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January 23, 2013 1:57 PM Lunch Buffet

By Ed Kilgore

There are painters doing some repair work at my place, so I may have to move around my blogging station a time or two. Here are today’s lunch-time news items:

* At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams argues that pro-choice Americans should concede “life begins at conception” but then fight back against presumption that fetal life trumps all interests.

* In other unapologetic pro-choice advocacy news, Fox freaks over feisty new ad from Center for Reproductive Rights.

* Politico’s Allen/Martin/VandeHei boost horse race narrative with report on Joe Biden’s “intoxication” with the idea of a 2016 presidential run.

* Rand Paul tells HRC he’d have fired her over Benghazi had he been president. You can only imagine what she was thinking while he said that.

* Nate Silver tries to estimate Obama’s likely place in history of presidents.

And in non-political news:

* Prince mysteriously releases another new song. However you want to do it is fine with me.

Back after I take a break from paint fumes.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Anonymous on January 23, 2013 2:34 PM:

    She must have felt a vast temptation to say "Everyone here knows that You would have fired me long before Benghazi if you were president, so why pretend that Benghazi really has anything to do with it at all"

  • hells littlest angel on January 23, 2013 2:39 PM:

    News Flash for the scientifically impaired: Life doesn't begin, at least not as an everyday occurrence. The sperm and ova cells which fuse to form a zygote are alive. But sperm cells and egg cells are not human life, in any meaningful sense of the term "human life," nor are the blobs of cells that make up a zygote, nor the embryo it develops into.

    Life doesn't begin.

  • hells littlest angel on January 23, 2013 2:46 PM:

    And if I were the Sergeant at Arms of the US Senate, I'd make Rand Paul pass a drug and alcohol test before allowing him on the floor.

  • Barbara on January 23, 2013 2:50 PM:

    This attitude of "we all know that life really does begin at conception" simply infuriates me.

    "Life" began a few billion years ago. The concept to be reckoned with is when independent personhood -- with inalienable rights -- can be said to exist such that it might be reasonable to constrain a woman from exercising autonomy over her own person.

    "Viability" of a pregnancy without apparent (above and beyond the normal potential) threat to health is clearly a reasonable, and yes, actually rather conservative benchmark.

  • DRF on January 23, 2013 2:56 PM:

    Wow. Speaking as a pro-choice person, I believe that Mary Elizabeth Williams' article is the single worst argument for any progressive policy position I've seen in living memory. If the pro-choice movement were to adopt her suggestion of acknowledging that life begins at conception, the movement would disappear about as fast as the Whig Party did.

    What does she think is a more important principle or right here than the preservation of a human life (and an innocent one at that)? A woman's right to avoid inconvenience or to assert that she is the "boss"? Does Williams really think that this will be a winning rallying cry?

    And does Williams really believe that the anti-abortion movement's characterization of abortions as the taking of a human life is nothing but a "dirty trick"? She clearly is clueless about the "pro-life" movement. Most of these folks genuinely believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, that to do so is immoral and should be unlawful. There's no trick here, nor is there any logical fallacy in this point of view.

    I've never heard a persuasive argument for the legalization of abortion tht accepts the assertion that the fetus is a human life. Williams is, of course, entitled to her viewpoint, but I can't see this persuading any significant number of people.

    And, by the way, justifying taking an unborn infant's life (if that is what it is) by arguing that we justify capital punishment and death in warfare is just too silly to spend time arguing about.

  • max on January 23, 2013 3:07 PM:

    At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams argues that pro-choice Americans should concede “life begins at conception” but then fight back against presumption that fetal life trumps all interests.

    Total disagreement. Life starts sometime between conception (if it begins at all given assorted medical conditions that do not result in spontaneous abortion) and ejection from the uterine cannon. The legal definition involving a child being able to live on its own outside the womb is actually pretty good for these purposes, even if it has been used to bad ends.

    Rand Paul tells HRC he’d have fired her over Benghazi had he been president. You can only imagine what she was thinking while he said that.

    She should've responded that she would've fired him for his haircut. And her justification would've been better.

    Nate Silver tries to estimate Obama’s likely place in history of presidents.

    Good/above-average (and far better than Bush) but not great seems like a solid assessment.

    max
    ['Everyone can't be the Greatest.']

  • CharlieM on January 23, 2013 3:13 PM:

    Mary Elizabeth is indulging in teh stoopidz. Conflating two separate issues.
    It's not about what is life and when does it begin. The question is entirely Do women make their own health choices or do some old white self-entitled guys in state legislatures get the privilege. Either women are fully equal citizens and make their own choices (whatever they are) or else they are second class citizens with little more legal status than minor children and the rest of us (i.e. self-entitled males) have to make their choices for them.
    Why is it that in the 21st century we are still having this argument?

  • LAC on January 23, 2013 4:06 PM:

    Just when I have a slight twinge of regret about getting rid of my Salon.com subscription, something stupid comes out that reaffirms my decision.

    And Paultard II should be glad that Clinton was professional as always. That mofo was acting as if a laugh track was accompanying him during his blabbing. In charge? Of this country? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • Joe Friday on January 23, 2013 4:44 PM:

    "Rand Paul tells HRC he'd have fired her over Benghazi had he been president."

    Which just boosted her already high approval ratings with the American people even higher.

  • Mitch on January 23, 2013 5:18 PM:

    "Rand Paul tells HRC he'd have fired her over Benghazi had he been president."

    Hm. I wonder if he feels that all of his GOP buddies from the Bush administration should have been fired over that little thing that happened in September of '01 ... that they had plenty of warning about, and chose to ignore. Then, of course, there was that whole "smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud" thing and we found SOOO many weapons of mass destruction in Iraq didn't we? We were greeted with flowers and everything, weren't we. No failures of intelligence or the State Department happened at all during the Bush years, did they?

    Of course it's not like either of those two things are anywhere NEAR as bad as Benghazi, right?

    ... That would have been my response, in Clinton's shoes. I suppose that she is a far better person than I am. Because I could not resist throwing that in the Repug's smug little faces at the first opportunity.

  • mb on January 23, 2013 9:30 PM:

    Folks who hold to "life begins at conception" and "personhood begins at conception" need to explain how identical twins start out as one "person" and become two "persons."

  • jpeckjr on January 24, 2013 1:36 AM:

    Sen. Paul ended his paragraph about firing Sec. Clinton with a totally baffling question about Turkey: Is the US running weapons to Turkey through Libya? So baffling, the Secretary was trying not to burst out laughing as she said she had never heard that one before. Her eventual answer was she didn't know.

    The real answer is: "Turkey is a NATO ally, Senator. If they need weapons, we have channels for providing them through our NATO relationship. We hardly need a warehouse in Libya for assisting our Turkish friends."

    Listen, then, for questions about Turkey during Mr. Kerry's confirmation hearing. After all, Turkey is not a reliable friend to Israel, so, you know, shouldn't we be bombing them instead of secretly shipping them weapons from Libya?

  • smartalek on January 24, 2013 11:25 AM:

    mb, that was brilliant -- and I would never have thought of it, nor have I encountered it elsewhere. Thank you!
    W/r/t the Mary Elizabeth Williams (who she, now?) piece: haven't read it yet, but suspect I'll largely agree w/ DRF, above.
    One thing, though, about the whole discussion, that I don't see often enough:
    The question of "when 'life' begins" -- especially human life -- seems to me more a function of religious belief than of scientifically definable fact. As such, and per the 1st amendment, the state should have zero say in the matter, period, end of story.
    I've never understood why Roe v Wade was decided on the grounds it was ("penumbras" and whatnot), giving the anti-freedom, pro-gummint-enforced-childbearing forces a plausible-sounding constitutional hook upon which to hang their rejectionism.
    Had the decision been made on such a 1st-amendment basis, it might have seemed more constitutionally defensible to Jane and Joe Sixpak -- and who knows, maybe to lawyers and scholars, too.