This and That. Random Observations and Questions that Arise

 

By Steve Huntley

Aug. 24, 2022

This and that.
***
The American transgender movement tells us a 14-year-old girl is emotionally, psychologically and intellectually mature enough to decide she is a male and consent to taking powerful drugs to battle the natural biological functions of female puberty, even including irreversible sexual hormone treatment.

American society has statutory rape laws that say a 14-year-old girl is not emotionally, psychologically or intellectually mature enough to give consent to have sex with an adult man.

Which is the more accurate assessment of the emotional, psychological and intellectual reality of children, adolescents, minors?
***
With abortion back in the hands of the voters, women advocates for it argue, perhaps with reason, that abortion would be legal everywhere if men could have babies. Well, men certainly make babies. So let’s have state laws that make all fathers financially responsible from the moment of conception.

And put teeth into those laws, meaning money and personnel in prosecutor offices, to make sure that absentee fathers pay their share of support, again from the moment of conception.

This idea is not offered as an alternative to abortion — it’s going to take a while for the nation to work that out — but rather as a measure to focus male attention on the perils of unwanted pregnancy.

No doubt writing and enforcing such laws would be a complex challenge. But they would also serve as a powerful marker in our culture, and a few high-profile prosecutions each year might do wonders for contraception sales.

Would this 21st century update of the shotgun marriage help promote responsible sex?
***

“Earthquake” is the word used by the media in describing the vote in red Kansas, as people of the Sunflower State rejected an attempt to amend the state constitution and strip away access to an abortion. The question put to voters in Kansas: Should the Kansas constitution be amended to remove protections of abortion rights?

And with the measure getting 59 percent of the vote — think women, especially suburban women. For those voters, abortion is a powerful, personal issue of body autonomy.
But Republican leaders say when it comes to voting for Congress this fall, inflation will be first in the minds of voters in swing districts critical to determining control of Congress.
Are these GOP honchos right, or are they deluding themselves?
***
The Islamist fanatics finally got Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses.” Iran’s odious Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for Rushdie to be murdered on grounds the novel insulted Islam. Khomeini has long been dead, but the religious death warrant survived him.

The man who stabbed and critically injured Rushdie is the son of immigrants from Lebanon. Police say his motivation was Rushdie’s novel. The attacker reportedly had immersed himself in social media garbage celebrating Islamist extremism and Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard. The assassination attempt is being celebrated in Iran’s media. Iran says it had no link to the attack, that the only guilty party was Rushdie for bringing it on himself.

Rushdie isn’t the first casualty of Iran’s war on his book. The Japanese translator of the novel was murdered. A Turkish translator and a Norwegian publisher survived attacks.
Given the bloody history of Islamist terrorism against free speech — remember also the massacre in France over cartoons about Mohammed — would a novel like “The Satanic Verses” find a publisher today?

Would an author even attempt such a novel after this attack on Rushdie?

Have Iran and the terrorists succeeded in rolling back the real-world application of western values?
***

The Centers for Disease Control made headlines by acknowledging that it did a lot wrong during the Covid-19 pandemic. The problem is that the mea culpa didn’t include the worst excesses of the CDC inspired lockdowns and mandates authorized by state and local officials.

Government and the bureaucrats who run government never admit to taking too much power.

Just listen to outgoing White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci: Despite the growing body of evidence of how much damage the Covid 19 lockdown did to American lives, especially to children, and to the nation’s economy, Fauci claims “much, much more stringent restrictions” should have been imposed back then.

Whenever challenged, Fauci wraps himself in science, asserting that an attack on him is an attack on science.

Nonsense. Science is ever evolving, changing and often subject to differing viewpoints. Fauci chose the science thinking and computer projections he liked and self-righteously rejected any other viewpoint as an assault on science.

The verdict on his performance and his attack on any criticism as an assault on science will be determined by future historians.

But were Fauci a physician working daily with medical science and patients in the real world, he might have become familiar with the value of a second opinion.

That concept acknowledges that two doctors can look at the same disease in the same patient and come to different conclusions about diagnosis and treatment.

I know well the merits of a second opinion. A few years ago, I suffered for four months from an illness making my life miserable and it wasn’t getting any better. A second opinion from another doctor had me well on the road to recovery within two weeks.

Does Fauci come across as an experienced medical practitioner or as a government bureaucrat with a medical degree?
***
Individual tax payments to the federal government for the first 10 months of 2022 jumped 33 percent to $2.26 trillion, reports the Wall Street Journal.

A big jump and a lot of money. But Washington thinks it never has enough cash.

So Democrats in Congress just passed legislation to hire 87,000 more agents for the IRS.

One IRS want ad for the new agents included, under “major duties”, this item:
“Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”

Deadly force.

When the major duty involving deadly force stirred up interest on social media, it was deleted.

If there was ever any doubt about it, this legislation proves the era of big government is back — big time and in your face.

Given the history of the IRS targeting conservative groups during the Obama administration, are you comfortable with a re-energized IRS?
***
Tax the rich is the constant refrain of the left for America’s problems.

According to Forbes magazine’s annual rankings of the richest people, America has 735 billionaires with a net worth of $4.7 trillion. A mountain of money.

President Biden’s budget for 2022 proposed spending $6 trillion.

So the government could confiscate all the wealth of America’s billionaires — their stocks, bonds, homes, planes, yachts, and everything else they own down to their pocket change. This could fund the raveous federal government for less than a year.

And, of course, then that wealth would be gone, no longer around to bankroll the investment, capital formation, enterprise and innovation that are the source of America’s economic success.
The rich have only so much money. What does that tell you about where those 87,000 IRS agents will have to go to fund the big government dreams of big spending Democrats?

     ***
The late conservative intellectual Charles Krauthammer famously described the right-left divide in America this way: Conservatives think liberals are stupid, liberals think conservatives are evil.

One is a judgment on intelligence, the other a moral denunciation.

The conservatives-are-evil judgment among liberals predates the Donald Trump presidency.

But since then the animosity between right and left has only gotten worse. Now, I think it’s fair to say that many conservatives have come to return the animus of liberals, judging them as evil, as the enemy.

Our common identity as citizens of this great country is being submerged in the bile of hyper-partisan politics. We’re Democrats and Republicans first and Americans second. Our actual enemies in the world can only rejoice.

Is there any issue or political figure that could bridge this divide, putting the nation on the road back to more normal, still sharply contested but consensus-driven politics?
***
There was a lot of surprise, and glee on the conservative side, from the media commentariat about Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, one of the most prominent members of the wacky progressive “Squad” in Congress, barely surviving a Democrat primary challenge from a centrist candidate.

With the chaos, anarchy, crime and millions in damage inflicted on Minneapolis thanks to policies and the political outlook she favors — like defund the police — I’m surprised she wasn’t defeated by double digits.

What does her victory say about where the Democrat voters in Minneapolis and the nation are? And since Democrats run Minneapolis and the vast majority of big cities, what does it say about the future of those cities?
***

A historic footnote: Eugene Debs was a prominent socialist sentenced to 10 years in prison for sedition for his anti-war activities during World War I. While in the penitentiary, he ran for president (for the fifth time) and received nearly 1 million votes.

And Debs wasn’t the first. That distinction belongs to Congressman Matthew Lyon in the early days of the Republic. Convicted and imprisoned under the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts for publishing an attack on President John Adams, Lyon ran for reelection from his jail cell in 1798 — and won.
The Constitution says nothing about a prison sentence disqualifying someone from running for office.
Happenstance? Or did the Founding Fathers have the foresight to see that a partisan prosecutor or law enforcement boss might use the law against a political foe?

-30-

About the author

Now a frequent contributor to this page, for almost three decades Huntley spent most of his career in Chicago journalism at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he was a feature writer, metro reporter, night city editor, metropolitan editor, editorial page editor and a columnist for the opinion pages.

Before that he was a reporter and editor with United Press International (UPI) in the South and Chicago, and Chicago bureau chief and a senior editor in Washington with U.S. News & World Report. Northwestern University Press has issued soft cover and eBook editions of “Knocking Down Barriers: My Fight for Black America” by Truman K. Gibson Jr. with Steve Huntley.

a memoir of a Chicagoan who was a member of President Roosevelt’s World War II Black Cabinet working to desegregate the military.

It is an honor and privilege to have Mr. Huntley, who spent decades in the news business in Chicago, writing pieces here.

JK