has helped prevent further attacks on U.S. soil.

The quote above is from an editorial in Opinion Journal defending torture. Like most rightie “facts,” this fact was born from faith rather than from evidence. Let’s look at what we actually do know.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in March 2003. It is alleged that KSM is being held in a “ghost” prison, possibly in Jordan, so that CIA interrogators can use “interrogation methods that are banned by US law.”

Sounds like he might have been tortured, yes. On the other hand, our President says we do not torture. Is the Opinion Journal editorial writer assuming that Bush lies? (Snort)

So, we don’t know for a fact that KSM was tortured, but for argument’s sake let’s assume he was. Did torturing KSM really provide information that “helped prevent further attacks on U.S. soil?” According to the White House’s own reckoning, one terrorist plot has been foiled on U.S. soil since KSM was captured, which was “to attack targets on the East Coast of the United States using hijacked commercial airplanes.” We have no way to know if “interrogating” KSM provided any information about that one plot. And we have no way to know if that one plot really was a plot and not a figment of John Ashcroft’s overheated imagination.

To give credit where credit is due, according to this Washington Post article KSM was behind a thwarted attempt to bomb London’s Heathrow Airport in mid-2003. And below the White House list of ten “plots” is a list of five “casings and infiltrations,” one of which (#2, collecting information on U.S. gas stations) involved KSM, according to WaPo. But we have no way to know from information made public so far how these “plots” or “casings” were uncovered, and we have to take on faith these were serious plots (or “casings,” as the case may be).

But the White House’s claims of attacks prevented on U.S. soil are a tad sketchy, and even if we assume these were all real plots that really were prevented, we don’t know for a fact where the intelligence came from that helped stop them. It could just as easily have come from standard law-enforcement type practices (e.g., wiretaps etc.) as from “interrogations.” Continue reading