The New Eugenicists (which is a good name for a band)

I just finished a book about genealogy, DNA, and history, called The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures, by Christine Kenneally.  There was a lot of interesting stuff in there about how people have used genealogy  in their self-identifications, including some very good chapter on Eugenics.

There was a very, very, large moral blind spot in her work though, and that’s the connection between the pro-abortion movement and eugenics.

I’ll not dwell on the connection between Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood, and the eugenics movement of the early 1900’s, which were so much more widespread that most people understand (or refuse to see.  I have lots of pro-PP friends who don’t want to see the connection).

I’d rather talk to the modern Eugenics movement, which is very present at most levels of society today.  At the most banal, this shows itself in the “abortion prevents poverty, crime, and welfare payments” section of the pro-choice movement.  At its most pernicious levels, it’s the casual genocide against unborn with actual or potential diseases or defects.

It is not a great secret that overwhelming majorities of parents, when faced with a down-syndrome child in utero, choose to kill it rather than raise it or offer it for adoption (for the most half-assed politifact check ever, see their partisan two-step around Rick Santorum’s claim at http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/feb/27/rick-santorum/rick-santorum-says-90-percent-down-syndrome-childr/).

That by itself needs to sink in.  When offered a down syndrome child, most parents kill it.  After the Americans with Disabilities Act, after the TV show “Life Goes On,” most parents still choose to kill their child.

Dr. Kenneally devotes a large chunk of her book to Huntington’s disease and other Mendelian diseases (which are solely expressed by genetics; i.e. if you have a certain gene, you have the disease), most closely following the career and work of a Huntington’s researcher who himself has Huntington’s Disease.

The doctor and his wife, fearful that the disease would be passed on to their own children, chose to have children by creating embryo’s ex utero, then only implanting the non-Huntington’s ones.  The author did not ask him any questions about his choice to use a procedure which, had it been practiced his own parents, would have meant he would have never lived.

I think Jeff Carroll’s life is probably the strongest argument that we ought not arbitrarily kill humans because they will have diseases or disabilities.  Huntington’s will claim his life a some point in the next 20 years, but in his lifetime, he made tremendous advances to humanity.  Had Stephen Hawking’s parents known he would develop ALS, should they have killed him?

I could sit here an make a list of famous people with disabilities (they already exist:http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_0060.shtml), but I don’t think it adds more to this discussion.

People, all people, are potential resources for humanity.  We don’t know where the man that invents the cure for cancer will be born, or what genetic problems the woman that enables faster than light travel will come from.  From a purely utilitarian perspective, we do not need to worry about producing “too many” children.  We are not in a situation where we can only take the children with the most genetically beneficial traits.  The glory of humanity is that genius comes from anywhere, sometimes in broken packages.

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Forefeiture

About a year and a half ago, as part of a project for a course I was taking, I did some research on the history of the relationship between blacks and the Republican party (and the decline, thereof).  There were a lot of things that saddened me in what I discovered.  For example, black support did not swift abruptly or decidedly during the Great Depression (Pres. Eisenhower could still poll in the high 30’s in the 56′ election) and it wasn’t until the disastrously conservative Barry Goldwater that the black vote was really lost).  The divorce of Black America and the GOP has made both sides poorer, both intellectually and financially.

What I found more disturbing, though, was venomous treatment of those blacks who remained or joined the GOP.  I could not believe when I saw terms like “house negro” and “Uncle Tom” applied to black conservatives in peer-reviewed, scholarly articles.  I grew up around white racists, who used the term “nigger-lover” to refer to whites who, they thought, cozied up to blacks and black causes.  That’s what the treatment of black conservatives by progressives reminds me of.

I bring this up because of this article: http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6864, in which a U Penn professor refers to Ben Carson as a “coon.”  I’m not even sure where to go with that. If any–any–right wing leaning pundit, writer, or politician had said that Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders was a “race-traitor” or “nigger-lover” because of her/his beliefs, they wouldn’t be there anymore.  A few years ago, when John Derbyshire wrote a very honest, very heartfelt, yet still racist article about his fear of blacks in general, he was ostracized by conservative flagship NRO.  The recent racist undertones in, especially, Donald Trump’s campaign have been the subject of intense criticism on the right.

The left has nothing like this.  The left are thugs.  Whether it’s the treatment of women like Bristol or Sarah Palin, S.E. Cupp, or Michelle Bachman, or the treatment of black conservatives like Carson, Cain, or Tom Sowell, the left has no real punishment, penance, or controls in place for its side.  If a conservative professor had called Michelle Obama a racial or sexist slur, he’d be gone, from his job, from any position of influence, from the mainstream conservative world.  When a liberal professor does the same, they’re still there.

The left desperately needs its “Atticus Finch Moment.”  The reference is to the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird, when, after Tom Robinson stands up, shows his destroyed left arm, with which he had purportedly committed the crime, the jury still convicts him.  That’s the moment when the reader is supposed to see that the system is rigged, that half of it is not participating in good faith, and that just saying the word “justice” or “trial by jury” is not the same as actually producing justice.

As I write this, the presumptive nominee for the Democrats is a woman who led the attacks to defend her husband when he was accused of rape and sexual harassment.  Hillary Clinton’s party is the “we are against the war on women” party, but, like, she actively tried to silence people claiming to be victims of actual violence against women.  Because they criticized a man of the left, apparently they have forfeited their rights to protection, similar to how black conservatives have forfeited their right not to be called racial slurs.

It doesn’t stop there.  Hollywood liberals rail against gun violence while glorifying it to make a buck.  Musicians routinely utter the foulest recriminations against women and gays, and are given a pass for it.  Planned Parenthood kills more blacks every day than the KKK did in a year in it’s heyday.  The Right sees this, and is justifiably dumbstruck at the disconnect shown by both supporters

Because in large part, the right polices itself against this (except, sadly, in the case of immigration, although the Trumps and Coulters of the conservative world are short for it, I think).  Republicans who say dumb things like “legitimate rape” disappear.  The whiff of racism is enough for a conservative to be jettisoned from the movement.

But the left does not get it.  Because, fundamentally, the left does not care about people, it cares about intentions.  Sure, it cares about feeling like it’s “helping people” but not actually helping people.  If a law or policy is well-intentioned but, in fact, does harm to the people it’s supposed to protect, the left gives it a pass.  If widespread access to contraceptives and abortion is “supposed” to help women, it doesn’t matter, that, in effect, widespread access to contraceptives and abortion have destroyed marriage in the American Underclass.  If the Affordable Care Act is supposed to help “the poor,” it doesn’t matter that it destroys jobs, either directly or in forcing businesses to cut the hours of part time workers.  If focusing on moving children into college is supposed to be good for them, it doesn’t matter that most kids who go to college a) won’t graduate and b) be burdened by the debt they incur being there.

And if “progressivism” is good for people, then no slander, slur, or insult is verboten to use against it’s opponents.

Common Sense on Gun Control

Disclosure: When I was in high school, I earned a spot into a program sponsored by the Friends of the NRA, through which I was flown to DC for a week to study the US Constitution (mostly the 2nd Amendment parts of the US Constitution…).  During this week, I once mentioned that I didn’t see any harm in gun registration and, for the first moment in my life, turned out to be the most lefty progressive person in a room.  I generally don’t have a problem with gun ownership (I don’t own one, but I am licensed in my state.  I’ve done several gun safety classes from the time I was a Boy Scout through my mid 30’s with trained NRA instructors, who are the finest gun safety instructors in the world.  I think criminals should generally not have guns or access to them, and I don’t think that the gun laws we typically have on the books today (a few days waiting periods, mandatory safety training, registration, licensing to own/carry/conceal) are overly onerous.

I think people who want to own guns should be able to with a minimum of headache and hassle, but I understand why some people want there, overall, to be fewer guns in our possession.

Anyway, maybe it’s the statistician talking, but I started doing some digging into murder rates in the US.

(you can see for yourself at: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_countries_by_intentional…, http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0873729.html, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/…/study-the-u-s-has-had-one-…/)

The good news: We are doing great, murder-wise. Like, I get it, all murder is bad, and there are a lot of things that go into reductions in murder-rates that I don’t want to get into here. But back when I was in middle school, the US overall was at about 10 deaths per 100,000. Now we are at less than half that.

The meh news with a positive spin: We have a murder rate around 4.5 per 100,000, which is really good compared to a lot of other countries that have areas with hugely concentrated poverty.

(Honduras, for example, where my beloved wife did her mission work, has a murder rate like 20 times what the US is. Mexico’s is about 3 times as much as ours. I hope anti-immigration people get a sense real quick about what people from the South are trying to get away from.)

Yeah, it’s not as good as Canada (which overall has about the same murder rate, 1.6%, as super progressive, hard line Democrat Utah does, 1.8%). But not all of Canada. Manitoba, the cleverly named Northwest Territories, and something called Nunavut (none of what? Canada? Why don’t you speak English!?) all have comparable or higher rates of murder rates than the US does.

So, whereas the US has a higher percentage overall, not all parts of it are equally murder, and there’s not a good correlation between blue- or red-ness of the states with murder rates. (Utah and Vermont are really low, Weesiana and DC are really high, with DC being the typical “gun-laws don’t work” example and Louisiana being the typical “no gun-laws doesn’t work” example from the parties respectively).

More meh: Mass shootings are a tiny percentage of homicides. They are just higher visibility. Trying to make gun-policy by focusing on mass shootings is not a good tactic, statistically, any more than focusing on foreign aid is a good way to discuss balancing the budget.

The bad: Lots of people still get murdered in the United States. Each of these is a very sad thing, and it would be great if we had better ways of preventing this. I recommend working and volunteering at low-income, high poverty areas, since murder rates are highly correlated with poverty and better education is correlated with not poverty.

The scary: If anyone is wondering what is going to kill their children, it will be obesity, cancer, and “unintentional injuries”. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm. It will very likely not be guns.

To quote Nick Naylor: “Well, the real demonstrated #1 killer in America is cholesterol. And here comes Senator Finistirre whose fine state is, I regret to say, clogging the nation’s arteries with Vermont Cheddar Cheese. If we want to talk numbers, how about the millions of people dying of heart attacks? Perhaps Vermont Cheddar should come with a skull and crossbones.”

Pollution is bad, Climate change is not

I have heavy sympathies for the environment.  I was in Boy Scouts and did lots of camping and hiking (I still do a good bit of hiking).  I was instrumental in getting my 8th grade yearbook to have an “environmental” theme.  My Eagle Scout project was setting up an aluminum can recycling program at my church.  I cut my six-pack wrappers into pieces so they don’t kill turtles or whatever.

I have solar panels on my house (I alone among all of my progressive liberal arts college classmates do).  I put them up myself with literally my own blood and sweat (and Home Depot and some nice subsidies. Thanks suckers!).

I like nature and I like the fact that we as taxpayers help to support public nature spaces (public parks, State Parks, National Forests, etc.).  I like that I will be leaving these things clean and usable for the next generation.

But I also have heavy sympathies for the Teddy Roosevelt “We keep healthy populations of animals around so that sometimes we can shoot them” flavor of environmentalism, what I guess you could call conservationism (from the Latin that means “to guard”).

See, I have serious misgivings that the purpose of nature is to stay exactly like it is at this moment, and I definitely don’t think that nature is there for us NOT to use for our own betterment.

Back in Boy Scouts, one of the things we had to do (for our First Class badge, I think) was to make a “useful camp gadget.”  Sadly, a “pokey-stick” to beat my younger brother with did not count, and so we learned how to lash together lean-tos for shelter, tripods for cooking, bench things to sit on over pits we used as latrines, spike fences, etc..

We used ropes and sticks to build these things, and here’s the thing: using nature to build things made me feel much more “in touch” with the environment than just sitting in my tent or walking through the woods.  Maybe that’s because I don’t just want to be a tourist of the nature, peeping in at its secrets like some kind of filthy pervert.  I want to get my hands into it, feel the dirt under my fingernails and bends its limbs to my desires (like a, uh, filthy pervert).

Working in concert with nature, whether it’s building a fence out of cedar (the best smell ever), playing with my dog, or using snowballs to crush my enemies (or my unsuspecting wife) really makes me feel alive.  It’s a friend, you know?  You do stuff with your friend, you don’t just stare at it and make sure nobody ever touches it.

Nature is not some cruel Medusa wishing no interaction with the world and trying to keep all things as they are permanently.  Nature likes us utilizing her, she enjoys us playing in her, with her, near her.

And similarly, we have a responsibility to help shape her and be a good steward of her.  Upkeeping a park, caring for rose bushes, not littering; all of these things are a few of the roles that we play in our symbiosis with her.

But none of this means that the chronological snapshot that we have of her at this moment is how she always was or always needs to be.  There’s a huge difference between outright pollution and defilement of nature and “climate change.”

Here’s the thing, I hate it when I see pollution.  When someone dumps garbage in a forest, has large amounts of chemical run-off go into rivers, or puts up Wrigley Field, I get mad.  The destruction of nature for the sake of destruction is an awful, terrifying thing.

On the other hand, if you told me that the place where I live in America’s Heartland was going to get more like Hawaii or California (warmer weather, more carbon dioxide and so more trees, more moisture in the seas and in the atmosphere) I’m going to have a hard time getting upset.  If you tell me that some islands will become buried by water, but that large swaths of land in Canada and Russia will become arable, I’m going to see that as a positive trade off, or, at the very least, not entirely negative.

Lots of things can change in the environment: seas can rise and fall, ice can melt or expand, new lands can be opened up or covered with ice, average rainfall can go up or down.  But none of these, in and of themselves, is evil or bad.  They are all just changes.  New land can be farmed, dykes can be built, city populations can be moved.

Sure, some of these are inconvenient, but they are not life-threatening.  Only our response to them might cause injury or death.

Luckily we humans are the most adaptable, most capable of survival species in the world.  No place on earth is untouched by human habitation, which means that even if the world gets warmer (or cooler), we have strategies to deal with it.

Moreover, potential difficulties encountered by humans in the future because of these changes is in no ways commensurate with the very real, very pernicious dangers proposed by many environmentalist groups.  Sure, we can get rid of fossil fuels, but then a bunch of old people are going to die of heat exhaustion in the Summer or of hypothermia in the Winter.  We can mandate that electricity be produced only by solar and wind power, but that really just dooms anyone who has a heart attack or needs a ventilator at night.

“But,” I hear you say, “we’ll still use fossil fuels in hospitals.”  What about farming?  If we go back to 1800’s-levels of farm production, who suffers?  (Hint: poor people).  What about transportation?  What about Industry?

But the environmentalist/eugenics movement has long advocated getting rid of the poor (either through direct sterilization or feticide) for the following purposes: a) to prevent the poor from using up resources the wealthy covet, b) to make sure that most of nature remains undisturbed and permanent, like statues in a museum, and c) to make sure that only those people who are already living in wealthy nations have access to technological and industrial progress.

Maybe that’s why I’m a conservative.  I don’t think the answer to poverty is sterilization or homicide, and I don’t think that nature wants us to treat her like a statue of Hera: beautiful, but remote and never to be touched.