United States Constituion, Article III, Secontion III:

1:  Treason agsint the United States, shall consis only in levying War against the, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.  No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Wintesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

2:  The Congress shall have  Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.



Attainder:  definition:  the extinction of the civil rights and capacities of a person upon sentence of death or outlawed usually after a conviction of treason.  Webster Dictionary

Corruption of Blood:  definition:  the effect of an attainder which bars a person from inheriting, retaining, or transmitting any estate, rank, or title.  Webster Dictionary


About three weeks ago, twelve boys and their soccer coach were discovered to have been trapped in a cave in Thailand by the rushing waters of the monsoon season that had just begun there.  The people of Thailand quickly assembled a team of experts from around the world and worked feverishly to save the boys and their coach.  It was reported this morning that all thirteen had been successfully extracted from the cave.  Only one person died, an expert diver who, while attempting to rig the equipment needed to get the boys out, ran out of oxygen and could not be revived.  The world news agencies mourned his passing.  It was a glowing tribute to Thailand’s commitment to life, and the American press joined heartily in that tribute.

And yet.  In the past year, thirty-three thousand people died in the United States from gun violence.  Eighty-eight thousand died from alcohol abuse.  Almos5t five hundred thousand people in the U.S. died from smoking.  Most shocking of all, twenty-one thousand (21,000) people in the world die every day from starvation.  All of this is not to consider how many people die every day of drug overdose and how many people die or are wrenched from their homes and their countries from military attacks.

I understand what the literal meaning of the term “pro-life” is, and I greatly admire and respect anyone who is able to truly pursue a life committed to the idea.  I struggle mightily, however, with the apparent hypocrisy of those who claim to be pro-life for the purposes of outlawing all abortions but who tolerate, and even support, the promotion of guns, alcohol and tobacco and who would reduce or even eliminate the spending of American funds to fight off starvation and disease around the world.  For those who do so, “pro-life” is no more than a meaningless, political slogan.

I am not “pro-life” in its literal sense.  I understand that we, individually and as a nation, have only limited funds to distribute to those in need.  In a perfect world, we would be able to use those limited funds to eliminate these needless deaths.  It is not a perfect world, and so we must reason about how many deaths we should allow.  That sounds terrible, but it is exactly what we must do.  Justice demands it, and honesty requires that we talk about it.

So let us talk about, let us have a rational discussion about, abortion.  First, is that which is growing in a woman’s womb human?  Of course it is.  No one stands in a birthing room wondering whether the woman is about to give birth to a chicken.  It follows from that simple observation that abortion is the taking of a human life.

Next step.  Are there occasions where justice requires the taking of that human life?  That is a difficult question, and it requires reasoning just as difficult as the gun debate and the starvation debate and the alcohol, drug and tobacco debates.  My answer is: yes.  My reasoning is that there are occasions where we must choose one life over another.  If two people are drowning, and you can only save one, you will have to choose one life over another.  So, for instance, if you are a doctor, and you are faced with a choice of saving the infant’s life or the mother’s, you must choose one life over another.

Final step.  Who should be given the power to choose whether to have an abortion, to take the life of the child growing within that womb?  This is the real, the key, the absolutely most difficult question.  Should that decision be in the hands of a judge?  Of a doctor?  Of a police authority of some kind?  Or how about putting the decision in the hands of a religious figure of some kind?

We are now at the heart of the decision in Roe v. Wade, and we have also arrived at the key moral question we must all face in taking a position on abortion.  If you truly, honestly want to outlaw abortion on the grounds that all life is sacred, you need first to consider whether or not you will be consistent in holding that incredibly difficult and honorable position.  Will you oppose all war?  Will you oppose the proliferation of guns?  Will you ask the government to increase its spending on the rehabilitation of addicts and its contributions to the sick and starving of the world?  If so, I applaud you, and I apologize for my own weakness in not being able to be so strong personally.  If not, then you are a hypocrite, and your arguments are worthless.

If, on the other hand, you accept the fact that killing other humans, or allowing their deaths, is, sadly, a necessity, then you must choose who it is who should decide whether an abortion is permissible.  The Supreme Court has said, essentially, that it is the woman who should have the power to make that decision, at least to the point that the child would be able to survive on its own.

So, the issue is clear, and I hope my point about it is clear.  Argue about abortion, and about guns and about addiction and about war and about starvation.  But argue honestly.  Slogans are not arguments.  True, real, honest arguments face problems squarely and painfully.  Real justice, the real, reasoned distribution of our limited assets among a multiplicity of valid claims, is at one and the same time the most difficult thing and the most important thing we as a people have to face.  But for all our sakes, let us in fact face it.









































Imagine that I came to you and informed  that you needed a new car.  Imagine that I informed you that I would be choosing your new car based on what I saw as your needs, and that I would be delivering that new car sometime in the future.  Imagine that I then delivered that new car, and that I then sent you a bill for what I determined was the appropriate price.  Imagine that I then demanded payment, and when you announced that you could not afford that price, I sued you for the full price, that I got a judgment, and that I collected on that judgment by foreclosing on your house.

Insane?  Yes.  Outrageous?  Yes.  UnAmerican?  Yes.  Happens every day?  Yes.  Some time ago I went to an oral surgeon.  He informed me that I needed to have dental implants.  I asked him how much I would have to pay for those implants.  He seemed somewhat insulted, informed me that he had no idea and that perhaps his assistant could tell me.  His assistant, after some hesitation, then informed me that the bill would be something in excess of twenty thousand ($20,000) dollars.  Not long afterwards, I went to a lung doctor and told him that I would like a prescription to replace the sleep machine that I had been using for the last twenty years.  He said that, in order to get the new sleep machine, I would have, for some reason I still cannot grasp, go into a hospital overnight for a sleep test.  I presume the reason was that I needed to determine whether I needed the sleep machine that I had used successfully for twenty years.  When I asked him how much that would cost, his nurse said, “What do you care?  It’s covered by insurance.”  I underwent the sleep test, after which the doctor gave me the needed prescription.  I bought a new sleep machine.  It cost me just over $300.  The sleep test, however, cost more than $5000.

These are just a few minor examples of what is going on every day in our health system.  We are bleeding money into a system that is unimaginably out of control.  The annual increase in cost of living in the United States over the last eight years has been negligible, while the cost of medical care in that same period has doubled.  Why?  Because it can.  The providers of needed medicines, for instance, have on various occasions doubled and tripled and quadrupled (and more) the price of their products simply on the grounds that nobody can stop them from doing so.  People who depend on those products for their very lives, diabetics and the hyperallergic and others, have had neither a choice nor a say in the matter.

This medical system is every bit as insane as the example of the car.  Yet it is exactly how we receive and pay for medical care in the United States.  It is also anti-conservative.  Real conservatism is, among other things, a commitment to an economic system of fair and open markets.  It encourages open competition.  It supports the efforts of entrepreneurs, who bring to the market the new products and services that create that competition.  It contends, rightly, that such competition will provide the populace with the best products and services for the best prices.

The present system of medical pricing fundamentally violates that conservative economic ideal.  It does so by controlling both supply and demand.  It creates a supply of a product or service, and then it informs its customers that they need that supply.  Then, having short-circuited the conservative system of free markets, it sets whatever prices it wants on those products and services.

Our present economy will collapse if we allow this insanity to continue.  Employers and their employees and other individuals are paying outrageous amounts of money to cover the cost of health care in the United States.  Our only salvation is to return to the sound thinking of conservatism.  We can do that by taking away demand from the medical providers and putting it where it belongs, in the hands of the consumer.  How do we do that?  No individual can do it, because the industries that are gouging us can ignore any individual.  The only way we can do it is by banding together and refusing to pay these scandalous, out-of-control prices for medical care.

How do we do that?  Well, we could, for instance, bargain collectively, say, by forming an association of all consumers of medical care.  Let’s call it, for lack of a better term, a union.  Then we could elect representatives from our union to negotiate with the medical providers for better prices.  Oh, I forgot.  Conservatives don’t like unions.

Okay, well, we could have the government negotiate for us.  We could elect political leaders who would pass legislation requiring the medical industry to  provide medical care for all of us at reasonable prices as determined by a legislative group.  We could call such legislation the Act to Provide Affordable Care to all Americans (APACA)  or something like that.  Oh, I forgot.  Conservatives don’t like that either.

Really?  Does real conservatism want to keep allowing medical providers to charge us into oblivion?  No.  Not on your life.  That view is unfaithful to true conservatism.  True conservatism does not object to socializing in the appropriate circumstances.  It does not, for instance, object to socializing the cost of national and local defense.  It does not object to socializing the cost of common spaces, such as parks and zoos and common spaces.  It does not object to socializing the cost of fighting fires.  It does not object to socializing the cost of education.

I put it to you that socializing, in some way, the cost of medical care is fully in accord with the principles of true conservatism.  Where there is a universal need, and where the cost of supplying that universal need can only be done in a cost-effective manner by socializing that cost, true conservatism requires that it be socialized.

This key point is an indication that true conservatism has been co-opted by a different, a malevolent, anti-conservative, actually anti-American force.  Those who would profit mightily by eliminating a free market have a stranglehold on the cost of medical care.  They have done so by pretending that they are conservatives, but they are nothing of the kind.  They desire not democracy but economic totalitarianism.  To effect that end, they have gained control of what used to be the party of conservatism, what used to be the Republican party.

We are desperately in need of true conservatism, just as we are desperately in need of the reasoned debate between the principles of liberalism and principles of true conservatism.  It is that reasoned debate that worked to help us move toward the fulfillment of the American ideal in the past, and it is the suppression of that debate that is dragging us backward, away from fulfilling that ideal.  The death of that debate spells the death of the American ideal.  Let us pray that moment has not come.







































Today is the Fourth of July.  Today we celebrate that time, back in 1776, when our country was born.  Its birth was announced by that most precious of American documents, the Declaration of Independence.  The Declaration announced the reason for the creation of this new country.  Unique in all the nations of the world, the United States was founded, says the Declaration, on a self-evident principle.  That means that the United States was founded, not as a certain land area with a certain kind of people in it.  Rather it was founded on a guiding ideal so fundamental, so undeniable, that if you don’t believe in that principle, if you are not guided by that principle, you are not only not an American; you are unfaithful to what it means to be a human being.

Here is that undeniable, absolute principle:  all human beings are born equal, and every human being is endowed by her or his Creator with inalienable rights.  Inalienable rights are rights that cannot be denied, cannot even be given away.  Before anything else, first and foremost, to be, not just an American, but a human being, means to recognize and be responsible for the rights of every other human being.  As Patrick Henry said so succinctly, my commitment to that principle is more important than even my own life.

This is the profound, the defining beauty of the United States, the thing we celebrate most today.  Before we are anything, before we are a collection of states, before we are a land area bordered by water and other countries, we are a people dedicated to the most fundamental principle, the defining principle of what it is to be a human being.  Yes, we have, individually and as a nation, failed that principle.  At our very founding, we denied these fundamental rights to whole groups of people, to Africans and others brought here as slaves, to people who lived here long before our ancestors ever came here, even to all women.  But we have worked, and we are working, to correct those failures.  That first principle is an ideal, our ideal, and to be an American is, before anything else, to work toward that ideal.

So today we celebrate, laugh and play and watch parades and fireworks.  Tomorrow, July 5, we go back to the hard work of being an American, that most important work of pursuing that undeniable ideal.  We go back to earning a living, of course, but in doing even that we go back to making that ideal come closer to realization.  We do whatever we can to bring us close to that ideal.  We embrace our fellow humans.  We honor every other human.  We contemplate and discuss the best means of honoring our fellow humans.  We vote for people who are committed to that ideal.  If we have the nerve and the strength, we run for office on the simple ground of wanting to make that ideal a reality.  We object, in every way we can, to the conduct of our people and our government that violates that ideal.

It is a hard thing indeed to be a real American.  It is exactly as hard as it is to be a real human being.  So enjoy the Fourth of July.  We have a lot of work to do tomorrow.