A Scientific Love Affair

At The Federalist today, you can find my latest piece, in which I explain how, “When Liberals Use ‘Science’ To Attack Conservatives, They Demean Science.” Increasingly, progressivism has come to rely on the rallying cry of “science” to defend its own disastrous and played-out policies: if you disagree with the prevailing party line on climate change, for instance, then you should be prepared to face down a horde of liberals monotonously chanting “science” over and over again in an effort to shut you up. As I write:

For progressivism, “science” has become a safety blanket in which its adherents can swaddle themselves to avoid confronting alternative beliefs. It is a refuge from having to think too critically, either about your opponent’s political convictions or the gaping holes in your own.

Every ideology is prone to insular thinking to a certain degree, but liberalism has made great strides recently in utterly sheltering itself from political and philosophical views other than its own. In my article, I cite Chris Mooney of the Washington Post, who seeks to prove why conservatives are so anti-science-y and unscientific and so forth; Mooney is also the author of an entire book on this topic, in which he

uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans reject reality—it’s just part of who they are…Why won’t Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts?

How dare they. Liberalism has, in recent years, adopted this kind of preachy, moralizing character about itself: if you disagree with progressive policy prescriptions, it’s not just that your politics are bad—there’s something wrong with you personally. This is not the mark of a confident political faction but a desperate one; it’s worth recognizing the pathetic insecurities that mark the liberal ideology these days, if only to remind ourselves that their politics are fundamentally bankrupt and that they are essentially out of ideas.

Easy Like Monday Morning

Homeschoolers are used to all manner of misguided and insulting judgement from a public that is often hostile to what Kevin D. Williamson calls “the last radicals;” at best, many people are dismissive of homeschoolers, while plenty of folks are outright antagonistic towards them. Sometimes the criticism takes a turn for the weird, however:

Patricia was complying with the law; she was qualified to homeschool and had notified the local school district of her intent to educate her teen daughter at home.

As a single parent she was entitled by law to child support pursuant to a custody agreement until her children completed high school. However, just days after her daughter’s 18th birthday, the agency responsible for collecting and distributing the support payments from Patricia’s former spouse informed her that child support would no longer be collected simply because her daughter, Katelyn, now 18, was not in school.

She was told that this was happening because “West Virginia does not recognize homeschooling as a secondary education.”

When Patricia contacted the agency to gather more information and to attempt to resolve the matter, she was told by one staff member that “We know homeschool kids don’t work as hard as kids in regular school.”

From a stylistic point of view, the “staff member” has just a terrible approximation of what constitutes a “regular” education: I would suggest that there is nothing “regular” about children going to a building for seven hours a day for years and years to be educated and bossed around by strangers while sitting with a bunch of people with whom they happen to share the same age range. It is an arrangement that, to me, seems more and more ghoulish and bizarre with each passing year. I can’t make any sense of it.

That being said, the bureaucrat in question is actually right about something in this case: we do know that homeschool students do not, in fact, “work as hard” as kids in “regular school.” That’s partly the point of homeschool: standard Western-style compulsory education is just a miserable dirge of constant busywork and grinding, mind-numbing boredom. By any reasonable measure it is unpleasant, annoying, distressing and exasperating work: it’s hard, in other words, and not the good kind of hard. Homeschooling done right, on the other hand, generally presents an opportunity for pleasant, enjoyable education, often built around what one wants to learn rather than what one “must” learn; moreover, homeschoolers are not suffocated by the petty little rules and dictates of modern education, they’re not wasting time trudging between classrooms, they don’t have to deal with a slate of tired and stressed-out teachers who are bitter and unhappy and constantly complaining about their jobs. Homeschooling frees the student from this brutal slog through the modern educational complex.

That’s not to say homeschool is always roses, but, in general, it’s much easier than “normal” school; it’s both better work and, by dint of the time-saving efficiency, it’s less work, which means you have more time for fun stuff. I’m baffled, in other words, as to why Patricia didn’t just go ahead and own it: “Yes,” she could have replied, “my daughter does less work than kids in ‘regular’ school, and she’s getting a better education while she’s at it. Now shut up and get me my damn child support.”

The Indestructible Unbannable Feminism

One of my editors, Mollie Hemingway, has a fantastic piece at The Federalist today in which she states that

Whether we want to or not, we have to deal with our feminist bullying problem.

Yes, we must. Feminism itself has become, by-and-large, a perversion of itself: the noble goal of, as Susan B. Anthony put it, women’s “rights, and nothing less” has morphed into an insane rage-based philosophy that is ruled by mob fury and academic indignation. It is almost beyond parody at this point; the only people able to adequately parody feminism are feminists themselves. Time Magazine recently came out with its annual “Banned Words” list, and “feminist” made the cut for self-evident reasons; the backlash was swift and strong enough to cause Time to issue the jaw-dropping addendum:

TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.

Well, actually, yes, the word “feminist” should have been included on the list: what on Earth would be the reason for keeping it off? Because it might offend a self-righteous women’s studies PhD candidate somewhere? And sorry, Time, but “the nuance” was not “lost:” most of us can see the nuance just fine, thank you, and the nuance says that feminism has mutated into a fragile, egocentric ideology that cannot take even the slightest bit of criticism in stride. I get that they were probably under a good bit of pressure from these lunatics, but seriously: the editors at Time should feel sort of ashamed for giving into such whack-jobs. It effects a deadening of the public debate sphere and makes other people less likely to resist the quasi-tyrannical influence of feminist anger. What a waste.

Another favorite pet project of hardcore feminists these days is pushing “affirmative consent” laws and policies on college campuses across the country: the concept of “affirmative consent,” as Tara Culp-Ressler put it, involves “making sure the person with whom you’re about to have sex is excited about having sex with you,” so that you don’t accidentally rape your sex partner: if someone does not offer an insanely enthusiastic and explicit “yes” to sex, then they can theoretically quite easily claim they were raped. A Yale professor recently wrote an op/ed pointing out the terrible flaws in this approach to rape adjudication, which led a group of Yale law students to throw up an “open letter” to the professor:

The old complicated standards required a debate over whether the sex or other offending behavior was or wasn’t “wanted” by the victim, or whether the victim fought back. Under affirmative consent, the question is simply whether both parties expressed a desire to proceed.

This is a bizarre mishmash of goobledygook: in this instance, the two standards of determining whether or not rape did or did not occur are functionally identical, both turning on whether or not the sex was wanted or unwanted by the victim in question. None of it makes any sense at all. Yet even if we’re to somehow parse these two definitions and divine some sort of difference between them, consider: the law students of one of the world’s top universities apparently believe that these “old standards” were somehow unbearably “complicated,” simply because they required a “debate” of moderate complexity in the event of a fraught and difficult subject like rape. These are the lawyers of tomorrow, under the influence of the feminism of today. If these future attorneys are any indication, then it’s rather ironic that Time expressed such anxiety regarding “the important debate over equality and justice.”

Veil of Ignorance, Lifted

Jonathan Gruber’s recently-revealed remarks—in which he stated that Obamacare was crafted and structured in such a way as to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter”—has created a baffling and frenetic firestorm on the Left, with progressives scrambling to explain why one of Obamacare’s chief architects admitted that the Affordable Care Act was essentially a massive exercise in voter deception. That the Left is perfectly willing to lie, cheat and mislead the American people to achieve its utopian ends is entirely unsurprising, but their defense of Gruber’s remarks has been somewhat astonishing to witness; Kevin Drum might just take the cake:

I gather this has created a mini-firestorm, and obviously I understand why. If you imply that a bill was structured to take advantage of the “stupidity” of the American voter, that’s just bound to come back to haunt you. So the radio yammerheads are having a field day, and I guess I don’t blame them.

But if we can take just a half step up from radio yammerhead land, did Gruber say anything that isn’t common knowledge? I’m not playing faux naive here. I’m serious. Basically, Gruber said two things…

Uh, actually, Gruber didn’t “imply” anything in his remarks; he flat-out admitted that Obamacare was a deceptive ruse from the get-go. Drum is just a bit too cowardly to admit that the Affordable Care Act’s architect is a sneaky, dishonest liar; in that he’s remarkably like Jonathan Gruber himself. Anyway, here’s Gruber’s “two things” according to Kevin Drum:

First, he noted that it was important to make sure the mandate wasn’t scored as a tax by the CBO. Indeed it was, and this was a topic of frequent discussion while the bill was being debated. We can all argue about whether this was an example of the CBO scoring process being gamed, but it has nothing to do with the American voter. Rather, it has everything to do with the American congressman, who’s afraid to vote for anything unless it comes packaged with a nice, neat bow bearing an arbitrary, predetermined price tag.

As for risk-rated subsidies, I don’t even know what Gruber is talking about here. Of course healthy people pay in and sick people get money. It’s health insurance. That’s how it works. Once again, this was a common topic of discussion while the bill was being debated—in fact, one that opponents of the bill talked about constantly. They complained endlessly that healthy young people would pay relatively higher rates than they deserved, while older, sicker people would get a relative break on their premiums. This was no big secret, but the bill passed anyway.

This is a disingenuous and pedantic justification of Gruber’s nasty and elitist remarks. Yes, it’s true that “American congressmen” are the ones who actually vote on pieces of legislation—but it’s “the American voter” who elects the Congressman. Democrats in Congress were terrified that “the American voter” might discover the portents of their rotten and disastrous piece of legislation. Hence the lack of transparency, and Gruber’s gleeful celebration of it.

As for the notion that the bill’s impending “relatively higher rates” for healthy people were “no big secret,” well, that, too, is a dishonest characterization of the promises that were made to justify Obamacare. Obama himself promised repeatedly to cut insurance premiums by thousands of dollars, first as a candidate in 2008 and then in the midst of the passage of Obamacare—but premiums are increasing anyway.  Democrats knew they had to lie through their teeth about Obamacare’s price tag to get the law passed; Gruber is simply rejoicing after the fact. Kevin Drum’s justifications here look clumsy and awkward and desperate. At least Gruber was honest about it, even if he didn’t expect to get caught. Actually, with each passing day, it’s coming to light that Gruber has been honest to a fault:

“Now, the problem is, it’s a political nightmare … and people say, ‘No, you can’t tax my benefits.’ So what we did a lot in that room was talk about, well, how could we make this work?” Gruber said.

“And Obama was like, ‘Well, you know’ — I mean, he is really a realistic guy. He is like, ‘Look, I can’t just do this.’ He said: ‘It is just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phases and other things?’ And we talked about it. And he was just very interested in that topic,” Gruber continued.

Of course he was “interested in that topic:” he knew that his signature “healthcare” law would have been deeply unpopular and completely un-passable if its ultimate expenses were revealed to the American public. So Democrats lied, repeatedly, over and over again—and then Gruber opened his big mouth a bunch of times afterwards to crow about it. Now liberals like Kevin Drum are forced to try and defend the indefensible—but then again, isn’t that what they’ve been doing with Obamacare all along?

What’s in a Word

If you follow feminist politics at all, then you’ll know that feminists themselves often get hung up on that one single word: “feminism.” Many people have understandably tried to distance themselves from the word “feminism,” given that the word itself has been taken over by a group of mildly psychopathic whack-jobs. You can, of course, still advocate for “gender equality” without calling yourself a feminist—but modern feminists are loath to let anyone off the hook so easily: “If you believe in equality between the sexes,” they scream, “then that means you’re a feminist!” Steve Shives summed it up thusly:

“The reason why it’s called feminism while advocating for gender equality is because females are the gender that are the underprivileged, underserved gender,” Shives says in his video response. “You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender.”

This doesn’t make any sense. You can still “advocate for the rights of the underprivileged gender” and not call yourself a feminist. It’s just a word, for God’s sake. Anyway, most political or social causes don’t factor into their names the biological status of those they are trying to help: anti-slavery crusaders, for instance, were called “abolitionists;” they didn’t call their philosophy “blackism.” You don’t have to do it the way Steve Shives insists it be done, thank goodness.

You can have a crusade without being so insufferably pedantic or fussy about the name. The concept of “gender equality” is broad enough that you can call yourself whatever you want—feminist, humanist, whatever-ist—and still get away with it. Most modern feminists are deeply insecure bullies, however; instead of allowing people to decide what to call themselves, feminists greedily insist that everyone fly under their preferred banner. No wonder nobody wants to be associated with them.

Recipe for Disaster

At The Federalist today, you can find my latest piece, a response to the newest disastrous progressive proposal to control our food supply. Last week, Messrs. Bittman, Pollan, Salvador and De Schutter announced that we need a “national food policy” by way of an executive order from President Obama: instead of waiting around for the tiresome democratic process of Congressional action from duly-elected representatives of the people, the authors wish for our president to establish, “on his own,” a “new White House council” that will oversee seemingly every aspect of American food production, processing and marketing. What could go wrong?

Also today, you can find a brief essay of mine over at Front Porch Republic: “A Little Home Cooking,” which explains why home cooking is an indispensable virtue and how, contra Time Magazine, we should not be making “the case against cooking.” There is no “case against cooking,” not if we care about our personal health and the health of the domestic sphere. Cooking should be as reflexively encouraged and as highly regarded as any other practical and valuable skill. That it’s increasingly being seen as an outmoded drudgery speaks badly of our culture.

It’s funny the extremes one sees: on the one hand, we have Bill Saporito claiming that home cooking is “a relic of another age;” on the other hand, we have Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan begging the president to create, by executive fiat, a “well-articulated national food policy” that would, for all appearances, turn our farms and our food supply into a subsidiary wing of the bloated Federal bureaucracy. Here’s an idea for a novel balance between the two: cook your damn meals at home and stop trying to nationalize the agricultural industry. Would that be so hard?

That Ye Be Judged Unhinged

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear another challenge against Obamacare caused much of the Left to dissolve into hysterics; it’s as if they can’t quite understand why a poorly-written, disastrously-implemented, constitutionally-outrageous takeover of one sixth of the American economy could be just the little bit prone to legal challenges. At issue is the law’s system of insurance premium subsidies, which may not be available to customers if the exchange was established by the Federal government instead of by a state. One of the law’s chief architects has agreed that this is the way the law works, so you can’t argue that it’s too far-fetched of a lawsuit—though Paul Krugman is certainly giving it a shot:

Once upon a time, this lawsuit would have been literally laughed out of court. Instead, however, it has actually been upheld in some lower courts, on straight party-line votes — and the willingness of the Supremes to hear it is a bad omen.

So let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing. What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters. And what we’ll find out in the months ahead is how deep the corruption goes.

This is just babbling nonsense. For starters, to what end would a judge “serve” his “political masters?” A judge has already been appointed to his bench; what on earth could a “political master” possibly offer him? A lollipop?

Even if we’re to take Krugman’s wild-eyed accusation at face value, it doesn’t really make sense from a political perspective: I suppose one might “serve political masters” out of fear of losing one’s job, but Krugman’s theory still doesn’t hold up in this case. The judges that have ruled on the Obamacare subsidy issue, after all, can only lose their jobs by way of impeachment—and the trial proceedings must take place in the United States Senate, which has been under Democratic control for the duration of these lawsuits. That is to say, if anyone were to be beholden to these mythical “political masters,” it would  be the liberal judges, who would have to face the zealous Democrat partisans in a Senate judicial procedure were they to step out of line and rule against the exchange subsidies. That’s how it should seem to you, anyway, if you’re a paranoid lunatic who openly wonders “how deep the corruption goes” when the Supreme Court agrees to hear a controversial and complicated legal challenge.

Meanwhile, Obamacare faces yet another financial challenge; this one isn’t legal, but it’s still political:

With the next Obamacare enrollment period set to open on Saturday, the Obama administration is hoping to get millions of people who sat on the sidelines last time to sign up for coverage through the law’s health insurance marketplaces. But, the strong partisan politics surrounding the health-care law will keep some people from joining the markeplaces [sic], new research suggests.

Well, no kidding. I’ve written about my own problems with Obamacare, how the law has deep-sixed my preferred insurance plan and is forcing me to either (a) pay a great deal more for roughly the same plan, (b) receive insurance subsidies to help pay for a new (inferior) plan, or (c) go without health insurance. I doubt I’ll opt for the lattermost, and I can’t readily afford the former, so it looks like option (b) will probably have to suffice for now. Still, I can understand the folks who are motivated by “strong partisan politics:” I’m reluctant to be even moderately in the pocket of the incompetent monsters who have pushed this ridiculous law on me and the rest of the country. Paul Krugman probably doesn’t have to make that choice, which is why he can feel so comfortable spouting wacky theories about judicial corruption. For the rest of us, Obamacare is a legal joke, a self-evident disaster and a terrible burden. And it’s only going to get worse.

Where the Money Goes

Out of Inglewood, California, comes a horror show so grim as to be almost sickening:

The gym at Inglewood High School needs work. There are holes in the ceiling and water damage, and the  basketball backboard dangles at a dangerous angle, having broken loose from the pipes holding it up.

There are “rats [and] mice throughout the gym,” says Sherrise Smith, a volunteer basketball coach at the school. “While we’re trying to conduct a practice or a clinic, they’re running around in the bleachers, on the floors.”

As of April, there were no fire alarms in the gym and the alarms that did exist at the school couldn’t be heard everywhere on campus, according to state investigators’ notes obtained by KPCC.

A recent visit found the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms in the gym in sorry shape. In the boys’, the toilets and a sink were backed up, and there was what appeared to be blood on the floor and the wall. In the girls’, one sink was leaking water onto the floor, the stalls were filthy, and there appeared to be fire damage on the walls. There was a strong smell of urine in the hallway.

Some students won’t use these bathrooms, choosing instead to urinate in the hall, according to staffers who asked not to be identified.

This is third-world stuff—the kind of thing you expect to see in a blown-out banana republic a few years after a devastating coup took place. Yet this is in California—one of the richest states in a very rich and prosperous country. And lest you think this is an Inglewood problem, it turns out that the California government actually took over the Inglewood school district two years ago. The state’s been in charge all that time—and Inglewood High School is a rotting garbage dump. The state government is worried that the school district is unable to, among other things, “establish high expectations for student achievement.” Sorry, but when your students are urinating in the hallways because the bathrooms are too bad to pee in, and you have vermin overtaking your gymnasium, you have bigger problems than “student achievement.” Your students, after all, are going to school in a cesspool.

I suspect that Inglewood is beset by the standard problems afflicting many public school districts: rampant corruption, flagrant incompetence, selfish and self-interested teachers concerned more with keeping their jobs than with educating the children under their tutelage. When your school has turned into a total disaster—even after your school district has received tens of millions of dollars in emergency loans—then you can safely assume that everything has gone wrong. Perhaps it’s part of a larger cultural and political problem in the educational sphere:

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, is on track to spend between $40 million and $60 million this election cycle, while the smaller American Federation of Teachers (AFT) plans to pony up an additional $20 million—more than the organization has spent on any other past cycle, including high-spending presidential election years.

So maybe part of the issue is that many teachers’ unions first extract a good bit of cash from their members and then subsequently blow it on political donations. Eighty million dollars is not a great deal of money when you consider how much money is spent on education in the United States per year—and yet if the National Education Association were actually concerned with “Education,” it might look to spend just a bit of that eighty million on improving the crumbling infrastructure of places like Inglewood High School. That the NEA and the AFT spent so much money on candidates that ended up losing anyway tells you where their priorities lie—and it’s not with the students who are forced to pee in the hallways.

When Things Fall Apart

The midterm elections brought with them the immense satisfaction of watching the “war on women” narrative utterly fall apart: among the slate of GOP candidates elected this past Tuesday were Nikki Haley, an Indian woman (that’s Indian of Southern Asia, not “Indian” of North America); Mia Love, a black Mormon woman; Tim Scott, a black man from South Carolina; Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress; and my absolute favorite, Saira Blair, the youngest person elected to any legislature in the United States. For a while now we’ve been dealing with the sneering dismissal that the Republican Party is the party of “old white men.” Oops.

It’s not that we want to engage in the demographic bean-counting for which progressives are famous: we elect people based upon their perceived competency, not their sex or their race or their age. It is satisfying, however, to see so many braindead liberal talking points so resoundingly squashed in one day. Now they’re scrambling to make sense of how they could have been so devastatingly wrong about Republicans—and for sheer mendacity on this topic, there is no greater pundit that Jessica Valenti, who took to her keyboard to announce that

2014 was an election of firsts for Republican women. But it wasn’t a ‘win’ for women at all.

Oh, good to know. Actually, it’s kind of funny to hear this from Valenti after she wrote, a couple of years ago,

Republicans only bother to acknowledge women when they’re reasserting our status as second-class citizens.

Er, well, not quite—they also appear to “acknowledge women” when they are electing  a lot of them to powerful and visible positions of public office. Yet that doesn’t matter to Valenti; having been proven embarrassingly wrong, she’s now taken the grownup route of stamping her feet and yelling that women haven’t “won” anything. Why haven’t they? I want to take a moment to analyze her latest screed in some depth, because it is highly informative if you’re interested in the manic fixations of modern feminism.

Under normal circumstances, a triumphant woman standing behind a podium giving a political victory speech would thrill me to the core. After all, what feminist worth her salt doesn’t like to see a woman win an election?

Me, when the winner is a Republican – because your gender doesn’t make you pro-woman, your actions do. And the Republican party is not just anti-“women’s issues”; it is anti-woman.

Ah, so we see the real issue here: Jessica Valenti is more devoted to partisan hackery than she is to gender equality; she’s been reduced to whining that Republicans are “anti-woman” even after Republicans elected a bunch of women to Federal and state positions of authority. Conservatives apparently hate women so much that they’re willing to cast their ballots for them by wide margins (Nikki Haley won out over her white male opponent by fourteen percentage points); the anti-woman party has taken the novel anti-woman approach of sending a bunch of women to Congress.

Whenever they are even moderately confused or defensive, modern feminists tend to retreat to the sound bite that “feminism is about equality between the sexes;” the implication is that to criticize feminism is to criticize “equality between the sexes.” Valenti’s outrage over the excellent Republican midterm results belies that notion: feminists are not interested in sexual equality but in ideological conformity. It is not enough to be a successful woman; you must be a successful woman who thinks the same thoughts and harbors the same convictions as Jessica Valenti. One could certainly appreciate the gains women might make in politics even if they don’t agree with the women politically, but that is not enough for feminists of Valenti’s bent: if you’re a woman, and you don’t agree with modern left-liberal feminism, you are not merely doing politics wrong, you are doing woman wrong:

In a way, female Republicans almost bother me more than their male counterparts. I can almost understand why a bunch of rich, religiously conservative white men wouldn’t care about the reality of women’s day-to-day lives – they’ve never had to. But throwing other women under the bus? For what? Lower taxes? Three minutes on Fox News in the 3pm hour? It makes me wonder what is wrong with you.

“It makes me wonder what is wrong with you.” If you are a conservative woman, Jessica Valenti—and indeed much of modern feminism—thinks there is something “wrong with you;” it is not merely that you are of a different political persuasion, but that you are deficient in and of yourself. So sheltered and so cloistered from conservative thought is Jessica Valenti, she cannot even imagine why a woman would ever disagree with her. It is obvious that this passes beyond simple political difference. I know plenty of people, after all, who vote for liberal politicians, and I believe these people are making poor choices in regards to their personal and financial best interests—but I do not think there is something “wrong with them,” and I would never  be so condescending as to suggest it. As well as being absolutely clueless about how other human beings might think, Valenti is also in the dark about actual policies that Republicans promote:

We can expect exactly more of the kind of poorly-shrouded sexism we’ve come to expect from Republicans in the lead-up to the 2016 election, the same condescension to women, and the same bafflegab about how they’re just trying to make our lives easier by restricting our options. But given that we’re going to have to listen to all that nonsense for a while, what I’d really like is for every elected woman Republican to explain to a room full of non-rich, non-white women why restricting abortion rights is a good use of our government’s time and energy, to tell them why their birth control isn’t a real medical need, and to discuss how women don’t really need equal pay or a fair wage because they need “real” choices.

These are the strident demands of a person who has run completely out of ideas and is just totally clueless about what to say next. The recently-elected Republican women have been outspoken about these political views: Nikki Haley has explained why she is pro-life, for one, and Joni Ernst has publicly defended her anti-abortion stance. It’s probably safe to assume that every female Republican candidate has voiced her opinion on the matter, and though Valenti wants them to “explain” why they harbor pro-life views, it’s not hard to figure out why these women feel this way: they think “restricting abortion right is a good use of our government’s time and energy” because they think abortion is bad enough to be outlawed. This isn’t hard to figure out.

As well, I don’t believe any of these Republican women have advanced the idea that birth control “isn’t a real medical need;” Elise Stefanik, for one, wants to see birth control available over the counter. The term “fair wage,” meanwhile, is an entirely normative statement; and while I guess it would be good to know where the candidates stand on “equal pay” issues, it’s also worth pointing out that the whole “equal pay” thing is effectively a myth. Jessica Valenti, in other words, is demanding that Republican women talk about (a) things they’ve already talked about, (b) policy positions they’ve already clarified, (c) subjective value judgments, and (d) total political fabrications. Let us know how that works out for you, Jessica.

To be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of hope for the newest crop of Republicans. I think we’ve seen this before—the heady mix of election victories and new faces and big promises—and I doubt these politicians will be able to effect much change. Call me cynical; I, for one, hope I’m wrong. Whatever may come, I think the principle victory of these midterms has been the utter chaos the elections wreaked on progressive political thought: frightened, unsure of what to do next, confused and dumbfounded, liberals like Jessica Valenti are left to making awful caricatures of themselves, flailing for meaning as one of the principle planks of their worldview is revealed as an embarrassing mistake. It’s enough to make you wonder: what is wrong with them?

It Does Not Have to Be This Way

At The Federalist today, you can find my latest piece: “Brittany Maynard’s Death was Not Dignified.” Maynard, if you’ve been following the news, was an activists of the “death with dignity” variety; she believed that people should be able to take their own lives by way of what the group Compassion and Choices calls “aid in dying” (I guess whenever you hear the word “choice,” you can assume it means death). Brittany Maynard, for one, killed herself with pills prescribed by a physician in Oregon, a state in which it is perfectly legal for doctors to give patients prescriptions with which the latter will kill themselves.

Maynard frequently stated that she wished to die with “dignity” in the face of her glioblastoma tumor. As I write today, I am not even sure what this means; I do not know how cancer could be “dignified,” “undignified,” or really anything at all other than an illness. I guess Brittany Maynard had her own opinions about it, though then, too, did the rest of the country: perhaps the most troubling thing about this whole debacle was the outpouring of support Maynard received from many people who claimed she was “brave” and that she was an “inspiration.”

Strangely enough, nobody said the same thing about Robin Williams, say, who also went out “on his own terms:” the response was one of grief and sadness, not inspiration. I suppose the argument is that, by dint of his depression, Williams was mentally unsound and thus not fit to take his own life; though if he had been in a serene frame of mind, I can’t imagine the worldwide response would have been any different—the implication being that Williams’s life was more valuable and more worth saving than was Brittany Maynard’s. A culture that legitimatizes suicide and holds it up as an “inspiration” will inevitably start to make these kinds of awful distinctions, in which some lives are worth saving and others are worth disposing of. We have seen how that has played out under a regime of legalized abortion; is it any guess as to how it will play out if assisted suicide becomes more acceptable?