Our Untrustworthy, Perplexing, Depressing State Legislators

As a passionate supporter of American democracy in both practice and theory, I find the proliferation of ignoramuses, fools and morons among both elected representatives and the voters who allow them to acquire access to the levers of power to be a constant source of discouragement. The old adage about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others is scant consolation, true as it may be. I only tune in to the reliably idiotic goings on at the state legislature level when someone or some news story forces me to take a look, which I anticipate with enthusiasm akin to that I felt toward going down into our scary basement when I was a kid. (OK, up until I moved away at 21. OK, STILL.)

Here are two examples from today….that I know about.

Alabama took another step toward near-total abortion ban legislation, House Bill 314, the “Human Life Protection Act.”  The Republican-supported bill is  in  direct defiance of 1973’s Supreme Court  Roe v. Wade ruling, an obvious gambit to try to get the conservative Roberts court to overturn it. Grandstanding, obstinacy, call it what you will, this bill is futile, foolish, and incompetent. An outright reversal of Roe is not in the cards, not even in the most fevered fantasies of anti-abortion fanatics and pro-abortion absolutists. The new law, if it becomes a law, will be struck down by a the highest Alabama court, and won’t make it to the Supreme Court docket. It’s an illegal law, that’s all. A law reestablishing child labor or repealing female suffrage would have about as much chance of getting the Court’s attention.

If Roe is to be weakened or modified, it will occur incrementally, with the Court ruling on legitimately debatable regulations regarding when a fetus or unborn child qualifies for full Constitutional protection. It is understandable that ordinary, untrained, confused citizens might think that the way to remove established Court precedent is to directly oppose it with a state law, but  that’s because, for most of them, making laws isn’t their job. State legislators, on the other hand, have no excuse but their own lack of preparation for their civic duty, and ignorance.There is more. The bill provides no exceptions for rape or incest and classifies the procedure as a Class A felony in the state, so a doctor convicted of performing abortions in Alabama would face up to 99 years in prison. Some legislators tried to add an amendment that would create an exception for rape and incest, and this caused an uproar that led to the Senate delaying the final vote. The insistence on an exception for rape or incest is a clear indication that a supposed anti-abortion activist hasn’t devoted serious thought to their allegedly moral and principled reverence for human life. A fetus that is the product of rape or incest is no less an innocent human life than a child conceived in a drunken romp or because of failed birth control.

What supporters of the rape and incest exception reveal is that they really do want to dictate when a woman should be able to decide not to give birth. Massive life disruption, poverty, lack of family support? Not good enough. We’ll tell you when there’s a good reason to kill an innocent unborn child. If the reason to oppose abortion is the life of the unborn, then how the unborn happen to be conceived is logically and ethically irrelevant.

That fact should be easy enough to comprehend  for anyone presuming to be wise enough to make laws that restrict the liberties of fellow citizens.

Now let’s look at a classic incompetent and unfit state representative.

Meet Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, a Texas legislator who has contempt for doctors  who want to end vaccine exemptions. He has been on an extended twitter rant against doctors and vaccinations generally, and laws mandating immunization specifically.  A sample:

“Look, another guy in a white coat who thinks he’s a better parent than anyone else!…Make the case for your sorcery to consumers on your own dime…Quit using the heavy hand of government to make your business profitable through mandates and immunity. It’s disgusting…Do our state a favor and mind your own business. Parental rights mean more to us than your self enriching ‘science.'”

Stickland tweeted that vaccines are “dangerous,” that a doctor concerned about the child’s vulnerability to disease is a “brainwashed commie” and that defenders of science are “typical leftists trying to take credit for something only The Lord God Almighty is in control of.”

One might say that a district that elects a fool like this deserves the idiotic representation they  get, but that’s not how our system is supposed to work. Voters have an obligation, and ethical duty, to be responsible , knowledgeable, and respectful of the needs and rights of others. Ignorance is the enemy, and the Founders made it clear that an engaged and educated populace was necessary  for representative democracy to have a chance.

They were right then, and they are right now.

63 thoughts on “Our Untrustworthy, Perplexing, Depressing State Legislators

  1. No one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. Where’s the abortion court to adjudicate who is and isn’t born? Privacy my ass. Almost all abortions are post conception birth control.

    • It’s been years (a decade?) since I last read the Roe decision, but I have the lingering impression that it couldn’t have made less sense if it had been written by random winos and drug addicts. Let them accuse us of inventing unprecedented interpretational penumbras when we set fire to their murderous legacy. Pretending to take their ridiculous legal inventions seriously for 50+ years is why things are as bad as they are now. I’ve heard ‘barbarian’ defined as someone who cheers when a just or unjust pleasant outcome befalls him and when a just or unjust unpleasant outcome befalls his enemy. His only concern is immediate self-interest without regard to principle. A total disregard for his words is the only way to deal with him; he can’t be spoken to as a moral equal.

      It may be divisive to say, but I didn’t make the divide I’m describing. We’ve tried treating them like equals in spite of their obvious deficiencies in the hopes they’d figure it out. Raising children in that manner has the same effect that this has had on the political inferiors. Perhaps some of us thought we could take their unserious nonsense seriously with the expectation that they’d take us seriously. I think that expectation was finally put to rest for me when the Little Sisters of the Poor were told by law to purchase contraceptives. That was a while ago, and there have been copious examples since to choose from if that isn’t your preferred style of insane. A republic can’t continue in this trend.

  2. Irresponsible voters -and non-voters: Using my own county as an example, with a population of about 105,000, approximately 78% are of voting age (81,900). About 78% of those eligible are registered to vote as of 2018, so roughly 64,000 registered voters. Voter turnout rarely exceeds 50% of registered voters in state/national elections, or 32,000. (Much lower turnout in local elections.) So, of nearly 82,000 “potential” voters, fewer than 40% are voting. 17,000 votes will carry the day! That’s one reason these cretins get elected: People who can’t be bothered to fulfill the most basic civic duty there is. A politician doesn’t have to be smart enough to fool all of the people all of the time or even some of the time, he or she only has to fool 51% of those who actually bother to vote, every few years.

  3. If the reason to oppose abortion is the life of the unborn, then how the unborn happen to be conceived is logically and ethically irrelevant.

    Deus vult! The weaselly moderate stance is no less nonsensical than the pro-abortion stance.

    • In rare moments when an average citizen really contemplates abortion, it’s often the “but what about women who’ve been raped” argument from abortion advocates that snaps them out of that moment of clarity and back into a mindset of “well, abortion is bad, but I guess it should stay legal.” So the nonsensical moderate stance may just be a play to remove that objection and at least get SOMETHING out there that the public might support. Some lives saved being better than none and all.

      • Rape is an emotional, difficult issue when it comes to abortion. Even if you accept that life begins at conception and that such life deserves protection regardless of how it was conceived, it’s terribly hard not to have compassion for victims of rape. Generally, children gotten by incest are also products of rape, but those who are not (i.e. two consenting family members legally able to consent) also deserve protection. The latter case I consider indistinguishable from any other ordinary pregnancy.

        I reject the notion that a child born of simple incest is unworthy of life. While it’s true that generations of inbreeding can result in suppressed genetic diseases being expressed in offspring, but that is unlikely in a one-off single generation event.

        Asking a woman to give birth to a child that is the product of a violent assault not just on her body and her person, but on her soul, comes down to a value judgment about compassion in our society. It is compassionate to allow a woman in such a pass to terminate her pregnancy. It is also a fact that such termination is killing a human being who also deserves compassion. That’s where the state of development argument becomes much more compelling.

        Fetuses at very early stages of development are clearly incapable of activity that we can interpret as being a “person” as defined in the Constitution, even though there is no doubt as to their humanity. That is manifestly not true later in development.

        So which compassion wins out? A living person, scarred by a horrible assault and forced by law to deliver the living reminder of that assault into the world, suffering all the anguish and physical trauma of childbirth, and then ultimately forced to decide the child’s disposition (either giving him/her up for adoption or raising the child herself). Or is she allowed her to terminate the pregnancy, perhaps provided it is early enough in the gestation period? And when is “early enough?”

        And what of the child? Are we able to competently judge the personhood of a fetus at an early state of development? We know the fetus is human, but beyond that, we know nothing meaningful. But if human life is sacrosanct, how can one violent act justify another, because abortion is the ultimate form of violence to an unborn human.

        These are all tough questions, and ones that we will have to address eventually. The availability of abortion at least early on to anyone is likely to remain undisturbed for the foreseeable future.

        • I disagree. The question of personhood was developed to excuse child murder, child murder wasn’t the product of an initial uncertainty regarding whether living humans are persons. Many of our tough questions are only tough because we allow sophists to engineer convenient uncertainties to further their ends. Taking their opinions seriously won’t result in them taking yours seriously, as the last decades have shown us. These are men who’ve sold their integrity for power; they will not reciprocate.

          • I disagree. “Persons” is explicitly used in the United States constitution to describe people who “have been born,” not those who have been conceived and not born. So it wasn’t developed as a way to dodge the concept of humanity.

            Many of our tough questions are only tough because we allow sophists to engineer convenient uncertainties to further their ends.

            While true, it’s inoperative in the instant case. The rest is opinion to which you are entitled, but it has no probative value and I am unconvinced by it.

            • “Persons” is explicitly used in the United States constitution to describe people who “have been born,” not those who have been conceived and not born. So it wasn’t developed as a way to dodge the concept of humanity.

              This first sentence is technically true. Unless you have some other passage in mind, I think you’re referring to the 14th Amendment:

              All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

              This doesn’t grant or deny any philosophically essentialist qualities to anyone or anything but acts to define ‘citizenship’. I find most legal writing has this quality about it. If you had another passage in mind, my expectation is that it would follow this pattern. So, if I judge the intention correctly, I suspect your second quoted sentence is incorrect – they very much intended to dodge the concept of humanity insofar as was possible.

              Against any further notion that legal treatment of personhood should be used define actual personhood, I present the norm of treating estates and corporations as persons for the purposes of ownership and lawsuits as a sort of reductio ad absurdum. I think it’s clear that these legal realities are sometimes even fictional for the purposes of creating a functional body of laws, without regard to or interest in defining existential truths – even the plain ones.

              And sorry for the wait. I should know better than to act like a Catholic edgelord on days when I’m too busy to deal with the inevitable fallout.

              • So, if I judge the intention correctly, I suspect your second quoted sentence is incorrect – they very much intended to dodge the concept of humanity insofar as was possible.

                I tend to read what sentences say, and accept that’s what they mean. What you appear to be saying here is that such “legalese” means something other than it says.

                Based on that, I disagree.

                And sorry for the wait. I should know better than to act like a Catholic edgelord on days when I’m too busy to deal with the inevitable fallout.

                No need to apologize, I understand that neither of us do this for a living, and that living or dying by a blog comment is … a bit, shall we say, disordered thinking.

                Thank you very much for the back and forth, I have enjoyed it!

      • Indeed, I’m perfectly willing to accept that it’s filthy, lying, utilitarian pandering to an unprincipled mob (e.g. the current standard of modern politics). Useful nonsense is still nonsense, and I’ll give it all the respect justice demands. Perhaps someone born of rape would be heartened to know he isn’t expendable garbage, and maybe someone who had an abortion after being raped would feel ashamed. These are tertiary considerations to moderate how one might speak politely, not primary considerations to govern our actions, and every enfranchised citizen who behaves otherwise is a liability to a functioning polis. I know you mean to say that this is the best we can do in our current circumstances, but I mean to highlight how indicative that is of the severity of those circumstances.

        • I know you mean to say that this is the best we can do in our current circumstances, but I mean to highlight how indicative that is of the severity of those circumstances.

          I think that’s fair, and I can’t criticize the impulse at all.

  4. I was sure from the headline that this guy would make the cut. It’s the politician version of the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru guy, but worse:

  5. “…an engaged and educated populace was necessary for representative democracy to have a chance.”

    Well, I guess that means we really are fucked. We had a pretty good run, though.

  6. Anti-Vaxers, are a brainwashed collective of Darwin Award candidates.

    All choices have consequences.

    You can’t fix stupid, but stupid can eliminate themselves. (Evil Sneer)

    Voluntary population control without the “control” part; what could go wrong?

    Survival of the fittest! (Evil Sneer)

    The Earth has too much population anyway, if they don’t want vaccinations I have no problem with that.

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

    Sorry everyone, it’s one of those mornings, I couldn’t resist.

      • I used to think that way as well… until I found that the measles vax might not work after a decade or so. Young children, older adults, and those with chronic disease are also at risk to such an epidemic.

    • Considering the sudden emergence of measles epidemics in the world – particularly in Venezuela, and in Brooklyn, NY among the cloaked community of Hasidic Jews who have found some kind of Talmudic law that says “thou shalt not vaccinate” – is to consider a spread of a disease that kills.
      As many as one out of every 20 (unvaccinated) children with measles gets pneumonia,and it is the most common cause of death in young children. What’s more (mommy, are you listening?) the risk of death from measles is higher for adults and infants than for children. … Measles can cause life-threatening pneumonia and brain inflammation, middle-ear infection, severe diarrhea, and death. [Zoltar, are you there?] Measles is contagious from four days before until four days after the rash appears.
      “Four days before” says that you don’t know what’s wrong until it’s too late. This is why (evil grin or not) you don’t want measle-weasels to just go on spreading it around. Sooner or later you’ll meet a stranger . . . Search Results
      Featured snippet from the web. How’s Your Math Dept.:
      Measles Cases in 2019. From January 1 to May 3, 2019, 764 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 23 states. This is an increase of 60 cases from the previous week. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994.

      By the way, those who are already vaccinated with the MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella/scarlet fever, and Varicella/chicken pox) vaccine can have a mild form of the disease, but why should they suffer for others stupidity.

      • PennAgain wrote, “why should [we] suffer for others stupidity.”

        We as individuals and as a society suffer from the stupidity of others all the time! Stupid people rule when it comes to causing suffering to others.

  7. Before commenting i request that people study advanced reproductive biology.

    For example, the 11 abortions that a mother went through before her birth, while she was still in the womb. A case of multiple foetus in foetu.

    Or the abortion of a conceptus that has developed into a hydatiform mole, and needs removal before it metastises.

    All the philosophical arguments about “life begins at conception” and “if it has human DNA then it is a person” are as counterfactual as the Texas legislator’s views on vaccination being sorcery.

    There are real ethical issues remaining after the biology is understood. Many, such as when personhood begins, are legitimately debateable even after education on the science.

    Right now though, both sides, but in particular the vast majority of the anti abortion side, are operating under misapprehensions and assumptions that reflect extreme ignorance.

    • We are in complete agreement on this. It is way too complicated an issue for a poorly-educated, agenda-driven state legislator to try to deal with.

    • This smacks of the lefty Got’cha example of the fertilization clinic that’s on fire where you have to make a choice between saving a 5 year old kid or a cooler full of fertilized eggs. “Oh, you’ve chosen the kid? What a monster, think of the hundreds of people you chose to let burn”. Except no one really thinks like that.

      We get that there’s a difference between a cooler full of fertilized eggs and a person. We just don’t completely devalue the cooler full of fertilized eggs. That cooler full of fertilized eggs is still human life, prospective people, a giant pile of potential. That cooler full of human life, while perhaps not as important to save as a scared and screaming child, is still more important than a malignant tumor, a turnip, or a ham sandwich. This isn’t a case where every instance of life is identical, this is a trolley car problem.

      The life of the mother, for instance, is one of the most common red herrings the pro-choice lobby uses to muddy the water around everything that isn’t the life of the mother. On top of all the good secular arguments for such an exemption, there are religious ones as well; The bible isn’t even murky on this subject: Abortion where the life of the mother is at risk is not a sin.

      The problem isn’t metastasizing fetuses, or a Ripley’s Believe It or Not of extreme biological complications, the problem is that the VAST majority of abortions are the direct cause of stupid, irresponsible people doing stupid, irresponsible things, and are unwilling to take responsibility for their stupid, irresponsible actions. The single most checked box on surveys asking women why they had abortions was “Convenience”, “I’m not ready to be a parent” is usually second, “Financial Reasons” is a distant third, “rape/incest/health of mother”? Less than a percent.

      Rape, Incest and Maternal health are red herrings. The fact of the matter is that there is no level of compromise one could make to satisfy the pro-choice lobby into any restriction on the right to kill children. Literally none. They oppose bills that limit abortion to the time before a child develops a heartbeat, they’ve opposed bills that limit abortion to the first two trimesters, with or without the red herring caveats, hell… they’ve opposed born alive bills that merely require that health care providers care for children that survive abortions. If the democrats aren’t the party of baby murderers, they could have fooled me. This is low hanging fruit, and they utterly refuse to compromise.

      But yes, tell me again how I should focus in on narrow, specialized case study that covers a minute fraction of a fraction of cases. That seems reasonable.

      • That cooler full of human life, while perhaps not as important to save as a scared and screaming child, is still more important than a malignant tumor, a turnip, or a ham sandwich. This isn’t a case where every instance of life is identical, this is a trolley car problem.

        If I could awkwardly high-five you, buy you a beer, and pat you on the back, failing spectacularly at all three simultaneously in my childish enthusiasm, I would demonstrate for you one of the oft-unappreciated advantages to anonymous internet communication. Instead, know that this cutting deconstruction of nihilist deconstruction has earned for you an infinite well of brownie points with me, worthless-in-fact as that may actually be. It beats being inadvertently assaulted and soaked in beer, at least.

        And you called out the trolley parallels! I know, I’m gushing. I’ll stop.

      • The fact of the matter is that there is no level of compromise one could make to satisfy the anti abortion lobby into any limitation on the absolute prohibition of abortion. Literally none

        We need to get rid of these lobbies, both pro and anti abortion, and have a rational discussion based on facts, not superstition or leftist political ideology.

        From https://www.patheos.com/blogs/steelmagnificat/2019/05/8903/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=share_bar&fbclid=IwAR2OH_IGgTIBfGamIw-jaJ6E2BNYNySmgdUV0387RXlC8YCZCNBKroFc8No#rocSrR1X7Ko5xlmK.01

        I am terrified that this law would ban insurance coverage for their condition except in the case of a fictional “procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.” you can tell no doctor ever came within a mile of this legislation, not only because that procedure doesn’t exist, but because a “fertilized ovum” is an earlier stage of pregnancy; by the time you’re removing a fallopian tube to save a woman, it’s much further along. But that’s the exact wording of the bill as it stands today.

        The bill also includes coverage of “a procedure, in an emergency situation, that is medically necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life.” Only in an emergency situation. In practice, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, this could easily mean that insurance would cover you if your fallopian tube had already ruptured and you managed to make it to the hospital in extreme pain and internal bleeding before you died. But if the ectopic pregnancy was diagnosed before then– apparently Ohio legislators expect the doctor to scrape the baby out of the tube, killing him or her instantly, and then stuff the dead baby into the mother’s uterus. This would be as likely to result in a healthy baby as the doctor cutting the mother’s nose off and throwing that in the uterus too. This bill is not pro-life, it’s pro-sepsis.

        It’s not even that; it’s gibberish.

        It’s a man with no medical expertise crafting legislation for a body part that will never impact him personally because he doesn’t have one.

        If this bill is somehow signed into law as it is, women are going to die. They are not going to bravely sacrifice their lives to save their babies, which would be bad enough; they’re going to bleed to death with a tiny dead baby rotting inside of them, because an ignorant male legislator wanted to look extra pro-life for his constituents.

        He’s not being pro-life. He’s not even being rational. He’s attempting to legislate something about which he is completely ignorant.

        And everyone, pro-life and pro-choice, should be outraged.

        • If this bill is somehow signed into law as it is, women are going to die. They are not going to bravely sacrifice their lives to save their babies, which would be bad enough; they’re going to bleed to death with a tiny dead baby rotting inside of them, because an ignorant male legislator wanted to look extra pro-life for his constituents.

          This isn’t a bad argument, though one would have to look past the inflammatory “ignorant male” value judgments that usually earn a deaf ear. The ectopic pregnancy is one of the very few real life scenarios that approach trolley problem conditions. Those benighted, superstitious moral philosophers accept that in this case a principle called “double effect” obtains. Removing an implanted fallopian tube has the same moral significance as removing a breathing machine from a patient who is known to be beyond hope of recovery. It has all the similarity to an abortion as removing a breathing tube does to chopping up a comatose patient with an axe.

          If the bill contains what you describe, I would oppose it with the full force of my foolish medieval superstition.

        • I think we agree.

          Going back to my comment: I doubt very highly that requiring a mother to die for even a healthy baby is very high on the average pro-lifer’s priority list, never-mind an actually dead, metastasizing case of sepsis waiting to happen. I shouldn’t joke, I suppose, these are tragedies but we’re getting to a point where the cases are so absurd the choices are to mock the absurdity or go insane.

          I also think that absurdity is being fostered by an across the board refusal to compromise on this portfolio, which is leading to ever more extreme positions. While the pro-life lobby is often uneducated about what is or is not actually effective, the pro-choice side is getting downright grisly. For every Ohio legislator trying to put the cracked egg back in the shell there’s a Virginian Governor talking about how to make delivered babies comfortable while her mother and doctor decide on whether to conduct a post-birth abortion… And while Northam’s comments were tone deaf, cripplingly stupid, and colorful, they didn’t misconstrue the law he was discussing. It bears noting that while the Virginian legislation failed, the New York legislation, which in some ways was functionally worse, passed and was signed by Governor Cuomo.

          You’re right, the Ohio example is particularly stupid, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The longer America goes without having a healthy, conciliatory discussion, the worse this is going to get.

    • Thank you, Zoe Brain. It won’t do any good with those who listen only to simple arguments; it is complicated indeed. It is not really a subjective situation but it is seen as such, so people can feel they are “taking sides” in an argument that has sides and uninformed opinions. The ignorance, as you mentioned, is at both ends. This is why I don’t argue the subject of abortion which has come up numerous times on this blog. I have only just enough expertise to understand what you were saying and appreciate it.

    • “Before commenting i request that people study advanced reproductive biology.

      For example, the 11 abortions that a mother went through before her birth, while she was still in the womb. A case of multiple foetus in foetu.

      Or the abortion of a conceptus that has developed into a hydatiform mole, and needs removal before it metastises.”

      Or instead of resorting to paternalism, which is a self-comforting logical fallacy, you could assume that some of us might know as much about it as you do, because we are personally invested in this issue. And we may not find your argument from ignorance convincing, nor your plain falsehoods (“life begins at conception” is not a “philosophical argument,” although I understand why you would desperately wish it to be, and can even sympathize with the inner turmoil it must take to make that kind of equivocation.)

      “When personhood begins” is only debatable because “personhood,” unlike “human life” is a malleable construct. Again, I can understand why you would want to shift the discussion away from the science and into an arena from where you can obfuscate over terms, and then pretend that everyone who disagrees just doesn’t appreciate the complexity of it all. One could use that technique to justify absolutely any behavior imaginable, including slavery, which in fact many have.

      “Sure, technically slavery is buying and selling people who are technically human beings. But what about people who buy and sell themselves? Haven’t you heard of people who sell their labor for food and lodging? Aren’t children “slaves” to their parents? What does it really mean philosophically to be “free?” There are real ethical issues remaining after the facts of slavery are understood. Those abolitionists are operating under quaint assumptions of morality, freedom, and morality that reflect extreme ignorance.”

      • And we may not find your argument from ignorance convincing, nor your plain falsehoods (“life begins at conception” is not a “philosophical argument,”

        See : monozygotic (identical) twins for an obvious factual counterexample.

        • It’s an interesting, thought… Isn’t it? If not conception, then where?

          If not the moment when the sperm hits the egg, igniting a potassium reaction that creates a momentary flash of light, then is it the moment where the 23 chromosomes com from each parent and combine for the first time into a 46-chromosome portfolio for the first time? Is it the point where the nervous system starts to develop? The first heartbeat? The first firing neuron? Does the magic of the cervix imbue mere fetii with personhood? The first breath? Is personhood a function of awareness? If not conception, at what non-arbitrary point does life begin? Because it seems like the further away from conception you get, the more ridiculous the claim becomes.

          • I would ask, at what point did the egg and sperm STOP being “alive”? I understand that “alive” and “person-hood” are different issues. My personal belief is that ‘person-hood’ is a contrived term designed solely to muddy the waters. However, folks pushing for no-exception anti-abortion laws are using both terms without having any actual medical knowledge upon which to base an opinion. I am personally acquainted with a woman who had an IUD implanted. Unfortunately, the IUD failed in it’s mission and the woman became pregnant. More unfortunately, the fetus began developing around the IUD. Her physician advised her that the fetus was likely not going to be viable, and if it did survive, it would be born with severe birth defects. In what was the hardest decision of her life, she elected to abort the fetus. That decision haunted her the remainder of her days. So, no, I am not a fan of no-exception anti-abortion laws. I know 1) what that decision can cost and 2) that abortion should never be considered as easy birth-control. Though it will be by the ethics-dead.

            • “…at what point did the egg and sperm STOP being “alive”?

              That make me think of Monty Python: “Every sperm is sacred, every sperms alive…”

              Sorry for the levity injected into an earnest discussion: sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.

          • A poss8ble solution.

            The law already recognises the concept of “brain death”, where the patient may still have a beating heart, and be able to breathe with or without assistance, but is deemed dead enough so that organs may be harvested without it being homicide.

            If that is the case after birth, should the same test apply when within the womb?

            It’s complicated by the fact that someone in a persistent and irreversible vegetative state after birth will never recover. A foetus not developed enough to have brain activity will usually develop to a state where it does. It is a potential person, usually. Destruction of such an entity against the mother’s wishes should be a crime in a legal sense, though possibly in the same category as mayhem rather than homicide.

  8. I do not share Jack’s confidence that the Alabama law will not eventually end up before the SCOTUS after appeal, nor that Roe v Wade will not be reversed in its entirety.

    Even though he’s the lawyer, and I’m not. I’ve seen less probable things happen, long standing precedents discarded 5-4 on political grounds.

    • Zoe Ellen Brain,
      Abortion should not be a political issue, it’s a moral issue that needs to be properly defined in legal terms. I see a lot of political crossover on this particular issue.

      • Too late, Zoltar. Once something becomes politicized, popularized and polarized (with the latter being the least objective and least understood), it doesn’t become un-so. I’ve been trying to think of an example that did drop out of the political realm, once in.

        • I wish I could disagree with both you and Zoltar.

          I also wish I had a solution to the problem. I’m open to suggestions, as I’m clueless here.

          • Zoe Ellen Brain wrote, “I also wish I had a solution to the problem. I’m open to suggestions, as I’m clueless here.”

            I think some of the “heartbeat” legislation being talked about or passed will likely end up in the Supreme Court of the United States and that’s the perfect time to press the supreme court to finally define when a fetus becomes a “human being”, at least legally and medically, thus making an abortion murder after that point has been reached. There will likely always be some moral and/or religious disagreements as to when a fetus becomes a human being but defining when a fetus becomes a human being is a huge step in the right direction that will put an end to almost all of the arguments.

            These argument s have been going on far too long, it’s time to get this done for the sake of everyone.

    • Why I am not confident.

      “It is important that we pass this statewide abortion ban legislation and begin a long overdue effort to directly challenge Roe v. Wade,”
      “Now that President Donald Trump has supercharged the effort to remake the federal court system by appointing conservative jurists who will strictly interpret the Constitution, I feel confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe and finally correct its 46-year-old mistake,”

      Quote from Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Aimsworth(R), who presides over the state Senate chamber.

      • Zoe,

        Why is it that Roe should never be questioned, yet Heller should be overturned? The former is much less solid than the latter, Constitutionally speaking.

        Abortion is a thorny issue, until we realize that humans are not God. Some decisions are not ours to make, and some conditions are not ours to correct. I believe that human life is sacred, regardless of ANY mitigating circumstances, in whatever form or defect it is born with.

        Your opinion differs, and that is fine with me: I have to live with the consequences of my belief, as you do with yours. It is not my responsibility to convert you to my belief.

        But we ARE coming for Roe, make no mistake. It is mainly used as birth control, and that cannot be condoned in my world.

  9. If Roe is to be weakened or modified, it will occur incrementally, with the Court ruling on legitimately debatable regulations regarding when a fetus or unborn child qualifies for full Constitutional protection.

    I completely agree.

    In my opinion; the debate needs to morally define in a legal manner what point in the development of an unborn baby that that baby can be unambiguously defined as a human being. Since all of our laws regarding taking life surround the taking of a “human” life, everything will appropriately fall into place after that “this is a human being” line is the sand has been appropriately defined. This IS the end all solution, someone just needs to figure out how to get a case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States and get’er done.

  10. States have passed laws authorizing people to violate federal law in numerous states and they have been allowed by federal authorities. This has happened for both marijuana sales and immigration law. How is the Alabama law different? There are 2 differences I see between the marijuana and immigration cases and this abortion case. The first is that the marijuana and immigration law cases mainly involve Democrats violating federal law. The other difference is that the marijuana sales and immigration law cases are against laws that were actually passed by legislators and signed by the executive. The Alabama statute is violating a law written and passed entirely by the judiciary. So why is the Alabama case a problem? Is it that laws imposed by the judiciary are more important than those passed by the legislative and executive branches, or is it that Republicans are required to obey the law while Democrats aren’t?

    • I wanted to say something like this. But you said it better, so I won’t. Democrats started a seditious procedural war. Ideally, we could choose not to reciprocate, and the situation would de-escalate naturally. I think the time indicative that natural de-escalation is possible has probably lapsed. If they want de facto federalism, we can have it too. Let them eat their crow and possibly learn that the trails they blaze can be followed.

      They won’t learn, though. This is going to get weird.

      • Burn the ships, Benjamin. The wheels have already been set into motion. We all use Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals now, else there will never be an end to progressive insanity.

        They have to personally feel the pain they cause others.

  11. The rape exception has always struck me as “aborted compassion.” I mean: if we are human enough to have compassion for the rape victim, then we are copping out and licensing ourselves to be double-minded, to the extent we excuse ourselves (somehow) from not having enough compassion also for the child conceived by rape. Killing those kids is OK, the double-minded thinking goes.

    Thinking like that is not far from the thinking of the guy – a legislator, I believe – who was recently on video, “reasoning” that an expectation of future hardship is reason enough to kill a child conceived in, say, poverty. Because the poor kid is probably just going to die later rather than sooner, it’s OK to kill the kid now. So the “choice” is presumed to be between violent death now, and violent death later.

    I try to think about abortion in the most personal way in order to form my position on the act. I imagine myself pregnant when I didn’t plan to be. I would be lying if I said I could not imagine myself thinking of abortion. I would also be lying to myself at least (something I know all too well that I have done far too often), if I said I could not imagine myself having compassion for the “additional victim” – the fetal child developing inside of me – who was conceived because I was raped.

    So the choice for me is between (1) being truly compassionate to the extent that I practice the Golden Rule toward my rape-conceived child, and (2) aborting my compassion to the extent that I don’t care whether the child lives or dies as long as he or she has “invaded” my body like it has.

    • Just to follow up: I am disappointed that there has not been more research and development of “salvaged” pregnancies. Ever since Roe v. Wade, I have wanted to read news of transplantation success, where a woman with an adverse pregnancy has the fetal child separated from her and implanted into a willing host, so that the pregnancy can continue to term. I know that such technology would not solve all the problems – and doubtless would result in more problems – but still, it just pisses me off that it’s so damned important to fight HIV and AIDS when millions of children are losing their lives to abortion unnecessarily.

      • Sadly, those children have no voice, no way to organize, and can’t vote. Sadly, no fetus is going to learn to write and go all Frederick Douglass on Planned Parenthood. Although several have survived abortions and become adults (shockingly, they’re against it.)

  12. Abortion is the “peculiar institution” of our time, and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s attached a whole host of horrible societal outcomes.

    The path out of the quagmire would be a painful one, because making abortion illegal would lead to some genuine horror stories; abortion has incentivized a whole slew of unhealthy and even abusive behavior by both sexes, and it would take years for society to adjust their lifestyles accordingly.

    At this point I think science could get us out of that quagmire. An effective, affordable form of male birth control, one that works like a “switch” instead of having to be continually taken, might someday reduce the demand for abortion to a trickle. When millions of people no longer have a self-interested reason to have access to an abortion, they’d be free to contemplate the horrors of what it actually is. Eventually abortion might be looked upon as part of our barbaric past. (And someday a future version of Joe Biden will tell women that the evil Republicans always loved abortion and will force it on all of them if they don’t vote for him.)

  13. As a passionate supporter of American democracy in both practice and theory, I find the proliferation of ignoramuses, fools and morons among both elected representatives and the voters who allow them to acquire access to the levers of power to be a constant source of discouragement. The old adage about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others is scant consolation, true as it may be.

    I am interested in *statements* of this sort and therefore try to break them down and to analyze them. I have to start by saying that among the New European Right, and among those in the developing New American Right, there is allowed a critical posture toward perverse ‘American democracy’. One starts from the premise of perversion because, and this is a simple, truthful statement, American democracy has become something other than ‘democracy’ in almost any sense of the word. To define what it is, and why it is not really ‘democratic’, is an involved topic. The American ‘system’ is a power-management system which has a myriad of non-democratic features. And how these non-democratic features and factions act against ‘democracy’ in the truer sense of the word, and the level of power they now have, is part-and-parcel of an analysis of the profound problems manifesting in the present.

    Some excerpts from an essay on Paul Gottfried: “Paul Gottfried and Paleoconservatism” by Seth Bartee. The essay deals in this portion with Gottfried’s study: “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt”.

    The main thesis in Gottfried‘s work is that all modern political ideas have become unmoored from their historical settings. He borrowed this idea from Christopher Lasch who believed that American political parties adopted a progressive axiomatic approach to politics. Lasch believed that all modern political ideologies are utilized by a new class of elites looking to subsume all identity into a perverse jousting match for administrative supremacy. One can think of the contemporary political upheaval is in both the US and in Europe as revealing elite class rivalries concerning administrative supremacy.

    This comes as a revelation for me, and what he says here provides an enlightening perspective on the politics of today. Modern American culture has become ‘unmoored’ in many ways it seems to me. One might say that it has become ‘postmodern’ in the sense that many people have no ‘root’ and they wander in a postmodern world of image and sensation. What structure of ideas informs them? There is certainly not one structure of ideas but a mass of non-structures. In the absurd Multicultural America there is a confused ‘chaos of peoples’, each one coming from some disconnected, personal perspective: an unformed and uninformed chaos of idea. And it seems true if one says that ‘America has become unmoored from its historical setting’. And one could add that this has come about and results from the deliberate adulteration of the national demographic. A people is required to hold to a national ideal, and a people require an ‘historical setting’. A location within history. But also within the physical structure of a people. The American People has now come to mean, literally, a chaos of peoples, and these people are dis-unified — disparate.

    In order to *unite* disparate people — people who are not united naturally — it requires a dictatorial force: a régime of control. It requires state propaganda with absurd lies about ‘democracy’ and an absurd presentation of American unity when, in fact (and is clearly seen and is undeniable) unity does not exist, and disunity shows itself with force.

    Within this context then, politics becomes similarly or commensurately absurd. The political class — these people are necessarily shrewd and clever in a Machiavellian sense — use ideas & symbols to manipulate people in their power-based “jousting match for administrative supremacy”. But all of this is, at least from a position above it all and looking down on it, ‘to be expected’ when a Nation is deliberately undermined at its most essential point: it demographic being, its physical self.

    Neoconservatism advances the absurd and flawed notion that a nation could become a ‘propositional nation’ and replace all its members with other ‘units’ and still function as a nation. Lie! What they set out to achieve, and what they have achieved, is not ‘democracy’ in a truer sense of the word, but a horizontal market which mimics genuine culture! It takes on the look of a giant, coercive, dishonest economic Walmart-like political system which could be termed Americanopolis. It is a perversion of what was intended. It is the loss of what was intended and it has come about through processes of corruption.

    The classic so-called American Conservative cannot face these truths! They cannot face them because they have colluded in lies & deceptions. They are now involved in lies & deceptions. And because they too have ‘become unmoored’ from genuine ideology, and a genuine relationship to the American People as the original demographic, they wind up serving the same ‘America’ that progressivism serves! And to speak of that one has to bring out int he open a topic revolving around “elite class rivalries concerning administrative supremacy”.

    Rather simple, no? when it is clearly explained.

    Gottfried’s main difference with Lasch is that the former University of Rochester professors saw hope in a kind of intellectual populism, while Gottfried believes that democracy depends on centralization leaving little hope for genuine dissent. It is possible that as a conservative intellectual who faced career difficulties, Gottfried witnessed what he considered the impossibility of a compromise between progressive politics and the Right’s desire to soak in traditions considered antiquated by the left.

    American democracy is not democracy it is ‘democracy’. It is an elaborate charade built on democratic forms, this I will admit, but at this scale and within a literally Imperial America the notion of a noble American democracy covers over a darker truth. The assertion is that America is an Empire and operates like an empire, controlling its domains, policing its domains both international and — quite importantly to note — offer a description that is closer to ‘reality’ and not part of an absurd, lie-infested neoconservatist scam.

    Does one wonder why ‘dissent’ is becoming illegal in America? One should not. But at the same time one should admit that the System demands and gets ideological conformation by insisting on a unique group of lies & deceptions. Right now it is the political left that is careening out of control. But I suggest that there is a whole ‘group of lies & deceptions’ that are part-and-parcel of the general system, and that these need to be examined and confronted.

    This is why it is possible to suggest — to exclaim — that American Conservatism so-called is part of the problem and is wedded to the problem. A New Right Conservatism has to be defined but this cannot happen as long as fake conservatives, conserving nothing, with no real ideas and who serve, essentially, progressivism, work to hold up the charades.

    Whew! We have our work cut out for us! 🙂

    • If an edit function existed!

      Four paragraphs up I meant to write: “The assertion is that America is an Empire and operates like an empire, controlling its domains, policing its domains both international and — quite importantly to note — domestically, offer a description that is closer to ‘reality’ and not part of an absurd, lie-infested neoconservatist scam.”

    • Now, within this *context* one can — one must — examine the sort of framing that is coming from a national journal of opinion like the New York Times. This is from an article in today’s paper: Russia Is Targeting Europe’s Elections. So Are Far-Right Copycats.

      Less than two weeks before pivotal elections for the European Parliament, a constellation of websites and social media accounts linked to Russia or far-right groups is spreading disinformation, encouraging discord and amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.

      Now, it has to be said right at the start: I am a Russian agent and I am here doing my work to ‘hack’ the American Democracy. My ideas are so dangerous, and yet so unoriginal, that they must clearly be seen as ‘talking points’ of a foreign régime bent on inciting mayhem! The ideas that I have — that we have — are by their nature part of unthinkable thought within the necessary and the good régime of proper liberal thought. And yet I come ‘wrapped in the American flag’ and talking about ‘processes of corruption’.

      You see this is how the game works.

      The same insinuation is being suggested now in respect to American politics.

      Often, these messages come directly from Russian news media and are repeated and amplified elsewhere. Others are more carefully cloaked: Facebook shuttered a pair of pages in Italy last week that were concealing far-right political messaging in what appeared to be lifestyle or sports sites unrelated to politics.

      “The goal here is bigger than any one election,” said Daniel Jones, a former F.B.I. analyst and Senate investigator whose nonprofit group, Advance Democracy, recently flagged a number of suspicious websites and social media accounts to law enforcement authorities. “It is to constantly divide, increase distrust and undermine our faith in institutions and democracy itself. They’re working to destroy everything that was built post-World War II.”

      I am so happy that Facebook ‘shuttered’ that Italian site! One can only hope that they can get those algorithms marching in strident step to shutter those operating here in the US!

      Help! We’ve been infested!

      It is not the Far Left that will carry out the new-defined policy of shutting down dissident opinion — which has now begun and is on-going — but rather the general system itself which is structured as a political & economic régime-of-control. Thus: “elite class rivalries concerning administrative supremacy”.

      And: the battle is over what you think; what you-plural are capable of thinking and what you-plural will be allowed to think.

    • More from Seth Bartee:

      Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt was published in 2002. It concerns the supposed therapeutic dogmatism that props up the managerial state. By managerial state, “Gottfried means the class of global elites that oversee the affairs of government. This new class of elites, unlike their earlier forefathers the early twentieth-century progressives, have less at stake because they are often far removed from the American middle-class. Gottfried points to the Frankfurt School theorists Theodore Adorno and Gunnar Myrdal as examples of therapeutic thinkers advocating for societal reeducation for anyone dissenting from the ideology of liberal democracy. Adorno’s 1950 Authoritarian Personality and Myrdal’s 1944 An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy both reveal new casting of liberalism, which belongs to a genre of literature that applied Freudian psychoanalysis to the treatment of societal ills. In other words, these works served not as narrative histories that told a story but as history used to solve problems. Again, building upon the work of Lasch, Gottfried posits that contemporary philanthropic and para-government organizations borrowed these ideas and thus maintain a therapeutic ideology to ward off dissent. In the final work of the Marxism trilogy, The Strange Death of Marxism, Gottfried finalizes his arguments against managerial liberalism.

      One needs to — one must — begin to envision America and America’s present problems within a larger context: what is here described as ‘therapeutic dogmatism’ within a world-management system. A ‘class of global elites’ overseeing the management of a world-economic system: the postwar liberal system.

      This is the managerial class that became capable of and very adept at ‘social engineering’. And in case it is not completely obvious they certainly have used Freudian tropes to make their case within their social engineering project.

      Postwar America is that social engineering project. And for this reason — which should be clearly visible to any person with two eyes in their head — the therapeutic condemnation about who is ‘sick’ and who is ‘normal and good’ is regularly employed. These psychological ideas, the guilt-slinging, is part-and-parcel of the present perceptual system, and I note that many on this Blog, including Jack, regularly have recourse to it.

      That is why when I first came on here dear Spartan — a Titanic intellectual figure! in fact a mental slave — classified me as sicko and needing therapy. Once this ad hominem is used by one, others pick it up and use it: because it is so useful & deadly.

      This is how ideas are dealt with (often) in America. The insinuation that there is something wrong with you if you deviate from what the Overlords tell you to think and what thought your peers coerce upon you.

      This sort of therapeutic analysis as a tool of social engineering has resulted in the normalization of what, previously, had been considered unhealthy. It is a sort of ‘applied anthropology’ of the sort that became a tactical tool among Marxists. It is a tool used by feminist extremists, it is used to forward the sexual deviancies that define our present, and these things together function to control the recognition of real immorality such as confrontation of illegal and immoral war-making in far-flung places. You masturbate as death rains down on your ‘enemies’: the enemies of ‘democracy’.

      This reveals and nefarious ‘transvaluation of values’ and the primary focus of this engineering has been in a project to remake, and also to unmake, the the American middle-class.

      Does having it explained make it clearer?

      Not only do we need to think more about the Theodore Adornos and the Gunnar Myrdals, those “therapeutic thinkers advocating for societal reeducation for anyone dissenting from the ideology of liberal democracy”, we need to see how — right here — the same Freudian tools of manipulation are employed. And we need to see how we ourselves have been molded by these currents of manipulative thought.

      Just this small segment of an essay points to a whole undertaking of restructuring what is seen and how what is seen is understood. This is ‘conservative work’, this will be the material through which some sort of renovation will occur.

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