Quick Roundup 180

Monday, April 23, 2007

Involuntary Parenthood

Galileo came up with the above phrase, which is a good, succinct way to describe the recent ruling against partial birth abortions by the United States Supreme Court.

... The risk is that the woman becomes pregnant and the couple, who may not want a child, is forced to become parents.

That is the world we are moving closer to with yesterday's Supreme Court decision upholding a federal law banning certain second trimester abortions. There is not even an exception for the health of the mother. Justice Kennedy, author of the majority 5-4 decision, contemptuously said that if a doctor is concerned about the health of his patient, he can simply violate the law and perform the illegal abortion anyway, and then challenge the law in court. He is acknowledging that his heinous decision can put the life of the mother in danger, and he suggests that a doctor simply risk jail in order to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and protect his patient.

This is the attitude of the man who defended the magnanimity of Congress in its wise decision to pass its anti-abortion law: "The government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman." (source for quotes: New York Times) [bold added]
This is a small, but significant victory for the religious right and a major defeat for the cause of individual rights.

Separation of Church and State -- by Divine Fiat?

Texas State Representative Warren Chisum, who recently proposed legislation that could, among other things, force couples wanting a divorce to wait two years for one, certainly appears to be the GOP's point man on issues of separation of church and state. Just read this letter from Sunday's Houston Chronicle.
The Chronicle's April 14 editorial "What separation? / State Rep. Warren Chisum works hard to erode the line between church and state" did not adequately define the separation of church and state for readers.

Religious concepts have served as an inspiration to lawmakers and for the creation of law since the United States was founded. In a country where the majority believe in God, it would be impossible to expect that its lawmakers would disregard religious ideas as the moral motivation behind certain legislation.

While it might be fair to argue that some laws inspired by religion have either become outdated or unsuccessful, the same argument could be made about legislation with secular and socialist origins.

I am confident that my constituents -- and a majority of Texans -- would prefer that my decisions be based on the principles and lessons laid out in the Bible rather than from secular sources such as Karl Marx.

Furthermore, the editorial claimed that my bills are designed to "erode the line between church and state." If separation of church and state is defined as adopting legislation inspired by religious values, then the nation became a theocracy at its inception. Our Founders included the separation of church and state in the Constitution to prevent church and government from merging together as an institution to officially sanction one particular type of worship over another.

Nowhere in my legislation do I propose that the Baptist Church (or any church), its official doctrine or its worship practices become state law to the exclusion of any other religion or type of worship.

Notice the slick way Chisum ignores the Enlightenment context of the American Revolution in order to imply that our nation's laws are "inspired" by religion since many of the Founders professed some form of Christianity. He does this while glossing over the historical background of separation of church and state and the precise meaning of the establishment clause, which is designed to keep all religion out of government, rather than just one particular sect. Notice the false dichotomy, popular among conservatives, between theocracy and communism. And notice that based on his premises, you have to either shut up about him moving our nation towards theocracy -- or concede that the United States has always been one ... based on the fact that it has separation of church and state!

This man gives the phrase "holy oil" a whole new meaning.

New Signs of "Enlightenment"

Based on the following idiotic global warming proposals, you will soon be able to smell global warming hysterics a mile away -- or spot them more easily around meal times. At least, that is, until they succeed in forcing the rest of us to conform. Just consider the following carbon-laden emissions from the mouth of Sheryl Crow:
  • I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.
  • I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve." The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold. [bold added]
So now, smelling like excrement and wiping our mouths on our sleeves is supposed to save the planet, somehow. Brilliant. Such is the contempt for reason and civilized behavior among these people that there is no aspect, however personal, of your life they will not leave untouched. Kinda like anti-abortion Republicans.

And speaking of religion, it is, furthermore, no coincidence that Crow is perfectly happy to call our rights "God-given". After all, the Lord giveth and the Lord (speaking from the mouth of Sheryl Crow) taketh away. What better way to absolve oneself of any guilt for interfering with the lives of others while at the same time allowing oneself to feel good about it?

Some Good News

Chicago is closer to becoming the home of America's tallest building, which would also be the world's tallest residential structure.
The 2,000ft tower featuring 1,200 residences, would top the city's 1,451ft Sears Tower and become the tallest building in the US. It would soar above the 1,776ft Freedom Tower that is currently being constructed on the site of the World Trade Centre, which was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
The design seems to have changed a bit over time, as described and pictured in a commentary from late 2006.

-- CAV


Galileo Blogs said...

I hope Chicago gets the new 2,000 foot high tower. Chicago has some of the greatest skyscrapers in the world. It is the home of architect Louis Sullivan, the father of the skyscraper. Chicago's towers are tall, straight and proud.

I say this as a New Yorker. I love New York's buildings, but they are often hammered by bizarre zoning rules that force flattened pancake shapes on their structures. Many New Yorkers today dislike tall buildings, and as a result zoning laws force new buildings to be ever shorter. It is no wonder that our tallest building (and my favorite), the Empire State Building, is over 75 years old. The World Trade Center, although now gone, wasn't even built by a private developer, but by a state agency that had exempted itself from all of the zoning laws that private builders are forced to obey.

I exult that the new Chicago tower will be residential. Chicago has gloriously tall residential structures, as a matter of course. It is easy and inexpensive to find rental or condo apartments that are 30, 40 or even 50 stories high, complete with pool on the roof! In New York, new residential towers that tall are almost non-existent. The oppressive height restrictions that afflict our city are especially stringent against tall residential buildings.

New York also suffers terribly from an affliction Chicago does not have, rent control. Rent control has stunted the natural height of the city, and laid waste to square miles of land once teeming with private apartment buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Rent control makes apartments more scarce, so that the available apartments are far more expensive than they are, for example, in Chicago, which has no rent control!

Let Chicago build the tallest building in the United States. Let Chicago again inspire New York as it did in the days of Louis Sullivan. Let it inspire New York to stand up and build the world's tallest buildings as the world's greatest city should!

That's my ode to Chicago, sung by a New Yorker.

Gus Van Horn said...

No arguments from me there.

My in-laws live in a fairly new high-rise apartment in Chicago, and we stayed with them one July 4th and got to look down on the fireworks at Navy Pier. (Their view is spectacular, fireworks or not.) Incidentally, I think the place has improved quite a bit in recent years in that area, but that's my sometimes haywire memory recalling second-hand information.

Chicago is probably my favorite northern city.

Jim May said...

Many New Yorkers today dislike tall buildings, and as a result zoning laws force new buildings to be ever shorter.

They should move out to LLos Angeles, where the justification for the height restrictions that are primarily responsible for the ridiculously inefficient use of land in Los Angeles and environs is "we don't want to look like Manhattan".

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh. They also have rent control in parts of LA, if I recall correctly!