Author archives: Rob Schwarzwalder

Why Elections Matter

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 13, 2011

In 2009, Barack Obama appointed then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. This was a troubling pick for conservatives, given her support for abortion-on-demand and support from abortion giant Planned Parenthood. As an advocate for federal funding of abortion, abortifacient drugs and embryonic stem cell research, among other things, Sec. Sebelius has justified these concerns.

Yet there is a significant bright side to Sec. Sebelius’ departure from Topeka: Former Senator Sam Brownback, a champion for life, is now Governor of Kansas. And what a difference that has made.

Yesterday, Gov. Brownback signed legislation that “strictly limits abortions after 22 weeks based on the fact that fetuses can feel pain beginning after the 21st week of pregnancy” and another measure, “the Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act,” which “requires minors who seek abortions to obtain consent from both parents and places certain prohibitions on late-term and partial birth abortions.”

Kathleen Sebelius would have fought these bills from their introduction. Sam Brownback not only signed but celebrated them.

To those who say that Christians should withdraw from political engagement and concentrate on private acts of charity or work solely with church or ministry groups, consider Sam Brownback and his allies in the Kansas Legislature. Were these bills the final word in the battle for life? No. They are part of a larger legislative mosaic that is building, gradually but steadily, a culture where the personhood of the unborn child increasingly is being recognized in law and in the American conscience. For the children whose lives will be saved through these measures, they are nothing less than critical.

Does political engagement bring complete resolution of every problem? No. But political action can make a decisive, if incremental, difference in a host of areas — most importantly those involving the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, and the centrality of religious liberty to American public life.

Elections matter. Just ask Sam Brownback.

Deficit Deception: Don’t Bank on Social Security: A Primer in the Manifest Phoniness of the Social Security System

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 12, 2011

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the fiscal year 2010 deficit was $1.3 trillion. If the roughly $700 billion from Social Security had been kept in its own so-called Trust Fund and, as a result, subtracted from federal general revenues, the deficit would have been more than $2 trillion.

Instead, as economics writer James Pethokoukis observes, monies supposedly dedicated to Social Security are used as part of a fiduciary shell game” to “mask the true depth of the budget deficit.

How can Social Security and the federal government get away with this?

To answer that, a few foundational facts are needed.

For one thing, there is no Social Security Trust Fund. The Fund is an accounting device that’s used to hide the true size of the federal deficit.

The monies collected from taxpayers are, in an act of accounting sleight-of-hand, put into the Trust Fund for about a millisecond and are then replaced by “special-issue securities,” Treasury notes that the Social Security Administration (SSA) itself admits are “available only to the trust funds.”

In other words, the federal government takes money out of Social Security to pay for all kinds of things, including payments to retirees. It issues itself Treasury bonds to repay its loan from the Social Security Trust Fund but they are bonds only Social Security itself can buy. This is known, in stuffy bureaucracy-speak, as an intragovernmental loan.

SSA itself clarifies, “Tax income is deposited on a daily basis and is invested in ‘special-issue’ securities. The cash exchanged for the securities goes into the general fund of the Treasury and is indistinguishable from other cash in the general fund.” Invested, indeed keep reading.

So, the money that the federal treasury siphons-out of the erstwhile “trust fund goes to cover general revenues of all kinds: From the common federal budget pot, the monies are used to pay for freeway projects in Iowa and aircraft carriers to U.S. Postal System delivery trucks. Oh, yes, and payments to Social Security recipients, or beneficiaries, as well.

Here’s how Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press explains it:

The money in the trust funds has been spent over the years to help fund other government programs. In return, the Treasury Department issued bonds to Social Security, which earn interest and are backed by the government, just like bonds sold in public debt markets. When Social Security runs a deficit, it redeems its bonds with the Treasury Department to cover the red ink. But Treasury gets the money to pay Social Security the same places the government gets all its money: either from taxes and other revenues or by borrowing it. Last year, the government borrowed 37 cents of every dollar it spent. This year it’s borrowing 43 cents of every dollar.”

The interest earned is merely a designed percentage payment Uncle Sam adds onto the amount of the loan derived not from any kind of profitable investment itself, but from the printing presses of the federal treasury. The interest is merely added out of fiat-drenched thin air.

Why does the government do this? Very simply: If Social Security designated funds - the money that comes out of all of our paychecks to pay Social Security income to seniors were not used for general revenue, the deficit would be shown to be even more gigantic than it is, as noted above.

How much money are we talking about? As indicated in the first graph of this piece, the CBO says that Social Security contributed $706 billion to the federal budget in FY 2010. Thats about one-fifth of the total budget.

Some argue that since beneficiaries are getting paid, whats the big deal?

Last year, the pay-out total to retirees was $41 billion more than what was taken in through Social Security taxes. For the first time in roughly 30 years, the SSA ran a deficit one larger, in itself, that all but a handful of the countries in the world.

Second, the false assurance that the trust funds dollars are invested is a lie pure and simple. This investment is actually nothing more than a credit slip that says, in as many words, that the money will be put back in by the Treasury with a certain percentage of interest, interest not derived from anywhere but balance side of a phony federal ledger.

Third, were the money actually invested in interest-bearing accounts, using historic rates of return, the SSA would not be facing the historic crisis it faces in the next quarter-century. Consider: Over the course of its history, the stock market with all the dips, depressions, recessions, wars, etc. we have faced has had an inflation adjusted return of between six and seven percent.

Given the monies poured into the Social Security system since its inception in the 1930s, such a return would have prevented the current, and future, profound shortfalls we are facing.

Fourth, and perhaps most ominously, is the dearth of workers who pay into the system. That number has shrunk from 16 employees per beneficiary to slightly under 3 workers per beneficiary today. As Americas population ages, that ratio will shrink, to our profound fiscal danger, more and more.

Charles Krauthammer notes that should the debt continue to build like a throbbing volcano, the full faith and credit of the federal government wont mean much and not just Social Security, but the whole economy, will be at grave risk:

In judging the creditworthiness of the United States, the world doesnt care what the left hand owes the right. Its all one entity. It cares only what that one entity owes the world … (W)hat would happen to financial markets if the Treasury stopped honoring the special issue bonds in the Social Security trust fund? A lot of angry grumbling at home for sure. But externally? Nothing. This default would simply be the Treasury telling the Social Security Administration that henceforth it would have to fend for itself in covering its annual shortfall.

The other alternative: Treasury tells SSA no such thing and simply pays back, using not real assets but accredited and/or printed monies from Treasurys printing presses, what it owes SSA: The money will, at some point, stop holding much, if any, value. At that point, the world will care a lot, because it will indicate the Weimar-esque quality of the U.S. greenback.

There are a number of ways to correct the problem before Social Security runs completely out of money in about 26 years.

Former FRC scholar and current Howard Center director Alan Carlson argues convincingly, as Americans have more children, we will remedy at least much of the crisis by having more workers to pay into the Social Security system itself. House Speaker John Boehner and others argue for raising the full retirement age from 65 to, say 67 or even 70, which more accurately reflects growing longevity and work patterns and would save large amounts annually.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is among the leading advocates of allowing younger income-earners to invest at least a graduated/growing portion of their Social Security dollars into private retirement accounts, not unlike the federal employees Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

This could be done directly, from the employees paycheck, and be directed into one or more of several fund-types managed independently, just as TSP funds are.

What is clear is that the current system is neither sustainable nor honest. While no one expects President Obama to advance the reforms necessary, the next President should.

If Social Security is not just to survive but refrain from being a fiscal anvil around the national neck, the next President must.

Formerly chief of staff to two Members of Congress and a presidential appointee in the George W. Bush Administration, Schwarzwalder is senior vice-president of the Family Research Council.

On Sir Martin Rees, Scientific Speculation, and Confident Faith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 6, 2011

Sir Martin Rees, member of the House of Lords, brilliant astrophysicist, and Master of Trinity College at Cambridge don —- has won the prestigious Templeton Prize. The Prize was established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, investor and philanthropist, to recognize “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming lifes spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” At $1 million pounds ($1.6 million), the award carries substantial financial reward but, much more, the prestige of one of science’s top honors.

Sir Martin’s work in achievements in the field of science are indisputable. His mind ventures into arenas of thought most of us remain unaware exist: They include “High energy astrophysics —- especially gamma ray bursts, galactic nuclei, black hole formation and radiative processes (including gravitational waves) … Cosmic structure formation —- especially the early generation of stars and galaxies that formed at high redshifts at the end of the cosmic ‘dark age’.”

Sir Martin’s comments on faith, however, merit consideration. In an interview with RealClearReligion, he said, “I don’t have any religious beliefs but I’m not allergic to religion. I participate in the religious services of the Church of England, which is the culture in which I grew up. I’m an analogue to the substantial fraction of Jews who don’t believe in God but still practice some of the traditional rituals. The liturgy and music of the English Church are part of my culture that I value and would like to see preserved.”

In other words, he does not believe the words he speaks regarding God, Christ, sin, salvation, etc., but he says them because of a certain cultural reassurance they bring him.

Using this logic, one could read from The Federal Register in muffled tones or hear it sung in plainsong and have just as much of a spiritual experience as reading the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church.

Sir Martin’s understanding that traditional faith is jettisoned only at the cost, ultimately, of cultural erosion is correct. But that is only true if the faith itself has inherent meaning. If it is arbitrary, then what he is advocating is merely a self-deceptive and intellectually dishonest form of social therapy.

Christianity makes truth-claims, among them that the God of the Bible is real and eternal; that Jesus of Nazareth was fully human and fully God, willingly bore the sins of a fallen humanity on the cross, rose bodily from the grave, and is alive today. These claims are even more stunning than Sir Martin’s that there might by myriad universes or his comments about “black holes in galactic centers.”

Put simply: If he can believe that “the universe exists because we are aware of it” —- but, Sir Martin, if no one sees me, do I not exist? —- I can believe, with a confident mind, in the witness of history and the assurance of faith that Jesus is Lord. And I do.

What the Founders Really Did on Religious Liberty

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 4, 2011

The religious views of America’s Founders were not segmented into a discrete compartment, segregated away from their political views. Rather, the faith of Fathers infused their understanding of government, the public good, and way in which they believed men and women could most productively live alongside one another in a free but ordered society.

Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, who has spoken eloquently at FRC about the Founders and religious liberty, said recently that the American founders looked to the role of religion … and morality informed by religious values to provide an internal moral compass that would prompt the citizen to behave in an orderly, disciplined fashion. This is an idea that is replete in the political literature of the American founding. It is said over and over and over again.”

Religious liberty is rich ground out of which all our other liberties grow. As FRC Senior Fellow Bob Morrison writes in his new booklet “What the Founders Really Did on Religious Liberty: ‘Deeds not Words,’”

The Founders of our country considered religious liberty our ‘first freedom.’ In their view, it was the bedrock upon which all other freedoms rest. Why? They understood that ones right to worship God and follow his conscience according to the principles of his religious faith was foundational to all morality. A man whose religious faith was repressed could never be a loyal citizen, since the state was usurping his first allegiance and costing him his primary, or first, freedom.

Samuel Adams wrote in his Rights of the Colonists in 1772, The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave. If we do not acknowledge that God is the author of our liberty —- an inherently religious assertion, stated clearly in the Declaration of Independence —- then liberties of all kinds are merely trinkets of the state.

So, at a time when religion in public life is under attack by those who would scrub our government and public institutions of all vestiges of our Judeo-Christian heritage, it is imperative for conservatives to stand for religious liberty as the foundation of our laws and our nation itself. Bob Morrisons new booklet is a great place to start.

Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 18, 2011

Is “public education the same thing as “government education?” Dr. Jack Klenk argues it is not, but that the two terms have been conflated, in our time, to mean the same thing.

Dr. Klenk is the author of a new FRC booklet titled, “Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?.” His new publication, which you can download at no charge, answers this probing question through the application of both careful analysis and common sense.

It’s a question well worth asking. According to the federal Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, in constant dollars, spending per pupil in public elementary and secondary schools went from $2,769 in the 1961-62 school year to $10,041 in 2007-07 school year.

What have we gotten for this massive investment? According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, “the reading skills of 12th graders tested in 2005 were significantly worse than those of students in 1992, when a comparable test was first given, and essentially flat since students previously took the exam in 2002.”

Jack Klenk believes we can, and must, do better. He makes a strong case that parents should be allowed and empowered to decide how to education their children. Here’s an excerpt from his new FRC publication:

(W)hat we need today is education that serves the public: education where power flows back to parents; where empowered parents are able to choose schools as they see fit (public charter schools, other government schools, private schools, homeschools, cyber schools, or other schools yet to come); where schools of all stripes that offer quality education are free to compete to serve parents; where the success of schools depends more on satisfying parents who freely choose them than on pleasing bureaucracies; and where nongovernmental schools retain their independence.”

Dr. Klenk’s impressive credentials lend support for his case. He served for twenty-seven years in the U.S. Department of Education under five presidents and eight secretaries. He directed the Office of Non-Public Education which is responsible for fostering the participation of nonpublic school students and teachers in federal education programs and initiatives. Dr. Klenk worked on policies and programs affecting school choice, private schools, home schools, urban faith-based schools, and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?” is an important contribution to the debate over the future of American education. This is more than an academic discussion — it’s about the well-being of our children and the nation they inherit.

Sex Trafficking in America: from The Boulevard to Planned Parenthood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 14, 2011

On Tuesday, March 15, Family Research Council will Webcast a gripping presentation, hosted by FRC President Tony Perkins, titled “Sex Trafficking in America: From the Boulevard to Planned Parenthood“.

Tony will be joined by leading experts to discuss this growing scourge and what concerned citizens can do to stop it. Included will be:

  • J. Robert (Bob) Flores, former Administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJD)
  • Tina Frundt, founder and executive director of Courtneys House, which provides specialized housing for sex-trafficked girls
  • Lila Rose, Live Action
  • Lisa Thompson, Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking at the Salvation Army
  • Pat Trueman, president, PornHarms.com and former Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, U. S. Department of Justice
  • Samantha Vardaman, senior director, Shared Hope International

You can register to watch this live Webcast by going to http://www.frc.org/traffic

As recently shown by Live Action, Planned Parenthood has been willing to provide sexually-trafficked girls and women not only with contraception but even abortion, without reporting the plight of the victims to law enforcement authorities.

This is only one aspect of the problem. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 17,500 people — the overwhelming majority of them young women and girls — are “trafficked” as sexual slaves in the United States annually.

That number well could be low. As cited in the text of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, a study issued by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 (found that) as many as 300,000 children in the United States are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation, including trafficking, at any given time.

What is not in dispute is the horror undergone by the victims of this abominable trade — nor that it strikes very close to home. Just a few miles outside of the nations capital, 42 year-old Derwin Smith of Glen Burnie, Maryland, a few days ago pleaded guilty to prostituting a 12 year-old girl he had “picked up on the street.” This girl was raped repeatedly by many men while held by Smith, who now faces the possibility of life in prison without parole. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake will announce his sentence on May 11.

Many of the victims of sex trafficking are trapped in run-down brothels or cheap hotels. Some are found in so-called “health spas” or massage parlors. Of course, many others are simply thrust onto the street, and others are used in child pornography. All are sexually and physically abused and carry deep psychological scars.

If you have observed a young woman or girl in a situation that suggests she is involved in prostitution or pornography, or even that she simply is in need of help, call the 24/7, toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

This coming Tuesday, be sure to watch “Sex Trafficking in America: From the Boulevard to Planned Parenthood” and let your friends know about this important broadcast.

The President’s Unconstitutional Two-for-One

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 25, 2011

President Obama’s decision this week not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court demonstrates both contempt for the law itself and a disturbing arrogance concerning his own authority.

This action is not unique. As today’s Wall Street Journal notes, “The White House has apparently decided that it won’t enforce the unpopular parts of its health-care plan until after the 2012 election. The latest evidence is its decision not to slash Medicare Advantage, the program that Democrats hate because it lets seniors choose private insurance options.”

And this week’s decision regarding DOMA is not a new departure from allegiance to the law. As George Will wrote in 2009, “The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.”

The President of the United States takes an oath when he assumes office, assuring us that he will “defend the Constitution of the United States.” That Constitution makes Congress the legislative body, not the Executive branch. Thus, when Congress passes legislation that is signed into law by the President, it becomes incumbent upon the President — as the chief constitutional law enforcement office in the nation — to defend it.

When this or any President refuses to defend any given law, he is placing himself above it. How, in principle, this distinguishes the United States from any tin-pot autocracy, where law is made by the fiat choices of an unaccountable dictator, escapes me. For that matter, why bother with having legislative (Congress) or judicial (the Supreme and other federal courts) branches if the President can simply choose to ignore defending laws he dislikes?

Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow Chris Gacek (JD, Virginia) notes that DOMA “affirms the power of each state to make its own decision as to whether it will accept or reject same-sex marriages created in other jurisdictions … The Defense of Marriage Act preserves the right of the states to govern themselves with respect to family law and domestic relations. DOMA impedes judicial activism regarding marriage and provides needed uniformity in federal law. It is an essential part of preserving traditional marriage in America.” In other words, as Quinn Hillyer writes in The American Spectator, “Without DOMA, state and local decision-making would be nil. In fact, the decisions of 49 states could be superseded by the decision of one state to allow such ‘marriages’.”

The rule of law is essential to the future of representative self-government in the United States. The future of marriage hinges, in large measure, on DOMA. President Obama has succeeded in undermining both this week.

Just How Much Help Do Businesses Need from Uncle Sam?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 1, 2011

So, now we have the President’s new “Startup America” campaign, which is designed to foster small business growth and job creation. We also have Business.usa.gov, which is a one-stop shop for “small business resources and geographic data.” This, of course, is distinct from SBA.gov, which helps small businesses “find local resources, explore programs and services, and achieve your business goals.” Which is different than the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization; the Department of Labor has an office of the same name, too, just to be clear —- and also than Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative’s Sustainable Business Clearinghouse and Commerce’s Grants, Contracting, and Trade Opportunities initiative. Small businesses can also get help from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Small Business Mentor-Protege Program and Small Business Program Manual, where among other things we learn that “small businesses are important to the United States.” And, of course, there are HHS’s Small Business Program, its Small Disadvantaged Business Program, its HUBZone Program, its Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program, its various Outreach Activities, its Vendor Outreach Session and its Small Business Competitive Demonstration Program.

There are more such programs, sprinkled throughout the federal government like coriander seeds in a large muffin. Unconsolidated, confusing, arguably unconstitutional, costly, and a tribute to government’s well-intended eagerness to do what it was never intended to do: Interfere with market-based job creation.

A rational tax and regulatory regime, combined with expanded child and R&D tax credits and an end to the estate, or “death,” tax, would enable smaller firms to thrive more effectively. Policies that strengthen families (again, breaks for children, adoption, and charitable donations) and encourage growth instead of penalizing it aren’t a bad idea, either.

Mr. Obama and his Administration can try to foster the risk-taking, innovation and opportunity they rightfully believe are necessary to create jobs through yet more government-based programs. But they cannot create the dynamism of the open market from a bureaucratic, administrative, procedural and regulatory state. It is to the benign wisdom of that state, versus the clear-minded energy of the American people, that Mr. Obama and his aides have pledged their troth. And that’s why this latest iteration of “I’m from Washington and I want to help you” just won’t work.

The Internal Contradictions of the Obama Abortion Argument

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 26, 2011

A few days ago, the President who refuses to acknowledge when personhood begins (“that’s above my paygrade”) issued a statement celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This is not unsurprising for a man who, while a state senator, argued copiously against a law that would protect children who, having survived an attempted abortion, could be left to die.

What is intriguing is the internal inconsistency contained within the statement. On the one hand, Mr. Obama uses the traditional mordant euphemisms about abortion - Roe “protects women’s health” and ensures “reproductive freedom;” it also guarantees that “our daughters have the same rights … as our sons to fulfill their dreams.” Ah, those babies - wreckers of so many dreams. How dare they intrude on personal self-fulfillment …

On the other hand, Mr. Obama says he remains “committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.”

My question: Why? If abortion is a morally neutral and even beneficial choice (gotta fulfill those dreams, right?), why promote alternatives to it? The rhetorical landscape of the President’s statement is replete with the presupposition that personal choice is the supreme good, meaning that abortion and adoption are merely achromatic options on the palette of ethical choices.

Additionally, if choice is the summum bonum, why be “committed” to alternatives to one of those choices whose exercise involves an activity —- the destruction of a life —- fundamentally contrary to all the others? The self-contradiction is transparent, startlingly so.

James Q. Wilson, in his classic work The Moral Sense, writes that “most people rely on (the conscience) even if intellectuals deny it, but it is not always and in every aspect of life strong enough to withstand a pervasive and sustained attack.” The President is now leading this attack, and the national soul suffers for it —- as do the 3,000 unborn children aborted daily.

Yet in appealing to alternatives, does not Mr. Obama tacitly acknowledge the echo of his own conscience? Of the memory of holding a tiny, wriggling infant in his own arms? The champions of abortion rights cannot deal logically with the basis or implications of that for which they contend. To do so would be too painful, and involve a choice to defend the unborn they find an unpalatable alternative.

On Kermit Gosnell, the Times Passes

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 22, 2011

The New York Times, America’s self-vaunted “paper of record,” shivers with indignation over many things, important and trivial. It’s columnists rail with rage against all manner of real or perceived evil, most particularly - in most cases - conservatism, Republicans, fiscal restraint, and moral virtue (a phrase which the Times would mock, if it were used seriously).

Earlier this week, the Times even attacked the GOP for using the term “job-killing” as uncivil. Yet the Times has not carried a single editorial on the brutal violence of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania, a man who slaughtered myriad newly-born infants and ran a filthy “women’s health” center in the City of Brotherly Love.

Where’s the outrage from the voice of politically-correct liberalism? Frank Rich, Charles Blow, Paul Krugman, Timothy Egan, et al., attack with more predictability than creativity all facets of conservatism. They, and their peers, have been silent about Dr. Gosnell.

Last year, the Times‘ editorial writer Dorothy Samuels wrote a strident “Editorial Observer” piece on abortion, in which she described “assaults on women’s reproductive rights” (i.e., efforts to protect unborn children) and belittled the interventions of Congress and state legislatures. To read this article is to realize that the determined supporters of abortion live in an alternative moral universe in which the unborn are mere “fetuses,” and “choice” is the ultimate moral good. This is the dehumanizing language of the stifled conscience.

Yet even the Times cannot escape, even if unintentionally, the brutality of what Dr. Gosnell did to tiny children. In its eight-paragraph report of his evil-doing on January 19, the Gray Lady quotes from the Grand Jury report accusing him of murder:

When labor was induced and a baby was born, Dr. Gosnell would kill it by cutting into its neck and severing its spinal cord in a process he referred to as snipping. In one case involving a 17-year-old who was 30 weeks pregnant, prosecutors said that Dr. Gosnell induced labor, severed the babys spine and put the body in a shoe box. The doctor joked that the baby was so big, he could walk me to the bus stop.”

Note the words: Baby … body … neck … spinal column. These are not descriptions of some anatomical excrescence. They refer to what they actually compose: A small human person. Even the Times cannot avoid their moral power.

We can only hope that the undeniable, wrenching force of the report will have some affect on the hardened editorialists of the New York Times, even as they already have had on millions of other Americans. In the words of the moral philosopher J. Budziszewski, writing in First Things:

Nothing new can be written on the heart, but nothing needs to be; all we need is the grace of God to see what is already there. We don’t want to read the letters, because they burn; but they do burn, so at last we must read them. This is why the nation can repent. This is why the plague can be arrested. This is why the culture of death can be redeemed. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before thee … a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

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