Shut Up, Pence; Babies Are NOT Commodities

Not even the healthy pale-skinned newborns you imagine would be “welcomed” by “so many families”. Nor are women’s bodies civic resources, like coal mines or arable lands, where the state can rule on best use for the community.

Good for Tim Kaine for resisting Pence’s bland, anodyne, evil statement. Per Real Clear Politics:

TIM KAINE: Elaine, this is a fundamental question. Hillary and I are both from religious backgrounds. Her Methodist church experience was very informative for her as a public servant. But we both feel you should live fully and with enthusiasm for your faith. But, let’s talk about abortion and choice. We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience and make their own decision about pregnancy. That is something we trust American women to do. And we don’t think that women should be punished, as Donald Trump [said], for making the decision to have an abortion. Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He says he wants to put it on the trash heap of history. Before Roe v. Wade, states could punish women if they made the choice to abort a pregnancy.

I think you should live your moral values, but the last thing governments should do is to have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. That is the fundamental difference between the Clinton-Kaine ticket and the Trump-Pence ticket.

PENCE: It is really not. Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that would punish women who made the heartbreaking choice.

KAINE: Then, why did he say that?

PENCE: Look, he is not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton…

Some Stray Reading For When You’ve Finished Your Luke Cage Binge

Hey all,

I’ve got a couple of pieces out in what we might call the mainstream media that might reward your attention.

The first closes the loop on that lovely Royal Society award shortlist we talked about a while back.  The winner was announced a couple of Mondays ago and, alas, it didn’t go to The Hunt for Vulcan (which you should still totally read).

Instead the prize went to Andrea Wulf for her intellectual biography of Alexander von Humboldt, The Invention of Nature.  It’s a very strong book, as were each of the others on the shortlist.  I commend all of them to you.


The event itself was great, and the organizers made sure that each of the titles in the finals had a chance to shine, and while I was certainly disappointed, I was also greatly chuffed — and why not?  My work had been recognized as among the class of the year, I got to rub shoulders with some wonderful writers, (including a personal hero, the head judge Bill Bryson), and hey — London! What could be bad.

Nothing — until, as I was getting ready to leave that green and sceptered isle, I came across a piece at The Guardian in which the writer argued that there was something dodgy about Wulf’s win — that she had garnered a feminized prize, one that sought to reward a woman’s interest in people instead of a man’s pursuit of “problem, a mystery or an underexplored scientific field.”

I couldn’t let such arrant nonsense fly unanswered, so I wrote up a response for The Atlantic.  In it I drew both on my experience as one of the competitors in the contest Wulf won, and my prior encounter with prize judging as a Pulitzer juror in 2012.  Check it out, if you’ve a mind.

The other article you might find fun is a book review that I wrote a little while ago that went live yesterday at The Boston Globe — my take on James Gleick’s new book, Time Travel.  The shorter is that the book is great, really fine work, and I commend it to you all.  Here’s a sample:

Mostly, though, Gleick leads us on a thrilling journey of ideas. Augustine talks to Robert Heinlein who talks to Kurt Gödel, all the while someone is trying to connect a call between Marcel Proust and the ever patient Sam Beckett. Alongside the big ideas come the odd facts too delicious to leave out, as when we learn that among the audio selections placed on the Voyager spacecraft is the Bulgarian folk song “Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin’’ or “Delyo the Hajduk Has Gone Outside.” Pity the alien trying to decipher that code!

So, yeah. I’ve been delinquent in my blogging here.  Think of these as peace offerings.

Have a great weekend, all.  I’m going to continue nursing my dread catarrh; nothing like a full 747 to offer a smörgåsbord of viral delights.  Honey-lemon tea (possibly helped by some bourbon) in my future.

Image: William Harnett, Job Lot Cheap, 1878.

Friday Morning Open Thread: “Knock on ten doors, beat 100 media reporters”

Many thanks for the link to respected commentor Omnes Omnibus, especially since the video includes two of my favorite actors (AT & MT).

Also from Omnes:

I found this at Sam Wang’s joint. It is an app that will show competitive house races within up to 100 miles of your address. Check it out. Places to work on getting out the vote.

As your mom didn’t quite say, If you’ve got enough spare time/energy to panic, you’ve got enough to do some Get-Out-The-Vote gruntwork.


Apart from girding up for the last battle, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Keep Moving Forward


Keep the faith, and one eye on the opposition…

What’s on the agenda as we look forward (longingly) towards the big weekend?

A note on Colorado Care

I’m still trying to get my head around the Colorado Care single payer initiative. One of the big questions is how would it be financed and a subquestion is how would the 1332 Wyden State Innovation Waiver apply as well as how 1115 Medicaid waivers would move funds. Yes, your eyes should glaze over here but we’re talking about big money.

A new report highlights one of the big questions.

Proponents believe a study by the Colorado Health Institute overlooked aspects of Amendment 69. The institute’s analysis earlier this month concluded that ColoradoCare would struggle to cover costs….

“Amendment 69 requires the state to maintain its current funding of Medicaid, including the state match for Medicaid expansion and CHP+,” said Ivan Miller, executive director of the ColoradoCare campaign. “The federal government matches all state funding sources for Medicaid.”

But Michele Lueck, president and chief executive of the Colorado Health Institute, pointed out that while Amendment 69 calls for a full transfer of Medicaid funds to the state, the federal government is not required to follow state law.

“Our policy experts advise that only some Medicaid funds will be available to finance ColoradoCare,” Lueck said. “This is based on years of analyzing when and how federal grants and waivers are awarded.”

This is a major question. Does the financing actually make sense? If Colorado Care can’t get a firm commitment for 100% transfer of Medicaid money and Exchange money into the Colorado Care pool, then the financing falls apart.

I have two major concerns with Colorado Care. Financing is one of them and the second is a deep reluctance to put any more people and their health coverage under Hyde restrictions. If I was a Colorado voter, I would be very reluctant to vote yes without better answers than handwaving and hope that the money adds up and Hyde is limited to no worse than the currently impacted population with the hope that Hyde hits fewer people.

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite! Liberte and Egalite Have Won Edition


(Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People)

France’s highest administrative court, The State Council/Council de Etat, overturned the local burkini bans that had popped up in French beach towns over the past several weeks. The panel of three senior judges ruled that the ban:

“has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”

They found that no evidence produced in favour of the prohibition proved a risk to public order was being caused by “the outfits worn by some people to go swimming”.

 There will, of course, be pushback. The Mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, who is also a member of France’s parliament, has indicated that he will push legislation in the next session to address the issue. Municipal authorities in Nice, Frejus, and Sisco have already stated that they will keep the ban in place despite the ruling. We will now have to wait and see how the different levels of French government, and the French themselves, reconcile themselves to the Council de Etat’s ruling.

Zika and abortions

Scientific America has some bad news about Zika in Puerto Rico:

“Based on the limited available information on the risk of microcephaly, we estimate between 100 to 270 cases of microcephaly might occur” between mid-2016 and mid-2017, said Dr. Margaret Honein, chief of the birth defects branch at the CDC, who was one of several authors of the study published August 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn looks at how Zika could change the discssion on abortion:

Pregnant women with the Zika virus are at risk of giving birth to babies with devastating brain damage, which can be detected only around 18 to 20 weeks — and often much later than that. …

An Aug. 5 Harvard University-STAT poll found only 23 percent of American adults believe a woman should have access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. But that opposition softened notably when the question was framed in terms of Zika.

“Maybe the Zika epidemic and its implications for pregnant women will help us shine a light on the exactly tragic situation in which you have these abortions,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chairman of the House Pro-Choice Caucus.

Life and decision making gets a lot simpler when we assume that women are capable moral agents making their own decisions about their own health and autonomy.  But our political process does not allow for that.  The Politico article brings up the rubella epidemic that led to abortion being discussed in public as “respectable” discussion as it was seen as a health procedure instead of an non-punishment for the sluts (you know those girls) for having sex.

Dr. Jen Grunter writes about how she came to perform abortions during later stages of pregnancies.  Her patients needed help and she helped them.

Read more