Displaying 1 - 10 of 17 Forum Posts1 2 Next
  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k
    TJ Wrote: It is a personal choice for each individual.

    TJ,

    This is the standard libertarian position on most matters and I think most Americans are sympathetic to it; however, the reason it is not as widely popular with regard to abortion is because many Americans are conflicted about the moral status of unborn children. This is no small matter, because if unborn children possess some semblance of personhood, then abortion becomes so far from being morally neutral that it verges on being criminally immoral. The magnitude of the error would be similar to adopting Stephen Douglas' popular sovereignty, which, in effect, permitted the question of slavery to be decided on the basis of personal taste.

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    I guess you still live in 1920 as well 1800 when the Constitution allowed guns all over the place and we stick to it. I guess you never lived in any country which had healthcare for everyone, did not start wars all over the place, have strict gun laws, elect leaders without billions of bribery, gives free education, has an clean environment, a multi party government so you don't get a dictatorship like the GOP now and our "mental" leader wants, decent wages and job protection, not huge army's which cost trillions here and are stationed all over the world because we want to dictate others while we can't even run our own country without corruption on all levels.etc. etc. Should I go on and on? Yes the US is an arrogant "island" in this big world, with a "mental child" as leader. But yeah all empires come and go. L'histoire ce repette.
    It is now our turn to be a "has been".

    Dutch,

    It is still not clear to me how any of the things you listed support the argument that today’s American conservatives are anything like Germany’s Nazis.

    At any rate, if we take small-government conservatives as the representative group of conservatism generally—omitting fringe elements like white nationalists and RINOs—they are characterized primarily by their support of the federal principle: i.e., the distinctive American principle which divides governing power among the states in order to mitigate the adverse effects of consolidation in a central location. This is also known as the Madisonian solution, and its very purpose was to prevent tyranny from acquiring nationwide power.

    If any modern development is responsible for America’s tenuous position today, i.e., responsible for its standing on the brink of authoritarianism, it is the influence of left-wing progressivism, whose progenitor, Woodrow Wilson, declared that fidelity to the U.S. Constitution was akin to “political witchcraft” and who set out to concentrate political authority in the executive branch on the grounds that the checks-and-balances system built into our bicameral legislature resulted in unnecessary impediments to the exercise of raw state power. Like day into night, this led to the explosive growth of the national civilian bureaucracy—a legion of over two million unelected, unaccountable, and intractable agents who have the power to impose tens of thousands of laws (“regulations”) on the entire nation.

    It is today’s so-called “liberals” who heartily embrace the growth of the faceless bureaucratic state along with its ever-multiplying reams of regulations and red-tape apparatuses.

    In the words of one observer: You don’t need a president for life when you have a bureaucracy for life.

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    But I think more Americans disagree with you…

    Schmidt,

    It depends on the aspect of abortion being discussed. Many pro-abortion advocates frame the procedure as one that is entirely divorced from all moral considerations. After all, if children in the womb are not human beings, then destroying them—even en masse—is no more morally problematic than carving out cancerous cells. It is simply a nonissue. However, the data we receive from survey respondents reveal that many Americans experience a kind of moral ambivalence about abortion. They do not want to overturn Roe, but they are willing to institute laws that will steer women away from having abortions (e.g., mandating the viewing of ultrasound images, notifying husbands, and having doctors discuss alternatives to abortion with patients). Moreover, their reasons for allowing abortions to take place are unequivocally rooted to moral dilemmas, such as protecting the life of the mother or preventing the future suffering an infant with a terrible disease or disorder.

    As such, they disagree with the argument that it is morally unproblematic to abort children simply on a whim—a sentiment that clearly rejects the opinion that children at the embryonic and fetal stages of development have zero claim to the considerations of personhood. This is evident in the results showing that respondents do not think a woman should have an abortion simply because she does not want the child, even if she is only in her first trimester of pregnancy. Even the zygotic stage appears to be one at which respondents’ moral concerns remained active, with there being a virtual tie over the question of whether to permit females of any age from having access to emergency contraceptive pills.

    Again, I want to stress that my position is not that there is a groundswell of support for the specific goals of an organization like Personhood USA; however, neither is there a groundswell of support for the Planned Parenthood et al. position that children in the prenatal stages of development are utterly devoid of moral status. This is crucial to understanding the debate over abortion.

    Below are links to a number of survey responses collected by Gallup. Red highlights indicate a conservative preference; blue highlights indicate a liberal perspective.

    Survey Results 1

    Survey Results 2

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    Dutch,

    I think you would be on firmer ground if you argued about the similarities between Nazism and certain elements of the alt-right (e.g., white nationalists, identitarians, etc.) rather than American conservatism generally—including the conservatism of the twenty-first century. If you make your condemnation with too broad a brush, you will end up creating a circumscribed space in which only likeminded people are allowed to participate. And this is far closer to fascism than mere conservatism.

    I welcome all criticisms of my opinions, but the Hitler references indiscriminately bandied about in the past two years are becoming very tiresome.

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    Schmidt,

    Could expand on what you mean when you say Republicans are more tribal than Democrats? I’m interested in hearing that argument.

    As for the topic of when life begins, I think the basic question makes no room for equivocation in the way racism does. Racism is a term that received its fullest development in mid-twentieth century, but only because Nazi Germany incorporated the idea of race superiority so thoroughly into the foundation of its regime. The scattered origins of race superiority can be found in the nineteenth century, but the term “racism” had not yet been invented nor did any such thing exist as a thoroughgoing ideology. I suppose the various ways in which race superiority was expressed during that century could plausibly give us competing understandings of the nature of that sentiment, but I take the Nazi-borne version to be definitive.

    Re: When Life Begins

    In any event, to the extent that the question of life is biological and not linguistic in nature, I think it is indisputable that life begins at conception. The union of sperm and egg is a unique symbiotic relationship that has one and only one end: the creation of a human being. The successful fertilization of the egg results in the immediate sharing of the mother and father’s DNA, which is the complete set of building blocks for producing that particular child and not some other child or some other thing. It is not only uniquely human but a unique individual as well. Moreover, the zygotic stage is not a dormant stage at which additional human action is required to serve as a catalyst. The process is officially begun, and, barring spontaneous accidents of nature, only human intervention can stop it.

    Some people deliberately employ clinical vocabulary—zygote, embryo, fetus—to frame what millions of ordinary people call “babies” in morally neutral terms for the simple purpose of making their destruction less problematic for the conscience. (Some go even further in these efforts to denigrate humans at the neonatal stage of life. I know a woman in Oregon who refers to them as “parasites” and “tumors.”) But in reality, this clinical vocabulary was originally intended as nothing more than a scheme of categorization for labeling the different stages of human development. A fetus is no more non-human than an infant, a toddler, an adolescent, or an elderly person.

    Yet those with political motivations will often say that the prenatal terminology designates a collective stage of development during which the baby is only human in potentia. In other words, the child is not truly human, or even fully alive, because its survival depends on a parasitical relationship with an actual human being capable of supplying it with essential resources. This of course raises a number of questions, not least of which is why humans in potentia exist only in the prenatal stages of life. Infants, toddlers, invalids, and the very old also depend on others to keep them alive; yet we hesitate to classify these creatures as disposable bloodsuckers. Lastly, if a fetus is in fact nothing more than a nonliving, non-human cluster of cells, I wonder if those who support abortion would find anything morally unsettling in watching a physician dispose of a fetus by holding it aloft while shouting, “Hey, Mom and Dad. Watch this!” before tearing off its head and hook-shooting it into the nearest waste bin. Would any negative reaction we experience be limited either to our aversion to unprofessionalism or to the nausea we would feel had the fetus been merely a blood-soaked appendix? According to the pro-abortionists, our feelings should not go beyond this. The doctor’s use of the names “Mom” and “Dad” are simply bad labeling; no human being is the parent of a nonliving, non-human thing. And while the doctor’s bizarre actions may be off-putting for their unprofessionalism, he certainly could not be accused of acting inhumanely, but at worst unsanitarily.

    Still… I wonder. I know a couple women who have had abortions and I know several women who have had miscarriages, and all of them were deeply and adversely affected by the experience of loss. There are some who argue that these feelings are merely socially constructed irrationalities that need to be trained out of women, to make them confident in the “ownership” of their bodies over which the fetus has no more claim than a hangnail. But I do not buy that for a minute. If anything has been socially imposed on women, it is the callousness with which they are encouraged to treat the child within them. Unless, of course, you happen to want the damn thing, in which case you are free to fantasize to your heart’s desire about how it is a “baby” and not a loathsome zombie clinging to your insides.

    Re: Pro-Life

    Regarding Sister Chittister’s discussion of what it means to be “pro-life,” I disagree with her that being pro-life means seeking to eliminate hardship. Not only is hardship one of the defining features of human life as such, but I agree with Machiavelli, Rousseau, and others who insist that the experience of hardship is not only not a net negative but is actually desirable for creating a foundation on which virtuous traits—industry, courage, fortitude—can arise. Indeed, Machiavelli went so far as to say that any founder of a political community, whose settlement rests on fertile soil, must consider instituting laws that will impose hardships on his citizens in order to prevent them from becoming soft and idle. I don't know that I would go so far as to legislate hardships into existence, but I do agree that no injustice necessarily occurs simply because such hardships exist.

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    Schmidt, what the hell is going on? This guy should have been banned from the site; why did that not happen yet. We don't need GOP trolls. Look at what they've done to this country. You can't change them anyway they are "brain dead".

    Dutch,

    I am not a "GOP troll." I am, however, a conservative as shown by the profile indicators I was invited to select when I first joined the group. Those indicators included options for various strengths of conservatism, so I assumed conservative contributors—even staunchly conservative ones—were permitted to participate.

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    Schmidt,

    Many of your examples of rhetoric focus on Trump. Putting aside some obvious quibbles I have about your framing, I agree with the general point you are making: that Trump is clever at appealing to public sentiment. But the challenge faced by the Women’s March is largely a collective action problem. Getting the messaging right (i.e., making it clear, interesting, and persuasive) is very difficult when one’s voice is comprised of thousands of individuals. The reason interest groups fare better than protest movements is because they have a leadership structure that imposes a narrow objective on the group. For instance, it is probably safe to assume that many N.R.A. members are also strong proponents of traditional marriage; but the organization would stretch itself too thin if it attempted to rally for this and other non-gun-related issues. Better to leave traditional marriage arguments to Focus on the Family or some other such group.

    There is a kind of political efficiency that results from applying the division of labor to group-led issue advocacy.

    Note: You mentioned the Democratic Party at the beginning of your reply. I did not have political parties in mind when I wrote my OP; however, it is worth observing that political parties are like the plasma of collective action groups. Protest movements are like gas—full of agitation and often hot air. I will always remember a quote the New York Times obtained when it sent its reporters into the Occupy Wall Street fray. One activist was recorded as hollering, “It’s about taking down systems. It doesn’t matter what you’re protesting. Just protest!” This mentality is like the primordial germ inherent to all protest movements, regardless of partisan ideology. Interest groups, on the other hand, are much more solid. Some of them, like the A.A.R.P., are practically American institutions. But political parties fluctuate over time as they undergo internal realignments. Frankly, in terms of stability, the Republicans are not much better off—if at all—than the Democrats. The G.O.P. is still trying to figure out whether its blue-blood or populist elements will the more controlling faction. As for the Democrats, not only did the 2016 election scrambled their circuits quite a bit, but they overplayed their hand in various matters of social policy. So, both parties are currently searching for an identity.

  • Jan 21, 2018 10:47 AM
    Last: 2mo
    1.2k

    The reasons cited by the marchers varied with no single theme...

    Certainly, the lack of coherence has something to do with the way in which the group outlines nearly twenty “values and principles.” Narrowness and specificity are a must if a protest movement is going to maintain the public’s interest for any length of time. I remember when the Tea Party movement was criticized for its generalized anger. Eventually, its leading figures were compelled to distill the movement’s sentiments into three parts: limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a stricter interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Yet even then, the movement needed something more concrete to serve as an effigy through which the public could understand the significance of the principles. Enter “Obamacare.”

    But I suspect the lack of coherence also has something to do with the moral impalpability of many of the protestors’ grievances—especially in the light of conditions in advanced Western societies. The global approach of the Women’s March forces them to paint with the broadest of brushes, such that unsatisfying “hook-ups” in the U.S. are conflated with the common, brutal gangrapes of preteen girls in India. Most sensible people whose emotions are well ordered cannot stimulate within themselves a genuine moral outrage capable of being applied equally to the two cases. If we refer to both as “sexual misconduct,” we immediately sense the injustice this sterile term does to the rape of a child; yet we also know it would be absurd if not unjust to categorize an embarrassing one-night stand as “sexual assault.”

    In addition, terms like “economic justice” and “environmental justice” may hold some sort of significance for those who attended thousand-dollar humanities classes at elite colleges, but most people among the masses have no idea what they mean. (Even educated people struggle to understand what is meant by something like “environmental justice.”)

    But perhaps nothing represents the group’s detachment from ordinary life more than its (1) tacit exclusion of pro-life women and (2) inclusion of “transwomen.” The former indicates a startling lack of real intimacy with those mothers whose love for their children is so powerful that it transcends their own experiences to become a universal posture concerning the sacred responsibility of motherhood generally—a feeling that is so far from being purely religious that we ought to call it natural. The latter not only adds to the insult of the former, but, in the minds of many women who consider themselves feminists, imposes an intolerable indignity on what they consider to be the true sisterhood: namely, real women seeking solidarity with real women.

    At any rate, if history is any prediction of the future, the Women’s March, if it is to secure any practical achievement, will first have to whittle its grievances down to one or two points, and, second, it will have to articulate points whose substance can in some way connect with the experiences or sentiments of the mass of ordinary people.

  • Jan 12, 2018 07:57 AM
    Last: 2yr
    37k

    Chet,

    Immediately following the colon in the sentence you quote, I provide "two broad bases" on which many Trump voters explain their support of his administration.

  • Jan 12, 2018 07:57 AM
    Last: 2yr
    37k

    Chet,

    I should have been more precise in my comments about charisma. I chose to compare Donald Trump's efforts at flattery to Bill Clinton's because doing so is but one way to demonstrate the former's lack of charisma. I did not mean to insinuate that flattery is an essential feature of charisma. By italicizing the word "feel" I meant to draw attention to the characteristic effect of charisma, which is the way which it is said to produce an internal transformation of feeling or attitude within those who are susceptible to the charismatic's power. And, while charisma need not always be delivered with honey, it was Mr. Clinton's preferred mode of delivery ("I feel your pain"). Moreover, although a demagogue may be charismatic, a demagogue nevertheless can be effective without also being charismatic; there are methods of moving a great mass of people other than through the power of charisma.

    Still, we may be too hasty even in calling Mr. Clinton charismatic, since a truly charismatic figure—at least according to Weber—undergoes a sort of apotheosis among his followers. Toni Morrison asserted that ol' Bill was America's first black president. Be that as it may, it is still a status far removed from deification. Barack Obama was treated like a god by some elements on the left—Chris Matthews' quivering thighs, Newsweek's intimation of the second coming of Christ—but I think that had more to do with a sense of redemption felt by those who were racked by white guilt than with charisma. Personally, and all partisanship aside, I did not find Mr. Obama to be an especially magnetic personality. As for Donald Trump, apart from Ann Coulter's tongue-in-cheek appellation "the Emperor God," I do not see much evidence to suggest that the man exerts charismatic influence on his supporters. This is backed by dozens of surveys in which respondents frequently express their embarrassment of Trump's more juvenile antics while defending their electoral support for him on two broad bases: (1) his policies are unapologetically aimed at prioritizing American interests over foreign ones; (2) his brash, pugilistic style is a much-needed counterweight to academic, media, and political elitism.

    Edit: On that last point, the New York Times recently published an entertaining collection of such sentiments from Trump supporters.