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November 12, 2007

The Exciting Ron Paul Phenomenon
Posted by Patrick at 08:26 AM *

If you think “the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view,” that “the notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers,” that “the collectivist Left hates religion,” and that “the secularists [are waging] an ongoing war against religion…Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war,” gosh do I have a Presidential candidate for you! His name is Ron Paul.

The fact that, in the Republican debates, this guy comes off as the most reality-based of the bunch is mostly indicative of what a bunch of bug-eyed head cases they all are. It doesn’t mean Rep. Paul isn’t Upton Park, merely that he’s the one inmate who displays occasional moments of lucidity.

Dave Neiwert has more on Paul’s views, including lots and lots of fresh, piping-hot support for corporal punishment, banning abortion, preserving the Electoral College, and other freedom-y causes. It’s liberty-icious!

Comments on The Exciting Ron Paul Phenomenon:
#1 ::: Dom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:28 AM:

The strangest thing about Ron Paul and next year's election is that he's the only candidate whose supporters seem excited about his candidacy.

Everyone I've met who supports Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, etc. is either clearly into politics as a career, or resigned to voting for the one barely adequate candidate.


#2 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Yeah, I've been *wondering* why otherwise reasonable people have been putting Ron Paul links in their forum and email signatures. The whole 'he's a liberal republican' logic has been a head-scratcher to me ever since I learned his position on abortion.

(he claims that in his years as an OB-GYN, he never had a patient who needed an abortion for medical reasons, and that therefore there's no such thing. I'm not even sure where to start on that).

#3 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:35 AM:

This seems a typical pattern of American politics -- seize upon a single attribute of a candidate (e.g. Kinky Friedman is funny! Har, har!) and ignore their, you know, actual agenda. I suppose it's a combination of media laziness looking for synecdoche, and candidates intentionally hiding views they know the mainstream will abhor.

(Having said that, and not wanting to divert the conversation too much, but I believe that, slightly modified, the Electoral College is highly preferable to a national direct election. So I can't fault Paul for that.)

Thanks for doing the good work to point out the substance. I have to think that Paul doesn't stand any real chance, though, does he? Hard to imagine him breaking past the five candidates ahead of him.

#4 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:45 AM:

annalee flower horne @ 2

and that therefore there's no such thing. I'm not even sure where to start on that).

I'd start with the Hippocratic Oath That fact that Ron Paul is ignoring basic medical ethics first propounded more than 2,000 years ago makes him an ultra-conservative rather than a moderate.

#5 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:46 AM:

I can't get past misreading him as 'Ru Paul'.

#6 ::: Linda Lindsey ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Thank you for posting that last link. I asked about him on my LJ and all I got were comments along the lines of "he's horrible" with nothing to explain why.

#7 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:11 AM:

I'd start with the Hippocratic Oath

Which bit? "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy." Sounds like he's upholding it, not ignoring it.

#8 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:16 AM:
The whole 'he's a liberal republican' logic has been a head-scratcher to me ever since I learned his position on abortion.

Libertarian Republican. Completely different animal.

#9 ::: Brian Sniffen ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Please don't let Ron Paul and his supporters define the words liberty or freedom, or let him make those an embarassment to the rest of us.

#10 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Everyone I've talked to who supports Ron Paul is mesmerized by the white hot, phosphorescent glow of him being an Anti-War Republican. The glare from that shuts down their brains and they just seem not to notice that he's just as much an authoritarian as Giuliani, only serious about the religious nonsense. And he wants to return the Gold Standard. You'd think that right there would tip people off to the fact that the man should be outfitted for comfy pajamas and a Thorazine drip, not sizing up the Oval Office.

But when it comes to Republican candidates, he's the stopped clock that's right twice a day. Why people think this is a good thing rather than a sign of our screwed up political process and the warped values of the GOP still baffles me.

#11 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:51 AM:

I think a lot of people are fascinated by candidates who say outrageous things, since most candidates are utterly scripted. The McCain boomlet was fueled by that. In Paul's case I suspect there's a bit of "I have libertarian sympathies, and he says he's a libertarian" as well.

No question that a lot of Republicans agree with his views on church-state separation, which doesn't seem like a very libertarian position to me.

#12 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Ron Paul is Ross Perot without the bad haircut. Just like Ross, everyone wants to sleep with him, but no one will want to marry him.

#13 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:11 AM:

FWIW, I've never found myself crossing up Ron Paul and Ru Paul.

Instead, my mental circuitry usually supplies "Wrong Paul".

#14 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:15 AM:

But I'd totally vote for RuPaul!

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:37 AM:

I'm going to be seeing Ron Paul tomorrow evening. Any questions you want me to ask him?

#16 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:51 AM:

Jim:

ask him, when he dismantles the Department of Education, if he'll also reinstate child labor, as otherwise, what will we do with all those kids?

and a follow up:

When we're back on the Gold Standard and our economy collapses, will he regret all those outsourced American manufacturing jobs or will he just chalk up the crushing poverty to the caprices of the Invisible Hand?

#17 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:55 AM:

James #15: I'd love for him to explain his continuing close connections to racist organizations such as Stormfront and the Taft Club, and of course the Patriot movement. Not that I expect that to slow down his avid supporters much, but it might give folks who would otherwise plunge into that group some pause. (Add'l reference)

Thanks.

#18 ::: Kevin Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:55 AM:

James, sure:

1) Does he support Cheney being investigated in an impeachment inquiry?

2) Does he support retroactive telecom immunity for illegal wiretapping?

3) Does he support continued funding to Musharraf and why (either way)?

4) Who does he think represents the top 3 or 4 threats to the US and again, why?

#19 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 12:06 PM:

Ron Paul is so far outside of normal democratic and republic ideas it is difficult to believe that anyone on either side supports him. He also needs to read a little history...the pilgrims didn't celebrate Christmas...so if he is basing his ideas based on those early Americans he's wrong.

#20 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Ask him where shrimp appears in the Constitution as a power granted to the Federal government.

Most hard-core libertarians would read the list linked to above and mostly say "Good for him!" This one, however, is going to may the libertarians queasy.

#21 ::: Marty Busse ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Keith,

The Department of Education was created in 1979. I strongly doubt eliminating it will mean a return to child labor in this country, considering that child labor became (mostly) illegal in 1938 with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

#22 ::: Matt Jarpe ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Speaking of things you wish you knew the name for, is there a word for people who are actually libertarians? Because the big L Libertarians have done a great job of attaching the definition "wingnut you would never want to let near government office" to the word.

#23 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Interesting, this appears to be Ron Paul day on my friends list.

Here's an interesting (damning, from my POV) collection of his legislative history here.

His 2008 campaign web site looks mostly unobjectionable, but he gives off vibes of reactionary repressive wingnutism, so I'm not surprised there's all this stuff in his history.

#24 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Marty @21:

Oh, I know, but child labor suites the Libertarian/ Dikensian outlook of life as it is lived in Ron Paul's inner 19th century novel.

I'm sure part of his platform also involves that damn Carnegie and his steel monopoly, not to mention keeping an eye on those wily Germans, these new fangled horseless carriages and various and sundry legislation to control the popularity of gramophone recordings.

Though, by his interest in Letters of Marque and Reprisal, perhaps he's also concerned about pirates, so there's no telling how far back in time he's traveling. Were he to take residence in the White House, he might call for a Declaration of Independence from the British Empire or a meeting of the Algonquin Round Table.

#25 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:27 PM:

What happened to "East Ham?"

#26 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Everyone I've met who supports Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, etc. is either clearly into politics as a career, or resigned to voting for the one barely adequate candidate.

Dom at #1: I don't agree. I've met quite a few people in my area who are hopeful and even passionate about Obama. Of course, I live 10 miles or so northeast of the People's Republic of Berkeley. Folks there get passionate about trash collection.

#27 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:45 PM:

One of the stated reasons for going to war in Iraq was to "bring democracy and stability" to the region. (See here for a 2003 statement).

I don't want to argue (especially on this forum) as to whether or not this stated reason is valid or true. What I do want to point out is that this is a variant of "making the world safe for democracy" which was a liberal / Democratic Party policy from 1918 to at least 1963.

Ron Paul's opposition to the war is rooted in the idea that we shouldn't be interefering in the affairs of other countries unless they attack us, or at least attack "critical national interests." This was Republican Party policy from, well, 1918 to 2002. For example, Republicans argued against intervention in Bosnia, stating that Bosnia wasn't a critical interest.

So Ron's popularity in Republican circles is partially because he's one of the few people advocating "old school" principles.

It's ironic that what was an old school Republican principle is now becoming a new school Democratic one.

#28 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Keith:

Perhaps you could replace all these comments with a blanket "I don't like libertarianism," and be done? I really don't get how you link Ron Paul to authoritarianism, and the child labor comment would fit a Rush Limbaugh show.

I like Kevin's questions at #18. Another really good question to ask would involve global warming, as this is the sort of thing libertarianism doesn't handle well. Like:

"Assume that you've been convinced by the evidence that human-caused global warming by CO2 emissions is a real phenomenon, and that it's poised to cause the kind of problems that are predicted now by global warming activists. What would you do, as president, to address this?"

Another interesting question is what effect he thinks his proposed changes in foreign policy will have, short term. Even if you accept (I do) that a much less activist, interventionist foreign policy will be good in the long run, I worry about the instability we'd see short-term, as countries that are presently deterred from bad behavior by the threat of our intervention suddenly find themselves free to do what they like.

#29 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Paul must have reached Serious Contender status if Making Light is, well, making light of him.

#30 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Wow. That Orcinus post is really something. I'd been aware that Paul had some crazy opinions, but I hadn't realized just how deep the crazy went.

#31 ::: jmmcdermott ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 02:44 PM:

I think it's funny that secularists are somehow organized enough to wage an ongoing war against not just one religion, but every single religion out there.

Indifference isn't a battle plan. I've sat through a couple homilies about how society hates religion, and I still roll my eyes.

It's not a war, or hatred. It's 'indifference'. I reckon that's about the most dangerous thing faith can face.

Hm. "Culture has become completely indifferent to religion!" seems to be less of a rallying cry. Also, when people stop caring about religion in culture, it's usually because of the religion, not because of the culture.

I hope Ron Paul wins the republican nomination, if only because he's going to guarantee a win for the Democratic candidate, and thusly America.

#32 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 02:48 PM:
The Department of Education was created in 1979.

You are technically correct (the best kind of correct). However, what happened in 1979 wasn't the creation of a brand new department but a reorganization of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (which was created in 1953) into two departments, Health & Human Services, and Education.

#33 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 02:57 PM:

My libertarian friends are going apeshit over Ron Paul.

Of course, I've been disillusioned with libertarianism since 1980, when the movement rallied en masse behind the presidential candicacy of a brutal dictator who had gassed his own people.

#34 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 03:04 PM:

Although he seems a bit less likely to commit genocide than most of the other candidates, there are three critical strikes against Ron Paul:

1. He wants to murder NASA.

2. He wants to murder Medicare (which would result in my untimely death).

3. He is anti-choice (and not just in a finicky states rightsy sort of way).

Too bad we can't cherry pick issues from different candidates and smoosh them together into a utopian frankencandidate.

#35 ::: Marty Busse ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Sean,

Thanks for the correction.

I still don't see how eliminating the department will mean a return to child labor..even if it actually gets put into effect, since Congress would have to approve it. (Ronald Reagan swore to eliminate the Department of Education, and so did Newt Gingrich..and yet, it is still there. I think Paul is probably more sincere than either of those two, but I suspect most of his desires to get rid of government departments would not go too far in Congress.)

#36 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 03:11 PM:

jmmcdermott @31:

It's not a war, or hatred. It's 'indifference'. I reckon that's about the most dangerous thing faith can face.

Exactly! It's also very frustrating for the faithful's demands for Biblical righteousness and flowery prose to be met with a resounding shoulder shrug.

***

And albatross @28:

I don't like Libertarianism. I think it's silly, selfish, nearsighted, obtuse, quotidian and whole host of other adjectives. And seriously, if I can't make a Dickens joke here, then where can I?

To listen to Ron Paul speak is to realize he should be named Lord Harold Wattle and tutting about 19th century London, making merry hell for Nicholas Nickleby and obsessing about those damnable Chinamen and their opium.

#37 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Keith @ 24: I've seen some quite recent stories about piracy still taking place.

#38 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:33 PM:

The all-vegan, all-organic, darn-near-zero-waste fast food restaurant near my house (V. G. Burgers, yes, they're that cool) has been pushing Ron Paul's candidacy, which has me boggled. Maybe I'm just naive, but I thought that the very concept of "organic" as a meaningful term of labeling and communication between the industry and the consumer required too much government interference for a libertarian to support it. So why a small business that believes in organic practices with the fierce fires of a glowing Boulder idealism would support an anti-guvmint-reglation libertarian, I don't know. Maybe Ron Paul is more nuanced than that, or maybe he's fooled people into thinking he is.

But. Not quite the point. Point is, this place has flyers for him on their counters. I read one of 'em. Got a list of all these Great Things he'll work for. One of those things he'll work work, according to these flyers, is revoking "birthright citizenship" for the children of illegal immigrants.

Uncle Jim, you wanna ask him how he plans to do that, given that "born on U.S. soil = citizen" is spelled out right there in the Constitution? That's how Mr. Ron Paul became a citizen, I'm willing to bet. Does he really think he has enough support to amend that away? Will he replace "natural born" citizenship with "born to parents who are citizens" or will every baby need to be naturalized? And how much harder is he going to make the naturalization process, and for whom?

Does he mean to make citizenship easier to revoke, too?

See, having followed my friend's attempt to become naturalized after being a 19 year permanent visitor, and watched the FBI, Homeland Security, and INS give him the runaround, attempt to intimidate him in person, and what reasons they gave for denying his application (this is still in appeals)... I've come to some disturbing conclusions about what some people in our government would prefer to see in a U.S. Citizen. What they cite as reason to deny a naturalization application may point to reasons they might wish they could revoke citizenship from the rest of us. So I get nervous when I see anyone proposing changes to normal, everyday citizenship channels.

#39 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:33 PM:

Dom, #1: "The strangest thing about Ron Paul and next year's election is that he's the only candidate whose supporters seem excited about his candidacy."

It's only the third-party candidates who can take real stands; the geographic coalition system that wins elections in the USA makes most major party candidates desperately try to be all things to all men & women.

Still supporting the IRV, here.

#40 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Seth Breidbart @37: I've seen some quite recent stories about piracy still taking place.

Sure, off the coast of Somalia, which is a tragedy. But until the Jolly Roger flies once more over Port Royal, not a real issue at stake in US political horse races.

#41 ::: rhys ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:51 PM:

I can't help it - you people who are so anti-child labor are ridiculous. It's easy to sit up in your towers and judge. How many of you have ever been to an impoverished nation? I have, and if it weren't for child labor, those children would starve. But I guess then they wouldn't have to work.

You talk about children earning their keep, like it's a bad thing. You people just sound elitist. You're the type of people who advocate a minimum wage. Well if a minimum wage is so beneficial, why don't we just make it a million dollars per year? Then we could all be millionaries, and there would be no poverty.

Of course, it is ridiculous because all it would really do is create unemployment for anyone not worth a million dollars per year. But that is exactly what happens now. Minimum wage creates unemployment for the people why can least afford it. Child labor laws are no different.

I am voting for Ron Paul because he is willing to do the one thing that no other politician is willing to do. Decrease the power of the Federal Government and the Executive Branch in particular. Every other candidate with a halfway descent shot at nomination wants to grow the Federal Government, and grow the power of the executive branch. I vote for Paul because I am anti-monopoly, and no monopoly represents the threat today like the territorial monopoly on juisdiction and taxation held by our un-Constitutional Federal Government.

#42 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Matt Jarpe @ #22: Speaking of things you wish you knew the name for, is there a word for people who are actually libertarians? Because the big L Libertarians have done a great job of attaching the definition "wingnut you would never want to let near government office" to the word.

Matt, all the libertarians I've ever met who were really libertarian (as opposed to phonies like Ron Paul who picks and chooses among government interventions before deciding which ones he does not like) are actually one or another flavor of anarchist. However, that's a word that got poisoned by its own set of dangerous wingnuts long and long ago.

Also: The true libertarians I've met, you couldn't get them near "government office" with a stick and a team of mules.

#43 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:03 PM:

rhys @ 41
Well, if you want twelve year old kids to work in machine shops or coal mines, with no federal or state safety standards, and do it for starvation wages, which is what 'no minimum wage' really means, then you will deserve what your government gives you: absolutely zero. You'll be paying up front for police, fire, and ambulance services, all the paved roads will be charging tolls, and you won't be able to access websites that don't meet with the approval of the government watchdogs, the phone companies, or the ISP censors.

Oh yeah: you won't get to complain when the guy next door sets up a plating company or a pig farm. No zoning laws or building codes, either.

Welcome to the word of 'unfettered capitalism'! No entry without admission, and the ticket booth wants an arm and a leg - yours, for preference.

#44 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Uh oh, "you people" alert in Aisle 41! Duck, we have incoming!

#45 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:03 PM:

rhys @ 41 -

Good luck with that. Let me know when this Libertarian Utopia is achieved. I'm sure the shade of Ayn Rand will be floating over it in beneficent blessing.

#46 ::: bob mcmanus ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:04 PM:

22 Matt Jarpe

Speaking of things you wish you knew the name for, is there a word for people who are actually libertarians?

Well, "council communism" or "anarcho-syndicalism" work for me, but you might not like those much either.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:11 PM:

The secularists are wagging an ongoing war against religion? No wonder America has gone top the dogs.
("It's 'waging', not 'wagging'")
Nevermind.

#48 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Rhys @41: I am voting for Ron Paul because he is willing to do the one thing that no other politician is willing to do. Decrease the power of the Federal Government and the Executive Branch in particular.

Because if history has taught us anything, it's that, once in power, rulers always want to give large portions of it away out of the generous spirit of Freedom and Democracy that swells their heart near to bursting.

(This explains my authoritarian statement made up thread, in case albtross is still lurking about. GOP presidential candidates are a humble lot, not at all attracted to power for it's own sake.)

#49 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Adrian Smith @ 7

I was thinking of "Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief" in the sense of not applying your own political or moral agenda to the patient.

#50 ::: bob mcmanus ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Left Libertarianism

But I am just trolling from the opposite wing, and this has nothing to do with Ron Paul. Or actual American politics, unless you are interested in the radically Green. My apologies.

#51 ::: Matthew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:21 PM:

I can see the appeal, though; as a no-chance candidate, Paul can say what he actually thinks without any danger. Thus he sounds much more interesting than the wooly-blanket platitudes all the serious candidates are mouthing, out of fear of giving offense.

It's also a comment as to the complete lack of appeal of the major Republican candidates that Paul sounds appealing by default.

#52 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Daniel #42:

It matters whether you think "libertarian" means a consistent set of positions, or a direction. I'd like to see the country move in more libertarian directions in most areas, but don't buy the whole package, even though it's pleasantly intellectually consistent.

Nicole #38:

I don't know Ron Paul's ideas about that, but the general libertarian idea is that you ought to be able to buy/sell whatever you want. The only part I think a libertarian would object to is having a government label called "organic" rather than a private organization providing the label and protecting it with trademark laws. (And I think there are private organizations that do this kind of labeling.)


#53 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:39 PM:

Wow, another drive-by bozo.

Long as he keeps driving by, that's fine.

#54 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:40 PM:

you won't get to complain when the guy next door sets up a plating company or a pig farm

Either that, or everybody will be filing nuisance lawsuits alleging that some noisy or smelly activity next door is interfering with their quiet enjoyment of their own property. Also...

* Air travel will become hideously expensive, because the airlines will be sued for civil tresspass if they don't buy up the rights-of-way along their flight paths.

* Few people will dare to become officers of a company that might ever incur significant debts or tort liabilities, because without the state-created legal fiction of "the corporate veil of accountability", company directors could have to pay out of their own pockets to pay the company's obligations.

* Heirs of American slaves will sue the heirs of the masters of those slaves, demanding that damages for violence done to the slaves be repaid out of the estates of the slavemasters. With interest.

Good times!

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:42 PM:

albatross @ 52

The problem with having 'organic' defined and monitored by a private group is that they'll be under a lot of pressure to label stuff as organic that isn't. (If you've ever heard of the 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval', it's basically for sale.) We have federal regulation because of previous abuse, so it isn't like it can't happen again.

#56 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Having said that, and not wanting to divert the conversation too much, but I believe that, slightly modified, the Electoral College is highly preferable to a national direct election. So I can't fault Paul for that.

Wasn't the purpose of that something like "to protect the minority from the depredations of the majority", where "the minority" turns out upon cursory inspection to mean "the rich"?

#57 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Matthew #51: I think this is a huge part of Ron Paul's appeal. There is simply no way to get elected president from either party when you're opposed to an interventionist foreign policy, and won't offer federal dollars to hundreds of locally important causes, help out politically important industries, etc. And nobody who gets to the White House seems to think much of limits on executive power, just as nobody who gets control over any part of the federal government seems to really believe in federalism, other than as an excuse to not do stuff they don't want to do.

So he can't win, but at least he can talk about directions that a lot of us wish the country would move in, like having a smaller, less powerful government, a much less interventionist foreign policy, much lower taxes, etc. It's sort of a dream, before we go back to listening to the candidates argue over which one will more efficiently run a surveillance state, invade another ten countries, take a third of your income to mostly give it away to people with effective lobbyists and generous campaign donations, etc.

Keith #48:

Fair enough, maybe he'd break those promises if he somehow got into office. His voting record in Congress is some indication that he might not, but who knows? But the alternatives all pretty openly plan to have more powerful, larger, more intrusive government. It's not like there's anyone running who's more likely to decrease the size and power of government, or bring about an actual lowering of the tax burden.

#58 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 06:06 PM:

PJ #55:

But that's also common in governmental regulation, at all levels. For example, there have been some pretty big stories of the FDA making or delaying approval decisions based on effective lobbying by drug companies, and even activists. "Regulatory capture" is a real phenomenon.

There's no way to get grading/labeling/testing authorities that are inherently above question. All you can do is make sure that you pay attention to how useful their ratings are, and what happens with them.

Is a federal agency more or less likely to be captured? I don't know. It probably depends on specific details of the situation. If the people being regulated are politically powerful, or are in a position to offer cushy jobs to the regulators when they retire, federal regulators seem to be reasonably susceptible to influence. If the private rating organization has a financial interest somehow in keeping the rated organizations happy (like if they get the reviewed products for free, but only if they keep giving out good reviews), then they're likely to be captured, too.

Probably the best situation is where the rating organization has a financial incentive to get the ratings right. The car insurance industry does a set of safety ratings on cars that's probably pretty good, since they have a big financial incentive to get it right.

#59 ::: Matt Jarpe ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Daniel @ #42

Anarchism certainly implies an endpoint rather than a process. I think the world is gradually evolving toward anarchism but I don't think anyone is ready for the complete lack of government. So I can't call myself an anarchist unless I'm singing along to the Sex Pistols.

Bob @ #46

I'll take anarcho-syndicalism. Talk about smaller government...

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 06:28 PM:

#58

Agencies used not to be captured so easily, although there have always been problems (some agencies have been problems for years). One of the reasons for capture, I think, is that people who are inside an industry are seen as knowing what the problems are and thus appropriate to be regulators. That tends to ignore their tendency to want to avoid antagonizing all their former associates by actually making them follow the rules.

How we get around this, I don't know. I think there's some point in the middle that would work, but it's unstable so that regulatory agencies end up either being captured anyway, or being so out of touch with the industries being regulated that they might as well not exist.

#61 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 06:39 PM:

PJ Evans - 55:
The problem with having 'organic' defined and monitored by a private group is that they'll be under a lot of pressure to label stuff as organic that isn't. (If you've ever heard of the 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval', it's basically for sale.) We have federal regulation because of previous abuse, so it isn't like it can't happen again.

Perhaps (although on a brief glance, I would want some substantiation of this claim, beyond some possibly hinky advertising deals in the magazine). On the other hand, the Underwriter's Laboratories, and Consumer Reports both have pretty damn good reputations. The fact that Good Housekeeping may have chosen to sell its reputation does not mean all such organizations will.

And it can certainly be said that organizations like the FTC, FCC, FAA, FDA, OSHA, etc. can, have, and will be subjected to influences from major players in their respective industries - the evidence of this is all around us, is not tied to "Republicans Bad, Democrats Good" in origin, and has gone on for far longer than this one administration. Holding up some kind of "Government oversight is the panacea to all ills" placard is just as misleading as "The Invisible Hand will solve all ills."

#62 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Governmental organizations can be as imperfect as private ones, but they are, at least in theory, accountable to the electorate.

#63 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Steve C. - 62
Governmental organizations can be as imperfect as private ones, but they are, at least in theory, accountable to the electorate.

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is." - the great Yogi.

A fundamental difference, however, is that you can choose not to do business - in theory - with a corporation or private entity.

One cannot tell the FDA to go stick it in their ear, you've read their reports on the safety of (insert medication here), and determined that the efficacy of the drug on your symptoms is worth the risk to your long-term survival.

I could go out and buy non-UL labeled electronics, or the like - I choose not to, because they are, in fact, safer. I cannot go out and buy (experimental drug X, for symptom Y) legally in the US, because the FDA has not certified it.

#64 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:11 PM:

Scott @ 63 -

One can't dictate to the FDA, but one can vote for the member of Congress that helps form policy for federal agencies.

Like I said, not perfect. And there are certainly areas where private sector is better. I just don't buy the automatic "government = bad" equation I see so often.

#65 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Okay, I would probably vote for Ron Paul in a federal election against Clinton, Obama and maybe John Edwards. I'd do that knowing that a Paul presidency would involve another 4-8 years of foot-dragging on global warming, health care reform, and even, god help me, a fifth "pro-life" Supreme Court justice. I'd do it because I think Paul is the only candidate with any imaginable shot in either party (it's an obvious long shot in the Republican party, but not completely impossible in the way Kucinich or Gravel are impossible) who is at all likely to try and roll back the security state (composed of interventionist foreign policy, domestic surveillance, government secrecy, and the war on some drugs), as opposed to merely slowing its growth. I don't expect to have to bite this bullet, as I fully expect the Republicans to nominate a wanna-be tyrant like Giuliani, but if it came down to it, I would.

(Part of the reason for this is that he obviously wouldn't be able to go to the gold standard, or abolish social security or medicare, or any number of other things he'd like to do. But he would be able to set military policy immediately, and affect at least federal law enforcement as well.)

#66 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Even with the occasional gaffe, screw up and bribe, the FDA does more good than harm. Unless you're prepared to argue that patented medicine was just a natural result of the Free Market and that, if left to their own devices, the manufacturers of Old Granddad's Snake Oil Liniment would have eventually stopped adding turpentine to the recipe, in favor of something that was more expensive and not poisonous, of their own volition.

#67 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:18 PM:

I think Tom just summed up Ron Paul's appeal: symbolic resistance!

Instead of the actual hard work of trying to get a decent human being elected to office.

#68 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:22 PM:

the general libertarian idea is that you ought to be able to buy/sell whatever you want.

Which is just another way to state that there is no such thing as "the general Welfare," aka "the common good." All hail Privatization!

#69 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Keith (#66): Maybe they could replace the turpentine with diethylene glycol. Another horrible example of the FDA interfering with business!

#70 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Is Paul::Conservatives as Nader::Liberals?

#71 ::: Jeri ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:03 PM:

I find it interesting that a 'libertarian' would be anti-choice, although I realize the actual big-L libertarians are split on the issue.

My definition of libertarian thought includes an extreme preference for the liberties and responsibilities of the individual, as opposed to government and institutional direction.

So, applying that framework, he's only a libertarian for male voters - but an especially nutty right wing conservative for his female constituents.

A little scary, a return to 19th century paternalism.

#72 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:31 PM:

rhys #41: You people just sound elitist. You're the type of people who advocate a minimum wage. Well if a minimum wage is so beneficial, why don't we just make it a million dollars per year? Then we could all be millionaries millionaires, and there would be no poverty.

That sounds good to me. I'd like to be a millionaire. Now, plz. By the way, you should be aware that the commentariat of Making Light is actually elite. If you keep it up instead of limiting yourself to a drive by, people here may compose sarcastic double dactyls or villanelles about you. heh.

Steve C. @45 re #41: Let me know when this Libertarian Utopia is achieved.

Such a utopia will only work if I'm in charge, ruling by decree, with the powers of Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence. I'm the only person on the planet who can be trusted with that kind of power. As a public service to humanity, I'm willing to volunteer for that.

#73 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Stefan Jones @70:

Is Paul::Conservatives as Nader::Liberals?

Nader has done real good for the country, what with the whole consumer safety and awareness crusading thing. Paul has... made us all laugh. Which is good but not quite in the same way.

#74 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Even just skimming this is depressing. What we really need is a pre-campaign poll that goes like this: Everyone puts their name in, and we all vote on the whole list. Up or down. If a large enough percentage can't find anyone worth voting for, then the whole lot is banned for running, their entire collective campaign coffers get donated to UNICEF or the Red Cross or something, and the whole process starts over again.

#75 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Jeri #71:

I think you're making the assumption that people on the other side of that issue believe the same things you do. If you believed that abortion was the same as infanticide, you would not consider it a womens' rights issue, or a parents' rights issue. It's only because you don't have that or some closely related view that you see this as a womens' right issue.

As far as I can tell, libertarians in general are split on this issue because the moral status of a fetus is pretty much independent of all the other beliefs underlying libertarianism. Also, abortion is a major defining issue for the Democratic / Republican split, so knowing which party someone prefers gives you a lot of information about what they think of abortion. Libertarians aren't defined so much by that split. (But I think Greens are overwhelmingly pro-choice, so maybe my model is all wet.)

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Earl Cooley @ 72... people here may compose sarcastic double dactyls or villanelles about you

So says the local chapter of the National Rhyming Association.

#77 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Stefan Jones #70: Is Paul::Conservatives as Nader::Liberals?

I think that's a valid comparison in the case of the scenario where Paul loses the Republican nomination and decides to keep running for President as an independent candidate and contributes to the loss of the election for the Republican candidate by bleeding away a critical number of conservative votes.

#78 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:17 PM:

Keith #67:

Supposing someone actually wanted to see a reversal of the trend toward a police state at home and an empire abroad, who would you recommend voting for and contributing to? The people who appeal to me at all on either side have major things I also dislike, and the mainstream candidates are pretty awful, as far as I can tell.

Now, Ron Paul has no chance I can see of winning. I'd love to see him win the Republican nomination, because I'd like to see the small-government wing of the Republican party gain some clout in the party.

But he won't, because the small-government position isn't, as far as I can tell, very popular among Americans. We're not having a police state or an empire imposed on us, we're asking for it. The torture and wiretapping scandals got a collective yawn from the people, which is why they didn't have much impact on the politics of the country. Our empire-building adventures are unpopular because they're failing through incompetence, not because many people see that they're wrong.

There's this kind of creepy progression here, right? If you vote for anyone but the candidate or two that have been anointed, you're wasting your time, on the fringes. If you vote for a third party, even when both major parties are running people you think will wreck the country, you're throwing away your vote. If you even try to get someone you like, who's not anointed by the party powers and the media, to be the nominee of one of the two big parties, it's symbolic resistance. Is there anything we're allowed to do to try to get our ideas heard, besides quietly voting for whichever of the four or five people the party and media elite have decided will be our choices, a year and more before the damned election?

I'm guessing most people sending money to Ron Paul know he's not going to win. Think of it as like taking the quack cancer cure, knowing it will almost certainly not help, because your oncologist has just told you that another round of chemo is just going to make your last months miserable.

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:31 PM:

albatross @ 78
The torture and wiretapping scandals got a collective yawn from the people, which is why they didn't have much impact on the politics of the country.

They didn't get nearly as much attention from the media as they should have. When Congresspeople and judges think that '24' is fact, or, worse, instructions, that lack of attention becomes much more of a problem.

Keith @ 73
Nader has done real good for the country, what with the whole consumer safety and awareness crusading thing.

The results are not that positive. Around here, Nader is a five-letter four-letter word.

#80 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:37 PM:

I think Tom@65 highlights some of the reason for Paul's appeal to parts of the Left as well as the Right. A number of people on both sides see a problem with the US federal government becoming an increasingly authoritarian, self-serving, belligerent entity. (We've said as much here in various threads.) And the major candidate that's speaking most directly to that issue is Paul.

What do you do when you've got a regime that you see as increasingly corrupt and out of control? Well, there are three basic choices:

(1) Ignore it / work around it
(2) Reform it
(3) Get rid of it / diminish its power

Option (1) is getting increasingly difficult (at least for the folks who don't just move abroad.) Option (2) would be the ideal, but the Democrats and the other significant Republican candidates haven't given us much hope for that thus far. (Democrats are now a majority in both houses, and we *still* see votes for funding the war indefinitely, turning a blind eye to torture, and granting retroactive immunity to illegal wiretapping? Doesn't give me much hope for rolling back the war on the Constitution with a change of administration.)

Which leaves option (3), which is basically what Ron Paul's campaign is about. (Well, that plus some weirdness about immigrants and shrimp and the like.) I'm not surprised that it would have an appeal to multiple segments of society, especially without someone making a convincing case that they're willing and able to make real, needed reforms (which would mean ceding power, not just redirecting it).

#81 ::: Jeri ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Albatross @72 - I'm sorry, I must not have communicated clearly.

I'm not suggesting that the libertarians of the world should be pro-abortion. Shoot, I can't tell my husband and children what to believe!

I am admiring the logical inconsistency of a political belief system that highly values privacy, self-determination and personal choice over government regulation --- then decides that it's going to go ahead and be pro-regulatory intrusion as it pertains to women who may be pregnant.

IMHO, that makes women third class citizens in the libertarian phylogeny - men, children, then women.

But I'm off topic. Ron Paul actually amuses me as the politician who's mostly against everything. He doesn't have a whole lot of 'for' planks in his platform.

#82 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:48 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom,

The Democratic candidate who seems most likely to roll back Bush's unitary executive theory is Chris Dodd. He's pushing a return of habeas corpus as one of his major issues (here are capsule summaries with links to his other ones).

#83 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Seth @ 37 - re piracy; yes. Here in the Caribbean (yes!) there are pirates of a sort -- the sort that vary drug running with a little piracy when they run across you out in the middle of the Caribbean, unfortunately. I've been told that you don't want to sail too far from land for that reason, unless you want a bunch of jerks with machine guns to rape your womenfolk before shooting you.

But of course, that is due to the War on Drugs, which has made it immensely profitable to be on those boats with those machine guns. If we'd just legalize the damn things, the drugs would be on nice, safe airplanes, get taxed, and those jerks with machine guns would be unemployed again, as God intended.

Would Ron Paul undo the War on Drugs? Seems like he might. Man -- get us out of the War on Drugs, out of the GWOT, out of the UN? Wait, I don't agree with that last one...

@54 - none of that seems to be logical consequences of libertarianism to me. YMMV...

PJ Evans @55 - you know that the FDA now allows the "organic" label to be applied to any food that includes ingredients which are not organic (not inorganic! just not organic!), but which would cost more if they were organic. Right? (Example: beef can be labelled as "organic" if the cows are fed conventional grain, because organic grain is more expensive. Or so I understand it.) Good thing the government is there to not do that, eh? (Of course, the fact that it's this administration is what makes that perversion possible. But still. We'd be better off with private certification, if that private certification were accompanied by an open process.)

Steve @64 - yeah, that'll help.

albatross @ 78 - re what America wants. I wish it weren't so, but you're 100% right.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Keith #40: When did Jamaica become part of the US?

#85 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:49 PM:

The funny thing, we had pretty much a libertarian society in this country about a century ago. But it was far from a paradise. And if we transported any of these free-market starry-eyed dreamers back to that time, they would be screaming to be brought back into the present.

I have a sneaking feeling that life always gets more complex, and not simpler. Pain in the ass, at times, no doubt. But RuPaul isn't going to fix it.

#86 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 10:50 PM:

rhys #41: Wanting everybody to have a minimum standard of living is elitist? Since when?

#87 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:01 PM:

If you think oddball minority party candidates never get elected, remember Minnesota had Jesse Ventura as governor for 4 years. And he did a better job than the current office holder. No major bridges fell down while Jesse was governor. Lest you think this is a non sequitor, Pawlenty, the darling of the Taxpayers League (which is actually very against paying taxes) vetoed the funds that might have fixed the bridge, or at least started the process.

I just looked at the Ricardson for President site, and was amazed how much his positions lined up with mine. Get us out of Iraq ASAP, check. Pro-GLBT rights, check. Pro-Choice, check, etc. His health care plan is rather vague, but so are most of them, lest they offend the Great Insurance Gods who would smite them.

But he is too far down in the polls for anyone to take him seriously. I really wonder where they get those polls.

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2007, 11:10 PM:

Fragano @ 86... Wanting everybody to have a minimum standard of living is elitist?

And public financing of political campaigns smacks of communism. Or so my neighbor thinks, as I discovered at a neighborhood meeting.

#89 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 12:31 AM:

Ron Paul's "heroes" - just like Martin Luther King

Why were Ed and Elaine Brown heroes? Because, in order not to pay taxes on millions of dollars in income (they live in New Hampshire, where I imagine that's a fair chunk of change) they did this

The government has taken custody of the home and wooded property of convicted tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown after clearing the area of homemade bombs and booby traps.

U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier says it took nearly two weeks for explosives teams to find, remove and blow up a large number of homemade bombs.

The Browns were arrested this month after they welcomed federal agents, pretending to be supporters, to their secluded home. Officials said Thursday that the 110-acre Plainfield property where the couple stayed for months, disputing the existence of the federal income tax and refusing to surrender to authorities, now is posted with "No Trespassing -- Government Property" signs.

...

Officials said all explosives found on the Browns' property were removed and destroyed.

"Though a slow and painstaking process, safety was our first and foremost concern," said ATF Special Agent Glenn Anderson. "All known (improvised explosive devices) have been properly disposed of, and are no longer a threat."

The Browns' arrests ended a standoff that began in January, when Ed Brown, 65, a retired exterminator, and Elaine Brown, 67, walked out of their federal trial in Concord. She returned to the trial but soon joined her husband at home, where they promised a violent end to any attempt to remove them.

Apparently Paul's also believes in the death penalty for law enforcement officials trying to enforce laws he doesn't like.

In fairness, I should say that he did a follow-up interview in which he said that when he called the Browns (who are racists, antisemites, militia members, rabid conspiracy theorists and great pets of the New Hampshire Free State libertarians) heroes, he didn't know anything about them except that they'd refused to pay taxes to support the country they earned all that money in.

This is the bastard politcal child of Pat Buchanan and Helen Chenoweth. I can't believe how many people are cutting this lunatic slack.


#90 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 12:50 AM:

Ron Paul is not only anti-choice but believes that the states should have the right to govern anything they consider immoral. Lawrence v. Texas was wrong, in his opinion. I would imagine that if he doesn't like that or Roe v. Wade he doesn't believe in Griswold v. Connecticut either. So in Ron Paul's ideal world any given state could ban abortion, birth control and any form of sexual expression they didn't like so long as the majority approves of it. And the Supreme Court could not intervene to safeguard minority rights if he got his way either. Yet the fanatical Ron Paul supporters constantly write and speak of his love for liberty.

The other thing I've never understood is how some people can look at his stranger notions and somehow think that just because he can't get them enacted without congressional backup it makes it OK to vote for him like those views doesn't say something about him so basic that it most definitely should disqualify him from consideration by reasonable people. In the modern global economy he thinks that we could eliminate the Federal Reserve and return to the Gold Standard. Has he ever really researched the history of the gold standard? I doubt it. He also believes that in the age of Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, Duke Energy and the current wave of product recalls he would eliminate all federal oversight of corporations. With George W. Bush we've seen how much damage just the President can do with the "right" kind of appointments to regulatory agencies and I have no doubt that Ron Paul could do the same. And what kind of person would Ron Paul appoint to the Supreme Court? Yet some people overlook almost everything after finding one or two things about him that they like.

#91 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:25 AM:

I get it. Ron Paul's stance is that the Federal Government has been unconstitutionally curtailing the States' liberty to oppress their minorities and women.

I have actually heard it argued that the Bill of Rights should not be interpreted as applying limitations to the States' ability to curtail individual rights, but rather only to the Federal Governments ability to do same. I think ex-judge Moore wanted to squeeze by on that argument. But I've never heard anyone advocating that interpretation whilst on the campaign path.


This rhys character has actually been a pretty persistent conversationalist over at Dave's blog (Teresa's last link in the OP). I'm surprised he only did a drive-by here. Not disappointed, understand. Just surprised.

Maybe a little disappointed. Over there, rhys reached breathtaking heights of illogicality which I may have to use for writing prompts later on.

#92 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:28 AM:

Michael Roberts: Organic isn't FDA, it's Department of Agriculture, and actually applies to a very limited set of foodstuffs.

Because organic is a certification of the soil (in that it has less than 'X' pesticides in the soil, less than 'Y' pesticides applied to the plants; and those from an approved list).

Hydroponic, can't be organic. Meats, eggs, etc., can't be organic.

Or so Maia was taught in her various classes when she was studying agriculture and meat production.

#93 ::: jello ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:42 AM:

whatever happened to rupaul?

#94 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Woo... a link to a bunch of bills with zero context except to imply that Ron Paul is Eeeeeeeevilllll... Not only is there a stunning lack of research on why Ron Paul introduced the bills, nor how he even voted on the bills, nor is there any effort to examine the speeches given during the bills introduction.

Maybe in the future you'll go into some detail, and not just cherry pick one or two things, but actually examine what he said about each bill....

Maybe run an entire blog series listing the text of the bill as well as his speech on each bill, then explain in each entry why he's so utterly wrong and evil.

Do that, and you'll have my respect. because if I can do it, then so can you.

#95 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:06 AM:

I speculate Ron Paul's candidacy is going to be good for everyone: it'll divvy up the Republicans into nice, easily defeatable camps. That's about the extent of his influence, I think. I hope.


Matt Jarpe @ 59: I call myself an evolutionary anarchist.

"Are we there yet?"

"No."

"Are we there yet now?"


Tom Scudder @ 65: ...say that again with a womb.


#96 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:03 AM:

Dom @ 1: "Everyone I've met who supports Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, etc. is either clearly into politics as a career, or resigned to voting for the one barely adequate candidate."

That hasn't been my impression--certainly not regarding healthcare. From what I've read, healthcare wonks are actually kind of deliriously happy at the uniformly solid universal healthcare plans that Obama, Edwards, and Clinton have put forth. If they don't show much of a preference, it's because they're all so good, not because they're all so terrible.

Personally, I don't have a strong favorite much for the same reason. While there are places where I disagree with all of them, I think our crop of Democratic candidates is pretty great. (Though if Obama keeps harping on how Social Security is "broken," he might drop off the list.)

Chris Gerrib @ 27: "What I do want to point out is that this is a variant of "making the world safe for democracy" which was a liberal / Democratic Party policy from 1918 to at least 1963."

Wrong--saying that you're making the world safer for democracy has never been a liberal policy: actually doing so has been. Merely saying so, however, has long been a favorite of imperialists and free-market advocates.

albatross @ 78: "We're not having a police state or an empire imposed on us, we're asking for it. The torture and wiretapping scandals got a collective yawn from the people, which is why they didn't have much impact on the politics of the country. Our empire-building adventures are unpopular because they're failing through incompetence, not because many people see that they're wrong."

Funny, but I don't recall Bush riding into office on a wave of pro-torture, pro-wiretapping rhetoric. As I recall, both of these were done in secret without the approval of the American people. They were actually scandals, back when people first heard. They were then normalized and justified by Republican apologists, aided by a disengaged and apathetic media--not the American people. Did I mention that even after that, the American people still don't support either? It might be more accurate to say that the American people's continued rejection of both warrantless wiretapping and torture has gotten a collective yawn from the administration and the media, which is why it hasn't had much of an impact on the politics of this country.

Similarly, I don't recall the Iraq war being sold as "Let's get us some OIL! YEAH!"* If I recall correctly, even mentioning that as a possible motivation for the Iraq war was enough to get you tarred as a dirty hippie with nothing useful to say. Rather, the war was sold as an absolutely unavoidable necessity for protecting America from another terrorist attack: expressly NOT as an exercise in empire-building. Might this not suggest that there isn't really any support among the populace for American empire?

It boggles my mind that you can lay the responsibility for this mess at the feet of the American people, when the signature reality of this age is an utter disregard for the wants and desires of the common person. Has our lethargic response to the seething insanity of the Bush administration been an embarassing failure? Undoubtedly. Is it a driving force behind what has been happening? Emphatically no.

*Except on the Chapelle Show, of course.

#97 ::: jayskew ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 07:27 AM:

Politicians whose supporters are excited:

John Edwards. About his health care plan, among other things.

Dennis Kucinich. He actually got a bill to impeach Cheney as far as the floor of the House. And when interviewed by people like Tucker Carlson or Hannity he wipes the floor with them simply by sticking to the facts and his message:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/11/8/231544/951

Not to mention his policies are what used to be standard Democratic Party policies. See also:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071126/vidal

Chris Dodd. He's actually trying to prevent retroactive telecom immunity for massive illegal warrantless wiretapping:

http://chrisdodd.com/blog/meet-press%3A-fisa-%2526amp%3B-retroactive-immunity

Good points about Ron Paul:

HR 3835, which starts by repealing the Military Commissions Act, and goes on from there:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-3835

Where are all the Democrats on this one?

Questions for Ron Paul:

1) If you're against the Iraq war and U.S. interventionism in general, why did you vote to table Kucinich's bill to impeach Cheney?

2) Explain how government-mandated prayer in public schools legislated by Congress and the states and paid for with tax dollars is not establishment of religion?

3) Re: HR 5078, explain how displaying the Ten Commandments in public places supported by tax dollars is not supporting a few denominations (Christian and Jewish) over many others (Buddhist, which does not believe in God, Islam, which does not believe in the Ten Commandments, Wicca, which does not believe in a single God, agnostic, which does not believe, atheist, which believes there is no God, etc.)?

4) Once you dismantle most of the federal government, what's to stop AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast from solidifying their stranglehold on the Internet and limiting public discourse to the point where someone like you who doesn't have the party apparatus or money to buy huge amounts of TV airtime could never get elected again?

#99 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:09 AM:

Avast! Pirates in Liverpool Docks! Belay the outspan! Man the scuppers!

#100 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Bruce Cohen @49
I was thinking of "Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief" in the sense of not applying your own political or moral agenda to the patient.

Yabbut, if you read on from there it sounds like it was particularly the application of the physician's genitalia to everyone in his path they were concerned about. Political and moral agendas, I dunno.

#101 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:35 AM:

PJ Evans @79:

The results are not that positive. Around here, Nader is a five-letter four-letter word.

I think being able to drive a car that won't explode is a net good. But if some people get their kicks flirting with vehicular immolation, whom I to judge?

#102 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:47 AM:

albatross @78:

Working within the system we have is really the only way to change things, short of civil war. And wouldn't that be fun?

Symbolic protest votes may give me a refreshing burst of idealogical purity but it doesn't change the fact that we have some screwed up politicians already in power. Ideally, we'd flush the system, get a whole new crop of responsible people in place and then draw from a pool of better, smarter, more capable politicians to elect as president. Now, that takes time to do and doesn't satisfy the electorate's innate laziness and desire for instant change, or barring that, a big middle finger to The Man. So yeah:

Hard work! Better Democrats! Republicans who aren't creepy! Onward to the immediate future!

Or something like that.

As to who to support in this homely horse race? I'd prefer Dodd or Kucinich myself but I live in Georgia where we don't have a primary to speak of and it's a foregone conclusion that all my electoral votes belong to the GOP.

So, I don't know. But I hear Canada is lovely in the Fall.

#103 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:50 AM:

Keith, #101: It might have something to do with Nader's org working hard to have one med Teresa (and a number of other people here) need to be more or less functional taken off the market due to rather small hazards to a well-defined group of people medicated with it.

#104 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Mark@94: a stunning lack of research

This is what we've come to, folks: people who think they can just go off and say that David Neiwert hasn't done enough research on the American right wing, and expect us to not only believe them but to bow and scrape to win back their respect.

Keith@101: This discussion would be the one cd is talking about.

#105 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:09 AM:

cd @103:

Which is unfortunate and a shame. I'm not saying Nader was a saint, just that I like not blowing up when I go for a drive.

Again, Nader, like the FDA, has done more good than harm. Sure, he goofed on the drug thing and yes, his running for president was perhaps ill-advised. But we're all better off in a number of ways due in large part to the hard work of Nader and others like him.

***

And my crack about Pirates and Port Royal was meant to characterize the lack of interest the general American public shows of anything that isn't perched on the end of their nose, pecking them in the forehead.

Piracy is still a problem and one, as mentioned up thread, that could be greatly curtailed, at least in the Caribbean, by ending the War on Some Drugs.

#106 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:12 AM:

#99: Avast! Pirates in Liverpool Docks!

I'm reminded of Bogie's line in Casablanca - "Major, there are certain sections of New York that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:13 AM:

Keith @ 105... And my crack about Pirates and Port Royal was meant to characterize the lack of interest the general American public shows of anything that isn't perched on the end of their nose, pecking them in the forehead.

This reminds me of Ambrose Bierce's comment that war is God's way to teach Americans about geography.

#108 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:24 AM:

Keith #105:

Nader's consumer protection campaigns may have done more good than harm, though that's not 100% obvious to me. It's not always a win to put more safety devices into cars, and at least some (the horrible buzzer that wouldn't stop buzzing till the seatbelt was fastened, those engineering attrocities that made you automatically have part of your seatbelt on when you got in the car (not enough to protect you in a crash, but enough to make the car hazardous for the old or infirm to ride in), and the earliest airbags (which seem to me to have simply been shipped before the engineering was done) are all examples. There are surely others.

Nader's effect on the Florida 2000 election, on the other hand, is pretty unambiguously bad. I don't think Gore would have been a great president, but I find it hard to believe he'd have matched W. Boring competence would be kind of refreshing, at this point.

#109 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:35 AM:

Heresiarch #96: The wiretapping scandal was front-page news for several days in major newspapers. The media didn't put as much importance on that as it should have, but this wasn't being hidden. Not too many people appear to have been outraged. I was, and many of my friends were, but we're a weird bunch.

Similarly, the Abu Girab photos were about as public as they could be. The later torture scandals (basically where "a few bad apples" turned out to mean "the guys at the top of the Justice and Defense departments, as well as several thousand CIA and DIA agents, soldiers, and civilian contractors") were also front-page news. Again, this wasn't hidden from anyone who wanted to know about it. Reports of mistreatment of detainees has been consistent from the beginning of the war. Who cared about it?

Maybe I'm just too gloomy (my last post about Ron Paul makes me sound like I'm about to jump off a bridge--I'm honestly not that depressed in general, just about the future of my country), but it looks to me like the Democrats won a lot of seats in 2006 because of Katrina and the obvious disaster in Iraq, not because of wiretapping and torture. I just didn't see the Democrats campaigning on those issues much, probably because the answer to such campaigning would be "See, those Democrats don't want us to keep you safe."

In general, the biggest evil steps we've seen taken by the government, which we've been discussing here and elsewhere on the net for the last several years, came with links to stories in the New York Times or Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. They weren't hidden.

Is there poll data somewhere on Americans' reactions to the torture and wiretapping and related scandals? My sense is that most people didn't care much.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:36 AM:

albatross @ 108... Gore, boring? I diasgree. He's passionate about this, obviously. He simply expresses it in his own way. By the way, did you known he was a fan of the original Star Trek? I wonder who his favorite character was. (Scene from an alternate rality where Al becomes President: "First on our to-do list... Let's redecorate the Oval Office to look more like the Bridge of NCC-1701.")

#111 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Jeri #81:

I understand what you're saying, but whether that's an intrusion or not depends on your starting premises, because if you think a fetus has the same moral status as a baby, forbidding abortion is no more a violation of rights than forbidding murdering a baby.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't use that as a reason not to vote for Ron Paul. I'm just saying that it doesn't look inconsistent from their (pro-life libertarians') premises, just from yours, which they explicitly don't share. (Though there are also libertarians who oppose abortion on moral grounds, but don't think it is a matter for the law; that's actually a really common position in the US, I think.)

#112 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Serge #110:

Compared to a Bush presidency, I expect a Gore presidency would have been dull as hell. "Mr President, shall we engage in a new Crusade to rid the Earth of Islamofacism, by invading a nasty secular dictatorship with ethnic hatreds that make Yugoslavia look like Switzerland?" "Huh? What the hell are you smoking? Of course not. Let's balance the budget instead."

#113 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Keith #102:

I'm in a similar position; MD will go Democratic no matter what. That's good this year, but it means my vote has very little impact.

The set of choices on the Republican side is frankly pretty bad. I'm inclined to thing Ron Paul is the best of the lot by a fairly large margin. (Maybe Romney would govern more like a centrist than he's talking, but his radical change of position on a bunch of issues leaves me without much faith in anything he says now. Surely, one advantage you'd hope for with someone who is seriously religious is that he'll have the courage of his convictions, holding them even when it's unpopular or costly.)

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:01 AM:

albatross... True. Anything looks dull compared to the current bunch. I'll take dull, especially ifit means someone who's more interested in managing a country than in proving his manhood.

#115 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Notes on Ron Paul:

1. The man is getting top advice on campaigning from somewhere--that's how he's able to package his wingnuttery as reasonable. There's power behind this one and it's important to find out what power.

2. Saying that Paul couldn't get his programs through is a lot like saying Bush couldn't; President has become Emperor in all but name.

3. Our rhetorical environment is so polluted that Paul's deceptions are persuasive.

4. We need better politics, not better Democrats or Republicans. Time for lots of reform.

5. Don't even think about an armed uprising.

#116 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Heresiarch @ 96 - so if somebody other then Bush was in charge of the US, you'd support invading countries to impose democracy on them?

#117 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Running back through:

Unless Edwards is in the running by the time the Illinois primary runs around, I'll probably vote for Paul in the Republican primary (if Obama is still alive, he'll win the state easily in any case).

As it stands, I fully expect to have a choice between a batshit lunatic Republican committed to batshit lunatic aggression in the Middle East and domestic surveillance, and a sensible, moderate Democrat committed to sensible, moderate aggression and surveillance, plus a side order of health care reform and maybe even useful action on global warming. In which case, go Team Blue!

But I really would like to have the chance for once in my life to vote for "no aggression, please".

Oh, and AJ at 95: try saying that again with close friends in the Middle East.

#118 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:44 AM:

Randolph Fritz @115 (and any OHS agents who might be reading):

Armed rebellion is of course a bad idea. It never achieves what it sets out to anyway. I'm more of the non-violent protest sort. I like to imagine we'd have our own Velvet Revolution here in the US, poets and union leaders standing up to the government and enacting sweeping changes towards a more Democratic lifestyle and policy through sheer force of words and moral clarity.

But I am still a member of the reality based community and will settle for Kucinich or Edwards or Dodd sweeping into the White House an a tepid platform of Not As Bad As The other Guy. If only because sanity is relative and baby steps seem to be how Americans prefer our progress.

#119 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:46 AM:

Serge #88: I missed that one in the Manifesto....

#120 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Albatross @111: so would you explain to me how it is a moral good to kill women in order to protect fetuses? And please don't tell me it wouldn't happen; it's already happening in places like Nicaragua, where women needing abortions for ectopic pregnancies are dying because doctors are too afraid of draconic anti-abortion measures. Some of the proposals for anti-abortion measures in the United States have similar legal weapons aimed at doctors. Scare enough doctors and women will start to die. Ron Paul champions such measurements. That makes him not acceptable to me, because ANYONE WHO THINKS ANY FEMALE IS A DISPOSABLE HUMAN BEING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME.

What's fascinating about this discussion is that nobody ever forces the forced-pregnancy crowd* to asnwer the question: why is a woman less valuable than a fetus in your moral universe? Instead, we allow these creeps to tiptoe around the concept with mealy mouthed paeans to "the unborn," and implications of deminished moral capacity on the part of women.

* I won't call them pro-life. In general,these are the same people who are against any kind of government assistance for working families with small children and pro-death penalty.

#121 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Sorry about the outburst and the thread-derailment. It's a hot-button subject for me for personal reasons. Teresa, feel free to delete.

#122 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:51 AM:

I kind of like Ron Paul...I also like Fred Thompson but their ideas on war and abortion I find questionable.

I don't like Hilary but I like Obama...alot though his contradictory stances worries me.

I'm waiting to see how they vote on the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 that the house passed. If they support this I will stop supporting them. Then I don't know where I'll go...all the other candidates are wackjobs to the extreme by comparison.

#123 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Neil Willcox #98: And one of them was just a couple of miles from Port Royal (off Plumb Point, to be precise).

#124 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Emma @ 120

Yay! (for saying what needs to be said about the assorted nutjobs ruuning for president from that side of the political house)

#125 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Emma #120:

I don't want to be fried till I'm crispy and served to big fangy monsters* anymore than anyone else, and a flaming argument on abortion seems like a net lose for everyone. You're producing some fiery rhetoric, but it doesn't seem to have much to do with what anyone really advocates.

Some antiabortion laws effectively make a pregnant woman's life less valuable than that of her fetus'. That's not a good thing, but it's nothing like making women "disposable people." For example, if I murder my rich aunt to speed along my inheritance, or bump off my sister so I can harvest her organs for my needed transplant, all the anti-abortion people think I should go to jail forever. That's the sort of thing that would be permissible if women were considered disposable people, or people whose lives were less valuable than mens' lives.

If laws against abortion have been so horribly implemented that they lead to women unable to get ectopic pregnancies treated or D&Cs done after miscarriages, that is indeed awful, but it doesn't seem to be inherent in laws against abortions. (By contrast, illegal, probably unsafe abortions *are* an inherent part of banning abortions.)

* Hi, Teresa. Say, that's a nice disemvoweler you've got there....

#126 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 12:29 PM:

albatross @125: Your composure is an inspiration. Seriously. Brought my blood pressure right back down.

Heresiarch @96: Thank you for the reminder that the American people, for all the problems we might have, are not as depraved as our leadership would like us to be. I know this, but it's nice to have a reminder every once in a while.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say I think the current crop of Democratic candidates is great, I do think it's an improvement over four years ago. I'd take Obama, Dodd, and maybe Richardson or Edwards (I need to look into them more) over Kerry.

#127 ::: Jeri ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 12:33 PM:

You know, all this rhetoric about positions and candidates bring me back to PNH's original premise.

Just once, I'd like to go to the polls in November and vote for someone I really admire and like, rather than detesting the whole lot of 'em, and casting my ballot against the person that scares me most.

#128 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 12:38 PM:

albatross

The problem isn't so much that the laws are anti-abortion, as that they are intended to force pregnant women to carry to term or until a complication is about to - or actually does - kill them. They're not anti-abortion laws, they're forced-pregnancy laws, and they also frequently assume that women are mentally incompetent to make decisions about pregnancy. (The counselling requirements, and the permission requirements, and the waiting-period requirements, and the lack of exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother - all those the people over in the right wing think are really wonderful.)

#129 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:08 PM:

Jeri #127:

Which shall I vote for?
unelectable wingnuts?
electable fools?

#130 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:20 PM:

I'd be a lot more willing to talk about abortion if the rhetoric weren't so over the top. After all, over half of the aborted fetuses were disposable; likewise taking Nicaragua as model (good or bad) or US society isn't plausible in my view. And it is pitifully easy to push any situation into a moral corner, Exception for rape? Well, that appears to mean that those children are less valuable, through no fault of their own. Shall the sins of the fathers be thus visited upon their children?

I don't think there's a chance of making any headway in the societal discussion until it is recognized that there are two absolutes involved, and that one or the other is going to be compromised. Therefore, abortion is just about at the bottom of issues for me, because in spite of all the fretting about what the supreme court is going to do, I don't think they are going to do anything.

#131 ::: Mark Gritter ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:21 PM:

I want to like RP, really I do. But he comes across as a right-wing nut. He's very principled in his view of federalism; much more so than in his defense of liberty, in my opinion. (When I tried to point this out on my blog I got rather heated remarks from some RP supporters.)

Ron Paul's position on the Fed, the gold standard, and banking is itself sufficient to propel him into right-wing nut territory. That's before we add in the Panama canal treaty and immigration.

RP on Lawrence vs. Texas:

"Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment “right to privacy.” Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states’ rights – rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas."

Consistently pro-states rights? Yes. Consistently pro-liberty? No.

Sodomy laws are not "ridiculous"; they ought to be an affront to everyone who believes in individual liberty.

#132 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Albatross: I can get really hot under the collar about this topic, and I wouldn't see it as out of line, because IT'S WOMEN'S LIVES WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. That's why I asked Teresa to delete the message if she thought it was inappropriate.

And the whole "harvesting aunt for her organs" is a nice try, but it's not even near the same thing; in fact "red herring" just about covers it. There's no attempt anywhere that I know of to make people legally harvestable -- there are attempts everywhere I look lately, some more successful than others, to turn women into second class citizens based on the fact that they have wombs.

It is rather disconcerting to hear people who otherwise preach individual freedom and responsibility creating an addendum that says, unless you're a woman of childbearing age, in which case we can control your life. If a politician takes that stand, I will not vote for him/her -- I don't care what party he/she belongs to. In fact, I would more likely kiss off a democrat than a republican on that basis; if I am going to be stabbed in the back, I'd rather it be done by an enemy and not a so-called ally.


#133 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:32 PM:

albatross,

I won't get into the abortion debate with you per se, but what I'd like to say is that I really can not see how anti-choice policies can square with any libertarian platform worthy of the name.

The U. S. does not have laws compelling one person to provide bodily support to another. We don't require people to donate organs, for example. We don't require a parent to give bone marrow to hir child, or even blood. We certainly don't graft one person to another so that person B's heart can beat for the both of them. From what I understand of libertarians' perspective, they would say that that is as it should be.

So even if you give fetuses equal moral status with women, that still would not give the state reason to compel women to give their own bodily support to keep the fetuses alive. Unless you want to argue that either:
a) the precedent of compulsory bodily sacrifice is good (ie citizens are compelled to give blood or organs if someone else is in need... which sounds a whole lot like "from each according to ability to each according to need"(!)), or
b) fetuses have more rights than born children or adults.

I guess I just have a hard time seeing libertarians being comfortable arguing a), which means that the gist of it usually comes down to b).

And if either a) or b) is the basis for their abortion policy, then I respect libertarians enough to have them defend it on those grounds. So far I haven't heard that.

#134 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:34 PM:

C. 130: I hope you won't think this is more over-the-topness, but I think a first-trimester fetus really IS less valuable than a woman...or even a newborn baby, or even the woman's right to control her own body. But that is something you'll never, ever hear a politician say in this country.

I agree that it's morally inconsistent to be anti-abortion AND make an exception for rape. To me the existence of people who hold that position is more proof that the forced-pregnancy advocates' position is not about the "life of the fetus" at all, but about the perceived right of men to reproduce. The rapist, you see, has stolen a valuable resource, therefore aborting "his child" is OK.

And yes, they really do believe that the sins of the fathers should be visited upon the children. And the "sins" of the mothers as well. The idea that some people view being forced to bear a child as just punishment for the mother's sins fills me with hatred and loathing. Not only are they taking an unconscionable position with regard to the mother, but they're dehumanizing the child thus born.

I regard such people as I regard all who promote or practice cruelty to children: with unconcealed hatred. They are the enemies of kindness; therefore they are my enemies. If they drop dead in their tracks the world will ipso facto be a better place.

#135 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Emma @132: And the whole "harvesting aunt for her organs" is a nice try, but it's not even near the same thing; in fact "red herring" just about covers it. There's no attempt anywhere that I know of to make people legally harvestable

There are occasional cases of couples deciding to have one more child than they'd previously planned, with the hope/intention that the newcomer might be a compatible donor of something or other that a sick family member already needs; indeed, it seems as if some "savior siblings" are now being pre-selected for conception by in-vitro screening.

#136 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:44 PM:

I'm torn. I can attempt answers to Stefanie and Xopher's posts from the despised "anti-choice" view, but am wary of hastening the transformation of a thread about Ron Paul into Yet Another Generic Abortion Thread, with bonus Pile-on.

So, I dunno. If anybody really wants to hear it, let me know, I guess.

#137 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Julie 135: I've heard of that, and it makes my flesh crawl. I can't think of a way to stop it that doesn't also make my flesh crawl.

I remember back during the debate on human cloning (and wasn't THAT productive—let's debate the ethics of (Trek-style) transporter technology next) a friend of mine remarked that she hadn't heard of any reason for cloning that respected the individuality of the cloned child. I replied that I didn't know of any reason for having children by any means that respected the individuality of the child! You can't respect the individuality of a person who doesn't exist yet. If I had a child who was a clone of my cells, I would treat him as my son. Period.

But I digress: my point is that people have children for squicky reasons all the time, and they do it naturally. If we try to outlaw the squicky reasons...well, short of a telepathic police state, there's no way to do that.

#138 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Jen:

For my part, I am not interested in debating abortion so much as wondering how libertarians can defend it on the grounds I mentioned.

But you are right, and I apologize for contributing to derailment. Back to Ron Paul.

#139 ::: anatidaeling ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Hi Emma,

Your post was perfectly appropriate, IMHO.

You're right to point out what forced-pregnancy means. Anti-choicers need to understand why people sometimes need abortions.

People sometimes need to end pregnancies that have been planned, wished for and cherished.

Anti-choice laws only make obtaining these necessary procedures an additional hardship for families who already find themselves in a heart-rending position.

This essay shows why some women need late term abortions, how they have been prevented from getting them, and what some good neighbors are doing to help.

#140 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:54 PM:

there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution

Privacy is an implied right in the constitution: otherwise search warrants wouldn't be required by the 4th amendment.

If they're going to say that anything not explicitly called out as a right doesn't exist, they'll have to take out the clauses that say otherwise. (Specifically, the 9th and 10th amendments!)

#141 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 01:57 PM:

...and of course by "defend it" I mean "defend making abortion illegal."

Blurg.

#142 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Keith #118: Armed rebellion is of course a bad idea. It never achieves what it sets out to anyway.

Tell that to George Washington, David Ben-Gurion, Ruhollah Khomeini, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Alexander Ypsilantis, Toussaint Louverture,....

#143 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Julie @ 135. It creeps me the hell out, too. However, it hasn't been enshrined as a legal right of a dying child to force the parents to have an extra sibling in order to provide him with organs; nor is it a matter of law that the parents are forbidden to have another child for the sole purpose of giving the sick sibling a transplant.

It is a matter of legal standing: either women have the right to control our bodies or we do not. And if we don't, there's no chance in hell that you can call us equal, no matter what other sops you throw our way.

And don't bother with "society doesn't allow us to murder people either". YES IT DOES IF THE PERSON IS TRYING TO DO YOU HARM. It's called self-defense. The forced-pregnancy crowd thinks that a fetus has a right to kill you. Never mind all the mealy mouthed bs about "exceptions"; push them to the wall, and they will admit that they would rather the woman die than the fetus be aborted.

#144 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 02:33 PM:

And twice in a row I'm forced to apologize. After reading some of the other messages I realilze people are trying to nudge us gently back to other matters.


Avram @142: maybe Keith means that revolutions have a habit of getting away from the revolutionary? It seems to me that there are lots of unintended consequences to deal with once you pick up a gun, even if for the right reasons.

#145 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Avram @142:

With all due respect to Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong, I think George Washington would take one look at the current state of things and wonder if maybe he shouldn't have just let the English hold onto the place.

#146 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Seth Gordon #54:

Who says property rights extend to the sky?

Limited Liability can exist purely by contract.

The estates of just about every slaveowner in the US have been closed. That means that there's nothing to sue.

P J Evans #55:

"Kosher" is defined by private organizations. They don't always agree. It's too late for any one organization to trademark "organic" so there will be lots of certifying agencies, and any number of reviewers of certifying agencies (and maybe some reviewers of reviewers . . .)

Adrian Smith #56:

The major effect of the Electoral College is to prevent there from being any advantage for a one-party state to invent a few million extra popular votes for its candidate.

Game theory shows that the current system (in which Electors are all bound to vote for the candidate that got a majority in their state) gives more power to individuals in larger states.

Keith #73: Does the "real good" Nader has done include getting Bush elected?

#147 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:25 PM:

albatross, #125: "If laws against abortion have been so horribly implemented that they lead to women unable to get ectopic pregnancies treated or D&Cs done after miscarriages, that is indeed awful, but it doesn't seem to be inherent in laws against abortions."

On the contrary; every time the attempt is made--and there are lots of examples--that is what happens. Childbearing also is a risk to the mother's life and health, even with the best medical care we know how to provide, and in many (most?) places where abortion is illegal that level of care is not available. So Emma is right.

#148 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:25 PM:

That's a nifty analogy, Keith, but what sort of revolutionary would say "Gosh, in 200 or more years, I might not like where my country is going. I should ditch this whole revolution thing." ?

#149 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:29 PM:

re #134: You are overgeneralizing about what abortion opponents want. Indeed, I think the biggest problem is the way Really Big Principles get waved around in the debate without acknowledgement that the continual discussion of hard cases shows that some sort of casuistry has to be applied no matter what. Discussion of personhood gets to be simultaneously excessively metaphysical and excessively legalistic; invocation of privacy is called into question since potentially it's really a matter of one person exercising life-or-death power over another. The landlady theory (aka "control of our bodies") is metaphysical in the extreme.

I am highly amenable to the premise that in practice the various considerations balance out to legalization of early term abortions. I have huge problems with late term abortions. What I cannot get to is a notion that there is an absolute and unconditional right to an abortion. Nor can I get to an absolute right to life that in practice is not abrogated. For me the formulation of public policy on this has to take a compromise approach. I think the right-to-life side has to give up early term abortions, at least in law; I think the pro-choice side has to admit that there has to be a cut-off point which is in advance of birth. And I think all sides need to back off the moral high ground and focus on the bigger issue: that women find unwanted pregnancies intolerable.

#150 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 03:56 PM:

C. Wingate @149: (and I quote) "I have huge problems with late term abortions."

Uhm, do you have a license to practice medicine?

Late term abortions are usually done to save the life of the mother or because the fetus is seriously compromised. I don't know of any doctor who would consent to perform a late-term abortion merely because the mother had decided she did not want the child.

Passing a law banning late-term abortions (which in practice are rare anyway) is saying that you think the legislature is smarter than doctors. I don't agree.

My mother is a retired RN and worked most of her life in a hospital birthing center. I've heard enough horror stories from her to know that sometimes late-term abortions are necessary.

I don't want Congress deciding what I can do with my body -- only a few lawmakers are physicians, and from what I know of them, I wouldn't let them treat my pets, much less my human loved ones.

#151 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Am I really gong to have to start using sarcasm tags?

Yes, armed revolt had it's uses in the past. Notice I said the past. Back in the 18th century, you could force an empire that spanned the globe to grant you independence with a bunch of your drinking buddies dressed like Indians, some muskets and a whole lot of money from the French.

Today, the US Military has stealth bombers, laser guided missiles, depleted uranium shells and people who kinda like torture. Oh, and atomic weapons that our leaders are just itching to use. And if they don't get to use them on Iranians because some dirty liberals are making a mess at home, well by golly maybe a stray nuke will just happen to end up in San Fransisco. Oops! Must have been the Terrorists! See what you Sons of Liberty made us do?

And if you thought Blackwater was scary in Baghdad, wait til they come to Seattle. Or Atlanta. Or New York City.

Yeah, the next War for Independence will be a fucking hoot. Give my regards to GTMO.

#152 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Linkmeister@82: I do like Dodd, back to when he was my senator (I've since moved out of state). Unfortunately, it looks like his campaign has little or no traction, even within his own state (and we hear about him even less in PA), so I don't expect him to still be on the ballot when our state gets around to its primary.

Of the "front running" Dems, I'm most inclined towards Obama, though he still seems to be the kind of candidate that people imprint their hopes upon than the one that makes his own way. But he's done a number of small things I respect, and so I remain hopeful.

If Clinton wins the Dem nomination, and by some quirk Paul gets the Republican nomination, and the two candidates don't otherwise clarify their positions, I'd seriously consider voting for Paul. He may be nutty in a number of ways, but he doesn't have the same imperial ambition that Bush has, and that I fear Clinton may continue (and to the extent that he is full of himself, I don't think Congress would be nearly as willing to play ball as they have been with Bush, and would be with Clinton).

#153 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:19 PM:

C. Wingate @149
"I think the pro-choice side has to admit that there has to be a cut-off point which is in advance of birth."

This is at best arbitrary and at worst bloody murder of an innocent woman. There are many health complications that can manifest "late term." In my view if there is any chance of lasting harm to the woman from the pregnancy, any at all, then she should have the choice. (well in my view total choice is probably smartest, but I'm trying to show you how complex your 'compassionate middle ground' is).

At what number of weeks is it acceptable to force a woman to carry to term if she has a 75% chance of being crippled by childbirth? 25%?

How about death? At what number of weeks is it acceptable to force a woman to carry to term if she has a 10% chance of death? 50%? 90%?

At what level of mental impairment is it acceptable to terminate the pregnancy? Only when you find out the baby has no brainstem at all? When the baby will be a vegetable bag of organs, never eating or breathing on its own? When the baby will have a normal brain, but some other nonviable organ that would prevent it from living to adulthood? A genetic disease that will cause it to spend its entire life in excruciating pain and which guarantees it will not survive longer than three years?

There are not hypotheticals. I would seriously like to know the answer to each and every one of these questions, from every single person who believes abortion should be limited. Especially C. Wingate and Albatross.

These are questions hundreds of mothers have to ask themselves every year. Every situation is different. A lot of women who badly want a baby will choose to carry to term even with a 50% chance of being crippled or a 25% chance of death. However that is just that - their choice.

This isn't Japan. Abortion is never the first line of birth control here. It is the absolute last resort. I have read studies and interviews with doctors... these 'late term' abortions you hate so much are actually the ones that are most likely motivated by the risk of serious harm to the woman.

albatross @125
"If laws against abortion have been so horribly implemented that they lead to women unable to get ectopic pregnancies treated or D&Cs done after miscarriages, that is indeed awful, but it doesn't seem to be inherent in laws against abortions."

Allow me to compare that to an argument from the past:

Sure, many 'separate but equal' laws end up causing minorities to have limited access to resources, but it doesn't seem to be inherent in segregation laws.

If something you think is a good idea is being implemented in a way that would horribly harm, cripple, kill, and deprive people every time it is brought up by the leaders of your movement... then maybe you have to stop and think who you are supporting. No matter how much it squicks you to know that a nonviable fetus that looks like a baby is being aborted in a way you find icky, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you to know your daughter is dating a black man, no matter how weird gay sex is... it's not your decision. Your feelings of 'it's just not right' and 'best intentions' aren't conclusive proof.

Deciding these things on a black and white basis is an invitation to damage women who fall through the cracks. Oh... some new superdrug that causes horrible problems in children born addicted to it... not specified in the law? Sorry, you have to carry to term. Defective small intestine not in the law? You have to carry that one. Permanent loss of bowel function for the mother is not considered a 'disability' under the law... you have to carry that one, and suffer.

Unless you trust the government to look at every scenario and come up with a set of rules that would be fair to every woman and would account for every possible complication from childbirth... then I don't think limiting abortion is a good idea at all.

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:24 PM:

PLEASE STOP

No one ever convinces anyone in these discussions. They just get hotter & hotter, angrier and angrier.

I don't know where Patrick and Teresa are*, but I'm sure they don't want to come back to a festering stew of abortion fury.

-----
* The Open Thread is nearing 1000, so I hope they'll be back soon.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:32 PM:

Abi @ 154... Thankyouthankyouthankyou for saying it.

#156 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:40 PM:

I second Abi, even at the risk of being accused of hypocrisy, since I was, sort of, the one who started it.

Unfortunately, in the United States today these things we would all like to belileve are highly personal decisions have become political footballs, and people will have to make political judgments based on how important these things are to them. It's difficult to avoid being angry (which, mea culpa, I am) but it is best not to let your anger wash over people who are, in a very real sense, you friends.

#157 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 04:57 PM:

All persons making the standard headbutting abortion arguments are in danger of their vowels.

I am so not kidding.

#158 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:02 PM:

I apologize if my comments were out of order, though I still feel passionately about them, and would still like to know the answers to some of the questions. If you want to discuss more outside the thread, you can email me. I would, however, like to point out one thing:

While these discussions might not cause someone to have a complete polarity change... I have to say that they can cause people who don't have a pre-established strong view one way or another to take one. I say that's possible because it happened to me.

I would not have said "women's reproductive rights" was a serious issue to me until one day I read some comments on a making light thread about it. I went from being totally ignorant about the realities of the situation to very concerned about them... based entirely on the arguments from a thread.

So while I don't want to turn any thread into a flame war or a dogpile... my mind was changed by a set of comment arguments. So that's something, I guess?

#159 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:05 PM:

Terry @92 - Agriculture instead of FDA, that makes sense -- but I know milk can be organic, because I have organic UHT milk in my cabinet right now (we use it to make yoghurt, yum.)

Emma @ 132 - it's not women who are being made second-class citizens. It's women who have sex. And I think that's just as much as anybody needs to know about the forced-pregnancy crowd: they see death by ectopic pregnancy as just punishment for a degraded woman. And (@ 120) that's not thread derailment, not when talking about the politics of Ron Paul. Although YMMV.

Xopher @ 134 - dammit, you took my point again, and said it better. Oh, well.

abi @154 - on the one hand, I see your point, because obviously nobody is going to "change sides" in this matter, whatever that actually means. But on the other hand, the people here are just so damned smart and well-spoken that such debates are a joy to read, like a microcosm of the best the world has to offer on the debates of the day. So I kind of want to let them run -- I get a lot out of these flamewars here. Which aren't flamewars, not really, not here; they're actually just a lot of honest passion for real questions.

#160 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:06 PM:

My apologies, Teresa -- I let this push one of my buttons. Feel free to delete the offending remarks.

#161 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:08 PM:

But Teresa, they make them so very beautifully. (sigh)

#162 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:23 PM:

they see death by ectopic pregnancy as just punishment for a degraded woman.

OK, this is just plain false.

Yes, there are people who say that they do not believe in abortion even to save a woman's life. But the trick is, if you asked these same people whether a woman who had an ectopic pregnancy should be allowed to have the embryo removed to save her life, they would say "Of course."* You see, to them, _that's not an abortion_, because the primary motivation is to save the woman's life and the death of the embryo is an unwanted side effect.

Why do they say, then, that they don't believe in abortion to save a woman's life? Because they don't believe there is any such thing (see above), and they are afraid that the "mother's life" exception will get stretched to cover abortions that are not medically indicated.

I really disagree with this whole approach, but I at least understand it.

If I lose my vowels, fine, but that was just one false accusation too far.

* I mean, there might be a few nutjobs who'd say otherwise, but there are a few nutjobs who'll say anything.

#163 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:31 PM:

My only comment about abortion is that I don't see why the people who are so much against it don't work as hard as they can at developing cheap, effective, safe birth control. Yes, I know the religious right doesn't like contraception, but still.

Okay, I have a second comment - when that cheap & safe & effective contraceptive is developed, or even better, when pregnancy becomes something women do instead of having it done to them, then the whole controversy should wither away.

#164 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:34 PM:

re 153: I have a child with Downs; we had some prior warning from the AFP test and chose not to go ahead with an amnio because it has a miscarriage risk. And you know, my life and my wife's life would be quite a bit easier if Thomas had not been born. Yet neither my wife nor I had a right to destroy him simply because raising him was going to be a trial, nor because his life was to be somehow diminished. And while we're at it, why doesn't the father have a legal right to be making these kinds of decisions as well? After all, it's not the mother's body we're talking about in these cases, but the child's.

I am all for treating a medical issue of pregnancy as a medical issue. On the supposition that conditions which threaten the mother's health will likewise threaten the child's life, it's obvious that interventions which kill the child are required if they will save the mother. And in reality, there is absolutely no chance at all of a change in abortion law which does not respect this principle.

I would also point out that laws which prohibit rare and repugnant acts have a much greater chance of success than those which prohibit common ones. If it is true that (for instance) late term abortions for birth control are quite rare, that's no argument at all against banning them, any more than the rarity of murders is an argument against outlawing them.

I apologize that I didn't make myself sufficiently clear enough earlier. To me the issue of the mother's life is so obvious as to be taken as a given. Nor am I really inclined to be so hardnosed about rape as I may have seemed above, though I don't think the matter is quite so cut-and-dried as some would make it; it's really a trade-off situation. But we all acknowledge that the vast majority of cases have nothing to do with either of these: the other main reasons have to do with either something "wrong" with the specific child, or the general desire not to have any child. I have problems iwth the first case because it involves people making decisions about whose life is worth living; and I have problems with the second case because I think the issue of responsibility for one's reproduction has to be addressed more directly. We do in law insist that there is a point at which such responsibility becomes absolute and dominates all other considerations, and at present, that line is drawn at birth. The undiscussed question is, why there? One could just as well say that if you have sex, you must accept the possible consequences. (And if you're a man, that is how it works out, at least in law though not in reality.) There are surely some reasons for drawing the line at birth-- I can give a few myself-- but the constant harping on the situations which take priority over this doesn't advance the discussion. The pro-life position that this responsibility is nearly absolute isn't refuted by throwing exceptions at it, and I say that as someone who thinks that writing the absolute and its exceptions into law is too strong.

#165 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:41 PM:

C Wingate:

The point here is that it should be a choice, not a required burden. If you and your wife both agree to do this, that's your decision, but you (unless you're the guardian for someone who is incapable) may not, cannot, make that decision for anyone else.

#166 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Like many bookbinders, I am also a practiced boxmaker. I can make drop-spine boxes, Japanese boxes with bone toggles, boxes that look like books. I cover them in paper, cloth and leather.

It appears that Teresa will shortly be requiring a box in which to put a substantial quantity of confiscated vowels. I'm happy to make her one. Any suggestions as to design?

#167 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:44 PM:

abi @ 166

I'm fond of marbled paper; handmade paper, possibly with inclusions, is also neat.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:45 PM:

abi @ 166... At this rate, you may have to make a Timelord Science's box. Bigger inside than outside, like his jacket's pockets.

#169 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:48 PM:

I'm unconvinced as to the durability of inclusions. Perhaps as a lining, but I think that the exterior should be stronger than that. Also, inclusions don't fold, and boxes have, well, corners.

I have some nice red tissue-backed* silk, if bookcloth is too plain.

-----
* Gotta back unsealed fabrics with tissue, peeps, or the glue soaks right through.

#170 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Abi, it should be a musical box which plays Stimmung.

#171 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:51 PM:

I think something with a Greek theme. Circe's island in reference to her first name, Aeaeae which is one of the longer words that can be made from the removed vowels.

#172 ::: Adam Rakunas ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:52 PM:

From the ADL's site, via Orcinus:

The Redemption scheme takes a dramatic departure in arguing that because there was no longer any legal money (i.e., gold and silver) after 1933, the U.S. government had to find some other way to discharge its debt. It did this by seizing the energy of the country, in the sense of energy produced by individuals. In 1936, suggests Redemption theory, with the advent of Social Security, the U.S. government began to take birth certificates and place them with the Department of Commerce as “registered securities.”

Man, that sounds like a steampunk version of The Matrix. Throw in a couple of vampires, and you'd have a hell of a story. A completely loony story, but entertaining, sure.

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:56 PM:

abi @ 169... Maybe it's a crooked box, like Heinlein's house, and the corners don't look like corners from the outside. Heck, the TARDIS is a big round thing from inside, and very angular outside.

#174 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 05:58 PM:

A Boxful of Vowels
Inconsonantable

Maybe Teresa should find a routine a la ROT13 that just shifts them around.

Meyba Tarosi shuald fund e raitonu e lo RAT13 thut jest shafts thum ireond.

#175 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:01 PM:

re 165: The point is, it is a decision made for someone else: the child. Taking the hard line that nobody may ever make such a decision is not out of the question, given that, after birth, that is the line that is taken.

#176 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Steve C #163:

Yeah, the world would probably be made far better by the invention of some low-cost, safe, reliably-reversable sterilization surgery. Just turn that fertility *off* while you're too young to manage a kid. The abortion issue would still arise, but it would be way, way less of a practical issue.

Most of the religious right doesn't seem to be hostile to birth control, though, just extramarital sex. The Catholic Church is opposed to birth control, but my impression is that hardly any American Catholics pay much attention to that.

#177 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:21 PM:

CWingate @ 175

You did notice the qualifier in there: guardian of someone not competent to decide? That includes children.
---
Far too many of the advocates of forced pregnancy are also against contraceptives and 'plan B'. It looks to me like they believe that women should have a 100% chance of becoming pregnant if they (gasp, horror) have sex. *I* think they're in dire need of real biology classes.

#178 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Most of the religious right doesn't seem to be hostile to birth control, though, just extramarital sex. The Catholic Church is opposed to birth control, but my impression is that hardly any American Catholics pay much attention to that.

Those hostile to birth control have a lot of power, however. Look at the "abstinence only" brainwashing that passes as health and sex education in schools, or the fact that employers providing health insurance can refuse to cover birth control, even for employees who don't share those beliefs.

Birth control, and access to birth control, aren't things to be taken for granted.

#179 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Steve C #174:

Th tr f lbrty mst b rfrshd frm tm t tm wth th vwls f ptrts nd tyrnts*. Or something like that.

*rrrbvrhrrrrbvrbvrvrbrbnvbnn

#180 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Very recently I had the distinct displeasure of reading a letter to the editor decrying the level of sex education in local schools. The school board had recently voted to increase the level of plain talk and specific examples in sex education, and a lot of parents were up in arms about it.

The controversy plays out everywhere, and goodness knows the parents had call to feel disenfranchised by the way the school board went about the changes, BUT this letter sort of took the controversy out of nuanced ideas of parental control and responsibility and straight into the territory of wingnuttery.

The new sex ed curriculum, the letter writer argued, was teaching children to misuse sex because it was teaching them to avoid the consequences of premarital sex.

Because, obviously, if teens are not punished by AIDS, other STDs, and unwanted pregnancy for their sexual experimentation, but are instead able to experiment safely due to having more knowledge, that's a misuse of the great gift of sex that God gave us.

Do not fool yourselves that the "pro-life" crowd doesn't want to punish people--sometimes with death--for having the wrong kind of sex. This letter writer is one of those who absolutely do.

As one of the extremely good reasons not to vote for Ron Paul is his past record of voting for forced-pregnancy legislation, I think the abortion issue is absolutely relevant. Perhaps not so much the headbutting about it, though.

#181 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Sorry, before anyone gets all Monty Python on me, "specific examples" referred to things like bringing actual condoms and other contraceptives and STD-prevention methods into the classroom. Sorry to possibly confuse.

#182 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:41 PM:

C Wingate @ 164

I thank you for trying to answer my questions, though there are some key points that you didn't address... the ones I feel are gray. Let me ask you once more, with very clear and specific scenarios:

"I am all for treating a medical issue of pregnancy as a medical issue. On the supposition that conditions which threaten the mother's health will likewise threaten the child's life, it's obvious that interventions which kill the child are required if they will save the mother." (emphasis mine)

Why is that supposition important? Does this mean that you do not believe that the rest of this statement is true if that supposition does not hold true?

Say a mother is told that there is a 50% chance that carrying this specific will leave her without control of her bowels for the rest of her life. She will forever wear diapers and will likely need at home care at some point, however it is very unlikely that she will die. It is likely that the baby will be born normally. You talk about the mother's life being a concern, but what about the mother's quality of life?

This is a problem that abortion doctors deal with frequently in places where you must prove that there is a threat to a woman's life or force her to carry the child to term... a threat to the woman's quality of life never enters the equation. I think it should.

Also from C. Wingate:
"And in reality, there is absolutely no chance at all of a change in abortion law which does not respect this principle."

I wish very badly that I lived in 'reality' then. This particular issue was actually the one that got me involved in this issue in the first place. The premise that it is impossible for abortion law to be enacted that does not consider the mother's health is very idealistic, however it is not the reality.

In one fairly recent case one particular form of late-term abortion was outlawed... the safer version of two varieties. There was absolutely no proviso in this law for any way to allow the safer procedure to be used in cases where the more dangerous one would threaten the woman's health. Let me make something clear: The law did not make any distinction between the time of the abortion, it simply outlawed the safer of the two existing procedures.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/04/18/scotus.abortion/index.html

The article states:

"The legal sticking point was that the law lacked a "health exception" for a woman who might suffer serious medical complications, something the justices have said in the past is necessary when considering abortion restrictions."

C Wingate wrote:
"But we all acknowledge that the vast majority of cases have nothing to do with either of these: the other main reasons have to do with either something "wrong" with the specific child, or the general desire not to have any child. I have problems iwth the first case because it involves people making decisions about whose life is worth living; and I have problems with the second case because I think the issue of responsibility for one's reproduction has to be addressed more directly."

We do not all acknowledge that, especially as it relates to late term abortions. As far as all research I have done shows, nearly all late-term abortions are done for health reasons, or reasons of fetus non-viability. Non-viability meaning the inability of the fetus to live.

I also specifically did not include downs or any case where the child is viable on my list of possible defects that I think are very important exceptions. I listed a bunch of cases where the child cannot medically survive past infancy. I am talking about a fetus that will be delivered live but cannot live independently outside the womb. Do you think it is acceptable to abort a non-viable fetus that is still, technically alive? You seem to say it is not.

You draw very specific objections to late-term abortions. Well as far as I am able to determine, the reasons I have listed above are the primary reasons for those occurring. I'd like to known your thoughts on those two very specific scenarios.

#183 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 06:42 PM:

Boxes, people. Let's talk boxes!

abi, have you ever made a box for a bunch of chocolates? I'm always at a loss for how to box mine.

#184 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Vowel boxes. Also consonant boxes, but we won't be needing those, which is just as well as the prices are Vowels: $38.50, Consonants: $99.50.

#185 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Boxes. I buy empty jewel cases and use them to package Christmas gift certificates. It makes the certificates less likely to get lost, and it masquerades as something more immediately tangible than a piece of plastic or cardboard infused with a dollar value.

#186 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 07:29 PM:

Boxes.

(I should probably resume making these, actually-- nearly all of my extant boxes are down to the pink ones. I've almost always used 3" squares of (nonsticky) memo paper, but the 6" squares of cardstock sold in craft stores for (I think) scrapbooking turn out to work really well for the more complicated patterns that I don't have any pix of yet.)

#187 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Also, food-grade boxes for Xopher (I get my mailing supplies for eBay stuff from this place).

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Xopher @ 183... Boxes, people. Let's talk boxes!

And girth control?

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:04 PM:

All right, Xopher... Box it is.

#190 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:13 PM:

Jen Roth @ 182 - I fear you are incorrect that only a few nutjobs hold the position that abortions in the case of ectopic pregnancies are still wrong. As far as I can tell, the position of the Catholic church is that any action whose primary goal is to remove the embryo is immoral. So, no chemical abortion, but the entire tube may be surgically removed. In theory.

In practice, in countries like Nicaragua, this has meant that either doctors are afraid to perform the surgery until the tube bursts (and women die).

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

General comment:

Is it possible to have these discussions without ascribing to your opponents the most evil imaginable ideas and beliefs and goals, on the thinnest imaginable evidence?

I'm pretty sure most anti-abortion people aren't sitting around twirling their handlebar mustaches, scheming ways to keep women as disposable people, use them as property, or maintain a property right in male reproductive access to womens' wombs. A world in which 15% or so of the population that's opposed to all abortions also held those beliefs would look unrecognizeably different from the one we live in now. I mean, different like women in chadors and honor killings and daughters/wives as property of their fathers/husbands.

Note that the anti-abortion voting bloc is big and powerful enough to push on a lot of other issues, too. Why don't they try to ban contraception? Or put adulterers in jail? Because most of them don't want to do that, and their coalition would fall apart like wet cardboard if they tried. Note that they have also pushed on at least one other high-profile issue--gay marriage--which implies that it's possible for them to push on other issues that fit their values.

Is it possible that anyone who opposes abortion might be doing it for their stated reasons, that they think a fetus is at least awfully close to being a human child toward the end of its term? A lot of comments above have basically discounted this as a possibility, in favor of the "real" reason--which is inevitably some convoluted Darth Vader worthy reason focused on killing or enslaving women. This just doesn't make any sense.

#191 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Wouldn't people rather talk about the Electoral College?

No?

#192 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Alex - we can try.

Proposition: the Electoral college creates watertight compartments for vote fraud.

States controlled by a single party are the natural environment for ballot-box stuffing (or shredding). The result is already predictable, so increasing the margin is less noticeable. However, the winner-take-all system of the College removes the incentive to stuff the ballot box once you've already won, and limits the impact of vote fraud to swing states.

Then I think the Underpants Gnomes kick in, but step 3 is clean elections!

#193 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:28 PM:

I saw a show-and-tell in Florence about making leather boxes by wrapping a series of thin leather sheets around a brick-like mold, and then cutting the mold free by making the opening/lid of the box with slices through three sides. I think the leather sheets were stuck to each other by heat/steam/stretching and then shrinking? Took 5-6 weeks to make a small box, what with all the drying steps in between? Interesting.

Re: libertarianism: this is part-and-parcel with the 1:1 odds that sooner or later they will suggest that the Civil War should not have been fought. It all comes down to forced labor.

Re: Democratic candidates: As others have said, I'm reasonably happy with all of them. Obama looked slightly best from the info at the Glassbooth Candidate-for-you Quiz. For you fellow Bay Area people, I hear he'll be here tomorrow, Wednesday, after 6:30 in San Francisco (Bill Graham Civic Auditorium). I regret I can't make that speech to see what he's like in person. Looks like Saturday the 17th after 3 he'll be in Austin, TX.

#194 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 09:54 PM:

Fungi #192:

I think that's basically right. You could imagine smoother ways to do it, and I think the electoral college also has the effect of giving smaller-population states more weight than they'd have otherwise, but I haven't looked into it real closely.

I don't think wanting to keep the electoral college is the least bit wingnutish or anti-liberty. Given what we've seen with redistricting and campaign finance reform, I shudder to think what we'd replace the electoral college with.

Madeline F #193:

Libertarians were fighting against the draft when the mainstream in both parties was for forced labor in the genuine sense of go off and fight in Vietnam or we'll toss you into prison, though I gather some people on the left wanted to see the forced labor used for non-military stuff instead of the army. Milton Friedman (a libertarian-leaning Republican) chaired the commission that made the recommendation to abolish the draft. I'm not entirely sure how that associates libertarians with forced labor.


#195 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:23 PM:

Gnrl cmmnt:

s t pssbl t hv ths dscssns wtht scrbng t yr ppnnts th mst vl mgnbl ds nd blfs nd gls, n th thnnst mgnbl vdnc?

'm prtty sr mst nt-brtn ppl rn't sttng rnd twrlng thr hndlbr mstchs, schmng wys t kp wmn s dspsbl ppl, s thm s prprty, r mntn prprty rght n ml rprdctv ccss t wmns' wmbs. wrld n whch 15% r s f th ppltn tht's ppsd t ll brtns ls hld ths blfs wld lk nrcgnzbly dffrnt frm th n w lv n nw. mn, dffrnt lk wmn n chdrs nd hnr kllngs nd dghtrs/wvs s prprty f thr fthrs/hsbnds.

Nt tht th nt-brtn vtng blc s bg nd pwrfl ngh t psh n lt f thr sss, t. Why dn't thy try t bn cntrcptn? r pt dltrrs n jl? Bcs mst f thm dn't wnt t d tht, nd thr cltn wld fll prt lk wt crdbrd f thy trd. Nt tht thy hv ls pshd n t lst n thr hgh-prfl ss--gy mrrg--whch mpls tht t's pssbl fr thm t psh n thr sss tht ft thr vls.

s t pssbl tht nyn wh ppss brtn mght b dng t fr thr sttd rsns, tht thy thnk fts s t lst wflly cls t bng hmn chld twrd th nd f ts trm? lt f cmmnts bv hv bsclly dscntd ths s pssblty, n fvr f th "rl" rsn--whch s nvtbly sm cnvltd Drth Vdr wrthy rsn fcsd n kllng r nslvng wmn. Ths jst dsn't mk ny sns.

#196 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Aww. I kind of like the handlebar mustache idea. Maybe pro-abortionists are the ones with the mustaches, plotting as we do the deaths of millions of potential American workforce units in order to establish the dominion of eeeeevil Islamofascist UN troops in our nation's capital!

#197 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 02:29 AM:

albatross @ 109: "The wiretapping scandal was front-page news for several days in major newspapers. The media didn't put as much importance on that as it should have, but this wasn't being hidden."

--after it was delayed until after the election at request of government officials. Then the coverage that did occur was horse-race style: will this affect the Bush administration's image? Substantial it was not.

"The later torture scandals (basically where "a few bad apples" turned out to mean "the guys at the top of the Justice and Defense departments, as well as several thousand CIA and DIA agents, soldiers, and civilian contractors") were also front-page news."

The coverage of the torture scandal(s) has been similarly fluffy. They stuck very closely to the "few bad apples" storyline--the revelations about how far up it went didn't receive a zillionth the coverage. (IIRC, it was basically just Seymour Hersh.)

The way this works is they deny, deny, deny, while the truth gradually percolates through, so by the time most people really believe it, it's already Just The Way It Is. This doesn't mean that people support it, just that they've been convinced that they can't do anything about it.

"Is there poll data somewhere on Americans' reactions to the torture and wiretapping and related scandals? My sense is that most people didn't care much."

I linked to poll data on torture and wiretapping in my previous post: a majority of Americans are opposed to both. The fact that you aren't aware of that fact tends to support my argument. The lack of consent of the American people is treated as a non-issue by the media, which makes it seem like the American people don't care. They do--it's just that the media doesn't care that they care.

There's a big difference between asking someone to take away your liberties in the name of security and not rioting in the streets when you discover that they did it behind your back. This isn't to say that the latter isn't plenty disappointing in its own way, but it isn't nearly as terrible as the former.

Chris Gerrib @ 116: "so if somebody other then Bush was in charge of the US, you'd support invading countries to impose democracy on them?"

This is how the chain of reasoning goes: Imposing democracy never works, especially not via invasion. Democrats are in favor of supporting democracy. Thus, Democrats are never in favor of invading other countries in order to impose democracy. Clear enough?

Emma @ 120: Word.

Jen Roth @ 126: You're welcome. Calling the American people stupid and selfish and saying they deserve this always sounds to me like Republicans calling poor people, or women who want abortions, stupid and selfish and saying they deserve it. Shockingly enough, circumstance is not a function of moral worth.

#198 ::: Randall ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 02:50 AM:

FungiFromYuggoth @#192:

Proposition: the Electoral college creates watertight compartments for vote fraud.

So, what you're saying is that the Electoral College is a box, then?

#199 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 04:27 AM:

Adam Rakunas@172: Thank you for that link! I work in a copy shop, and I've made copies of materials relating to "Redemption" quite a few times. I always wondered what that was about -- while making copies, there isn't the time to do more than skim a few pages, and the material is made intentionally oblique and confusing. I'd guessed it was some sort of "I-don't-have-to-pay-income-tax" thing; going by the report you linked to, it's a good deal more wide-ranging.

This of course raises the question of whether it's ethically sound to make copies of the material. I've never discussed that as such with the store owners, but my feeling is that so long as people aren't violating copyright, we shouldn't take it on ourselves to censor them.

#200 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 05:06 AM:

172: that is truly insane. Extraordinary that so much anti-government sentiment is so, well, nitpicking. "Bring down the state! It is brutal and oppressive!" is a revolutionary cry. "Bring down the state! It has contravened the original intent of article IV by setting up a system of reserve banking!" isn't.

#201 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 09:47 AM:

abi @ 154: Respectfully, no. I do not know if these debates convince many people, but they surely convince more than not arguing at all.

albatross @ 195: "Is it possible to have these discussions without ascribing to your opponents the most evil imaginable ideas and beliefs and goals, on the thinnest imaginable evidence?"

I've had a number of arguments about abortion, and a good chunk of them have ended with my opponent saying "Well, of course I personally don't think we should keep women from having abortions; I just think 'when does life begin?' is a question we should all ask," or some variation on that theme. I suspect you belong to this camp, given the way you entered the discussion (describing a view you didn't claim as your own). Maybe I'm wrong. Nonetheless, in my experience, the majority of people who are genuinely interested in the answer to questions like "When does life begin?" tend to come up with an answer like "I dunno" and therefore stand around in the middle of the debate, lobbing a question this way or that, but not really taking sides. In other words, they're not part of the anti-abortion or pro-choice movements.

So it's very easy for them to say things like "If laws against abortion have been so horribly implemented that they lead to women unable to get ectopic pregnancies treated or D&Cs done after miscarriages, that is indeed awful, but it doesn't seem to be inherent in laws against abortions," or "On the supposition that conditions which threaten the mother's health will likewise threaten the child's life, it's obvious that interventions which kill the child are required if they will save the mother." Because they're not deeply involved in either side, they don't know that anti-choice people advocate laws like that all the time, and sometimes even get them made into law. It's easy for them to assume good faith on the part of both sides, because they can see merits to both views.

This assumption of good faith is a mistake, because the people who actually make up the anti-abortion movement are not like you. They don't give a shit about "life." This becomes more obvious the closer you look. For example: They do not support sex education. They do not support contraceptive use or distribution. They do not support prenatal care for poor pregnant women. What do they support? Abstinence until marriage. Traditional Family Values™. Corporal punishment for children. War. The death penalty. This is not, as you say, the thinnest imaginable evidence. These are their avowed policies, going back decades. It is very thick evidence.

A concern for life might explain an opposition to abortion. It doesn't explain all the rest. A better theory is needed. Some have theorized that it's support for a certain set of social values that ties it all together, specifically a set of values known to those crazy feminazis as Patriarchy--widely known for its tendency to treat women like shit. This theory explains, with remarkable proficiency, not only their interest in abortion but also their seemingly contradictory stands on any number of social issues. They want to outlaw abortion not to preserve life, but in order to preserve their vision of society, in which women have no agencym and no choices. So the nastiness of anti-abortion laws isn't inherent to the laws themselves--it's inherent to the sort of people who lobby for them.

Their concern for "life" and all that is just a smokescreen, designed to manipulate people who don't already have a dog in the fight. It functions almost exactly like Intelligent Design functions for the Biblical literalists*: their actual agenda is too batshit crazy to make any headway in modern society, so they have to dress it up as something a little more palatable.

I sincerely believe that your doubts about the morality of abortion aren't about oppressing women. This is not true of the majority of dedicated anti-abortionists. They are genuine fuckers.

*Unsurprising: they're often the same people.

(Apologies for the massive post.)

#202 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:34 AM:

A.J. Luxton

Sorry to be so late with praise, but:

*snort*

You do snark with surgical skill.

Re R. Paul, why does anyone believe that any person that batshit crazy and that unconcerned with logic and consistency would do any good at all as President, no matter what stand he takes now, or what promises he makes? A lot of what a President does is reactive, not proactive*, and people who think on rigid rails don't react appropriately to the unexpected. In fact, their notions of the "unexpected" are, well, unexpected to the rest of us. Hence the current clusterfuck in Iraq.**

* It's 0700 GMT, Mr. President, do you know where your 3rd Armored Division is?
** "But I expected they'd throw flowers at us and then go to the polls to vote for a popular government!"

#203 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Heresiarch @201:
abi @ 154: Respectfully, no. I do not know if these debates convince many people, but they surely convince more than not arguing at all.

At what price? How much fun was it the last time we as a community got into a contentious topic? How evil was that damned sky? And what was the ratio of minds changed or consciousnesses raised to commenter-hours of anger and depression, including the overspill into other threads?

And what about Teresa's expressed views in comment 157? Doesn't she get an input on whether we go this road?

Ah, screw it. If you* can turn your opponents into cardboard villains to support your arguments, you can surely ignore my well-meaning attempts to keep the peace.

I should spend more time on my bookbinding anyway.

-----
* plural, not particular

#204 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Heresiarch #201:

How would we determine which of our models is closer to being right? I know a fair number of strongly anti-abortion people, and I have not noticed any tendency toward wanting women to suffer, be treated like crap, etc., but of course, that's a biased sample. The Catholic Church opposes abortion, makes no pretense toward supporting equality between women and men, and yet takes the opposite position on a bunch of those issues (antiwar, in favor of welfare programs and a higher minimum wage, opposed to the death penalty, pro-immigrant).

Here's some polling data from the Pew Center that may shed some light on the question:
Pew Study

Some things that I notice right away from this:

a. There's a hard core of about 12% of across the board socially conservative voters, and 11% who are convinced that abortion is always wrong and should always be illegal. About 24% of people are convinced that abortion is nearly always wrong.

b. The anti-abortion group seems to be very evenly split between women and men, which doesn't support the idea, at least to me, that it's basically about screwing over women*. That carries even into the 11% or so who are opposed to abortion in all cases.

c. By contrast, men are more generally socially conservative than women (that's based on questions about abortion, gay marriage, gay adoption, stem cell research, and the morning-after pill).

d. Another interesting wrinkle, blacks are much more socially conservative than whites. I'd heard this mentioned before, but the numbers for highly conservative on these issues are striking. (40% for blacks, 26% for whites)

e. Roughly 46% of people thought abortion should be either completely banned or mostly banned, as I read it. Another 51% of people thought it should be either mostly available or completely available. It's not too hard to see why this is a divisive issue in the country, given this; the numbers are really close, though the pro-abortion side has a noticeable majority nationwide.

f. The gay marriage vs. civil unions question was a big surprise to me. I've always seen civil unions as the natural compromise point (because then it's not called marriage, but gays still get the legal benefits they've been denied for so long). Social conservatives have fought civil unions almost as hard as they've fought gay marriage. And yet, the numbers were striking: 35% support gay marriage (also including me, FWIW), while 54% support civil unions.

g. There was very little support for pharmacists refusing to sell birth-control drugs (80% against, 17% in favor).

Perhaps this is confirmation bias, but these numbers don't seem to me to support the idea of the anti-abortion movement as an attempt to keep women down.

* Yes, it's always possible to spin a story about self-hating whatevers to explain this sort of thing, but it's not too convincing when you're dealing with these numbers.

#205 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 11:32 AM:

There are subjects that should never be discussed or even mentionned, except in private correspondance, and abortion is one of them. I shall now stay away from this thread.

#206 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Kieth: I agree that revolution often fails to get what the revolutionaries want (France and Russia spring to mind. The US too, but for different reasons).

I have to disagree about the actual mechanics of it. The "big ticket" items you mention aren't really good at stopping insurgency, or other "asymetric" conflict. For that one needs police actions.

The US Army is a whopping 500,000 men. If there was a full-scale revolt, that's not enough. Choppers, fighters, tanks, all take maintanence. At least a couple dozen man hours of service per hour of flight on planes (and choppers) That takes up a large portion of those 500,000.

Where a modern revolt will fail is localisation. The months which led up to the secession vote were needed to instil a common sense of grievance to the point where most of those in the South were willing to pick up their marbles and go.

The US Revolution had some of that problem (and the loyalists who left were fortunate to have Canada so close to home). Now? We would have lots of pockets, and no center. That's a recipe for Beireut, or Sarajevo. We don't even have the advantage of a Lancaster, or York to rally the disparate pockets to a flag.

If, God forbid, the US can't sustain the sense of common purpose enough to avoid real rebellion, I don't see it hanging together. A lot of new countries forming, and then trying to live with each other is the more likely outcome, and that after a long time; and ending up with either very small nations, or some really nasty strongmen.

Michael Roberts: Yeah, milk can (and, so I suppose beef), but the issue is one of the feeds. If the grass/grain is from organic fields, then the milk can be. It says nothing else about the nature of the milk. I'll talk to Maia and see just what the rules are.

Albatross: The smaller states get more bang for there buck, because we've capped the number of legislators. A voter in Wyoming (the smallest population state) has something like seven times the representation as a voter from Calif. If we changed the system (so that one representative was equal to the population of the smallest state; with some rounding) the Congress would swell to about 600 people, but the relative value of the smaller states [or more properly, the middling states] would decline.

re the abortion debate, and contraception:

I, like Leah, had my position changed by reasoned argument. One of the things that persuasion did was cause me to look at the effects of the legislation the "reasoned" limiters of abortion were in favor of actually does.

Those laws (it's a crime for the doctor, but not the woman) tend to deny agency. The Supreme Court decisions deny agency (the woman doesn't understand the effect of her actions, and the State has to prevent her from letting her emotional involvment in her life from affecting her decistion).

Further, the arguments (largely about how sex has "consequences") seem to be largely about something other then "babies", but about who get to say. The "for the life of the mother" exceptions make it something which the state gets to decide. That's not "libertarian".

The limits on Plan B, the allowance of pharmacists to deny birth control; if the pharmacist has "moral" objections (what other area is the technicion allowed to get between the doctor and patient, because they disapprove?).

I've read too many accounts of the only source in town denying Plan B to women because they weren't married, and weren't raped.

I've read too many accounts of women being grilled by the pharmacist about their marital status when filling a BC presription (and arguments by people in the upper reaches of public persuasion, with access to the levers of power that such things are good, because it will limit those who engage in premarital sex).

I've seen too much of that, accross too broad a spectrum, (though the plural of anecdote isn't data) to think the people who are fighting abortion aren't also opposed to birth control.

Ron Paul introducing legislation which prohibits family planning seems part and parcel of that way of thinking.

#207 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Heresiarch @ 197 - It strikes me that we imposed democracy on Germany and Japan. During the Cold War immediately following we imposed "democracy" (or at least "anti-communism") on many countries, usually via covert action. These were generally accepted by Democrats at the time.

JFK ordered the formation of the Green Berets specifically to create a tool to interevene in bush wars with a goal of imposing democracy.

Whether we should have done these things at the time is not my point. My point is that, for a lengthy period of time, there was strong Democratic Party support for creating democracies in other countries by any means available, including military. This changed in the 1960s.

Ron Paul is using the same argument against military intervention used during the period 1918-1963. George Bush's *stated* goal (for I know not what lies in his heart) was the same "create democracy" goal followed by Truman, JFK, FDR and Woodrow Wilson.

#208 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 03:14 PM:

The fraud issue is definitely the thing that most convinces me the need to preserve the Electoral College.

I'm also of the belief that the President should be elected by a broad national coalition, and that a candidate that wins a single region by a landslide and loses by a narrower margin everywhere else should lose the election even if they got more votes. This is not a perfect argument, and it privileges geography over all other possible attributes, but I still think it's important.

The oft-repeated analogy is that we don't choose the World Series winner by picking the team that got the most runs over seven games: we pick the team that won the most games. That is, we're looking for sustained consistent performance over many different contests. I think it is much the same in presidential elections.

Now if we *are* going to make some chances, I'd do two things:

1) Set the number of electoral college votes for each state to be the number of representatives in the House, not House + Senate. This dramatically reduces the disproportionality of the system.

2) Use the Nebraska/Maine system where each congressional district's winner gets one electoral vote, rather than at a state level. This spreads the "swing-state" wealth to a number of other regions of the country: upstate New York, central California, border Texas, etc.

On balance, the first reform hurts Republicans (because they disproportionately win small states) and the second hurts Democrats (because they tend to be highly concentrated in a smaller number of urban districts).

#209 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 03:15 PM:

re 206: I've seen too much of that, accross too broad a spectrum, (though the plural of anecdote isn't data) to think the people who are fighting abortion aren't also opposed to birth control.

Well, if you're in a largely Catholic area, that connection is only to be expected, since their opposition to abortion derives from their opposition to conception (or if you prefer, arises out of the same thinking). As a general theory, it's incorrect. There's a substantial proportion who believe that contraception is basically OK and that abortion is basically wrong.

#210 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 03:20 PM:

C. Wingate: Around 80% of people who identify as pro-life are in favor of contraception.* These people are extremely poorly represented by their so-called "leaders", which is a problem I think most of us here can relate to.

* Damn it, the link to that poll died; I'll see if I can find another one. It was conducted by the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

#211 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 03:23 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth @192 -- the Electoral College also frees states to experiment with voting eligibility and counting procedures, although obviously there hasn't been much of that recently.

In the past, it enabled states to enfranchise women, people of color, 18-21 year olds, and non-land-owners before the country as a whole was ready to. (and yes, it enabled states to avoid it after the country as a whole was otherwise ready; it certainly is a trade-off).

It could (and I wish it would) let states experiment with enfranchising people under 18, possibly with votes that don't count as much as an adult's[1]; or letting non-citizens vote; or trying any of a variety of preference voting systems.


[1] Would that be constitutional? I can't see any reason it wouldn't be except possibly equal protection, but surely if it's not constitutional to give a 16 year old half a vote, it's not constitutional to give her no vote at all.

#212 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 06:08 PM:

C. Wingate: No, this isn't just the people I see in person (that's too small a sample, esp. as the majority of my friends are pro-choice).

It's looking at the national debate. At the interplay of ideas where people get the, "sense of the nation." In those arenas, so far as I can tell, the willingness to prohibit abortion goes hand in hand with the willingness/desire, to restrict access to BC.

And at the legislation level, well it seems to be worse (see this article on the stuff being done in Idaho).

IMO (and it's part of my problem with Paul) the people who are advocating that, don't deserve to be in office. YMMV.

Those are the people who are crafting the anti-abortion legislation. The effects of the laws they want to impose are such that, much as I would like to see abortion decreased (and I note that where it's legal; at whim, and BC and family planning info is just as available, the rate drops) I have to wonder what the real agenda is. Because the things I see them advocating don't seem to be about abortion, but about controlling women.

Until that dynamic changes, even if I did think "life" began at some point before birth, I'd have to oppose the attempts to restrict it, because what I see isn't laws which will, nor are limited to, reducing abortions.

#213 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 06:41 PM:

re #210: Here's the link.

re #212: I've complained throughout here of how the rhetoric has cast the issue as an untenable (for me at any rate) choice. As this is private discourse I see no real point to debating the positions that none of us here hold (at least as far as I can tell). I'm giving up because there's no way I can cope with a multiplicity of people tagging me with the presumption that I agree with the people they hate the most. It's not up to me to differentiate myself from them; it's up to you to take a less politicized stance and let my positions be what I state them to be.

What's funny is that one of my Ron-Paul-supporting friends blogged on this piece of tripe from First Things wherein an RC bishop says that Catholics have to vote taking abortion and contraception as their first priorities. (And never mind that American Catholics don't take direction from their hierarchy very well.) My friend feels the same as I do on this, even though we don't hold congruent views on abortion: there just are more important things to worry about in this election, and especially Iraq and Iran.

#214 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 07:01 PM:

American Catholics don't take direction from their hierarchy very well.

I can attest to that. I'm a Catholic, I go to Mass weekly, and in 6 years of attending Mass at the same parish I have never heard my parish priest give a homily about pharmaceutical birth control. Abortion, yes, of course. But he just doesn't talk about birth control. Since 80--90% of American Catholics use some form of "artificial" birth control, and since it's our weekly donations that enable him to eat, in my opinion he's a prudent man.

#215 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 08:18 PM:

C Wingate: I never said, nor do I think I implied, you agreed with the positions I said the leaders/opinion setters/etc. of the anti-abortion movement seem to want to implement.

I told you what I see as the total effects. I mentioned that the advocacy of Ron Paul seems to support those effects, and that the weight of effort in the movement wants to do things I can't support, no matter how much I might sympathise with some of their stated aims.

By way of, slightly hyperbolic, analogy, I think the spread of democracy is good. I don't think the efforts the present administration claims are to that end are good, and I can't support them in it.

As to the direction of my church... well part of the reason I didn't go further on the path of becoming a priest (Fr. Karney, SJ, has a certain ring to it) was my inability to reconcile the idea of ex cathedra. Since the pope hasn't issued a statement, from the chair on the matter (and the last pope said it was a matter of individual conscience) I think there are a lot of RC who think the hierarchy is wrong, on lots of this sort of social issues.

I'd say it's a quirk which comes of living in a country with Protestant habits and culture, but Italy, France, etc. don't seem to abide by it much either.

#216 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 08:21 PM:

It's a pity we can't talk about Ron Paul.

#217 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Kames @ 216... Topol? Sure, let's talk about Topol.

#218 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 09:07 PM:

Ron Paul has given me the heebie-jeebies for years.

He's a states' rights absolutist, who doesn't believe in the 9th amendment. He thinks things like segregation, flag-burning, etc. are perfectly fine to legislate at the local level, and the majority; at that scale, is justified.

I first noticed him in '80, when he was the Lib's sacrificial lamb in the presidential race.

Oddly enough he was in a perfect position to do what a serious attempt to make the Libs (or any other party) a real player. After a couple of terms he could have declared himself a Libertarian, and then shown that a Libertarian attitude in Congress was good for his district.

They they could have targetted other districts and built a bloc. But no, he hitched his star to the Republicans, and played the role of Iconoclast.

What I find interesting is that everywhere I've seen conversation about him, (and for years) it devolves into something like this; the hot-button issues he espouses become the conversation, and he (with his complex mix of the seemingly reasonable hiding a reactionary agenda) gets lost in the glare.

He may walk some of the same roads I do, but he's not headed the same place.

#219 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 09:11 PM:

addenda: After he got elected to the House, he was in a perfect position.

#220 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 09:48 PM:

I hated doing that.

Hated it.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Teresa @ 220... Doing what?

#222 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Serge, there are a lot fewer vowels in this thread than there were a few minutes ago, and at least some of the frmr wnrs are, I believe, good friends of our hosts.

#223 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Teresa: Not your fault. I was reluctant to try addressing the issues, and knew the risks.

#224 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Look northward along the thread.

#225 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:08 PM:

I know, Terry.

There were some really good posts in that thread.

#226 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:14 PM:

Todd, yep. It's one of the perils of hot-button issues. I'm sorry I 1: couldn't refrain completely and 2: didn't manage to keep the comments I did make to aspects of the issue which didn't cross the line.

I am sorry the combination of those two made it needful for Teresa to remove some of my vowels. I can no longer say I've never had it happen, and actually it bothers me more than it would have on the occasions I've thought I was flirting with it in the past, because it wasn't from the heat of passion, but because I was, no matter much I may have wanted to avoid it, impolite.

What comfort there is, is that managed to keep some of the more interesting (to me) points, entire.

And that, to those who say it's all about those who disagree; not an issue of politesse.

#227 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Teresa @ 224... Oh. I see. Me, I tried to counteract things with cheap(*) jokes. I'm sorry you had to do this, but I guess it was inexorable, from the moment the 'A' word showed up.

---------

(*) Well, one can't get jokes that are cheaper than free ones.

#228 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:23 PM:

Teresa: I think I must have missed the last time this topic came up. All in all I'd have to say this was the best exchange of ideas, on the subject, I've seen, been involved in.

I don't know how to say I wasn't hurt/offended/annoyed at being censured. It's of no real importance if I am; it's not my place. Oddly, because there are two threads, I thought all of my first post had been deleted, because I was looking on the wrong one. That bothered me, until I figured it out, because I couln't see why comments about organic milk had to go with the comments on the other subject.

#229 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Not so much with the impolite, Terry. Thing is, I said I'd do it. Making empty threats is a bad habit to fall into.

#230 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:38 PM:

I'm sorry, Teresa. I lost my temper, and take my lumps.

I meekly point out, however, that Heresiarch's reply to me @197 was on another topic entirely, and seems to have lost its vowels by mistake.

#231 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 10:48 PM:

... or, reading back, maybe I can see ....

You know what, nevermind. Apologies again. It's your blog, and I'm babbling. Clearly, I should just go get some sleep.

#232 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 11:21 PM:

I've been talking to Jim. He's suggested that I re-vowel the thread and close it to further comments. It's a better solution. I've been dreading the arrival of the second and third waves of arguers.

Actually, what he's suggested is that I let him re-vowel the posts. He may not have a fully functional right hand at the moment, but as he pointed out, pasting the full comment texts back in is a lot less finicky than disemvowelling them.

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