Pixy doesn't live in the same time zone as I do, plus he has a crazy sleep schedule, so I am not entirely sure when the switch will be made.
In the meantime, because I have a rant that needs bangin' out, I will begin putting new posts up at my new blog, and eventually you will be automatically directed there.
For now, you must follow the link.
Fluffy the Spamhound and I are announcing our irreconcilable differences. I know you will all miss having your comments eaten, sending me screaming emails about how your perfect comment disappeared, and whatnot.
I am leaving for the Milblogs Conference today and will not be taking the computer with me. When I return on Monday, my blog will be new and improved. Not the content, mind you; you get the same drivel as usual, only with a flashier interface.
And no Fluffy.
See you Monday. Hopefully however you normally get here will still get you here. Pixy is handling the details, because he is teh awesome. (And Code Monkey is my back-up brain.)
Unliberaled Woman posted again on Miss California. You know, this story has really been bugging me. Unliberaled Woman is right that it's a huge double standard for Perez Hilton to say that she should've "left her politics out" when he asked her such a question. What did he expect? A majority of Californians recently voted to ban gay marriage, but he somehow assumed that she was not one of those people. And then got mad at her for not being what he wanted her to be. Unliberaled Woman said:
It’s unfortunate that liberals continue to play from the standard persuasive tactic of “your viewpoint must cater to mine despite your individualism because your perspective might be offensive to me despite the fact my perspective could be offensive to you.”
I think that is a great way of phrasing this type of behavior. Don't ask a controversial question if you're not ready for a controversial answer. (And remind me again what's so controversial about the majority position in this country! Again, see The Occult Meaning of "Controversial" at Powerline.)
And honestly, when I heard Hilton's question for the first time, I thought of a way more radical answer. Let's see how well I play Miss America:
Perez Hilton: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not?"
[Big vaseline smile] "Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage." [Oy, that was a bit stumbly, Miss California. But I'm right with you up to here. Now here's where I'd diverge.]
I, however, am a firm believer in states' rights. As Connie du Toit said:
California can be whatever the people in the state want it to be. They can have universal health care, high taxes and wealth redistribution, environmentally restrictive building codes, labor laws that favor the laborer over the employer, and cliques and factions that support this or that version of political correctness. They can do that, and (as I’ve said before) I would fight to the death their right to make those decisions.
I support the right of any state to legalize gay marriage by a statewide vote. If it passes, it is the law of the land. But I also support the right of states to ban the practice. And I firmly support the right of every American to "vote with his feet" and move to the state which best represents his principles and values.
So, no, I don't think that every state should follow Vermont's example of legalizing same-sex marriage...only the states which put the issue to a vote and decide through the ballot box to legalize it. And I would respect the vote of the American people no matter which option they chose in their states. That's what our country is all about.
(Yeah, I don't think I'd end up Miss America either.)
One of my cherished new readers pointed out last night that there is a blogger who wrote about her family's ordeal with balanced translocation. I am reading the archives of Here Be Hippogriffs now. One post I think might be educational for my readers, especially the chromosomes made out of play-doh: Balanced Translocations 101.
I don't know if this story will type as well as it's told in person, but I was doing some research on my chromosomes yesterday. I told my mother over the phone that chromosome 7 was related to things like schizophrenia, cystic fibrosis, and deafness. "What?" she asked. "DEAFNESS." "Huh?" she asked right at the same time I was repeating myself. "Being DEAF," I practically screamed. Then we both cracked up.
Thank you for your kind words and your wows and your tempered optimism for the future. Everyone has responded beautifully. I am doing OK and letting everything slowly sink in. I am still on the high of having an answer, but actually, this is a crappy path to be on. I don't want to do IVF. I really don't want to do IVF by myself while my husband is in Afghanistan. How am I gonna give myself shots in the butt alone? I dread that, truly. Thinking about it already makes me panic.
But, distractions abound. I am happily attending the 2009 Milblogs Conference this weekend. And...my husband will be going with me! I am excited to see my imaginary and real worlds collide. We will be staying with AirForceFamily, which is always fun, and Charlie gets to torment pit bulls again. Plus I am excited to see AirForceWife's knitting. She has been at it for a while, but I've never gotten to see her stuff. She's all nonchalant about it; conversely, I am all "everyone should see how jacked and tan I am" about my knitting. So yay.
And I think I get to see someone I haven't seen since 1995. So that's fun.
So yeah, check out those play-doh chromosomes...
Powerline: The Occult Meaning of "Controversial"
Remember when I said my husband and I should play the lottery? That we had managed to hit 1% and 5% probability for our pregnancies?
I just hit 0.16%.
Yesterday, due to yet another snafu with The Fertility Clinic Of The Absurd, I got a preview of today's appointment: something did indeed come back on our genetic testing. I spent all night and all morning freaking out. I could barely concentrate on anything, barely breathe even. And when I got to the clinic and shared a bustling waiting room with jovial nurses and at least six very pregnant ladies, I broke down crying. Not my finest moment. (I absolutely hate that fertility patients meet in the regular old ob-gyn clinic. Talk about having it rubbed in your face constantly.)
We finally got into our own room, and the doctor handed me the results of the chromosome analysis.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am an X-man.
I am the 1 out of every 625 people who has a balanced translocation between two chromosomes. Luckily, google was invented so I could figure out what in the heck that means.
A translocation is a change in chromosome structure in which chromosomes are attached to each other or pieces of different chromosomes have been interchanged. An individual with a translocation is unaffected if there is no extra or missing chromosome material and if the break in the chromosome did not disrupt gene function. If there is no additional or missing chromosome material, the translocation is considered to be "balanced." A translocation is "unbalanced" if there is extra or missing material.
Individuals with balanced translocations typically have no medical issues though some do have fertility concerns, such as reduced fertility. The concern regarding having a balanced translocation is that, though the individual is healthy, the egg or sperm of that individual can have an unbalanced chromosome make-up that leads to the resultant embryo or pregnancy being unbalanced. The presence of an unbalanced translocation can lead to an embryo not implanting, a pregnancy being lost or a child being born with mental and physical problems. Individuals with a translocation may, therefore, experience multiple pregnancy losses or have a child affected with physical and mental problems that may be lethal.
Translation: no natural babies for us. We have been referred to geneticist at a Big Name Hospital in the nearby metropolis, so I will be calling tomorrow to try to get an appointment there. They will be able to tell me if the particular translocation I have means that I can even procreate at all, and if so...it won't be in our bedroom.
See, I told you it wasn't stress! (wink)
If we are to have any chance at all, it will have to be with IVF using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. Google again, how did I live before you?:
Preimplantation genetic testing is a technique used to identify genetic defects in embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) before pregnancy. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) refers specifically to when one or both genetic parents has a known genetic abnormality and testing is performed on an embryo to see if it also carries a genetic abnormality.
I know we discussed this a little when I wrote that post on designer babies, and I debated whether to even mention that this is the route we'd have to take. But I decided that I have no ethical qualms about investigating this line of action, so I truly don't want any commentary if you think this is "playing God" or something. Please. I respect your position, but I'd prefer if you not advocate for it here.
Once we meet with the geneticist, we will have to decide if creating a Baby Grok will be worth the extraordinary complicated and fretful process. Nothing guarantees that PGD will even work: in this clinic in New Jersey, "in approximately 22% of cycles, all the embryos were chromosomally abnormal." But, if we could get some embryos who aren't mutants like their mother, the end results look promising...or at least better than the crap sandwich we've recently been eating:
Reduction in the Chance of Having a Child with the Translocation
Our personnel have performed PGD of translocations in over 100 cycles. Normal or balanced embryos were available to be transferred to the patient in the majority of cycles. Pregnancy occured in approximately 40% of the cycles with transfer. None of the delivered babies has been found to have and unbalanced translocation.
Reduction in Pregnancy Losses
The PGD procedure significantly reduces the chance of pregnancy loss. The patients who achieved pregnancy after PGD had experienced miscarriage in the majority (~85%) of their previous pregnancies. When these same patients underwent PGD, just fewer than 10% of pregnancies were miscarried. This is a significant reduction in pregnancy losses.
So that's where we're at.
On the plus side, we have an answer. We finally know the reason this has been happening to us. It is concrete and there is a potential workaround. I also have found some peace about the previous miscarriages: those poor babies had severe defects. It was not my immune system attacking them, as I had feared. I now know they died because they weren't growing properly, which comforts me somewhat.
I also am overwhelmed with relief that the problem is on my end instead of my husband's. I have puzzled people with that statement before, but I love my husband so much that I would rather bear the burden of being the "cause" of our problems than to watch him have to live with the guilt I am certain he would feel. I know I would not love him one tiny bit less if he had been the mutant, but he is the type of person would've been disappointed in himself, and I am glad to spare him that feeling. I also know, because he told me, that he wouldn't trade me for a non-mutant wife, and I believe him.
Plus he gets to tease me about being an X-man; he begged me not to take side with Magneto against normal humans like him. Heh.
So I'm afraid my experience is no longer very applicable to others who are struggling to have a baby or losing the ones they do have. Unless you too fit the 0.16% like I do -- and why do I keep giggling, imagining onlookers muttering "Freak!" like on Deuce Bigalow? -- your journey won't end up like mine, being forced to cherry-pick embryos from amongst the FAIL ones to create a frankenbaby. But hopefully my experiences and writing will still bring people some bit of knowledge or empathy.
So that's my story. Snickety snickety.
I also have decided that I need a blog category for infertility. No one sets out on this journey to need that kind of label, but that's where I'm at, and for a while now I have felt that filing these posts under 'personal' just isn't cutting it anymore. I plan to comb through 2+ years of posts and re-categorize them.
P.S. I feel pretty OK today, and I am going to get loads of mileage out of calling myself a mutant. I am happy to have an answer and ready to see what we might learn in the next phase. So no need to worry.
Darla and I are currently going through much of the same -- a break from babymaking, upcoming deployments, etc -- and she wrote a great post about it.
I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been a little calmer around here since we took a hiatus from the baby making.
This past month has been very relaxing for us. No thinking about babies, no trying for babies, nothing. I had honestly been afraid that we might never be able to go back to "normal," that two years of forced coupling and repeated heartbreak might be hard to undo. But we have spent the past month happy with each other, as happy as we were before this whole mess began. So that was a relief.
I'd be lying to say I wasn't enjoying last weekend. [...] As slightly inebriated baby sister and I stumbled down the streets of Portland in the wee hours of the night behind our spouses, it was a bit of a relief to not be neglecting any children or having to place their care in someone else's hands while being completely stupidly unresponsible for myself. Sometimes it's joyous being an adult, and yes I know they have these things called 'sitters' but those barren like myself have to see silver linings everywhere.
I am quite good at the silver linings game by now. This weekend I ran to the grocery store to buy carrots for Charlie's birthday cake. I wandered around the store for a while, checking everything out. $30 in groceries later, I checked out and went home...to find that I'd left the carrots at the store. Back in the car, run back in the store, back home.
That was annoying, but imagine the ordeal toting a kid. I try to remind myself of stuff like that all the time.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't melancholy on occasion.
Snort. Sitting here doing nothing and then bursting into tears for no reason is just a way of life for me anymore.
Yet, as is the case in life, some evenings are crazier than others and sometimes the littlest stupidest thing, like someone's FB profile photo, can remind you of the exact spot you are at in life. For instance barren, at 29, here, now.
Replace that last sentence with "habitual aborter at 31" and that's me. I can't stand Facebook updates about other people's ultrasounds, and their healthy babies, and their profile pics of their bellies. Sometimes I have to stop myself from making mean comments.
Tomorrow we head to the doctor to find out the results of the tests on our genes and my immune system. I have completely freaked myself out by reading the book Is Your Body Baby Friendly? and now I am imagining the worst.
But truly the worst would be to hear that there's no cause for the repeated miscarriages. Then what?
And Darla, for Easter we had pork wrapped in pork. Mmmm.
Here's a nice, simple post about the Tea Parties and why they oughtn't be ridiculed.
Funny, I don't remember the media talking heads ridiculing the anti-war protests.
I have been thinking for a while about John McCain.
My blog is about five and a half years old at this point. That's how long he was a prisoner in Hoa Lo.
Every thought I've had since I started blogging, every friend I've made, every article I've read, every lesson I've grokked...
I have been free. I have had the freedom to do all those things.
3571 blog posts.
I have lived for five and a half years.
Lived and learned and grokked and loved.
I was not beaten, not locked away, not tortured, not forced to listen to propaganda. The worst I've had to deal with is some name-calling and sleepless nights.
I have never had my spirit broken.
Five and a half years.
Imagine if every blog post were wiped away and replaced by a day in captivity. Everything I have read and learned in this half decade gone, replaced by solitude and madness.
My husband came home from SERE with a newfound respect for John McCain and the men like him. My blog has taught me respect too, respect for the freedom I have had to live and share my life with you for so long.
I cannot imagine not having been here...
Today our Charles Pup turns four.
He's being spoiled rotten today, with walks and wet dog food, and he'll even get a birthday cake.
It's hard to believe the little sweet potato we picked out...
is now our favorite creature in the whole wide world...
Happy Birthday, Charlie!
Yummy new Krauthammer: "Obama has the magic to make words mean almost anything. Numbers are more resistant to his charms."
A cool quote via an article by Instapundit:
When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: "With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."
[UPDATE: I tried to find a spectrum that I was looking for, but all I could find were circles and 3D representations. And so I settled for a graphic I wasn't entirely happy with because I was too wrapped up in what I was writing to stop and make one myself. So I changed the graphic. The original graphic to which Amritas' comment refers can be found here.]
Wife Unit writes about the role of government too: And My Answer.
I sent the following message to Mare via email the other day:
I also think that there are many issues where things are not black and white for me. I flop back and forth on abortion, for example. I am always willing to have a good debate with people who believe forcefully one way or the other because I am really still not sure what I think. I try to remember WWLD, what would libertarians do? So I unsettledly accept that the government oughtn't tell us what to do with our bodies. And for me, that extends to prostitution and drugs as well. But then, on the flip side, I think people should be able to smoke in public and also eat trans-fats :)
So yeah, I can debate. But on certain issues -- gun rights and taxes come readily to mind -- I feel pretty strongly about my opinions. But in other realms, I am up for discussion. Like education...I can find common ground with you and CaliValleyGirl, and we could debate the nuts and bolts.
Like Wife Unit, I have views that align me with donkeys and elephants. But that's because I don't define my views on the social scale; I define them on the responsibility scale. Social issues shake out far differently when you judge them based on personal responsibility (vs what is or isn't in the Bible, or what is or isn't traditional).
Part of the answer to Sis B's original question as to why there's a chasm between what her conservative friends believe and the government we've had is because I think the whole system is creeping leftward. However, that doesn't mean what it sounds like: I don't think the complete picture has Republicans and Democrats as the poles, where you have to fall as one or the other, or somewhere in between. Instead, the system is more like this:
And the system keeps incrementally shifting leftward while we sit fixed and wonder how in the hell we've gotten to the point where we are budgeting $3.2 billion towards "New Orleans storm protection" and $15 billion for Pell grants.
What I think it really boils down to is Whittle's Theory of Political Reduction:
I contend that there is a single litmus that does indeed separate the nation and the world into two opposing camps, and that when you examine where people will fall on the countless issues that affect our society, this alone is the indicator that will tell you how they will respond.
The indicator is Responsibility.
To the right of the spectrum is less government involvement / more individual responsibility; to the left is more government involvement / more shared responsibility. That's the It Takes a Village mentality. That's Obama's "be your brother's keeper" idea. That's the side of the spectrum I want to stop creeping towards.
To come full circle, I completely respect people who are pro-life because they believe the baby is already a human being endowed with the inalienable right to life. I also completely respect people who believe that the government has no business telling people what they should do medically or with their own bodies (a point I can also understand when debating euthanasia). I have a hard time figuring out which right I find more valid, to be honest. I struggle to not be a hypocrite and to be consistent in my viewpoints. So what I cannot stand are, say, Democrats who think the government has no right to tell them they can't have an abortion with their own body, but every right to stop other people from smoking because the second-hand smoke might hurt their bodies. I find that remarkably inconsistent and frustrating. I also, personally, find it inconsistent to say that government should decree that only men and women should marry, but that government should butt out of everything else. And I really don't understand when some Democrats claim that they want less government meddling than I do, or that they are in fact the party of "government butting out."
But we are all inconsistent beings. I try very hard to be mindful of when my opinions are conflicting and be honest about the fact that I am still working things out. Trying to grok, if you will. And I self-pigeonhole as a Republican because, as I said before, I am trying to "take the word back." Plus, it's how I vote, because, while they are far from perfect, I believe they are closer to me on the responsibility / government meddling scale than Democrats are.
But like Wife Unit, I don't caricature easily, I don't think.
For the readers who went to my high school: How many Deadheads did we have at our school? I swear, most days it looked like students were cutting class to follow Phish. I can think of at least three cars that had Grateful Dead-themed license plates, and many more that had dancing bears on them.
And when I wrote my graduation speech and made the joke about Deadheads, our principal read it and said, "Whaaat? The Grateful Dead is popular?" I remember immediately thinking that she was far too out of touch to be a good principal. One walk through our hallways or parking lot would've knocked her over with tie-dye and patchouli, but she was oblivious to a huge trend among her students.
I was reminded of this today when I heard ABC's statement that "The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties and will hold his own event today."
Wow, seriously? He didn't even know that thousands of citizens were protesting yesterday? Not he didn't care or he didn't think it was significant (guh, neither OK in my book), but he didn't know?
Out of touch, dude. Out of touch.
CaliValleyGirl also wrote a post about taxes, which is well worth reading.
Found at Villainous Company...heh. BigD's gonna love this.
I've said before that Carl Sagan's Cosmic Timeline has always helped me find perspective and peace. I am but a blip in time and my problems are too. Yesterday, Amritas sent me a Hudnall link on the same lines: You're Less Than a Speck.
I find such comfort in my cosmic insignificance.
As you know, taxes is one of the things that gets me riled up, so I have been reading around about Tax Day and Tea Parties. I was thrilled that my friend Unliberaled Woman already posted about the Tea Party in Chicago. I've also read several postings from people who just don't grok this whole movement. But one particular sentence at Indie Army Wife gave me pause:
Get educated about the tax code and you'll understand that taxing the uberwealthy really isn't going to affect about 99.9% of you.
I started a related post months ago but left it as a draft; now I feel the motivation to revisit it, tangentially to this one sentence I read. I find this concept puzzling, that I should only care about the things that affect me directly. Imagine that I restated the sentence like this: Making abortion illegal "really isn't going to affect about 99.9% of you," so why do you bother forcefully defending your position? I don't think a pro-choice person would accept that statement, and an anti-tax person like myself doesn't see a difference. In both cases, the person's opinion is based on his values and principles, and not necessarily direct experience.
So, unless I am in the, what, top 1%? top 10%?, I shouldn't care because the massive tax burden doesn't affect me. Leaving aside the concept of trickling down -- because I do in fact think that taxing the rich has an effect on my measly little job -- I have never understood this I-got-mine mentality of Democrats. It's the same thing I overheard at the Chinese take-out: screw everyone else that this policy hurts, as long as it doesn't hurt me.
I think this attitude is related to the attitude that made me start the following post months ago:
I resent the implication that my value system is up for grabs. I have been told twice recently "Wait until you experience X and then you'll feel differently."
My value system doesn't work that way. I don't have a different set of rules for myself than I apply to other people.
I don't like taking things from the government, even things I am entitled to, because everything in the government coffers comes from someone else's pocket. I already said that I buy my own prenatal vitamins instead of taking the "free" ones I can get here. I don't want a stimulus check, and I offered to pay the Army back for the money they paid for my fertility treatment.
Shoot, I don't even take things from my parents. I am always trying to find ways to secretly sneak them money or pay for their dinner.
I have been poor-ish. I grew up that way. I got breakfast cereal and deodorant wrapped under the Christmas tree so we kids would have more presents to open. But my parents rose out of it and my husband and I did too. So I champion the successful because that's where I want to be. If I suddenly became poor, I would not start to resent the rich. I would not want to take their stuff.
I don't make decisions based on what's happening in my life right now. I make them based on my values, which don't change with the wind.
I wrote about luck and choices, but I guess I didn't take it far enough. Regardless of what happens to me, my value system is what it is. I resent the idea that if I become poor I will become a Democrat or change the way I understand economics. I resent the idea that if my mother becomes gravely ill I will support nationalized health care. I resent the idea that if life gets hard, I will change my mind and look to government for help.
I guess I resent the idea that a couple of you think that my worldview is all fine and dandy for me when things are going well but that when things start to suck I will sing a different tune.
I resent it being implied that my values are fickle.
The same can be said of taxes. I don't want to stick it to the rich and vote for higher taxes for them just because I won't be affected. My anti-tax opinions are based on principles and values, not on how much I pay on April 15th.
And my opinion still matters, even though I am not uberwealthy.
Army: UR doin it wrong
(My compliments to Chuck; I totally stole his joke.)
(via Boxenhorn and Amritas, respectively)
My husband left this morning for a week of training (marksmanship camp...no fair!) and my mother leaves Wednesday. I will be back online like my normal self after that.
So many people did such a good job of answering Sis B's question. I concur with the fundamentals of what they said (and I would settle for a school voucher system any day as opposed to the soup sandwich we currently have.)
Any discussion of what I think the role of government is would have to include talk of rights. I believe we have inalienable rights to life, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, etc. Those are rights to be left alone. To not be meddled with. To live and let live. We need a system of government when our community gets too big to handle as an individual, but the role of government ought ideally to be to protect our right not to be meddled with.
My husband and I love watching the series Deadwood. You can see on this show the evolution of government: Jack McCall kills Wild Bill, and then, aw crap, now we have to have a trial instead of just stringing him up. And then maybe it would be a good idea to have a sheriff and so on. You see these people who moved West to be left alone now being forced to create a government of sorts as the community gets bigger. And they downright resent it. Seth and Saul wanted to move West to open a hardware store, so they bought land, erected a building, and started selling boots and pans. They didn't need a permit, they didn't need a building inspection, they didn't have to belong to a guild or pay union dues; they just set to work filling a need in the camp: hardware. Can you imagine what they'd think if they saw what has to be done to start a business today?
I'm not saying life was better in every way back then, but Deadwood illustrates the gradual relinquishing of complete individuality and the loaning, if you will, of some of your rights to an authority. People entrusted the sheriff with their right to life and their right to justice. In return, the sheriff mediated their disputes (most notably between Hostetler and Steve the Drunk. Which was enough to make you wish you didn't live under the rule of law, so you could choke that hooplehead Steve out and be done with it.)
I liked CaliValleyGirl's analogy of government as a home owner's association. We in the United States have entrusted our government with some of our rights. We are too big to defend ourselves individually, so we entrust them with our national defense. We needed a system of interstate roads, so we entrust our motorways to them. But I personally think that what we now entrust our government to do goes way beyond promoting the general welfare.
Broadly speaking, I think the difference between the left and right is that the left wants to entrust more things to the government. I think they see our country as one big family. In my family, I have a crappy little job where I make about $75 per week. My husband makes more than that in a day. But all our money goes into the same bank account, and I am allowed to spend whatever I think is prudent on clothes or yarn or books. My husband does not restrict my spending to only what I make, because we are a family and we love each other. And sometimes I think that the left sees our country as an extension of a family, where the person who makes $75 per week is entitled to the same equality of result as the person who makes $7500. I think that's illustrated by Lileks' Parable of the Stairs story about his tax refund:
“I think the money should have gone straight to those people instead of trickling down.” Those last two words were said with an edge.
“But then I wouldn’t have hired them,” I said. “I wouldn’t have new steps. And they wouldn’t have done anything to get the money.”
“Well, what did you do?” she snapped.
“What do you mean?”
“Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?”
“They didn’t give it to me. They just took less of my money.”
That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:
“Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money.”
What I see is that James Lileks made that money and he should be able to use it to build stairs to improve his home. But this Democrat canvasser thought it should've all gone into the collective national bank account and then been doled out based on who needed it.
On the same note, after she wrote this post, CaliValleyGirl elaborated on the theme in an email. She wrote:
I mean, imagine you are walking down the street with my dad and you meet someone who asks you for money. And you say sure, and slip your hand into my father’s pocket, take his wallet, take out a $20, give it to the guy, and now you feel good, because you helped that person. But really, YOU didn’t help that person.
This, to echo back to Sis B, is the left-wing mindset that I will never understand. Why should the stair money belong to all of us? Why should anyone be entitled to the fruits of Lileks' labor? And how do people justify taking money out of CaliValleyDad's pocket and giving it away to people who didn't earn it? (A question which, sadly, CaliValleyGirl never seemed to get an answer on.) The United States is not one big collective family with a shared bank account. It was never meant to be that. I don't know why we've drifted towards that; I find it maddening. I don't need to be Deadwood, but I don't want to be what we are right now.
I have heard Sean Hannity do man-on-the-street interviews with young people, asking them what people have the right to. Most of them quite readily agree that people have the right to shelter, food, education, transportation, and health care. I firmly believe that the government should grant none of those things as a right. In order for a penniless person to have any of those things, the government has to take Lileks' stair money and give it away. The role of government should be limited to enforcing the laws that protect our inalienable rights: the laws that prevent someone from coming into Lileks' house to steal his stair money, the laws that ensure that the contractor who builds the stairs will face justice if he doesn't fulfill his contract, and the laws that protect Lileks' right to defend his family should anyone step foot onto that staircase to do them harm. The government's role, in my opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Lileks should get to have the stairs in the first place. If he earned the money for them, he gets them; he shouldn't have to relinquish his stair money so that other families can feed their kids or have a house.
Leonard Peikoff says it well in a speech I read back in 2000, a speech that resonated with me instantly and which obviously became a part of my knowing. I didn't realize how closely I'd echoed it nine years later in the beginning of this post until I googled it to quote here:
The term "rights," note, is a moral (not just a political) term; it tells us that a certain course of behavior is right, sanctioned, proper, a prerogative to be respected by others, not interfered with -- and that anyone who violates a man's rights is: wrong, morally wrong, unsanctioned, evil.
Now our only rights, the American viewpoint continues, are the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. That's all. According to the Founding Fathers, we are not born with a right to a trip to Disneyland, or a meal at Mcdonald's, or a kidney dialysis (nor with the 18th-century equivalent of these things). We have certain specific rights -- and only these.
Why only these? Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want -- not to be given it without effort by somebody else.
When I talk about Our Gulch, when I reference Fight or Flee, I am talking about my people. My tribe, as Whittle would say. And the people I want in my Gulch, they all have this same definition of rights. Most people I am friends with have this definition; most of the bloggers I read share it too. It seems to me that we are numerous. So to me, the interesting part of Sis B's question is this:
I think that part of what mystifies me about it is the vast chasm between what I hear regular conservatives saying they believe and the type of government that has been established under the guise of conservativism the past 8 years.
I am equally mystified by this. If everyone I know feels like I do about rights and the role of government, why don't we ever have a government that suits us?
I think the answer lies in compromise. My tribe was mad that Pres Bush was soft on immigration and that he signed the prescription drug plan. Many in my tribe were mad about the marriage amendment as well. I also remember vividly in 2004 when Bush won and said he was going to privatize Social Security. I couldn't believe my ears and was thrilled beyond belief. But it didn't pan out. The federal government is one whopping compromise where no one ends up happy with the result.
And it's not just Republicans who embody this chasm. Remember how Pres Clinton was "the best Republican president we've had in a while"? I am sure Obama supporters are mad that he hasn't completely pulled out of Iraq and that closing Gitmo is "complicated." It's the nature of politics that all presidents are going to govern from the center and end up ticking off their constituents.
Which is why I agree with Mrs du Toit and CaliValleyGirl that politics should be local, and that we ought to live in gulches. Another fundamental belief I have about the workings of government is that it should vary by locality. There should be very few federal laws; most things should be left up to the states, and then you could live in the state that you feel best represents your worldview. It would be far easier to get one of 50 states to suit you than it is to get the entire country to. People pay far too much attention to federal elections and lawmaking.
Towards the end, Sis B adds:
But when this election was done and the Republican party had its collective ass handed to it, my first thought was, "I hope that this allows the party to get back to the fundamentals of its beliefs and that they re-emerge in four or eight years with a strong, coherent platform." Seriously. I want the conservatives to get back to their roots and come back strong.
I don't see that happening.
I think I disagree with her. I think four years of President Obama will be plenty to make people in the center lurch rightward. And I hope we see a resurgence of conservative/libertarian principles on the national stage. I want Republicans to stop their pandering and quit trying to be Democrat Lite. I want to be the party of tough love. I want to be the party of individual responsibility. I want to vote for someone who denies the Democrats their premises. But, you'll remember, I was not a McCain supporter from the beginning. I supported Fred Thompson, who was far closer to my ideal politician than what I ended up having to vote for. Not perfect, but as close as it probably gets. (I don't imagine we could ever get away with President Z.)
So, at the risk of sounding like Forrest Gump, I guess that's all I have to say about that. Sis B has now asked her Democrat readers to explain their side. If you are interested in this exchange of ideas, keep your eyes on this post and the comments.
I had to work this afternoon demonstrating another science kit. This one was aimed for four year olds, so it was pretty basic. But the kids seemed to have fun.
I thought of this recent Joanne Jacobs' post (via Amritas) while I was there. I was looking over the other science kits on display, and the one for the kids aged 8+ had a warning label: "This set contains chemicals that may be harmful if misused." On the back of the box was the list of contents: gelatin, sugar, baking yeast, and food coloring.
Now I freely admit that chemistry was my weakest subject in school, but I'm having a hard time figuring out a combination of those contents that could be harmful. Am I missing something? Or is this an example of warning labels gone wild?
It's a far cry from the 1950's kit with uranium and a geiger counter!
Chuck Z cracks me up...
As we all know, when a veteran runs into a problem, we just pull out the gun we've hidden in our bible and start shooting.
I am still working on my answer to Sis B. I wrote for over an hour this morning, but I need to sit on it a little longer. I am not good at blog assignments: the longer it takes me, the less I like the result. But we'll see what I manage to come up with.
For what it's worth, I'd love to have Sis B write on the same topic: what the role of government is, what powers it should have, etc. Because I don't understand her side any better than she understands mine.
In addition to SpouseBUZZ Live and my husband having to work over the weekend, we were also mentally dealing with this: A Lot Can Change In 36 Hours.
UPDATE: Everyone is giving really good answers. Make sure you still go over and read Sis B's comments section. And if Chuck Z can craft an answer without using the word "commie," then you can too! If you answer on your own blog, leave a trackback either at Sis B's or here, so we can read them all. I know Sis B said not to just quote people, but I keep going "Yeah, what she said, and what he said!" However, I did give this lots of thought last night before I read anything here and plan to try to answer on my own...as soon as I get home from making more foam houses at work.
Also, I would like to say that I lurve my imaginary friends. I know that many of you disagree with me on several issues -- AirForceWife, Andi, CaliValleyGirl, Mare, etc have all let me know when they do -- but when we boil it down to the essentials, just the basic framework we work under, we are all so similar. And that's why we read each other: we know we have common ground, and the rest is just details. It's also why we seriously need a gulch.
Anyone want to try to answer Sis B's question?
I know I have a bunch of Republican readers and close friends, but for the life of me I cannot figure out what any of you think about actual issues. It's all hidden behind snark and namecalling and eye rolling and back patting and I seriously, honestly, to my core, want to know what you believe and why. I want to know what you think about how the government is supposed to work. What does a functioning government look like to you? Please, if you care to answer this question, do so without saying words like "libs" or "dems" or hippies, commies, fags, or any derivative thereof. I want to know what, if any, moral authority government should have. What is the government's purpose in relation to the economy? What powers should the government be allowed to have and what should be limited? What is your view of the constitution? What are your beliefs about ALL the amendments within the Bill of Rights, not just the second?
I think that part of what mystifies me about it is the vast chasm between what I hear regular conservatives saying they believe and the type of government that has been established under the guise of conservativism the past 8 years.
I am gonna take a stab at it when I get back home. It seems like a hard task to me, because I will not be able to grant any common ground. To answer this, I will have to start from the beginning and delineate all my premises. Because what's obvious to me is not obvious to a Democrat. Obviously.
On the other hand, it's easy. The government has the authority to do what the Constitution says and nothing more. End of story. (P.S. I completely freaked out a centrist Republican friend here in town in a discussion of education funding by saying that I don't even think there should be a Department of Education. If it's not in the Constitution, I don't want government doing it. That's why Republicans like me have been horrified by many of our own politicians. We see them as Democrat Lite instead of a true alternative.)
I will try to formulate my thoughts on the drive home. Husband, you start thinking too, because this will have to be a collaborative effort in order for it to be done right.
(And, keep in mind that my comments section is plain awful, so if you start a long comment here, for your sanity, please copy to the clipboard before you post it. Because nine times out of ten, it will disappear. I know this. I am working on moving and was going to do it right about the time I went crazy. I will get to it soon, I promise.)
The rejuvenating weekend I have been looking forward to has been somewhat marred...
Beth's Contradictory Brain: Getting It Out
An inspired line from Mark Steyn:
You can live as free men, with all the rights and responsibilities and vicissitudes of fate that that entails. Or you can watch your society decay and die before your eyes — as England, once the crucible of freedom, dies a little with every day.
And an awesome article about my favorite.
In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”
You know, every time I swoon over Netanyahu, I think about the funny exchange on South Park when Cartman tries to get the girls to scream and squeal over his new boy band:
CARTMAN: Let's go crazier than that! I mean, you have to act like it's freakin' Leonardo Di Caprio!
BEBE: We wouldn't give a rat's ass if Leonardo Di Caprio came walking past us.
THE OTHER GIRLS: Yeah.
CARTMAN: Fine! Who would you go crazy for?
THE GIRLS: ...Matt Lauer.
[Both via Boxenhorn]
Since I am so open on my site, it must seem like I say everything here. But I don't. Sometimes I freely show my weaknesses; other times I combat my sadness by hiding it behind sarcasm or the lessons I've learned. But I kept from you the fact that I was straight-up broken for a while. I had some of the hardest days of the last decade of my life, which is why I had to silence my head.
I didn't want to let on how bad things were because I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that I wasn't coping well, that I was crying constantly, that I was unable and unwilling to leave the house, that I thought that things would be better if I rolled over and grabbed the loaded gun that was a mere arm's reach away from my bed. But I am doing much better now. I really think I had a minor form of postpartum depression and that my problems were hormonal instead of emotional. I am feeling much better, and while I still choke up thinking about what happens if Baby #4 also dies, I am past the worst of things.
I only told a handful of Real Life folks about this baby. One lady I told was the leader of my knitting group. And when I sent out an email that the baby had died, she asked why I couldn't go to a different doctor or see a specialist in the nearby metropolis.
And her email irritated me.
You all know how much I hate my doctor and how I have indeed considered seeking a second opinion elsewhere. Her email was not at all offensive, but the timing just hit me wrong. My first thought was, "Do you not think I am smart enough to have thought of that on my own?" My second was, "Do you not think I am capable of managing my own care?" She implied neither of those, but that was how I mentally responded.
The friends I have who have gone through infertility and loss, they all seem to echo the idea that no advice is good advice. I guess I haven't done a good job of explaining how perfectly reasonable advice can just kill you if you feel it comes at the wrong time or from the wrong person.
It was not my knitting friend's fault, and nor is she a stranger to struggle: she's a recent cancer survivor, one who still has wispy short hair. But I resented her advice nonetheless at the moment she gave it.
When you already feel like a failure, it is difficult to accept anything that smacks of the slightest criticism. Even if it's sound advice, even if it's factually accurate, whatever. It hurts to feel like someone is saying you're not competent enough to find the right doctor, you're not smart enough to google a bit and learn about blood clotting, and yes, even you're not emotionally strong enough to "adjust your reasoning" and try to develop a different meaning of life.
It also hurts when you pride yourself on having a healthy dose of perspective, when you constantly remind yourself of how life could be worse -- my husband could be dead, I could lose a living child, I could never have met my husband in the first place -- to feel like someone is saying that you lack perspective. This is me we're talking about, me. You know me, you have five years of my thoughts. Do you really not think that when I am lying there wanting to shoot myself, that I think of how long Heidi has lived without Sean, how Mare's friends only had their baby for 24 hours, how I have friends who are my age and older who have never married and may never get to find out if they have fertility problems? I do this to myself enough; I don't need to be reminded of it. Or at least I sure didn't the other day when I was already a mental disaster.
And maybe that doesn't make sense to people who are content right now, or whose human chorionic gonadotropin is at zero, but that's the way it feels when you are suffering.
I'm not upset because none of you had any way of knowing how bad things were. Because I didn't tell you. Because I was embarrassed that I was being weak. I was embarrassed that my head was a jumble, that I wanted everyone to go away and leave me alone...but also sending flowers was nice. I wanted to push you away but I wanted you to resist. That's some hormonal nonsense right there. I felt like such a woman for a while.
But my husband handled me beautifully, being understanding and nice and exclaiming gently in frustration, "But I don't know what right looks like!"
And renting Henry Poole Is Here for me. That was great timing.
So I'm better, and I'm technically back. But my mother is visiting and the whole family is headed to SpouseBUZZ Live this weekend, so blogging is still gonna be sparse.
But I'm back.