The Republican Debate

The Republican Debate

I only caught the end of the debate, but that was enough. It was enough to remind me that the Republican Party boils down to three things: tax cuts, “What Would Reagan Do?” and violence. For every problem there is a tax cut that will fix it. For every dodged question, the ghost of Reagan looms like a smiling, beneficent prophet. All you need to do is rub his tummy and Republican boilerplate comes dribbling out to fill in whatever gaping crevice is left unfilled by any actual ideas. And when Perry is asked about the two-hundred and thirty some people he’s executed on death row during his governorship, the audience bursts into applause. Torture, war, and death, and this is the “pro-life” party.

I submit to you that this moment is perhaps the most telling since George W. Bush left office; that the modern Republican party is not only intellectually bankrupt, but morally bankrupt as well. The conservative movement and the Fox News and talk radio media empire it has built up around itself is not only ethically decrepit but morally atrophied. As Andrew Sullivan noted, “any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join. This is the crowd that believes in torture and executions.” Say what you will about Democrats, but no crowd of Democrats would cheer the execution of over two hundred of their fellow citizens, even if stories like that of Cameron Todd Willingham did not further blemish the record.

The evasive, bullshit answers, the invocations of Reagan, the silly attacks on the lack of leadership from president Obama – this is all to be expected. This is the humdrum stuff of political debates. Yes, I get a bit sick to my stomach having to hear first Bachmann, then Santorum, then Romney toss Reagan around like that, twisting his every word and deed to fit the current political climate, but I felt a real chill when I heard that audience applaud. It takes balls to execute an innocent man alright. It takes something anyways. And it takes the same sort of thing to applaud.


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236 thoughts on “The Republican Debate

  1. Yeah, I don’t get it.

    Core modern Republicanism involves these views:

    1. The less government the better.
    2. Because government usually sucks.
    3. Government screws things up.
    4. Government can’t be trusted.
    5. And government employees? Don’t get me started. They’re crooks.

    Yet, somehow, core modern Republicanism also believes:

    6. Except for criminal justice. When the government, and government employees, accuse someone of a crime, you can take that to the bank — they’re totally guilty. Trust the government. Trust its methods.

    However much folks like, say, Radley Balko expose how the government relies upon junk-science “experts” and police and prosecutorial misconduct (that is, government acting the way that, in every other circumstance, Republicans think that government acts), mainstream Republicans continue to say “no no, when the government wears a badge or prosecutes a case, THEN you can trust them.”

    It’s utterly incoherent.


      • Republicans think science is junk so that’s part of the problem.

        No, Erik, I think many Republicans think the science establishment is ideological and corrupt.

        As for the “telling moment,” applauding executions [of the guilty, not the innocent: that was unfair, Erik], I’d say it was a political statement being made in favor of capital punishment, not death in general [doubly unfair to drag in “pro-life,” which is unquestionably advocacy for the innocent]. It’s not right you should make monsters of half your countrymen, indeed 60+% who favor capital punishment.

        For the record, I lean against capital punishment. But I think the applause was more conceptual than bloodthirsty. And Cameron Todd Willingham is a talking point and cudgel of the left; Republicans especially, the crowd at the debate, and the nation at large have no idea what you’re on about here.

        Although I expect they will if gentlepersons like yrself have anything to say about it, and you will. Me, after Bill Clinton abandoned the campaign trail in ’92 to fry some mental defective, I don’t think this one has legs. It probably helped, not hurt him.

        I do congratulate you for getting something up so quickly. Rock on, EDK.


        • “Cameron Todd Willingham is a talking point and cudgel of the left; Republicans especially, the crowd at the debate, and the nation at large have no idea what you’re on about here.”

          So was Jeremiah Wright, back when only right-wingers had ever heard of him. The difference is Wright never plainly and publicly murdered an innocent man.


          • Rant noted, TTT. BHO survived Rev. Wright, as you know. Bill Clinton survived [or was helped by] executing mental defective Ricky Ray Rector in 1992.

            ~65% of Americans favor capital punishment, and few of the rest ever voted anything but Democrat, including for Clinton anyway. This is a non-fishing-issue.

            [Welcome to the environs, sir. We use “fishing” sometimes hereabouts as a polite euphemism for “fucking.” In other words, this is a non-fucking-issue.]


              • Count the number of folks who support Prohibition. Count the number of folks who support no-knock raids. Count the number of folks who shrug and say “nobody’s perfect, mistakes were made”.

                Hell, count the number of people who supported Nobel Prize Laureate Barack Obama’s kinetic action in Libya.

                There are huge numbers of people who defer to authority for complicated reasons, to be sure… but they revolve around the whole “authority” thing.


              • How many favor capital punishment when no crime was committed?

                The answer would be zero, Mr. Schilling, and why once again you reinforce my point, my objection to Mr. Kain’s criticism of what admittedly was an unaesthetic moment at the debate, but one that had zero, nada, dick to do with Cameron Todd Willingham, and why EDK’s invocation of him was unfair and inappropriate.

                As for your tall weeds of Willingham’s guilt or innocence, I’m not interested in getting dragged into them. You probably have a better case than for the other political football Mamia-Abu Jamaal, but we’ve already litigated this, not that it stops you from playing the same beat card again and again and again.

                Because of previous corruptions, Texas law now forbids the governor from commuting any sentence unless the review board recommends it, which it didn’t in the Willingham case. The most Gov. Perry could have done was stay the inevitable for 30 days, putting the poor fellow [God rest his soul] through another month of hell-on-earth.

                But you don’t care about any of this. It’s all grist for the mill, but it don’t amount to jack, Jack. Ricky Ray Rector, poor SOB and God rest his soul too.

                [Did I mention I lean against capital punishment? Yes, iirc.]


                • this is such horseshit. Williams’ question was whether Perry ever was kept awake at night *wondering if he had put to death any innocents* out of the nearly 300 people executed in the state. The applause came during the question, not after any kind of distinction between the innocent and the guilty.

                  That applause was honestly disturbing. I could actually see it rattle Williams as well, and I sensed a note of distaste in his follow-up question.


                  • Horseshit indeed, Mr. Max, as if live crowds in boomy rooms penetrate every word and nuance with crystal clarity as though they were in their living rooms watch TV.

                    Horseshit indeed.

                    If this is all that critics who were loaded for bear anyway got, there’s no there there. The execution of Ricky Ray Rector was far more morally problematic, and Bill Clinton was elected president [twice] anyway.

                    I say this at arm’s length, an observation about preaching to the choir rather than the congregation. Me, I thought Bill Clinton was a good president, despite what he did to that poor bastard Ricky Ray. Sue me. Life’s complicated.


                    • I’m opposed to the death penalty in all cases, but do you really suppose that executing an undoubtedly guilty man who was rendered mentally disabled by a self-inflicted gunshot wound while eluding the police (right after shooting one to death) is worse than executing an innocent man? I find that an odd position to take, even for people who have no problem with the state murdering its citizens.


                    • [D]o you really suppose that executing an undoubtedly guilty man who was rendered mentally disabled by a self-inflicted gunshot wound while eluding the police (right after shooting one to death) is worse than executing an innocent man?

                      Sure, because that one was the other team’s fault. Politics is the mind killer, exhibit number… I dunno, I’ve lost count.


                    • Did I say worse, Chris? No. As for the details of the Texas case, there’s more nuance to it than presented here, and clearly no purpose in re-litigating it here. It’s a matter of concern only to those who’d never vote for the fellow anyway, and I’m at arm’s length on the moral high-horse dimension of this, since as noted, I personally lean against capital punishment.

                      But do I think Perry is morally culpable in any way for the execution? No—he was not permitted by Texas law to commute nor did he have doubts about the man’s guilt.

                      And I do have greater moral reservations about the Rector case, Jason, where he was incapable of understanding that he was being executed, saving the dessert from his last meal for later. Not enough to use it as a cudgel against Clinton, only to point out that Perry’s attackers likely voted for Clinton anyway and I think this is a cynical political football.


                    • Tom, your words:

                      The execution of Ricky Ray Rector was far more morally problematic.

                      I used “worse” to capture that. If you’d prefer, “Do you really suppose it’s ‘far more morally problematic'”? And you’ve answered the question: you think it’s more problematic to execute an obviously guilty man who can’t understand what’s happening to him than it is to execute an innocent man. Duly noted. I’ll chalk it up to partisan mind-warp, as Jason suggests it is, so as not to think you’re a genuine monster.


                    • To be fair to Tom, I think he is really saying that Rick Perry’s role in the case was effectively nil. Not that the case was less problematic… except for the person of Rick Perry.

                      I’m not entirely sure I buy it, but my own mental energies are best spent elsewhere. Like in opposing all state-sponsored executions whatsoever. Want out of this whole sordid mess, forever? There is a way, you know.


                • Perry had many more options than that, and he certainly had the option not to hamstring the state forensic review panel by suddenly firing several of its members and replacing them with cronies the day before they were supposed to issue their findings. He’ll be nailed for a cover-up easily.

                  I don’t expect this issue to have mattered in a Republican primary, because I don’t expect the Republican base to have anything resembling normal human emotions or morality. Rick Perry is perfectly qualified to be the Republican candidate. It will matter in the next phase–and make no mistake, it WILL matter.


                • Bullshit.

                  30 days is a chance for lawyers to challenge evidence.

                  30 days is a chance for the review board to do their goddamn job and REVIEW the case.

                  30 days is even a chance for the POTUS to look at the case and grant pardon if necessary.

                  And the governor of TX can keep issuing 30 day stays as needed.

                  Perry murdered an innocent man. No ifs, ands, or buts, no excuses, he’s a “fucking” MURDERER.


        • Republicans especially, the crowd at the debate, and the nation at large have no idea what you’re on about here.

          That’s because the mainstream media suffers from terminal liberal bias.

          Hey, wait a minute…


        • As for the “telling moment,” applauding executions [of the guilty, not the innocent: that was unfair, Erik], I’d say it was a political statement being made in favor of capital punishment, not death in general [doubly unfair to drag in “pro-life,” which is unquestionably advocacy for the innocent].

          I don’t know about this. I’ve noted no shortage of cheer-leading (as opposed to simple support) these past years for war, torture, and the death penalty from people who call themselves pro-life. And, while yes, the pro-life movement advocates on behalf on the innocent, the question remains whether this limited advocacy is what it means to be fully pro-life. If the value of life is determined by guilt or innocence, then its value is relative.


          • I can almost agree with you on this, Mr. Cupp. The Roman church opposes capital punishment on somewhat those grounds: that as practiced, it has no deterrent or provable positive value. But this would not be to say that if it had deterrent value, and saved the innocent from the guilty, that it would be morally impermissible.

            In the case of abortion, the “third party” between “a woman and her doctor” or “a woman and the man she mated with” is assuredly innocent, no bones about it.

            There are meaningful distinctions not to be blurred here. I do protest when they are blurred so.


            • … not if the baby kills her. What if the baby causes gestational diabetes? Are you purely Kantian on this one, or do you find a kid rotting in his room, with his mom passed out because she’s unable to pay for her medication, let alone his, unacceptable enough to allow that some abortions might serve the public good?


              • look, if there is a situation such as you describe, then maybe there should be better welfare programs, or people should have more opportunities and of course if the mother has gestational diabetes, thats a relatively easy exception to carve out. In fact, a society that treated all its members humanely would be brilliant.

                The thing is this. Miscarriages are unfortunate, tornados are unfortunate, unwanted pregnancies are unfortunate, but abortions aren’t merely unfortunate, they are deliberate.

                The argument is long and a bit complicated. So that means that another Rawlsekianism Reloaded post is coming up.


                  • thou shalt not murder is tautologous. The question is when is it permissible to kill? The mere fact that there is a distinction to be made between muder and kill does not imply that the distinction applies in the case of abortions.

                    Moreover, it is not even clear whether in all cases where a person is legally guilty of murder does it necessarily follow that a eprson also did something morally wrong. The mere fact that there are some non-self defence cases where abortion might be morally justified (since we can admit that it would be a complicated matter) it doesnt necessarily follow that it should therfore be legal in all or even those particular cases


            • “it has no deterrent or provable positive value”

              False, of course. The deterrent is it prevents someone who has murdered once from murdering again. The positive value is that the law abiding don’t have to pay for the lifetime incarceration and maintenance of a murderer who has proven no benefit to society.


        • It’s not right you should make monsters of half your countrymen, indeed 60+% who favor capital punishment.

          Well it wouldn’t be the first time in American history that large portions of the public endorsed morally unconscionable positions. What if 60%+ of Americans are essentially moral monsters when it comes to the death penalty?

          It is very likely that America has put innocent people to death under the law, but—and here’s the interesting bit—most Americans don’t seem to care enough to want to end capital punishment. In an online survey conducted by Agnus Reid, 81% of respondents said they believe innocent people have been executed in America. Only 6% believe this has never happened. In the same poll, 83% said they support punishing murder with the death penalty, while 13% were opposed. A majority of respondents would also use the death penalty to punish rape (62%) and kidnapping (51%).

          So there seems to be a significant number of Americans who believe the death-penalty system costs innocent people their lives, but who nevertheless want to keep it around and even expand it. [DiA)]


          • It seems extremely selective to isolate the death penalty in this way. Every policy decision we make has a ledger of bodies on both sides. Deciding weather to fund Books 4 Kidz or Needles 4 Addicts is just as morally unconscionable and yet central planning doesn’t have the same bad rap as state executions.


            • Ahem: I hereby condemn all governors who do not, at least, act as Illinois Governor George Ryan did and commute all death sentences; not having done so, Bill Clinton (along with many others from both parties) is morally blameworthy.

              Happy now? Not that I had singled Perry out for criticism in my comment, “What if 60%+ of Americans are essentially moral monsters when it comes to the death penalty?”. Who knew one had to obey a law of parallelisms of blame in order to discuss the flaws of the death penalty. I admit, instead of D’s and R’s, I was thinking more along these lines,

              Once, pretty much everywhere, beating your wife and children was regarded as a father’s duty, homosexuality was a hanging offense, and waterboarding was approved — in fact, invented — by the Catholic Church. Through the middle of the 19th century, the United States and other nations in the Americas condoned plantation slavery. Many of our grandparents were born in states where women were forbidden to vote. And well into the 20th century, lynch mobs in this country stripped, tortured, hanged and burned human beings at picnics.

              Looking back at such horrors, it is easy to ask: What were people thinking? (What will future generations condemn us for? Kwame Anthony Appiah, WaPo)


              • It’s the State itself which has taken this “legal” power over life and death and there is certainly enough hypocrisy to go around — we could put criminals on death row in a small cabin in the mountains with extended family around them, women, children, old men, then drone-bomb them and perhaps this would be a more acceptable, clinical, type of killing. Liberal commentators could praise Obama for his innovation in the State’s killing methods.


                • Two links, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh’s ASIL speech, and a recent post at Opinio Juris presenting a view on Koh’s legacy.

                  The ASIL speech outlines how military objectives and proportionality guide US drone strikes, firmly fixing drone use in the law of armed conflict. Kenneth Anderson’s post at Opinio Juris highlights the continuities with the laws of war “necessity, distinction, and proportionality.”

                  Anderson at Opinio Juris again,

                  I am coming to think that the most important contribution that Harold Koh, as Legal Adviser to the State Department, and hence the legal voice of the United States on this matter, will turn out to have made to international jurisprudence, is his repeated assertion that the conduct of targeted killing – whether with drones or human teams, whether by the CIA or by JSOC, and whether as part of an armed conflict or as “naked” self-defense — must still conform, as with any use of force, to norms in its conduct of necessity, distinction, and proportionality.

                  Does the execution of convicted offenders – some possibly innocent – match up to the tests presented for drone strikes? Is sufficient distinction made (especially given the number of exonerations)? Is it necessary (are the offenders presenting a danger to the public)? Is it proportionate? (I realize there’s a term of art element to Koh and Anderson’s usage, but still questions worth asking.)


        • <>

          That is not a “talking point”, that is a real question about a man that signed a death warrant for an innocent man and then derailed the investigation into the event. Perry’s answer was “No, I’ve never struggled with that (the idea that someone who was killed via capital punishment was innocent)” He could have talked about what a heavy responsibility that is, or how he prays for guidance, or given some kind of statement that signing 234 death warrants is not a pleasant thing. Nope. “No, sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all.” Sorry, friend, but I have serious doubts about the normalcy of anyone who could say that. And after eight years of hearing this same crowd defend secret prisons and sanctioned torture, I am disinclined to think their applause was just conceptual – or if it was it sure as hell isn’t any kind of Christian concept.


          • You’re conflating a few things here:

            The minor issue of whether an innocent man was executed for a crime that neither he nor anyone else committed.

            The minor issue of whether the same sort of fiction masquerading as expert testimony continues to lead to the conviction and possibly execution of other innocent people.

            The minor issue of what Perry’s derailing of an investigation of the minor issue immediately above in order to save himself embarrassment says about his character.

            The minor issue of whether the justice system in Texas, with its reliance on appointed defense counsel of questionable ability and lack of review, even in capital cases, actually ensures the execution of innocents.

            The major issue of whether the dirty fishing hippies are going to be allowed to smear a good man like Rick Perry by bringing up any of those minor issues.


        • Ultimately, there is no difference between thinking that the science establishment is corrupt and think that science is corrupt just as there is no difference between thinking that there is an error in the algorithm and there is an error in its outputs.


        • TVD,
          do you believe that you can make a woman’s breasts bigger through manual massage?
          Does your belief change if I tell you that there’s been a research study done on it? [would you believe the study?]
          Finally, does your belief change further if I tell you that the study was done by industry?


    • And 7. Immigration. We need to cut spending and get the government off the backs of business, but we need to spare no expense (or predator drones) making sure nothing and no one crosses the border. *And* institute massive bureaucratic programs and mandate employer compliance to verify that not a single Mexican is working when he’s not supposed to.


    • Yeah, they don’t get it. I’ll bring this up often in conversation with certain right-leaning relatives or friends, and when I get to the part about criminal justice, their responses usually fall into one of two categories:

      1. “But they’re criminals!” – This is like Three Stooges stupid.
      2. “#*&*$#[email protected]%!” – Anyone know if there are any studies correlating hypertension with political beliefs?


      • Hypertension correlates with Type A Hostility Scale, which in turn correlates with joining right-wing cults. Type A personality does not directly cause hypertension, but does correlate with later-in-life elevated Type A Hostility scores.


  2. And when Perry is asked about the two-hundred and thirty some people he’s executed on death row during his governorship, the audience bursts into applause. Torture, war, and death, and this is the “pro-life” party.

    Truly disgusting and perverse. I could see a pro-choice crowd cheering a state’s record on the availability of abortion, but I can’t imagine them applauding because their state had a record number of aborted fetuses.


      • I favor the death penalty not because I love death but because I believe if executions were implemented properly (as properly as any human system of justice could do so, which is, admittedly, is imperfectly) they would be a deterrent and save innocent lives. Even without the deterrent factor for other people, the execution of a proven murderer spares any further victims of that person, whether they be prison guards, fellow inmates or, should he somehow escape or be released, people on the outside.

        In one case I know personally, the death penalty would have saved the victim’s family the anguish of having their daughter’s rapist and killer paroled, leaving them with the ongoing fear that he will kill again.

        In another case I know personally, it would save the parents of a 5-year-old boy the biennial fear of having their child’s killer paroled. This murderer’s only apparent motive for the random shooting was that he wanted to know how it felt to kill someone, so your accusations of death-love are particularly ironic in their misplacement.

        The whole “choice” argument about abortion is farcical. If you are concerned over the possibility that a person may be wrongly executed (something even most death penalty opponents would admit is a small fraction of executions), how can you with any semblance of conscience dismiss as mere “choice” the deaths of 50 million provably innocent people since Roe v. Wade? (Before you say they weren’t really people, remember that’s how Hitler justified genocide.)


    • Personally, I think this is a better way to go. Kill them in the square, and make everybody watch.

      Like working in a slaughterhouse for people who eat meat. If you don’t see how they make sausage, you’re suffering from a information disparity.


  3. Any GOP candidate on that podium is far superior to the current resdient of the WH., by far.
    Re: Texas’s executions, at least the accused got a trial. Bill Clinton murdered those men, women, and children at Waco.


  4. Yes, Pery got applause for his capital punishment record. I’m also 100% certain that President Obama has gotten applause for ‘protecting a woman’s right to choose’. Last year 46 Americans were executed in this country. Something like 1.3 million abortions were performed.

    I’ll ask E.D. – which round of applause is more distasteful?


          • Pish posh. Social burden is the primary reason given for 75% of the abortions in this country. From Guttmacher:

            “Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents.”


                  • My opinion of that scenario is that it’s because liberals are generally pretty out of touch with actual abortion statistics and they’ve also successfully fooled themselves by switching calling it ‘pro-choice’ instead of ‘pro-death-option’ which would be more accurate.


                    • But liberals do not advocate in favor of abortion; they advocate in favor of people being able to choose abortion if they wish to. You don’t see liberal groups buying billboard ads with, say, some prosperous single female celebrity with the caption “Child free and happy, Abort now”. I mean there is a distinction here no matter how much the pro-lifers try to paint the two together.


                    • Not to manterrupt, but it’s always amusing to watch a bunch of dudes (apologies to Kim, who keeps getting accidentally gender-reassigned in these things) debate abortion and put “a woman’s right to choose” in scare quotes.


                    • Ryan,
                      that’s because women tend to be solidly pro-choice.
                      anti-abortion is equivalent to saying that people should be forced to donate liver tissue if anyone is dying of liver problems. Not that it’s a moral good to donate, but that people should be forced by the government.


                    • JB is on it: “Mr. Obama, have you struggled to sleep at night, that millions of unborn innocents may have been killed because of your abortion policies and those of your party?

                      And on a personal note, if you found out some helpful women’s rights advocate facilitated your underage daughter aborting your own grandchild without your permission or even knowledge, would that change your attitudes toward current abortion laws?”

                      And America’s chattering class would be high-fiving the debate moderator/network news anchor right about now for the braveness, boldness and incisiveness.

                      ~~squiggly~~~ waking up from dreamstate~~~Wayne’s World~~~Excellent~~~~

                      More like, former Jimmy Carter intern Brian Williams’ TV anchor career would be ruined.

                      [Actually, he would have half this country watching him…religiously…from now on, but that’s not how the media game works in these here United States.]

                      [RTod, I can’t hang with the assertion it would be good if we dragged our politicians into the philosophical tall weeds. I do not think the republic could survive it.]


                      Props: Brother Jaybird never fails to clarify the issues, clarity being more important than agreement. Peace be upon him.


              • I don’t understand why it’s become necessary for us to re-hash the same old debate about abortion. Is this because the GOP was criticized therefore we must prove that people on the left are JUST AS immoral and awful and no good?

                Seconded. Capital punishment and abortion are orthogonal to one another.

                The former debate will never hinge on one’s definition of personhood. The latter often does.

                The former implicates the concept of criminal guilt and our procedures for determining and redressing it; the latter may envision a new class of crimes, but it never needs to address the procedures of criminal justice themselves.

                And so forth. Some people are very expansive about their definition of human life and their commitment to protecting it, even if not everyone agrees with their definition. The Pope comes to mind. The Republican Party, not so much.


                • please explain an expansive view of human life ?

                  I would suggest that nobody has expanded that definition to dogs, cats or plants … just a fetus … a human fetus … funny how words get in the way of trying to claim a fetus is not human …


                    • Scott,
                      a fetus is akin to a parasite, and should be treated accordingly. If someone is braindead, and needs to be kept on life support to survive, then yeah, they’re not really alive — kinda sorta. But that’s not the same moral question as abortion, at any case, because you aren’t forcing someone to lose freedom in order to save a life.

                      The equivalent is forcing people to donate liver tissue to anyone with a lifethreatening liver problem.


                    • Kim:

                      Since most women either choose to get pregnant or don’t take precautions to prevent it , you can hardly claim that they are forced to donate their womb to a parasite. Frankly, if you choose to get pregnant you are giving up your autonomy.


                    • Scott,
                      Like Sarah Palin’s daughter “didn’t take precautions”?
                      I contend that with the rate of date-rape, relationship-rape, and otherwise nonconsensual sexual contact, that most of these people who you claim “deserve” to be forced to lose their autonomy for a period of 9 months, are in fact victims.

                      One is indeed choosing to sacrifice some of her autonomy by intentionally getting pregnant. One does this in the hopes of providing a decent and good life for a new generation (presumably. sadists need not apply here).
                      I do not believe it is moral to force a woman to continue with a pregnancy that she can no longer afford, or when her circumstances change in such a way that her prior consent is no longer valid.

                      But that’s my claim, and my morality. Yours may be different.

                      However, we are not talking about that, per se. We are talking about banning all abortions (except perhaps under the case of “provable” incest or rape). And that I can’t abide.

                      The number of women who are raped while sleeping at drunken frat parties is probably countless. It’s rape — not “provable in a court of law” rape, perhaps, but definitely not informed consent.


                    • Mike,
                      wrong stat. We’re talking women who choose abortions, not women who accidentally get pregnant. Also, “use it incorrectly” is a rather loaded term. Are we talking the 66% of everyone who would DIE if they were told to take a pill every day for a month, and their life depended on it? (yarly. they did that study)? The efficacy of birth control pills is dependent on quite a few things… Let alone the “efficacy of condoms,” which is dependent on a few OTHER things, up to and including malfeasance on the guy’s part.


                    • Kim:

                      So now we are blaming the guy if a woman does make him star a condom? That is pathetic. You sound like Barry, it is everone else’s fault. What happened to women being responsible for there own bodies?


                    • Kim,

                      From Guttmacher:

                      Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.


                    • Scott,
                      I’ll blame the guy if it’s his fault. Popping a hole intentionally in the condom is certainly his fault (as is intentional use of vaseline, with full knowledge of consequences.). It’s shared responsibility otherwise.
                      Should a woman need to “take responsibility” for rape? HELL NO. Neither should a woman have to take responsibility for consenting under sleep deprivation torture (pweeze can i do it…). Still rape.


                    • Mike,
                      okay, we’re on the same page with source, and I’ll grant you that the source is reasonably valid.

                      That doesn’t counter the idea that Nobody Follows the Rules for medicine very well, and that it’s rather unfair to force people to suffer significant health risks because they’re human, when it’s avoidable.

                      (n.b. this argument works less well with condom use, naturally.)


                    • Mike,
                      1) c-sections render someone ineligible for private (non-group) health insurance. PERMANENTLY.
                      2) gestational diabetes increases risk for a woman getting diabetes later.
                      3) the death rate would go up if abortions were not legal. Not the least of which would be because most ways of inducing an abortion that are not surgical are rather dangerous. Tansy ring a bell?


                    • Mike,
                      if you take the stance that a person is obligated to save a co-dependent life, then you are saying that people ought to line up for liver transplants (again, I’ve chosen that to eliminate the “health of the donor” argument. we don’t need a full liver to function, it’s not like donating a lung).

                      If you furthermore say that you can legislate the morality of abortion, then you should also say that it would be allowable to legislate people donating organs, without recourse.


                    • Mike,
                      what’s worse than donating organs? forcing someone to be hooked up to another person, to keep the other person alive. Imagine if there was a disease that you could fix in someone else (who was living), simply by hooking you up to them.

                      In your construction, that would be a moral obligation, not a moral “good thing.”

                      And to say that we can delegalize (not eliminate) abortions, is to say that you’d be okay with being forced to keep a comatose patient alive, by having to stay with them in the hospital for nine months (at which point, we’ll say, they become happy and well).


            • Ah but now you’re talking about pro-abortionists, not pro-choicers. The left is generally pro-choice but I’m not aware of much of a constituency who actively advocate for abortions rather than for the ability to choose whether to have an abortion or not, perhaps some of the more radical environmentalist?

              As Elias notes this inevitably leads to the standard abortion debate death spiral; some people morally value to right of a pre-personhood human to life over the right of a woman to not be biologically enslaved. Some go the other way. It’s an odd inversion of course, the lefty’s suddenly rabid defenders of privacy, personal property and choice and the righties suddenly inveigling for government intervention to enforce positive rights for the small and helpless. But I don’t think it parallels very well with the death penalty debate, seems a bit clumsily shoe horned in which is why I snarked in the first place.


                • You’d have to leave out the “bad” part since much of the point of the objections are that there’s serious question as to whether the people being executed are actually “bad”.

                  Personally I remain indecisive enough about the subject of the death penalty to be okay with the status quos wherever I am.


                  • Personally, I am 100% opposed to the death penalty for just that reason however, there’s a large portion of our population that believes the judicial process must be trusted. That’s why you will often see the media refer to someone as an ‘accused murderer’ and then switch to ‘convicted murderer’ when the trial ends. There’s a clear distinction that society makes.


                    • Fair enough. I myself am not as exercised about the applause as some though I can see why they’d be freaked out by it. I mean what is the audience applauding in this case? That Texas is tough on crime? That it has more criminals? That it uses the death penalty more liberally? I mean it was an unscripted outburst in response to the fact of the number of executions in the middle of the question.


  5. I will say this, I’ll probably get hell for it, but political campaigns make everyone go bonkers in here. People forget their nuance and go for the soundbite. People draw up the lines Team Red and Team Blue. (Strange how in the UK, red is labour while blue is tory while in the US its the other way around.) One of the things I like about this place is the way people break out of the traditional pigeon holes we try to place them in. I really dont want that to stop anytime soon. So lighten up


        • I’m not talking liberarian boiler plate here. I’m talking as an outsider here. Let’s start arbitrarily pointing fingers shall we? (This is the part which I thought I would get hell for but was trying to be subtle about)

          The normally calm and reasoned Mr Kain is sounding pretty shrill right about now. And over what? About Republican polls being Reublican polls and over the base being the base. The rubes are going to be rubes. That is the massive failure point of democracies…

          It just seems so childish. Elections are next year and people are campaigning now and none of you seem to see the absolute absurdity of the whole thing. The big problem you have is that you don’t have formal limits as to when campaigns are supposed to begin. Think about it, just one month to campaign. The rest of the time, we can go about our business like adults.


    • Jay, I’m not 100% sure I understand your actual position in this debate. Is your claim that capital punishment, like zoning policy, is just one of those things where different strokes for different folks? Do you really even believe that?

      And if that is what you believe, then what in tarnation is everyone clapping about? Do you get that het up over zoning?


      • Jay, I’m not 100% sure I understand your actual position in this debate.

        What is this debate? Is there a “to be resolved” statement?

        It seems to me that if there is a to be resolved statement, it has less to do with the death penalty than about people who support the death penalty.

        RESOLVED: The Death Penalty Is Morally Wrong

        The above is a resolution I could easily argue for. I’ve got citations and everything. (As an intellectual exercise, however, I’d probably have more fun arguing against it… certainly against the fine, fine people of the league!)

        Like any debate, there is not only the dynamic of for (or against) the proposition… but there’s also the dynamic of opposition to those who are against the proposition. And the dynamic of being opposed to those folks. And the dynamic of being opposed to those.

        Eventually, we reach the point where the debate has little to do with the original resolution in the first place but is instead about whether there is an even or odd number of “anti-“s in front of your personal inclination.

        It seems that we’re establishing whether we have even or odd rather than debating the resolution… which always strikes me as far, far more absurd than being “wrong” about that which we have yet to resolve.

        But, to bring us back, if you could give me a resolution, I’d be happy to tell you whether my inclination is to argue for or against.


        • It seems to me that if there is a to be resolved statement, it has less to do with the death penalty than about people who support the death penalty.

          I think this is precisely the point of E.D.’s post. Don’t let the poor reading comprehension of everyone else muddy the waters for you.

          Or, if you prefer: RESOLVED: It is unseemly to be excited about people’s deaths.

          Of course, this might make things awkward when Obama brags in the general election about killing Osama, but there is nothing in the world more annoying than “I know you are, but what am I?”, so let’s do ourselves a favor and table that one.


          • RESOLVED: It is unseemly to be excited about people’s deaths.

            Which brings me back to the number of antis in front of one’s position. When it comes to bagging Osama, wouldn’t we be well within arguing against those who argue against the unseemliness? Or arguing against those?

            Surely you wouldn’t chastise someone whose father was killed on 9/11 for cheering the death of Osama… would you? The anniversary, after all, is Sunday.


            I’m somewhat more interested in the dynamics of understanding when we need to be understanding of why folks were cheering (or why we don’t need to be) than in the death penalty debate. Especially when it involves discussing what’s the matter with Kansas.


            • Surely you wouldn’t chastise someone whose father was killed on 9/11 for cheering the death of Osama… would you?

              No, but only out of politeness. My actual position is that it is always and everywhere wrong to be happy that a human being has died. I don’t expect moral perfection from people, but I harbor a hope that we can at least be embarrassed about the impulses we have that are pretty obviously evil.


              • No, but only out of politeness.


                Because I can think of plenty of reasons to not do it and the whole “polite” thing is waaaay in the back there.

                Which brings me back to this: I’m somewhat more interested in the dynamics of understanding when we need to be understanding of why folks were cheering (or why we don’t need to be) than in the … debate.

                (Politeness is one of those handmaidens of the virtues (like honesty or courage) that strikes me as absolutely wonderful when it is used in service to The Good and absolutely vicious when it is used in service to Something Else.)


                • Yes, really. Celebrating the death of a person is wrong. It just is. I can understand why someone might do it, and I have similar impulses all the time, but that doesn’t change the moral facts. What is also true, though, is that it’s a relatively small vice in the case you mention, and causing emotional harm to someone who is probably pretty decent on the whole is gauche.


                    • It’s pretty hard to have any political discussion at all if you actually believe that. The reality is that you disagree with me about what they are, but for some reason refuse to just say so.


                    • It’s actually that I think that they are far fewer and farther between than most seem to… which means that there are a *LOT* more matters of taste than most seem to think.

                      And folks who argue about matters of taste as if they were matters of morality seem to blur together due to all of the family resemblances.


                    • I take your point, but it’s pretty radical. I’d like to talk about it more and tease out exactly how you can put something like that together with a libertarianism that has to take seriously the value of human life, but this probably isn’t the place.


                  • I don’t think the moment last night was anything that was morally wrong so much as revealing. Ugly, is perhaps the better word.

                    But I object to the notion that what we saw last night and what we saw the night bin Laden was killed are the same thing: just cheering of a person’s death. May 2nd was indeed cheering someone’s death, but it was cheering one death; one discreet action. Which, while perhaps not as admirable as quietly recognizing the importance of the fact if you see it as important, is not always unseemly. Last night was not a matter of cheering a person’s, or even 234 pernon’s, death. Last night was cheering an institution of death that purports to mete out justice, but which is empirically shown to fail at that task. They were 1) cheering for that institution, and 2) doing it with determined denial of the institution’s failure and injustice.

                    It would be unseemly to cheer the institutional death machine that is our national security state, but that is not what was going on May 2nd (though it does go on at other times in less conspicuous venues). It was unseemly to cheer a patently broken institutional death machine that claims but grossly fails to deliver its killing in a just way last night.


            • As for the last point, I find cultural tolerance highly overrated. As long as I’m not dropping bombs on you, I consider myself well within bounds when I tell you that your culture is wrong, stupid, evil, and generally fished up.


  6. So, let me see if I get this right….

    You defend the guilty, and kill off the innocent. Conservatives kill the guilty and protect the innocent. And you call conservatives morally bankrupt?

    A murderer is defended at all costs, no matter how evil by democrats. A murder victim is defended at all costs by conservatives. An unborn child is killed by liberals, protected by conservatives. I think I’m beginning to get the gist of the philosophy. You’ve decided to embrace evil incarnate, and are mad as hell that us conservatives don’t. O.K. Makes sense now.


  7. All this bloviating about who is right and who is wrong reminds me of the story about the Blivet Bird. You know, the one that flew at ever increasing speeds, in ever decreasing sprials until he flew up his own ass hole.

    I don’t believe the audience, of which I was one (from a distance), was applauding murder, only that someone finally had the cojones to do what needed to be done…within the law.

    As usual, a conservative is a liberal that just got mugged.


  8. It’s wonderful to see liberal minds go apoplectic over capital punishment, wring their hands, and exclaim that it’s contradictory to be for the execution of a convicted murderer while being “pro life.” It’s really pretty damn simple if you really stopped and thought about it.

    Liberals are for the murder of unborn children and against the execution of convicted murderers. Conservatives want to protect unborn children and ensuring murderers face the ultimate penalty. This is obviously no contradiction at all.

    It all boils down to respect for life and liberals are fundamentally naive and confused. They think that letting a convicted murderer live represents this respect when, in fact, what they are arguing is that the murder of an innocent person isn’t important enough to justify the execution of the murderer. At the same time, liberals argue that a “woman’s choice” justifies the death of the unborn.

    Who is really being contradictory here?


    • You get that the question was about execution an innocent person, right? I don’t disagree with your overall take, but when you see some people going “apoplectic” over this, remember that the question was about potentially executing the innocent, not the guilty.


  9. The writer only throws in a supposed case of wrongful execution after bloviating about supposed conservative “violence,” accuses them of supporting “torture, war, and death.” Calls them intellectually and morally bankrupt and finally claims the applause was for the execution of an innocent man. Where exactly is the question?

    But let’s play the game. Allowing that the judicial system isn’t perfect therefore execution isn’t justified makes one wonder where we would draw the line. Logically an imperfect judicial system should mean that you’d be against any punishment since there is always the chance that a mistake has been made.

    An execution is certainly “irreversable” but then what about persons that are confined for life? Barring some extraordinary circumstance that results in a prisoner’s release isn’t that effectively irreversible? Some get out on technicalities while other’s have been proven innocent but can you reverse the harm of years in prison? Can these people be made whole again? Hardly.

    So, in order to prevent irreversable harm then logically you can punish no one. The simple-mindedness of the writer’s disgust (as well as many of the posters) over anyone who would support the death penalty is the point both to the article and the liberal responses.


    • Again, I’m not sure you’re reading the post correctly. The question I was referring to was the one asked of the governor, that spurred the applause, that inspired the post, that led to the comments, that ate the rat, that got into the grain, etc.

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying here, but I think you may have come to argue with a Generic Liberal, and that’s not who wrote the post.


    • If you were innocent and given a life sentence and it became known at some point that there was new evidence to exonerate you, would you be OK with everybody else saying that you couldn’t be released because the years in prison had fished you up irrevocably?

      Didn’t think so. The same applies to any other person wrongly convicted. Which, as Tod points out, is the point of the question talked about in the post.


      • Again, where exactly is the writer making a point that this was about executing an innocent victim? He doesn’t make that argument, he simply throws in one case of a wrongful execution almost as an afterthought. His entire article is little but a tirade against conservetives. I’ll add that his tirade allows absolutely no room for the respect of an opposing opinion. Rather than dispute the opposing opinion he can only attack the morality and legitimacy of those that disagree with him.


      • Forgot to answer your first part. I believe I made it clear that I was simply following the left’s logic that if the death penalty is wrong because the Judicial system is imperfect then you cannot punish anyone. I specifically asked where is the dividing line? You’re simply attempting to put words in my mouth that I did not say. I never said or implied that someone in prison for life shouldn’t be released if new evidence proves him/her innocent, I did say that you cannot make that person whole again. So, you’re willing to put someone away for life using an imperfect legal system that may have made a mistake and your justification is that somewhere, sometime in the future the accused MAY be proven innocent yet you’re not terribly concerned that he may have spent 90% of his life in prison? Interesting.


  10. I find the comments by Mr. Kain to be most telling. First of all, anyone who would disparage others as intellectually and morally bankrupt needs to also insure that he himself is not an idiot to begin with. His pros are filled with the type of self serving aggrandizement that is common among the liberal and dare I say it…fence sitting republican elite, that are quick to assert their intellectual prowess and knowledge when talking about traits that are best defined by their own lack of such characteristics. I would suggest that Mr. Kain is not speaking about the intellectual and moral vacuum that exists among those who would cheer serving justice on the perpetrators of repugnant crimes against the innocent. Rather, Mr. Kain speaks for the vast majority of liberals who enjoy the blessing of freedom and a civil society, yet have done nothing, not a single thing, to insure such domestic tranquility. I am convinced that the day will come when all hell will break out in this nation, led, in no small part, by the head up the anal orifice thinking and practice that Mr. Kain and his cohorts propagate. I look forward to that day, because it will be the people who cheered in the audience when two hundred and something people were executed in Texas for their crimes, who will stand ready to defend the freedoms our forefathers established. My advice Mr. Kain, sit back, relax, watch the falling of America, a collapse that you and your kind ushered in, and know, that you’re on the top of our list to protect (that will be the day). And while your suffering from that delusion, witnessing the murder, death and destruction of the innocent, know that you were there in the beginning….you were one of the ones casting the first stone.
    Those of us, whom you suggest are morally and intellectually deficit will be the ones that will save whatever is left of our society to save. And I for one, have no intentions of saving someone like you.
    One last thing…as one of those you classify as bankrupt (my word), let me say without a hesitation or doubt, my 4 year old grand daughter has more intelligence than you do and you couldn’t hold a candle to her or those whom I associate with. I believe, in your world view, we’d be called knuckle dragging neanderthals. In our world, you and your kind are booger eating morons.


    • I suppose Bill means “prose” not “pros” (but who knows? I’m just guessing). When he gets all superior my inferior (interior?) complex is a blessing. But I’ve seen this declinist apoplectic nonsense before, and this time I’d rather just show you the door. Thanks for playing, no use staying, if all you can do is play holier than thou. When entire comments boil down to how my dog could kick your dog’s ass, I’ll pass. I’m bothered enough by lack of paragraph breaks – to stake much more on this would be a mistake.


          • I love the pot calling the kettle black context of your rebuttal. Yep, not being one who spends my whole day pontificating about the moral abyss besetting this nations by the inferior (interior?) lower class and an ‘e’ gets dropped you immediately disparage the rest of the content. Thank you for proving my point with your pointless commentary/rebuttal. Oh, and pity that I didn’t put it, or this reply, in the content and style that you feel demonstrates … what exactly? As for wardsmith….such a poetic recital of your thoughts! Too bad you, like Kain seem to have fallen on your arse trying to sound intelligent instead of addressing the content of my post. But hey, as I haven’t written this in a ‘format’ that appears to be worthy of such comment, I am truly looking forward to your next poetic retort…they are impressive.


  11. Kim,

    It sounds like you’re basically referencing the The Violinists thought experiment:

    What I would say is that in a hypotethical scenario where society granted a 2nd term fetus the status of ‘life’ that is pretty much going to trump everything else. What I mean by that is that soceity has already determined that parents have unique responsibilities that are different than their responsibilites towards a stranger in need. For example, parents that do not send their kids to school can be imprisoned for educational neglect but they aren’t responsible for making sure their neighbor’s kids go to school.

    To address the health question, a starving mother would not be allowed to murder her children so she would have more food for herself. She would also have an obligation to try to feed them, but not an obligation to feed her neighbor’s child.


    • Mike,
      bear in mind that a parent can give up a child to adoption — this makes it a more voluntary association than a woman with an unborn baby.

      I think it is easy enough to say that someone who is living/functionally without need of someone else’s support has more rights than someone who needs the support of someone else. After all, we don’t say that we must keep the braindead “alive” forever.

      That said, one is perfectly within reasonable grounds to say that a woman’s right to freedom and liberty is less than a baby’s right to life. I don’t however think that’s what our legal system really does, with a woman’s right to relieve herself of a child thorugh adoption.

      Regardless, I am mostly against the legislation of morality on such a sticky question — I don’t particularly mind if people feel that abortion is immoral.


      • Kim – giving a baby up for adoption isn’t really a good example. You can give a baby up through a legal process in which the baby is placed in safe environment. Leave your baby on someone’s doorstep in a basket and you might find yourself in jail. So society is providing for the legal transfer of responsibility but you can’t simply walk away.

        Also, someone who needs support doesn’t necessarily have less rights. I might agree to care for an aging parent but they don’t lose any of their rights as a result.


  12. The audience was not cheering the “institution of death.” James Taranto explains this best in his “Best of the Web” column entitled “Why They Cheered”:

    In this column he explains that studies have shown that the death penalty is supported by the people of Europe and Canada to about the same degree as Americans do but the difference is that their politicians don’t listen to them.

    In Tarantos words, “it seems to us that the crowd’s enthusiasm last night was less sanguinary than defiant. The applause and the responses to it reflect a generations-old mutual contempt between the liberal elite and the large majority of the population, which supports the death penalty.”

    He continues: “There are, of course, reasonable arguments against the death penalty. But opponents are too resentful at their inability to steamroll over public opinion as if this were Europe or Canada to argue their case effectively. One of their most ludicrous tropes is to liken the U.S. to authoritarian regimes that also practice capital punishment. In reality, as Marshall showed, America still has the death penalty because it is less authoritarian than Europe. Thus whenever someone makes that argument, we feel a tinge of patriotic pride. We believe a similar sentiment lay behind last night’s applause.”

    So, as Taranto says, the cheering was NOT in support of someone’s death but a response to an overweening government attempt to subvert the will of the people and, I agree completely with him. This is one of the same reasons that movies such as “Dirty Harry” were so popular. Harry ignored the imposition of rules that over-protected criminals at the expense of innocent civilians making him a hero to those same innocent civilians.

    I would add that it’s ridiculous to claim that one cannot cheer the death of someone who deserves because cheering would be immoral. It isn’t and to claim that is childish. Who in the West did not cheer the deaths of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo? It’s not immoral to express joy at the death of someone who deserves it, rather, in some overly sensitive people’s minds, it’s “tasteless”. This isn’t morality, it’s a matter of manners. But, as explained earlier, the cheering wasn’t about the death of a convicted criminal anyway but about the State of Texas listening rather than dictating to its people. What is particularly abhorent to me though is that the same political class that expresses revulsion at the cheering are the very ones who unabashedly support abortion and whine about “uncivil rhetoric” (but only when it comes from the right.)


    • You (and Taranto) give the audience great credit. This is same crowd that distrusts the 99% of climate scientists and 99.999% evolution scientists. I doubt their line of “thinking” behind their applause is quite as nuanced as you imagine. Further, I am not finding the polls that support Taranto’s contention that Europeans and Canadians generally support the death penalty. Which polls would those be? Since that is the central point of Taranto’s entire argument some links would be appropriate.

      I submit that a majority of people want to be on the “correct” side of an issue, and that a certain percentage of support (or opposition in other countries) come from folks wanting to feel that their leaders are doing the morally correct thing. I think we saw that in play strongly in the first half of the last decade.

      I have several major problems with the death penalty proponents. The majority of death penalty proponents in this country would consider themselves Christian and conservative. On what basis does a New Testament Christian (oxymoronic, I know, but necessary) support the death penalty? I am talking about the individual juror, Governor or executioner. How do they come to the personal decision that it is God’s will that they play their necessary part in killing this particular person? This decision would seem to contradict much of the teachings of Christ.

      Second: modern conservatives espouse fiscal responsibility and a notion that government is, in general, not especially good at most things and is not especially trustworthy (see climate, EPA, regulation in general) Yet when it comes to the death penalty, however, the government is sufficiently trustworthy and competent that we should comfortably let them carry out this ultimate and final punishment? There are enough cases on the books to show without a doubt that many innocent people are convicted of capital crimes. Illinois alone found 13 such cases recently. Furthermore, the death penalty is not cost effective, period. The typical case costs $2M in todays money – up front, now. A typical pro-death response to this is “kill ’em faster”. Ah, the inconveniences of due process.

      Bottom line – the applause did not come from some deep, thoughtful, principled place that you and Taranto imagine. It came from a gut level, tribal, superstitious place that is content seeing the world in a black and white, us vs. them context, a place that is barely aware of and, like the Governor, not at all disturbed by the glaring contradictions.


  13. You make this too easy with your idiotic claims that the audience disagrees with 99% of all climate scientists and 99.999% of all evolution scientists. You really expect to be taken seriously with this blather? Oh, and after those nonsensical numbers you expect me to provide you with a link? I think this is called Chutzpah.

    If you’ll look at the transcript (as quoted by Taranto, link provided) the applause began BEFORE the “moderator” (I really think he’s more of an editorialist along the lines of Paul Krugman here) mentions the part about one of them being potentially “innocent.”

    Taranto does not directly link to the statistics however he did include sufficient information that even you should be able to track it down. Here, I’ll help: “But as Josh Marshall explained in a 2000 New Republic piece, what sets the U.S. apart from Europe and Canada in this regard is not support for capital punishment but the political system’s response to it:” The hints in this are Josh Marshall, 2000 New Republic plus, of course the subject which you could probably ascertain if you actually read the quote.

    Going back to your over-the-top statistics, you evidently believe that the majority of Conservatives are evangelic Christians and do not believe in evolution. You continue with your apparent assumption that the majority of Conservatives must be ignorant, snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues Christians and, therefore, supporting capital punishment must be some sort of religious imperative. I suppose that I can make similar assumptions about liberals, they’re all Wickens and practice Tantric Massage. Fair assumption?

    I am a Conservative, brought up Catholic but I haven’t been a “practicing Catholic” in decades. I have a Masters Degree in Aero Engineering, I’m a retired Navy Commander, F-14 pilot, graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School and haven’t handled a snake in years. Of my Consevative friends I’m pretty sure I’ve never known a single one that spoke in tongues (or really believed the Earth is only 6,000 years old). Despite my Christian origins and Conservative point of view however; I can easily see the fundamental flaw of inconsistency in a liberal ideology that is against capital punishment yet for abortion. You can attempt to find an inconsistency in the Conservative position but you’re exercising a flight of liberal fancy, you should look in a mirror instead.

    But, since you do insist on making this a religious issue, let’s go there. The Catholic Church (which is against capital punishment) addresses the pertinent points in its Catechism. Part of the Catechism (Rightous versus Unrightous Anger) discusses Rightous Anger leading to Jesus “forming whips” and driving the money changers from the temple. WHAT??? I thought Jesus was all about forgiveness and turning the other cheek? Humm…maybe Christianity is a little more thoughtful than the children’s picture book version that many non-religious (and ignorant) people believe.

    Another part of the Catechism (“Peace – the Work of Justice and the Tranquility of Order) discusses the great need for restraint (note that this is a condition, not a prohibition) in the application of Rightous Anger because even virtue and a well-formed conscience can fail to produce the desired result of justice and peace. It does not deny the need for violence resulting from Rightous Anger but, instead, that it needs to be controlled (orderly) vice uncontrolled. This is the basis of the Church’s objection to capital punishment, that it is insufficiently controlled. Given the legal lengths that are in place to ensure justice is served, it isn’t perfect and therefore it’s a valid point of discussion but not really relevant to the article being discussed (i.e., the accusation that Conservatives applauded the execution of innocents).

    This part of the Catechism does also recognize that there is a roll for those that renounce all violence, the conscientious objector (who knew they were invoking the Catholic Church when applying for conscientious objector status). What I find particularly interesting here though is that liberals essentially want to claim to be conscientious objectors to capital punishment while simultaneously supporting abortion. Darn, there’s the real, real obvious (and inconvienient) liberal inconsistency again.

    The last relevant part to discuss is “Just War.” The Church begins with the admonition that it’s everyone’s duty to work to avoid war and that’s as far as most liberals get; however, the doctrine specifically declares that the use of force “is the right, and the duty, of those who have responsibilities for others, such as civil leaders and police forces.” Again, if you get past the five second sound bite (or read a bit beyond ADD limits) even the Church recognizes that war can result in a greater good than would otherwise result by allowing evil to continue.

    So, in summary, there is no conflict in the Church regarding violence versus non-violence. Both have their time and place, there is no inconsistency here. The bottom line here is that despite the naive understanding of many, even the Church acknowledges that sometimes violence, based on Rightous Anger, is sometimes called for if the intent is the correction of vice (both for the good of the individual sinner and the common good), the restoring of the order of justice disturbed by sin, and the restraint of further evil.



  14. This discussion concerns statements made at the GOP debate. Two of the three front runners a fundamentalist Christians. Perry, the statistical front runner is openly skeptical of evolution and climate science. It is safe to assume that this audience is in general agreement with the front runner – hence he is the front runner. The audience was applauding the actions of Perry. Explain to me how this is blather, please. If I made it “too easy”, then by all means, please swing at the pitch. Don’t just walk away from the plate and assume we will grant you the home run.

    As for the European and Canadian surveys, you and Taranto made the unsupported assertion and used it as the fulcrum of a argument. I do believe that puts the burden on you. Taranto, it appears, did little more than take a ten year old opinion piece that is a staple on pro-death penalty web sites and shoe horn it onto the motivations of the GOP debate audience.

    I did read the original Josh Marshall article from 2000. I did not find it particularly enlightening. He proposes that European countries have abolished the death penalty because their governments are fundamentally elitist and less democratic that the US. Is that really the argument you want to go with? It’s what the “people” want? The “people” want to be able to sit at home and smoke pot, too, but we’re too anti-democracy for that. The “people” weren’t too keen on civil rights or seat belts or vaccinations or Catholics, for that matter. Talk about too easy!

    In your last four paragraphs you use many words but say little that pertains to the death penalty or its’ lack of compatibility with the New Testament. Neither the Catholic position on Righteous Anger nor Just War pertain. We are talking about executing a inert person, a person incarcerated in a maximum security prison, a person that poses no threat to the public. The only thing that you correctly addressed is that the Catholic Church officially opposes the death penalty. I highlighted two glaring inconsistencies, one moral and one fiscal, in the pro death penalty cheering section. You addressed neither.


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