Patterico's Pontifications


Virginia: Bill Allowing Abortions Up Until Birth Is Defeated

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:37 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week I wrote about New York’s ghoulish celebration at the passage of the Reproductive Health Act which removed any restrictions for abortion to the point of birth. It’s no surprise that other states are now following suit.

Kathy Tran (D), a lawmaker in the Virginia House of Delegates, introduced a bill (House Bill 2491) also allowing women to get an abortion up until birth:

A new bill proposed in the Virginia legislature would loosen restrictions on abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy, and allow abortions during the second trimester to take place outside hospitals.

Under current Virginia law, abortions during the third trimester require a determination by a doctor and two consulting physicians that continuing the pregnancy would likely result in the woman’s death or “substantially and irremediably” impair her mental or physical health.

The bill, proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates by Democrat Kathy Tran, would require only one doctor to make the determination that the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health. The proposed legislation would also eliminate the requirement that abortions during the second trimester be performed in a state-licensed hospital.

Here is video of Tran being questioned about the bill by Republican Todd Gilbert:

Tran explicitly – and appallingly – admits that her bill would allow a woman to have an abortion while she is in labor, and at the point of birth. Here is part of the exchange with Gilbert:

Tran: So, the suggestion that we’ve made in the bill is to say it’s in the 3rd trimester, you know, with the certification of the physician.

Gilbert: So how late in the 3rd trimester would you be able to do that?

Tran: You know it’s very unfortunate that our physician witnesses were not able to attend today to speak specifically…

Gilbert: No I’m talking about your bill. How late in the 3rd trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman.

Tran: Or physical health.

Gilbert: Okay, I’m talking about the mental health.

Tran: Through the 3rd trimester. The 3rd trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.

Gilbert: Okay, but to the end of the 3rd trimester.

Tran: Yup, I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.

Gilbert: So, um, where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth. She has physical signs that she is about to give birth. Would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so-certified…she’s dilating.

Tran: Mr. Chairman, that would be a, you know, a decision that the doctor, the physician and the woman would make at that point.

Gilbert: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.

It gets worse, much worse. In response to the push back from the pro-life community at this monstrosity, Governor Northam, who supports the bill, weighed in during a radio interview, and went even further than Tran did when discussing her bill as he brought up a post-birth abortion scenario where the baby is born alive:

Northam: “There are, you know, when we talk about third trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of, obviously, the mother, with the consent of the physicians – more than one physician, by the way – and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable.

“In this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam said. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

“We want the government not to be involved in these types of decisions,” Northam said. “We want the decision to be made by the mothers and their providers, and this is why, Julie, that legislators, most of whom are men, by the way, shouldn’t be telling a woman what she should and shouldn’t be doing with her body.”

“There may be” is not an absolute, only-if situation. If one doctor determines the mother’s “mental health” is in question or would be adversely impacted by delivering her baby, she could have a late-term abortion right then and there. Even as she is dilating. And does the governor believe that “severe deformities” naturally preclude an individual from leading a productive and fulfilled life? Further, if a baby is born alive and survived the birth and is no longer within the mother’s body, does he or she not have the right to live?

What I take from Gov. Northam’s “reassurances” of a born-alive baby’s laughably humane treatment, is that we’re now supposed to feel good about some sliver of humanity after a barbaric act of murder has taken place. But being left alone to die a slow and painful death reassures no one. The governor, who is also, unbelievably, a pediatric neurologist, evidences his own lack of humanity with these words.

For Godsake, this isn’t hard: a baby born alive is a human being, replete with a soul, a spirit, full humanity and personhood. As I said last week: the goal has always been to normalize this horrific standard medical care, dehumanize its innocent victims by denying their undeniable humanity, and remove any remnant of a long-held moral respect for the sanctity of life from our culture. Safe, legal and rare was just a cheap gimmick to make the pro-abortionists feel righteous about their death march and convince others that there would always be limits to abortion. Clearly, evil has been unleashed, and the obvious trend does not bode well for us as a nation if we are to be judged by how our most vulnerable members are treated.

Gov. Northam’s spokewoman sought to explain the governor’s comments:

Ofirah Yheskel, a spokeswoman for Northam, said “No woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor.”

“Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal medical decisions,” she said.

John Sexton pushes back:

To be clear, Gov. Northam may have been talking about a non-viable baby as his spokeswoman claims. In fact, that was my initial take on his comments and I said so on Twitter. However, it’s not clear that the bill itself makes any such distinction. And if the bill doesn’t make that distinction then it doesn’t actually matter if Gov. Northam introduced it in his answer (probably as a way to sidestep the issue). Because if what Northam describes were to happen to a viable baby, it would be infanticide. And you don’t have to be a conservative to find that objectionable.

And while the Washington Post necessarily focused its attention on anything but what takes place in the womb during a third trimester abortion with their dramatic accusatory lede: “Va. Gov. Northam faces fierce conservative backlash over late term abortion bill,” I think if there is anything worth getting fierce and loud about, it’s legalized abortion to the point of birth.

Update: Thankfully, this bill was defeated by the Republican majority.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


When Facts Don’t Matter: Writer Equates Soot-Covered Coal Miners With Blackface

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:25 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Rashaad Thomas, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, poet and essayist has opined that a photograph hanging in a Phoenix restaurant that captures coal miners with their soot-blackened faces sharing a beer after work made him feel threatened:

… Then a photograph caught my attention.

Friends said, “It’s coal miners at a pub after work.” It was a photograph of coal miners with blackened faces. I asked a Latinx and white woman for their opinion. They said it looked like coal miners at a pub after work. Then they stepped back, frowned and said it’s men in blackface.

I asked the waitress to speak with a manager. Instead, I spoke with a white restaurant owner. I explained to him why the photograph was offensive. Evidently, someone else had made a similar comment about the photograph before.

Yet, the photograph remained on the wall. He said he would talk to the other owners and get back to me. While leaving, I asked him had he spoke with the other owners. He had not spoken with them, but mentioned Google said it’s coal miners after work.

Thomas freely acknowledges that the facts don’t matter, it is his emotional response that does:

Fact: The photograph shows coal miners’ faces covered in soot. The context of the photograph is not the issue.

And yet:

Art can be a trickster. People view artwork once and subsequently see something different.

Viewers cannot determine the intention of an artist’s work. Art also exposes society’s blind spots. Blackface is only a glimpse of a larger issue. The larger issue is the lack of representation of marginalized people and their voices in Phoenix.

Frequently, I enter art galleries and I am not represented in the art, which leads to uneducated curation for exhibitions. While shopping I am ignored because it is assumed I unable to purchase anything, or I am followed by a security guard because it is assumed that I am a threat to the store.

Each assumption is based on a stereotype. Blackface caricatures stereotypes of black people.

At the downtown Phoenix restaurant, my concern that the photograph of men in blackface was a threat to me and my face and voice were ignored.

A business’ photograph of men with blackened faces culturally says to me, “Whites Only.” It says people like me are not welcome.

Except this isn’t an artist’s rendering in the sense that it wasn’t created from someone’s imagination, nor was it the result of individuals specifically adopting blackface for a photograph. This is a very real capture of very real people after a very real day at work. Because the photograph does not represent in any way, shape or form the racist intent of historical “blackface,” to use it as a weapon of complaint about feeling threatened and inadequately represented is disingenuous. The photograph of the coal miners covered in soot is not the same as a group of white people dressed up in “blackface” seeking to denigrate a specific group of marginalized people. Thomas sorely hurts his cause, and the cause of everyone interested in seeing equal treatment and respect to individuals of every race and color by lumping coal miners covered in black soot in the same basket with racist bigots in blackface. It’s ridiculous to claim that hard working men in the photograph threaten anyone. Perhaps if Thomas immersed himself in the history of coal mining, particularly during the time period when the photograph was taken, he might temper his claims.

Interestingly, as the photograph in question appears on the cover of a book titled The Home Front 1914 – 1918 How Britain Survived The Great War by Ian Beckett, and Wales Online describes the photograph as colliers in a public house in Cwmbach, Aberdare in about 1910:


Concerning the very dangerous work of coal miners during the war, that anyone was able to live to tell, let alone have a beer at the end of the day was awfully lucky:

In the First World War trenches cleaved Europe from the North Sea to Switzerland. While the battlefield above ground was static, a secret subterranean war raged underground.

The British Army began to form specialist army units of trained tunnellers in 1915, initially recruiting men from poor coal mining communities in Britain. Their job was to create a labyrinth of long underground tunnels that extended under enemy lines and could be packed with explosives, and to dig ‘camouflets’, smaller mines used to collapse enemy tunnels. They were also tasked with building extensive networks of tunnels behind Allied lines, allowing for undetected movement of men and supplies.

Added to the hazards of early 20th century mining, the miners were exposed to the particular horrors of underground warfare. These included enemy explosives, asphyxiation, trench foot, drowning, entombment, cold, cramp and the threat of unearthing German soldiers digging in the other direction and having to fight hand-to-hand to stay alive. Mining casualties were high; one tunnelling company had 16 killed, 48 sent to hospital and 86 minor cases treated at the shaft head in a six-week period.

Tunnellers worked by candlelight and operated in silence to avoid detection. Allied miners used the ‘clay kicking method,’ a technique borrowed from sewer, road and railway works in England. In each team there would be a ‘kicker’ who would lie on his back on a wooden cross and use his legs to work a finely sharpened spade known as a ‘grafting tool’ into the rock face. A ‘bagger’ would then fill sandbags with soil, and a ‘trammer’ would transport the debris out of the gallery on small rubber-tyred trolleys on rails. He would return with a trolley stacked with timber. The wood was for the walls, which would be erected without nails or screws in order to maintain silence; miners relied on the pressure of the swelling clay to hold it in place.

Facts must be taken into consideration when responding to situations. If facts are willingly ignored, our responses are subjective as we become little more than non-reasoning, knee-jerk emotional responders in spite of being otherwise informed by very tangible evidence. Because we willingly choose to see a situation through only an emotional lens, does not make that reality. Thomas certainly has the right to his views, and to express them publicly. I applaud anyone who has the wherewithal and follow through to do so. But in this particular instance, his efforts to make use one innocuous photograph to further a complaint about the much broader issue of unequal representation of blacks is misguided.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


“Team of Vipers” by Cliff Sims: Not Bad So Far

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:57 am

Donald Trump on Twitter:

Oh, hey, thanks for reminding me about this book! I had seen word about it a week or two ago and had made a mental note to consider getting it, but forgot about it until Trump’s tweet.

I’m a sucker for the tell-all books, but Michael Wolff’s, and to a lesser but still significant extent Bob Woodward’s, suffered from the lowered credibility associated with anonymous sourcing. (The anonymity of Woodward’s subjects is wafer thin, but the issue remains.) You always have to take everything with shakerfuls of salt, but you need extra shakers when there is no name behind what’s being said.

I couldn’t care less what, say, Chris Christie has to say about Donald Trump, but Sims interests me. I’m about 5 chapters in (there are 15 total) but so far I find this account very credible — in part because Sims actually seems to like Trump, and thus provides a more nuanced picture of Trump than Wolff or Woodward gave us. Sims left his job as CEO of a media company that had broken major stories about state politics in Alabama to become a communications guy for Trump’s campaign. He was a longtime conservative evangelical who was ideologically more in tune with Cruz than Trump, but thought it was important that Trump beat Hillary and wanted to do his part to help. He was one of the “loyalists” who stuck with Trump after the Access Hollywood tape broke, reasoning that the tape was bad but not a reason to allow Hillary Clinton to win. He came to the Trump White House as one of the loyalists and earned some access to the President by virtue of having been one of the folks who did not abandon Trump in his time of greatest need.

His portrait of Trump so far is not as favorable as you usually see from sycophants, but not anywhere near as critical as the anonymous sources for the more famous previous tell-alls. Sims seems to have a genuine admiration for Trump’s communication skills, and for his ability to stay calm in the midst of crisis. He is clear-eyed about the ways that Trump is less than perfectly beholden to the truth or the facts, but he sounds in tone like a lot of the commenters here: yes, the guy has some obvious flaws, but he certainly is better than Hillary Clinton.

A couple of anecdotes spring to mind. One has to do with Sean Spicer’s initial press briefing — you know, the one where he went wild with a bunch of false facts about the size of the inaugural crowd. Sims ruefully admits culpability for full participation in that fiasco, explaining that Trump was a) justifiably upset about a bogus story in Time magazine concerning the alleged removal of a bust of MLK from the Oval Office (didn’t happen), and b) obsessed with crowd size as a measure of popularity. Spicer’s need to rush the briefing put the comms team in a situation where everyone saw a speedy response as the top priority, and they relied on a set of “facts” provided by the head of Trump’s Inaugural Committee that turned out to be wrong — and that the team had not taken time to fact-check. Spicer could have capitalized on the false story about the MLK bust, but instead spouted a bunch of false facts that doomed his credibility from the start. Sims provides an interesting account of this disaster, from the perspective of someone who was deeply embroiled in it.

Moving from that to a quirkier story: as background, Sims mentions Trump’s unusual OCD penchant for slightly moving objects in front of him, as shown in this video:

Then Sims tells the story about how, on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, there’s a box with a little red button on it. Often, when people come into the Oval Office, Trump does his little move where he pushes the box away half an inch, and says something like: “Don’t worry about that. No one wants me to push that button so we’ll just keep it over here.”

Then, later, Trump will press the button without comment. Whoever is in the office and unfamiliar with its purpose will look around nervously. Finally, a steward comes in with a Diet Coke. Trump laughs and says: “People never know what to think about that red button! Is he launching the nukes?!”

It’s a cute story, and Sims uses it to describe Trump as both a prankster and as someone who is self-aware, playing on his reputation as someone whose access to nuclear bombs makes many nervous.

Everyone has an agenda, and surely Sims is no exception, but to me this insider look is one of the most honest accounts I have run across. Recommended. If you wish, you can buy it at the affiliate link here.

P.S. Here is a video of Sims being interviewed on CNN, and reacting on the fly to Trump’s insulting tweet. I’m starting you at 8:03 to keep the clip short, but feel free to watch the whole thing.

He seems like a good guy.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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