Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
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20 November 2010

How Abortion Cost Ken Buck the U.S. Senate Race

By Ari

Ken Buck's anti-abortion stance cost him the U.S. Senate seat in Colorado.

True, Buck had other problems. He made a few gaffes, as when he jokingly said he should win because he he doesn't wear high heels (a response to his primary opponent's many references to gender), and when he likened homosexuality to alcoholism. The left unfairly attacked Buck for his prosecutorial work on a gun case and a rape case. Moreover, the Democrats did a good job getting out the vote for Michael Bennet.

But Buck's anti-abortion position made more difference than any of those other things, alienating many women and independent voters. And it was only in the context of Buck's perceived antagonism toward women's right to control their own bodies that the "high heels" comment and the claims about a mishandled rape case gained traction.

A couple of claims Buck simply could not rebut, because they were true: he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and he initially endorsed Amendment 62, the so-called "personhood" measure, even though he later backtracked and said he wasn't taking positions on state ballot measures.

The result? Bennet "led Buck with female voters, 56 percent to 40 percent, according to the [exit] polls, and... Bennet beat Buck among unaffiliated voters in the polls, 52 percent to 41 percent." Moreover, "Bennet also did better among Republicans than Buck did among Democrats in the polls." My guess is that the number of Republican women to voted for Bennet or at least declined to vote for Buck was substantial.

Buck whined after the election, "I wasn't going to derail my message to have an election decided on abortion, or any social issue, for that matter." But when you endorse a ballot measure that would totally ban abortion (along with various forms of birth control and fertility treatments), what you've done precisely is make the election largely about abortion.

Consider some of the other relevant news about the issue.

"Gov. Bill Ritter... agreed [with Republican Mike Rosen] that Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck’s hard-line stance on abortion helped cost him the election."

"Ken Buck Hit Hard On Birth Control, Abortion In New DSCC Ad."

Bennet ran partly on "protecting [women's] rights to safe, legal abortion."

"Rape, incest victims rally against Buck."

"Ken Buck: Opponents rally rape and incest survivors to decry his abortion policy."

"Dem ads on reproductive rights aim to sharpen Sen. Bennet's appeal to women."

Bennet "seems to be the only candidate that's not anti-abortion... I'm not really excited about him as a candidate -- he's kind of overspent in Washington."

Or consider a first and second ad hammering Buck on his anti-abortion stance and related issues.

Or consider a few of the flyers mailed to my wife, an unaffiliated voter. These mailers, paid for by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, take some unfair shots at Buck but effectively hammer him on abortion. And they clearly link Buck to Amendment 62 and note that Bennet opposed the measure.

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This article originally was published on Ari Armstrong's blog.

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10 November 2010

Anti-Gay Culture

By Diana Hsieh

Sometimes, it's worth remembering just how hostile our culture has been -- and still is -- to gay people.

First, Portia de Rossi on coming out:



Second, Trey Givens reports on being physically assaulted, even if only a minor way, for being gay in My First Gay Bashing.

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08 November 2010

Hsieh PJM OpEd: "GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You"

By Paul Hsieh

The November 3, 2010 PajamasMedia published my post-Election Day OpEd, "GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You".

My theme is that I voted for the Republicans because I want them to pursue an agenda of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and defending individual rights -- not the "social conservative" agenda.

Here is the opening:

Republicans are rightfully celebrating their recent successes in the midterm elections, recapturing the House and making major gains in the Senate. But before House GOP leader John Boehner starts measuring the curtains for the speaker's office, he and his fellow Republicans would do well to remember the old proverb popularized by legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal: "Dance with the one who brung you."

In this case, that means: Don't forget who put you in office and why -- namely, the independent-minded Tea Party voters.

Hence, the Republicans should take to heart three key lessons...
Those lessons include:
1) Americans don't want "ObamaLite".
2) Don't mistake this as a mandate to pursue a divisive "social conservative" agenda.
3) Respect the Constitution and the principle of individual rights.
(Read the full text of "GOP: Dance With The One Who Brung You".)

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03 November 2010

Election Results: Personhood Defeated!

By Diana Hsieh

I'm delighted to report that Colorado's "personhood" measure was defeated strongly, yet again. Ari Armstong and I were certain of its defeat, but we worried that it would gather significantly more support than did Amendment 48 in 2008. (Amendment 48 was defeated with 73% NO and 27% YES.)

Much to my delight, the results so far (with 88% of precincts reporting) show that "personhood" is almost as unpopular as ever, with 70% NO and 30% YES. That's despite the more confusing language of Amendment 62 and far less of a campaign in opposition by the major coalition, Protect Families, Protect Choices -- in comparison to 2008's Amendment 48. While "personhood" is still a threat, particularly in the long-run, I'm hopeful that enough Colorado voters understand its moral and practical evils to vote against it, time and again.

Once again, I want to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone who pledged to support our hugely revised policy paper on it: The 'Personhood' Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception. That paper was viewed 3,000 times in HTML format, and downloaded 500 times as a PDF and 100 times as in e-book format.

Unfortunately, Stephen Bailey did not prevail in his race against Jared Polis, but I'm so glad that he ran. And Amendment 63 -- for health care choice -- looks like it will be defeated by a narrow margin. The rest of Colorado's election results -- including the dead-heat in the Senate race between Ken Buck and Michael Bennet -- can be found on 9 News.

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01 November 2010

A62, A63 Reveal Ideological Rifts

By Diana Hsieh

As I mentioned in a prior post, Ari Armstrong's and my op-ed on Colorado's Amendments 62 (personhood) and 63 (health care choice) was published in the Denver Daily News on Friday, October 22nd. It was a non-exclusive op-ed, so we hoped that some of the smaller papers around the state might choose to print it too. That hasn't happened that we know of, so I thought I'd post it here before the election. Hence:

A62, A63 reveal ideological rifts
Friday, October 22, 2010
By Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong

This year's ballot presents voters with a mystery. Amendments 62 and 63 are based on opposite political premises, yet many prominent groups either endorse both or oppose both. What explains this contradiction?

Amendment 62, the so-called "personhood" measure, would grant full legal rights to embryos. Its goal is to eliminate a woman's choice to get an abortion, use the birth control pill, or obtain common in vitro fertility treatments.

Amendment 63, Health Care Choice, seeks to protect people's choices in health care by forbidding state government from assisting in the enforcement of ObamaCare. It would preserve people's choices in insurance as well as ensure their ability to pay directly for health care.

Amendment 62 destroys liberty and choice in health care, while Amendment 63 protects those values. Yet few seem to recognize that.

In an Oct. 15 e-mail, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains opposes both 62 and 63. The group alleges that Amendment 63 "drives up health care costs by reducing insurance coverage."

In fact, those rising costs are due to government controls and welfare programs, and the mandate to buy insurance will only exacerbate the problem.

Likewise, Progress Now opposes both measures. Planned Parenthood and Progress Now follow the standard left-wing approach on these issues, advocating some choices in health care while denying others.

Religious-right advocates of Amendment 62, on the other hand, attempt to package their measure with Amendment 63. In an over-the-top video complete with Obama as the Angel of Death, proponents of 62 attempt to appeal to Tea Partiers. They suggest that the same movement responsible for legal abortion led to the bailouts and ObamaCare.

Amendment 62 supporters also endorse a "Blue Book Alternative," which features one-sided praise of their measure along with positive language about Amendment 63.

Both the left and the religious right, then, express contradictory views about liberty and individual choice. They support it in some cases, but not in principle. Why is that?

The left rejects America's founding ideal of liberty as each person's freedom to pursue his own life and happiness using his own property. They regard rights as entitlements to goods and services provided by others, not freedoms to think and act without coercive interference.

That's why Planned Parenthood does not merely want to protect the freedom of women to obtain abortions from willing doctors using their own funds, health insurance, or private charity. Instead, Planned Parenthood wants to force people to fund others' health care, including abortions. Therefore, the organization seeks to protect the right to abortion while denying any right to choose what health insurance to buy, if any.

The religious right claims to support individual rights, but its conception of rights is little more than sectarian dogmatism. Rights are whatever God declares them to be, on this view.

By contorting some Bible passages and ignoring others, advocates of Amendment 62 claim that newly fertilized zygotes -- even before implantation in the uterus -- must be declared persons with full legal rights. By similar methods, they ignore the Bible's overt hostility to individual rights and capitalist values.

The consistent, secular view of individual rights is opposed to both the entitlements of the left and the dogmatism of the religious right. Rights, on this third view, define the individual's proper sphere of freedom in a social context. They enable each person to act by his own judgment and for his own life and happiness.

Such rights are based on the facts of man's rational nature, not the whims of the majority or the arbitrary commands of God. They apply equally to every person, to individuals living in society, as opposed to an embryo or fetus entirely contained within a pregnant woman's body.

By this secular view of rights, any attempt to dictate the choices of others is morally wrong. Nothing can justify the forcible seizure or control of another person's property, whether via Medicare taxes or insurance mandates. And nothing can justify forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or banning the pill.

Under a consistent, reality based view of individual rights, Amendment 62 violates rights while Amendment 63 protects them.

Philosopher Diana Hsieh and political writer Ari Armstrong coauthored the paper, The 'Personhood' Movement Is Anti-Life, available at SecularGovernment.us.

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