epistles as missiles? -- just another dud

I received a chain e-mail this morning from a well-meaning acquaintance who thinks she's somehow fighting for reproductive rights and other 'good' things ('good' because somehow connected with the U.N.) by spamming her address book with an ad for Molly Ivins's latest hootenanny--a rollicking, down-home blend of countrified wit and wisdom from the Smith College grad with a Columbia Masters'--Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America. It's a sequel of sorts to her 2000 screed, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, and once again she has brought along veteran journalist Lou Dubose (probably to do the bulk of the work while she has her name emblazoned larger than the title, like any pulp romance on the supermarket rack).

Here's the text:

Hi guys, My sis recently sent me this e-mail about our president. We all know how Bush feels about women and protecting our reproductive rights. He doesn't think it is as important as blowing things up I guess. Below is an excerpt from a book called "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America" by Molly Ivins and Lou DuBose. Give this a look and if you would like to contribute to this cause, please do. Also, please pass this e-mail along to anyone else who you think may be interested. Thanks guys,
[Name omitted to protect the naive.]
P.S. The bit below is for forwarding. Please add a little personal message, as this would be more warmly received.

>From Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America, by Molly Ivins and Lou
DuBose, pp 260, 261:

...Meanwhile, the Bushies continued their pattern of sending career ideologues
rather than career diplomats to international conferences. They stripped $34
million out of the United Nations Population Fund and withheld $3 million from
the World Health Organization's Human Reproduction Program. The United Nations
estimates that this will eventually result in 800,000 additional abortions
around the globe, since it cuts money for family planning.
The move against the Population Fund has become the focus of a rather
extraordinary effort among American women to replace the money dollar by dollar.
Two women, Lois Abraham, a lawyer in New Mexico, and Jane Roberts, a retired
schoolteacher in California, decided that American women needed to act to
replace the money. They announced, starting by e-mail to their own friends,
that they wanted 34 million women to send a dollar to the fund. As Jennifer
Block noted in The Nation, Bush has since earmarked almost exactly that amount
-- $33 million -- to encourage abstinence-only sex education here at home. At
the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Bush was the only major leader who
did not attend) and at the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference,
American delegates again and again gave the impression they thought it was "my
way or the highway".

For more information on 34 Million Friends Campaign, visit www.unfpa.org, where
you can also view their FAQ's.

34 Million Friends Campaign
220 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Thanks for your help!

And, running the risk of narcissism, my response:

There are a number of issues with the excerpt quoted.

First, 'meanwhile.' We have no context. We step in without the background that
the linking word makes paramount. And from there we are told, without
supporting data, that 'the Bushies' nominate 'ideologues' in lieu of
'diplomats.' This statement contains two ad hominem attacks. Both terms,
'Bushies' and 'ideologues,' are meant to derogate and succeed without any
factual clarification. The opposition 'ideologue <-> diplomat' does not hold
unless one accepts the authors' definition of diplomat, which, while not
stated, must be in some way antithetical to 'ideologue.' In point of fact a
diplomat is an an appointed representative of a government and is never an
independent thinker with the authority to choose whether or not it counters
the prevailing thinking of an administration. Diplomacy is a handshake, a
face, and the toeing of the line.

But regardless of how you feel about reproductive rights or anything else, you
should be very careful of supporting the U.N. in anything, particularly in
financial matters. The U.N., including that fraud Kofi Annan (the personal
hero of [personA 1] and [person 2*]), is currently embroiled in a web controversy
surrounding the Food for Oil Scandal in which many members profited
financially through secret deals with Saddam Hussein. There is vast
corruption, and UNSCAM (as it's being called) is only the tip of the iceberg.

Here is a link to only the latest piece on a story that is being underreported
because of the damage it can potentially do to people around the globe and
across the political spectrum (both democrats and republicans):


Politics and world affairs are too complex to be distilled to hot-button
issues like abortion. And whether you support Bush or not, it's important to
maintain integrity--not to sink to sarcasm or moral superiority--, and to
fight the right battles. In giving $34 million to the U.N., how much would
escape the sharks at this feeding frenzy?

Take care.

(* Two Belgian nationalists with whom I've butted heads in the past.)

I didn't even address the odd suggestion that Bush is bad for opposing abortion, while he's even worse for potentially ensuring an increase in the numbers of abortions worldwide. One might expect them to draw the conclusion that such a policy is motivated by racism, which is typical of the left in commenting on internal versus external expenditures, as if the U.S. were home only to white people. The real issue here may not be that 'the Bushies' are racists or hate women but, if anything, that they do not accept responsibility for the sexual conduct of the rest of the world, nor do they accept the doctrine of universal entitlement.

And here we come back to the start of the quote. The Bushies have appointed ideologues, we're told. And yet this whole assessment makes sense only if one accepts leftist ideology as a valid criterion.

The United Nations Population Fund makes its goals clear, and some of them--particularly universal access to reproductive health services and universal primary education--are socialist to the core and will never find the support of a capitalist nation.

ps: the best bit of the message is the post scriptum, which informs us how we might be more successful in our efforts at spreading propaganda:

"P.S. The bit below is for forwarding. Please add a little personal message, as this would be more warmly received."
posted by Dennis on 07.13.04 at 04:38 PM


"We all know how Bush feels about women and protecting our reproductive rights."

The word "we" is misused unless she knows that everyone is in complete agreement with what follows. But what follows is a claim that "all" of "we" are said to "know" not only what Bush does, but how he actually "feels"!

Regardless of anyone's opinion of Bush's policies, it's not persuasive to lay claim to his feelings, and even less persuasive to project such grandiose assessments onto others.

If anyone should be concerned about narcissism, it certainly isn't you!

Eric Scheie   ·  July 13, 2004 5:14 PM

I forgot about this part:

"The move against the Population Fund has become the focus of a rather extraordinary effort among American women to replace the money dollar by dollar."

After I read that, I turned to a friend and said, "So, I hear you're part of a rather extraordinary effor to replace money for the U.N.'s population fund dollar by dollar."

She looked puzzled, so I pointed out the line in the e-mail that pretended to speak for an entire gender.

That's an old rhetorical technique. It's most distasteful when it's done on racial lines, and things like gender tend to fly under the radar.

Varius Contrarius   ·  July 13, 2004 6:01 PM

There's another side to this story, and it isn't about reproductive "rights" -- but denial of them. According to Chinese Laogai (gulag) survivor Harry Wu, the UNFPA was assisting forced abortion and sterilization in China.

Read what Wu says here:


Eric Scheie   ·  July 13, 2004 6:11 PM

There's a woman in my office who sends this stuff around. The best abortion encounter we had was when she told me that "abortion is a recognized human right--almost everyone will tell you that." The first two women I asked disagreed...

Nathan Hamm   ·  July 13, 2004 6:52 PM

Abortion is a murderous and barbaric form of 'female empowerment'

Molly Ivins is a barbarian.

susan   ·  July 13, 2004 10:22 PM

I'm against the U.N., foreign aid to nations that spit in our face, and government-subsidized abortion.

As for legalized abortion, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, it's a difficult question, involving as it does a conflict between the woman's right to liberty and the baby's right to life. I have moved more and more to the pro-life side, precisely because of the dishonesty of those who speak of "reproductive freedom" (subsidized by the government) and who refuse to acknowledge the existence of the conflict, or who want to shut down the debate altogether.

The idea that all women are for unlimited abortion is false. Also, half of the aborted babies are female.

Obviously, I'm totally and unmitigatedly against forced abortions in Communist China, which cannot be called "pro-choice" by any stretch. I'm against recognizing Communist China at all. Call me a Right-Wing Extremist. I am Extremely Right.

I've decided to spam everyone on her list with some facts, courtesy Eric:


The UNFPA is not all it's cracked up to be, unless you believe in supporting forced abortion and sterilization in China.

Harry Wu, a survivor of China's notorious Laogai (their version of the Soviet Gulag -- forced labor camps), tells all:


Here's an excerpt from the article's close:

"China's coercive population control—approved and celebrated by the UNFPA—is too terrible to be ignored, and we must not turn a blind eye to this problem. Denying the UNFPA congressional funding may encourage the U.N. to stand by its stated principles and to tell the Chinese government to end its coercive family-planning policies.

It is true that the UNFPA has implemented some positive programs in developing countries throughout the world that benefit women and their families. However, we must stand on the side of the millions of Chinese women who lack the fundamental human right to freely bear children. If Congress and the UNFPA are truly forces for voluntarism, human rights, and progress in China, they will do the same."

As an aside, the U.N. human rights commission currently includes such nations as Sudan, whose Arab-led government (while currently brokering peace with the Christians in the south due to international pressure) continues to slaughter native blacks in the north (despite the fact they too are Muslim--their motive is clearly racism). I'm sure you've heard of Darfur, as little attention as it has received in the mainstream press.

And let's not forget the current food-for-oil scandal which has embroiled the U.N. as well as the greedy on both ends of the political spectrum in many countries (including the U.S.). This will prove to be an historical investigation, and may well end the U.N. as we know it.

The corruption at the U.N. goes deep, the organization's motives are not always pure, and in this case they may be downright unethical.

So consider before lending your support the countless people silently destroyed and controlled under the auspices of the U.N. Consider too how empty the gesture when wasted upon a pseudo-governing body more corrupt than Tammany Hall.

Varius Contrarius   ·  July 15, 2004 2:22 PM

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