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South Dakota special

When I think about South Dakota, I think about all kinds of things.  Like this little item from way back when:

Nader Sees a Bright Side to a Bush Victory
by Melinda Henneberger

Dearborn, MI, November 1, 2000 –

Mr. Nader said he did not think there would be much difference between the justices Mr. Gore would choose and those Mr. Bush would appoint. After all, Democrats had helped confirm Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hadn’t they? Besides, “You can’t really predict how Supreme Court justices will behave.”

And he called the possibility that a court packed with Republican appointees could overturn Roe v. Wade a “scare tactic.” On Sunday, Mr. Nader said in a television interview that even if Roe v. Wade was overturned, the issue “would just revert to the states.” Just?

“Here’s what happened on that,” he said wearily. “The scare tactic is that would end choice in America, and I just said that’s not true, but I should have been astute enough not to mention that.”

He said he did not in any case believe for a moment that Mr. Bush would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. “The first back alley death, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble and they know it,” he said.  He described the party’s opposition to abortion as just for show, “just for Pat Robertson.”

My point is not that Ralph Nader was secretly pro-coathanger.  My point is that Nader, like all too many men on the left, doesn’t believe that the right-wing culture warriors really mean it.  They think it’s all shadow-boxing, a distraction, a sop thrown to the radical fringe.  That same attitude can be found, as I’ve noted before, in Tom Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas?, where Frank writes, “Values may ‘matter most’ to voters, but they always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won.  This is a basic earmark of the phenomenon, absolutely consistent in across its decades-long history.  Abortion is never halted.  Affirmative action is never abolished.  The culture industry is never forced to clean up its act.”

The idea is that an actual abortion ban would go too far: the first back alley death, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble.  Well, maybe and maybe not, folks.  You might think, along similar lines, “the first hideous death by torture in the War on Terror, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” or “the first unconstitutional power grab by the executive branch, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” or “the first data-mining program of domestic spying, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” or “the first systemic corruption scandal involving Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham and Tom DeLay, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” and you’d be, ah, wrong, you know.  Besides, there’s a nasty time lag between that first back-alley death and the repeal (if any) of a state’s draconian abortion law, and in that time-lag, that state’s Republican Party might or might not be in deep trouble.  It’s hard to unseat incumbents in this jerry-built and gerrymandered system, after all.  So there’s no guarantee that popular outrage against back-alley deaths would jeopardize a state’s elected GOP officials en masse.  But we can be pretty sure that women with unwanted pregnancies would be . . . how shall we say? in deep trouble.

As for Nader’s belief that Gore would probably have appointed people like John Roberts and Samuel Alito: well, that’s reason number 22 I didn’t think his political judgment was worth bothering with.

Now, would Joe Lieberman have appointed people like Roberts and Alito?  Hmmm, I’d say the odds are only about 3-to-2 against.  So while I’m revisiting the grievous wounds of 2000, let me take a moment to consult with some Democratic consultants.  Who should Gore have picked as his running mate?  In June 2000, a prominent pair of Democratic strategists wrote:

By choosing former Georgia governor Zell Miller as his running mate, Al Gore could add intellectual brainpower, rhetorical firepower, and lots of plain old populist piss-and-vinegar to this staid election. . . .

At a time when politics seems moribund, Zell would bring energy. When people are looking for heroes, Zell’s the real thing. And when Democrats need someone who’s not afraid to open up a can of whupass on the radical right, they need look no further than Zell Miller.

For those of you unfamiliar with this “populist” lingo, “open up a can of whupass on” does not actually mean “join forces with.” Which is why these consultants turned out to be, ah, wrong.  Now, OK, so Gore didn’t take this particular piece of advice.  He did the next worst thing.  Fair enough.

By the way, those consultants were Paul Begala and James Carville.  You know, the guys who are now advising us to “take it back” using various strategems that include, in Charles Pierce’s immortal words, “pitching the privacy rights of 51 percent of the population overboard piecemeal.”

Digby and Amanda have been just brilliant on this lately, as you probably know. These are my two faves [link all fixed!  thanks, folks] for the month of March, but please feel free to toss more links into comments.

Posted by on 03/09 at 09:44 AM
  1. It’s just amazing to think that anyone ever thought “open up a can of whupass on” was a catchy phrase.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:13 AM
  2. I don’t know how to link, but “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” is addressing the issue with some very thoughtful posts. 

    I am absolutely disgusted by the South Dakota law.  I live in St. Louis, and Missouri (not wanting to be outdone) is proposing its own abortion ban and a statute “recognizing” Christianity as the majority religion and granting it some privileges (as if it doesn’t have enough already).

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:57 AM
  3. The problem with the “leave it to the states” approach is two-fold.  One, of course, is that we have states like South Dakota.  And Pennsylvania (yes, I know it calls itself a commonwealth) and probably more states than not whose legislators would just love to play to their loudest, angriest, though by no means largest, group, the abortion opponents. 

    The other is that if Roe is either jettisoned outright (or more likely killed by a thousand cuts), a simple majority of Congress and any Republican President can sign all sorts of wonderful federal laws, like banning transporting a minor over state lines to get an abortion, for example, or cutting off Medicaid funding for states that aren’t hardass enough in their respective abortion bans, that act like an outright federal ban.

    Given that polling shows that a majority of Americans now believe that God created the world in six days literally, and can’t be bothered with that “unprovable science stuff-- theories, right?"… and so many more of us believe in Santa Claus than in the fallibility of our elected leaders…

    I guess all I can say is… Ladies… be careful out there. 

    As Michael observes correctly, while we’d like to think that young women doing perp-walks for getting abortions would be political death for the Republicans, but why should we?  Nothing else seems to be.  The thing that gets me is that while the senate made a huge deal about fillibustering our fellow Columbia College grad Miguel Estrada for a lower court because he might be an anti-Roe vote on the Supreme Court some day, when we have two downright mouth-breathing Roe-foes in Roberts and Alito, suddenly, fillibustering goes out of fashion (when we had the damned votes!)

    So let’s here it for Joe Lieberman, the Dems in the Gang of 14 and the other 18, 19 Democratic senators who felt that the principle of not-being-rude-to-Republicans-by-fillibustering-their-nominees was more important than ladies’ privacy rights (or hell, the BILL of Rights.)

    Posted by the talking dog  on  03/09  at  12:00 PM
  4. Here’s a link to today’s column by Jon Carroll in the San Francisco Chronicle about a peculiar feature of South Dakota election law promoted by Jack Mingo of Minnesota Public Radio.

    Fire up you RV’s, folks.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  12:02 PM
  5. Nate—Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns, and Money posted this fine piece of work early this week.  Just for example.  Thanks for the reminder.

    And chien qui parle, at this point, I think even being careful isn’t going to help South Dakotan women.  Or women from Missouri or Mississippi or any of the other states that are in the process of proving Ralph wrong.  We may be headed back to the days of Sherri Finkbine.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/09  at  12:10 PM
  6. It’s not just the actions of the individual states.  I just got this news from dKos:  federal legislation which would allow insurance companies to dismantle coverage for contraception and PAP smears, among other things. 

    Someone try to convince me that the Republicans are not trying to create a permanent underclass, comprised primarily of women, in order to provide a cheap labor force on par with that of India or China.  Oh, and let the sick ones die.

    I’m so depressed this week, though a little bit happy I’m not living in the U.S. right now, particularly because I’m 16 weeks pregnant.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  12:41 PM
  7. I am in a red state that sometimes trends blue, so I better keep voting where I am.  I think the congressional legislation is probably to help Catholic employers and plans that have to put out for BC and the like in states like New York and California, among others.  The pap smear stuff I don’t understand—sure, women are more likely to get cervical cancer if they’ve had multiple partners, but that’s just a statistical probability, the two aren’t inextricably linked, even assuming, somehow, that it’s something other than punitive and brutal to punish women with a greater chance of death for having had too much sex.  Should we outlaw treatment for heart attacks because men are more likely to have them if they have sex more often?  Or maybe just outlaw it for single men? 

    These people are gonzo, sex-crazed freaks.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  12:51 PM
  8. Now, if these justices are so bad, do we have complaints about the bad “political judgement” about any *elected* non-Republican politicians, or are they all “off the hook?”

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  01:26 PM
  9. FWIW there were more than a few people who wanted Gore to pick Bob Graham, which would probably have been just fine, and might have let him carry Florida, too.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  01:38 PM
  10. This is a tried and true Republican tactic (which isn’t to say it is merely a tactic--this could have very real consequences): introduce extremism into the national discussion which skews the whole debate to the right. I really worry that Democrats will be completely suckered: they will be so serious about preventing the worst case scenario that they will enable all sorts of “compromises” that dramatically chip away at abortion rights, all with the ostensible purpose of “saving” abortion rights.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  01:47 PM
  11. Like they say over on Altercation, “Thanks Ralph.”

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  02:14 PM
  12. Amanda and Digby have indeed been excellent on the claiming of my womb by the Krazy Kristian Konservatives.  Only they aren’t as marginal as that name implies.

    I think Atrios gets it right too, and I really appreciate this post of yours as well.

    It’s all so Atwood.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  02:17 PM
  13. Too much credit, I think. I truly do believe that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about “gonad issues” because they’re not His issue. If there were a fetus umpiring basketball games or a fetus baseball team in Washington I imagine it would get his attention. Otherwise not.

    Of course, I also think he’s mad as a hatter from all those mercury-laden tuna lunches.

    Posted by julia  on  03/09  at  02:33 PM
  14. FYI re pap smears and contraception—I have learned more about this.  It’s not a Catholic thing, it’s an insurance thing—Insurers hate having to pay for contraception (the view is that most women buy it anyway and it’s totally elective, etc.) and they hate pap smears ever since a couple of companies introduced technology that makes them five times as expensive as they used to be (ThinPrep is the name of one of them) and all Ob-gyns now use that process, which is arguably but not definitively better.  Anyway, it just goes to show, saving money on the backs of women is just par for the course.  Next thing you know they’ll let insurers override mandates for childhood vaccinations and allergy treatments. 

    It also shows how deeply anti-consumer Congress is, and how the issue of states’ rights is just really, states’ rights when states do the “right” thing.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  02:37 PM
  15. Thanks Michael for taking on Thomas Frank.  I posted a while back that his mis-take on the right’s seriousness in outlawing abortion (which has been in evidence for years, as access has been chipped away at in rural areas for a long time now) plays right into the MSM myth that Bush is a “moderate.” It also plays into an urban myth that rural people are easily conned rubes—and there’s always a market for that. 

    Meanwhile, the MSM myth that Frank’s argument supports plays into the Rovian strategy of downplaying social issues in the suburbs, and trying to attract socially liberal “security” voters, a strategy which has probably had success.  It’s the educated socially liberal “security” voters who have been the real rubes:  suckered into believing the Bush “compassionate” “moderate” lie, and suckered into the believing that the R’s are actually serious about security, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Posted by John Shaw  on  03/09  at  02:48 PM
  16. David, about those Democratic “compromises”:  Amanda is all over this one, with a shout out to PZ and Atrios.  And of course Digby nails it, as Digby will.  Or, to go back to Scott’s wonderful post (also linked in comment 5),

    I’m baffled by the people who think that there must be some way of finding a middle ground even between clearly incommensurable positions, who just refuse to accept that conflict is at the heart of politics. I don’t think volunteering to give up significant ground to people who refuse to accept a woman’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom is either theoretically desirable or good politics. . . . And it tends to lead to this kind of sloppy ice-cream-castles-in-the-air reasoning, assuming that technology can somehow solve intractable moral conflicts. This is a fool’s errand.

    I’m baffled by those people too.  They need to read them some Hannah Arendt.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/09  at  02:50 PM
  17. Barbara, I wish I could think that mere anti-consumer/pro-pharma interests were driving this legislation.  It may also be that.  But the point is also to make both contraception and PAP smears less available.  Why might this be the case for PAP smears?  Because cervical cancer is generally caused by HPV, a sexually trasmitted virus. 

    This is all part of the wingnut agenda and it’s coming at us from all sides, federal and state legislation.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  02:56 PM
  18. I’m worried about what will happen when the wingnuts realize that eggs and sperm are “alive” regardless of whether or not fertilization takes place.  Clearly it is unfair to favor diploid life with preferential treatment, and we need to do something to protect all those innocent haploids.  Will someone please join me in a chorus of “Every Sperm is Sacred”?

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  03:24 PM
  19. Every sperm is great . . .

    Now ev’rybody!

    Posted by Michael  on  03/09  at  03:27 PM
  20. SneakySnu: there’s no doubt that the moral and financial “advantages” of denying women coverage for contraception and pap smears converge rather nicely for a person with a certain mindset.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  03:41 PM
  21. Pondering the South Dakota situation specifically, i do suggest that the state can be financially hurt by a boycott (and i mean boy here too) if we were able to convince Harley Davidson to resist its annual compulsion to pollute the western half with its Strugis orgy.  The numbers are approaching a million visitors who spend close to $1.7 billion dollars over the course of a fortnight.  The state seriously needs this cash infusion to function. 

    While it is unfortunately the case that biker mythos incorporates the reduction of the feminine to object and/or slave, we might all benefit from promoting a Sturgis boycott of 2006 with our local biker and motorcycle riding communities.  In a state that barely survives on Ellsworth AFB, cow/calf units, federally subsidized corn and wheat farmers, and uranium mining, taking cash out of the mouths of the local politicians is powerful (bikers ride on roads through areas that get virtually zero tourist traffic the rest of the year).  When was the last time you were in Faith, Bison, Buffalo, and Isabell??  Unless you served in missle command you wouldn’t know where these small farming towns are, but they are from whence many of those hideous and ugly votes came. 

    South Dakota can be hurt financially just as did Colorado, only more so i think.  It will take a concerted effort, but it is more than worth being told “No” by some gas guzzling biker dude.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  04:20 PM
  22. Actually, the biggest economic boon to SD in the last decade or so has been from credit card companies and other financial institutions.  If you want to know who does business in SD, go to its chamber of commerce web site and look for who’s a member—you have to do this by category, but financial services are big.  Citigroup and Wells Fargo are two of the bigger names.  SD also benefits greatly from Ethanol production, mostly because of the corn subsidies.  Also, I believe, SD produces a lot sugar beets for Domino Sugar.  So there you go.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  04:27 PM
  23. We already have back alley deaths.  Just because abortion is legal in states doesnt mean the women who need or want them ca get them: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/01/23/reproductive_regression.php

    Posted by Myrna the Minx  on  03/09  at  04:30 PM
  24. The idea is that an actual abortion ban would go too far: the first back alley death, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble.

    I’m not sure about this anymore. There may be some anti-choicers out there who would think that she deserved it. That’s how paranoid and cynical I am getting.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  04:46 PM
  25. Only one of your links to Digby’s blog works for me at the moment, but I fail to see the brilliance.  The blog he quotes is crude, insensitive and simplistic, but Digby completely fails to address the deeper issue.  The South Dakota legislature has decided that a woman’s “right to privacy” (and I don’t care what political stripe you follow, this particular right is nowhere to be found in the constitution) is trumped by the “right to life” of the unborn fetus (constitutionally guaranteed, but pending the definition of what is human).  They have done so in rather draconian fashion - i.e., the lack of exception for considerations of the mother’s health - but considering that the mother’s “health” these days includes all sorts of “mental health” exceptions, they may well have simply been reacting to draconian measures of another sort.

    Having a healthy libido myself, I can almost sympathize with Digby’s equation of lack of sex with death of an individual’s humanity.  But in the end I think it’s just ridiculous.  I would very much like to meet a woman for whom the lack of sex is the same as losing her humanity.  Can’t say I’ve been that lucky, yet.  And my own humanity has done just fine on those occasions in the past when sex has not been, shall we say, forthcoming.  Or on those occasions when I had to consider the possible consequences of having it.

    The South Dakota legislature has not outlawed sex, extramarital or otherwise.  They have simply removed an easy way out (easier, that is, than childrearing) of one of the potential consequences.  Sex is a bit more of a gamble, now.

    I suppose it would have been nice if the South Dakota legislature had coupled their anti-abortion legislation with tougher penalties for deadbeat dads or other measures to make it easier for women to share the burdens of “unwanted” parenthood.  But that’s a lot to ask of a conservative-controlled legislature in a culture where right- and left-wing don’t even speak the same language anymore.

    The “back alley abortion” rhetoric is overwrought.  The numbers of “back alley abortions” were exaggerated back when they were happening.  And the truth of it is that you will not elicit a great deal of sympathy on the matter from most people who believe that a fetus is human.  This does not reflect a lack of compassion, just a disagreement on who, exactly, is the victim.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  04:48 PM
  26. My own humanity has done just fine on those occasions in the past when sex has not been, shall we say, forthcoming.  Or on those occasions when I had to consider the possible consequences of having it.

    Fair enough.  And those consequences would be?

    Posted by Michael  on  03/09  at  04:55 PM
  27. "The idea is that an actual abortion ban would go too far: the first back alley death, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble.

    I’m not sure about this anymore. There may be some anti-choicers out there who would think that she deserved it. That’s how paranoid and cynical I am getting. “

    There are certainly people out there who would hold that view.  I like to think that there aren’t many.  At the same time, however, you need to remember that the majority of pro-lifers do not hold their position on the issue because they hate women.  They are pro-life because they believe that a fetus is human.  This makes a “back-alley death” doubly tragic to them, but considering that the number of “back-alley” abortions will be a tiny fraction of the number of abortions performed legally now, the balance favors life.  The decision is easy, and no sensationalized “back-alley death” will change the political sensibilities involved.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  04:59 PM
  28. Posted by Bulworth  on  03/09  at  05:07 PM
  29. I would very much like to meet a woman for whom the lack of sex is the same as losing her humanity.  Can’t say I’ve been that lucky, yet.

    Well, there you go.  If we’re not baby-slaying sluts, then we’re frigid bitches. 

    At the same time, however, you need to remember that the majority of pro-lifers do not hold their position on the issue because they hate women.

    Prove it.  Oh, and get me those low numbers on back alley abortions.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  05:16 PM
  30. Hey, ur, M, you might want to dial those comments back a bit. You’re mighty casual with my ueterus.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  05:38 PM
  31. Wendy, see M.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  05:39 PM
  32. Hey, M., the pro-lifers go way beyond considering fetuses human; they consider fertilized eggs to be human.

    fetus,n: an unborn vertebrabate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind; specifically a developing human from three months after conception to birth

    So what’s the pro-life argument against aborting in the first trimester?

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  05:58 PM
  33. "Well, there you go.  If we’re not baby-slaying sluts, then we’re frigid bitches.”

    You have no sense of humor at all, do you?  Or were you just trying to put words in my mouth (or, more correctly, in my post) that I didn’t actually say in order to avoid the ones I did?

    “Prove it.  Oh, and get me those low numbers on back alley abortions.”

    In 1972, 39 women died from illegal abortions in 1972, according to the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics.  Even if you grant some degree of underreporting, the number is unlikely to be in the thousands (as was being claimed at the time), or even the hundreds.

    The numbers were, in fact, over 1000/year prior to the widespread availability of antibiotics (i.e. before the late 1940’s).  Most of the scary figures originate from that time.

    Another interesting fact:  the 39 deaths in 1972 from illegal abortions were coupled with 25 from legal ones in New York and California.

    A 1978 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology stated that the legalization of abortion “has had no major impact on the number of women dying from abortion.”

    That’s just a start.

    Can you prove the opposite?

    Here’s Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, on the subject:

    “How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL, we generally emphasized the frame of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always ‘5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.’ I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?”

    I hope this helps.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:08 PM
  34. "So what’s the pro-life argument against aborting in the first trimester?”

    It’s a human life.

    You act as if this is somehow inconsistent.  It isn’t.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:09 PM
  35. "Hey, ur, M, you might want to dial those comments back a bit. You’re mighty casual with my ueterus.”

    Not to overstate the obvious, but there is only one person who is capable of being casual with your uterus.  I am simply pointing out that to a pro-lifer (I have not, as yet, identified myself as one), once another life has taken residence there, your “choice” in how you use it has become somewhat restricted.  This follows logically from the belief that the resident is a human being.

    Just facilitating understanding, as well as I can.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:15 PM
  36. You’re argument specified fetuses. Why?

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:16 PM
  37. "Fair enough.  And those consequences would be?”

    For the moment, I am assuming that you are being sarcastic, although it’s difficult to tell.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:17 PM
  38. "You’re argument specified fetuses. Why?”

    Because it’s easier than typing “fertilized embryos and developing fetuses.” I will endeavor to be more specific in the future, if these things are going to be parsed so closely.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:18 PM
  39. Well, you could always type blastocyst cells, unless that’s also too much typing.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:22 PM
  40. "Well, you could always type blastocyst cells, unless that’s also too much typing.”

    Now you could use some “parsing”:  the term “blastocyst” describes a specific and brief stage of embryonic development; it doesn’t even cover the first trimester.

    And yes, that’s still too much.

    Besides which, “fetus” is a plastic enough term.  The definition you originally quoted is only one of many; some of them cover development from 6 weeks on, and some definitions of “fetus” include all development in the womb.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:30 PM
  41. Or 2pns and embryos and morulas and expanding morulas, all of which precede blastocysts and fetuses.

    And M, you are incorrect. No woman is “entirely” in conrol of her own uterus if legislation bars her from emptying its contents.  What you really mean is that she was in charge of her uterus prior to conception, also a somewhat dubious proposition in a state that is going to require women to bear children conceived as a result of rape. 

    The “benefit” of SD legislation is that you can’t get away with platitudes pooh poohing the recriminalization of abortion the way most pro-lifers are used to doing.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:30 PM
  42. For the moment, I am assuming that you are being sarcastic, although it’s difficult to tell.

    No, quite serious.  Consequentialist arguments should spell out what they mean by “consequences.” It was an open-ended question, I assure you.

    Once another life has taken residence there, your “choice” in how you use it has become somewhat restricted.  This follows logically from the belief that the resident is a human being.

    And what follows logically from that belief, I think, is that women who terminate their pregnancies should be prosecuted for murder.  I am not being sarcastic, just spelling things out.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/09  at  06:37 PM
  43. "And M, you are incorrect. No woman is “entirely” in conrol of her own uterus if legislation bars her from emptying its contents.”

    And no individual is “entirely” in control of their own body if there are places in which they can’t infuse their lungs with cigarette smoke, or if there’s no place at all where they can legally inject their veins with heroin, etc.  Liberty has limits, else there is no society.

    “What you really mean is that she was in charge of her uterus prior to conception, also a somewhat dubious proposition in a state that is going to require women to bear children conceived as a result of rape.”

    You touch on one of the few arguments where I begin to have difficulty with pro-life positions.  Granted, the number of abortions due to rape or incest is a tiny fraction of the whole, but the absolutist position that a fetus is a human life would seem to leave no room for the rape/incest exception.  All of which is merely to say that I am not egomaniacal enough to believe that I hold all the answers; just enough to say that I am deeply troubled by the pro-choice arguments, and somewhat troubled by the pro-life ones.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:39 PM
  44. I won’t get into the Nader issue except to say that most of us who supported Nader in 2000 came roaring back to support Democrats in the presidential primary (I was a Wes Clark supporter myself) and then worked for Kerry.  Yet, Bush “won” again (I put it in quotes for my friends who say the election was stolen in Ohio, which it might have been, but not enough for me at this point).

    It’s been weak Dems in Congress, all along, who are the primary reason this situation in South Dakota has come to pass.

    I comment, however, because I find “M” quite pathetic in her refusal to answer Michael’s simple question regarding the punishment that would be required for a law that banned abortions.  If the fetus is the same as a two year old, then it’s murder or else the whole “pro-life” argument falls apart.  If “M” takes the Pat Toomey weasel answer of “I don’t know,” then she admits by such weaseling what pro-choicers have known from the start: Abortion is unique to the female of the species and has been ambiguously tolerated throughout human history--and has been tolerated for reasons of decency, tolerance and love of those who are already born and living, starting with our moms, wives, and daughters.

    Nader is right about one thing, though: We should not be surprised to see the South Dakota legislation just as the Republicans’ internal contradictions are showing open fissures--and Alito sits on the Supreme Court waiting with bated breath.  Oh, and thanks Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, Patsy Murray, and all the so-called “Republican moderates” (you too, Chaffee) who let Alito ascend to the Supreme Court.  That seems to be where the primary blame should be placed for this particular predicament.

    Posted by Mitchell Freedman  on  03/09  at  06:43 PM
  45. OK, Michael.  Specifics at one time:  married, with 2 children, no desire for another at that moment.  Wife not taking contraception, for reasons I will withhold.  No condoms, due to lack of foresight.  Consequences considered: unwanted pregnancy.  Solutions: abstinence that night or alternative methods of release.  Neither my humanity, nor my wife’s, entered into the equation.

    Normal range of consequences:  VD and unwanted pregnancy.

    There.  Spelled out.

    “And what follows logically from that belief, I think, is that women who terminate their pregnancies should be prosecuted for murder.”

    Not necessarily.  Manslaughter or reckless endangerment might be more applicable most of the time, depending on specifics.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:45 PM
  46. You have no sense of humor at all, do you?

    Why should I think that was funny? Frankly, declarations of sexual prowess or lack thereof are totally boring.

    In 1972, 39 women died from illegal abortions in 1972, according to the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics.  Even if you grant some degree of underreporting, the number is unlikely to be in the thousands (as was being claimed at the time), or even the hundreds.

    So, *merely* 39 women were reported to have died.  Besides the likely underreporting, your statistic does not offer an estimate of how many back alley abortions were performed in any given year prior to Roe, with or without antibiotics, in which women miraculously survived.  That’s a number probably noone knows, not even Bernard Nathanson.

    And I don’t know why I’m even arguing these numbers with you.  One woman dying from an illegal abortion is too many.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:47 PM
  47. "I comment, however, because I find “M” quite pathetic in her refusal to answer Michael’s simple question regarding the punishment that would be required for a law that banned abortions.”

    Pay attention before calling me pathetic, you idiot.  Michael’s question was precisely 6 minutes old when you made your own post.  And I’m not at the computer 24/7, (going home right now, in fact).

    Amusing, however, that you address me as “her.”

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:50 PM
  48. "And I don’t know why I’m even arguing these numbers with you.”

    Neither do I.  Your position is not amenable to reason or argument of any sort.

    Still trying to figure out where I made any declaration of sexual prowess, though...are you sure that was me?

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:52 PM
  49. M.  Based on anti-choicers’ (I think absurd) belief that conception=person, manslaughter and reckless endangerment might apply in cases where the woman did not intend to terminate the fetus (or whatever you want to call the developing cells), but an intention to kill the developing cells through abortion is very clearly, by definition, premedited murder, which is very clearly first degree murder, and would probably subject the woman to the death penalty in many states, and life without parole in the rest of the states.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  06:56 PM
  50. "I don’t care what political stripe you follow, this particular right is nowhere to be found in the constitution."--some idiot upthread

    Upthread Idiot’s argument might have merit if the US Constitution was in the business of granting rights.  Granting rights, however, is NOT what the Constitution does.  The Bill of Rights does not grant you rights to speech, religion, firearms, jury trials, and the like--instead, the Bill of Rights merely sets out that the government cannot infringe those rights, which are understood to predate the document.

    Madison understood that simpletons like Upthread Idiot would try to claim that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution implied that unenumerated rights had no protectios from government action.  In fact, that fear was the basis of most Federalist arguments against a Bill of Rights of any sort.  To allay such concerns, Madison included what is now the Ninth Amendment, which reads, quite simply (but apparently not simply enough for Upthread Idiot) that “[t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    The Constitution, then, might not mention abortion, but the Constitution is also explicit that a right need not be mentioned to exist.  The fact that “abortion is nowhere to be found in the constitution” is therefore of absolutely no value to the constitutional discussion of abortion.  As Justice Marshall reminded us in 1819 in the McCulloch case, “we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding” and not some highly detailed legal code.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  07:18 PM
  51. Is privacy in the Constitution?  A number of people have found it in the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, combined with the 9th, which states:

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

    I’m not sure why people have chosen to put the right to an abortion under the protection of the right to privacy.  Common law and common practice are good enough for me.

    * We celebrate birthdays, not conception days, and age-based rights accrue starting with the date of birth, not the date of conception.

    * The census is a count of live humans, not live humans plus conceived-but-not-yet-born humans.

    * For tax purposes, a live human born at 11:59:59 p.m. December 31 counts as a dependent for the whole year preceding midnight, while a live human born two seconds later does not.  (Does anybody know a case of twins born in different years?)

    * Most religious traditions do not perform burial ceremonies for miscarried babies, especially not those who are lost early in a pregnancy.

    Digby’s central points are extremely germane:  Most people who would like to ban abortion support an exception in the cases of rape and incest.  This is inconsistent with the belief that abortion is murder.  And:  most people who would like to ban abortion do not believe that women who have an abortion should be tried for murder.

    What particularly tells the tale for me:  The same politicians who want to ban abortion rights also want to ban sex education and contraceptives.  The enemy of these people is sex, not abortion. 

    Gotta run—won’t be able to check in again until tonight.

    Posted by john  on  03/09  at  07:22 PM
  52. Just a quick note, your last link in your post, to Pandagon, doesn’t work because you’ve just got your domain appended, not the redirect.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  07:30 PM
  53. Why bother arguing with the likes of “M”?  Just another anti-abortionist fascinated with imaginary sex and rules about it, willing to extend accidental contraceptive failure into criminality.

    A thug, in other words.  Of course M will respond with something about how he wasn’t strongly pro-life, and we should be willing to convince him, but now that he’s been insulted etc etc.  Who cares.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  07:32 PM
  54. Up above somewhere Barbara mentioned that South Dakota benefits economically from financial institutions.  There really aren’t all that many physical sites there, nor that many people employed in those occupations.  It was more about CitiBank finding a home for a charter.  Gateway has left, as has three other manufacturing industries, and much of the data processing associated with the financial industries has been outsourced, making it harder to find work in Aberdeen and Mitchell and those eastern towns.  The western half other of the state is not exactly a thriving hotbed of economic well being.  Farm subsidies are hugely important as are the USAF base funds, which reinforces the need for Thune to keep his bosses in DC happy. 

    Personally i think SCOTUS will find the law unconstitutional, not because of Roe so much as because of the subsequent decisions to protect the woman from instances of rape and incest.  Sending the law back will lead to changing the wording, and make a new bill much more dangerous and harder to get thrown out.  Then we will see a flood of similar bills across the nation. 

    Also one last point.  I am old enough to have lived in the pre-Roe world for quite a while.  The problem wasn’t just illegal abortions, but a whole host of other “treatments” that were provided to women who were perceived to be oversexed, or hysterical.  These included specialized institutions, electro-shock therapies, social castigations--in essence a collection of behaviors that would outrage most of us today, yet then were seen as the proper way to deal with loose women.  The typical family celebrated the sexual manhood of the sons and chastized all the daughters should they ever be even linked to sexual activities in any way.  The double standard was the norm and fully accepted. 

    It is not fair to this discussion to lose sight of these other aspects.  Legal abortion provided a quiet path that could keep young women from going onto this ugly and vile social path.  This whole thing is not about access to a simple medical procedure, it is about taking power away from the women in our society, it is about returning us to the 50’s, or 20’s or the gilded age

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  07:40 PM
  55. Dear “M,” the modern conception of the right to privacy is based on the 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th amendments and is known as the “substantive due process tradition.” The usual starting point is Justice Harlan’s dissent in Poe (1961). Happy reading! Let us know when you’re up to speed on the basics and we can resume the conversation.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  03/09  at  07:46 PM
  56. Dear Professor Berube,

    Certainly off-topic, but FYI, NYU computers return the google home page when your URL is entered in the browsers. I’ve no clue why.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  07:53 PM
  57. "We celebrate birthdays, not conception days...”

    Because one is rather easier to determine than the other, usually.

    “The census is a count of live humans, not live humans plus conceived-but-not-yet-born humans.”

    Just a guess, but when the census was instituted, the chances of any given pregnancy coming successfully to term weren’t quite as high as they are now.  Beyond this, all sorts of information would have indeterminable - gender, etc.

    “For tax purposes, a live human born at 11:59:59 p.m. December 31 counts as a dependent for the whole year preceding midnight, while a live human born two seconds later does not.”

    See above.  Also, why should this matter?  For tax purposes, I ceased to be a dependent when I turned 18.

    “Most religious traditions do not perform burial ceremonies for miscarried babies, especially not those who are lost early in a pregnancy.”

    Most?  I’m not up to speed on this particular topic.  Which ones do?  And have you asked those who live within those traditions why not?  I’m curious.

    “Dear “M,” the modern conception of the right to privacy is based on the 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th amendments and is known as the “substantive due process tradition.” The usual starting point is Justice Harlan’s dissent in Poe (1961). Happy reading! Let us know when you’re up to speed on the basics and we can resume the conversation.”

    Maybe I’m just not up to John Protevi’s speed on the issue, but I got out my wallet-sized copy of the Bill of Rights, and it seems that each of these guarantees does have its enumerated limits (note the qualifiers “unreasonable” and “probable cause” in the 4th, for example; “without due process” in the 5th and 14th).  None of those guarantees seems to provide for unfettered privacy rights.  Guess I’m just not that smart.

    Gary:

    Whatever you might think of the arguments I present, you can at least say that I’m polite about it.  One cannot say the same for you.  The venom, in this case, is obvious on only one side.  I believe I signed the post as “M.”, not “Upthread Idiot,” and if you have neither the care nor decency to make the distinction, that tells me all I need to know about you.

    Rich Puchalsky:

    Gosh, but you are perceptive.  There really is no point in arguing with you, since you win every argument before it starts.  I concede to your self-evident superiority.  I will begin attending thug therapy sessions as soon as I can.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  08:28 PM
  58. ”...willing to extend accidental contraceptive failure into criminality.”

    This is where one realizes you simply aren’t serious.  No reasonable person wants to criminalize contraceptive failure.  There are one or two important, non-accidental steps before contraceptive failure is translated into abortion, however.

    I also aver that while the number of unwanted pregnancies due to contraceptive failure is likely to be significant, that number represents a small proportion of the total number of abortions each year.  Even if 5,000,000 condoms failed each year, they wouldn’t lead to 5,000,000 pregnancies.

    M.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  08:45 PM
  59. M. is male and never will have the horror of a pregnancy from rape, or the awful agony of a pregnancy scare.  He will never have to worry about dying from pregnancy, or living with impaired health from one.  He will never have to deal with the physical changes in his body due to carrying a child to term, nor have to confront possible death due to it.

    I am not interested in his opinion.  When he can demonstrate he has any empathy whatsoever for those who can get pregnant, then I may be interested in his arguments.  Otherwise, it’s all too easy for him to preach morality about a situation he knows sureful he will never have to face.  As he has adequately demonstrated in his comments above.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  09:18 PM
  60. Re: the crime of abortion. In this video from July 2005, abortion demonstraters are asked about the possible criminal penalties for undergoing the abortion procedure. 6 minutes 47 seconds plus download time.

    I don’t think the solutions available to our criminal justice system match up with the problems surrounding abortions.

    Posted by black dog barking  on  03/09  at  09:30 PM
  61. M, regarding my post at 44 and yours at 47, call me an idiot, if you will, but you were clearly avoiding answering Michael’s question, preferring snark to a response.  It was not six minutes between his question and answer as anyone reading this comment thread will note.

    I apologize for assuming you might have been a woman, especially since every ensuing response revealed yourself as just another guy who has no real understanding of the issues that a woman faces with an unwanted pregnancy. 

    Oh, I know, the woman who is pregnant should have thought of that before she had sex.  But that argument only tells me why too many of the folks who oppose abortion rights are more “pro-punishment” than “pro-life"--and why they exault the fetus over a living, breathing woman.

    But, this is all what I get for arguing with a troller. Oh well. Live and learn--and relearn.

    Posted by mitchell freedman  on  03/09  at  09:34 PM
  62. And no individual is “entirely” in control of their own body if there are places in which they can’t infuse their lungs with cigarette smoke

    No.

    No individual is entirely in control of their own body if they can’t infuse their lungs with cigarette smoke anywhere at all, even in the privacy of their own homes or the homes of consenting acquaintances.

    or if there’s no place at all where they can legally inject their veins with heroin, etc.

    True. Which is why I support decriminalization of heroin 100%.

    Your so-called “arguments,” M., are pure sophistry, and if you are here to convince people otherwise then I’m afraid you’re failing miserably.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  09:35 PM
  63. "It is not fair to this discussion to lose sight of these other aspects.  Legal abortion provided a quiet path that could keep young women from going onto this ugly and vile social path.  This whole thing is not about access to a simple medical procedure, it is about taking power away from the women in our society, it is about returning us to the 50’s, or 20’s or the gilded age.”

    I find it difficult to believe that the ugly and vile social path to which you refer was eliminated in large part because of legal abortion.  A number of other major social changes were taking place before and after 1973, which reversing Roe v. Wade (now a seeming inevitability) will not be able to affect.  While the “double standard” still exists to some degree, the “specialized institutions” do not, and electroshock therapy has been largely discredited even for more clinically relevant applications.

    The desire to force women back into the social roles they typically filled in the 50’s, the 20’s or the gilded age is probably one held by a significant number of conservatives - more, for example, than some previous posters seem to believe are pro-life because they hate women or want control over their wombs.  The genie in the bottle analogy applies here, though; it just can’t be done, even if it was a desirable outcome.

    So I just don’t share this particular fear.  The pro-lifers I know simply believe that a fetus is human, and thus that abortion involves the taking of a human life.  They do not believe that eliminating legalized abortion is a way to return women to some purely domestic function.  So long as their motives are consistently misportrayed, misunderstood or otherwise reviled - so long as their motives are created from whole cloth, as some prior posters have been quick to do with me - they will continue to ignore anything the pro-choice side has to say.  Why should they pay attention, when you won’t?

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  09:36 PM
  64. Mr. Friedman:

    Before we continue being snarky, perhaps you should identify the post of Michael’s that I failed to answer.  As far as I can tell, he first implied the question in 42.  He asked about “consequences” in 26, but that was in regards to the personal consequences of having sex, or so I understood it.  Perhaps he meant social punishment of some sort, which of course is not what I was referring to in 25.  All a bunch of misunderstandings?  And at what point was calling me “pathetic” justified?  Did you not manage to read any of my other posts, which have addressed precisely the question of “punishment,” however inelegantly?  Who’s the troll, here?

    “But that argument only tells me why too many of the folks who oppose abortion rights are more “pro-punishment” than “pro-life"…

    Which only tells me that you have little real personal experience with pro-lifers and the motives behind their political positions, or their beliefs.  Pro-lifers don’t rub their hands together like Snidely Whiplash and plan to codify their pro-life stances into law so that women will finally be put in their place.  They just don’t think that way.  Many of them are women who would object strenuously to that “place.”

    Your reflexive assignment of motives to pro-lifers is precisely as ugly as those right-wing demonstrators carrying signs reading “God hates fags.” It is exactly the same sentiment, just on the other side of the political spectrum.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  09:50 PM
  65. M says: “There are one or two important, non-accidental steps before contraceptive failure is translated into abortion, however.”

    Quite so.  I speak from experience.  I had long been friends with male human “J”.  We met many times, and eventually came to feel romantically involved.

    After many months of getting to know each other, we realized one evening that we would really enjoy deepening our intimacy—so to speak.

    Being a responsible, modern, and sexually liberated woman of the 70’s, I called “time out” well before the crucial moment arrived and retired to la salle de bains to insert my diaphragm.  (having recently been extremely painfully rid of a copper coil IUD, as well as fearful of the possible side effects of the then-very high estrogen content of birth control pills)

    So, yes, I made choices.  I truly thought I was behaving responsibly, while honoring my admittedly lustful yearnings.

    Subsequently, the diaphragm apparently became slightly dislodged at some point.  However it happened, I found myself pregnant—at a time in my life where I had no intention nor means for bringing up an accidental child.

    As far as I can see, the “one or two non-accidental step(s)” I made were to choose to engage in physical intimacy with a man, and to apply a birth control technology (which failed) in order to do so without, presumably, risking pregnancy.

    I had an abortion, for which I have no regrets—and for which I have nothing but gratitude for the Providence that made such a course of action possible at that time. 

    As far as I can see, for M’s argument to hold, there is only ONE “non-accidental step” for which a woman must be held to account; the step of choosing to have sexual relations with a man.

    And that, to me, is the heart of the matter.  What the “pro-life” faction truly wants, in its heart of hearts, is for women’s sexuality to be controlled and proscribed.

    sw

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  09:53 PM
  66. Bérubé in #42: “And what follows logically from that belief, I think, is that women who terminate their pregnancies should be prosecuted for murder.”

    And a conspiracy charge for all who enter into the agreement or partnership to carry out the offense.

    Posted by JDC  on  03/09  at  10:01 PM
  67. Okay, M., I’ll give the pro-lifers the benefit of the doubt and believe they think that independent human being is created at conception. However, not everyone believes that.

    Many of us believe that the creation is not independent, nor is it a human being, and as such it is a part of the woman’s body. Therefore, being the woman’s body, the woman may act per her own beliefs. If the woman believes she is carrying around an independent human being from conception onward, no one from the pro-choice group would force her to abort the child. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. If, on the other hand, the woman does not share your beliefs of when an independent human is created, who are you to force her to accept your beliefs?

    Obviously the law does not recongize your definition of a fetus as a human being. If you want to change the law to recognize an independent human being as being created at conception, then you are going to have to prosecute any abortion as murder-for-hire. Most premature pregnancy terminations, even accidental, would have to be investigated as crimes. Are you prepared to follow your beliefs to their logical conclusion?

    All this from the “limited government” crowd.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:11 PM
  68. I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss M. as a mere troll.  He’s not.  He’s a knowledgeable (in the sense of knowing certain facts) so-called “pro-lifer” who hasn’t thought through the implications of his position.  To his credit, he’s come back to a place where it’s been made altogether clear that his ideas aren’t welcome.

    The heart of M.’s position seems to be the words in #63:  “The pro-lifers I know simply believe that a fetus is human, and thus that abortion involves the taking of a human life.  They do not believe that eliminating legalized abortion is a way to return women to some purely domestic function.”

    M. (to address you directly now), I grant those beliefs may be sincerely held by some people you know.  You’ve already demonstrated, along with most so-called “pro-lifers,” that you’re unwilling to accept the consequences of the first belief.  The second belief is, to put it bluntly, just plain wrong.  In all too many cases that belief is held by people who do everything they can to return women to purely domestic functions.  In fact as I type this it seems to me that your use of the word “function” may be unintentionally revealing of your attitude towards women.

    Gary’s description of you wasn’t nice, but you used that as an excuse to avoid responding to his central point, which others have made:  Our system of government isn’t one which grants rights to people; rather we the people established government in order to perform certain functions.  We had a right of privacy before the Constitution was ratified and the text of the Constitution supports (in many places) that the right continues to exist.  To go back on that right now would lead to consequences far beyond the ones you’re willing to acknowledge.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:15 PM
  69. "And that, to me, is the heart of the matter.  What the “pro-life” faction truly wants, in its heart of hearts, is for women’s sexuality to be controlled and proscribed.”

    The decision to have sexual relations was not accidental.  The relevant non-accidental decisions came afterward, though.  They were (1) the decision, having created a human life, to destroy it; (2) the act of carrying out that decision.  One involves consenting adults; the others, to a pro-lifer, involve a nonconsenting unborn child. The distinction is important.  One does not kill a toddler because one cannot support it.  In the worst-case scenario, one puts the child up for adoption.  But then, we generally recognize a toddler as human, while the fetus is accorded less significance, in a strictly legal sense, than a pet cat.

    (None of which is meant to imply any knowledge on my part of your feelings or circumstances at the time.)

    Parenthetical asides are always trouble in these posts, but I’m a glutton for punishment:  has anyone ever asked a woman who has miscarried what it was she thinks she lost?  I’ve known five such women; four of them were emphatic pro-choicers.  Didn’t matter; each believed that she lost her “baby.” Context is important, apparently.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:17 PM
  70. Apologies for the off-topic here, but those interested in the continuing Berube/DoHo dust-up will want to take a peek at David’s latest expression of blind rage and frustration on his blog at FrontPageMag ("Putting Professor Berube to the test” 3/9/06). Ignoring the specifics (that have become almost painfully pathetic, even to a cynic like me), this latest installment includes the near perfectly ironic email ‘subject line’ to his web master: “I’m in the dark about this”. Truly a unique admission from the great and powerful one.

    For truly pointless bloggin’ on this noggin:
    http://hairytruth.blogspot.com/2006/02/david-horowitz-nutty-professor.html

    Posted by truth4achange  on  03/09  at  10:21 PM
  71. "Many of us believe that the creation is not independent, nor is it a human being, and as such it is a part of the woman’s body. Therefore, being the woman’s body, the woman may act per her own beliefs. If the woman believes she is carrying around an independent human being from conception onward, no one from the pro-choice group would force her to abort the child. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. If, on the other hand, the woman does not share your beliefs of when an independent human is created, who are you to force her to accept your beliefs?”

    This is a game I played briefly on another post on this blog, several months ago.  But here goes:  suppose I decide that African-Americans aren’t human.  Now, you can decide for yourself that they are, and treat them accordingly, if you so desire.  But don’t force your beliefs on me, please.  That’s essentially the argument made by the slave states to the free states, pre-1865.  The key is, who decides who is human?  Is the definition of humanity fungible enough that we should leave it to the consciences of individuals?  To states?

    “Obviously the law does not recongize your definition of a fetus as a human being.”

    It ought to be obvious by now that the pendulum swing is about to make this a falsehood, at least in most states.  How will you deal with the pro-life argument when the law does recognize a fetus as human?

    Charles writes:

    “In fact as I type this it seems to me that your use of the word “function” may be unintentionally revealing of your attitude towards women.”

    I certainly hope not.  Used consistently, you might have a point.  Used once in a blog response, and you might be making something out of nothing.

    “Our system of government isn’t one which grants rights to people; rather we the people established government in order to perform certain functions.  We had a right of privacy before the Constitution was ratified and the text of the Constitution supports (in many places) that the right continues to exist.”

    I believe the concept of inalienable rights goes to the Declaration, not the Constitution, which, as you say, is limited to enumerating the powers and responsibilities of the new federal government, especially vis-a-vis the states.  The concept of inalienable rights is, interestingly enough, a specifically (and necessarily) Christian one in its origin, but let’s not go there for now.

    Those rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  They do not include “privacy,” except insofar as that concept falls under the heading of “liberty.” The catch is the definition of “privacy,” not to mention “liberty.” There is ample evidence to suggest that the writers of the founding documents did not equate “liberty” with complete, unfettered “freedom.”

    The greater catch, for the abortion argument, is whether or not an unborn child also holds these inalienable rights, which is another way of asking if they are human.  If so, the “privacy” argument doesn’t matter in the slightest.

    And of course that is a debate that we never see.  Both sides hold to their faith on the matter (and it is a faith, in both cases - there is no consistent, rational argument to be made either way).  As such, to the winner go the political spoils; the central argument supercedes the Constitution.  If you can define a fetus as subhuman, go ahead and kill it, whatever your reason for doing so.  If you can’t, tough luck.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:39 PM
  72. “The decision to have sexual relations was not accidental.”

    Duh.  That’s exactly what I said.  You make my point.  The “problem” for the anti-abortion rights faction is the fact that a woman has chosen to be sexually active—outside of acceptable or optimal circumstances conducive to bearing and raising a child—in the first place.

    And speaking as someone who has also lost a pregnancy due to miscarriage, what I mourned was the loss of the possiblity of having a real, living breathing baby—not the small mass of cells that bled out of my uterus.

    Furthermore, speaking as the mother of two children who were intended and welcomed and well-cared for, I can tell you that a woman goes nine months of the most exquisite uncertainty and anxiety over the ultimate outcome of ANY pregnancy, no matter what.

    You have NO idea what it feels like to face these realities as a woman, none whatsoever.  And you have no right whatsoever to tell me what choices I may or may not make when faced with these realities.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:40 PM
  73. M. writes, “The concept of inalienable rights is, interestingly enough, a specifically (and necessarily) Christian one in its origin, but let’s not go there for now.” Well, M., you did go there and you’ll get no agreement from me.  I would accept that Christianity in its finer moments (widely spaced as they may have been) may have illuminated the concept, but to say it’s a necessarily Christian concept ignores quite a lot of the history of both events and ideas.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:45 PM
  74. "You have NO idea what it feels like to face these realities as a woman, none whatsoever.  And you have no right whatsoever to tell me what choices I may or may not make when faced with these realities.”

    I suppose you’re right.  My wife would certainly agree with you, and I’m not inclined to disagree with her.  So, it then follows, women should make their own laws?  Shall we make exceptions for homosexuals, or Asians, or any other division anyeone cares to make?  I (or, more correctly, society, since in a practical sense I _won’t_ be making those decisions, for you or anyone) have every right to tell you whether or not you can kill your children.  I certainly won’t be voting for any politician running on the “child eradication” platform.  Certain assumptions underlie that position; like the fact that even though a living, breathing baby can’t function on its own and is utterly dependent upon the care of its parents, that its “potential” for life is worth protecting with real legislation.

    You can only make the above statement after you have assumed that what resides in your womb is, as you say, nothing more than a “small mass of cells.” So tell me, then, exactly when did you lose the power of life and death over your children?  Was it precisely at birth?  Earlier?  Later?  Is it important to you at all that you have an answer to that question?

    “Duh.  That’s exactly what I said.  You make my point.”

    To make this rejoinder effectively, you had to completely ignore the rest of that paragraph.  Did you not read it through?  I read everything in your post; I will continue to do so until I have to leave the computer tonight (not to return for several days, so feel free to slag me in my absence as you wish).  The “problem” is not the sexual activity.  The problem, for most pro-lifers, is how the mess gets cleaned up afterward.

    The sexuality of young women is the central issue for you and a significant proportion of pro-choicers, to judge from your comments; it is the issue for a proportion of pro-lifers as well.  But for the society at large, the issue is also, and I would argue primarily, one of the definition of humanity.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  10:59 PM
  75. "I would accept that Christianity in its finer moments (widely spaced as they may have been) may have illuminated the concept, but to say it’s a necessarily Christian concept ignores quite a lot of the history of both events and ideas.”

    So tell me, then, where does acceptance of the fundamental dignity of human life come from, if not from the concept that we are “formed in the image of our creator?”

    I ask this out of genuine curiosity, since I never had a good answer for it when I was an atheist, and I don’t have one now, when I am merely an agnostic.  My understanding of the philosophy behind the matter hits a dead end with Kant, who attempted unconvincingly to assign dignity to human life in the absence of God.  Is there a better treatise on the subject?

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:04 PM
  76. This post of Meteor Blades is really something.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/09  at  11:06 PM
  77. M., if Kant couldn’t convince you then I can’t either (sorry, stupid pun).  You changed the subject from “inalienable rights” to “fundamental dignity,” but it may not matter.  You may want to try Rawls, but I’m not a philosopher and don’t have a ready answer for you.  Someone else might be able to do better than I.

    I do know that I don’t need a God I can’t see to convince me that human beings have rights.  The idea that people need a God to convince them that people have rights is responsible for a very large share of human misery over the last few thousand years.  If you need a God to convince you that people have worth, and certain other people don’t believe in that God, then it’s all to easy a step to conclude that because they don’t believe in your God they don’t have rights.  Christianity and Islam, along with pretty much every other major religion, are both guilty of this, with Christianity holding the current “lead” in bloodshed by quite a large margin, I’m afraid.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:16 PM
  78. Ancillary question, before I turn off the monitor:

    What’s a “troll,” exactly?

    Is it anyone who posts to the comment thread with a viewpoint that differs from the established norm?  Is the point of the blog, and the comment threads, simply to reinforce a given political position?  If so, then by all means, I will bow out and leave the comments to the usual monotonous “Right on, bro!” and “Oh yeah, and you’re also right because...” sort of thing.  Sorry to bust up the in-group.

    My original understanding of “troll,” at least on other blogs, was someone who burst into the comment threads with personal insults, profanity or other rudeness, or EVEN RESPONSES IN ALL CAPS.  Someone, in short, who was less interested in dialogue than in behaving like a drunken boor.

    Which, I suppose, should lead me to question why I bothered posting to this comment thread in the first place.  The responses haven’t been as uniformly vitriolic as I feared, but then I did fear such responses before I posted.  And I haven’t heard anything yet that I didn’t expect, nor do I believe that I’ve convinced anyone that their assignment of motives to pro-lifers might be based in ignorance, or ancillary to the real debate, or of anything else.

    I blame myself.

    I basically wasted some uncountable number of minutes of my life.  Good thing I did most of it when the kids were in bed, or I’d feel guilty.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:26 PM
  79. "If you need a God to convince you that people have worth, and certain other people don’t believe in that God, then it’s all to easy a step to conclude that because they don’t believe in your God they don’t have rights.  Christianity and Islam, along with pretty much every other major religion, are both guilty of this, with Christianity holding the current “lead” in bloodshed by quite a large margin, I’m afraid.”

    Actually, if it matters, the head count champion for deaths belongs to no religion.  It belongs to lack of religion.  The broken bodies of Christianity, Islam, and every other faith held over the history of mankind make but a dust bunny compared to the mountain built by Nazism, Communism, Maoism, Pol Pot, etc.  If you know of a single religious genocide that comes close to any of those, please share.

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:30 PM
  80. No, M, that’s not what a troll is.

    A troll is someone who enters a discussion on an emotionally explosive topic with no intention of responding to what they read because what they’re participating for is the opportunity to broadcast the fixed idea they entered with.

    Look up, love. See the bridge.

    Posted by julia  on  03/09  at  11:36 PM
  81. M. writes: “To make this rejoinder effectively, you had to completely ignore the rest of that paragraph.  Did you not read it through?”

    Yes, I did.  But very early into your paragraph is this: “the decision, having created a human life, to destroy it...”

    You are positing your personal belief as a given.  It is not.  My own belief is that a life form becomes human at the time of ensoulment, which can happen at wildly varying times in the course of fetal development/pregnancy, or even not until the point of egress from the womb—the first breath, inspiration, the entering of spirit.

    Furthermore, I believe that any soul forestalled from entering any one specific physical vessel due to the choice of the carrier (the mother) to not make herself available to this event, will always find another appropriate circumstance in which to enter into the physical plane in order to advance its spiritual progress.

    Explain why your beliefs ought to take precedence over mine in the law of the land.

    sw

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:51 PM
  82. Organized religion is harmless in the 21st century, relative to earlier eras, because it’s been neutered, deprived of power by democratic governments and the principle of the separation of church and state, which the religious right, for obvious reasons, is seeking to dismantle.

    That the church, through its anti-abortion stance, boasts of its supposed support for the “dignity of life” is hard to fathom considering it once burned people alive at the stake for doing no more than disagreeing with it; see Huss, John; the inquisitions.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  03/10  at  12:10 AM
  83. Not necessarily.  Manslaughter or reckless endangerment might be more applicable most of the time, depending on specifics.

    if life begins at conception, in what possible circumstance would it merely be “reckless endangerment” to intentionally act in a way that causes the end that life?  stop being so goddamn obtuse.

    anyway, enough of that. re the actual post, the fact that gore chose joementum as his running mate invites an unkind judgment about him, both as to whether he is a serious progressive, and more specifically as to what sort of supreme court judge he would have nominated.  it also doesn’t suggest gore having much by way of political judgment: given that he was facing an actual campaign from a candidate to his left, he could’ve chosen as running mate someone who would’ve countered the appeal of nader, but instead he used his choice to prove nader’s point.

    anyway, things change and now i respect gore and dislike nader, so what do i know.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  12:25 AM
  84. also, anyone care to guess M.’s opinion of the death penalty?

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  12:30 AM
  85. Two points.

    1. I came here to make a simple point and was shouted down, and I was overwhelmed by the shouting even as I typed this. This proves that I have wasted uncountable minutes of my life posting twenty or thirty comments to this site.

    2. The fact that none of you have said anything about the Danish cartoons proves that you have no real commitment to freedom.

    Posted by GoUSAFreedom  on  03/10  at  12:32 AM
  86. I think Republicans have not thought about the consequences of back alley abortions because most Republican voters live in rural areas and parts of the suburbs that don’t have any back alleys.

    Posted by Carter  on  03/10  at  12:38 AM
  87. Re #57: Dear “M,” I didn’t say you weren’t smart. I implied, and now I will state, that you are ignorant of the jurisprudence involved. For a *minimal* understanding, you should start with Warren and Brandeis, “The Right to Privacy,” Harvard Law Review 4.5 (1890). As far as the modern substantive due process tradition, I again refer you to Harlan’s Poe dissent, continuing then to the famous Griswold decision, and then, of course, Roe. But you can’t stop there, so a stop at Souter’s dissent in Washington v Glucksberg is highly recommended. Then of course Jeb Rubenfeld’s “The Right to Privacy” Harvard Law Review (1989) is a personal favorite of mine, so let’s throw that in there. From there, I would recommend Ronald Dworkin’s Life’s Dominion and then for jurisprudential theory, Law’s Empire.

    You see, it’s not about smarts, it’s about being willing to work, about doing your homework, rather than giving us lazy memes about not finding the word “privacy” in the Constitution.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  12:59 AM
  88. M. is male and never will have the horror of a pregnancy from rape, or the awful agony of a pregnancy scare.  He will never have to worry about dying from pregnancy, or living with impaired health from one.  He will never have to deal with the physical changes in his body due to carrying a child to term, nor have to confront possible death due to it.

    I am not interested in his opinion.  When he can demonstrate he has any empathy whatsoever for those who can get pregnant, then I may be interested in his arguments.  Otherwise, it’s all too easy for him to preach morality about a situation he knows sureful he will never have to face.  As he has adequately demonstrated in his comments above.

    true true words. I was trying to say something like this, but couldn’t do that well.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  01:13 AM
  89. M., you hit the nail on the head when you said that context is all important.  Of course a woman who wants to bring her fetus to term thinks of her fetus as a baby. 

    That’s why it’s called CHOICE.

    I will begin to trust the sincerity of the forced-birth constituency when they start agitating to make in vitro fertilization illegal and start marching for universal free contraception.

    I was conceived in Georgia.  Born in California.  My passport says, California.  My point is:  nothing in law or tradition considers a fetus to be a person, unless the mother considers the fetus to be a person.  For many months after conception, nobody may know that the woman is pregant except herself.

    M., I have listened.  I have appreciated your temperate manner.  There are fundamental disagreements here, probably unbrigeable.  But if you want to be taken seriously, you need to say, upfront, that the President’s anti-contraception policies fly in the face of a hope for an abortion free world.  Latin American countries where abortion is illegal have HIGHER abortion rates than comparable countries where it is legal, because, in every case, the so-called anti-abortionists have also been anti-contraceptivists. 

    That’s why so many people feel the so-called anti-abortionists are really anti-woman.  Because most of the people who would criminalize abortion would also criminalize contraception.  And that’s a contradiction of an exceedingly pain-inducing magnitude.

    Posted by John  on  03/10  at  02:21 AM
  90. ” suppose I decide that African-Americans aren’t human.”

    Gosh M., I’m totally convinced.  If you find any African-Americans living entirely within your body, please feel free to kill them.  Perhaps every person should be considered a totalitarian autocrat when it comes to the nation of their personal interior.  It would certainly make men a bit more cautious.  I’d have to make sure little Njorl got his own passport and got a tourist visa stamped for every foreign excursion.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  02:27 AM
  91. Michael:

    Thanks for bringing up Mr. Nader - although my blood pressure rose significantly - I thought I was over it.

    He is Exhibit A on why small political parties should not embrace “celebrities” and the fact that smart people often make stupid decisions.  The probability goes up when ego is involved.

    The Green Party is not the same since 2000, nor can they come out of the depths to which they have sunk until someone puts on a hair shirt and flagellates themselves on a reality show.  Wearing bunny ears will help.

    Nader has a big fat asterisk on his legacy - the man who helped the GOP because there was no difference between the parties.  Oh well, sometime you can be right and still fuck up.

    I know your post was about reproductive rights and South Dakota, etc., but can’t we have a good old fashioned burning in effigy of Nader so that perhaps we can purge the bad karma from our political souls?

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  03:07 AM
  92. Much as I support the pro-choice postion I don’t think that the question of whether or not a fetus is a person could possibly be contextual. The best option for pro-choicers is to defend, based on neurological evidence, the postion that a fetus simply isn’t a person.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  06:27 AM
  93. Michael,

    I couldn’t disagree more with pebird.  Bashing Nader at this point makes about as much sense as bashing McGovern. Or perhaps a better analogy (given pebird’s desire for burning Nader in efficy) is Emmanuel Goldstein.  The Democratic Party has had two election cycles to hold (in 2002) and then regain (in 2004) the Senate. They failed utterly, without any “help” whatsoever from Nader, the Greens, or any other party.  They had an opportunity in 2004 to defeat Bush. They failed. 

    Moreover, even in this Congress, they had enough votes in the Senate to filibuster either Roberts or Alito.  They didn’t.

    Nader has always had a tin ear on not only the politics of choice, but “cultural issues” in general (witness his idiotic quip about not being interested in “gonadal politics” when asked gay rights some time in the 1990s).  But he is not responsible for the present situation.  Perhaps if this were 2002, and Bush had just appointed Roberts and Alito you could have blamed Nader. But of course that was before the Democrats lost the Senate, so that wouldn’t have happened (or would it?).

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am an avid Green who supported Nader in 2000, and was an anti-Nader delegate to our 2004 convention where we nominated David Cobb.

    At any rate, hope y’all enjoyed your two minutes hate.  Let’s get back to dealing with the actual causes of present threats to reproductive freedom.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  10:25 AM
  94. The problem with the discussion in many ways is the conflating of terms by anti-choicers, and the pro-choicers’ failure to call them on it.  The anti-choicers mix and match “life” and “person” throughout their “arguments” because remaining consistent would reveal their ridiculousness.  The question is, and anti-choicers should be held to this throughout their comments, when do the developing cells become a “person” such that the state should utilize its coercive powers to protect it. 

    Therefore, if an entity is a person, and is intentionally killed, the killing is first degree murder.  Period.  If you are not willing to call that first degree murder, then you don’t think the entity is a person.  If the entity is “potential life” or “life,” that tells you absolutely nothing.  Sperm is a “potential life” and billions of “potential life” die during every ejaculation.  A cancerous tumor is “life,” if we are just talking about a group of living cells with human DNA.  The only question is, when does a batch of cells become something that should have legal protection, and describing something as life or potential life gets you nowhere in that debate.  Any time antichoicers uses those terms to support their position, the proper answer is “who cares, that adds absolutely nothing to the debate.”

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  10:29 AM
  95. Much as I support the pro-choice position I don’t think that the question of whether or not a fetus is a person could possibly be contextual.

    I too support the pro-choice position. And I consider myself to be a liberal (to the left of almost any elected US official). But I think M.’s points are compelling and his arguments are strong. And I am continually shocked by how “liberals” respond to them. It’s like LGF in reverse.

    Saying the law historically hasn’t recognized fetuses is no argument. The law used not recognize women’s right to contract and vote (or black people’s). And there are instances where the law does recognize a fetus (e.g. a famous case where a jealous man attempted to “stomp” out a fetus and killed the fetus - if you are pro-choice that means you think this is not murder).

    Saying that it is a privacy issue side steps the issue of whether the fetus has the similar rights (i.e. is it a human). There was a similar legal tension in slavery (i.e. slaves as property v. slaves as human beings).

    Saying that the North Going Zax are wrong does not make the South Going Zax right. That some anti-abortion positions are inconsistent (or crazy or whatever) does not automatically make all pro-choice positions consistent or sensible or wise (or all anti-abortion positions wrong).

    Saying that to question aspects of the pro-choice position is equal to being a misogynist, or an attack on women’s rights, or punishment for sex, or shows a lack of empathy for women is not a strong argument either. In addition to ignoring the real issue, I think it’s simply not true in many cases. The more I’ve thought and studied about the issue, the less certain I’ve become (and the reason I’ve studied and thought about the issue is to defend a pro-choice predisposition!). I suppose I could be lying to myself, but I’m pretty sure I don’t hate women. I don’t hate sex. I don’t want to punish women for having sex. I do have empathy for women. I think it would be great if both women and men got pregnant. But having empathy for women does not make the fundamental issue of what rights a fetus should have go away. Yes women happen to be (through no choice of their own or any man) the ones that bear children. Apparently this really sucks for many women. But I don’t get why this means that they are the only ones who are allowed to debate the issue.

    We only argue about things that are uncertain. My impression is that almost everybody believes that a fetus in late stages is a human being (or else we would allow killing premature babies in incubators). Conversely, very few people believe embryos in early stages are human beings. But for the vast majority, in between these points is not clear. For example, when there is a heart beat, when it develops limbs, I think there is much more of a split (understandably).  I think this is because we are hardwired to protect and care for the young (hence love of puppies, kittens, babies of any sort).

    Some things I still don’t get:

    1. Why should the father have no say in matter?

    2. Why is pregnancy equated with punishment?

    3. If we think sex is good (obviously not in the case of violence or battery), why shouldn’t we also accept the results as good? (i.e. how many acts are there that we argue are natural and good, while also arguing the potential results of the act are an unfair punishment? (and sometimes the greatest miracle!))

    Posted by a-train  on  03/10  at  12:23 PM
  96. Sure, the GOP can get away with secret prison camps and wiretapping.  Yet there’s a fundamental difference:  Those aren’t issues where the media can run stories about victimized attractive white women, whereas making abortion illegal certainly would allow that.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  01:29 PM
  97. A-train:  Stop attaching moral terms to amoral concepts.  I doubt pro-choicers make the claim that sex is “good” in the moral sense (I certainly do not).  It is pleasurable, and it is an activity that I believe consenting individuals should have the right (no government interference) to engage in whenever and however they please.  Even using your penchant for assigning moral value to an activity, there is no necessary connection between deeming a particular activity “good” and the results of that activity being “good.” I think democracy is “good” but I do not accept the results of democracy in enslaving people as “good.”

    Pregnancy is not punishment (unless you take the story of Adam and Eve as the literal word of a god)--being forced to maintain pregnancy against one’s will is punishment.  Analogy:  Eating donuts is not punishment; being forced to eat donuts against one’s will is punishment.

    The father should have no say because he does not bear the burden of carrying the developing cells.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  01:44 PM
  98. M. asserted that the health problems which resulted from illegal abortions are “overblown”:

    Can you prove the opposite?

    Why yes, I can.  The administrative records from Cook County hospital in the late 1930s through the 1950s show over 5000 women a year were housed in their septic abortion ward.  (note- these women did not all die - they were treated for sepsis.)

    And - I have a citation that gives footnotes for information on these illegal abortions: 

    see Leslie J. Reagan, _When Abortion Was A Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973_.

    I wonder why people like M. claim that illegal abortions didn’t happen pre-Roe?  Does he really think that women in 19th and 20th century America didn’t have hundred and thousands of abortions? 

    And it’s interesting that he only points to death as a possible result of illegal abortions.  Perhaps the unintentional sterilization of women from illegal abortions does not bother M.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  01:55 PM
  99. To that small (just on this blog, though) faction of lefty pro-choicers who, nonetheless, harbor deep misgivings over the morality of abortion, lefty pro-choicers who believe abortion is immoral, who do believe that the fetus is inherently a person, hence, lefty pro-life-but-pro-choicers, who believe that too many abortions, the vast majority even, are done for reasons that do not stand up to basic moral scrutiny, lefty pro-life-but-pro-choicers who nonetheless believe that it is improper and/or futile for the state to try and impose a pro-life perspective on those who don’t hold the same perspective on the status of the unborn, and therefore wholeheartedly support the right to choose abortion:

    When confronted by one whose moral stance on a matter is so discordant with our own we tend to avoid associating with them on an intimate level, though we try and get as much out of our interactions with them as is possible. I do, you do. For instance, if you knew of someone, a politician, say (Robert Byrd, Hillary Clinton) who despite certain admirable qualities and viewpoints, had the unseemly habit of spitting out racist invective too often for it to be brushed aside as just an isolated case, you question something about their internal moral grounding, even if you are in mutual sympathy with them over about many issues. You work with them on many matters, because doing so can advance so much good (in your mind at least ) but you really can’t tolerate them; you limit interactions to the bare working minimum. Truth is, you don’t really like them that much and don’t want much to do with them.

    Understanding this, how can lefty-pro-life-but-pro-choicers stand to have anything but the merest association with that most strident of the pro-choice faction? Some of these people have utter contempt for your concerns about the rights and status of the fetus even though you quite explicitly agree that the state should not proscribe abortion. I already have ceded the point that you believe that it is not the STATE’s business to pry into the personal decisions of a woman who wants to have an abortion, but demanding that the STATE stay out of such matters does not necessarily lead to the idea that YOU, the lefty-pro-life-but-pro-choicer, should not or could not use all your personal means to speak out on the immorality of most abortions and try and persuade against and drastically reduce the number of abortions. You do have a right to a personal moral opinion and if you feel personally that abortion is immoral then it is almost imperative that you try and persuade others not to have one, persuade in your personal space, that is. To not do so, hardly makes sense.

    But we don’t’ see that among the left. Mario Cuomo famously tried to triangulate the issue and his tortuous reasoning pissed away into a muddle on the floor. He would go off on how he is deeply opposed to abortion personally but he has to respect the right of others to choose otherwise. OK, but why go off on a love embrace with a politician such as Nita Lowey whose contempt for pro-lifers is visceral, seemingly pushing the woman over the edge whenever she speaks of pro-lifers. Why not say something like “I respect the legal right of a women to have an abortion, but you, woman, I find your attitude and opinion distasteful, to say the least, and will keep as far away from you as possible”? This would really clarify what his moral opinion on the issue is, while in no way impairing the legal right of a woman to choose abortion, and such clarity may further the goal of reducing abortions, a goal which he says he too is committed to. Alas, moral clarity is not something we really can expect from the Democrats these days.

    And it is not as if lefties are not used to ostracizing those whose moral habits they oppose. For goodness sakes, lefties will turn their nose down to those who wear fur, eat meat, work on wall street, drive SUV’s, own 10,000 square foot houses, smoke, listen to Merle Haggard, are obese, …......

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  01:56 PM
  100. ...Years ago pro-choicers used to say something to the effect of “I don’t care what your opinion of my morality is, just keep your hands off my body”. Well, we now know that is not true, as the comments above indicate. Pro-choicers care deeply that their actions be regarded as morally affirming, not just to themselves but to the larger society as well. I think many people suspect that even if an abortion ban is upheld in some state or another that there will be no penalty against those woman having an abortion. Maybe there will be a symbolic penalty of paying a fine (but maybe not even this), but I think most agree that nobody is going to jail. As much as anything the pro-life wants society to make a formal declaration about the morality of abortion. Curiously, such a notion will send many in the pro-choice side into a rage; they will demand that if abortion is proscribed then committing such an offense is tantamount to murder and must be penalized as such. Too bad, ain’t going to happen; pro-lifers will not bite. Moral victory, maybe that is what counts.

    Getting back to lefty-pro-life-pro-choicers, I have a slogan for you: how about, Keep Abortion Legal, but Keep it Immoral.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  01:57 PM
  101. It astounds me that some people don’t think these people are for real.  I also am amazed that some people think making Roe illegal will lower the abortion rate. 

    Unless the other side is willing to do a Romania, the abortion rate will not fall.  The question for me - is how far are they willing to go in surveillance and prosecution of illegal abortion?

    Daniel - your comment about a fine as punishment is bizarre.  Pre-Roe the punishment was not a fine.  Why would the punishment post-Roe be a fine?  I imagine that politicans will do what is politically popular in their area.  Prosecuting the “evil abortionists”, I’m sure, will be quite popular in many areas.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  02:23 PM
  102. The pro-lifers I know simply believe that a fetus is human

    This is a real hot button issue with me, so if I ramble a bit, I apologize in advance.

    Since “M” doesn’t seem to be here today, I can’t ask him how he defines the term “human.” Too bad.

    Here’s why I’m interested.

    The medical community defines “death” as follows:

    Since it would be wrong to declare as dead all persons whose circulatory or respiratory systems are temporarily maintained by artificial means (a category that includes many patients undergoing surgery), the medical community has determined that an individual may be declared dead if brain death has occurred— that is, if the whole brain has ceased to function, or has entered what is sometimes called a persistent vegetative state. An individual whose brain stem (lower brain) has died is not able to maintain the vegetative functions of life, including respiration, circulation, and swallowing. According to the Uniform Determination of Death Act (§ 1, U.L.A. [1980]), from which most states have developed their brain death statutes, “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory function, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead.”

    If “death” is defined by these terms, then shouldn’t “life” be as well? In other words, if a fetus cannot sustain the function of any or all these organs on its own, how can it be a human life?

    Abortion is a medical procedure. Therefore it seems that the medical definition of death (and by extension, life) should apply here. To be honest, this is why I have a problem with third trimester abortions, and I can see why Scott Peterson was convicted of a double homicide, since the fetus was viable and could have survived outside the womb without extraordinary medical intervention.

    On the other hand, if M and other like him focus on the inorganic concept of a soul, then they are sliding over into the domain of religion, which in turn tramples on our rights as defined in the first amendment. The Supreme Court has clearly stated that school prayer is unconstitutional, since it violates the rights of aetheists and agnostics. I cannot see why the same argument doesn’t apply in this case.

    And again, even a “soul” cannot exist without a functioning brain, since assuming there even is such a thing, there would be no place for it to inhabit. Several years ago, a full-term baby girl was born who was perfect in every way, except that she had no brain (she had a brain stem, and all her other organs functioned, so she was alive according to the medical definition). Ths apparently happens on rare occasion, our current president notwithstanding (sorry, I couldn’t resist). But she was incapable of perceiving or reacting to anything. She died a few days after birth. Was she a human “being”?

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  02:38 PM
  103. I have just enough time to respond to a comment or two, the latest one (um, Julia, honey, I responded to as much as I reasonably could yesterday, while real life actually needed living today; which parts did you think I ignored?  And can the condescension.  If you can.)

    “If “death” is defined by these terms, then shouldn’t “life” be as well?”

    The equation is not that simple.  Note the term “irreversible” in the definition you cite.  The lack of brain function, or any other function, in an embryo or early fetus is not an “irreversible” state - left on its own, in the absence of gross genetic abnormalities, brain function will eventually be acquired.  So procedural rules the medical and legal professions have adopted regarding the definition of death generally do not apply to determining the onset of life (which, in turn, is the wrong way to put it, since what we are really trying to define is not “life” - which, by any measure, begins at fertilization - but “humanity,” which is stickier).

    “On the other hand, if M and other like him focus on the inorganic concept of a soul, then they are sliding over into the domain of religion, which in turn tramples on our rights as defined in the first amendment.”

    I never mentioned the soul, but we may as well, if you are going to use the term as a substitute for “fully human.” But given that the argument should be about what we consider human, allowing religious viewpoints into that social debate is hardly trampling on your first amendment rights.  Disallowing it is trampling on the rights of the religious.

    One last word: 

    “I wonder why people like M. claim that illegal abortions didn’t happen pre-Roe? ”

    And I wonder why so many here insist on attributing words to my posts that simply aren’t there.  I suppose you gave yourself some wiggle room with the “people like” bit, but I never denied that illegal abortions happened.  I asserted that the numbers involved, especially the numbers of deaths, have been badly exaggerated.  All assertions restricted to the U.S., of course, where hygiene, public health and access to health care is among the best in the world, generally speaking (the vast majority of illegal abortions pre-1973 were performed by doctors, after all, and not in “back alleys,” exactly as it probably will be when states are again allowed to criminalize abortion).  In other locales, notably in Latin America, where abortion is outlawed but health services are not as robust, rates of death and other complications from illegal abortions are rather more disturbing.

    Finally, it is worth addressing the ridiculous notion that outlawing abortion will have no significant effect on the number of abortions performed.  Of course it will; at the very least, obtaining an abortion will be that much more difficult, even in the unlikely event that penalties are trivial, and so a large proportion, and probably a majority, of women who would otherwise have obtained an abortion will not.  And of course, this assertion is hard to square with the “class war” argument, which predicts that outlawing abortion will disproportionately affect poor women (likely true), and with ongoing concerns we read about now that access to abortion has been limited in non-legislative fashion in some states (such as South Dakota) that the act may as well be illegal.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  06:47 PM
  104. Finally, it is worth addressing the ridiculous notion that outlawing abortion will have no significant effect on the number of abortions performed.  Of course it will; at the very least, obtaining an abortion will be that much more difficult, even in the unlikely event that penalties are trivial, and so a large proportion, and probably a majority, of women who would otherwise have obtained an abortion will not.  And of course, this assertion is hard to square with the “class war” argument, which predicts that outlawing abortion will disproportionately affect poor women (likely true), and with ongoing concerns we read about now that access to abortion has been limited in non-legislative fashion in some states (such as South Dakota) that the act may as well be illegal.

    Go look at the numbers in Brazil.  Look at the hospital deaths from sepsis.  And yes, middle and upper class women are much more likely to get safe abortions in Brazil.

    The numbers are available to compare contries with illegal and legal abortions: Look at Argentina, look at Mexico, look at Poland, look at Romania. 

    Then look at the Netherlands and tell me which countries have less abortions.

    Don’t take my word for it - go and look up the administrative records of any American hospital in the 1950s.  Look up the coronor’s reports that are housed in court records buildings.  Ask about the sepsis wards and how many women were housed in the wards annually. 

    It’s simply hubris for you to assume that the abortion rate will go down if it’s criminalized. 

    Are you kidding me? It’s easy to disrupt a 1st trimester pregnancy. (Although for the ignorant it is dangerous.) The facts are out there if you care to look.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  09:35 PM
  105. Gosh, how dast I condescend to someone who (although curiously incapable of summoning up a coherent explanation of it) understands Life so much better than leftys like I?

    One is ashamed.

    Posted by julia  on  03/10  at  09:39 PM
  106. In other locales, notably in Latin America, where abortion is outlawed but health services are not as robust, rates of death and other complications from illegal abortions are rather more disturbing.

    I realized that my post was not clear.  If abortion is re-criminalized in a state the following will result:
    1) a portion of middle and upper middle class women and girls will fly out of state for legal, safe abortions.  (This happens in Latin and South American countries now.)

    2) There will be some aspect of an underground distribution of RU486.  Perhaps some doctors will offer illegal abortions in state. However, the surveillance of those abortions will exceed anything that happened pre-Roe because of the public nature of the debate and the political football it has become.

    3) Poor women and young girls will be much more likely to try “do it yourself” abortions.  They may try to insert catheters into their cervix’s for example.  They may try taking types of herbs rumored to cause abortion.  These women and girls are the ones that will be in the greatest physical danger.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  09:43 PM
  107. Nate—

    I’m not going to play gotcha with you. I read Michael, Digby, Jane and Scott daily. I come for what often strikes me as the best thinking about how we should live as a society. How we should deal with problems. The best analysis, narrative, and arguments. The best politics. The best vision. I come to read what people who are way smarter than me think.

    But this issue refuses to be reduced. It is important. And it is complicated (just try to talk about it honestly with someone you love). Without voluntary assent, I don’t believe we will ever resolve this issue.

    The assent must be given freely or it is meaningless because it is a real controversy, it matters, and there is no easy way to resolve the issue. It involves a leap of faith that any arguer must justify.

    It may be impossible to achieve assent on this issue. But it seems to me that if we aren’t striving for that, then what’s the point? We just breed more ressentiment and kick the can down the road. 

    Recently I was imagining what the country might be like if Martin Luther King were still alive. And I wondered what he might say about abortion.

    Right now the two must natural political constitutinecies (i.e. two political groups that believe we must care for others) are split by this issue. And the greediest part of our culture is manipulating that split to drive us to hell.

    On abortion, I’m pro-choice for two reasons. Currently I’m not so confident in my beliefs that I’d fight to impose them on anyone, and second, I believe an unwelcome child is better off not being born. But, to quote Hugo Black, “I cannot believe that there should be too much rejoicing at this fact.” Deep down, I can’t bring myself to believe we should strive for anything but a society where, somehow, any child is welcomed. And I’m not sure that we are on that path.

    .

    Posted by a-train  on  03/10  at  10:43 PM
  108. "I believe an unwelcome child is better off not being born.”

    Quick question:  is an unwelcome child who has already been born better off dead?

    Seems like the same sort of decision, to me.

    “Gosh, how dast I condescend to someone who (although curiously incapable of summoning up a coherent explanation of it) understands Life so much better than leftys like I?”

    Because, being a “lefty,” you cannot help it.

    “It’s simply hubris for you to assume that the abortion rate will go down if it’s criminalized.”

    Not hubris.  Common sense.

    Posted by  on  03/10  at  11:26 PM
  109. Aw, M. What a type you are, and how little it takes for you to descend from the mountaintop from which you declaim your talking points in lofty disingenuity to ad hominem spite.

    I’m all over the seamless garment. You aren’t willing to accept the logic which would require you to defend life you don’t approve of, or take positions which would make your stance unacceptable to the majority of voters.

    The cock done crowed, son. Go to bed.

    Posted by julia  on  03/11  at  12:00 AM
  110. Quick question:  is an unwelcome child who has already been born better off dead?

    Maybe. But, as I said, I believe we are hardwired to care for the young and helpless. Abortion is a unique situation. You can’t compare it to anything really. Every analogy falls apart. That is why it is a battle of faith.

    Posted by a-train  on  03/11  at  12:19 AM
  111. And I don’t know what I believe.

    Posted by a-train  on  03/11  at  12:20 AM
  112. M., if you come back, or any other pro-lifers: would you care to address the issue of abortions performed to preserve the health of the woman? The South Dakota law offers no exceptions except for saving the life of the woman. Let’s say, hypothetically, that I lived in South Dakota, got raped, got pregnant as a result, and faced serious short- and long-term health risks from the pregnancy (this latter part isn’t hypothetical in my case). Pregnancy probably wouldn’t kill me (provided that I received optimal medical care), so in South Dakota, I’d have to remain pregnant. Is that fetus’s life really worth more to you than the viability of this wife and mother of a young child? Taking rape out of the equation, call it an accidental pregnancy, but with the same health issues. The hubris is in someone else deciding for me that my health is irrelevant.

    Posted by Orange  on  03/11  at  12:21 AM
  113. Abortion rates are no lower overall in places where abortion is generally restricted by law then in areas where abortion is legally permitted.

    Here’s some information on actual abortion rates for the reality-based community:

    US: 21 per 1000 women
    Australia 22/1000
    Sweden 18/1000
    Denmark 16/1000
    England 15.6/1000
    Germany 7.6/1000
    Holland 6.5/1000

    Russian Federation 56/1000
    Romania 78/1000
    Brazil 40/1000

    Oh - and the highest abortion rate ever documented in official statistics?

    Romania in 1965 : 252/1000

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/25s3099.html

    But hey, if you’re blinded by ideology, facts don’t matter, right?

    Posted by  on  03/11  at  02:13 AM
  114. Re: 87, that’s Souter’s *concurrence* in Washington v. Glucksberg. My bad. A simple case of PWI (Posting While Intoxicated.)

    Posted by John Protevi  on  03/11  at  10:57 AM
  115. Quoth A-Train, above: 3. If we think sex is good (obviously not in the case of violence or battery), why shouldn’t we also accept the results as good?

    French fries taste good, as does chocolate cake.  I fail to see where it therefore logically follows that I should celebrate high blood pressure or morbid obesity.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  03/12  at  09:24 PM
  116. French fries taste good, as does chocolate cake.  I fail to see where it therefore logically follows that I should celebrate high blood pressure or morbid obesity.

    Well then, french fries and chocolate cake aren’t really “good” are they? Caveat eator.

    Posted by a-train  on  03/12  at  10:24 PM
  117. Caveat emptor indeed.  As a citizen of a nominally free country, it falls to me to exercise (ha!) a range of options to keep my pomme frites from leading me to an early grave, ranging from moderation in their consumption, to vigorous cardiovascular exertion to, in extremis,, liposuction and stomach stapling.  We applaud the former few and tut tut the latter, but the choice remains mine, and (important point approaching) people who suggest total abstinence from tasty foods are generally considered neurotic, while a (completely hypothetical, indeed inevitably fictional) person who suggested that I should accept obesity as a necessary consequence of the occasional french fry would be regarded as insane.

    As for M’s never-ending inanities, I can only offer a simple first principle: your body is your own property.  Not your parents’, not your spouse’s, and never, ever the state’s.  Anyone claiming differently should be met with derision at first, active political resistance next, and armed force when necessary.  (Anyone speculating on the self-ownership of a blastocyst is cordially invited to donate their own body to host it.)

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  03/13  at  04:35 AM
  118. Despite all of Berube’s red herrings and obfuscations, he never got around to addressing or refuting Nader’s main point:

    “Democrats had helped confirm Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hadn’t they?’ Besides, ‘You can’t really predict how Supreme Court justices will behave.’”

    So there you have it. The Democrats did not even attempt a filibuster to stop the appointment of either Scalia or Thomas and many in fact voted for their confirmations (Kerry voted for Scalia and said he might even appoint an anti-abortion justice if he were president). But wait! Didn’t the same thing just happen with Roberts and Alito? Why yes, it did. Given the fact that they did not put up a fight over Alito or Roberts proves that the Democrats themselves are not really that scared. And why should they be? They’re not worried about abortion being banned, nor are they worried about corporations being held accountable for their actions. They have enough personal wealth to insulate themselves from the consequences of those things.

    Nader’s underlying message remains true: as long as politicians continue to take millions of dollars from corporate interests, ordinary citizens will not be represented. That is an unrefutable fact of the U.S. political system. Sad that the voting public can’t grasp such simple concept - not to mention a university professor.

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  11:29 AM
  119. Posted by  on  03/13  at  12:06 PM
  120. To John Protevi:  “not finding the word privacy in the Constitution” is, I grant a you, a “lazy meme.” It’s shorthand for the counter-argument to the legal treatises you set forward.  I will not expound on it further, because, well, I’m lazy, and want my time for other things.  I will note, however, that the legalistic process that gave us these unenumerated privacy rights is part of a larger power struggle, dating back to 1803, between the judicial and the other brances of government (and the states).  That same power struggle gave us Dred Scott and Korematsu, so historically it can work against privacy rights as often as it works for them (or, more correctly, privacy rights can be used to justify all sorts of things, usually anti-democratic).  The pendulum is currently in the process of swinging back in the other direction, and the anti-democratic nature of the judicial branch will once again become something that the left end of the political spectrum despises rather than embraces (and vice-versa for the right).

    All of which is simply to say that so long as privacy rights remain unenumerated - so long as they emerge from interpretations of specific amendments, and (in the case of the 4th, for example) are specifically limited in the first place - then they are subject to change.  Whether you prefer that those changes be made by 5-9 judges or by a messy, democratic process in society at large says a great deal about you.  And if you don’t want them to change, then you should convince a large enough portion of the electorate to follow the procedures outlined in Constitution for enumerating them.

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  12:10 PM
  121. Despite all of Berube’s red herrings and obfuscations, he never got around to addressing or refuting Nader’s main point:

    “Democrats had helped confirm Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hadn’t they?’ Besides, ‘You can’t really predict how Supreme Court justices will behave.’”

    I’m sorry, Tim.  I know your heart’s in the right place, and of course I agree with you about the corruption of democracy by plutocracy.  But anyone who thinks “some Democrats voted to confirm Scalia and Thomas” (and in the case of Thomas we are talking about very few Democrats) equals “a Democratic president would nominate the same Supreme Court justices as a far-right Republican president” just isn’t operating by a form of logic that I recognize.  So I’ll take the condescension in your final sentence as a forgivable mistake from someone who isn’t thinking all that clearly about what Nader actually said.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/13  at  12:49 PM
  122. Michael’s support of the single party kleptocracy is touching. Truly.  I’m getting misty…

    But seriously, it’s fun to watch a kid suck up to the playground bully by dissing another kid the playground bully doesn’t like.  Maybe someday the playground bully will invite Michael to lunch instead of stepping on his face.

    After all, it happened to Kos.  So there’s hope, nu?

    Posted by AlanSmithee  on  03/13  at  01:43 PM
  123. I know your heart’s in the right place, and of course I agree with you about the corruption of democracy by plutocracy.

    . . .

    Michael’s support of the single party kleptocracy is touching. Truly.  I’m getting misty. . .

    Hey, Alan, gotta say I loved your last film.  Truly.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/13  at  02:55 PM
  124. … person who suggested that I should accept obesity as a necessary consequence of the occasional french fry would be regarded as insane.

    Nobody said you should accept it is a necessary consequence, rather you must accept it as a possible consequence (a risk worth taking). Still, this is largely irrelevant re:abortion because in abortion there is a another being involved. Right now we dispute when in time to call it a human being and give full status and rights, etc. (the extremes being conception on the one end, and actual birth on the other).

    M. points out that we can let judges decide, or we can decide democratically. I believe either method has its problems, but I lean towards democratic decision making. With judges there is the issue of legitimacy and the ability of a dedicated and energetic minority to get a result that an ambivalent majority doesn’t fully agree with. And, although I’ve heard of the problems with the “tyranny of the majority,” I think if we could ever amend the constitution, we should give majority rule a try (i.e. seems the tyranny of the minority may be worse).

    Still, seems most people favor the method (judicial or democratic) that yields their desired result.

    Posted by a-train  on  03/13  at  03:04 PM
  125. I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced that a “person” should receive full rights and status when they are completely, 100% physically dependent on ONE particular other human being’s body for survival.  This is even truer when we consider that this “person” has no capability of indicating their opinion about their current state, willingness or eagerness to continue their current state (or lack thereof), or indeed ability to communicate whatsoever.

    If there is any time when this situation occurs other than pregnancy, I’d be very interested in hearing about it.

    If we had a way to remove a living fetus from a woman’s body and transfer it to another woman’s body and/or to an artificial womb where it could fully develop into a viable human being, there would be an argument that abortion is wrong because there would be options other than forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy against her will.  But as far as I know, we have no such capability at this time, and we will have to make do with the “evil” of abortion for the time being, because removing a woman’s autonomy over her own uterus, no matter how distasteful, is a worse evil.

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  04:24 PM
  126. Dear “M,” perhaps you’re right that Madison v Marbury and the practice of judicial review it initiated is “anti-democratic,” but we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a republic with some democratic principles and some non-democratic principles, like the judicial protection of minority rights. That you would throw them to the mercy of the political process says a lot about you as well—and what it says is that you are anti-American in a profound way.

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  06:25 PM
  127. Marbury v Madison! Arrggh!

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  08:51 PM
  128. like the judicial protection of minority rights.

    This did happen eventually (and most minorities will tell you its still hasn’t been enough). But it is also true that the judiciary (and the lack of democracy) kept minorities from having their rights realized. It is quite possible that a more democratic system would have ended slavery much sooner (i.e. one person-one vote, no 3/5, no electoral college, senate representation based on population, a constitution that is easier to amend, etc).

    I suspect that America would be more like Canada, Australia and Western Europe if we had majority rule (i.e. generally more liberal).

    Posted by a-train  on  03/13  at  09:50 PM
  129. Michael,

    You seem only to be concerned with the actions of the executive. We have a whole other branch of government known as the legislature, or Congress if you will. I guess it makes it easier for you rhetorically though to ignore that fact - especially when you are faced with the onorous task of defending the Democrats no matter how reprehensible their actions are. However, intellectual honesty definitely wasn’t your
    goal from outset seeing how you were trying to slander Ralph Nader in a bid to shift attention away from the Democrats’ cravenness/perfidy. Enough with the smoke and mirrors though! Forget Nader and forget how Bush stole the election and please answer me this simple question: If Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts were all such a threat to Roe v Wade and progressive values/legislation in general, then why didn’t the Democrats filibuster their nominations?

    Additional question: if a Democrat wasn’t likely to nominate such far right justices, then why did John Kerry say he wouldn’t rule out nominating one if he were president (he cited his vote for Scalia as evidence of this, by the way)?

    The Democrats are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem and that problem is unchecked corporate power. When it comes right down to it, they simply do not care, because they do not suffer the consequences of “bankruptcy reform”, “class action fairness” laws or tax cuts for the oligarchs. For the most part, they benefit from those things given their class status.

    You’re strategy for change (i.e. vote for the Democrats no matter how many times they fuck you over) is something that I cannot recognize as logic. It seems more akin to battered woman syndrome really…

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  09:56 PM
  130. I apologize for the following typos:

    *onerous

    *from the outset

    *your strategy

    Posted by  on  03/13  at  09:59 PM
  131. Sorry, but anyone who says I “defend the Democrats no matter how reprehensible their actions are” isn’t being intellectually honest—with me or with anyone else.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/13  at  10:38 PM
  132. Tim D., yeah the D’s refusal/inability to filibuster the Alito & Roberts nominations pissed me off. 

    So, who would you rather have, a party that voted 100% for those cats, or a party, the majority of whom voted against Alito, and a party that wouldn’t have nominated them in the first place?

    The most astute critique of Nader in 2000 came from a fringe commie presidential candidate who said, “there is no difference between Bush, Gore, Nader, and Buchanan:  They are all capitalists.”

    That was truer than the idea that there is no difference between Bush and Gore or R’s & D’s, because at least it has ideological consistency and clarity.

    Nader’s ideology is his own publicity.  Hence, his failure to support the Green Party.  Hence, his decision to embrace Patrick Buchanan’s Reform Party in 2004.  Hence, his refusal to return donations from Republican fatcats who had no interest in supporting him or his causes.  Seriously, Tim, why do you continue to support someone who screwed you over?

    I continue to support the D’s because right now, here and now, they’re the best shot we got at rolling back the Republican anti-woman, anti-labor, anti-human, anti-environment crusade.  Are they a party I wholeheartedly support?  No, they’re center-right.  And the R’s are extremist right.  Huge difference.  Life and death difference for lots of people.

    I voted for Nader in ‘96, pissed at Clinton’s “welfare reform.” But in 2000 Nader was lying, and it was apparent.

    So, I’m no huge fan of Clinton or most of the D leadership, but you may want to notice something:  Under Clinton, for the first time since Nixon, blue collar wages rose faster than inflation and the union movement had a slight, slight rebound.  The Republicans saw that and it made them very, very unhappy, and they have worked very swiftly and deliberately to reverse it.  Did the rich get richer quicker than the poor under Clinton?  Yes, indeed they did.  As I said, a center-right party.  And the distinction from an extremist right that cozies up to white supremacist groups (as the R leadership routinely does) and sides with the most heinously misogynist regimes in the world on Global Birth Control issues—well, if you don’t see it, I’m very sorry.

    And, hey, M., I’m glad you support birth control.  Please write the President a letter and tell him to get serious about reducing the number of abortions.  Abortions went down under Clinton.

    Posted by john  on  03/14  at  12:01 AM
  133. John

    Well instead of refuting your points one by one, I’ll state the obvious, which is given the overwhelming ecological problems we face today, voting for Republicans, Democrats or Greens/Ralph Nader will not help us to avert utter catastrophe. Our way of life is at odds with the fundamental laws of ecological sustainability and no president will convince Americans that we need to give up that way of life. That’s a depressing reality, but the upside is the American empire will finally cease to wreak havoc on the world with my tax money (just remember everytime you vote Democrat you vote for Iraqi women and children being shred to pieces by cluster bombs and under Clinton you were voting for them to starve to death slowly). 

    By the way, I am a member of the Socialist Party USA and wrote in Walter Brown in last election (but voted for Nader in 2000) so I share the fringe commie critique. Therefore, I’m not some wild-eyed Naderite, jumping to defend St. Ralph from every sling and arrow. I just think it’s hilarious, but tiresome, for the Democratic rank and file to blame Ralph Nader anytime they are in a tizzy because their beloved party betrayed them. The Democratic Party’s motto these days seems to be “When We Let You Down, Blame NADER!” Absolutely delusional…

    By the way, no answer from Michael to my main question.

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  10:19 AM
  134. Kerry, like Gore before him, occasionally pandered to the right.  Foolishly, and counterproductively.  But there was no way that the pro-abortion, anti-death penalty, pro-stem cell research Kerry would have appointed anyone like Roberts or Alito.  To believe otherwise is to inhabit a political fantasyland, and it’s just as foolish as claiming that I defend Democrats in response to a post in which I criticize them.

    Your political desires, Tim, are mostly laudable.  Your arrogant sense of entitlement—evidenced in this latest comment by your conviction that I have to respond to your criticism although you don’t have to respond to John’s—is not.  You actually don’t have the right to show up on people’s blogs and make demands of them.  The simple, unavoidable point is that Nader dismissed the question of abortion bans altogether, claiming that the GOP would not go so far.  The fact that he himself would have voted for Bush in 2000 is unfortunate, and further evidence of his terrible political judgment, but quite beside the immediate point.

    Posted by Michael  on  03/14  at  11:23 AM
  135. "Dear M, perhaps youre right that Madison v Marbury and the practice of judicial review it initiated is anti-democratic, but we dont live in a democracy, we live in a republic with some democratic principles and some non-democratic principles, like the judicial protection of minority rights. That you would throw them to the mercy of the political process says a lot about you as welland what it says is that you are anti-American in a profound way.”

    Whether judicial review is anti-democratic or not shouldn’t be an issue; it is.  Whether that is, on balance, a good or a bad thing is another debate.  My purpose was not to cast judgment on the constitutionality, or the wisdom, of Marbury v. Madison, or any of the subsequent decisions that have placed the Judiciary in the central (and final) role it now holds.  It was, rather, simply to point out that to many the all-encompassing “privacy rights,” and the extensive paper trail you are able to cite in support of them, are largely extra-textual and created by the courts in the absence of democratic process.  It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that these privacy rights, and the specific situations (usually abortion) to which they are applied, rank among the most contentious political issues in this country.  Most people recognize the difference between democratic and anti-democratic processes.

    The ending of legalized segregation was also an anti-democratic process, at least at the state level, so calling something “democratic” is not a substitute for calling it “good.” As “a-train” has mentioned, however, the courts have just as often, if not more often, represented an obstacle to minority rights.  If you are willing to acquiesce to the courts when they decide in ways you happen to agree with, you should be equally willing to acquiesce when they do not.  In the near future, you are likely to be faced with this situation, so this is not an idle question.

    It also obfuscates the question to lump abortion in with “minority rights,” especially since a majority of the population does not understand how “abortion” equates with “privacy,” even before you get to the matter of whether or not there exist unfettered privacy rights.  If one regards the fetus as human, “privacy” is trumped; no privacy right, real or imagined, allows parents to abuse their children.

    “If there is any time when this situation occurs other than pregnancy, Id be very interested in hearing about it.”

    Dependency takes many forms; the dependency of the fetus is remarkable, certainly, but there are millions of disabled, elderly and ill individuals who, if left to their own devices, would rather quickly lose their lives.  Many of them are in no condition to make their wishes known regarding efforts to keep them alive.  I have read several times on this thread that if I were fully consistent in my views on life and abortion, I would regard all women who have abortions as murderers, etc.  In a sense, they’re right, though legalistically the reality is not so dramatic (how many murderers are ever prosecuted for “Murder One?").  Well, how about this?  If you were similarly consistent, you would have to admit that we have the power of life and death over these dependents in the same way we have it over the fetus.  To be fair, there are people who are exactly this consistent; their extreme views give rise to the conservative meme of the “Culture of Death.” But to my mind, humanity is not conditioned upon dependency.

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  11:53 AM
  136. Tim D,

    for the record, I’m not into blaming Nader until someone comes along defending his lies.  In ‘96 I voted for him because I thought I could afford a protest vote.  In ‘00 I didn’t because I thought I couldn’t.  Many people I love voted for him.  Most, maybe all, regret it, at least partly because he proved himself a liar about building an alternative political party.

    America sucks on the environment, as does the industrialized west as a whole and the industrializing east.  I haven’t kept up with current socialist thinking on the topic, but historically the communist states are no better than the capitalist states on it and are possibly worse.  D’s are marginally better than the R’s.  Not good enough, I agree, not nearly, but better.

    This line, “every time you vote for a D you support everything a D supports,” is just plain wrong, and, in the present context, absurd.  The Democrats would not have invaded Iraq in response to 9-11.  They voted for it out of a despicable political cowardice, and I did what I could to stop them.  But you know what?  The Republicans would have done it anyway if every single Democrat had voted against giving Bush the authority.

    It’s called Democracy, my friend.  Agree on some things, disagree on others, build coalitions on what you agree on, make your disagreements known, and work to prevent your allies on some things from doing things you think are wrong on other things.  I do.  If you don’t want to work in coalition to get the Republicans out of power, it’s everybody’s loss, except the Republicans’. 

    The 2-party system is deeply flawed, as are the electoral college and our system of bi-cameralism.  I’d love to change them to make them more democratic (small “d").  But right now we have some more pressing things on our plate.

    Nader screwed you and he lied.  Why do you keep defending him?

    Posted by john  on  03/14  at  12:03 PM
  137. "Abortions went down under Clinton.”

    This is not quite correct.  Several graphs of abortions in the U.S. show a relatively constant level until 1998, when there is a suspiciously sharp drop.  Not coincidentally, this is the year that several states - notably California - ceased reporting abortions to the CDC.  Adjusted figures show a cumulative drop of roughly 5% in the number of abortions during Clinton’s presidency, which is low enough to make one wonder about its significance, and to render assignment of credit for the phenomenon a dicey proposition.

    As far as Bush is concerned, I’m not sure what you’re getting at.  The number of abortions performed in the U.S. has not increased during his presidency, although I suppose it would be nice if it decreased further.

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  12:03 PM
  138. M.,

    Bush is not anti-abortion, he’s pro-forced-birth.  If he were anti-abortion, as you are, he would also be pro-contraception.  He has stopped funding international aid organizations that provide women with birth control.  I don’t have any stats or figures.

    Posted by john  on  03/14  at  12:50 PM
  139. Dependency takes many forms; the dependency of the fetus is remarkable, certainly, but there are millions of disabled, elderly and ill individuals who, if left to their own devices, would rather quickly lose their lives.

    M., I believe Stacy’s point was that a fetus (initially) is dependent on exactly ONE person, and thus that person should get to decide the legal and ethical status of the fetus. I don’t really have an answer for this. This fact is largely why abortion is it’s own category.

    Though I don’t have an answer, I still don’t find it convincing because I don’t believe the reason women get abortions is simply because they don’t want 9 months of pregnancy. Obviously, I could be wrong, but it seems like it’s all the other parts of having a kid that are the real issue. And in many ways this burden (i.e. the raising of a child) falls disproportionately on women. To me this is the problem that needs to be addressed.

    As you point out, there are lots of situations where one is legally required to care for a dependent. In most ways (with the exception of actual pregnancy) the difference is of degree rather than kind (which is why I don’t believe you can say the father gets absolutely no say - but, like in some forms of co-ownership, the owners are in a “state of nature” in that the law does not govern how exactly they are allowed to mutually possess the property and maybe that is best in the case of pregnancy too).

    .

    Posted by a-train  on  03/14  at  01:04 PM
  140. "[Bush] has stopped funding international aid organizations that provide women with birth control.  I don’t have any stats or figures.”

    Ah, that clarifies things.  It starts with the Bush administration’s unwillingness to provide funding to organizations that, among whatever other services they provide, perform or otherwise facilitate abortions.  I believe in some cases, however, representatives from the Bush administration cross over into nuttier territory and discourage contraception as well.  I remember one anecdote in particular, about an especially hilarious Bush appointee at an international conference, who promoted the rhythm method as the only contraceptive technique that a given U.N. agency should be publicizing.

    There are sometimes good reasons for a society to discourage contraception; only draconian measures along those lines have any chance of saving the cultures we currently know of as Japan and Western Europe.  I doubt that Bush-led anti-contraceptive activists are thinking along those lines, though.

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  01:05 PM
  141. Dear “M,” when you say that privacy rights are

    largely extra-textual and created by the courts in the absence of democratic process

    then I think we really need to talk jurisprudential theory about the “extra-textual,” and about “created,” which was my purpose in recommending Dworkin.

    When you say

    the specific situations (usually abortion) to which they are applied

    then I think you are factually wrong, as the right to privacy began with contraception, moved to abortion, and then went to targeting of homosexuals via state sodomy laws and then, with Cruzan dealt with “end of life” issues. We also face innumerable questions about data privacy, not simply with the NSA data-mining operations, but in everyday matters like medical data sharing between employers, hospitals and insurance companies. Abortion is only one issue in this panoply, and while it might be foremost in your mind and moral universe, it is simply untrue to say that privacy is “usually” or “mostly” about abortion.

    Would you be happy to go back before Griswold and have states, via majority rule political processes, regulate contraceptive use with married couples? Many “seamless fabric of life” supporters would love just such a thing.

    Besides, pretending that the gerrymandered, PACed, lobbied, focus-grouped ... rituals we call “elections” are “democratic,” is a bit of a stretch, wouldn’t you say? Remember that Aristotle, who knew a thing or two about politics and democracy, called elections an “aristocratic” practice in Athens, compared to the “democratic” practice of choosing by lot.

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  01:11 PM
  142. "M., I believe Stacy’s point was that a fetus (initially) is dependent on exactly ONE person, and thus that person should get to decide the legal and ethical status of the fetus.”

    As technology improves, our ability to sustain life outside the womb reaches further back in developmental time.  Most third-trimester fetuses are viable these days (although it’s nerve-wracking for parents of preemies).  This is part of the reason that we often remove this life-and-death power you would give the mother in late pregnancy.  But morally this is a non sequitur:  is humanity to be defined by technology?  This is where the dependency argument leads me, and partly why I don’t buy it.

    “Obviously, I could be wrong, but it seems like it’s all the other parts of having a kid that are the real issue. And in many ways this burden (i.e. the raising of a child) falls disproportionately on women. To me this is the problem that needs to be addressed.”

    No disagreement from me, except I’d replace “the problem” with “a problem.”

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  01:14 PM
  143. ”...the right to privacy began with contraception, moved to abortion, and then went to targeting of homosexuals via state sodomy laws and then, with Cruzan dealt with “end of life” issues.”

    Your own suggested reading list gives a longer history.  It began with Brandeis in 1890, although at the time he was more concerned with the press getting hold of private documents.  The contraception decision in particular, though, was a funny one, with all sorts of strange auras and “penumbras” that were, in reality, just Douglas’s way of coming to the right decision without having a textual basis for doing so.

    I am in complete agreement with you on the importance of privacy as it relates to the issues you mention.  Perhaps it was too glib for me to equate “privacy” with “abortion,” but it ranks highest among the hot-button issues.  I would rather not leave any of those issues up to the courts.  So long as you view the democratic process in this country in the light you do (and I have some sympathy with that view), it is perhaps not surprising that you would look to the courts as the last bastion against the forces of darkness.  But here’s the political reality:  Republicans and the moneyed interests behind them are stacking the courts now, too; have already stacked them.  They’ve learned how the game is played: if you can’t get a law passed, get a judge to do it for you.  So rule by fiat, which has benefited liberal causes (including not a few entirely just ones) for the past several decades, is about to swing back to the way it was in Brandeis’ day and before, when “privacy” rights and the 14th amendment were used to benefit large corporations instead of the citizens for whom they were intended.  And that process will be just as illegitimate as the one that led to Roe v. Wade.

    Posted by  on  03/14  at  01:32 PM
  144. The 2-party system is deeply flawed, as are the electoral college and our system of bi-cameralism.  I’d love to change them to make them more democratic (small “d").  But right now we have some more pressing things on our plate.

    Yes, and you always will, thanks to the DP.  Give the GOP some credit: It stands boldly for fascism, whereas men like Kerry and his DLC buddies sort of cringe behind them and occasionally pipe up “Me, too !” Why would anyone vote for a timid fascist when they could have a bold one ?

    You were already told why folks like Tim D. and myself defend Nader from this kind of bullshit: Because you are not merely criticizing.  You are using him as a whipping boy.  Dependance on whipping boys doesn’t prove your strength.  It proves that you are weaklings, dutifully carrying water for DLC sociopaths who pose as weaklings so you’ll fear too sorry for them to give them the backhanded slap that they have earned many, many times over in the last few decades.

    Michael, I join Tim D. in being disappointed at your chickenshit response to him. Why did the Democrats not filibuster ?  Why did so many of them vote for Rightwing justice after Rightwing justice even as they pocketed pro-choice money and used Roe to bully and terrify any woman who dared to think that maybe, just maybe, their eternal love affair with predatory market values was not in her best interest ?

    Abortion will soon be just one more luxury good for millions of us-- joining us with the ranks of women for whom it has been as much for years.  Perhaps if fortune smiles, we can have it.  If not, we’re SOL.  Every last Democratic Senator and Congressperson is part of the class for whom luxury goods --and the attendent ability to flout the law if those goods are illegal-- are theirs no matter how good or bad times get. 

    Yes, I know, this knowledge hurts you terribly.  That’s why you need Nader.  Alan Smithee’s schoolyard bully analogy is all too apt as we deal with Round #5,237,946 of your noxious passive-aggressivenes and denial.

    Posted by alsis39.75  on  03/14  at  06:15 PM
  145. Micheal, if there were an award for attracting a dual-track word-fight from the right and the putative left, this post should be nominated.

    I just have to agree with alsis39.75.  You’re so mean to Ralph!  How can you be so mean!  Yes, he lied, he was wrong, he had spectacularly poor judgment, he screwed over his own constituents, he’s a millionaire several times over who stands to make substantial financial gains from the Bush tax cuts, he busts unions in his own shops, but to say any of this is mean, mean, mean!  He is not a whipping boy!  How could you!

    Posted by John  on  03/14  at  07:06 PM
  146. [snicker]

    And don’t forget, John.  Everyone was perfectly, perfectly thrilled with the DP before Ralph seduced us away from your side.  That’s a really nifty trick you stalwarts perform: You simultaneously take the stance that we escapees on the ground were brainwashed, and yet we are also “putative,” malicious monkey-wrenchers who --if we’d only grin and eat the shit you dutifully help your masters ladle out-- the country could return to the land of paradise that never actually existed-- except in your dreams.

    It’s also cute that you can rally ‘round a warmonger like Kerry and a glorified Dixiecrat like Gore.  After all, no one’s perfect.  That’s just you being “realistic,” but if a handful of stragglers rally ‘round a guy who busted Unions in his own backyard but called for Taft-Hartley, NAFTA, and CAFTA to be taken down (while your guys were either ignoring these draconian beauties or enthusiastically endorsing them), that’s “putative.”

    If a handful of stragglers rally ‘round a guy whose personal fortune is a fraction of either Gore’s or Kerry’s (who also, in case you didn’t notice, made a fortune off Bush’s tax cuts;or did they give it all away to widows and orphans as pennance), that’s “putative.”

    Gevalt.  No wonder you all stay stuck like glue to a party that constantly milks the cow and the bull at the same time-- while peddling the results as ginger ale.  You’re positive masters of the technique yourselves.  I hope the DLC sends you that logo mug or frisbie you’ve earned.

    So, John: Why do Democrats constantly vote for Rightwing judges ?  Why didn’t they fillibuster Alito if he was so dangerous ?  Why do they guilt-trip us stragglers about choice, but when Harry Reid is kicked upstairs, they have nothing to say to the leaders who put him there ?

    And speaking of whips, is the one you hold surgically welded to your hand, or are you capable of answering Tim D.’s very direct question ?

    Posted by alsis39.75  on  03/14  at  08:20 PM
  147. "Putative” because your main mission here seems to be running down the centrists instead of the tougher fascists, whom you say you prefer to those whom you erroneously call the milder fascists (they’re not fascists; they’re a weak, centrist opposition party), in a destructive display of time-wasting machismo.

    “Realistic”—I suppose your and Tim D’s sweet way with words is designed to win us over to the—which side is it?  Oh, socialist in Tim’s case; we don’t know in yours.  We do know:  The Republicans funded Ralph in ‘04, and he was happy to try to do what he could to help them to victory by offering an illusory alternative for disgruntled “purist” voters:  the Reform Party of Patrick Buchanan! 

    This aggressive rhetoric is entertaining, but you have not answered my very direct question:  Why do do you defend somebody who screwed you over?

    Of course, the aggressive rhetorician does not answer questions, but only asks them of others.  Never answer, only ask; never explain, only attack.

    To repeat myself, because you had not noticed:  I called the D’s on their despicable political cowardice regarding the War Powers question.  Political cowardice probably had something to do with their inability to hang together to filibuster Alito (the majority of them voted to filibuster) or even to try to filibuster Roberts, but political calculation probably had something to do with it too:  even if they had filibustered, it’s quite likely the nominees would have been seated anyway.

    Now, some questions for you:

    Why do you defend that liar Nader?

    Do you really see no difference between a party that cavorts with white supremacists, works hard to deny contraception to women worldwide, appoints anti-environmentalists to head the EPA and anti-union people to head the Dept of Labor, and illegally scrubs voter rolls of African American voters; and a party that does not do anything of these things?

    If you do see there is a difference, why does it not matter to you?

    Do you really think that that millionaire Gore or that millionaire Kerry would have nominated an anti-choice judge to the Supremes?

    Do you really think that a President Gore would have invaded Iraq as a response to the atrocity of September 11, 2001?

    If so, why?  On what basis?

    If not, why do these differences not matter to you?

    And, to get personal, as you have, what did you do to stop NAFTA?  What did you do to stop the Iraq invasion?  I called my Congresspeople and rallied in the streets.  It’s not much, I know, but don’t accuse me of standing in the background cheering this crap on because I decide to ally myself with centrists against white-supremacist-friendly misogynist rightwing extremists.

    If you had read my previous comments, you would have seen your attacks on my positions were baseless.  I’ve answered your questions.  Your turn to answer mine.

    Posted by John  on  03/14  at  08:53 PM
  148. Because unlike you, I don’t believe it was Nader who held the screws, John.  Not by a long shot.  If Nader lied, it was certainly a lie that pales next to those of Gore and Bush or the perpetual lie that the former really give a shit what happens to the American people.  Or, as I explained to my husband when we went round and round over it in 2004, “Hey.  If my only choice is between a sociopath, a sociopath’s stooge, and an asshole, I guess I’ll vote for the asshole.”

    Also because, whatever his flaws, Nader opened his mouth when it wasn’t considered “nice” to do so.  He said some things that desperately needed to be said.  I’m sure there were Progs. with smaller personal fortunes, with less of a murky labor record, and with some reasonable level of public cache that could have stuck their necks out.  Only none of them did because they were too afraid.  The failures of Nader as a standard-bearer are therefore their failures as well. They could have put a more diverse face on real dissent, but they did not.

    Kerry actually publically stated that he would consider nominating an anti judge if “Roe wasn’t in danger.” I wonder where he got the impression that A) This is any way to treat your base and B) Roe was not in any danger ?  (See my earlier comment about choice as a luxury good.  That’s probably the only answer that really counts.)

    Judging by all the liberals shouting --in their oh-so-civilized fashion-- for Afghani blood after 9/11, I see no reason NOT to assume that Gore, alleged liberal champion, would have led the charge for it-- as well as Iraqi blood.  In addition, Gore would have had plenty of blood on his hands thanks to his association with Clinton and the latter’s penchant for bombings and sanctions.  Are we supposed to be happy with that prospect because if only Iraquis die, and not Americans, it’s all good ?

    Suit yourself.

    And, to get personal, as you have, what did you do to stop NAFTA?  What did you do to stop the Iraq invasion?  I called my Congresspeople and rallied in the streets.  It’s not much, I know, but don’t accuse me of standing in the background cheering this crap on because I decide to ally myself with centrists against white-supremacist-friendly misogynist rightwing extremists.

    I called, I rallied.  But the truth is, John, we are both of us “in the background.” The primary difference is that I’ve given up on bemoaning war and predatory trade out of one side of my mouth while cheering on the party that sponsored them out my other.

    What passes for “centrism” these days is a joke.  Harry Reid is a “centrist” ?  Hillary is a “centrist” ?  Please.  They shovel giveaway laws dutifully into the maws of MBNA. They set the stage for war on Iran so they can have a bookend for the war on Iraq that they so eagerly avoid doing anything about now.  They won’t call for impeachment though a majority of Americans are furious with Bush.  That’s “Centrism” ?  I’ll pass, Thank You.  Shouting for social justice while leaving predatory economic policies (the DLC’s stock in trade) untouched guarantees two things. One: That we will continue with unchecked economic boom/bust cycles that create such fertile fields for the hate movements you decry and Two: Human rights will only be for those who can afford to buy them.

    I didn’t think much of your answers.  I found them disingenuous.  Try as I might, I cannot figure out how a party is to build a majoritarian base while limiting its battles to those that will make it look like obedient children to its enemies.  An opposition is supposed to oppose.  The promise of sunshine opposition is worthless.  Without the interest in carving out an identity distinct from its opposition, there will never be sunshine in any case. The DP seems to be gambling on the idea that if they do nothing, they can win by default.  Perhaps they are right, but they’ve been trying that tack for awhile now, and it doesn’t seem to be working worth a damn.

    Posted by alsis39.75  on  03/14  at  09:20 PM
  149. alsis39.75,

    I am sorry my answers did not satisfy you.  They were genuine.

    I don’t believe that you really think that Gore would have invaded Iraq.

    I share your bitterness about the opposition’s failure to do very much opposing.  Kerry was a terrible candidate.  Gore was too.  But here is where we differ, and I don’t think the difference can be bridged:  Despite NAFTA and the rest of the anti-democratic (small “d") trade agreements, I really do believe that Gore, Kerry, Clinton, and the rest really do want things to get better for most Americans.  The proof is in the pudding:  blue collar workers consistently do better under D administration than R administrations.  Under Clinton, incomes for the bottom half of the country’s economic ladder beat inflation in the first time in 20+ years. 

    I also sincerely believe that Gore, Kerry, and the rest have a much more progressive foreign policy.  Their first instinct is—yes—look out for America first; BUT (and it’s a big BUT), they believe that the best way to do that is to make things at least tolerable for the other countries (1), and (2), don’t deliberately piss everybody off.  Also, of course, there’s the matter of funding contraception for women in 3rd World countries, a point which you have declined to address. 

    So, we can disagree, but please consider:  Do you really think the response to the Katrina disaster would have been so disastrous under a Democratic administration?

    Also:  it’s indisputable that Gore won the 2000 election, and I would bet that Kerry won in Ohio in 2004.  Mediocre candidates, but they still . . . ah, forget it.

    What a mess.

    p.s.  I rescind “putative.”

    Posted by John  on  03/14  at  10:54 PM
  150. p.p.s.  “make things at least tolerable for other countries” . . . obviously in the dual contexts of a brutal international consensus and of being a brutal empire.  Bush will bring one thing off that a lot of leftists hope for, a hope that I do not share:  America after Bush will be a severely weakened empire.  I do not think this will make things better for the people of the world because I fear that another country would probably be even worse as top dog.  Empires tend to be terrible. 

    Obviously, easy for me to say, not living under the brunt of the old Clinton regime (for example, the internationally-supported Iraq sanctions).

    Lots to be mad about. 

    One thing, though, re Kerry’s Supreme statement:  Notice that “if.” He was being disingenuous.  He knew that Roe was in danger; he was trying to appeal to, I’m not sure whom; he never intended to nominate an anti-choicer.  He was lying, to bad effect and bad purpose.

    Still, he would have been a much better choice.  You don’t see it that way, that’s fine.

    Posted by John  on  03/14  at  11:26 PM
  151. Michael, I join Tim D. in being disappointed at your chickenshit response to him.

    I am crushed, alsis.  Partly by your disappointment, but mostly by my own disappointment at the moral dishonesty of your remark. 

    Posted by Michael  on  03/15  at  12:11 AM
  152. a belated personal summary:  i agree with many of the critiques of the D’s; i merely believe that the R’s are orders of magnitude worse on most, perhaps all, of the issues.

    others don’t see it that way.

    all of us have our reasons.

    Posted by John  on  03/15  at  12:18 AM
  153. John:

    Perhaps Gore would not have invaded.  I think he would have, but even had he not, the Iraquis would be suffering brutality and deprivation and dying.  The main difference in your scenario is that Americans would not be dying there or coming back in pieces mentally and physically.  Forgive me if I’m not inclined to give Gore any gold stars for that. >:

    So, we can disagree, but please consider:  Do you really think the response to the Katrina disaster would have been so disastrous under a Democratic administration?

    Well, let’s see.  The papers in N.O. said years before the flood that the levees were weak and that the city was ill-prepared for a major disaster.  There are (and were) Demos who helm(ed) major offices in the city.  Did they confront the administration about the problem ?  Did they take their case to the press ?  I don’t know why I should give the DP any points when they presumably could have checked Brownie’s resume’ for padding, and at least suggested that Bush pick somebody for the FEMA gig who knew his armpit from his ear.  Did they ?

    Hey, Michael. “Moral dishonesty?” That’s not like the good old days when these same opinions got me slams like “spoiled adolescent who doesn’t pay your own bills” or “the descendent of those guys who worked for Franco.” I must be moving up in the world, or else my rap is getting slicker after nearly seven years of practice.  Thanks.

    BTW, J. Alva on the Stop Me Before I Vote Again blog adresses the issue of whether or not blue collar workers really “do better” under the DP than the GOP, at least in recent history.  It’s there, if either you or John is interested.

    Yeah, John.  We all agree that we’re miserable with things as they are.  I’m two for two on that, counting the Pandagon thread Michael sites above.  Join me tomorrow when I’ll also use my mystic powers to make 25-year-old brandy from a can of peach Fresca. :(

    Posted by alsis39.75  on  03/15  at  04:35 AM
  154. the idea that the D’s could have prevented Bush from mishandling the administration of government is absurd.  blame the D’s for the R’s deliberately appointing incompetent people all you want, alsis.  it’s an extreme sort of illogic.

    as for your “well let’s see,” i was talking about the response to the disaster, as your quote from me clearly states, not the possible prevention of the disaster.

    i have zero reason to trust your unsupported assertion that the invasion of Iraq has had no negative impact on the quality of life and life expectancy for Iraqis.  everything i’ve read on the (Democrat-friendly) blogs and elsewhere has indicated otherwise.  are you so besotted with hate for the D’s that you refuse to hold R’s accountable for moral monstrosities unique to themselves?

    you STILL didn’t answer a bunch of my questions.  of course you didn’t.

    do you really think Gore or Kerry would have nominated anybody like Alito or Roberts?  if so, why?  if not, why does this difference mean nothing to you?

    Bush wants to dismantle Social Security.  the D’s (and public opinion) stopped him. 

    why does this not matter to you?

    refusing to hold the Republicans accountable for their own deliberate actions, refusing to credit the Democrats for any positive action—it’s right out of the Ann Coulter / Rush Limbaugh / Karl Rove playbook.

    Posted by John  on  03/15  at  05:36 AM
  155. Gore would not have invaded Iraq.  period.  the R top dogs wanted to invade Iraq since 1991; they saw their chance, ignored all the advice of the state department, ignored their own military, and did it.  none of these circumstances apply to Gore or any D, not even Lieberman or Zell Miller. 

    thinking that the “main” difference between the sanctions and the invasion is that Americans don’t die in the first scenario is either offensively ethnocentric or delusional.

    Posted by John  on  03/15  at  05:54 AM
  156. Dear “M,” yes, you’re right that Lochner era uses of the 14th amendment were disatrously pro-corporation. But that’s exactly what Harlan and the post-Poe dissent adherents to what they call the *modern* substantive due process tradition think they can avoid. I can’t articulate here all of Harlan’s thinking on why he thinks he can do this, but both he and Souter in his Washington v Glucksberg concurrence have a quite well-argued articulation of how they propose to avoid Lochneresque decisions.

    BTW, I should have said the “modern” jurisprudence on right to privacy begins with contraception. You’re exactly correct that Warren and Brandeis are concerned with informational privacy and tort law. But the informational aspect of privacy is also, alas, a live issue, something on which I’m happy to see we agree.

    Posted by  on  03/15  at  10:59 AM
  157. Congratulations, Michael!  I have decided to give this post an award for Most Effective Antagonizing of Dogmatisms on Left and Right.

    Posted by  on  03/15  at  11:54 AM
  158. I have zero reason to trust your unsupported assertion that the invasion of Iraq has had no negative impact on the quality of life and life expectancy for Iraqis.

    John, I didn’t say that.  I don’t even know where you’re getting it.  The point I was trying to make --which I realize you have ample reason for dodging given how your masters work-- is that simple dichotomies of D=Lovers of Life/R=Squadrons of Death doesn’t work.  Hundreds of thousands of Iraquis died under Clinton/Gore.  I see no reason to pat them on the back for it, period.

    Oh, and how many Americans did die in Iraq under Clinton ?  If so many pegged off or if even one was too many, why weren’t you upset enough to march in the streets *before* GWB’s ascendancy ?

    Gore, Kerry, and the DP as a whole have proven a positive sieve when it comes to the Right wing judges dished out by R’s over the past 30 years.  Again, I see no reason to believe that Gore wouldn’t have appointed some Neanderthal to SCOTUS, just to keep the GOP appeased.  His whole career has been about appeasement, right up to his non-existent fight in ‘00.  And again, I see no reason to consider the DP my friend considering that they inevitably produce a 5th column of neanderthals in Blue ready to rubber-stamp every last asshole judge the GOP lobs at them.  Hell, the only reason Miers wasn’t confirmed by them is because the GOP ops themselves decided to take her out.

    [snicker] Yeah, the D’s want to save SS.  Now that they’ve read some opinion polls and realize that it’s popular.  Earl Blumenauer, my local Rep. comes from one of the most liberal districts in the U.S., supposedly.  He had to send out a questionaire to his base timidly asking if we thought that SS “reform” was a good idea.  There you have DP gutlessness in a nutshell.  Nobody with a clue would even have to ask if SS was worthy of saving.  Then again, none of these jaggoffs rely on SS, since they’re all up to their necks in money.  My guess is if your guys retake control, they’ll preserve the more regressive system of SS taxation we’ve got right now (and its attendent taxes like FICA, which disproportionately affect the working class you claim they’re so benevolent towards). Or they’ll pull a Clinton, gleefuly join the GOP in making it more regressive while slashing any benefits they can think of, and then they’ll crow about how they’ve “reinvented/reformed Social Security.” It’s been their usual trick with every other program they’ve managed to get their filthy-rich paws on.

    You keep pulling issues out like rabbits from a hat, demanding to know where I stand on simple dichotomies.  I’m glad that works magic for you, but it’s not a question of simple dichotomies for me, or other so-called “dogmatists.” I fail to see any reason why I should vote for anyone who merely “me toos” GOP bullshit because it’s too much trouble for him/her to do otherwise. 

    I’m sure your slogans will be great though: “Vote Democrat.  Now Up To 25% Less Evil Than The GOP.” Or some such.  Yeah, that’s a winning pitch all right.  Stand next to some of the most venal, corrupt, bloodthirsty and hopelessly short-sighted assholes the world has known in recent times, and whimper, “But we’re niiiicer than them.  We just went along with them because we had to.  It’s not our fault.” [snort.] Gosh, John.  I can’t imagine why so many Americans don’t even figure that it’s worth their time to vote, what with such stellar specimens leading[sic] the charge for the opposition[sic].

    I’m done here.  You can come over to Stop Me if you feel the urge to continue this ping-pong match.  I’d like a little home-team advantage for a change if this is going to go on.  If not, good luck.  I hope you guys prove worthy of your trust, though I sincerely doubt that they will.

    Posted by alsis39.75  on  03/15  at  12:42 PM
  159. You said:  Perhaps Gore would not have invaded.  I think he would have, but even had he not, the Iraquis would be suffering brutality and deprivation and dying.  The main difference in your scenario is that Americans would not be dying there or coming back in pieces mentally and physically.

    I said:  I have zero reason to trust your unsupported assertion that the invasion of Iraq has had no negative impact on the quality of life and life expectancy for Iraqis.

    You said:  John, I didn’t say that.  I don’t even know where you’re getting it.

    Why I said what I said:  Because you said, “the main difference.” You were pretty clear.

    If I worked for the Heritage Institute and wanted to waste a bunch of liberals’ time with invented fantasies of Democratic moral turpitude ("Gore would have invaded Iraq"), I could not have done a better job than you have.  The internet is a funny medium that way.

    Exactly like a Naderite, you’re mean, you’re a whiner, and you make things up.  You demand that Michael answer somebody else’s questions and get all hurt and huffy when I apply the same standard to you.  You don’t read what I write and invent fictional positions for me.  Just so you know:  I marched against Clinton when he was in office.  That’s democracy.  Agree on some things, disagree on others. 

    Go ahead and vote for yourself next time, because nobody else you could vote for would represent your beliefs better than you, and nobody else you seem inclined to vote for has either a chance of winning or a workable strategy (and in Nader’s case at least, no interest) for building an alternative.  When you have a strategy other than hurling your ridiculous invective at the people you purportedly want to win over, try it and let me know.  In the meantime, I’ll vote for the Lesser Evil—whom I believe to be a Lot Lesser Evil than you believe—and I’ll work to make the Lesser Evil even Lesser in its Evil.

    “We don’t care that the Greater Evil is Greater in its Evil” has been Naderite slogan all along.  I sincerely wish you did care.  Since you don’t, it’s a mystery to me why you take part in these discussions at all.  Unless you do indeed work for the Heritage Institute.

    Posted by john  on  03/15  at  01:11 PM
  160. I took up alsis’s invitation to follow her over to her home field, “Stop Me Before I Vote Again.”

    Here is their program:

    Throw their weight in contested Congressional elections to Republicans.  Increase the Republican majority.

    That clears things up.

    I believe they sincerely think that if lefties were able to throw elections to Republicans, then the Democratic Party would move left.

    Wait, isn’t that what Nader tried in 2000?

    So, how’s it working out?

    Posted by john  on  03/15  at  01:27 PM
  161. Clarification:  Their HOPE is to find alt-left candidates to siphon votes away from the D candidates.  They have no actual candidates as of now.

    They hope to have candidates in place by the fall Congressional elections.  Somebody on the blog suggested this strategy on Monday.

    Nothing to add to that.

    Posted by john  on  03/15  at  01:37 PM
  162. Posted by  on  03/15  at  03:23 PM
  163. First of all, I understand why he ran as an independent. Most people could see where the winds were blowing as far as the Green Party went. They were completely demoralized by the 2000 election and the “spoiler” propaganda endlessly repeated by the Democratic Party and were pretty much leaning towards a safe-state strategy long before 2003. On top of that, people are too concerned with party labels here in the U.S. I’m sure Nader saw an independent candidacy as a means to separating all the partisan party based rhetoric and to get people to concentrate on some serious issues: the lack of a single-payer national health care system, the war in Iraq, unchecked corporate power, growing inequality and election reform. He took markedly different stands on all of the issues than John Kerry did, so how can you say there was no difference between John Kerry and Ralph Nader and how can you claim that you don’t agree with Ralph’s positions on the issues? Secondly, Ralph did live up to his promise. I will not take money from corporations. He didn’t. Some right-wing fat cats donated money to his campaign. Big whoop. They were donations from private individuals. I doubt his campaign team was doing a background check on every goddamn person donating money to their cash strapped campaign. “But then why didn’t he give the money back when it came out that it was from Republican stalwarts” you ask? I’d venture to guess it was because the money was spent immediately since Ralph Nader’s campaign was fighting off frivolous lawsuits in some 20 states filed by the Democrats to keep him off the ballot. His campaign is still in debt from all those lawsuits. (One side note to this, is that in several states, George Bush actually didn’t qualify for the ballot because the Republicans held their convention so late. The Democrats in those states held a special session in legislature in order to allow Bush onto the ballot, while still suing Ralph to keep him off in many of those same states).  Now, you may disagree with Ralph’s decision to run John, but if you condone those fundamentally anti-Democratic tactics (Stalinist in nature really) then how are you any different than Bush and the Republicans? And the hypocrisy of your indignation is staggering my friend. You castigate Ralph Nader for taking money from Republicans, but have no problem with the Democrats taking money, not just from Republicans (at least $66,000 according to CRP), but, as Josh Frank pointed out, from some really reprehensible corporations – including, yes HALLIBURTON. The difference between Ralph Nader getting money from some Republicans and Kerry getting millions from corporations is that Kerry is absolutely beholden to those interests, whereas Ralph Nader would hardly be (if he was actually elected). The best two articles and most revealing, regarding Nader’s campaign were written by a retired law professor in Alaska which pretty much explain why I will never vote for another Democrat as long as I live. I implore you to read them John. One is here and the other is here.

    Posted by  on  03/15  at  03:24 PM
  164. Moving right along, I just want to say to you, John, that you have absolutely no right to make predictions on what Gore would have done if he were president after 9/11. First of all, the evidence is actually stacked against you on this. Josh Frank compiled a nice list of belligerent statements from high level Clinton Administration officials and senior Democrats in the Congress regarding Saddam Hussein and his Weapons of Mass Destruction, which can be found on Znet. Besides that Joshua Frank wrote another article that makes a damn good case that the Democrats were the ones who paved the way for the invasion during the Clinton years. That can be found here.  Moreover, let’s not forget who Gore’s vice president would have been! YES!! Joe “Secretary of Defense” Lieberman.

    This is already getting long, but alas, I cannot stop here. On to the economy. The two best books on the Clinton Economy were written by Doug Henwood (After the New Economy) and Robert Pollin (Contours of Descent). I recommend both of them to you – especially Henwood’s since he covers more issues than Pollin does. Greg Bates, the founding publisher of Common Courage Press, wrote an article on Clintonomics back during the 2004 election that was very instructive. He quoted Pollin, “It was under Clinton that the distribution of wealth in the U.S. became more skewed than it had been at any previous time in the past forty years-with, for example, the ratio of wages for the average worker to the pay of the average CEO rising astronomically from 113 to 1 in 1991 under Bush-1 to 449 to 1 when Clinton left office in 2001.” I suggest you read that article as well.

    For Clinton’s labor legacy go read this article.

    Now on to foreign policy. Bush’s war has been destructive for sure. At least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have perished and 2311 U.S. soldiers have been killed with over 17,000 wounded. But you know what? That’s nothing! Guess how many died as a result of Clinton’s Iraq policies? As many as a million civilians died from the “no-fly zone bombings” and the brutal sanctions regime. About 500,000 were children. The consequences of these policies were reported of course in detail by the United Nations (particularly UNICEF) and other NGOs working there. The Institute for Public Accuracy has a wonderful set of quotes regarding all of this here. The Global Policy Institute likewise has a wonderful collection of condemnations of the sanctions from all sorts of NGOs and people. On May 10, 1996, appearing on 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) was presented with a figure of half a million children under five having died from the sanctions: Albright, not challenging this figure, infamously replied: “We think the price is worth it.”

    Let’s also not forget about Clinton’s merciless bombing campaign against the people of Yugoslavia for 78 days and nights in 1999, which took the lives of hundreds of civilians, while creating a massive ecological catastrophe in its wake. Please see William Blum’s War Criminals: Theirs and Ours chapter in his Rogue State, which can be found online here.

    Last but not least, Clinton pointlessly bombed the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan which killed scores of workers inside and caused major shortages in pharmaceuticals throughout Africa which led to immense suffering and causalities amongst those who dependent on them. Many have claimed that there were soil samples showing the production of nerve gas at that site, but as Tom Gorman demonstrates in an article for CounterPunch, this was bullshit.

    As far as the foreign policy goes, I direct you to any book by Chomsky or William Blum (who was recently plugged by bin Laden himself). U.S. foreign policy always involves outright slaughter of innocents abroad to further the interests of the U.S. oligarchs, with the possible exception of the Israeli issue. I guess the Jews just like slaughtering and ethnically cleansing Palestinians for the fun of it by now.

    I really don’t have the strength to go on. If there is anyone to blame for present state of America it is you my friend, not me, not Alsis, not Ralph Nader or the Greens. Only you can break the cycle.

    Posted by  on  03/15  at  03:26 PM
  165. Tim D,

    Such bad faith and condescension. 

    Tell me how voting for your socialist—or Nader, apparently it doesn’t matter whom, a vote isn’t a political act, it’s a therapeutic or a symbolic act according to your prescription—tell me how a protest vote would have prevented Alito and Roberts from joining the Supremes, how the Kyoto Treaty would have been signed, how the United States would be continuing to fund contraception internationally.  Tell me how this works.

    “Don’t blame Nader” . . . for, doing what he claimed he wanted to do.  One of his (many, contradictory) stated goals in 2000 was to draw enough voters away from Gore to throw the election to Bush.  He came close enough to succeeding, that, with help from voter machine error, bizarre electoral mistakes (Palm Beach Co. butterfly ballot), and Republican election fraud (scrubbing the voter roles of African American voters), the election got thrown to a corrupt and criminal Supreme Court that erroneously awarded the election to Bush.  Nader said he wanted to do something, he said it wouldn’t matter if he succeeded, he more-or-less succeeded, and now people complain for holding him accountable?  As I said, blaming the guy isn’t high on my agenda; I only bother to hold him to his own standards when people go around defending him.  When someone such as yourself ties me to every Republican and Democratic crime because I vote for Democrats (and—omigod—I’ve voted for Greens [including Nader in ‘96] and Libertarians and—omidoublegod—an occasional moderate Republican for local office too), you have no standing to accuse me of non-sequitur-dom for asking why you defend that liar Nader, who said he was trying to build the Green Party and then refused to share mailing lists with them or even join their party.

    The Democrats are a center-right party in service of bloody empire.  I continue to prefer them to an extremist right explicitly misogynist white-supremacist-friendly ruling bloody criminal imperial party.  The misogyny and racism don’t bother Nader, nor, apparently, you. 

    For you, the bloody imperial crimes outweigh everything else.  I can see that point of view.  If we were to succeed in persuading the American voters not to support a bloody criminal empire any more, it would be an unprecedented millennial miracle.  First step, getting people to cop to our imperial (and environmental) crimes.  You have my pledge to continue to work on that.  In the meantime, I will continue to vote for the less anti-humanistic imperialists, and you will probably continue to blame me for their crimes.

    Posted by john  on  03/15  at  06:23 PM
  166. FWIW, Tim D also comments, cheerily, at “Stop Me Before I Vote Again,” the agenda of whose proprietor is to stop D’s from getting elected.

    “Let’s make things better by making things worse.”

    Bad faith, bad idea, bad.  Hateful, even.  But we already knew that hate was a big part of what was going on here.

    Posted by john  on  03/15  at  08:57 PM
  167. Well, you leave for a few days and there is an interesting thread (of course all threads are interesing in Chez Berube).

    Look, many of us who vote Dem do not do so because we believe they are the way, the truth and the light.  We think that they are the least worst of the other alternatives and have a real chance of achieving some political power.  We also understand that there are other methods and other responsibilities we share as citizens of a purported democracy.  Some of us even show up in the same demonstrations and marches as Greens, Socialists and other left groups.

    In “normal” times - before 2000 - I supported the Greens and their attempt to gain electoral funds / buzz / increased awareness, etc.  I do believe it would probably be nice for them to win a seat in the House first, but if you believe that the Congress is as corrupt as the Presidency you are running for, well I guess it doesn’t really matter.

    Bush was clearly such a huge step backward - it seemed so obvious, such a major shift rightward - that I felt my prior position was no longer valid and so I supported the Dems, despite their corruption, their support of the “system”, Lieberman, etc., etc. 

    Now, I had a lot of respect for Nader prior to 2000 - he had respect, credibility and supporters.  I agreed then of his basic political critique.  I did not agree with his tactics and believed then - as I do now - that it represented an unbelievable lack of perspective and surprising political immaturity.

    I could only justify it in a couple of ways:  1) the commonplace “if it gets worse, it will open the eyes of the sheep” theory, 2) we need the bucks - get X% of the vote and you get some matching funds, 3) the system is so corrupt, it doesn’t matter who is there, so lets make a point.

    Well, the point has been made.

    As someone above said, it’s all of our responsibility - but that does include ol’ Ralph (which, by the way, what hole has he been hiding in - being the standard of radical truth that he is) - unless you have the same cynical perspective on leadership that you have on our extremely imperfect democracy.

    Posted by  on  03/16  at  12:29 AM
  168. what hole has he been hiding in - being the standard of radical truth that he is)

    Posted by pebird on 03/15 at 11:29 PM

    His mother died.

    Posted by AlanSmithee  on  03/17  at  09:12 AM

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