Belmont Club

The Sleepers Awake

The regular media is finally covering the Kermit Gosnell trial in a big way. It’s as if they woke up from a deep sleep to notice that a poor black doctor offering a service to the community is being lynched in Philadelphia by ‘racist’ and ‘elitist’ prosecutors.  Now they’re making up for lost time. The Washington Post’s head is, “in closing remarks at Pa. abortion clinic trial, defense asks jury to look beyond politics”. CNN banners, “case against abortion doctor is ‘hype and exaggeration,’ defense says”.

But the New York Times comes closest to stating the issues when it leads “they are known as Baby Boy A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E, all of whom prosecutors call murdered children and the defense calls aborted fetuses — the very difference in language encapsulating why anti-abortion advocates are so passionate about drawing attention to the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which wrapped up here on Monday with summations by both sides.”

Thus the while facts may not be in much dispute the debate over whether a crime has been committed is alive and well. More vital and living than any of babies, fetuses or tissue in Gosnell’s clinic. Nor are definitions important only in the case of Gosnell. Events have always been subject to interpretation. But perhaps never has action been more contingent on interpretation. Take the problem of whether or not to punish Assad for crossing the “Red Line” in using chemical weapons in Syria.

That should have been straightforward. In Syria the victims are presumably adults. Not baby A, B, or C. They are not even fetuses or embryonic tissue. Has Assad killed them by crossing the Red Line? It should be clear … but

… but.

The “but” being that to respond to Assad would derail the President’s Pivot to Asia. Nobody wants that, do they? Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times writes in frustration over the ruin of the great and cunning Obama Grand Strategy.

Barack Obama is meant to be the most powerful man in the world. But it looks increasingly as though he may be dragged into a conflict in Syria, against his own better judgment….

If Mr Obama does end up sanctioning much more direct US involvement in the Syrian conflict, it will be a clear reversal of the grand strategy formed during his first term. This has three key elements. The first is to avoid new wars in the Middle East. The second is to “pivot to Asia” … the final element is to rebuild America’s global strength through domestic economic and social reforms, concentrating on what the president calls “nation-building at home”.

So heaven forbid that Obama should be made to enforce a injunction he himself set.  Thus Syria goes from being a “Red Line” to a “Distraction” standing in the way of the Greater Good. So even if the President refuses to call out Assad we will understand the wisdom of the President. He will refuse to act from “courage” and not because he’s weaseling out.

Except that perhaps there’s no Pivot To Asia. Pivoting to Asia means shifting the relative weight of Navy and Air Force assets to that theater away from the Middle East if it is to mean anything at all. But as Mackenzie Eaglen notes  even as President Obama was talking about a “pivot to Asia” he was shrinking the Navy and the Air Force.  That would be like promising a vacation while canceling the tickets and the cabin reservations.

When President Obama unveiled his new strategic guidance in January, highlighted by a pivot to Asia, many assumed (incorrectly) that the Navy and Air Force would reap the benefits. But if the president’s own 2013 defense budget request did not make it clear to policymakers already, the release of the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan confirms this is a pivot in name only.

The pivot to Asia is a “pivot in name only”, just another narrative device. But that doesn’t mean the President isn’t realigning priorities.

What the President is really pivoting toward is to domestic spending. He’s pivoting to Detroit, changing orientation to shovel resources at the inner cities and domestic spending. As Chris Conover writing at Forbes put it the biggest winner is Obamacare.

The president’s aggressive State of the Union message (as expected) amplified what some had called the most full-throated defense of liberalism since FDR. It’s certainly not news that the president heavily prefers entitlement spending over defense spending. But in light of his proposed reductions in defense spending and sharp increase in health spending under Obamacare, I was curious to see just how much he’s tipping the scales in favor of health spending relative to his predecessors. To answer this question, I grabbed the most recent available numbers from the Office of Management and Budget….

health entitlements under Obamacare will grow so rapidly that federal spending as a share of GDP will grow by more than 40 percent by the year 2085.

Now nothing is wrong with preferring increasing domestic entitlements over increasing or maintaining defense spending. That  is a legitimate political choice. But it should be made consciously and honestly chosen. Anyone who thinks about it for more than a few minutes will see the truth immediately: The President has pivoted to Detroit and  Philadelphia but not to Asia.

All that guff about “pivoting to Asia” is impressing no one, not even the Kims in North Korea. So if he lets Assad cross the Red Line in Syria it’s because the money needed to stop him is being spent on welfare, Obamacare and similar programs.

In the words of the Guardian, “let’s be honest”. In order to prevent more Kermit Gosnell there ought to be easier and more accessible funding for abortions. Or as the Atlantic put it, “If More Funding Went to Safe, Legal Abortions, Would Kermit Gosnell Have Happened?”

Abortion is big business. As John Fund wrote in the National Review, “Planned Parenthood is a nationwide business worthy of scrutiny. It performed 985,731 abortions between 2008 and 2010 and received $487.4 million in taxpayer money in 2009–10 alone.”

This essentially explains why Kermit Gosnell must if at all possible be acquitted. Or if he must be found guilty of committing the physical acts he is accused of, then to define these as a “valued service” instead of a crime. Kermit Gosnell is part of the big domestic spending machine. He and his clinic are the downstream of a big industry. If Gosnell is prosecuted successfully, what message would that send to the industry?

It’s not all about Baby A, Baby B or Baby C. It’s not even about fetuses or embryonic tissue. It’s about something much more important. It’s about money. To hang Gosnell out to dry would derail a branch line of the Gravy Train.  Underneath the appeals to this or that high minded principle lurks the shadow of lucre.  Something kept the inspectors away from the doors of his establishment.

Not that one shouldn’t let him go on that account. But it’s always better to know why.

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe