Obama Broken Promises, A Continuing Series

Thursday, November 6, AD 2008

crying-jackass

Shazam, as Gomer Pyle used to say in the Sixties!  The Iraqi government claims that Senator Obama has reassured them that he will not precipitously withdraw troops from Iraq, and it appears that the end of 2011 might be a target date.  To my anti-war friends on the Left I suggest that if I were in your shoes I would not hold my breath about US troops being removed from Iraq even before the 2012 election.  You were useful to Obama to win this election, but you will be of little use to him now that he is President.

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4 Responses to Obama Broken Promises, A Continuing Series

  • Did Obama actually promise, absolutely and regardless of the consequences, to remove all troops from Iraq by a certain date? If so, then I could see this as a broken promise. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a stretch to characterize this statement of Obama’s a broken promise. First, Obama campaigned, especially once he sealing the deal, not as an anti-war candidate, but as a pro-war candidate who thought the War on Terror should be fought elsewhere around the globe. He wants to increase American military power in the world. Second, and more to the point, Obama cannot really promise a specific date for withdrawal because too many factors outside his control effect his ability to see it through. Pushing back the deadline from what he earlier envisioned seems in keeping with his pragmatism and temperament. If peaceniks supported him thinking he was anti-war, that’s their folly.

  • Kyle it’s been a moving target for Obama. Early in the campaign he talked about immediate withdrawal. Then it was by the end of 2008.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/12/politics/main3253449.shtml

    Then it was 16 months. In this story he talked about two years.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/22/obama.mideast/index.html

    Now we are at 3 years. I don’t think he ever has had any intention of withdrawing all troops from Iraq and I agree with you that the support of the anti-war left for this fellow was the sheerest folly as, I predict, they will painfully discover in the coming years, especially if we invade Pakistan.

  • Or when Ahmadingdong decides that downtown Tel Aviv would look so charming as smoking ash and acts accordingly.

  • …I agree with you that the support of the anti-war left for this fellow was the sheerest folly as, I predict, they will painfully discover in the coming years, especially if we invade Pakistan.

    Yes, folly for sure. And indeed, what Senator Obama had proposed before would have been disastrous, so let’s be thankful that at least as far as the withdrawal from Iraq goes he’s being sensible now – though his views on Pakistan are quite troubling. However, I don’t think there will ever be a painful day of reckoning with his supporters regardless of what he does. I think a fair amount of opposition to the Iraq conflict was merely partisan politics, and I think if, Heaven forbid, Obama opens hostilities in Pakistan there will be little grumbling from the left, and most likely calls for us to get behind president, etc. I don’t look for much to be said about Iraq during the Obama years, and when it is spoken of it will be positive coverage of what is being accomplished, etc. – something they (MSM and Dems) have refused to do thus far.

29 Responses to Being Reasonable Doesn't Always Work

  • Arguing with folks like that is like trying to teach a pig to sing. All you do is waste your time and amuse the pig.

  • That is really funny…. I think I will use that.

  • Arguing with folks like that is like trying to teach a pig to sing. All you do is waste your time and amuse the pig.

    So…everyone who holds a principled, good-faith view that embryos aren’t as “human and alive” as you or I are pigs in search of amusement? You joke of course, but if that were Chris’s take then just ignore the rest of my post.

    To Chris’s point:

    I cannot get (at least one of) them to acknowledge that according to embryology a human being comes to exist at conception (whatever one’s definition of personhood).

    It’s obviously a necessary step, but you’re right that I do not classify embryos as “human beings”, any more than I classify monkey embryos as “monkeys”. I have what I think are good reasons for this, so I don’t figure sticking to this assessment makes me unreasonable.

    While I’ve been a bit impatient at times, my general tone is fairly calm, I think, and yet we are getting almost nowhere.

    And we aren’t likely to get anywhere in terms of changing each others minds about where life begins. I recognized this from the start. I’m not appalled at the prospect of reasonable disagreement. Are you?

    As I said, it’s a helpful reminder for me that — try as you might — some people just cannot be persuaded, at least in the short term, of what seems obvious and self-evident to me.

    I view it as a reminder that — try as you might — some people will continue to hold their beliefs so dearly that they think criminalizing the behavior of many people who reasonably disagree is the “core principle” of a properly secular conservatism.

    If the kind of conservatism you’re interested in is the Church’s — as seems to be the case with all these posts about Catholics for or against Obama and how genuinely pro-life Catholics would never cast such a vote — then you probably don’t care about the point I’m making. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • Gherald,

    Maybe you should put Lipstick on that Pig.

    I kid.. I kid… 🙂

    Except for the fact that Sarah Palin Rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • “some people will continue to hold their beliefs so dearly that they think criminalizing the behavior of many people who reasonably disagree is the “core principle” of a properly secular conservatism.”

    Well, if the point of disagreement is about whether human beings in early stages of development are to be granted the legal protection, it seems to me the debate is both secular and conservative. After all, it was Roe that overturned the laws of 46 states while introducing a sweeping new abortion regime. You can argue it was correct, but it certainly wasn’t conservative.

    As to determining when human life is eligible for legal protection, that is as ‘secular’ a question as any. Catholics don’t oppose abortion for ‘religious reasons’, they oppose abortion because it is a human rights issue.

    You may hold idiosyncratic beliefs about when a human life begins, but they certainly are not scientific, insofar as an embryo is a completely unique genetic entity, with its own gender, and capacity like all human life for growth and development under the proper conditions. You can refuse to acknowledge an embryo deserves legal protection or that it has personhood, but it certainly is human life.

  • You can argue it was correct, but it certainly wasn’t conservative

    Yes and no. I’m ambivalent about whether it was rightly decided, because too many legal scholars disagree. But I do think that criminalizing abortions isn’t a “core principle” of conservatism, and that’s the position I’m arguing for.

    My personal beliefs were just offered as an example. I certainly don’t expect many Catholics to agree with me.

    I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-life while at the same time not wanting to criminalize abortion. Just like how, for instance, a Catholic should believe adultery is wrong yet still not want to criminalize it.

    Hate the sin, not the sinner. Tell people you believe abortion is wrong, but don’t advocate criminalizing the (possible) actions of the vast group of people who don’t share that belief.

    an embryo is a completely unique genetic entity, with its own gender, and capacity like all human life for growth and development under the proper conditions

    Embryos are not necessarily unique, there are only so many possible combinations of the chromosome pairs of two parents. Granted, there may be some tiny mutations within chromosomes, but that’s just adding another layer of diversity. Identical twins, for instance, aren’t unique genetically. They may certainly develop into independent individuals, of course, with their own life experience in all its wonder.

    You can refuse to acknowledge an embryo deserves legal protection or that it has personhood, but it certainly is human life.

    Ah, this is a matter of defining our terms. “human life” may be shorthand for more specific things….

    I’ll happily concede that embryos are human life, but only in the sense that they are “biological life that is human genetically”. The same way as if, for instance, I were to isolate a live skin cell from my body. That’s would also be “human life” defined as “biological life that is human genetically”. Note that with sophisticated enough medical technology it is perfectly feasible to grow that ordinary skin cell into a biological clone of mine, thus creating a new person.

    (Just watch Jurassic Park, tee-hee)

    What I would not concede is that embryos or early-term fetuses are “human beings” like you or I and thus worthy of “protection”. Mr. Wehner called their protection a “core principle” of conservatism, and this I disagree with.

    I don’t believe they’ve passed a meaningful threshold that would deserve treatment as a developed individual. I don’t think mere brain activity is sufficient either — I think it requires a somewhat more developed sapience or sentience — something abstract like that. But since “brain activity” is a prerequisite for those things, close enough in the development chronology, and much more easily testable, I refer to brain activity in the context of abortion.

    HTH

  • -Hate the sin, not the sinner. Tell people you believe abortion is wrong, but don’t advocate criminalizing the (possible) actions of the vast group of people who don’t share that belief.-

    In all honesty I ask you, why couldn’t this be applied to various crimes in order to rationalize their legalization?

    e.g Tell people you believe jaywalking is wrong but don’t advocate criminalizing….

    And yet we have to have traffic laws.

  • Gherald,

    Embryos are not necessarily unique, there are only so many possible combinations of the chromosome pairs of two parents. Granted, there may be some tiny mutations within chromosomes, but that’s just adding another layer of diversity. Identical twins, for instance, aren’t unique genetically. They may certainly develop into independent individuals, of course, with their own life experience in all its wonder.

    Well, no, actually. You’re scientifically wrong on this. A naturally conceived embryo is invariably genetically different from either of its parents. No child has DNA identical to either of its parents. Just doesn’t and can’t happen.

    On the question of identical twins: It’s true that identical twins have the same DNA, however there’s never a question as to whether there is in fact at least one unique living human organism in existence post conception. Further, the splitting of identical twins happens so early that it is invariably before a conception would be detected and an abortion procured, so by the time period that we’re looking at abortion as an option there is simply no question as to the number of unique human organisms involved.

    Now, it’s true that you can, should you so choose, get all philosophical and come up with your own definitions of what exactly a “human being” is by some definition other than “human organism”, but I’m unclear as to why you think this would be a good basis for a secular conservatism in that this would invariably rely on people sharing your beliefs about when a human organism is or is not a human being. (After all, some people are outliers on that question — take Peter Singer.)

    It seems to me that a secular order is best served by using those criteria which are most objectively verifiable, and in that regard there is no dividing line more clear than existence.

  • Anyone who describes himself as “ambivalent” about whether Roe v. Wade was rightly decided is not a “conservative” in any sense of the word with which I’m familiar. Libertarian maybe, but NOT conservative.

    Put aside the fact that the case was about abortion. Striking down the laws of 40+ states and territories and the federal government (and thereby removing the issue forever from the political process of the democratically elected branches of government) on the basis of some undefined “right” that “emanates from penumbras” that are supposedly inherent within the Bill of Rights, but which can only be discovered and defined by 9 unelected and life-tenured jurists, is NOT conservative.

  • Well, no, actually. You’re scientifically wrong on this. A naturally conceived embryo is invariably genetically different from either of its parents. No child has DNA identical to either of its parents. Just doesn’t and can’t happen.

    Uhm, I never suggested children would be identical to their parents, only that they could be identical to other possible children. I was just objecting to the “completely unique genetic entity”, which was overstated. A minor objection really, but I don’t like letting hyperbole slide.

    I’ll address secularism over at c11 in response to fus’s other post…

  • I’ll happily concede that embryos are human life, but only in the sense that they are “biological life that is human genetically”. The same way as if, for instance, I were to isolate a live skin cell from my body. That’s would also be “human life” defined as “biological life that is human genetically”. Note that with sophisticated enough medical technology it is perfectly feasible to grow that ordinary skin cell into a biological clone of mine, thus creating a new person.

    Gherald, that’s a red herring. A human skin cell will not of its own accord develop into an adult human being… the transformation required for it to do so changes it from a skin cell into — wait for it — an embryonic human being, for it is only the human embryo that will — again, of its own accord — develop into an adult human being. The embryonic human is self-actualizing itself towards adulthood, something no other human cell can do.

    I don’t believe they’ve passed a meaningful threshold that would deserve treatment as a developed individual. I don’t think mere brain activity is sufficient either — I think it requires a somewhat more developed sapience or sentience — something abstract like that. But since “brain activity” is a prerequisite for those things, close enough in the development chronology, and much more easily testable, I refer to brain activity in the context of abortion.

    Why is sapience or sentience morally relevant, Gherald? What is so important about these things that having them endows one with rights? My position is this: it isn’t being *actually* sentient or sapient that grants one rights (what would that say about those in a coma?), but rather it is the innate *capacity* to do those things that is relevant, and the embryonic homo sapiens has that innate capacity, as do the neonate, infantile, prepubescent, adolescent an adult homo sapiens.

    I’d invite you to read the the following linked (short) essay for a strictly secular exposition of the position I hold:
    http://www.bioethics.gov/reports/cloningreport/appendix.html#george

  • Perhaps I was mis-interpreting your phrase:

    there are only so many possible combinations of the chromosome pairs of two parents

    But I took you to mean that it was possible that an embryo might end up identical in genetic makeup to either a parent or sibling because there were “only so many possible combinations”. This isn’t so. Identical twins are genetically the same, but only because a single embryo splits. One never has identical twins who are identical by “chance”.

    The key, as I pointed out, is that one may tell from the genetic uniqueness that the embryo is distinct from its parent (unlike some other “bit of tissue”) and one may tell from identity that an embryo is distinct from its twin. There’s really not any question going on here other than an introduced philosophical one which is not objectively observable or verifiable.

  • Anyone who describes himself as “ambivalent” about whether Roe v. Wade was rightly decided is not a “conservative” in any sense of the word with which I’m familiar. Libertarian maybe, but NOT conservative.

    Put aside the fact that the case was about abortion. Striking down the laws of 40+ states and territories and the federal government (and thereby removing the issue forever from the political process of the democratically elected branches of government) on the basis of some undefined “right” that “emanates from penumbras” that are supposedly inherent within the Bill of Rights, but which can only be discovered and defined by 9 unelected and life-tenured jurists, is NOT conservative.

    If Roe v. Wade was rightly decided — which many people disagree on — then there’s no argument about whether it was “conservative”. In such a case it was simply the correct constitutional ruling.

    If Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided — which may well be the case — then of course it’s not “conservative”, but it’s also not many other things (such as “right”, or “crunchy”)

    I don’t claim to know whether it was right or wrong, so the conservative thing to do admit: I don’t know, rather than pick the choice I like best.

    But I can tell you that today (2008, not 1973) if Roe were repealed you would not see 46 states with abortion totally outlawed. It would be split closer to 50-50, maybe 60-40. It would be a somewhat messy to reintroduce it as a federal issue, and I (conservatively) would rather avoid a new mess, especially since so many people disagree about Roe to begin with.

  • Gherald, the obvious parallel is slavery in the South. How — based on your argument — could a conservative possibly have supported abolition?

  • “If Roe v. Wade was rightly decided — which many people disagree on …”

    Not really. I couldn’t name you a single “conservative” legal scholar or jurist who believe Roe was “rightly decided”. And there are plenty of liberal legal scholars who – when they’re being honest – will tell you the consitutional basis on which it was decided is shaky at best, despite their support for legalized abortion.

    The argument today is not over whether Roe was rightly decided but rather over stare decisis … whether a precedent once set and once relied upon should be overturned. You may find a lot of people supporting the outcome of Roe and wanting to keep it in place, but you won’t find many defending the decision as constitutionally sound or “rightly decided”.

  • “… but you won’t find many defending the decision as constitutionally sound or “rightly decided”.

    And when you DO find such people, they’re certainly NOT “conservative” under any definition of the word.

  • “Yes and no. I’m ambivalent about whether it was rightly decided, because too many legal scholars disagree.”

    Right, because interpreting the phrase “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” a procedural safeguard, as containing a substantive right to abortion is abusing the language of the text beyond recognition.

    “But I do think that criminalizing abortions isn’t a “core principle” of conservatism, and that’s the position I’m arguing for.”

    Overturning Roe is certainly a central part of judicial conservatism; indeed it has been the fault line in legal academia for the better part of thirty-five years. You are absolutely free to advance an alternative vision of conservatism, a la David Brooks or David Frum, but I think it’s important to remember that it wasn’t the pro-life movement that brought conservatives to this point. A combination of national greatness conservatism (cough, cough…Iraq/Frum/Brooks), fiscal incontinence, and a systemic misunderstanding of the housing market were the primary drivers there.

    “I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-life while at the same time not wanting to criminalize abortion.”

    Well, the analogy is important here. The question is whether abortion is more like adultery or like other types of homicide and/or child neglect/abuse. If abortion is the taking of a human life (a point on which we are in disagreement, but seems consonant with every sonogram I’ve ever seen), then it may be an issue of greater importance than adultery. If the analogy is changed to slavery, it is hard to sympathize with the position that those in the North should have refrained from imposing their religious beliefs about the equal dignity of persons on others. In any case, it is more in keeping with a traditional understanding of conservatism, both in a Burkean traditional sense as well as with the principle of subsidiarity, to permit the states to work that out as they had historically.

    “Identical twins, for instance, aren’t unique genetically.”

    They may not be that unique from each other, but they are quite distinct from their parents, which was the point being made. An embryo can be a different gender than it’s mother, which strongly suggests it is a distinct genetic entity, unless we are to consider the mother a hermaphrodite.

    “if, for instance, I were to isolate a live skin cell from my body. That’s would also be “human life” defined as “biological life that is human genetically”…it is perfectly feasible to grow that ordinary skin cell into a biological clone of mine, thus creating a new person.”

    This strikes me as obtuse. The clone comment highlights the fallacy in the analogy. The embryo grows in a self-directed manner with nutrients, and it is genetically distinct from it’s parent; not once has a skin cell of mine shown similar initiative or distinction. If your skin cells behave differently, do tell. At a minimum skin cells, are not human life ‘in the same way’ that a skin cell is.

    “What I would not concede is that embryos or early-term fetuses are “human beings” like you or I and thus worthy of “protection”.”

    Fair enough. This is the real impasse. But it is not a matter of ‘theocratic fundamentalism’ as I believe you described it, to hold an alternative view. You have established your individual criteria for what constitutes a ‘developed human being,’ but your criteria are not any more ‘secular’ than mine is ‘religious’. You have a hierarchy of goods which prizes some sort of achieved actualization as the defining characteristic of humanity. I think that such a view, less objective and open to all sorts of reductio ad absurdem arguments, is an arbitrary and impoverished approach to defining human rights. Perhaps, I am a bit over-sensitive to this, because earlier today I saw a 10-week sonogram of my child (with it’s heart beat, arms, and legs), and it is an image that is far more convincing to me than arguments based on ‘meaningful thresholds that…deserve treatment as a developed individual.’

  • But, look, while I was typing the discussion progressed apace. ;-). Ah well, note to self, brevity is the soul of wit. Good night all.

  • I probably won’t have time to respond thoroughly to some of the above posts until tomorrow, but would like to point out one misconception:

    your criteria are not any more ’secular’ than mine is ‘religious’.

    Eh, I’m not arguing that my criteria is “secular”, nor that it is necessarily “correct”. It’s just what I believe, for reasons I’ve tried to explain. It’s one example. Others have different beliefs, and they aren’t objectively wrong.

    “Secular” comes into play in deciding whose beliefs the government should enforce. And the answer is basically: no one’s when too many people disagree.

    It’s not at all like traffic laws, which most people can agree there’s a practical need for (even if they resent a few).

    Now if you’d like to live somewhere where enough people fall on the side of criminalizing abortion, look at this map. It’s pretty obvious that the places with enough public support to outlaw it tend to be more theocratic, undeveloped, or both: Central and Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Ireland…

    I understand your sensitivity fus01 and that’s a beautiful thing. I would probably feel the same way about a 10-week old (probably not so much about a 6-week old). But you have to understand: not everyone thinks the way we do, and indeed we disagree going further back than 10 weeks, and trying to force a vast number of people to act in accordance with your beliefs is a futile effort. Certainly not a core principle of conservatism.

    Just oppose abortion the same way you oppose adultery.

    I’ll address this and the “obtuse” red herring tomorrow, if you still care…

    g’night folks

  • Gherald said, “I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-life while at the same time not wanting to criminalize abortion. Just like how, for instance, a Catholic should believe adultery is wrong yet still not want to criminalize it.”

    Would you agree with this statement, Gherald? “I do however think that a Catholic who believes in secular government can be pro-chastity while at the same time not wanting to criminalize pedophilia.”

    There are sound public policy reasons for criminalizing adultery. Even someone who prefers “secular government” must admit that (even if she is not persuaded by those reasons.) One need not appeal to any sort of “God said so” claims in order to recognize that some choices should have a sanction against them in the criminal law.

  • Two quick notes for the sake of clarity in discourse:

    Others have different beliefs, and they aren’t objectively wrong.

    You need to think about this one a little, I think. Objective is generally taken to mean: From an outside vantage point at which all facts are known. Thus, when you say that others who hold beliefs contrary to your own on the question of human personhood are not “objectively wrong” you either say that you are wrong, or that no one is right — that there is nothing which it is possible to know because personhood doesn’t exist. The entire basis of logic is that both A and Not A cannot be true at the same time. So unless you don’t believe in either reality or logic, all but one opinion with regard to the start of personhood is wrong.

    Perhaps you mean that the question of which beliefs are true is indiscernable, at least by what you consider objective discernment?

    “Secular” comes into play in deciding whose beliefs the government should enforce. And the answer is basically: no one’s when too many people disagree.

    This falls into a basic fallacy of holding that topic on which enough disagreement develops is a topic on which a secular government could not rule. In 1800, wife beating was such a topic. In 1840, slavery was such a topic. In 1920, lynching was such a topic. Do you really hold that it’s impossible for a secular government or political movement to take a principled stand on such issues until after a consensus had developed independently?

    If you do, I fear many people would ask themselves, “Than what good is secular government?” and overall I’d consider that a bad thing.

    It’s pretty obvious that the places with enough public support to outlaw it tend to be more theocratic, undeveloped, or both: Central and Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Ireland…

    You don’t know a lot about modern Ireland, do you? It’s arguably one of the most advanced and free market economies in Europe now. Poland isn’t in bad shape either.

  • Gherald,

    I appreciate your taking the time to respond, and I think it exonerates you from the charge of being unreasonable. There are three questions in play here, I think.

    1) At what stage of development should human life be legally protected?

    We have different answers to this question, but I think in rough outline our positions are clear.

    2) Whose position should be reflected in the laws?.

    Here, I think your position is unreasonable, not because you would like the laws to reflect your position, but because you argue that establishing regulations to protect unborn human life is an impermissible ‘imposition of beliefs’ on others. One problem with this argument is that nearly all laws are an ‘imposition of beliefs’ on others. A second is that it does not take the pro-life argument seriously. If abortion is the taking of a human life, then it is a serious violation of human rights, and a rather lethal ‘imposition of beliefs’ on a whole class of persons. To ignore this imposition, while highlighting the imposition on other persons, as Darwin Catholic pointed out above speaks either to a fundamental agnosticism (it’s unknowable), or a failure to consider the principle of non-contradiction. Finally, it is essentially a tie-goes-to-my-side position. People disagree about whether and when fetal life should be protected, but as Ronald Reagan argued, why should we err on the side of no protection?

    3) Which position should the conservative movement support?

    As I said, you are free to advance your vision of conservatism, but excluding pro-lifers a priori from the debate by arguing that pro-lifers should not advocate legal protections for the unborn because it’s an ‘imposition of beliefs’ is not a promising start.

  • There’s a lot more I could say here (explaining the red herring and why I’m not being obtuse and such). We could go on for weeks really.

    Unless there’s some surprising interest in my continuing, I’ll just address fus’s points in parting…

    2) The first problem isn’t a problem because there is much wider consensus behind most laws (I believe traffic laws were mentioned, but murder might be a better comparison).

    Uhm, I’m taking the anti-abortion argument seriously….to what DarwinCatholic said:

    So unless you don’t believe in either reality or logic, all but one opinion with regard to the start of personhood is wrong.

    Perhaps you mean that the question of which beliefs are true is indiscernable, at least by what you consider objective discernmentThis is quite ridiculous. One opinion is not right because no opinion is right. It’s a matter of definition, not fact. Not reality. Outside of theology, there is no objective, ethical reality of what constitutes a human being or a person. A definition must be chosen. Embryos == people is one such definition, which I find ridiculous. 8.5 month old fetus == still not a person is another such definition, which I also find ridiculous. But there are people who hold both those views, and they are both tenable positions were everyone else in society to agree with them. But everyone doesn’t. And Roe is as close as we’ve been able to come to a pragmatic consensus, and will in all likelyhood stay that way (impossible to predict the future, but for my purposes I have a 95% confidence level). So the conservative thing to do, from my perspective, is to accept the status quo and find a workable agenda, e.g. doing what we can to keep abortions safe, legal, and rare.

    In summary: no belief is “discernible”, because no belief is “true” unless you believe in some external source of truth like a God. (and obviously that holds no sway in secular government, hence my anti-theocratic ravings)

    3) Which position should the conservative movement support?

    As I said, you are free to advance your vision of conservatism, but excluding pro-lifers a priori from the debate by arguing that pro-lifers should not advocate legal protections for the unborn because it’s an ‘imposition of beliefs’ is not a promising start.

    I am not excluding anyone a priori. Mr. Wehner was excluding many secular conservatives like myself by asserting (with different words) that criminalizing abortion is a “core principle” of conservatism.
    The “pro-life imposition of beliefs” would be workable if there were enough support for it. It’s worked out in Ireland for instance. Minority pro-choice people don’t like it, but that’s…life. However that’s not the society we live in here in America, and it won’t be: we’re trending away from it. For various reasons America, the western world, and really the world as a whole is becoming more accepting of abortion with time. From what I’ve gathered anecdotaly and from a few polls, this trend is likely to continue.

    You’re welcome to fight it outside of government, but e.g. basing your presidential politics on it will accomplish virtually nothing. So find other ways to pursue a tenable pro-life agenda like private adoption agreements, leaving the state out of the abortion issue and maybe looking into some real pro-life good the state can do, such as avoiding unnecessary wars and treating prisoners humanely.

  • Oops, first quote should be formatted like this:

    […] Perhaps you mean that the question of which beliefs are true is indiscernable, at least by what you consider objective discernment

    This is quite ridiculous […]

    sorry

  • “Embryos == people is one such definition, which I find ridiculous. 8.5 month old fetus == still not a person is another such definition, which I also find ridiculous.”

    All right, gol ding it! Where would you draw the line, and why?

    “And Roe is as close as we’ve been able to come to a pragmatic consensus”

    Paired with Doe v. Bolton, with the right to abort through nine months of gestation limited only by one’s ability to find a practitioner willing to do the deed? That’s consensus?

    “no belief is “true” unless you believe in some external source of truth like a God.”

    The authors of the following articles do not believe in God, but they apparently believe that objective truths can be determined by applying science and logic:

    http://www.l4l.org/library/notparas.html
    http://www.l4l.org/library/congrecord.html

    “some real pro-life good the state can do, such as avoiding unnecessary wars and treating prisoners humanely.”

    Based on the figures I’ve seen, I suspect the number of externally viable babies aborted every year would make the number of prisoners of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib who can claim inhumane treatment look paltry.

  • Outside of theology, there is no objective, ethical reality of what constitutes a human being or a person.

    If by person you mean an entity that has inherent dignity and rights, I’d agree: ultimately, dignity and concomitant rights depend upon God. But with regard to what constitutes a human being, we *do* have biological anthropology which can tell us what makes a particular animal human as opposed to bovine, canine, feline, etc. Our position is that every human being (in the biological sense) is a person, and it seems that the onus is on your side to explain why some human beings (in the biological sense) do not have the same rights & dignity as others.

  • This is quite ridiculous. One opinion is not right because no opinion is right. It’s a matter of definition, not fact. Not reality. Outside of theology, there is no objective, ethical reality of what constitutes a human being or a person.

    Say that we take it for the sake of argument that there is no objective ethical reality of what constitutes a human person. Might it not be a good idea to, if we’re to pick an arbitrary theshold, to pick one that covers all human organisms, rather than one based on arbitrary characteristics which we happen to value? Otherwise, we have no real argument to make against someone who thinks that African Americans are not human persons, or Armenians are not human persons, or the disabled are not human persons, or the elderly are not human persons, or Jews are not human persons. In each case, someone picks which characteristics they value as “human” and reach a cultural consensus which excludes a lot of other human organisms — thus justifying treating those “others” very badly.

    That’s why it seems to me that even at a totally secular level we are better off treating human personhood as a matter of identity than of characteristic and degree.

    However that’s not the society we live in here in America, and it won’t be: we’re trending away from it. For various reasons America, the western world, and really the world as a whole is becoming more accepting of abortion with time. From what I’ve gathered anecdotaly and from a few polls, this trend is likely to continue.

    You’re welcome to fight it outside of government, but e.g. basing your presidential politics on it will accomplish virtually nothing.

    This is the argument that secular conservatives/libertarians have been making to the GOP since social conservatism started to rise to prominance in the ’76 primaries. However, I think at a fundamental, pragmatic level, it’s simply not going to get you anywhere. The fact of the matter is that serious social conservatives make up at least 20% of the GOP alliance, and you’re unlikely to pick up enough secular voters to replace those social conservatives if you shove them out of the tent. Indeed, imagine a situation in which the GOP is split into two parties an explicitly secular Libertarian/Conservative party and an explicitly socially conservative Traditionalist/Conservative party. Which one would get more votes?

  • I’ve numbered my responses, for ease of reading.

    1) “And Roe is as close as we’ve been able to come to a pragmatic consensus, and will in all likelyhood stay that way…So the conservative thing to do, from my perspective, is to accept the status quo and find a workable agenda, e.g. doing what we can to keep abortions safe, legal, and rare.”

    Well, I would disagree that Roe represents a consensus, insofar as most polling data indicates the public would support substantially more restrictions than the current Roe/Casey regime. Granted, there is a disconnect between what people say if you ask them if they support Roe and what they say if you ask more specific questions, but both the U.S. polling data and the practices of other (more ‘secular’) western countries such as the UK and Germany suggest that a majority of the U.S. would support many more restrictions on abortion if the legislative process were permitted to operate.

    Polling data aside, Roe is certainly not a ‘conservative’ decision. It was a judicial debacle, as most legal scholars will admit even if they support the result. Essentially, the raison d etre of a significant portion of conservative legal scholarship has been to oppose Roe and similar judicial usurpation of the democratic process. I suppose the longer Roe is on the books, it may become the status quo, and in that sense be a tradition to conserve in some quarters. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe there will be four anti-Roe votes on the Court even after a two-term Obama presidency (Roberts 53, Alito 58, Thomas 60, Scalia 72), and it was nearly overturned in 1991.

    For most pro-lifers, particularly in the legal community, the advice to get over Roe looks like an invitation to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But this is not a ‘victory’ for the sake of some sort of partisan point-scoring – the point is to save the lives of human beings, even if not everybody agrees when a human with a heartbeat, arms, legs, and distinct genetic features deserves legal protection. Even simply limiting abortions to the first trimester, would reduce abortions by about 8-10%, which would save hundreds of thousands of human lives (even if they are not ‘persons’ yet).

    2) “In summary: no belief is “discernible”, because no belief is “true” unless you believe in some external source of truth like a God. (and obviously that holds no sway in secular government, hence my anti-theocratic ravings)”

    I’m fascinated by this because law is often viewed as a moral enterprise – murder, theft, imbezzlement, prostitution, ensuring the public good through safety etc. Do you take a purely positivistic view of the law? I’m curious about your thoughts on infanticide, for instance, which has been widely practiced in some cultures or slavery, which was widely practiced in ours until recently, or even legalized racial discrimination, or the gay marriage debates. Is your view that the law has no relation to morality on the theory that morality is not secular?

    3) “we’re trending away from it. For various reasons America, the western world, and really the world as a whole is becoming more accepting of abortion with time. From what I’ve gathered anecdotaly and from a few polls, this trend is likely to continue.”

    I haven’t seen any evidence of this – do you have some poll numbers in mind? The data I have seen suggests support for abortion has either stayed the same or declined slightly over the past 20 years.

    4) “You’re welcome to fight it outside of government, but e.g. basing your presidential politics on it will accomplish virtually nothing.”

    Well, I think Darwin made a good point above about this line of argument; it’s not new, and I think the near-reversal of Roe in 1991 was a significant result, as are the appointments of Roberts and Alito. But aside from that, it seems like it would be a disaster to exclude the pro-lifers from the GOP’s base. As people like Ramesh Ponnuru have devoted reems of paper to demonstrating, the evidence suggests that the pro-life position of the GOP has been a significant benefit to the party. You may find pro-lifers to be personally distasteful (I might agree with you in many particular cases), but I think that you should examine the question empirically before suggesting that the Republican party become less friendly to the pro-life movement. Granted, being pro-life is not particularly popular in elite society, but it is very common in the rest of the country, particularly among the voters the GOP typically attracts.

    From your perspective, I understand that you wish the embarrassing theocrats would leave the party you support alone, or more accurately, provide votes without insisting on policies. But, keep in mind, parties are made up of diverse coalitions. Pro-lifers have provided a steady base of support for conservatism since 1980, and it seems to me that right now is not the time to alienate one of the most loyal conservative constituencies.

  • I saw a poll on the Confabulum recently that highlighted that 66%+ of the population would supports no change in Roe. I haven’t done recent research, it’s not a topic that interests me much.

    I’m mindful that single-issue pro-life voters have been a boon to the rightwardness of the GOP, and that this has kept our fiscal policies further to the right than such people would otherwise support if abortion were off the table. However, just because this would seem to benefit my economic ideology isn’t a reason for me to be happy about it….

    Democracy matters. I think the GOP would occupy a more center-right sphere without such single-issue votes, i.e. the whole party would move to the left for electoral purposes, and pick up the folks who are currently centrists. I think this would be a better party.

    I’m fascinated by this because law is often viewed as a moral enterprise – murder, theft, imbezzlement, prostitution, ensuring the public good through safety etc. Do you take a purely positivistic view of the law? I’m curious about your thoughts on infanticide, for instance, which has been widely practiced in some cultures or slavery, which was widely practiced in ours until recently, or even legalized racial discrimination, or the gay marriage debates. Is your view that the law has no relation to morality on the theory that morality is not secular?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “positivistic”. Secularism is amoral (as opposed to immoral). It’s only appropriate to “legislate morality” when a significant supermajority of people are for it. So e.g. 100 years ago the lack of gay marriage was appropriate, because the bulk of society rejected it. But today a significant portion of society has no problem with it, and the law should reflect that. (Even if, say, only 33% of the people in society supported gay marriage, that’d be enough because it’s a discrimination issue)

    I could say a lot more, but I’m not optimistic it’ll get us anywhere so I don’t want to spend too much time ranting in an oldish post : )

Measured Rhetoric Is More Effective

Friday, October 24, AD 2008

A good part of what I was trying to say in my Socialist post the other day concerned the relationship between precision in political rhetoric and its ability to persuade; in short, I think that “toned-down” rhetoric is more likely to convince an interlocutor (let alone an observer)  of at least the plausibilty of one’s position than is the “speaking truth to power” approach.

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22 Responses to Measured Rhetoric Is More Effective

  • Just so.

    I suppose it’s just an intellectual twitch of mine, but whenever I hear that someone is a person who “speaks truth to power”, I have the strong urge to walk rapidly in the opposite direction. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything worth hearing given that moniker.

    Much though I don’t want to see an Obama presidency, and eager as I will be to keep it to four years if it happens, I hope that the general conservative movement can hold itself back from an “Obama derangement syndrome” which is equivalent to the Clinton and Bush varieties suffered by the two respective parties. Aside from being unattractive, such obsessions make it harder to understand one’s opponent, and thus defeat him.

  • I hope that the general conservative movement can hold itself back from an “Obama derangement syndrome” which is equivalent to the Clinton and Bush varieties suffered by the two respective parties.

    Ditto. We can certainly push back against the administration, but I really don’t want to walk into Borders and see entire tables dedicated to books detailing the evils of the Obama administration written by unhinged conservatives or disenchanted leftists.

  • I really don’t want to walk into Borders and see entire tables dedicated to books detailing the evils of the Obama administration written by unhinged conservatives …”

    You’d never see that even if such books existed by the truckload. They’d be neatly hidden away outside of public view. That is, if Borders bothered to stock them at all.

    😉

  • Jay:

    Good point. But hopefully we won’t be seeing too much of that kind of stuff either way.

  • On this issue of measured rhetoric, why is it that there has been little (or no) measured critique of the Bush Administration by Senator McCain? It seems that he could have critiqued President Bush’s bloating of the federal government and budget in a decidedly un-conservative way.

    Or did he make those critiques and I missed them (likely story).

  • “Or did he make those critiques and I missed them (likely story).”

    There was little that the Bush administration did domestically that McCain did not attack at one time or another.

    Here is a link to a newspaper story from May 22, 2004 in which McCain attacked the budget of the Bush administration.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/republican-split-could-block-bush-budget-564277.html

    “Yesterday the budget hold-up drew fierce criticism of the Senate rebels by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives. But John McCain, the Arizona senator and one of the four, angrily shot back, accusing “some of those in our party” of abandoning the commitment of “real Republicans” to fiscal responsibility.”

  • Thank you Donald. I guess I mean to ask why this didn’t/doesn’t seem to be a prominent part of McCain’s campaign.

  • I don’t think McCain has done a very good job of that — partly, I imagine, because he doesn’t want to offend the 25% of voters (pretty much all Republicans I assume) who still say they approve of Bush’s performance. In that sense, someone with more conservative credentials would have probably been able to campaign better than McCain, criticizing Bush from the Right.

  • “I guess I mean to ask why this didn’t/doesn’t seem to be a prominent part of McCain’s campaign.”

    Good question Father. McCain is a true maverick and campaigns in the way he wishes to campaign whether it makes sense to others or not. Not stressing this difference with Bush doesn’t make much sense to me, since the Republican base is always in favor of the government spending less.

    One decision McCain made was to save most of his advertising money until the last two weeks. This gave Obama a four to one, in some states an eight to one advantage. Now they are making huge ad buys and Obama’s ad avantage is now down to 5-4 nationally. A very risky tactic, and we shall see how it works for McCain. I can understand why he did this however. If you can’t match your opponent dollar for dollar, do it when you know the voters will be paying attention.

  • So I’m supposed to pretend I think Obama means well when really I know better?

    I’ll just stick with the truth, thanks.

  • Steve, how is this any different than people say that Bush lied us into Iraq, because, well, they just *know* that he intentionally deceived us? There is *no way* I’d ever vote for Obama, but I don’t need to employ overblown rhetoric to make my case… as DC noted at the top, the whole “speaking truth to power approach” invariably turns people off. So if our goal is to actually *convince* people of the truth and rightness of our position, we ought to employ an approach which makes that more likely, not less.

  • Agreed, Chris. Measured rhetoric is more persuasive. Given that persuasion is a prerequisite for the maintaining of laws and policies in a democratic society, I’d say persuasive rhetoric should be the rule. Moreover, cases against Obama’s policies will better persuade if they are not undermined by hyperbolic or demeaning rhetoric.

  • Measured rhetoric seems to me the most optimum pathway towards bringing others into your own camp. It’s like a girl getting hit on at a bar, her defenses are up because she knows the environment she’s in. But at a grocery store she would be as aware of men’s advances.

    Yes I know the analogy is pretty simple, but it does state the case very well.

    What do they say? You’ll attract more with honey than with vinegar.

  • I don’t mean to be a jerk–seriously I don’t. But Obama wants to re-legalize a procedure of delivering babies up to their head, stabbing them in the back of the skull and sucking out their brains. That’s not overblown rhetoric; it’s the truth. It’s not hyperbolic; it’s an apt description.

    So what is the “measured rhetoric” for this? I guess it would be “choice”?? The culture of death already has the upper hand in a lot of ways, and now we’re willing to play on their home field by using their lexicon to define terms of debate?

    I think we run the risk of sanitizing some dramatically anti-human, anti-Christian ideologies–and in doing so, blind ourselves and our neighbors to the dangers of electing radicals like Obama.

  • It’s not hyperbolic; it’s an apt description. So what is the “measured rhetoric” for this?

    Steve, I agree with you: that is an apt description. No, “choice” is *not*, because it isn’t a description at all. But I’m not talking about how to describe the process of PBA or infanticide… I’m talking about this: how can we persuade people that PBA needs to be outlawed? What is the most effective way to convince them? Just as a matter of psychology, I don’t think calling them “baby killer” is likely to work. I can assure you, I’ve had the experience of employing language that is stark and explicit, and it inevitably fails as a matter of persuasion.

  • And I know you aren’t trying to be a jerk, Steve. 🙂

  • Definately not a jerk. The question needed to be asked. 🙂

  • -It’s like a girl getting hit on at a bar, her defenses are up because she knows the environment she’s in. But at a grocery store she would be as aware of men’s advances.-

    Man. Does this work? I’ve been married eleven years and now it’s too late to try it. Rats!

  • Well, thanks for the assumption of good faith, but when I re-read my first post in this thread, even I thought I was a jerk.

    Now, I do believe that persuasion can be greatly effective in certain circumstances. If you are debating the best way to create jobs or save social security, or any number of things, I think it is an effective tool.
    That said, I appreciate, and generally agree with your point. What troubles me, however, is that Obama’s words, associations, and voting record suggest to me that he does in fact have a radical leftist ideology.

    Now, how do you use measured rhetoric to combat this?

    Using the PBA example, if someone knows about PBA, how can we convince someone that it’s wrong? Isn’t it self-evident?

  • Steve:

    You raise a good question. I think we can be forceful without becoming unhinged. Just look at Egan’s wonderful article today. It was blunt, and even shocking to a degree, but he maintained an even tone that simply laid all the facts on the table. I think he gave us an example to be followed.

  • And I assumed most people know what article I am referencing, but if not, here it is.

  • Rob,

    Oh, it totally works. But all is not lost: You can always try hitting on your own wife while you’re at the grocery store together.

We're All Socialists Now

Monday, October 20, AD 2008

One of the things that quickly tires me is overblown political rhetoric; although it’s easy to give in to the temptation (I sure have a time or ninety), it simply serves no good purpose in advancing a civil and constructive political discourse. I’m all for making arguments for and against candidates (see the post below), but demonization is practically the standard, not the exception these days.

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21 Responses to We're All Socialists Now

  • Well,

    It does not help the argument that the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed him as did the Communist Party of United States. Plus that idea of Universal Heathcare does not help either.

    Hopefully, we will not get to see how much the government will own the means of production under his administration.

  • Maybe proto-socialists would be more accurate. Though Distributists do come to mind.

  • For an exploration of Obama’s ties to the socialist New Party, Stanley Kurtz has a good overview:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTc3NzZkZDYxODZiZjE2OTg5YWRmNDkzM2U0YTIwZGQ=&w=MA==

  • FDR ran as a fiscal conservative in 1932 believe it or not. If you want to see what a candidate will do after he wins, check his past and who he currently has around him in his inner circle of advisors.

  • Maybe it ain’t socialism … but whatever it is, it inserts the government more and more and more into our lives. Maybe, as spelled out by Jonah Goldberg in his book, it smacks more of Liberal Fascism.

  • I think one of the most key ways in which Obama’s agenda is not socialist is that his patchwork of political proposals lacks a coherent theory for the structure of society or the economy. Socialism, communism and even fascism have all had a certain kind of personal ascetic value in which the individual accepts owning less or controlling less for the glorification of the state. I suppose there’s a little bit of this in Obama’s early rhetoric, but it’s virtually disappeared since the convention.

    Instead, Obama seems to focus on a “what can the state do for you” approach for what he sees as the broad center of America. His tax proposals effectively establish government handouts for the middle class. His health care proposal involves a similar promise. And his other proposals ranging from subsidized daycare to subsidized college tuition amount to: “You shouldn’t have to pay for whatever it is that you think you need in order to achieve your lifestyle ambitions.”

    The thing is: previous attempts at collectivization have always been made in the context of lifting up a large working/peasant class while leveling the professional middle class and upper classes. Obama makes fairly little effort to level the upper classes (taxing those making over 250k about 3% more is a dumb idea in a recession, but it won’t ruin anyone’s social standing) and the “working families” he wants to help are clearly bourgeois by any historical standard. So his vision is much more consumerist than a socialist one.

    The best historical parallel I can think of is in the late Roman Republic (before the Roman mob of lower classes became a politically useful enough force to buy off) when leaders tried to buy themselves power by confiscating land and money from the largest land owners and build a political base through a combination of cash distributions to every Roman citizen and granting extra land to small farmers throughout Italy.

    It wasn’t a good idea then, and I’m quite sure it isn’t now either, but it’s something different, I think, from Socialism.

  • So his vision is much more consumerist than a socialist one.

    Precisely. But people don’t get fired up about a candidate who is “consumerist” like they do about an alleged “socialist”.

    Listen, I’m not going to deny that Obama is the most liberal Presidential nominee we’ve ever had in this country… that’s certainly true. But that doesn’t mean he’s a socialist… the word means something, and what it means doesn’t obtain in this instance. As Stanley Kurtz notes, we can just bracket the socialist issue and focus on the fact that he’s to the left of Ted Kennedy (the latter are my words, not Kurtz’s). I think it *hurts* our argument by making the socialist claim, because it reduces our credibility. Better to just emphasize what he actually *is*… it’s bad enough.

  • Chris Burgwald,

    You make an excellent point about hurting our argument.

    Emphasizing Obama’s tax & redistribute strategy can be emphasize through other rhetorical means. ‘Distributist’ or ‘Welfare State’ are words that come to mind.

    We don’t want to be hyperbolic and turn potential converts are those straddeling the fence away from a possible vote for a pro-life candidate or maybe a more socially-conscious capitalist.

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  • It is not distributist.

    Welfare spending is welfare spending, period.
    Taxation is taxation, period.

    Socialism is a scheme for the collective ownership of the means of production.
    Corporatism is a scheme for the control of the means of production by an elite. This is what we have in the States. Fascism is the authoritarian version of Corporatism.
    Distributism is a scheme whereby ownership is predominantly noted by use. There are variations, but the controlling idea is that capital cannot be independent from use.
    Capitalism is a scheme that seperates capital from use. It’s most common form is corporatism.
    Democratic Socialism is a scheme for placing the mutual aid provisions of society in control of government. This would invite a fairly long discussion, but the primary reason for the strength of democratic socialism is that democracy destablizes other institutions. For example, very few democratic countries give the Church the right to tax. Without the right to tax, providing mutual aid becomes impossible in the long run.

  • M.Z.,

    You are correct it’s not distributist. I did a little research on Chesterton and Belloc and it doesn’t cut the mustard.

    Distributism looks like a good idea on paper, I just need to learn more about it. I’m reading Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum a second time around to get a handle on it.

  • for what its worth: I live in Ireland, and I saw a sign this morning advertising a meeting of the socialists, and the topic was ‘Will Obama bring real social change?’ Evidently some socialists think its a possibility worth discussing–with the audacity of hope that he will, I suspect.

  • I would have to disagree.

    In the United States we have moved from a production economy, one where we take the raw materials from the land that is availiable to us and make things with it and sell it for a profit, to a service economy, where our skills and labor are the primary means of income. so when you talk of “means of production” what you are talking about is my labor, and since labor has no profit, what you put in is what you get out, then when you take my income ( in the forms of taxes for whatever reason) you take my labor… my only “means of production.”

    sounds like socialism to me.

  • I’d love it if someone feels they’ve got a strong enough grasp of what Chesterton and Belloc were going for with Distributism to present it cogently in a modern context on the site here — but I’ve got to admit that from what I’ve read of it (which is not nearly as much as some, I’m sure) Distributism does not strike me as something which can be taken seriously as an economic system, especially in a modern economy.

    I do think it draws from some very real ideals (localism, subsidiarity) which can and should be applied in the modern context, but I’ve yet to see anything that leads me to take Distributism seriously. Though as I say, if someone feels up to presenting it, I’d love to find that I’m wrong.

  • “I’d love it if someone feels they’ve got a strong enough grasp of what Chesterton and Belloc were going for with Distributism to present it cogently in a modern context on the site here”

    Perhaps a guest post from our former classmate, Mr. Powell? http://pennyjustice.com/about

    He is an entertaining and inventive writer, even when unpersuasive. And, as a practical proposal for economic reform, distributism is very unpersuasive.

  • Just because the specific proposals being advocated aren’t textbook socialism, it doesn’t mean that Obama and his friends aren’t socialist. It just means that those policies are merely a step on the way to socialism. Marx never advocated a one-step transition to socialism.

    Marx did, however, declare three obstacles to socialist utopia:

    1. Private property. Again, while Obama’s proposals aren’t strictly socialist, they would cause incalculable damange to an ownership society.
    2. Religion. Obama has done a great deal to bastardize Christ’s teachings. The second chapter of B16’s Jesus of Nazereth speaks of exactly what Obama is doing: using Christianity to advance a political agenda until Christianity consists of a political or social movement completely devoid of Christ.
    3. Family. We’re slowly seeing schools replace families as the foremost institution for socializing children. It’s nothing short of an effort to eliminate any pre-political societies until all you have left is the state.

    I understand what you’re saying here. But just as militaries have a tendency to “fight the last war,” it seems you’re trying to fight the last Cold War.

    And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this post sounds a lot like the elitist attacks on Sarah Palin. What sort of civil constructive discourse can there be when one candidate has pledged his support for killing the unborn, the born, the disabled, and even his own grandchildren. What, might I ask, is overblown about calling that demonic?!

  • Just because the specific proposals being advocated aren’t textbook socialism, it doesn’t mean that Obama and his friends aren’t socialist.

    So how else do we judge that he’s a socialist then by his policies & statements, Steve?

    But just as militaries have a tendency to “fight the last war,” it seems you’re trying to fight the last Cold War.

    Can you elaborate?

    And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this post sounds a lot like the elitist attacks on Sarah Palin.

    Another request for elaboration. 🙂

    What sort of civil constructive discourse can there be when one candidate has pledged his support for killing the unborn, the born, the disabled, and even his own grandchildren.

    Plenty of people have been convinced of the error of their ways with regard to abortion (cf. Nathanson, Bernard), and it’s often because someone persuaded them. I’ll always go back to the bees & honey vs. vinegar thing in terms of approach to those who are wrong.

    BTW, Steve, what about McCain’s position on ESCR? It certainly isn’t *as* bad as Obama’s, but I think it could be likewise considered demonic, agreed?

  • Fus01 & Brendan/Darwin,

    Yes, if someone is able to present distributism applicable to a modern economy I would also welcome a guest post.

  • Just because the specific proposals being advocated aren’t textbook socialism, it doesn’t mean that Obama and his friends aren’t socialist.

    So how else do we judge that he’s a socialist then by his policies & statements, Steve?

    I would say by the following:
    1. His proposals do seek to eliminate or at least make inroads to eliminating the three obstacles to socialism: Private property, family, religion (Bitterly clinging to religion sounds a lot to me like “opiate of the masses”).
    2. Unabashed support for hallmark causes of the socialist movement: socialized medicine, abortion, same-sex marriage
    3. His commitment to philosophical materialism
    4. Commitment to class warfare
    5. The company he kept before hitting the campaign trail

    Just a start

    But just as militaries have a tendency to “fight the last war,” it seems you’re trying to fight the last Cold War.

    Can you elaborate?

    I can concede this point, but it seemed to me as though you were indicating that because Obama policies weren’t identical to a Soviet 5-year plan, that he was automatically vindicated.

    And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but this post sounds a lot like the elitist attacks on Sarah Palin.

    Another request for elaboration.

    There are a lot of valid reasons for harsh critiques on the Obama-Biden ticket. Valid reasons for “demonizing” the candidates. I wonder how one can overblow infanticide?

    What sort of civil constructive discourse can there be when one candidate has pledged his support for killing the unborn, the born, the disabled, and even his own grandchildren.

    Plenty of people have been convinced of the error of their ways with regard to abortion (cf. Nathanson, Bernard), and it’s often because someone persuaded them. I’ll always go back to the bees & honey vs. vinegar thing in terms of approach to those who are wrong.

    Point taken. I don’t dispute that at all. But too many of us are willing to administer honey without defending the truth. It’s trendy to take the middle ground or be a moderate or renounce ideology in favor of “pragmatism.” And that leaves us with the bunch of unprincipled Republicans we have in the Senate. I’m not saying you fit into this category, but whenever I hear pro-lifers criticized for not being nuanced enough or demonizing opponents, my red flags go up.

    BTW, Steve, what about McCain’s position on ESCR? It certainly isn’t *as* bad as Obama’s, but I think it could be likewise considered demonic, agreed?

    What about it? I am not here to defend McCain. I don’t even like McCain. That said, I’m voting for him because I believe that ESCR is less evil than ESCR, unrestricted abortion, execution of abortion survivors, same-sex “marriage,” execution of the disabled, etc.

    Would I characterize McCain’s stance on ESCR as demonic? Sure. But there’s a reason that I’m, perhaps, willing to give ESCR proponents the benefit of the doubt. We live in a materialistic culture. Without a decent working knowledge of philosophy and theology, it is difficult for people to see a petri dish of undifferentiated cells as human life. As such, I think it’s possible for pro-lifers like McCain to mistakenly, but in good faith, support ESCR. It is in no way possible to make a good faith endorsement of cutting off a baby’s head and sucking out her brains as Obama does.

    I’m not equivocating on ESCR–I simply think it’s less obvious to the lay man that it’s an evil act.

  • Evidently I used the wrong HTML tags here…sorry for the confusion.

    [NP… I fixed them for you.]

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13 Responses to Guilt by Participation

  • Keep it up, Mr. McClarey.

    It will be an Obama landslide.

  • I hope you are a poor political prognosticator Mr. DeFrancisis. In any case, if the American people choose not to think it important before the election that Senator Obama had no problem working with an unrepentant terrorist as a politcal ally, I have no doubt that in time they will find that it is very important indeed.

  • “What is that spirit we want to connect to? That spirit of rebellion. The spirit of resistance. The spirit of insurgency.”

    Finally. This is what has been found wanting in all the Ayers talk. McCain, Palin and their supporters have failed to articulate this properly, and have finally done it using Ayers’ own words (contemporary words nonetheless). Much ado has been been made about the association with a terrorist, leaving the opposition to narrowly view this as a guilt by remote association thing. I have a lot of problems with both candidates, but much more so with Obama, and this being one of them. The problem for me isn’t so much that Obama served on boards with a guy who planted bombs 40 years ago, it’s that the guy is still a subversive trying to move the nation to despotism. The tactics have changed, one of which is to support fellow revolutionaries get in office and work from the inside out as well, this is the concern over Obama’s relationship with Ayers.

    Now granted, some people, and apparently a few Catholics, might think an Ayers sort of revolution a good thing, but I think the common man, including some who might currently be supporting Obama, would balk at such a thing. The question is, is Obama part of the Ayers movement, a willful agent of sorts, or are the two just equally opportunist?

  • The problem with the Ayers connection is that his blatant terrorist activities are long in the past. Why else would the pundits on the left keep referring to the fact that Obama was only seven or eight when the bombings occurred? It is because they know that the American populace doesn’t have the attention span to care about something an individual did thirty or more years ago. The fact that he hasn’t bombed anyone else in that time (that we know of) must indicate some amount of reform, right? Who cares about his education policies. Everyone “knows” that the religious nuts on the right are trying to indoctrinate our youth, whereas Ayers is just giving them another viewpoint, as legitimate as any other that doesn’t mention the whole G – O – D word. This point is crucial. While independents may not see it this way, the left certainly sees Ayers as having done nothing wrong in all the time since the bombings.

    In my opinion, Rick, the answer is that both are just opportunists. The association isn’t as deep as I think pundits on the right are trying to make it seem. I think they both thought they could use each other, and perhaps they have to the mutual benefit of each. I could be wrong, though.

    While I do think the Ayers connection casts a stain on Obama’s record, it isn’t something worth pursuing in the campaign setting. McCain’s focus should be on how Obama’s plan will further destroy the economy, and how McCain himself intends to fix it. McCain needs to spell out loud and clear where the problems came from, and he must not spare even his Republican allies who share in the responsibility; he must spell out loud and clear how Obama’s health care plan is the equivalent to shooting ourselves in the foot; he must spell out how his economic plan is the best option. And he’d better be sure it is the best option.

  • Apparently McCain is announcing new economic proposals today:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/14/mccains-new-economic-plan/

    A good thought experiment in regard to Ayers Obama is to imagine if a person McCain had associated with during the same time period were an unrepentant Klansman who had bombed churches during the Sixties or someone who had bombed an abortion clinic. Imagine then if the bomber were now teaching at some evangelical college and had become an authority on homeschooling and was well thought of within his academic community. Somehow I think the coverage of the mainstream media in regard to that type of connection would not be as blase as their coverage of the Ayers Obama connection has been.

  • The problem for me isn’t so much that Obama served on boards with a guy who planted bombs 40 years ago, it’s that the guy is still a subversive trying to move the nation to despotism. The tactics have changed, one of which is to support fellow revolutionaries get in office and work from the inside out as well, this is the concern over Obama’s relationship with Ayers.

    Sol Stern has a series of articles in City Journal examining Ayer’s “education reform”:`

    Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. (If you find the metaphor strained, consider that Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times reporter covering the Soviet Union in the 1930s, did, in fact, depict Stalin as a great land reformer who created happy, productive collective farms.) For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for “the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.” Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that “Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,” and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: “Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”

  • Donald,

    I see you are an alumnus of U of Illinois. Have you attended alumni functions recently or received such newsletters? If so, you are indeed palling around with…

  • “I see you are an alumnus of U of Illinois. Have you attended alumni functions recently or received such newsletters? If so, you are indeed palling around with…”

    Pretty weak Mr. DeFrancisis. I am an alum of the U of I Champaign-Urbana. I of course had no say in the decision of the U of I Chicago in hiring Mr. Ayers. If my opinion of the hiring decision had been requested, it would have been unprintable.

  • Nr. McClary,

    It was a weak joke. 🙂 Sorry.

    BTW, McCain looked today like the man I voted for in the 2000. Relatively impressive!

    Hopefully, BOTH campaigns rise somewhere remotely close to the seriousness that our representative democracy deserves in these trying and important times.

    Unfortunately, I see only glimmers of hope.

  • Sorrry about my butchering your name so badly–someone interrupted me while I was typing…

  • No problem Mr. DeFrancisis. I butchered your name initially so badly when I made my last comment that I deleted it in order to correct the spelling of your name! In regard to the candidates, I have never been a fan of McCain, although I do respect the courage he displayed as a POW, and I think I have made my policy differences plain as to Obama. Whichever of these men is elected, I hope God will grant him grace and wisdom. I am afraid the nation is in for a rough few years no matter who wins come election day.

Anger and Politics

Sunday, October 12, AD 2008

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says it all:

“NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE? So we’ve had nearly 8 years of lefty assassination fantasies about George W. Bush, and Bill Ayers’ bombing campaign is explained away as a consequence of him having just felt so strongly about social justice, but a few people yell things at McCain rallies and suddenly it’s a sign that anger is out of control in American politics? It’s nice of McCain to try to tamp that down, and James Taranto sounds a proper cautionary note — but, please, can we also note the staggering level of hypocrisy here? (And that’s before we get to the Obama campaign’s thuggish tactics aimed at silencing critics.)

Continue reading...

41 Responses to Anger and Politics

  • It’s becoming a case of a candidate having to try to protect himself from the craziness (and ambition) of his loose supporters (and VP pick, along with her admirers):

    London Times

    “With his electoral prospects fading by the day, Senator John McCain has fallen out with his vice-presidential running mate about the direction of his White House campaign.

    McCain has become alarmed about the fury unleashed by Sarah Palin, the moose-hunting “pitbull in lipstick”, against Senator Barack Obama. Cries of “terrorist” and “kill him” have accompanied the tirades by the governor of Alaska against the Democratic nominee at Republican rallies.

    Mark Salter, McCain’s long-serving chief of staff, is understood to have told campaign insiders that he would prefer his boss, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, to suffer an “honourable defeat” rather than conduct a campaign that would be out of character – and likely to lose him the election. “

  • Speaking of crazed supporters of political candidates:

    http://www.ickypeople.com/2008/09/did-sarah-palin-want-her-baby-to-die.html

    Left wing sites are filled with this type of raw sewage.

  • Michelle Malkin has a good article on the rage on the Left in this campaign which the mainstream press sedulously ignores.

    http://michellemalkin.com/

  • I know I am outraged by denial of habeas corpus; abuse of executive power (for which Palin apparently has some state level training); concocted intelligence to sell an unnecessary invasion; unjust war; Palin’s fear and hate mongering; cronyism and incompetence from the Justice Deparatment to Katrina to the economy; and my ex-party’s never delivering on a 5th SC judge to overturn R v. W).

  • “and my ex-party’s never delivering on a 5th SC judge to overturn R v. W).”

    Well Mr. DeFrancisis you can’t be very outraged on that score, since Obama, the man you are supporting for President, is pledged to appoint only judges who will support Roe. Admit it, the fight against abortion is of zero importance to you.

  • Donald,

    I will not be duped by the GOP again. In speaking to PUMA Clintonites, for example, McCain touted his votes to confirm the 2 Bill Clinton SC appointees.

    Additionally, Bush has created such an anti-Republican beacklash across the nation that you would have to be a fool to think that there would be enough Republicans in the Senate to stand by McCain, if he is courageous enough to insist on no one but a anti-Roe v. Wade judge. And he is too unpersuasive and uncommitted, IMO, to raise the sentiment for a culture of life, in preparation for such an endeavor.

    Reagan and Bush I caved in the end. I see McCain less as a man of principle, who would not bow to poltical expediency.

    To me, the abortion issue, as much as I am pro-life, is thus a complete wash judicially in this presidentail election.

    But unjust war (intrinsically evil, btw, if it’s unjust), torture and racism are at play, as McCain will most likely go into Iran in a very bad way, and has already waffled as to the latter two, other intrinsic evils.

    And in the light of my judgement that there will not be a 5th judge for uswith either candidate, I weigh which candidates economic politicies will actually most decreae the incidence of abortions procured; here I judge Obama as the better candidate.

    Lastly, with what Roberts has said about Roe v Wade as ‘settled law” and his judicial temperament, I am not sure he’d actually vote to overturn R v. W. And his and Alito’s pro-executive powes rulings have been very dangerous to the precious balance of powers in our country, imo.

  • Actually Obama’s judicial appointments might be irrelevant at that, at least on the abortion issue, since he is pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act which I discussed in a previous post. With a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, and a greatly enlarged Democrat majority in the House, I think a President Obama would probably get his wish to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. How anyone who is pro-life on the abortion issue could not view the prospect of an Obama administration with anything but horror is a mystery to me.

  • Perhaps if you could step out side of yourself for a moment and listen to your interlocutor, it would not be such a mystery.

    A fellow, locus61(?) already more of less rehearsed my argments in another thread below.

  • “Perhaps if you could step out side of yourself for a moment and listen to your interlocutor, it would not be such a mystery.”

    No, I understand what you are saying, but it simply doesn’t make sense for someone who cares about stopping abortion to vote for Obama. I think you care about other issues much more, and the fight against abortion simply isn’t high on your priority list.

  • Mark,

    I’m a Democrat and I — like you — don’t think the Republican Party gives abortion the primacy it deserves and it’s an issue that they use for the most part to win elections. I know and understand your position and I think it’s critical.

    But…

    George W. Bush has in fact signed a timetable on Iraq. We have an agreement with their government and the war is going to, in fact, end.

    In regard to abortion, it is NO small matter. It is the greatest issue of our time. Capital punishment in this country since our founding days is 4 days of abortion. The war in Iraq? At best 15 days of abortion. There has been nearly 7,500,000 abortions since the war in Iraq began. It’s not that I don’t care about any other issues. I do care about them, but the issue of abortion is so insurmountable that I cannot in good conscience get around it.

    If my reasoning is clear, I hope you may at least reconsider your support for Obama. Obama supports the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which in effect would wipe out every pro-life law since Roe v. Wade. That means doctors who are protected by conscience laws from performing abortions would lose that protection and the fight of forcing them to perform abortions would rise. There will be no parental notification or consent laws. No laws against cross state borders. No laws requiring women to wait and think it over 24 hours. No laws mandating that women be allowed to view an ultrasound or even be told scientific and medically accurate information about abortion and human life development. No law that whatsoever restrict abortion.

    Obama would solidify the pro-choice Supreme Court for another generation and he will undermine the Hyde Amendment and fund abortion via the medium of Title X and under the label of “healthcare” with his plan. We’ll be subsidizing it more directly with our tax dollars and women can receive free abortions. And if the Democrats reach 60 in the Senate and gain more seats in the House, there will be nothing to stop them.

    The entire fruits of 35 years of the pro-life movement will be eradicated in a single blow and that is a disqualifier. I don’t care how fed up with the Republican Party one might be. I’m very disenfranchised by the GOP and I would love nothing more than to cast my vote for my own party.

    But, the party is dominated by hyper-liberal special interests whose view of the human person is dominated by Enlightenment thinking, whose view of society is of the same mentality, and you combine this with moral relativism and you have a problem.

    Democrats support fighting AIDS in Africa, but they use contraception which does not at all solve the problem. In fact, AIDS is not declining. Moreover, the virus itself is smaller than the pores in a condom and can still readily pass through. As Catholics, we know that contraception does not help the problem whatsoever and creates more vice.

    Democrats want to expand embryonic stem cell research. McCain while he supports it, arguably would avoid doing it because of the pro-life GOP base. Arguably. But with Obama, there is no uncertainty.

    We could potentially face the legalization of euthanasia, or even find it in our healthcare system. Obama when asked what’s the one thing that he regretted as a Senator said he regretted voting to save Terry Schiavo. Thats abhorent. (Look here: http://www.lifenews.com/bio2347.html).

    This man opposed bills to save babies that survived abortions and these babies, in fact, were left to die in utility rooms for the few hours that they could survive without medical care.

    I don’t see how you can say all the other issues can help you get around this. If you’re pro-life, you are an abolitionist. Slavery abolitionists didn’t say let’s reduce the number of slaves. The pro-slavery bunch were not really in for the elimination of slavery. Neither are the pro-choice lobby. No one ever voted for Hitler saying “I don’t want to be a single-issue voter. Genocide is bad, but hey, he supports universal healthcare.” Certain issues are a disqualifier because no good society can be built on such thinking.

    The GOP is far from perfect. But a man who thinks babies who survive abortions have no basic right to medical care and no basic right to life has no business leading a nation. A man who was only a U.S. Senator 143 DAYS before he started running for president. He has no legislative accomplishments that qualify him for the highest office.

    If you simply must speak about peace and war and thus vote for Obama, then do so standing upon the right to life if you wish to be morally coherent. Call abortion what it is: an objective, aboherent evil. Admit that Obama’s position on it is terrible. But criticizing the other side only and not your candidate who has unspeakable positions make your claims look dubious and paper thin, when you as a pro-life Catholic are voting for the most pro-abortion candidate who will eliminate — if he has his way — any chance to end abortion for at least another two generations.

    The argument is not that McCain will succeed in ending abortion, it’s that Obama will succeed in expanding it.

  • I want to add something. (I know, I know — this kid isn’t done yet?)

    Abortion effects our foreign policy. The Clinton Administration withheld aid from third world countries to pressure them into allowing the creation of abortion facilities and we were funding those industries with tax payer dollars in other countries. We funded abortion in Mexico as well.

    George W. Bush, as terrible as a president he is, turned that money faucet off. If Obama is elected, he will turn it back on. Somewhere in the range of 46 million abortions occur worldwide in one year — 365 days. And this is the case from roughly since the 70s. It was higher in the 90s, but in recent years has declined about 4 million or so. But no one would say that 42 million is any more acceptable.

    Add up WWI, WWII, deaths from AIDS, from cancer, from the holocaust, from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from Darfur, from 9/11…and abortion still wins.

  • Eric

    Such numbers are a unrevealing game. I used to think that way too.

    How many abortions has the Republican judiciary-centered approach actually really prevented?

    As abortion on demand has been virtually the law of the land these past 30+ years, I’d venture that it’s close to 0.

    The Partial Birth Abortion Ban was a really only a moral victory, as other procedures are available, expediting pre-late month abortions.

  • I guess Mark Defrancisis is polluting these comboxes too with his lefty rhetoric.

  • Tony is a completely binary thinker.

    He is simply paralyzed by the fact that America does things which the Vatican and out Catholic faith oppose.

  • Eric,

    You downplay the atrocity that will be Iran and minimize the unnecessary loss of 100s of 1000s of human lives in Iraq.

    It’s like saying that we broke into a house, killed half of the family members, but now negotiated peace with the remnant relatives.

  • Mark,

    In all seriousness, do you think that the Freedom of Choice Act is irrelevent to the pro-life cause? If the Republicans are as you arguing playing with the pro-life movement what is to be made of a Democratic party that has no place for any legal restriction on an unlimited abortion license at all? This would be the equivilent of a Republican administration not only codifying all the administrative practices that produced torture (that includes the rendition protocals tht both Democratic and Republican administrations have employed) but then illegalizing any efforts to undermine or challenge these. Call the Republicans cynical on pro-life issues if you will, I find the honest determination of the Democrats, particularly Sen. Obama, to eliminate any and all efforts to protect the unborn in law to be terrifying in their sincerity and honesty. I am honestly curious as to how you can think that such a forceful, unambiguious affirmation of abortion as a good is compatible with any claim of concern for pro-life legislation at all.

  • Isn’t it funny that there were less abortions under the Clinton administration than there were under past GOP admininstrations?

    And Bob Casey Jr spoke at the Dems’ convention.

  • Mark,

    Bob Casey Jr. had a scripted speech where abortion was never mentioned.

    And there were more abortions under Clinton than W’s eight years.

  • Mark,

    You miss my point. I’m a pro-life Democrat. Why? Because I’m suspicious of Republicans and their sincerity to help the unborn. But that does NOT immediately qualify a vote for the other side. It does not.

    America engaging war with Iran is not necessarily the future. It can go either way. McCain has repeatedly said that he would is Secretary of State and lower level officials engage in diplomacy and advocate the U.N. to impose economic sanctions on Iran. Barack Obama has said basically the same thing with the minor difference that he himself may sit down with someone and negotiate.

    Republicans may be half-hearted in fighting abortion. But there are Republicans who are sincere and advocates of the unborn. The list begins with Sam Brownback and these Republicans are of status in the party. There is only one proven 100% pro-life Democrat in the U.S. Senate and that’s Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

    Though you cite several instances of where the Bush Administration has gone wrong, you have to qualify a few things.

    Barack Obama claims that he is going to unite the country, but he has the most partisan record of anyone in the Senate. He votes partyline 97% of the time, when John McCain has gone against the GOP on taxes, on torture, on immigration, and on climate change. Have you ever seen Obama do that?

    Look up Obama’s legislative history. There is ONE bill that he introduced with a Republican and it’s a government transparency bill that no one opposed. Is that really, risky dangerous bipartisan legislativion that makes him anything more than a run of the mill Democrat who have 143 days in the national scene for whatever reason decided he should be our next president?

    You ignore the “number’s game” but 46,000,000 million abortions in one year in 365 days is no small matter. This is an overall decrease since 1995 which I think was the last peak. But if Obama turned the ‘money faucet’ back on, we would be subsidizing abortions overseas. There would be no pro-life law and abortions will be free in the U.S. as it would be subsidized by our tax dollars.

    Not only that, do give me a break that a Republican judiciary is the only reason abortions haven’t ended. Have you noticed that pro-choice Democrats have been fighting them — the sincere pro-lifers like Sam Brownback — tooth and nail? The Democratic Party won’t even link to the Democrats for Life of America on their national website. The Democratic Party rejected DFLA’s conscience clause on abortion from the platform and wrote the most pro-abortion platform ever, i.e. the Democratic party “unequivocally” supports a woman’s right to an abortion “regardless of ability to pay,” meaning we’ll subsidize it.

    Margaret Sanger, the lunatic racist who founded Planned Parenthood is still honored by the organization. Ever notice that Planned Parenthood pops up in the socio-economically disadvantaged areas where blacks and hispanics live? Abortion is an industry and they have targets so they can make money. Abortion has been declining and it’s no wonder that the Democrats — who receive millions in funds from pro-choice groups — are positioning themselves to make abortion at any point in pregnancy enshrined in federal law and protected by the Supreme Court for another two generations.

    It’s not just “bad Republican policies” or apathetic conservative judges, it’s the fact that the pro-abortion groups are expanding their services. Case in point, 1 in 2 African American pregnancies end in abortion. Nearly 2,000 of the 4,000 abortions in a day are unborn African American children. My city Houston is facing the establishment of the largest Planned Parenthood facility in the western hemisphere. This effects abortion directly — those who provide it.

    “The Partial Birth Abortion Ban was a really only a moral victory, as other procedures are available, expediting pre-late month abortions.”

    By the way, Mark, your candidate for president opposed that. And he will protect the “other procedures” and enshrine them into law as a fundamental right.

    If you can vote for a candidate that thinks that partial birth abortion is a legitimate procedure and even opposes protecting children that have been born, fine.

    But don’t pretend that it’s the more ‘pro-life’ thing to do.

    I don’t think that the immense problems we face are going to be solved by John McCain. But I do know that we will not find any justice under Barack Obama who will eradicate the pro-life movement, expand embryonic stem cell research, and perhaps even legalize Euthanasia, and with it, gay marriage — Connecticut just joined California and Massachusetts.

    Do these issues not matter? Or are they just a few issues among many?

  • -It’s not that I don’t care about any other issues. I do care about them, but the issue of abortion is so insurmountable that I cannot in good conscience get around it.-

    I feel the same way. I’m not a republican and never have been, but I can’t vote Democrat anymore becuase of this issue.

  • Organic fertilizer, Mark De Francisis.
    Please read this:
    http://www.factcheck.org/society/the_biography_of_a_bad_statistic.html

    Abortion rates skyrocketed during the 1970’s (Ford and Carter, only one of whom was GOP and certainly not a conservative) They peaked around the time of the first Reagan election, and subsequently began a steady decline. The decline became a fairly precipitous drop late in the George H.W. Bush admin and continued during the early Clinton years when it levelled off slightly. It nonetheless continued to drop through the Clinton and George W. Bush admins. Not only that, actual numbers of abortions dropped under W. Bush according to the factcheck page.

    It is intellectually dishonest to lionize Clinton for a trend that began over a decade before he ever had any control over it. The most that can be said for him is that he failed to implement policies that might have reversed the trend.

    Casey, Jr. may be pro-life up to a point but I doubt he got that convention spot without compromising his principles somewhat–the endorsement of the Senate’s most rabidly pro-abortion member, a man with a fairly scanty paper trail in almost every issue but abortion, being the prime example there. And surely you haven’t forgotten the shabby treatment his father got at the hands of the Democrats before him?

  • Mark,

    In re the “abortions declined under Clinton” meme: The abortion rate has declined in a straight linear progression with a 90%+ correlation to the number of years since 1980 for the last 28 years — with only the most minor of deviations. Now, I suppose that one could claim that the constant hammering of pro-life Republicans (and the small number of courageous pro-life Democrats) at the local level has not been any factor in this gradual reduction over time, but frankly I cannot as an analyst imagine any responsible way in which one could ground the claim that removing _all_ local restrictions on abortion plus providing funding would not increase the number of abortions.

    As for balancing that fear against that of a war with Iran: Count me with the group that finds it more likely we’ll end up in a war with Iran if Obama is elected than if McCain is. Iran will bet that they can be the Kruschev to Obama’s Kennedy and try to push him around in ways that would not be the case under a McCain administration.

  • Even George Will has said that a McCain victory guarantees war with Iran.

    With the way McCain acts with his enemies, it will end up being not just a war with Iran.

    Expect a conflict of WW4 proportions.

  • cminor,

    scatalogical headers for you?

  • Even George Will has said that a McCain victory guarantees war with Iran.

    Argument from authority?

    I think George Will is wrong.

  • From the mouth of the Maverick:

  • Try “scatological”, dear.

  • Thank you for the correction; you are more of an expert on the matter, I see…

  • Enough to know it when I see it, dear.;-)

  • Gentlemen, I enjoy a good combox tussle, but let’s make sure it doesn’t get personal. Thanks.

  • “Even George Will has said that a McCain victory guarantees war with Iran. With the way McCain acts with his enemies, it will end up being not just a war with Iran. Expect a conflict of WW4 proportions.”

    I have (many) doubts about McCain, but this isn’t really one of them. I thought it was interesting in the most recent debate that Obama kept saying that he would attack Bin Laden on Pakistani soil without the cooperation of their government, whereas McCain was arguing the need for diplomacy and caution. I think the whole exchange was nonsense on Obama’s part – bluster without substance (is killing Bin Laden himself such a big deal at this point?) – but it was interesting listening to Obama advocate a policy which would anger a country with nuclear capabilities, while the ‘war-monger’ McCain was advocating caution.

  • Cminor,

    My apologies for my snide retort.

    Fus01,

    My interpretion on that exchange in the debate was that McCain essentially ageed with Obama, but was trying to score points about his contender’s purported amateurish, in “telegraphing” to the enemies of our possible actions.

  • Mark – I had a different take. I thought Obama was trying to score cheap points. “Bush hasn’t gotten Osama, isn’t that terrible!!!” Never mind that there’s no real evidence, other than Osama being alive, that he’s a serious threat for anything other than a razzie for worst home-made threatening video. I also thought Obama stating that he would carry out attacks within Pakistan’s borders without their approval needlessly provocative. McCain may have agreed in substance, but I think he had a legitimate point: it’s silly to antagonize other countries by talking about hypothetical attacks on their soil just to look tough in a debate.

    To be fair, I thought McCain was buffoonish when he said “I know how to get Bin Laden.” He’s said that before, and every time I think – “well then, why haven’t you passed that knowledge along to anyone over the last seven years?”

    In any case, to your original point, it’s highly unlikely that McCain would go to war in Iran – do you think any President will be able to lead the U.S. into war anytime soon with Iraq so fresh everyone’s minds? Perhaps you have a different read on the mood of the country, but I don’t think it at all likely that a President will be able to garner the support of the country for another war for at least 10-15 years. Frankly, I never understood how 2/3 of the country supported the war in Iraq.

  • FusO1,

    I can easily entertain your interpretation of the exchange as a legitimate one. I still am inclined yo mine, however.

    Believe me, as much as I defend the Catholic choice for Obama, it has been a difficult one for me.

    I wish there was a politician around like Bob Casey Sr.

    He was my governor and is my political hero.

  • No offense taken, Mark. Shall we both tone down the snark? Posting remarks made exclusively for the purpose of provocation really doesn’t advance reasoned discussion.

  • By the way, I have to agree with fus01. If Obama’s purpose is to portray himself as a diplomat par excellence, the noise he’s been making at Pakistan has been extremely unfortunate. Particularly with a new, potentially friendly president coming to power there.

  • why do people try to make it sound bad to be a one issue voter?

    abortion is the only issue, nothing else matters.

    obama rates 0% on the pro life meter.

    if mcain rates anything higher than that guess who I’m voting for?

    it really is just that simple.

  • What if only an anti-abortion Neo-Nazi ( I know, that would be a strange combo) were running against Obama?

    Or only a strict, Shiite Muslim, who is anti-abortion 100%, but wants to impose Islamic law on all Americans?

  • I think it’s implied when people say ‘abortion is the only issue,’ they mean that none of the other issues in this election are of equal significance. They do not mean to make a universal statement that a pro-slavery, pro-sharia, pro-whatever-evil-thing-may-be-worse would be better as long as they were pro-life.

  • Worse than a shiite muslim who wants to impose sharia law… I would vote a democrat who promises to tax everyone in excess of 75% and use it to plant baby seals in the everglades, if they promised to work day and night on a constitutional ammendment guaranteeing the right to life for the unborn.

  • That is the odd thing A.Rowe. I lean towards being a fiscal conservative, but would certainly vote for the Democratic party if (in a Sliders-like alternative universe) the Democrats were pro-life and the Republicans were pro-abortion, even if nothing else changed in the platforms of the respective parties. Abortion is not the only issue I vote on, but with the coming budget shortfalls I don’t think either party will be able to accomplish much over the next four years other than appointing Steven’s and Ginsberg’s replacements.