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Tilting at Windmills

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May 18, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PARTY OF DEATH....Jon Stewart's interview last night with National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru wasn't very enlightening. Stewart was in one of his moods where he treats the interview like a monologue, and Ponnuru hardly got a word in edgewise. So we didn't learn much about his new book, The Party of Death.

But I want to vent about it anyway. Over at The Corner, the gang has been griping for weeks about the reaction to Ponnuru's book, and I want to answer a couple of questions they've raised:

  • Question 1: Why does everyone obsess about the title of the book?

    A: Because in 100 point type it blares "The Party of Death," and the subtitle makes it clear who he's talking about: "The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life."

    Does the text of the book explain that he's not saying the Democratic Party is the Party of Death? Sort of, although statements like this hardly help the cause: "The way I put it is that the party of death has largely taken over the Democratic party." That certainly clears things up, doesn't it?

    Look. Ponnuru is a smart guy. He knew exactly what he was doing. But if you decide to join the Ann Coulter school of book naming, you shouldn't complain when people get pissed off at the title of your book. After all, if he didn't want people to be put off by the title, then he could have picked a different title.

  • Question 2: Why aren't serious lefties giving it serious reviews?

    A: Because despite the efforts of the NRO gang to make Party of Death sound like one of the seminal scholarly tomes of our time, it looks to most of us like standard issue Regnery stuff, right down to the Ann Coulter quote on the cover.

    Let's get real here. Despite the use of red herrings like infanticide and euthanasia to make it sound like pro-choicers are leading us all down a slippery slope to the Holocaust, these subjects get only brief mentions in the book. Basically, it's a book about abortion. And the big moral question about abortion is whether life begins at conception.

    And there's a whole chapter on just that question. Which I read in the bookstore. But despite the implication that Ponnuru makes some kind of killer argument on this score, there was nothing of the kind. It was the same stuff I've read a hundred times before. There's just nothing new here.

The idea that a fertilized egg is a full-blown human being has always struck me as a bleakly mechanistic view of human life: I figure it takes more than a few strands of DNA and some protoplasm to be truly human. Inevitably, that means I take a fuzzy view of when human life begins, but I'm willing to accept that. The real world is a fuzzy place.

That's obviously not something everyone agrees with. But the arguments on both sides have been rehearsed in public for decades, and Ponnuru's main contribution in Party of Death is to claim that support for abortion rights is intimately related to a desire to kill infants and old people. This is not something likely to raise the level of discourse or to engage with liberals who take a different point of view. But it will sell books to the true believers. As Ann Coulter and Michael Savage already know.

Kevin Drum 6:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (205)

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Comments

"...the gang has been griping"

In other words, situation normal. They do nothing but whine, usually about offenses more perceived than real.

Posted by: Linkmeister on May 18, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

This will be the main textbook of Projection 101.

Posted by: Kenji on May 18, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

The interview might have been less of a monologue if so many of Stewart's points hadn't left Ponnuru sitting there literally speechless. Wait... you mean there's a connection between life and death issues, and supporting the war in Iraq? Ponnuru looks pretty dumb when the best thing he can come up with is "Uh... I don't support Hiroshima."

Posted by: Steve on May 18, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Given Ponnuru's obvious intelligence and history of occasionally engaging intellectual opponents seriously, I had some hopes he'd come out with something a few cuts above the Coulter level. Unfortunately this appears to be more like a half-step higher -- Malkinesque, as it were. At least Derb's new book doesn't seem calculated to elevate blood pressure across the political spectrum.

Posted by: Shelby on May 18, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

What's Ponnuru's stance on pubescent castration?

Because his spoken voice sounds just like that of a eunuch.

Posted by: kokblok on May 18, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Right on Kevin, There is absolutely no reason to take seriously the rants of paid right-wing flack. He's paid to write propaganda by one of those pseudo-think tanks funded by a small group of right wing donors. Why on earth should it be treated respectfully.

We should pay as much serious attention to it as we do an ad on TV - not much.

Because this rightwing game has been too successful for too long. They say you must treat the two sides respectfully - and they nominate themselves as being one of those sides. Well, no, they shouldn't just be given consideration because they were bought a big megaphone.

And laughing is totally appropriate, public humilation for selling out any shred of intellectual integrity is also a viable option.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on May 18, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that a fertilized egg is a full-blown human being has always struck me as a bleakly mechanistic view of human life: I figure it takes more than a few strands of DNA and some protoplasm to be truly human.

A hypothetical person could make the argument that it takes more than five pounds of organic mass outside a womb to be truly human. They would also have a 'fuzzy' idea about when life begins. Perhaps it begins when babies start talking, or walking, or something else.

The irony is that you dismiss the slippery slope argument, then create a standard that is inherently slippery.

Posted by: American Hawk on May 18, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kenji: This will be the main textbook of Projection 101.

Excellent!

Posted by: shortstop on May 18, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I note that-- contrary to your usual practice-- you didn't link to the book on Amazon, nor did you link to the discussion of it on the corner. The book we can find, but if somebody doesn't keep up on the corner, they can't be sure what you're responding to. I like your usual practice of linking back better.

Posted by: American Hawk on May 18, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans -- the party of assholes.

Posted by: AlAnon on May 18, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ramesh is a probably a reasonable guy, and, heretofore, I would read his stuff. He apparently thought he could cash in and not be thought of as a Coulter-like hack; he was wrong. He's now in the Glenn Reynold school of previously reasonable conservatives who I don't read.

Posted by: Ted on May 18, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

All that matters are fertilized eggs and brain-dead white women!!

Kill all the brown people!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on May 18, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Look for my new book The Party of RAPE, which details how President Bush and other Republican apparatchiks rape Iraqi children.

Another book I am working on is The Party of Cannibalism, which is a cook book filled with recipes on how Republicans prepare Iraqi juvenile liver.

Posted by: Hostile on May 18, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk, in the words of Jonah Goldberg:

"This exposes the main problem with slippery-slope arguments. Much like conspiracy theories, they reflect more imagination and less hard thinking than usually required."

http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg112601.shtml

Slippery slope for liberals = bad. Slippery slope for colleagues = best seller.

Posted by: Me2d on May 18, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no, the Democrats are the party of Death! They want to kill you and watch you DIE like poor Terri Schiavo who was helpless and innocent and laughing and playing rugby every day but the liberal media never told us the TRUTH!

Thank Jeezuz we have people like Ponnonomu who are here to expose their agenda of DEATH and show the Amurican people who they really are.


Why, I am surprised there are any Dems left, seeing how they love to kill so much.

Posted by: Gay God's Gun on May 18, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

You're making a mistake if you go to Comedy Central for enlightenment about anything, Kevin. That's not point of his show, and I'm not exactly sure how reasonable it is to expect what it sounds like you're looking for.

Didn't Tucker Carlson make a similarly mistaken point?

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on May 18, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm fuzzy like you, Kevin. I think a fetus isn't a baby until the mother decides it is. That's when it has to be. If a woman doesn't want it there badly enough, no one's going to convince her it's a baby.

And I've never understood why anyone would want her to have to live with it.

Posted by: katiebird on May 18, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Slippery slope for liberals = bad. Slippery slope for colleagues = best seller.
Posted by: Me2d

ironically, we've had relatively reasonable access to abortions for nigh on 20 years, without any appreciable movement towards destruction of the sanctity of life with respect to killing off the elderly, handicapped, retarded, immigrants, minorities, etc.

However, give bush and the neocons one little fucking patriot act, and we already have evidence of torture, rendition, illegal detainment, wiretapping, eavesropping, and database fishing.

If anything, it seems liberals have been able to keep off the slippery slope in a way conservatives, being venal power-hungry bastards that they are, generally cannot.

Posted by: Nads on May 18, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk--

Well, I wouldn't have to rely on a "slippery slope" argument to be pro-choice or say that a fetus isn't
"alive" in a meaningful way. I'd say in fact that the overwhelming majority of cultures throughout history have agreed that there is a sharp line between a fetus in utero and an infant.

Even most pro-life people implicitly agree with this, because very few are willing to support laws that would make a pregnant woman who has an abortion a premeditated murderer, as all agree would be the case if a mother conspired to kill her newborn infant. Or do you disagree? Do you think a woman who has an abortion should indeed be charged with first-degree murder?

So, no, it's not a cultural relativism thing at all. It's actually much more basic, much more natural than that.

Posted by: kokblok on May 18, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

The Party of Pussies: Republicans, The Wars They Start, The Service They Duck, And The One-Handed Spunk Monkeys Who Love Them.

See? That wasn't hard at all. Now, George Soros, give me money.

Posted by: enozinho on May 18, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Nads writes If anything, it seems liberals have been able to keep off the slippery slope in a way conservatives, being venal power-hungry bastards that they are, generally cannot.

Once again proving that nearly everything conservatives accuse liberals of is really a reflection of their own psychological projection.

For example, Dave Neiwart at Orcinus has repeatedly demonstrated that contrary to the harping of right-wingers like Coulter and Malkin, Republicans are, in fact the party of eliminationist/threatening rhetoric.

Posted by: jcricket on May 18, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats: The party that won't read.

"Question 2: Why aren't serious lefties giving it serious reviews?

A: Because despite the efforts of the NRO gang to make Party of Death sound like one of the seminal scholarly tomes of our time, it looks to most of us like standard issue Regnery stuff,"

Looks like it based on the cover - but have you read the book? You've heard the famous old saying, you can't judge a book by its cover. You have a problem with that, Kevin, or can you review a book by reading its dust jacket?

"Let's get real here. Despite the use of red herrings like infanticide and euthanasia to make it sound like pro-choicers are leading us all down a slippery slope to the Holocaust, these subjects get only brief mentions in the book."

And you know this how? I haven't read anything by Kevin that says he's read the book. How on earth can he tell us what gets brief mentions when he hasn't read the thing?

Kevin, Have you read the book? If you haven't why should we listen to you?

"Basically, it's a book about abortion."

So Kevin can reduce the book to this short statement, and he hasn't even read it.

Kevin, Have you read the book?

"And there's a whole chapter on just that question. Which I read in the bookstore."

!!! Well at least he read one chapter!

"But despite the implication that Ponnuru makes some kind of killer argument on this score, there was nothing of the kind. It was the same stuff I've read a hundred times before. There's just nothing new here."

Please expand so that your readers can judge whether anything new was brought to the discussion. I don't believe you - but I haven't read the book so I won't pass judgement - unlike some ... Are we to take your word when you won't even quote anything from this book? When you won't link to Amazon?

This post is almost as funny as the Lamont ad with Markos (Mentos) from DKos.

Posted by: SunBeltJerry on May 18, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that it's published by Regnery is by itself more than sufficient reason for ignoring it.

Posted by: kth on May 18, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

SunBeltJerry--
There's no need to be so harsh.
Kevin has actually excerpted passages from this cool new type of media product. It's called a book review. It's this amazing device that allows one to see the main points of a book without having to actually read the whole thing.

Book review. It's the next i-Pod.

Posted by: kokblok on May 18, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: there's no doubt that a fetus is a "human". What other species would you classify such an organism as?

What a fetus isn't is a "person".

That is the crucial question. And the answer doesn't hinge on the fetus's genetics, physical location (i.e in or out of a womb), or the circumstances under which it came to be a fetus (i.e as a result of rape or incest).

Posted by: The Fool on May 18, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I would not die unfulfilled if I never had to read the hackneyed, self-consciously hip expression "let's get real" in a blog post ever again.

If Bart Simpson decides he wants to start a blog, then maybe it would be OK.

Posted by: Zathras on May 18, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hint: it has something to do with having a self and being conscious thereof.

Posted by: The Fool on May 18, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK
And the big moral question about abortion is whether life begins at conception.

That's debatable.

I'd say the big moral question about abortion (and extending beyond it) is "when, if ever, is society morally justified in demanding that you give over autonomy over what goes on inside your own body."

When "life", in the morally relevant sense, begins is an issue if you presuppose a certain response to that, and because its the debate easier to divert into emotional appeals, its the question abortion opponents have focussed on.

But I don't think its the more important moral question.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 18, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

A hypothetical person could make the argument that it takes more than five pounds of organic mass outside a womb to be truly human.

And a hypothetical person could make the argument that you still fall short.

Posted by: Thumb on May 18, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I thought that the interview was great, if I define "great" as "a hilarious example of public assisted suicide." Stewart made Ponnuru look like an idiot simply by asking reasonable questions and then watching his subject squirm and avoid answering. I was clutching my sides, I laughed so hard.

Also, I want to echo kokblok's comment from 6:55. The physique, the lack of visible secondary sex characteristics, and that voice - I concluded from the git-go that Ponnuru is a eunuch.

Posted by: rod on May 18, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think you miss a key connection, Kevin:

Over at The Corner, the gang has been griping for weeks about the reaction to Ponnuru's book, [...] But it will sell books to the true believers. As Ann Coulter and Michael Savage already know.

What Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and the gang at the corner know is that whining about how much the liberals are persecuting them by not taking their book seriously and unfairly criticizing it will sell more books to the true believers.

Which is why they are doing the complaining. Its purely a marketing technique.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 18, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

The physique, the lack of visible secondary sex characteristics, and that voice - I concluded from the git-go that Ponnuru is a eunuch.

Doesn't seem like there are a lot of trolls jumping to Ramesh's defense. Come on guys, he's an uber-christian right? Don't let the name and the skin color fool you... He's one of yours, promise!

Posted by: enozinho on May 18, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

"The Ann Coulter quote on the cover". Well, if you are truly aiming for her audience, nobody that reads will take you seriously. So it's a "broadside", or a political tract. So was "The Crisis" by Tom Paine, so it isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Posted by: republicrat on May 18, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

The title is harsh, provocative and somewhat unfair to democrats, but it seems consistent with the content of the book and it probably is a pretty good marketing idea. It also may cause significant damage to the democrat party to be hit with such a label in a book that gets a lot of publicity. Democrats have paid a high price, and will continue to pay a high price, for their support of virtually unrestricted abortion on demand.

With respect to the title, it would have been fairer and smarter for Ponnuri to have added "and a few Republicans" at the end of the subtitle.

Kevin and others cannot very legitimately comment/review the book if they do not read it.

I thought both Ponnuri and Stewart were okay in the interview. Stewart talked too much. He certainly did not leave Ponnuri speechless. Ponnuri just seemed like a polite, thoughtful and respectful guy not suited to quick and witty give and take with Stewart. Stewart, to the extent his opinon matters, actually came accross as in favor of an honest discussion and more restrictive rules on abortion.

I actually thought Ponnuri's comment that he was against Hiroshima was entirely responsive to Stewart pushing the point of innocent deaths in war. I think Stewart recognized he was about to be beat on his point, so he quickly made a joke and moved on. I have not watched Stewart much, but he also seemed to like Ponnuri.

Posted by: brian on May 18, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

This thread is bound to bring the anti-choicers out from under their rocks but while they are railing against abortion, which most Democrats want only to be safe, legal and rare, they should ask George W. Bush about the one he paid for in 1971 when abortion was illegal and he impregnated 15 year-old Robin Lowman, then paid her to abort his love child. And since we are talking about death, which political party supports the hideous slaughter of innocents going on in Iraq, like this one? Surprise! That will be the GOP!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on May 18, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

My question is, why does everyone keep saying what a Smart Guy he is?

Coulter, say, seems way smarter, in terms of being capable of building her career. Craven, but smarter. Ponnuru seems to surf from one embarrassing thing to another. He doesn't speak well, and goes for the limelight. He can't manage ideological fights with his own fellow travellers, and appeals to unity to shut others up. Then he badgers fellow travellers when they become sufficently disliked to become a target (think Sully).

Smart? Only is being a nerdy suckup to the cool kids is what is meant by the monicker.

Posted by: fishbane on May 18, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

It also may cause significant damage to the democrat party to be hit with [the party of Death]...

Let's review:

Iraq: Not death.

Capital punishment: Not death.

Huricane Katrina: Not death.

Third world level infant mortality rates: Not death.

30 million Americans without medical insurance: Not death.

First trimester abortions: DEATH_DEATH_DEATH_DEATH!!!!!

With respect to the title, it would have been fairer and smarter for Ponnuri to have added "*Does not apply to War making!" at the end of the subtitle.

Posted by: Thumb on May 18, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

You can totally ignore the rightwing for decades at a time and miss nothing.

If, socially, you must mingle, just use Stephen Potter's ploy. After the rightwing gasbag has completed their speech, quietly say "But not in the south."

If pressed for details, invert their assertions and attribute them to "a minority viewpoint that doesn't receive the attention it deserves".

You may have already noticed this ploy in use, but it never wears out.

Posted by: serial catowner on May 18, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Look. Ponnuru is a smart guy."

Right. Ponnuru is a smart guy in the pundits-at-cocktail-parties parallel universe. Unfortunately, in this universe, such a statement sorely stretches the meaning of "smart guy."

Posted by: batavicus on May 18, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Damn you, batavicus!
I opened up the comments just to say exactly what you wrote. Well, I have to say something.
Ramesh seems like a moron. Also, doesn't he seem like a friend of Mary, or Dorothy or somebody?

Posted by: marky on May 18, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus,

The party of death?

That fits the GOP to a T.

Those necrophiliac bastards love death, violence, carnage, destruction, chaos, murder, torture, and every conceivable type of human misery that they can inflict on others.

Posted by: angryspittle on May 18, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I've never understood why the common law principle of "my right to swing my arms ends at the tip of your nose" couldn't be the standard to be applied to abortion. To wit: a woman's right to choose ends at the point of a viable fetus's nose. Whether or not the point of viability should be based on the fetus's survival inside or outside the womb would then be a political question to be settled by the legislature or the people.

This formulation should satisfy everybody. For pro-choicers, prior to the point of viability, a woman's right to choose is absolute. For pro-lifers, once there is a viable fetus, its existence would be protected by law. From a legal point of view, this is more justifiable as extensions of common law principles to the needs of todays modern society than the tortured Constitutional reasoning of Roe and its progeny. And from a political point of view, it would take a highly contentious issue off the table.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Chicounsel on May 18, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

That's it, I'm writing a book called "The Party of Coat Hangers: How the Republicans have increased abortions while making them less safe"

After the title I could just throw together some liberal arguements about choice, and then demand why The Corner isn't giving it a serious review.

Posted by: blank on May 18, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

I posted my plan over at Edroso's place a few weeks ago, but I'm re-announcing my ward captaincy for my local Party of Death. I mean, death always wins: the score is like, 100 billion to zero. Or, 100 billion to 1, for some of you. Still, pretty good odds in any contest for the Party of Death.

If I play my cards right, Alderman of Death could be in my future. After that, maybe national office, running on the Party's platform of full funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. There's no limit! Well, yeah. There's that death thing to put a stop to it all.

Posted by: Brian C.B. on May 18, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

This formulation should satisfy everybody. For pro-choicers, prior to the point of viability, a woman's right to choose is absolute. For pro-lifers, once there is a viable fetus, its existence would be protected by law. From a legal point of view, this is more justifiable as extensions of common law principles to the needs of todays modern society than the tortured Constitutional reasoning of Roe and its progeny. And from a political point of view, it would take a highly contentious issue off the table.
Posted by: Chicounsel

viability itself has potential to change, specifically with improving neonatal resuscitations and medical care. quality of life also becomes an issue, since "viability" can be maintained indefinately (effectively) via machines, formulas, and their respective tubes.

do we then adjust these definitions with improving medical care? do we adjust them to reflect a chance for the fetus to have a potentially "meaningful" (eg, not having taken a ridiculously bad anoxic hit to the brain) chance at life? is society obligated, then, to pay for EVERY unwanted-but-technically-viable fetus? are we forcing mothers to carry to term, then? or do we pay for the NICU care that will be necessary?

and how do we address issues of rape and incest? are there issues where the notion of fetal viability isn't even an ethical concern?

Posted by: Nads on May 18, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Stewart's entire effort in the five minutes he had was devoted to hoisting the guy on the petard of his book's title, in other words addressing your Question No. 1. Stewart was clearly, if not adroitly, telling him that the the book's inflammatory title provokes, demands even, a heated, defensive response and pretty much destroys all grounds for serious discussion. Ponnuru came across as a thoughtful, intelligent person who is nevertheless as rigidly doctrinaire and contemptuous of dissenting opinions as everyone else on the far right. Stewart was right to scold him for the spoiled child he is. The Corner brims with such brats.

Posted by: secularhuman on May 18, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

I actually thought Ponnuri's comment that he was against Hiroshima was entirely responsive to Stewart pushing the point of innocent deaths in war. I think Stewart recognized he was about to be beat on his point, so he quickly made a joke and moved on. I have not watched Stewart much, but he also seemed to like Ponnuri.

Posted by: brian on Ma...

Stewart didn't make a ``joke''; he turned Ponnuru's feeble stance on Hiroshima INTO a joke and then ``moved on'' because he's a decent guy and could see that Ponnuru was waaay out of his league intellectually. It was mercy in action. Stewart often pulls his punches when he sees his guests start to sweat.

Posted by: secularhuman on May 18, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

brian-

Your capacity for political analysis is pretty much wiped out by your tendency to make assertions that don't have any link to the facts. It may cause significant damage to your genitals to be such a wanker with your rhetoric.

Posted by: matt on May 18, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

If its a Belief it Cannot be true
Ergo you cannot be a True Belief.
Oxymoronic statement.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
But let us Review the Christian Ways of the last 800 years and see what Kind of "Soul" MAnne Coulter Speaks of, this Righteous Witch Hunt the Fundies have Embarked upon her "Truth"
~~~~~
Early seventeenth century Bohemia had a population of 4,000,000, eighty percent of which were Protestant. During the Thirty Years War, after the Hapsburg emperor Ferdinand II and his armies and the holy order of the Jesuits had done the work of Christ, only 800,000 people were left in all Bohemia and Hungary, all of whom were Catholic. Even worse, the war, which had started as a religious war in Bohemia, eventually drew in all the German states, and then Sweden and France, and in the end as many as twenty million men, women, children and suckling babes lay dead in the bosom of Christ!
And on and on and on it went. But hold on! Gods "love," the kind about which we have been reading, is still alive!
When electronic voting machines re-elected George W. Bush for another term as president not that I have any particular problem with computers running the country (they couldnt be any worse than a politician) they re-elected the same man who claims that God tells him what to do. You read right: President Bush talks to God, and God tells him what to do!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And thats to be the
"WAR PARTY PRESIDENT!"
LOL at these Fundies trying to blame death on the democrats. The Death Party, Yeh Right. How many has Innocents has the War President killed in the Name of Righteousness?
Bush "I am the Death err War President!"

Posted by: American ChickenDung on May 18, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with your 'end of the nose' argument is that the claims of the fetus backed by the state are to the resources of the woman's body and to her entire life following birth, not just to some random shared public space or somesuch. So your formulation falls apart completely, yet another uselessly wrong analogy that completely neglects the rights of the woman in this debate, as the right wing position persistently does.

Posted by: matt on May 18, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK


When the Church arrested heretics they were taken to a torture chamber, stripped naked (in case the Devil had applied some secret mark to their body), and were made ready for the holy work of the ministers of Christ. Typically a victim was hoisted into the air by their hands, which were tied behind their back, effectively dislocating shoulders with horrific pain. While hanging in this agony, a priest might apply flaming balls of sulfur to the genitals, or feet, or breasts, or under the arms, or on the back. If the victim was a woman, there was a special device for spreading the vagina (called the vaginal pear), which allowed for the ripping of the cervix and also for placing flaming sulfur directly inside the vagina. In fact, genitalia were a special target for the Holy Inquisition, as historian Barbara Walker notes: ". . . [priests] liked to attack women's breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers, and red-hot irons." Even more terrible to contemplate is that in some cases there were no breasts to mutilate because under the rules of the Holy Inquisition, girls as young as nine years could be tortured in the name of Jesus. (Walker, Barbara G. The Womens Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983, p. 445.)

Posted by: Wackos on May 18, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Christians Did not care for life back then, they simply used the DEVIL as their rationalizations.

Just as today they have no problem killing muslims, persians, because its "Belief" But if its a Christian Baby Oh MY GOD! But wait its a Witches babie

KILL IT KILL IT!!!
WE BELIEVE ITS THE DEVILS BABY!! AYAYYAYAA
SATAN DEVIL BURN MURDER!!!

Posted by: Wackos and Whigs on May 18, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

And finally I leave you with this from Mark Twain;

Mark Twain once wrote: "During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. . . . There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them still remains."

Posted by: Wackos on May 18, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's time we retired the word 'Republicans' in favor of 'shit-minded slime people'.

Posted by: cld on May 18, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Stewart was in a monologue mode so much as that he realized that there could only be so much to talk about with someone he disagrees with on such a large scale -- and given that, I thought he did grope around and find some genuine points of exchange.
However, I'm still waiting for someone to bring up, and really stick to, the point(s) to be made about how many fertilized eggs are discarded daily by fertility clinics, not to mention healthy women in which the supposedly fully-formed new life fails to implant itself on the uterus wall. They've been given a pass on facts -- and presumably, solid statistics -- which contradict their position for too long.

Posted by: Benson on May 18, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I am sure someone here has already pointed out the FACT that OB's and fertility doctors say that a good 50% or more of ALL fertilized eggs are ABORTED by mother nature before they implant at all.

Having been through 3 IVFs (excuse me, death to get life procedures) and miscarriages, it is also a FACT that a large percentage of embryos that do implant do not get past the first trimester, That is why doctors warn women not to tell anyone about the pregnancy until they are past the 13 week mark.

I have always thought that viability was a date we could all compromise on. UNLESS the fetus is threatening the health or life of the mother, then it is her decision alone. And yes, as viability becomes earlier, so will the cut-off date.

And if PlanB were available over the counter and eveyone was educated, rape and incest victims could prevent 90% of pregnancy risk.

After 3 IVFs two things happened: First, I did hope that all those 4-6 celled blobs would be a baby, and were "life," Second, after the doctor surgically extracted my tissue, mixed it with my husbands tissue, this is OUR BUSINESS AND NO ONE ELSES.

Posted by: lilybart on May 18, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Odd that they'd use a photo of a military cemetery for the book cover. Is that a small slice of the thousands Bush has needlessly sent to the grave?

Posted by: BB on May 18, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin you are too kind to Mr. Ponnuru.

Posted by: lib on May 18, 2006 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

This guy's a liar filled with spin.

"Abortion on demand." As opposed to what? Abortion on command? Abortion when the state government allows you to do so? When the federal government allows you to do do? Abortion when other people who don't know you tell you it's okay? Seriously, what's the alternative to letting the woman make the demand? Who else gets to make it?

Also, what is with this pathetic implication that the whole abortion issue would fade away to the back burner if only we'd just let state government decide? That's the biggest lie I've heard in years.

These zealots score a victory and they won't let up--they'll get worse. They've wrapped their agenda of controlling women in the "saving babies" language. In '98, they were shooting doctors in upstate New York in front of their families. We're supposed to believe they'd stop all this nonsense if only we'd just let them make abortion illegal in South Dakota? They wouldn't bring their dead baby pictures to the states that let women make decisions? They wouldn't keep fighting the morning after pill, which prevents abortions?

That's a lie, and we all know it. This guy is a liar. "Just give us a few states, and this will all go away." As if. They'll just start murdering people again.

Posted by: theorajones on May 18, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Let's grant that a fertilized egg is a potential human life. Therefore abortion equals murder. What about the millions of sperms wasted by men? Our body can produce sperms at a rapid rate and each day someone fails to have sex and use his sperm to conceive a baby, he is murdering millions of potential babies. Same goes for women who waste their egg, a potential baby. By this logic we can conclude that every adult human is murdering babies. I can't wait for Republicans to go down this slippery slope.

Posted by: SpermIsLifeToo on May 18, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

, mixed it with my husbands tissue, this is OUR BUSINESS AND NO ONE ELSES.

Posted by: lilybart on May 18, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, when you hit the 4 month mark...that clump of cells has arms, legs and eyes. Soits his/her business too.

I hope your children cancel your feeding tube when you are old and watch you starve to death.

Posted by: McA on May 18, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

it takes more than a few strands of DNA and some protoplasm to be truly human

The "baby" in David Lynch's Eraserhead came to mind when I saw this sentence. Am I "pro death"?

Posted by: someOtherClown on May 18, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Strange thread. I don't see how anyone can contend that Ponnuru is not smart or that Stewart, who also is smart, was superior intellectually. Stewart obviously won the "party of death" discussion because it is such a harsh and provocative title for someone claiming to want a reasonable and intellectual discussion.

What was wrong with Ponnuru stating he thinks the decision to bomb Hiroshima was wrong after Stewart was pushing the argument about the immorality of civilian deaths in war?

Sorry, but it was the first time I saw Ponnuru and I liked him. I also like Stewart.

The problem, of course, with later abortions being limited to protect the health of the mother is that the courts have interpreted that term so broadly that it is no limitation at all.

Posted by: brian on May 18, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats are the "party of death" on abortion, the Republicans are the "party of death" on capital punishment. And as a progressive who's anti-abortion (although pro-contraception and sex education) and opposed to the death penalty on moral and religious grounds, a curse on both parties' houses.

Posted by: Vincent on May 18, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I am not pro-abortion, meaning that casual abortion for reasons of inconvenience is not something I favor. However there are other valid reasons IMO for having an abortion (rape, incest - the usual). If someone is going to have na abortion though I think it should be as early as possible.

That said I sometimes wonder how religious anti-abortion types rationalize spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Seems like God designed a way for he body to rid itself of a defective embryo. And it happens quite a lot.

Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10- 25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Estimations of chemical pregnancies or unrecognized pregnancies that are lost can be as high as 50-75%, but many of these are unknown since they often happen before a woman has missed a period or is aware she is pregnant

http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/miscarriage.html

Posted by: Hmmm on May 18, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

And as a progressive who's anti-abortion (although pro-contraception and sex education) and opposed to the death penalty on moral and religious grounds, a curse on both parties' houses.

Posted by: Vincent on May 18, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, but there's probably 1000 early abortions and 2 late-term abortions for every execution.

And lethal injection is way more humane than partial-birth, death by brain sucking.

Or death by vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: McA on May 18, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

That said I sometimes wonder how religious anti-abortion types rationalize spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Seems like God designed a way for he body to rid itself of a defective embryo. And it happens quite a lot.

Posted by: Hmmm on May 18, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

So anything that happens spontaneously is Ok as a medical procedure.

Hey, sex happens. Can your doctor fuck your wife?

Hey, people drown. Can we toss you overboard and hold you under?

Hey, lightning happens. Death by electrocution must be cool.

Hey, anthrax happens. Osama should be allowed to bio-bomb your country.

How stupid are you? Do you hate Bush and the religous right so much that you can't think?

Posted by: McA on May 18, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

The Christians Did not care for life back then, they simply used the DEVIL as their rationalizations.

Posted by: Wackos and Whigs on May 18, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

So 400 years ago, the Church was bad. So now we can kill babies by brain sucking.

What's the relevance?

Brain-sucking a 7 month old fetus without anasthetic. Right or wrong?


Posted by: McA on May 19, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

So 400 years ago, the Church was bad

It has improved a little.
But your head--still empty, like a hole

Posted by: slackdaemon on May 19, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: carinsurena on May 19, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

anybody know what the ``A'' in McA stands for ?

Posted by: secularhuman on May 19, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

This is the kind of Crazy we got from the New Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. All we need now is a right-wing SLA kidnapping Paris Hilton, and someone to coin the phrase "conservative chic."

It may or may not siginal the end of Republican pre-eminence, but it does signal the beginning of the end of the conservative movement.

Posted by: Shadrack on May 19, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

The ham-handed title is bad enough but the continued fawning over Ponnuru's book at NRO is unbearable. And tsking and whining about comments over the title with this "But..but...he mentions Republicans, too!" buesiness is just nauseating.

Gezz..it almost makes a person think they care more about bashing Democrats than the subject they claim to be concerned about.

Imagine that.

Posted by: T4TN on May 19, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: Inevitably, that means I take a fuzzy view of when human life begins, but I'm willing to accept that. The real world is a fuzzy place.

In reference to when human life begins, it might be more appropriate to say that the real world is a gooey place.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 19, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

That said I sometimes wonder how religious anti-abortion types rationalize spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).

The same way religious anti-murder types "rationalize" death by natural causes.


Posted by: cmdicely on May 19, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'd say the big moral question about abortion (and extending beyond it) is "when, if ever, is society morally justified in demanding that you give over autonomy over what goes on inside your own body."

Ignoring the possible extensions, I would reply that the law is certainly justified in demanding jurisdiction over what goes on inside your own body when it is a separate human being existing inside your body. I think the strangest thing about the abortion debate is the idea that the fetus is part of the woman's body. It most certainly is not.

From a purely natural point of view it is a different human being with a different set of DNA and genes.

From a consciousness point of view it is a distinct will. I can remember sitting with my pregnant wife waiting for the baby inside her womb to kick. It was nothing my wife could control. It was not her brain that decided to kick at the moment. It was the fetus growing inside her.

From a religious point of view it is a separate soul answerable alone to God.

It is simply not part of the woman's body, even though wholly contained inside of her.

Now as to whether the law should use its justifiable juridiction over this fetus, to command obligatory actions is an interesting discussion. It is something the wise framers of the Constitution relegated to the sovereign states. What has truly ruined the debate over abortion over the years is the confused thinking of those people so blinded by their desire for choice that they make up out of whole cloth arguments for a right to abortion in the Constitution.

Why doesn't the left give up on holding this stupid, poorly reasoned, legal gymnastics of finding the right to abortion in emanations and penumbras of the other given rights? Then maybe we can truly decide on a rational basis whether the state should intervene in the case where the mother wants to end the life of this separate being.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Once again: "That said I sometimes wonder how religious anti-abortion types rationalize spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Seems like God designed a way for he body to rid itself of a defective embryo. And it happens quite a lot".

To spell it out for you, your God must have designed a woman's body to reject embryos when defective. It's sort of a quality control mechanism, without it we'd see lots more abnormalities.

So are ya gonna arrest God?

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

It would be easier to take Ponnuru seriously if he didn't sound like he was sucking down helium between each sentence.

But it would still be impossible.

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on May 19, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't the left give up on holding this stupid, poorly reasoned, legal gymnastics of finding the right to abortion in emanations and penumbras of the other given rights? Then maybe we can truly decide on a rational basis whether the state should intervene in the case where the mother wants to end the life of this separate being.
Posted by: John Hansen

that's some nice sophistry there, john hansen ... if anti-choice fanatics like you well and truly believe that abortion is murder, then drop your fucking charade, stop pretending that this is a state's right issue, admit you want a total ban on abortions accross the board, and be willing to imprison women who get abortions. follow your ideology to its logical and inevitable conclusion.

I am not pro-abortion, meaning that casual abortion for reasons of inconvenience is not something I favor. However there are other valid reasons IMO for having an abortion (rape, incest - the usual). If someone is going to have na abortion though I think it should be as early as possible.
Posted by: Hmmm

then I suggest that this is where you draw YOUR line, and leave me alone.

Posted by: Nads on May 19, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

then I suggest that this is where you draw YOUR line, and leave me alone

Touchy! I have no intention of telling you what you can and cannot do with your body or embryo. I am only voicing my opinion; I am allowed to have one am I not?

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

I am only voicing my opinion; I am allowed to have one am I not?
Posted by: Hmmm

of course ... like assholes, you're definately allowed to have one, and yours similarly happens to stink. certainly not all opinions are worthy of equal respect, and yours is downright offensively ignorable.

I find your classification of abortions failing to meet YOUR criteria a slap to the face of millions who have agonized over this decision. Fuck you and your opinion on "casual abortion for reasons of inconvenience." I see no reason to be polite to someone this judgemental.

The implication that YOUR criteria, by contrast, are eminently reasonable IS nothing more than ideological masturbation, designed to make you feel better about yourself with respect to this issue. Again, you aren't worthy of restrained and reasonable commentary.

Posted by: Nads on May 19, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe by cheapening "DEATH", Republicans will get over their big sissy fears of Mortality.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 19, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

Um Nads, if you'd bothered to have read my original comments through you'd have discovered that I'm more on your side than the other. Doesn't matter to intolerant you though.

What a hyper jerk.

(hmm, perhaps your a goon for the other side...)

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

I actually did read your original comments. That's why I'm irritated. ... anyhoo, maybe you could explain to me why you asked this question:

That said I sometimes wonder how religious anti-abortion types rationalize spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Seems like God designed a way for he body to rid itself of a defective embryo. And it happens quite a lot.

... and then answered later below with:

To spell it out for you, your God must have designed a woman's body to reject embryos when defective. It's sort of a quality control mechanism, without it we'd see lots more abnormalities.
So are ya gonna arrest God?
Posted by: Hmmm

wouldn't this explanation be enough for religious anti-abortion types?

Posted by: Nads on May 19, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

When my wife and I watched him last night we noted it seemed Stewart was giving him a bit of a harder time than he usually does to his guests. He was clearly underwhelmed by the argument being put forward, demonstrated his reasons why he felt this way and the author generally looked like a fish out of water with the one exception regarding Hiroshima. The main point Stewart was making and that Secularhuman noted in his post at 9:22 pm May 18 was that the very title used precluded any chance of real discourse/dialogue coming from this book. That this was intended to only appeal to those already convinced by these arguments and nothing more. I thought that was a very important and valid point to be making.

Look, the issue here is not which man is more intelligent, it is which man was able to make his points in a clear, concise and reasoned manner? For the near total of the interview it was not the guest. This idea that this vast lefty power structure that somehow dominates American society despite the clear political dominance of the GOP for the last decade and especially in the last five years out to advance the cause of death while only the right is interested in protecting life is patently absurd on its face. This is not a political opinion, this is simple reality. As Stewart noted when they did a bit on the GOP making a Star Wars short film with them as the rebels and the Dems as the evil Empire the GOP with their clear control in federal politics and a significant percentage of the judiciary (if one wants to define it by affiliation of appointing President I believe it is a clear majority of the federal judiciary) ARE the empire. At best the Dems were a bunch of Ewoks was how he put it. That the right/GOP still must frame their pitches in terms of being the oppressed minority by this all-powerful left wing conspiracy to win elections and motivate their base/troops speaks to their fundamental need for the anger any oppressed force out to beat a significantly more powerful opponents must rely on to help level the playing field as much as possible.

The problem here of course is that there is not only no need for the GOP to do this it is actually truly hypocritical of them to be doing so given the clear objective realities that exist these days and have since at least 2002 and arguably back to the mid to late 90s. They are the government, are those in power and have gone out of their way to lock their Dem counterparts out of committees and conference reconciliation since they came to have the power to do so. They are trying desperately to run away from any and all responsibility for the state of American government federally, their base is clearly unhappy with the way things have been going, so social issues are the only way to keep that base voting for the GOP.

Which is of course why this book is likely coming out at this time. With the mid term elections only a half year away this is when the beginnings of whipping up the old anger and feelings of persecution of the social hot buttons of abortion, gay rights, and flag burning come up in American politics and invariably from the political right. This argument is something that is not being made in an attempt to actually resolving the matter but to impose a rigidly defined moral code premised entirely on religious values on the entire society. Yet America was founded in no small part on the very idea of preventing any such thing from happening no matter which religious faith/doctrine was involved. A fact the current set of so called originalists wanting to return to the Christian nature of the American government apparently never learned in their history/civics classes, assuming they had any of course.

This book is nothing more than the latest piece of timely ammunition/"proof" of the need to fight the evil lefties for their worshipping at the alter of death, an alter that must be opposed by all upright moral (aka religious conservatives, especially social conservatives) Americans to save the country from destruction. While the man may be able to write in a reasonably clear manner, that alone does not a good writer/argument make. Nor is it clear evidence of superior intellect. Nor does it automatically imbue the argument itself with a legitimacy it otherwise would not be accorded. What this man appears to be yet again writing is more of the standard GOP fire bombing rhetoric on abortion that they favour throughout their political discourse. Take how upset conservatives get at any lefties making any use of Hitler/Nazi references to them, yet have for decades now seen nothing at all wrong with routinely labeling lefties/liberals (indeed this was in large part how the word liberal got demonized by the right in American political society) as equivalent to Stalin and the Communists in the USSR, Cuba, and China. To be saying there is any significant moral differences between Stalin's actions as a leader and Hitler's actions as a leader given the innocent death toll they each left in their wakes is nonsense, yet the right has done so for decades on this point.

One cannot compromise with zealots, it is what the righties like this man say is the reason there can be no resolution/compromise with the left/pro-choice side in the slightest degree. They do not grasp that this very argument being claimed as the only possible truth of the matter demonstrates that their minds are the ones demonstrating the mindset of a zealot/fanatic and not their imaginary opposition. Stewart merely demonstrated just how problematic this kind of mindset is when confronted with the inevitable "fuzzy" (to quote Kevin Drum) realities of life in the real world, as well as demonstrating the inherent inconstancies between many simultaneously held views based more on being opposed to "the enemy" than in consistency of principle. The pro-birth as opposed to pro-life aspect of many anti-abortionists is a classic example of this reality. The Terri Schiavo case was another example, there judicial activists were being actively sought out by the GOP and the religious right from Florida state level all the way to the Congress and President to overturn the proper following of the laws of the State of Florida as written by its legislaturists by a judge doing exactly what the religious right/conservatives argue is how judges are supposed to operate. The clear double standards being applied in that case were particularly blatant and repugnant.

If any party has a right to be labeled the party of death it is the GOP these days, although in full honesty I do not think that is a fair label to really attach to either, while I will grant that the GOP comes closer to it if still not getting all the way there. Stewart exposed this for what it was, and I would argue Kevin Drum is perfectly within the grounds of reasonableness to have responded in this post exactly the way he has. At best I would believe that the author was able to rephrase the same fundamental arguments on this issue in yet another variant that to those already convinced by these arguments would consider a brilliant revelation for those that have yet to come to recognize the fundamental truth of these arguments. To be expecting those that are not in that camp to automatically either review or be demonstrating their inherent close mindedness/intolerance/hatred of the "pro-life"/birth movement is inherently unreasonable.

As many noted these title of the book and the subtitle makes clear just how black and white the author is portraying this, and that he is doing so in a very clear and politically partisan manner. He is also inherently postulating powers to the Dems and the left in America generally it has not held in decades now. It attributes the strength of the 60s and 70s the left in America held, but that has long since vanished for the most part. The great left wing media conspiracy also appears to be a component of his Corner described brilliant work yet the reality still is that this is a myth that is on the basis of objective analysis clearly disproved. At most one can find self identification of journalists to be left leaning, but journalists are only one component of how news stories get done, producers/editors are also intimately involved and they are the ones that have the power in the relationship, and therefore their political identification would be more accurately reflecting what biases would be in play assuming of course that these professionals were allowing such to be happening. Therefore this so called proof of liberal biased media is clearly unusable as a primary piece of evidence to support such a claim and isn't very good even as a secondary level piece of evidence.

This is the year I am hoping that Americans show the GOP that they have gotten tired of this same old anger and vilification that they employ to win their elections. The GOP is clearly the party which is more ruthless and indiscriminate in how they will work to discredit/destroy a political opponent, the SBVfT reminded us all of just how much Bush's brain exemplifies this approach. It was after all one of the only times he was sloppy enough to leave a fingerprint tracing back to the Bush election campaign in his career. That lawyer working for both was very sloppy for someone with Rove's proven history in political dirty tricks. This book and this author is only a small piece of the great media machine the right/GOP have created in the last three decades and employed to great success over the last decade or so in particular. It is long past time that these people and these techniques were shown the door, they do nothing to raise the quality let alone the tone of debate, and given just how polarized and fractured American society has become, especially in its political contexts, this is something that America really cannot afford if she wants to remain the power and the moral compass it has traditionally been. After all, it used to be able to be said of America that while she has her faults and can get a bit on the overly moralistic with the rest of the world her virtues more than balanced this off. That is not something one will hear said much in the world anymore outside of America, not even in countries where the leadership is strongly supportive of America and Bush in particular.

This book is nothing more than the latest in a very long line of propaganda pieces intended to shape an election cycle from where I sit, and deserves exactly the scorn and contempt it has been receiving IMHO. This is doubly so when one takes into account that the publisher is Regnery and their publishing history.

Posted by: Scotian on May 19, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

It's pretty clear Nads. I don't understand your objection.

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

as much as i agree with you, Scotian, that was way too long. Stewart handed Ponnuru's ass to him and the Corner should be ashamed. get a kegger and start celebrating, the party of death is just getting started!

Posted by: Danny Doom on May 19, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmm ... no objection to the train of thought, just curiosity about why the second quote wouldn't be adequate explanation for spontaneous miscarriages for the fundies.

Posted by: Nads on May 19, 2006 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

In other words Nads, if abortion is always wrong why did God design women's bodies to perform it spontaneously when necessary?

Hope that clears it up. Gotta go.

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

Danny Doom:

I write the way I write. It is amusing how I never get complaints from Drum about length, it almost always comes from critics ever since I first started here almost three years ago now. While I know I write in a fairly wordy manner, it is the way I speak as well as think. There are more than enough people here able to make short pithy remarks, I prefer to look at things from many angles/perspectives in my comments, which unfortunately inevitably lengthens them. Look at it this way, at least I know how to make paragraphs, can you imagine how unreadable they would be without any paragraphs? :)

Posted by: Scotian on May 19, 2006 at 3:33 AM | PERMALINK

your God must have designed a woman's body to reject embryos when defective. It's sort of a quality control mechanism, without it we'd see lots more abnormalities.

So are ya gonna arrest God?

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

So according to this logic, any abortion where the baby is healthy is a crime against nature. Because the self-regulating mechanism miscarriages all who are supposed to miscarriage.

Hey, God lets kids drown in unfenced swimming pools. Must be morally OK to kill kids then.

Moonbat logic.

Posted by: McA on May 19, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

In other words Nads, if abortion is always wrong why did God design women's bodies to perform it spontaneously when necessary?

Hope that clears it up. Gotta go.

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

Who says they do it spontaneously when necessary?

If it happens spontaneously when necessary, then any induced abortion must be unnecessary - meaning induced abortion is wrong.

Think, moron. Even the Leftie's are wondering about yer logic.

Posted by: McA on May 19, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

In other words Nads, if abortion is always wrong why did God design women's bodies to perform it spontaneously when necessary?

Hope that clears it up. Gotta go.

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

Who says they do it spontaneously when necessary?

If it happens spontaneously when necessary, then any induced abortion must be unnecessary - meaning induced abortion is wrong.

Think, moron. Even the Leftie's are wondering about yer logic.

----------

then I suggest that this is where you draw YOUR line, and leave me alone.

Posted by: Nads on May 19, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, if you leave them 7 month old unborn children alone.

Posted by: McA on May 19, 2006 at 3:59 AM | PERMALINK

McA (who I'm willing to bet at this point is a different person than McAristotle):

You are without question the undisputed king of the straw man reductio ad absurdum.

If you ever responded to a point directly, in context, you might actually make sense every so often. You know -- like the proverbial stopped clock, accurate twice a day :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 4:28 AM | PERMALINK

What point do you want a response for?
I'm just saying that his logic is dumb.

1. Abortion happens without a coat hanger
2. Therefore abortion with a coat hanger is always right.

I'm just suprised no one notices.


Posted by: McA on May 19, 2006 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

And to top it off Hmmmm picks a fight with Nads who is on the same side.

Posted by: McA on May 19, 2006 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

> Ignoring the possible extensions, I would reply that the
> law is certainly justified in demanding jurisdiction over
> what goes on inside your own body when it is a separate
> human being existing inside your body.

Except that a fetus, up until the time of delivery, while certainly
human -- is not a human being, or more specifically, not a person.

A fully viable fetus is alive, has a functioning brainstem, an
individual DNA -- but it has no personal identity. It has no
accessible memories, no unique set of experiences, no knowledge.
It is the archetypical tabula rasa. Killing a fetus does not,
therefore, produce the kind of loss of a unique human life that
killing a person would. Not saying that it *isn't* a loss; it's
a distinction of quality, not kind. Only that it simply cannot
be compared, morally, to snuffing out a unique personal identity.

A personal identity is formed by an interaction between a
human life and the world. Personhood begins, IMHO, at birth.

> I think the strangest thing about the abortion
> debate is the idea that the fetus is part of
> the woman's body. It most certainly in not.

Well, how would you feel about a totally artificial pregnancy?
The technology can't be too far away. You know ... in vitro
fertilization, but instead of implantation into a mother's
womb, placing the blastocyst into an artificial incubating
device with a synthetic placenta. Once it develops to the
proper size, the artificial womb is simply opened (no birth
trauma) and the neonate placed in an incubator if necessary.

I have a funny feeling that you'd object stridently to this.
If you do, though ... I have trouble imagining the moral ground
for it -- if what you say is true that a fetus "is most certainly
not" an organic part of the mother's body. You so-called moral
objection surely wouldn't be consistent with that. I'd suggest
if you *do* object, then you need to examine how much your
objection to abortion really has to do with your desire to control
women -- if you wouldn't allow them to escape from the life-
threatening ordeal of pregnancy and labor. The "morality" of
this objection simply would not stand scrutiny. Let's observe :)

> From a purely natural point of view it is a different
> human being with a different set of DNA and genes.

I forget which feminist came up with this (Steinem?), but
there's a famous thought experiment which obviates this issue,
so you can look at it for a moment from the mother's POV --
because from a purely natural POV, the fetus is also accurately
seen as *parasitic* to its host, the mother's body. Obviously
with a different moral status than, say, ringworm or lice ...

Imagine you're a woman and you wake up one day in a hospital.
And in the bed next to you, there lies a world-famous and beloved
violinist. Not only does this man have legions of fans in every
country, but his talent is incalculable. The loss of his life
would be an unmeasurable loss to humanity and culture, and would be
felt around the globe. And he's this really, really sweet old guy,
too. He makes wonderful small talk with you in the hospital room.

It doesn't take you too long, though, to determine that this adorable,
Einstein-like musical genius is *hooked up to you by tubes*. You ask
the doctors, and it turns out that his condition requires nutrients
that only your unique body chemistry can supply. You ask how long
this arrangement is necessary. Nine months. So there you are --
stuck in a hospital bed, with somebody totally dependent on you, in
control of your destiny. The question is -- does it matter to *you*
how valuable this guy is? Does that change the nature of the bondage?

I'm not suggesting an answer, it's just something to think about ...

> From a consciousness point of view it is a distinct will. I
> can remember sitting with my pregnant wife waiting for the
> baby inside her womb to kick. It was nothing my wife could
> control. It was not her brain that decided to kick at the
> moment. It was the fetus growing inside her.

Well, I really don't mean to pour cold water over what was undoubtedly
a magical moment for you and your wife -- but Terry Schiavo did stuff
like that, too. It's a reflex reaction. Drop some hamburger into the
leaves of a Venus flytrap, and they'll close. Nobody'd call it agency.
Call it "will" if you like, but you may well be anthropomorphizing.

The Schiavo example wasn't gratuitous. Because the most immeasurable
gift is personhood, not life -- and personhood can vanish while life
remains. Strokes, comas, loss of oxygen to the brain, the horrendous
tragedy of seeing a beloved relative ravaged by Alzheimer's. Society
doesn't, as a default position, advocate killing these people -- and
most certainly neither do I. A cure could be found, and what appears
irreversible today could be reversed tomorrow (which is why stem cell
research is so important). But living wills are not immoral, either.
Had Terry Schiavo codified her request in writing instead of relying
on her husband to argue her case, she would have had her feeding
tube removed long ago without a shred of public controversy.

> From a religious point of view it is a
> separate soul answerable alone to God.

Mazel tov. Just don't pretend that POV is universal ...

> It is simply not part of the woman's body,
> even though wholly contained inside of her.

Then you cannot object, in principle, to artificial pregnancy, right?

> Now as to whether the law should use its justifiable
> juridiction over this fetus, to command obligatory actions
> is an interesting discussion. It is something the wise
> framers of the Constitution relegated to the sovereign states.
> What has truly ruined the debate over abortion over the years
> is the confused thinking of those people so blinded by their
> desire for choice that they make up out of whole cloth
> arguments for a right to abortion in the Constitution.

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not
be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

US Constitution, Ninth Amendment.

> Why doesn't the left give up on holding this stupid, poorly
> reasoned, legal gymnastics of finding the right to abortion
> in emanations and penumbras of the other given rights?

The black letter of the Ninth doesn't sound like any penumbra
or emanation to me. Does it sound like one to you?

> Then maybe we can truly decide on a rational basis

You're not deciding on a rational basis. You've cited a
religious conviction and an unscientific intuition that a woman's
body is somehow independent of the development of the fetus.

Whatever these two ideas are, they are assuredly not rational.

> whether the state should intervene in the case where
> the mother wants to end the life of this separate being.

If you will allow the separation of preganancy from a woman's
body through technology, then I will allow you all the laws
you'd like to protect the fetuses produced by such a means.

If you think the idea of separating women from preganancy is somehow
monstrous -- then you haven't thought through the implications of
your notion that a human being somehow arises ex nihilo from a woman.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK

Well, some days it feels like there is DEATH and there is living in GWB's America! Guess I'm just a sleep-deprived old lady who is worn out from the frustration and depression of the past six years...with more to come in my GOLDEN YEARS! Interestingly ALL LIBERALS don't believe in abortion (although abortion rights is a different thing) or killing the old people (some of us are some)...what I'm most tired of is defending a position that is logical, thoughtful, sensible, and inclusive...rather than embracing some drivel that has been perpetuated by MEN, MOSTLY, for centuries...I'm becoming more and more convinced that the HIGHER POWER is androgynous.

Posted by: Dancer on May 19, 2006 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer:

I *do* believe in converting Republicans into biomass fuel, though ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

Well done, Bob.

And Scotian, good to see you again.

Nothing further to add, except to observe that the culture warriors of the Right being so obviously concerned right now with firing up the rabid base with red-meat treatises such as Ponnuru's -- patently not intended as a persuasive work -- is a curious phenomenon indeed. I guess Bush's presidency can't be said to be that much of a success after all.

Posted by: Gregory on May 19, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory:"Nothing further to add, except to observe that the culture warriors of the Right being so obviously concerned right now with firing up the rabid base with red-meat treatises such as Ponnuru's -- patently not intended as a persuasive work -- is a curious phenomenon indeed."

Good observation. In other words, now that Bushco has turned out to be a disaster, the conservatives are blaming the man, not their policies.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 19, 2006 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

I enjoy your comments, Scotian, and this one is as well-reasoned and well-written as usual, but God help us if you ever discover the semi-colon.

Posted by: S Ra on May 19, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

And to riff off BB's point, it is odd that the publishers chose a military cemetary for the illustration. Given that, "PARTY OF DEATH: How Republicans are Working Hard to Fill Our Military Graveyards" would seem to be a more appropriate title.

Posted by: S Ra on May 19, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Good observation.

Thanks.

In other words, now that Bushco has turned out to be a disaster, the conservatives are blaming the man, not their policies.

True enough, goodness knows, but I meant that Bushco has been such a disaster that, far from building a "permanent Republican majority" by reaching out to moderate/swing voters, the GOP and its minions are rather desperately, and obviously, trying to hold onto their base (see also, McCain's visit to Liberty University). It's a tacit admission that vast swaths of the population has rejected the mendacity, incompetence and corruption of the Republicans. A good sign, at least.

Posted by: Gregory on May 19, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory & PTate:

Well yeah, absolutely. Dickerson's got a good piece in Slate this week about how Bush is stuck in the nuance box :) The problem is, he has no political capital, so he can't keep his base disciplined. That's why immigration -- an issue he attempted to triangulate in order to co-opt Hispanics into the GOP -- has spun completely out of control.

It's the same thing according to Daliah Lithwick in Slate with judges; there's going to be a new battle over some held-up appointments, and the red-meaters aren't going to be satisfied with anything but absolute hardcore fanatics, and this is not a fight Bush has any stomach for, nor could he deliver if he did.

The problem with a ravenous base who has lost its trust in the president is that it *cannot* be appeased. They gain nothing by taking half a loaf; the smugness of being in power has completely worn off.

Had Bush not completely fucked up Iraq, had the scandals not compromised the leadership, I think all of this would be different. He would have moved on Social Security, he would have gotten an immigration bill through -- and we wouldn't be hemhorraging so much red ink because the conservatives would have kept their discipline. With a demoralized leadership it's every critter for him or herself -- and that means grabbing federal booty to throw at voters.

What we're witnessing in both houses right now is the result of panic.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

What we're witnessing in both houses right now is the result of panic.

...which is exactly why the GOP is scaring its base with images of investigations should the Democrats retake one or both houses. They simply can't afford robust oversight, and at the very least need to get the Democrats to commit to letting bygones be bygones regarding the last five years.

Alas, some Democrats seem to be willing to oblige them.

Posted by: Gregory on May 19, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

Excellent essay, thank you. Every time I hear a pro-lifer make the argument that the fetus is a separate physcial entity from its mother, I want to shove a junior high biology textbook in their face, with pages marked and passages highlighted, and enlarged illustrations.

Posted by: Constance Reader on May 19, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that a fertilized egg is a full-blown human being has always struck me as a bleakly mechanistic view of human life . . .

There is also little, if any, support in the historical or philosophical or cultural or biblical record for this view, which appears to have gained significant prominence only after Roe and only after Roe became misrepresented by abortion foes as an opinion that "legalized murder".

A court opinion can't "legalize murder" if the act it "legalized" was never murder in the first place.

This is not to say that it isn't a legitimate view, but it doesn't have the historical and philosophical support that its proponents claim, nor did Roe do what they say it did.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Life begins at conception

Can we please stop using this phrase? It's not relevant to the discussion. "Life" is much too broad a word. I've never heard anyone argue that a fertilized egg is not "alive".

The question should be something like, "When does a fetus become a person?", or "When does a fetus become developed enough to experience suffering?"

Posted by: Will on May 19, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Will: The question should be something like, "When does a fetus become a person?"

Quite.

After all, my arm is alive.

Is it murder to amputate my arm?

Hardly.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, rmck1: "What we're witnessing in both houses right now is the result of panic"

What astonishes me is that the people for whom, by whom and of whom the government exists want oversight and accountability. But instead of acknowledging the will of the people, the politicos--both Republican and Democratic--are trying to throw meaty bones to the distract the base.

I'm betting the "bribe the watchdogs" strategy won't work in the long run (though the citizen in me is apprehensive about the meantime. Countdown: 977 days.) Still the social scientist in me sits back, popcorn in hand and waits with great interest: Is our democratic form of government and system of elections resilient enough to resist this threat to our Constitution & culture? If we are able to resist the current threats, I will respond with very non-social scientist displays of joy. I will sing Alleluia choruses to the Democracy God and worship the Constitution, for ever and ever. Amen.

OTOH, I am not so hopeful about the electorate being able to give up their addiction to books with snappy titles like Party of Death. Wow, "Party" contrasted with "DEATH." How very Bocaccio.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 19, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

As George Carlin once joked, "If you're pre-born you're ok. If you're pre-school you're fucked."

What the GOP fails to address is WHY any woman would ever need or want an abortion. And they NEVER deal with the life of that child AFTER it is born. Why is that?

Posted by: NeoLotus on May 19, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory:

Thanks. I still read here, but having to fight the enemy here so I didn't have to fight them at home didn't work too well, which is why I have been mainly focused on Canadian federal politics the last several months. I couldn't pass on this topic though seeing as I saw that interview and my irritation with the culture war politicking the GOP have as a primary element of its electoral machine. Our Conservatives have been importing the same techniques. Indeed, Frank Luntz had a private hour long meeting with PM Harper right before he addressed a private exclusive Conservative society known as the Civitas society a couple of weekends back. This group is particularly enamoured of all GOP political tools as a means for electoral success.

Thankfully so far the result as been at most a partial success since Harper has a weak minority. The question is though the more he replicates the GWB/GOP media controls and my way or the highway approach to governing will it hurt or help him in the next election. I would like to think hurt, but I am not going to sit back and assume such without doing all I can to expose it for what it is.

S Ra:

Semicolons...what are semicolons? :) Seriously, they are the one significant grammatical tool I have never managed to use properly, this is why I stick with commas. Thanks for the kind words on the content though.

Posted by: Scotian on May 19, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

If it happens spontaneously when necessary, then any induced abortion must be unnecessary - meaning induced abortion is wrong

Wrong.

If it happens spontaneously when necessary, then any induced abortion must be unnecessary

Correct from a physiological point of view - most of the time. But as medical science knows sometimes the mechanism doesn't work right and the result is that a badly deformed child is brought to term. I've seen them. This means misery for both the child and the parents for many years to come. But doctors are getting better and better at detecting abnormalities very early in the pregnancy. In such cases it is the choice of the parents whether to have the child. Would you force them to?

meaning induced abortion is wrong

Wrong. Why do you think one conclusion necessarily leads to the other?

I'm just saying that his logic is dumb.
1. Abortion happens without a coat hanger
2. Therefore abortion with a coat hanger is always right

Wrong. Reread my posts (rape, incest, the life of the mother or future lifeof the child).

So if some creep rapes your daughter and she can have the child aborted when it's still just a few cells, still you'd fight right alongside the rapist to make sure your daughter has "his" child?

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I think you're equating unnecessary with wrong.

People have lots of medical procedures that aren't life or death necessary physiologically. Doesn't make them wrong.

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Again, your God must have designed a woman's body to reject embryos when defective. It's sort of a quality control mechanism, without it we'd see lots more abnormalities.

So are ya gonna arrest God?

Posted by: Hmmm on May 19, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

PTate:

Bocaccio ... he wrote The Decameron, right?

Scotian:

Take heart. If the Italians can kick out that coglione Berlusconi, considering he owned multiple TV channels and had much of Italian print media in his pocket -- and considering that his entire premiership was dedicated to Rovifying Italian politics --

Then the decidedly less operatic Canadians can do the same, surely :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian:

Semicolon advice: A semicolon is just a phrase separator, much like a comma. The key difference is in what follows; the phrase after a semicolon must stand as a complete sentence, with subject and verb.

What follows a comma, OTOH, is usually just a phrase.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, McA slunk back in here.

For those unfamiliar with McA, (sometimes McAristotle) he posts from his home country of Malaisia. He'd be thrown in jail for saying what he says there, and he knows that his country is a third world cesspool suitable only for (ugh) sex tours, but for some reason he takes out his impotence and frustration by coming here and trying to scold we liberals about how we should love the Republicans.

Yeah, I know, it is weird because it is the very same Republicans who keep his country down where it is, but there you go. I think he's been suckered by Republican rhetoric.

The whole thing is very incredible - but not in the good way.

Posted by: Tripp on May 19, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

"What the GOP fails to address is WHY any woman would ever need or want an abortion. And they NEVER deal with the life of that child AFTER it is born. Why is that?"

Exactly. They also fail to address why women worldwide have and will continue to have abortions whether or not they are legal.

The GOP trys to portray themselves as having moral superiority and I hate to break it to them but I have my OWN morals, which don't include bringing MY children into a world where they won't be adequately cared for and/or wanted.

The bottom line is if my life is in the shitter, so will be my child's life. For me it is a moral and responsible act to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. And there are millions and millions of women who feel the same and will continue to abort regardless of laws or obstacles.

Imagine for a moment that you're a homeless woman and you've just discovered you're pregnant. You have no resources for yourself let alone a child. I know in my heart that no matter how much I wanted to have that baby, no matter how much I loved its father, I would not bring it to term. I would risk my life to make sure that potential child wasn't born. I sure as hell wouldn't be thinking about the opinions of the church or my congressman.

Abortion is instinct and IMO it is humane. That's MY religion.

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine for a moment that you're a homeless woman and you've just discovered you're pregnant. You have no resources for yourself let alone a child. I know in my heart that no matter how much I wanted to have that baby, no matter how much I loved its father, I would not bring it to term. I would risk my life to make sure that potential child wasn't born.

Uh, I hate to bring this up for fear of trivializing this -- and in this hypothetical situation, I could certainly empathize with the woman's plight -- but there is a process known as adoption, and that's been going on since well before Roe v. Wade. (Are there problems with the adoption process? Certainly, and we don't need to go through that here. However, I've known several people who were adopted and have had successful, happy lives.) Just because the mother is in a situation where the baby can't be taken care of to the fullest is no reason to deny the baby (assuming it was not conceived from rape or incest) a chance to live, under the care of people who can.

Posted by: Vincent on May 19, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Vincent:

Only a man could be so glib about that ...

You know, I heard a woman on one of these threads say that she had been pregant twice.

One child she aborted, the other she gave up for adoption.

And guess which one she never thinks about -- and which one causes her moments of anguish and regret nearly every single day.

Case closed.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: And guess which one she never thinks about -- and which one causes her moments of anguish and regret nearly every single day.

So, if someone can come up with an example of a woman who feels just the opposite, is the case closed the other way or just open again?

The experience of one individual should not drive public policy or put to rest public debate.

BTW, if Truman experienced anguish every day regarding his decision to drop the bomb, either or both, does that make his decision wrong?

If a soldier experiences anguish every day about the killing he did in war, does that make what he/she did wrong or he/she immoral?

If one experiences anguish every day about a decision to turn off life support for one's wife whose brain was totally destroyed, does that make that decision wrong?

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen is a rapist who wants the state to prevent the victim from aborting his hate child.

Fuck you John Hansen.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

The real kicker in all of this is to PREVENT unintended and unwanted pregnancies and I don't mean abstinence only. But of course the zealots aren't into that either.

I've had enough of this topic. It's like arguing about how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Abortion is not going to made illegal.

The problem is how to take the wind out their sails and the only way to do that is to attack them on the very things THEY want to ignore. Our economic and energy policies are killing people and they want to claim having the "culture of life"? Feh.

Posted by: NeoLotus on May 19, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I would never give a child up for adoption...or perhaps I would, if I were on my deathbed.

Adoption is no guarantee that a child will be cared for. Google Ricky Holland, a current foster care abuse case in Michigan.

The point is, there is no child. Only an embryo or fetus. I would never let it be born. End of story.

Posted by: bis annie on May 19, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: And guess which one she never thinks about -- and which one causes her moments of anguish and regret nearly every single day.

If she found out that the adopted child had been sexually abused, tortured and killed, which would cause her more anguish?

Yet another reason why pointing to the emotions of a particular woman in a particular circumstance as a basis for defining public policy is a bad idea.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Just because the mother is in a situation where the baby can't be taken care of to the fullest is no reason to deny the baby...a chance to live, under the care of people who can.

Vincent is really Joel Steinberg. He wants women to be forced into gving birth to unwanted children so they can be adopted. What Vincent/Joel really wants is to be given unwanted babies so he can beat them to death over several years time. Typical Republican.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: "You know, I heard a woman on one of these threads say that she had been pregant twice.

One child she aborted, the other she gave up for adoption.

She had two unwanted pregnancies! I hate to sound callous, but that's just very careless.

Actually, speaking of Darwinian survival of the fittest and getting your genes into the next generation, the best strategy for all women anymore is to be a surrogate mother and sell your babies. Have ten, at say $25,000 each plus medical expenses, give them up for adoption to families rich enough to pay $25,000 per. Someone else does all the hard work and bears all the expenses. You put enough gene carriers out there, you don't have to worry if one or two don't flourish. You have extra resources for the several you decide to keep.

Twenty five years after they are born, they come looking for you. Lo and behold, as behavior geneticists have found, they have more in common with you than with the parents who adopted them.

It turns the whole "high-investment" reproductive strategy upside down and puts women on a more equal footing with men.

The only reason more women don't do more it more often--well, apart from the weight gain--is because conservatives have socialized them to think children should be reared by their biological mothers or adopted for free rather than sold. So now when they have an unwanted pregnancy they think, "hmmm,, nine months, my career, a lifetime of responsibility plus weight gain versus abort while its still an embryo!" It just increases the abortion rate.

If conservatives REALLY wanted to bring down the abortion rate, they'd let the free market do its invisible hand thing and let women sell their babies.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 19, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God:

I think you have my anecdote reversed -- which should have been apparent, given the context of all my other abortion remarks.

The woman in question (and several women on that thread chimed in to agree) didn't think about the aborted fetus at all. The trauma of giving a child up for adoption, OTOH, was an endless source of anguish and soul-searching.

But I agree generally that anecdotes should never be used to base social policy alone.

I just thought it was a telling illustration of my opinion, and the opinion, apparently, of several women who could relate to that situation.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

"So now when they have an unwanted pregnancy they think, "hmmm,, nine months, my career, a lifetime of responsibility plus weight gain versus abort while its still an embryo!"

Sound like damn valid reasons to me and ones that men would have no problem justifying.

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

PTate:

I would never ever judge a woman who found herself in that position.

You wouldn't know if it was "very very careless" unless you knew the circumstances. Sometimes contraceptives just fail. Condoms have an 11% failure rate, last I checked ...

As for selling one's babies ... well, I'd also think there would be an intense emotional bond factor in there as well ... but then again, I'm not a woman so I really can't comment on that aspect of it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ask the woman who gave her unwanted child to Joel Steinberg/Vincent if she should have had an abortion instead.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: I think you have my anecdote reversed

In fact, I did.

Mea culpa again today.

And it makes sense.

She actually got to see the child she gave up for adoption - she actually had a living, breathing face in her memory to focus on, an actual living being whose welfare was still at issue.

Thanks for the insight.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

You know, sometimes you really do say some truly off-the-wall shit.

Can't you disagree without vile ad-homs like that?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I have my OWN morals, which don't include bringing MY children into a world where they won't be adequately cared for and/or wanted

Then try con-tra-cep-tion. You know what that is don't you? If people practised that simple procedure we wouldn't even need to be having this debate. But some people are just plain lazy and mean.

I once went to a home that cares for children who were born to mothers who abuse alcohol and drugs. I was heart wrenching. The deformities and suffering these children endure. Yet the woman who runs the place told me that some of these mothers continue to have child after child (the ones that they don't miscarry). There's no excuse for that. By the way I am not anti-abortion.

Posted by: John on May 19, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Would you sell one of your babies? I'm sure there are men (and women) who would. And then there are some of us wouldn't give them away, either.

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I have my OWN morals, which don't include bringing MY children into a world where they won't be adequately cared for and/or wanted

Then try con-tra-cep-tion. You know what that is don't you? If people practised that simple procedure we wouldn't even need to be having this debate. But some people are just plain lazy and mean.

I once went to a home that cares for children who were born to mothers who abuse alcohol and drugs. I was heart wrenching. The deformities and suffering these children endure. Yet the woman who runs the place told me that some of these mothers continue to have child after child (the ones that they don't miscarry). There's no excuse for that. By the way I am not anti-abortion.

Posted by: John on May 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

In a perfect world contraception works all the time, every time.

I guess in a not-so-perfect-world women who have unintended pregnancies are "just plain lazy and mean."

LOL

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

big annie:

Well, I've never provoked either a child, a miscarriage or an abortion -- so I consider myself lucky (I'm unmarried).

No, I don't think I could ever give a child of mine up for adoption, let alone sell it.

I compose music. I wouldn't even dream of selling one of my own tunes.

I have a rather large ramrod up my butt about the evils of commercialism.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

When I am accused of being a member of the party of death, my response will be vile. Sorry.

My response to Joel Steinberg beating that little girl to death is to accuse those who would enable Squire Steinberg of having similar motives.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Thought as much.

I'm just amazed at the people who are so quick to judge....especially men, who will never, ever be pregnant and have no clue as to what it means to be pregnant and give birth. I doubt many of them could handle it.

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK


Bob:

Thank-you for your thoughtful reply.

>A personal identity is formed by an interaction between a human life and the world.

This is as arbitrary and as "religious" definition as any other of the serious definitions of personhood.

I almost believe the same thing based on my faith.

A personal identity is formed by an interaction between a
human life and God.

Look, I think for anyone to propose that they have scientifically determined idea about when personhood begins is just showing their ignorance.

The whole debate takes place on the basis of some kind of world view assumption. Having said that, I think it is very wrong for people of one opinion to silence the debate by getting five powerful people to decide the issue for everyone, based on a decision which from what I hear does not really pass good legal muster.

It is not an easy issue - but it is something we as a caring society are forced to decide. If we did not think that morals and how they effect the law were important, the issue would be trivial. I think America has many people that care about their society, so the debate should continue.

As to your other point on outside of the womb pregnancy. I just do not think that it is a wise decision to separate the process of pregnancy from the mother. It is not because I wish to subjugate or control women; it is because I don't think it is wise to relegate our children to "professional pregnancy" or "professional care".

I believe in the traditional family, not because I read some study about how kids are "well-adjusted" if they have a traditional nuclear family, but because I think that the natural struggles that are necessary to raise children - is what gives the opportunity to create true love and care. I think to be a sustainable society, we need to have a lot of people who are willing to inconvenience themselves to support the weak. No where is that more evident than the sacrifices which must be made to produce and successfully raise a loving, compassionate human being.

I think the more "mechanized" the whole issue of child-bearing/raising becomes - the closer we come to a society which in the name of convenience and freedom of the individual - is capable of great and horrific holocausts.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: "As for selling one's babies ... well, I'd also think there would be an intense emotional bond factor in there as well ... but then again, I'm not a woman so I really can't comment on that aspect of it."

Bob, think Swift, badly done.

I'm so tired of the abortion debate and Party of Death crap. No one ever says anything new. It's politics at its worst. Sometimes I try to propose different "solutions" like the free-market in babies approach. 'Course, then you get into the racial thing because the market favors the anglo child.

Why, 23 years after Roe v Wade, are we still discussing this?? Why has the government been highjacked by people for whom this is the ONLY issue?

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 19, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Why, 23 years after Roe v Wade, are we still discussing this??

Because it makes sense to keep discussing a bad decision until its corrected. Isn't that obvious?

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"I think the more "mechanized" the whole issue of child-bearing/raising becomes - the closer we come to a society which in the name of convenience and freedom of the individual - is capable of great and horrific holocausts."

Abortion didn't start in 1973. Women have always had them and will continue having them until the end of time. Abortion is part of being a woman and having the responsibility of being the givers of life.

To have a child or not to is a private and personal decision. No law or definition of when life begins will change that.


Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

big annie:

I know I couldn't handle it. I can barely sit through a tooth-cleaning :(

As a man, I've always felt it was morally essential to take my cues on this issue from women. I *support* women on choice, and ardently. But I'm really not entitled to an opinion at the deepest level of the issue and I recognize that.

In fact, if I began noticing a vast change of opinion among women -- if they started becoming "pro-life" (I hate that term) and speaking about the inviolate nature of the fetus and all of that ... I'd have no choice but to re-think my opinion about it.

But most women -- knowing the consequences all too well -- tend to be pro-choice. Even women who'd never have an abortion themselves.

Heh, that gives you an idea of my social milieu, doesn't it :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Develop artificial uteruses that can be implanted in men and have women's unwanted embryos transferred to them.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

John: Having said that, I think it is very wrong for people of one opinion to silence the debate by getting five powerful people to decide the issue for everyone, based on a decision which from what I hear does not really pass good legal muster.

Five people didn't decide the issue for everyone.

Those who believe life begins at conception are free to not have an abortion.

No one is forced to agree with abortion or forced to have one.

This is why I have little respect for pro-lifers and others who criticize Roe (which may be defective, but not in the ways most observers proclaim).

They continually misrepresent Roe as something which it is not.

Roe didn't legalize murder, even if that phrase made any sort of logical sense to begin with.

Roe didn't decide when life begins.

Roe didn't decide the fate of pregnancies for every woman in the United States - no woman is required to have an abortion; no woman is required to not have an abortion, so what was "decided for everyone?" Nothing.

Roe prevents the states and the federal government from interfering with everyone's choice.

Thus, Roe decided nothing for anyone, but left everyone free to choose, the exact opposite of what you proclaim Roe did.

Try actually reading Roe and thinking about what it does, instead of parroting the claims of anti-Roe bloviators.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

John: Because it makes sense to keep discussing a bad decision until its corrected.

If you don't understand the decision, and clearly you do not, then your discussion of it is meaningless drivel.

And your opinion that it was a bad decision doesn't make it so, especially since you clearly don't understand what was decided.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Here, maybe I can put it more simply:

FIVE PEOPLE DIDN'T TELL ROE TO GO GET AN ABORTION.

FIVE PEOPLE DIDN'T SAY A FETUS IS NOT A PERSON.

FIVE PEOPLE TOLD THE STATE THAT THEY COULDN'T MAKE A DECISION FOR ROE.

Why not ask the question this way: why should a few people in a state legislature make the decision for everybody that a fetus is a person?

Funny you don't ask that question.

Funny you think 30-40 legislators making a decision for millions of American women is better than 5 judges who made no decision for anybody, but instead lets each of those millions of American women make their own decision.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I can't help it, John, your dishonesty oir ignorance about what Roe did and about what it means just infuriates the hell out of me!

The same holds true for all the other pathetically ignorant or utterly dishonest anti-Roe crusaders.

Either understand the decision and argue with intellectual honesty about it's legal basis and legal consequences or SHUT THE HELL UP!

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen said: Look, I think for anyone to propose that they have scientifically determined idea about when personhood begins is just showing their ignorance.

I disagree. This is a legal and ethical issue, not a religious one. The laws of the land need to apply fairly to people of all faiths. The rationale for a law should be grounded in science and ethics, not in religion.

Having said that, there is no rational reason to believe fetus without at least a certain level of nervous system development can experience consciensness, thoughts, memory, etc. A fetus without these capabilities is simply not a "being".

Ethically speaking, if killing a cow or a pig for meat is acceptable, then how can it be ethically unacceptable to destroy a fetus which has not yet achieved the same level of consciensness as a cow or a pig?

Posted by: Will on May 19, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I didn't mean couldn't handle it because of the pain.

Being a mother is the hardest job there is. 24/7 and it never ends.

I meant that I don't think many men could make the commitment to being a mother: watching their bodies change, giving up their careers, being totally dependent upon another person for support, the drudgery of diapers, 3am feedings, lack of sleep and personal time, giving up golf, time with their buddies, etc. to totally devote their lives to a demanding infant, then a toddler, rebellious teenager....

That's women's work and tough work it is. If men went through this you'd see an abortion clinic on every corner. You'd also see major changes in childcare, healthcare and many other socially family-friendly issues. But then, probably not, because men would no longer be in charge of the world and making policy--they'd would be too damn busy and tired at the end of the day.

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Thus, Roe decided nothing for anyone, but left everyone free to choose, the exact opposite of what you proclaim Roe did.

This is a stupid statement. What Roe did was make it impossible for a sovereign state do decide by will of the majority, that they would like to make abortion illegal. Taking away rights just does not mean individual rights. When the federal government steps in and does not allow a legislature to pass the will of the people it has stomped on collective rights of the people.

Please revise your statement to make it intellectually honest.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

FIVE PEOPLE TOLD THE STATE THAT THEY COULDN'T MAKE A DECISION FOR ROE.

Yes, you agree with me. Five people ( actually I think it was six, but I'm not sure ) took away the rights of people in a state to declare something illegal. This is making a decision for everyone.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Was interracial marriage decided on a state-by-state basis?

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

The rationale for a law should be grounded in science and ethics, not in religion.

Huh? How is religion not part of ethics?

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

big annie:

Marriage is a tricky situation because currently every state has an agreement to recognize the legitamacy of marriages performed in another state.

Having said that, having many friends who have great interracial marriages, I am certainly glad that decision was made.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

John:

Your statement was that Roe decided something for everybody, not for "the majority".

So, now you are just lying about what you yourself wrote.

Nothing intellectually honest about that.

Moreover, the sovereign state is not "everybody" even assuming it is even the "will of the majority" on every occasion when the legislature acts.

But go ahead and try to divert attention from your dishonesty or ignorance about Roe by pretending your wrote something other than what you did.

It just helps prove my point.

Roe-haters will lie through their teeth to try to convince others of the righteousness of their cause.

. . . collective rights of the people.

No such thing.

States' rights and individual rights - no collective rights.

That's just a made-up term that conservatives use in place of states' rights to try to give it a different spin, as if such rights reflect the will of each and every individual or even the majority of individuals.

What a hoot.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying.

So if Alabama wants to ban interracial marriages and not recognize the marriage of a mixed couple from New York that would be the state's right?

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

John: How is religion not part of ethics?

So, the legal profession constitutes a religion?

And the medical profession too?

Or are you saying that neither of these professions has ethical guidelines that have nothing to do with religion?

LOL.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

What Roe did was make it impossible for a sovereign state do decide by will of the majority, that they would like to make abortion illegal.

Wrong, John the Rapist. What R v. W did was make it impossible for the state to use police powers to coerce women from making their own individual reproductive choices. In the moment, that meant not making women give birth to unwanted embryos.

If the majority wanted the state to use police powers to coerce women into having abortions, R v. W would prevent that, too. China needs an R v. W.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Then try con-tra-cep-tion. You know what that is don't you? If people practised that simple procedure we wouldn't even need to be having this debate. But some people are just plain lazy and mean.--John

Besides being condescending, John, your post displays a lack of thought. Yes, contraception is an excellent way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies...BUT try telling that to the health insurance company that pays for Viagra but not for "the pill". Tell it to the damn pharmacist who "has moral and religious objection" to filling contraceptive presriptions. Above all, tell it to the suits in the Government who want to push abstinence-only sex education. The same loudmouths who are anti-choice would seek, at the same time, to deny women their best chance to avoid having to make that choice in the first place. It's just not as simple as you are making it sound.

Posted by: brainchild on May 19, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

John: Five people ( actually I think it was six, but I'm not sure ) took away the rights of people in a state to declare something illegal.

No, they took away the right of the legislature to make decisions for each citizen, you dolt.

At most, they took away the so-called "right of the majority", but they didn't take away the right of every individual to make a decision, which is what you claimed in stating they took away "everybody's" decision.

The majority making a decision for everybody is not everybody making a decision.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why not ask the question this way: why should a few people in a state legislature make the decision for everybody that a fetus is a person?

Because the way the founding fathers originally thought of the Constitution is that items should be decided by the smallest entity necessary.

Most moral decisions were considered the right of community standards and sovereign states.

Think of it another way. Why should I as a citizen of Los Angeles participate via my vote for President - and his nomination of a very few supreme court justices - in dictating to the people of Kentucky what they should do about abortion.

BTW - Please look at what I actually say before spouting off about what an ignoramus you think I am. Don't assume when I am talking about "rights" I am just talking about individual rights. Intelligent debate, which we occaisionally have on this board - can only be fostered if we actually read the comments of someone before deciding they are totally ignorant.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Then try con-tra-cep-tion. You know what that is don't you? If people practised that simple procedure we wouldn't even need to be having this debate. But some people are just plain lazy and mean.--John"

Maybe the lazy and mean bitches who are raped can kindly ask the men to wear condoms.

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

In any event, it was the Constitution that took those so-called rights of the majority away, not judges, just as the Constitution takes away the right of the majority to prohibit particular religions or prohibit free speech or deny the vote to blacks.

It is interesting, however, that you are willing to let a small minority of citizens, a group of legislators, take medical and personal decisions out of the hands of every individual and make that decision themselves.

Considering that it only takes 51% of a legislative body to make a decision on abortion and that 51% doesn't necessarily represent the majority viewpoint of the citizens of a state, your claim that states making decisions for everybody reflects or implements a collective right is laughable.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

At most, they took away the so-called "right of the majority", but they didn't take away the right of every individual to make a decision, which is what you claimed in stating they took away "everybody's" decision.

Look, this is pretty simple. Before Roe, an individual had the right to by participation in voting, elect to his state legislature people who would decide for the state the law for that state on abortion. After Roe, that right was taken away. Why can't you understand this as an infringement of rights?

You may think it is good decision to take away these rights - just don't present Roe as something which did not make a decision for everyone. It certianly did decide the way abortion was going to be legally viewed for everyone.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

R v. W prevents the majority using state police powers to make John Hansen have an abortion.

R v. W prevents the majority using state police powers to make John Hansen NOT have an abortion.

R v. W allows John Hansen to make whatever reproductive choices s/he, as an individual, wants to make without interference from the state or interference from intrusive righteous authoritarians, of whom I have a very low opinion.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

So, the legal profession constitutes a religion?

Come on now, don't descend to stupid logical fallacies. Just because there is an overlap between ethics and religion, does not mean that everything that tries to practice ethics is a religion ( if any one knows the latin for this associative fallacy - please supply it )

I just meant that for many people, the source of their ethics is their religion. To say that "...a decision should be made by science and ethics, not by religion..." is therefore absurd.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

So, what's the difference between Griswold and Roe?

Should access to contraceptives be decided by state legislatures?

Would you be breaking the law by traveling through Kentucky with a condom in your suitcase? Or would you be commiting a crime only if you use it?

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

So if Alabama wants to ban interracial marriages and not recognize the marriage of a mixed couple from New York that would be the state's right?

Except this would fly in the face of the 14th amenmant - which does make it a Constitutional issue. Just as if there was a pro-choice or pro-life amendmant actually passed - it would not be a Constitutional issue.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"I just meant that for many people, the source of their ethics is their religion."

I'll agree with that. What happens when MY religion isn't YOUR religion?

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'll agree with that. What happens when MY religion isn't YOUR religion?

The same thing that will happen when MY idea of good ethics is not YOUR idea of good ethics?

We will decide what we think is best by the democratic principles of our great country.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen does not respond to the assertion that R v. W protects women from having the majority dictate they must have an abortion, just as it protects women from having the majority dictate they must NOT have an abortion.

If the majority decided to make abortion mandatory, I doubt very much John Hansen would accept that as law, and I would agree with him.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

> Thank-you for your thoughtful reply.

De nada. I aim to please. You aim, too, please :)

> "A personal identity is formed by an
> interaction between a human life and the world."

> This is as arbitrary and as "religious" definition as
> any other of the serious definitions of personhood.

Of course it is. It's a shameless, flat-out ontological kludge.
I just formulated it in those words when I wrote that message.

But it satisfies my sense of ethics. Persons don't
exist in some ideal sphere removed from the world.
Persons and the world define each other. Think gestalt.

> I almost believe the same thing based on my faith.

It's a solid template or it wouldn't satisfy my ethical sense.

> A personal identity is formed by an interaction
> between a human life and God.

Well, I'm not a dogmatic atheist, but I
don't believe in God -- so there you go.

> Look, I think for anyone to propose that they
> have scientifically determined idea about when
> personhood begins is just showing their ignorance.

Personhood is a neither a scientific nor a religious definition.
It's a legal definition, perhaps with philosophical overtones.

"Human life" has been endlessly wrangled over religiously
and scientifically, and I believe it's entirely a
continuum and the moment of "where it begins" undefinable.

Personhood, OTOH, has the signal advantage of being definable.

> The whole debate takes place on the basis
> of some kind of world view assumption.

Absolutely. Bear in mind we have no established religion in America.

> Having said that, I think it is very wrong for people of
> one opinion to silence the debate by getting five powerful
> people to decide the issue for everyone, based on a decision
> which from what I hear does not really pass good legal muster.

Advocate for God did a good job on this point. I'll just add that
I support the idea of judicial review. Do you believe that we have
an inalienable right of privacy, btw? If you do, you can thank your
lucky penumbras for it -- because Griswold established that doctrine,
and even your staunch conservative friend Mr. Roberts is behind it.

> It is not an easy issue - but it is something
> we as a caring society are forced to decide.

I don't think a "caring society" has much to do with it. We're
an abysmally *un*caring society in too many ways for this not
to positively reek of hypocrisy. I don't put much stock in the
abstract notion of "care" for another woman's fetus. I wouldn't
call it care at all, truthfully -- as mothers understand the word.

> If we did not think that morals and how they effect
> the law were important, the issue would be trivial.

You have to acknowledge that there are other emotions at work here,
whether or not you personally profess to feel them. There's also
control. There's the notion that sex is inherently immoral, and
that women should bear the burden for sin. Or if you don't like to
believe that sex is immoral per se, there's a kind of conservation of
pleasure, whereby great enjoyment is not allowed to occur without the
chance of great suffering. Some of this is plain old mysogyny and the
double standard. Men suffer no worldly slings for spilling their seed.

> I think America has many people that care about
> their society, so the debate should continue.

Well, I agree -- if you define the term "care" loosely. Many people
have strong ideas about the best way the country should be run. But
I don't call abstract fretting over other people's morality a species
of caring. You want to get the people to do the right thing, but
moral opprobrium is just another, older form of social engineering.

I'd rather apply social engineering rationally and non-punitively.

I'm much more interested in getting results than casting blame.

> As to your other point on outside of the womb pregnancy.
> I just do not think that it is a wise decision to separate
> the process of pregnancy from the mother. It is not because
> I wish to subjugate or control women; it is because I
> don't think it is wise to relegate our children to
> "professional pregnancy" or "professional care".

Well good; I wasn't precisely looking forward to the age of
FrankenPregnancies myself; only making a point about your idea
that a child is somehow a wholly autonomous creature -- as if
it was, I dunno, a homonculus grown in an alembic or something.

Before birth a child is part of its mother. To deny this is
to deny, rather insidiously, the essential role of its mother in
creating it, and the role she plays in nurturing and nourishing it.

To me, abortion comes down to a clash of autonomies. A fetus does
have a unique human identity, and by at least the third trimester
is capable of feeling pain. But I think its lack of personhood
makes a clash with its mother a foregone conclusion. *She* is
the vessel. *She* makes the sacrifice in energy, time and health.

She has the right to offer herself up to this process -- or not.

Killing the fetus becomes a greater moral issue as it develops,
I'll certainly grant you; nobody I know supports "on demand"
abortions in the third trimester. But the difference between
its moral value as a life and its mother's life is profound.

And I can clearly understand the perfectly moral women I
know making this decision without feeling like murderers.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Should access to contraceptives be decided by state legislatures?

Yes, I think it should. However, I don't think it would be a wise decision for a state legislature to make a draconian law against access to contraceptives though.

Plus, I think, beyond the access issue, I think trying to rule on the "possession:" issue would run up against Constitutional issues.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

John Hansen does not respond....

No, John Hansen does not respond with reason to people who attack him with unreasonable ad hominem attacks if you must know.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hiding behind ad hominems so you do not have to respond to logic. Well done.

I will not use the majority to enforce my beliefs on you, but when you use the majority to enforce your beliefs on me, I am going to have a low opinion of you and will communicate it.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

big annie:

I totally agree with you.

If men not only suffered the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth -- but if there were forced to perform the arduous and thankless tasks of being the primary caregivers of children, then they would no longer be ... men.

They'd be women.

And it's clear by this how the inequality of the sexes arose.

To the extent that we can mitigate this through proper understanding and advancing technology and culture is the extent that the human race progresses.

And that's why I'm an ardent feminist.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

You can communicate this in a much more effective manner and you're quite intelligent and well-spoken enough to know this.

Arguments are not gratuitous slams -- and I don't GIVE A FUCK about the point you're trying to make.

Capice?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

John: Please look at what I actually say . . .

I read your comment.

This is what you said:

. . . by getting five powerful people to decide the issue for everyone. . .

Not decide the issue for the majority, not decide the issue for the states, not decide the issue against the will of the majority, not decide the issue against the will of the states, but decide the issue for everyone is what you wrote.

Don't blame me if you were inarticulate about what you meant.

They didn't decide the issue for everyone.

If you want to argue states' rights then argue it; quit pretending that the Supreme Court made a decision for everyone.

Quit arguing that the Supreme Court decided for everyone that the fetus is not a person or that everyone must have an abortion.

Nobody had a choice taken away from them.

A legislature or a state is not a somebody and neither is the majority of citizens of a state, even if a legislative decison reflected the will of that majority - they are groups of somebodys, they are not everybody, they are not somebody.

They may have made a decision for the majority; they may have made it for the states'; but they didn't make it for "everyone".

The majority is not "everyone".

A state is not "everyone."

Because the way the founding fathers originally thought of the Constitution is that items should be decided by the smallest entity necessary.

In your opinion.

Most moral decisions were considered the right of community standards and sovereign states.

Again, in your opinion.

Why should I as a citizen of Los Angeles participate via my vote for President - and his nomination of a very few supreme court justices - in dictating to the people of Kentucky what they should do about abortion.

Why should you do so vis a vis freedom of speech or religion or any of the other Constitutional protections granted to individuals, including the right to privacy.

The "people of Kentucky" have no rights.

The "State of Kentucky" does.

These are not equivalent concepts.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Killing the fetus becomes a greater moral issue as it develops, I'll certainly grant you; nobody I know supports "on demand" abortions in the third trimester. But the difference between its moral value as a life and its mother's life is profound.

Yes, I agree the difference between the moral value of the life of the mother and the life of the fetus is very profound.

I don't think you will run into many people who think that emergency termination of pregnancy when the life of the mother is endangered is not the right thing to do.

But what about the moral difference between an inconvenience to the mother and the life of the fetus.

You are not suggesting that most pregnancies are terminated because there is an actual threat to the life of the mother are you?

I think the fact that, as prevailing attitudes on abortion seem to show, we do not value the life of the fetus above inconveniences to the mother ( which BTW she ( in most cases) voluntarily committed herself to the possibility of when she decided to have sex ) shows us to be a less rational and caring society, not a more caring one.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

If it i inherently immoral to abort a fetus, how can it be moral to then torture or imprison it, poison it or to allow it to starve after it's born.

The 'party of death' monicker may apply to pro-abortion/euthenasia adherents, but equally must apply to pro-war/capital punishment supporters as well.

If accepting abortion or medically assisted suicide is a 'slippery slope' it is clearly no less precarious, or immoral, than support of capital punishment, preemptive violence, political assassination, torture, unlawful imprisonment or war.

And let me add one further Abortion opinion:
Anyone who demands an end to abortion MUST in all concience take responsibility for the well being of these children. It is cruel and immoral to suggest that it is moral to force children upon people who are mentally, emotionally, economically or otherwise unable or unwilling to raise them. If the abortion is to be banned, which I for one wouldn't oppose, those who desire such abolition must shoulder the burden of raising these 'unwanted' children in healthy nurturing environments, by either adopting them themselves or paying higher taxes to fund the state to do so.
And anyone who believes that any abortion is immoral violence against children must also stand against any attempt to cut school funding, child-welfare programs, and stand up for universal child health care, environmental protection.
Clearly they should, if they have any sense, support universal international human and worker rights, international law/courts, and the creation of an international force to monitor and inforce these values free from partisan nationalist intervention.

Too many anti-abortion activist seem to want only to punish the sensual adventures and sexual intimacies of others(whom they have deemed immoral) by forcing them to raise children they don't want or can't support, which inevitably only really hurts the very childern they claim to be crusading for.

Posted by: Munky on May 19, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

AFG:

I think I am beginning to understand your objections. but you are totally misconstruing my point.

What I meant by "decide the issue for everyone" is I think pretty clear.

The issue: "Should abortion be illegal"

The decision;: "It will remain legal".

The people who must now accept this as the final decision: "everyone".

Notice, I did not say, that
1. if the five people had not acted - I would then get to personally make the decision .
2. if the five people had not acted - their decision would necessarily effect my rights.
etc.

Five people made a decision, that I must honor if I am a citizen of the U.S. It does not matter if I had much control over the decision before they acted, they are the ones who made the decision that I must respect.

This takes away my participation - no matter how small - in the way the decision is made i.e. "They made the decision for everyone"

Why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?


Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

John: We will decide what we think is best by the democratic principles of our great country.

The rule by majority doesn't apply to constitutional rights.

The majority doesn't get to use their power to interfere with those rights.

That's also a principle of our democracy.

The Supreme Court is authorized by the Constitution to determine what are constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court determined that the right to privacy is a constitutional right.

The Supreme Court is authorized by the Constitution to determine the scope of constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court determined that the right of the individual to decide the issue of abortion is within the scope of the right to privacy and something which cannot be negated by the majority.

You may think it is good decision to take away these rights - just don't present Roe as something which did not make a decision for everyone. It certianly did decide the way abortion was going to be legally viewed for everyone.

If you are going to define "deciding" in that manner and "everyone" in that manner, then every Supreme Court opinion makes a decision for everyone, and since the Supreme Court is authorized to render such decisions, your point that it's actions were somehow wrongful is inane, since all Supreme Court decisions that didn't affirm the majority would be wrongful, even if that majority were breaching the rights of individuals guaranteed by the Constitution.

And you are still being dishonest about what you wrote:

Look, I think for anyone to propose that they have scientifically determined idea about when personhood begins is just showing their ignorance.

The whole debate takes place on the basis of some kind of world view assumption. Having said that, I think it is very wrong for people of one opinion to silence the debate by getting five powerful people to decide the issue for everyone, based on a decision which from what I hear does not really pass good legal muster.

The context of your remarks clearly indicate that you were arguing that the Supreme Court decided for everyone what constitutes a person or personhood.

The Supreme Court ruling that state legislatures can't decide the question of personhood prior to birth, but that individual citizens can decide personhood prior to birth, is not deciding for everyone, unless you grossly contort the meanings of "everyone" and "deciding".

Roe gave everybody (all American citizens) the right to decide personhood before birth - in no way can that be characterized as deciding this issue for everybody, particularly since Roe didn't declare the fetus to be either a person or not a person.

Simply saying that the legislature of a state has no right to decide for everyone is not deciding for everyone - state legislatures are not "everyone".

You claim they are because they represent everyone, not necessarily the majority opinion as that is not what "represent" means in such a context, but even if that were true they are not everyone.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

First you have to convince women that it IS immoral to abort a fetus. I'm not convinced and neither is my daughter, sister, or any nieces that I am aware of.

So even if abortion becomes illegal, access to safe and clean abortion will become a class issue. The women in my family will travel to another state or country if necessary to terminate our pregnancies. We're not well-to-do but we do live pretty well and can easily handle an unexpected financial crisis.

So basically, the women who will be having forced babies will be the women who are least able to provide for them. Many of these will be women of color. The taxpayers will pick up the tab for them and their children, I suppose. And forget adoption, there are currently about 500,000 children waiting to be adopted, and they haven't been adopted because they are either less than perfect or their skin shade is a little too dark. Know what I mean?

So Joe, what do you suggest we do about women like me? Ones who will defy the law and go ahead and have abortions anyway?

Do you support pregnancy checks at state lines? Airports?

How will we be punished? After all we are 'murdering our babies."

Posted by: big annie on May 19, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Too many anti-abortion activist seem to want only to punish the sensual adventures and sexual intimacies of others(whom they have deemed immoral) by forcing them to raise children they don't want or can't support, which inevitably only really hurts the very childern they claim to be crusading for.

This is a good way of thinking about it if you want to demonize your opponents and have generally juvenile discussions.

OTOH - maybe the anti-abortion crowd thinks we might just be better off as a society if we didn't allow ourselves to dissassociate caring enough about a person in order to have sex with them - with the decision to have and raise a child with them.

I think people who argue for the great benefits of casual attitudes about sex do not seriously look at the world today.
For example - The black community is in a crisis mainly because black men don't think they have any obligation to stay and help raise the children that they create by sexual activity.

But this probably does not bother rich people who can afford to have professional day care help them raise their children.

The point I am trying to make is that abandonment of morals doesn't hurt the rich. They can always use money to cover up for the problems caused by their immorality.

The abandonment of morality hurts the poor and disenfranchised.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The context of your remarks clearly indicate that you were arguing that the Supreme Court decided for everyone what constitutes a person or personhood.

Sorry, I jumped ahead without framing it in a different context.

In no way did I mean that the "...Supreme Court decided for everyone what constitutes a person or personhood...", if this is your interpretation from the context, I can understand a little more about your objections.

I meant the they had decided for everyone whether abortion would be legal or not.

By the powers of the Constitution they are allowed to decide this. ( Please don't waste space by stating the obvious ).

I just think they decided wrongly. I think they decided wrongly based on pressure from politics, not on a good reading of the Constitution.

Of course, I recognize that other people have differing opinions on this, but the point is that the SCOTUS can not take a court case and say for absurd example, that everyone now has to wear orange. Their rulings have to make sense according to what the Constitution actually says. I do not think Roe does.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

John: Why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?

All of their decisions are such decisions.

So, why is Roe any different or any more special?

Five justices (or more) made the decision that Bush can hold certain people indefinitely without trial.

They took that decision away from juries, the states, the people, individuals, the persons being held uncharged and untried, Congress, and of course the courts.

No one can challenge it.

Before their decision, juries and judges got to decide the guilt of persons taken into custody; they had a right to decide and those taken into custody had a right to have them decide.

Rights have been taken away.

The decision is binding on everyone.

Where is your outrage?


================

The decision;: "It will remain legal".

No - the decision in Roe was actually it will no longer be illegal, at least in some circumstancs (another myth perpetrated by Roe-haters is that the court ruled that states could impose NO restrictions on abortion).

Somehow I don't think you know Roe very well if you think abortion was legal in the state at issue at the time it was decided which calls into question your credibility in discussing it.

That was the whole point.

Abortion was illegal.

Roe challenged the law making abortion illegal.

The decision then could not have been to have abortion remain legal.

And you wonder why your statements get misconstrued and your points get confused by others.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

I have some rather extraordinarily strenuous objections to the assumptions in your post.

First, the notion of "inconvenience" is pretty extraordinary. If a woman brings a child to term, unless she's emotionally capable of giving it up for adoption, she's then committed to raising that child for 18 years.

That's a rather high bar for "inconvenience," wouldn't you say?

What this rests on, of course, is a rather grotesquely ugly straw man -- or more properly straw woman. It's the idea that there are moral imbeciles out there who continually have sex and get pregnant, perfectly well aware of not being capable of properly raising children, and they do it agains and again and again. The impoverished woman who's had serial abortions, one after another after anouther ...

As legendary as Reagan's nonexistent vodka-drinking, purple Continental-driving Welfare Queen.

While there are doubtless a few of these woman around, as a percentage of all women who've had abortions, the number's infinitesimal, of course. But *ohh* are they easy people for the moralists to hate on ...

The other mindbending assumption in your post is the sense that I get from anti-abortion posters (virtually all men) that they've just ... never ... had ... sex ... lives. Oh, you're married, John, I realizes that, and I wish you and yours much happiness.

But how can you be so clueless about the way sex happens in the real world? Haven't you ever been, like, passionately in love? Do you have an idea of how easy it is to screw up the birth control in the heat of the moment? Are you aware of the failure rate (11%) of condoms? Are you aware that some women will do anything to please their men and acutally ask them not to wear condoms -- for their sake? Yeah, totally juvenile and irresponsible -- but it happens. Being in love can make you do strange things. Or the guy who, you know, "promises" to pull out, and ... whoopsie. That's happened to me, John. Not proud of it -- but I've played my share of Reproductive Russian Roulette. And fortunetely, I'm a lucky man ... or heh, maybe just sterile.

But yet there are people who would force a couple like this to "accept the consequences and take responsibility for themselves" by bearing a child they're not capable of raising, and who it would shred their young hearts to give up for adoption ...

I find the reasoning of *that* kind of finger-wagging sickeningly immoral, to tell you the truth.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

John:

I do appreciate your reasonableness, far more than mine has been admittedly, in discussing this and trying to clarify what you were attempting to say.

It certainly makes more sense now.

I do think you suffer from some misconceptions about what Roe does or does not do and are overly deferential to what would be characterized as states' rights.

The founders quite clearly IMO emphasized states' rights merely as they related to the interaction with the federal government, not their interaction with individual citizens, while individual rights were with respect to all levels of government, since those rights were inalienable and natural, not granted by the Constitution or by the state or through a process of accomodation between individual and government.

The interplay between states' rights and federal rights on the other hand arose from no sense that states' had some sort of inalienable natural rights, but as a necessary accomodation to restrict and inhibit federal power.

The Supreme Court is not simply an effectuator of federal governmental authority, but must go beyond its role as a part of the federal government in order to protect individual liberties and the balance of power between the states and the federal government.

Roe is not the imposition of federal governmental authority on the states' in violation of the accomodation and balance of federal-state powers, but a recognition of fundamental individual rights that trump all governmental entities and must.

I see no evidence that the founders thought of states' rights as reflecting some collective right of the people whereby the collective has fundamental inalienable rights such as the right to declare what is legal and illegal, particularly to the point that such collective declarations can trump individual liberties.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God and John Hansen:

Really enjoying this discussion of the Constitution, inalienable rights and the states and federal government's role in protecting them.

I think we're dealing with two vastly different constitutional doctrines here.

Personally, I'm with AfG on this.

I'm damn glad they read a privacy right out of the Ninth Amendment and codified it in precedent.

I don't think there's many people -- liberal or conservative, pro- or anti-abortion, who would try to put that particular horse back in the barn at this point.

Stare decisis and all ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 19, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I apologize to John Hansen for calling him a rapist because he wants the state to coerce women into having babies they do not want. I apologize to Vincent for accusing him of being Joel Steinberg and wanting women who do not desire children bring their pregancies to term and put their babies up for adoption.

Monika K. Hellwig said, "When I listen, one of the things I hear is that thinking people, sympathetic people who tend to be on the pro-choice side don't see our culture as a culture of death, they see it as a culture of rape ... that powerless women are forced into unwanted pregnancies, inside marriage and outside marriage, in the family in incestuous relationships, which are much more common than most of us hear, and outside the family in a world where there is a great deal of violence."

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

AFG:

The founders quite clearly IMO emphasized states' rights merely as they related to the interaction with the federal government, not their interaction with individual citizens

Please clarify this - I have to admit I don't understand what you mean by it.

What individual laws ( i.e. laws about what a person can or can not legally do... ) does a State do that is not "interaction with individual citizens"?

Examples: smoking policy, gambling policy, drinking age, prostitution legal or illegal, voting age ....

I think that the federal government now and then recognized these as areas, decided by states. The delegation of powers was not based on simply the interaction of the state and federal government.

Amenment X "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

This is a very broad ceding of powers to the states and delegates to the states both laws which regulate public and private matters.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

But how can you be so clueless about the way sex happens in the real world?

I am not clueless as to the way sex happens in the real world. Nowadays it happens much too often and for the wrong reasons. I think people should have sex when they are ready for the consequences of sex.

I don't just mean pregnancy and children, I mean the emotional bond it creates between the people. I just happen to think the whole world would be better off if noone had sex outside of marriage. That is - sex should be engaged in only because of a lasting commitment to each other. This highest form of intimacy between two people ought not to be practiced in a thoughtless, casual, recreational manner. It is not because I am clueless about sex that I think this, it is because I respect the power that sex has in people's lives.

Think about it. The desire for sexual intimacy can be a great factor in inspiring a man to give up his selfish, bachelor existence and go to the trouble of caring for a family. By making the sacrifices to care for a family the man gains great growth of his soul - his desire for sex can help him make this difficult step.

If it is available for men to just go out and have sex without giving a commitment - men will probably revert to barbarians who promise everything - keep no promises and use as many women as they want for their own pleasure.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

John: Please clarify this . . .

I don't have time to go into a long rebuttal of the rest of your post, but to clarify this one point:

The founders were concerned about the rights of the states versus the rights of the federal government, not the rights of the states versus the rights of the people.

Thus, they paid scant attention, none really, to saying which reserved rights belonged to the people and which to the states, while much more clearly defining what the states couldn't do and what the federal government could or couldn't do.

I don't believe the founders ever had any sense when writing in the Constitution about states' rights that they were defining when states could trump individual liberties, that is, whre the line between individual rights and state authority would be drawn.

Just as contradictory powers in Congress and the Executive must be harmonized by the courts (both have powers related to the armed forces and to foreign policy), so must the court harmonize contradictions between the rights of individuals and undescribed powers of the states.

It is hardly illegitimate that the court "decided for everyone" that rights of everyone as individuals to determine whether to have an abortion or not trumps the rights of everyone as a collective to so determine.

This is why I find your "they decided for eveyone" notion inane.

If one looks at all the individuals in a state as a collection of individuals, they each still get to decide, no power of decision has been taken from them.

It is only the decisions of the majority of the collection of individuals that has been curtailed.

It is senseless to characterize this as "deciding for everybody", since one merely has to look at everybody as a group of individuals who each still possess decisionmaking power in order to characterize the situation as "deciding for nobody".

Since a group of individuals considered as a single entity is a state, the decision was taken from the state, the collection of individuals acting as one, not from everybody, which is usually a characterization reserved for referring to the set of all individuals acting independently.

If there is no distinction between everybody and the state, which is what you seem to imply with your use of "everybody", then there is no distinction between individual rights and states' rights, which clearly is not true.

In any event, I would stay away from saying that the Supreme Court decided for everyone - at the very least you are not being clear and at worst your use of the term "everyone" is non-standard.

-----------------------

The Boy Scouts of America were prohibited from discriminating against blacks.

Does this mean that individual scouts couldn't discriminate?

No.

Did the court make a decision for everybody, for every scout?

No.

Only for the group of scouts acting as a collective.

Each individual scout could still decide to refuse to talk to, work with, play with, listen to, or otherwise interact with blacks.

But if the scouts did something as a group, they had to let blacks be present and participate.

The state was prohibited from discriminating against women who wanted an abortion.

Was any individual in the state bound by that decision?

No.

No individual had to have an abortion, assist in an abortion, agree with an abortion.

I repeat: the state is not everybody - it is a collective, it is a separate single entity; while "everyone" is a set of many separate entities.

Posted by: Advocate for God on May 19, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

What this rests on, of course, is a rather grotesquely ugly straw man -- or more properly straw woman. It's the idea that there are moral imbeciles out there who continually have sex and get pregnant, perfectly well aware of not being capable of properly raising children, and they do it agains and again and again.

Well, the SF Chronicle's Mother's Day issue had an article about pregnant women in prison, and one of the women quoted was a "single mother of five" who was in prison and eight months pregnant. Maybe she's a "straw woman," but I suspect she'd prefer to be thought a real woman.

Posted by: waterfowl on May 19, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

OK -

Now we get to the gist of the problem we are having ---

The Boy Scouts of America were prohibited from discriminating against blacks.

Does this mean that individual scouts couldn't discriminate?

No.

Did the court make a decision for everybody, for every scout?

No.

Only for the group of scouts acting as a collective.

You seem to be stuck on the "what am I going to do in my life as a result of this decision"?

I am discussing a more abstract notion of "how are things going to be decided in society"?

When I talk about the SCOTUS making a decision for everyone - I am thinking about the process of deciding the issue.

You can see that this context fits into what I was saying in the original post.

I was lamenting the lack of real debate allowed in the process of deciding whether abortion is illegal because the SCOTUS had "made the decision for everybody". In other words -there was a decision to be made- the normal process of public debate and election of state legislative officials should have taken care of the decision. Instead the SCOTUS stepped in and made this decision.

I did not mean they were making a decision that everyone had to approve of abortion. I certainly do not feel that the SCOTUS has said to me that I must agree with their positions.

You are right. According to this line of thinking, every time the SCOTUS steps in and short circuits the public debate and legislative solutions and asserts its Constitutional authority to enforce a certain decision - it is making the decision for everybody. Sometimes they do this in a manner which I think is in line with the Constitution. Sometimes I think they do not.

Once they have spoken - real debate about the issue becomes moot because they have made the decision.

or to put it another way:

If one looks at all the individuals in a state as a collection of individuals, they each still get to decide, no power of decision has been taken from them.

It is only the decisions of the majority of the collection of individuals that has been curtailed.

This "decisions of the majority" which has been curtailed is exactly what I meant when I said that the SCOTUS had made the decision for everybody. All other methods of deciding this issue had been cut-off. This is the awesome power the SCOTUS has. They must wield it with proper attention to what the Constitution says. Not according to how they feel about the issue.

Is this clear now? I don't think it was an odd way of using the term everybody or of using the words "made the decision". I think you initially took my words as something I had not intended to say, and could not get away from it.

Posted by: John Hansen on May 19, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I forget to apologize to the Reverend Fred Phelps.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot...

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

The truth hurts.

Posted by: Clinton era on May 19, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Just because the mother is in a situation where the baby can't be taken care of to the fullest is no reason to deny the baby...a chance to live, under the care of people who can.

Vincent is really Joel Steinberg. He wants women to be forced into gving birth to unwanted children so they can be adopted. What Vincent/Joel really wants is to be given unwanted babies so he can beat them to death over several years time. Typical Republican.

Posted by: Hostile on May 19, 2006 at 1:01 PM

I despise being compared to that monster Joel Steinberg, who can no more represent people who adopt than Adolf Hitler can represent Austrians or Germans. "Typical Republican"? Were you to check my posts here over the past few months, I'm anything but a Republican, especially on economic issues. Yes, I may be against abortion (though I've often stated my support for access to contraception and sex education), but does that automatically prohibit me from being a "progressive," or does that inherently make me a right-wing punk?

Oh, and I was just about ready to accept your apology later in the thread...until you admitted you had forgotten to apologize to the Rev. Fred Phelps, like Steinberg another despicable nutcase. It's back to the ad hominem diet, I see.

Posted by: Vincent on May 20, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

waterfowl:

Well, I've never read the Chron, but knowing its location, I'd surely doubt that it was using that story of pregnancies in prison to make a broad argument about sexual morality in America. Sure there are criminals. Sure there are moral imbeciles of both sexes (there's one sitting in the Oval Office). The question is -- can you extrapolate from them, the way Reagan tried to with his "Welfare Queen?"

Otherwise, reporters have every right to tell her story, and if not used in that way, she's not a "straw woman" at all.

John Hansen:

Well sir, I don't simply disagree with you; I think you are flatly, objectively, unequivocally and historically wrong -- and you haven't a prayer of demonstrating otherwise. There's a law that cuts across all cultures in all times: While sex is indeed an extremely powerful force, to the extent that any culture attempts to bottle up that force is the extent that society is not merely hypocritical, but immoral and inhumane as well. The Sexual Revolution no doubt went a little too far in Western countries -- but on the balance it's an artifact of human progress as significant as the Catholic Church repudiating the Spanish Inquisition. A gasoline fire might be horrible, but a gasoline *explosion* is surely worse ...

First, let's dispense with the instant objections. Yes, the Roman empire had no sexual code to speak of and the Roman empire became supremely decadent and treated woman (and slaves) atrociously. I'm not arguing that the *lack* of sexual morality produces some kind of utopia. But there are primitive cultures which don't have anything the West might recognize as a sexual code, but their relations between the sexes (and to sex) is unproblematic. It's only when these cultures interact with the West through colonialism that you get moral disasters like, e.g. the sex trade in Southeast Asia.

The 19th century, with its sharp drop in infant mortality and rise of an industrial middle class, first saw marrying for love (on the model of medieval Courtly Love) and the glorification of childhood put forth as cultural ideals. But the 19th century was no Golden Age of Family Values -- quite the reverse. Divorce was extremely uncommon, but so was honoring marriage vows. Child prostitution in Victorian England was rampant. Rape -- especially when a woman was of a lower social class than the man -- was barely considered a crime. Women with strong and visible sexual responses (skin flushing) were considered pathological and sent to physicians (Joyce Carol Oates has a wonderful riff on this). And yet, in pulpits everywhere did you hear "traditional" sexual morality extolled -- even as sex itself was hardly spoken of in any kind of realisitic way.

Likewise, I think we'd all agree that Muslim cultures have a rather severe problem with women. But Muslims, of course, don't see it this way: The veil and burkha, the extreme segregation of sexes, the legal inequality of women (a woman's testimony in a court of law is worth four times less than a man's according to most flavors of shariah), even in North Africa the practice of clitoridectomy, are viewed instead as extolling the virtues of modesty and chastity, and protecting women from their own emotionally volatile natures, and the predatory natures of men.

The result? So-called honor killings, a high rate of female suicide, extreme physical abuse of women considered "immoral," abusive marriages where a woman often has no recourse -- all the horror stories we've heard since 9/11 forced we in the West to acquaint ourselves with Muslim societies. The point here is that this is hardly a function of "immorality" or amorality. Rather it's the function of a moral code so overwrought, extreme and unrealistic that it tends to produce the opposite result of its intentions.

This is why in the postwar period, with the international recognition of the Kantian notion of universal human rights, it *always* includes an especial focus on women's rights, sexual equality and -- necessarily extrapolating from that -- reproductive autonomy. You can't extol human rights while holding to a sexually repressive moral code, because a sexually repressive moral code *inevitably* treats women unequally by focusing overmuch on their reproductive roles.

So what are we left with? Sex is a powerful human force, doubtless, and one with the potential to produce both the greatest happiness and the deepest misery. But it's best to try to see it for precisely what it is rather than weave a cult of mystery around it. Whether it's the Catholic Church's "theology of the body" or Muslim shariah, to the extent that we try to sanctify sex through the doctrines woven by celibate and ancient men, is the extent to which we assure its practice becomes degraded in the real world. It's infinitely marvelous -- it's infinitely heartbreaking, too.

But in the final analysis it's only a biological process. The less guilt and repression we gratuitously apply to it, the more rationally we can all deal with its consequences.

[Alfred Kinsey mode / OFF]

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on May 20, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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