The Strange and Slow Death of Democratic and Republican America

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301 Responses

  1. Avatar Zane says:

    The Progressive Conservatives of Alabama?Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The number one thing that I suspect is a gamechanger is the African-American vote come the next election. Given the policing issues of the urban areas and given the political make-up of these same urban areas and given Obama’s ability to change things for said urban areas, I could see the get-out-the-vote teams in these same urban areas having to overcome a great deal of apathy in 2016.

    Maybe this won’t be a big deal for Maryland if Baltimore experiences a depressed AA vote, but what does it mean for Ohio or Virginia or Florida (all states that Obama won with a margin of less than 4%)?

    Of course maybe I’m completely and totally wrong and the recent unpleasantness will result in an energized urban core that will turn out for Hillary Clinton in the same way that it was inspired to turn out for Barack Obama.

    (Of course, the *BIGGEST* game changer is if the Republicans can manage to not be stupid. Warren/Sanders would be able to beat the Republicans if they decided to run Bush/Huckabee. Which I wouldn’t put past them.)Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      You think a ticket with Sanders would win??? An actual left winger???

      The Hucker would be a dream for D’s to run against though. He would cost any R a point or two which is why he will never be on a ticket.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I think a Sanders ticket would win against Bush/Huckabee.

        I’m at a loss to avoid Famous Historical Figures when I’m coming up with a theoretical matchup that would *NOT* win against Bush/Huckabee.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          Sanders is running to nudge HRC ever so slightly to the Left. He is not going to criticize her and it is clear that he doesn’t think he has a chance of getting to nomination.

          Warren is not running. I think she will only run if HRC drops out and even that is questionable. She seems to think she is better in the Senate for her agenda. Warren might be right here.Report

          • Avatar aaron david says:

            Warren is running for president, just not in ’16. (I think she would take the VP slot, but otherwise she is setting herself up for ’20.)Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              She will be 71 in 2020. That might be too old. Americans have a thing about Presidents being older but not too older.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                That could be, but I’m not sure she would care. My guess is it really depends on how well Sanders does, and who he does well with.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Sanders is simply running for Kabuki.
            Nothing more.
            Glad we’re not getting Lawn Gnome this time.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          I can see Huckabee being a drain. I am not sure Jeb Bush is as horrible as you think he will be.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I think you underestimate the poison of the bush name. Look at W’s numbers even after 8 years of Obama. That is bad stuff.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Well since I don’t know Bush Pere emotionally (but intellectually and on paper he truly does read like an old school highly desirable and now nearly extinct version of Republicans) I earnestly hope the old boy doesn’t die any time soon.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW says:

                Jimmy Carter is America’s greatest living former president. The only one who truly valued and worked for peace. The most forward-thinking of them, tackling renewable energy decades before climate change became a major political issue. The only one not to take the US into wars (or “police actions” or various other euphemisms used by other presidents). The only one willing to make foreign policy decisions on the basis of right and justice, rather than pride and the desire for empire (returning the Panama Canal).

                When compared to H.W. Bush’s actions like, say, having the CIA work with Noriega to sell drugs and then invading Panama on the basis that Noriega was selling drugs, Carter’s good ethical principles look even better.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I have no beef with Carter, Katherine, I like him even better than Bush Pere in fact. I have no connection to him though, I was just born when he was on his way out as President.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I would vote for a President Biden. It would take Famous Historical Figure as veep for me to *NOT* vote for him.

            I would buy a DVR for his speeches. I would create a “Wednesday!” post to discuss his speeches.

            Oh, yes.

            Let’s make a President Biden happen.Report

            • OK, but would you vote for him if you weren’t looking for blogging material?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Depends on the following:

                1. Who is running on the Libertarian Ticket?
                2. Who is running on any other third party ticket? Is someone who is Tim Gunn or better running? Because, seriously, I could vote for Tim Gunn.
                3. Okay, let’s look at the Republicans. Is it someone who has argued for stuff like weed and/or ignoring the gay thing for the benefit of paying attention to fiscal issues?

                Given that I’ve never had reason to move past #2, I’m pretty sure that I’d be okay.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Who the hell wouldn’t vote for Tim Gunn?Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW says:

              Heh, you sound like my brother, who supports politicians based purely on how entertaining they are. (He thinks Rob Ford was the best thing ever.)Report

              • Avatar trumwill says:

                Being far away from Toronto, immune to the consequences, and completely unaffiliated except through news reports, I’m with your brother. He’s great.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I think the biggest game-changer will be if the SCOTUS puts SSM to rest as an issue.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Maybe but I think this can influence both sides no matter the outcome. The GOP is pretty good at adapting a Never Say Die attitude.

        Say SSM is legalized. You will then see lawsuits with people saying that they were fired for refusing to give licenses because doing so violated their beliefs. You will also see LGBT people sue because their rights are still being denied in some areas.Report

        • Avatar Pyre says:

          Not just that but Democrats, when it comes to matters of social inequity, are the party of “talk big, do little”. They will talk big about how the Republicans are coming to tear social issue X down if they get elected but, if the Democrats are elected, it will be a new day for social issue X. Then, after they do get elected, they throw just enough crumbs towards social issue X to ensure loyalty before getting to whatever is considered the “important stuff” for the new administration.

          As the party that subscribes to the philosophy “If you cure a social issue, you only get voters for that term. If you keep a social issue going while taking the smallest possible steps towards reform each election, you have voters for generations.”, the DNC isn’t really interested in settling the issue. Thus, even if the SCOTUS does rule on the issue once and for all, the DNC will wring every last drop of inequity heat from the issue, both real and perceived. As a party, they certainly aren’t going to press the SCOTUS or anyone else to resolve the issue once and for all.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        What makes you think SCOTUS is capable of putting it to rest as an issue?

        To be blunt, same sex marriage across America is inevitable. So in that sense, if SCOTUS gets around to ruling that way this time, it’s done. It’s not going to be repealed, no latter court will overturn it, and there’s no chance of a Constitutional amendment passing. So in a sense, that issue is put to bed pragmatically.

        But what makes you think, even for an instance, that it won’t continue to be an issue — a cause — on the right? An example of activist judges, a cry to bring out the base?

        They’ll keep campaigning against the ‘homosexual agenda’ and same-sex marriage because the GOP base demands it of them.

        That issue will be decades dying, and even then it will morph into an example of how them darn liberals use the courts to force their socialist, immoral, social justice ways on the country by force — the tyranny of the minority.

        Good lord, some people — elected officials even! — are still fighting Loving.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          It’d make it as much of an issue as abortion, I’d reckon. Perhaps less.

          “VOTE FOR ME AND I WILL MAKE CERTAIN THAT THESE THINGS STOP HAPPENING!!!” will, indeed, be a campaign slogan.

          But we’d keep having them and Republicans would keep running on them and Democrats would keep running on keeping them and little would change otherwise.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            The difference is that you can’t carve out excpetions and limitations to same sex marriage the way you can with abortion. SSM is binary, either recognized or not – there’s no nibbling around the edges. There’s not going to be an equivalent of Casey that reduced the scope of Roe if Obergefell winds up going in favor of James Obergefell.

            There is the move towards ‘freedom of conscience’ and freedom of religion on the part of conservative activists, but the actual issue of legal recoginition of same sex marriages will be a settled issue. (the same way Loving v Virginia put that specific issue to bed – but did not of course, mean the fight for equality was at all over)Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Yeah… I can see lawsuits about how “Seriously! We, as proprietors of Marriage At Garden Of The Gods Chapel shouldn’t be forced to provide the gay marriage!” but not “Seriously! We, as Colorado Judges at the courthouse near Garden of the Gods shouldn’t be forced to provide the gay marriage!”

              If a couple wants to get married in Colorado Springs (even at Garden of the Gods!), they should be able to do so, even if they can’t necessarily pick the officiator that they want.

              (And, seriously, there is no shortage of Unitarian and/or Miscellaneous Officiants to choose from.)Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Last time a Garden of the Gods style challenge came up (and it was trumped up since no actual gays were trying to marry at the place) the SSM side lost. As long as the Garden of the Gods didn’t offer services for athiest/nonreligious marriages they wouldn’t be forced to provide service.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                That *MIGHT* make it less of an issue worth running on in the future, *MAYBE*… but I suspect we’ll still have to put up with politicians running on this issue for another decade or so until they start running on how it’s completely unfair that the media is smearing them as being opposed to marriage in all its forms.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                They’re already running on that latter bit though.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “That *MIGHT* make it less of an issue worth running on in the future, *MAYBE*…”

                For some reason I imagined Nicholas Cage reading that out loud.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Gay rights more generally will still be an issue, but by and large I don’t think it will become another Roe v Wade. While Roy Moore and some others have made a ruckus, it really seems to be the desire of a lot of Republican governors – even those of some very red states – that the gay marriage issue just go away. The focus will shift to ancillary issues (wedding cakes, etc) and even then only as long as Big Money permits it.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            Will Democrats be called “the real homophobes”?

            More seriously, I suspect the truth is somewhere between what Morat is writing and what you are writing. The Federalist has managed to find young people opposed to SSM but they are a minority in their generation. Morat is largely right. The GOP is forced to maintain stances on a lot of areas that hurt them in the long run because their present base demands those stances.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              If candidates for the Republican nomination for president of the United States are already saying that they would attend a gay wedding, I just don’t think it can be said “Oh, they fear the base too much ever to stop fighting gay marriage.”

              The transition is already underway towards “I disagree with it, but the law is the law.”

              It’ll be a while before they actively embrace it, but those aren’t the goalposts of this conversation.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              SSM isn’t abortion. It isn’t life or death, the oppose SSM camp simply can’t make press about SSM the way the pro-life side can make press about abortion. Even if the Supremes imposed SSM en toto I’d be astonished if it remains a live issue.Report

          • Also, opposition to ssm just isn’t the conscience issue that opposition to abortion is. Yes, there are deeply and probably sincerely held beliefs that ssm is a sin, etc., but when it comes to abortion, there are deeply and sincerely held views that the practice is, if not murder, than a failure to recognize and honor life. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that view (although I don’t necessarily disagree), and I am pro-choice, but for someone who is pro-life, the stakes are higher than whether other couples get marriage benefits.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              A lot of liberals think that opposition to abortion is just a way to clamp down on women having sex for fun and all the talk about abortion being murder is hooey. I’m more open to the idea that many people do see abortion as murder but there is probably at least an element of the clamp down.Report

              • I certainly believe that element is there. And frankly, I don’t think the “abortion is murder” idea is as pervasive as I suggested. I suspect a sizable number of people who lean pro-life, or who are pro-choice but are ambivalent about being pro-choice, probably believe/fear something like the following is true: “abortion dishonors and disrespects life but falls short of murder.”

                At any rate, I’m hopeful that ssm, if (preferably “when”) the court legalizes it, will turn out to be much less of an issue like abortion, where campaigns are designed around electing someone who will appoint enough justices to overturn Windsor and (what I hope will be the decision in) Obergefehl. There might be speeches given and dog whistles whistled, but I do hope ssm won’t be the type of litmus test that abortion has become.

                Of course, I could be wrong….Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                many people are pro-life, but dont’ want it enshrined into law.
                legalizing morality isn’t always the best plan.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                This pretty much sums up my feelings towards abortion. I don’t think it is murder but I can’t see it as numbly as other people do. Abortion might not be ending life but is ending a potential life in many cases. I think that abortion should be legal because its going to happen anyway so we might as well as allow it to occur in safe and sterile conditions by correctly trained people.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                I think that a genuine belief that abortion is murder is vanishingly rare, at least on the “a zygote is a real human being” basis. I base this on there being various implications of such a belief that simply aren’t carried through.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:


                Richard Hershberger:
                I think that a genuine belief that abortion is murder is vanishingly rare, at least on the “a zygote is a real human being” basis.I base this on there being various implications of such a belief that simply aren’t carried through.

                To which implications do you refer?Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                Taking just one of several possible lines of argument, if a zygote is a full fledged human being with all the rights and appurtenances thereto, there are a host of implications beyond “abortion is murder.” It also follows that a miscarriage is a death–not merely a late-term miscarriage, where you can go looking to see if the mother did something wrong, but also those innumerable very early miscarriages that are unnoticed except perhaps as unusually heavy menstrual flow.

                What happens if a baby dies two days after birth? Pretty much the same stuff that happens if an adult dies after a long and fruitful life. There might be a religious service. There probably will be a grieving family. There certainly will be a death certificate.

                What happens if a zygote is passed in an unusually heavy menstrual flow? It gets thrown in the trash.

                Ah, you say, but the parents probably don’t even realize that a miscarriage took place, so we can’t expect them to respond like they would to a two-day old baby dying. To which I respond, anyone paying the least bit of attention to the topic knows perfectly well that such early term miscarriages happen routinely. Yet those who profess to believe that a zygote is fully human, with all the rights and appurtenances thereto, shrug indifferently at this mass die-off in their very midst.

                How do we explain this? If we take them at their word, the conclusion is that they are monsters in human form, going about their daily lives as babies die around them, often in their own homes. “Hon, there is a dead baby in my menstrual pad.” “Well, don’t flush it down the toilet. That might clog the pipes.” Call me naïve, but I think better of my fellow humans. I think that they merely are bullshitting. In fairness, I think they are bullshitting themselves and each other at least as much as they are bullshitting the rest of us. Evangelical churches have spent the past thirty-five years telling them that zygotes are babies and abortionists are baby killers. They are happy to repeat this, without actually thinking about it. Such is political discourse in our country.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW says:

                The flip side of this is – do pro-choice people really think that a child one day away from being born is equivalent to fingernails that you chop off, and can be killed with no moral meaning?

                Because that’s how a lot of pro-choice people characterize all abortion.

                And if they mean it, that is monstrous.

                Personally, I favour an increasing level of restrictions the further along in term a child is; something analogous to what exists in most European countries. It’s not perfect, but it would reduce the frequency of abortion and its use as birth control (when one in five children is aborted, don’t tell me it isn’t being used as birth control).Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I’m sorry @katherinemw , but this whole “oh, European countries have more restrictions than the US with it’s love of abortion” is false in actual reality, no matter what the statues state.


                Even putting aside that how exemptions are applied in practice differs a lot, between say, a Belgium judge, and a Montanan judge, (hint, the Belgian judge will likely work to approve the abortion and the opposite is true for the Montana judge), there’s the various nominal restrictions that limit access to abortion even when it is supposedly legal.

                If we repeal the various TRAP laws, repeal parental notification laws, repeal waiting periods, have every state take Medicaid expansion, repeal the Hyde amendment, then we’re near the same point with access for women in America than women in most of Europe have.

                As for your question, I trust that 99.99% of pregnant women aren’t insane people who will get an abortion in the 38th week, just cause. Ya’ know who actually gets abortions in the 3rd trimester? Women who will die if they don’t have an abortion or have to face the choice of baring a child that will live for moments (or live in agony for weeks) or terminating the pregnancy at that point, not women “using abortion as birth control.”

                Frankly, even though we should expand comprehensive sex education, I don’t give a damn if 100% of abortions in the first 3 months are birth control.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW says:

                I’m in Canada, and in Canada there are literally no legal or regulational restrictions on abortions; the only limit to access if if there’s no doctors in the area willing to provide it.

                So changing to European standards would be, from my perspective, a substantial step forward.

                And I do care about the number of first-trimester abortions, even if I think they should be less regulated than third-trimester ones. (Morning-after pills, I’m not concerned with, because I’m familiar with the statistics of half of pregnancies failing very early on. By the second or third month, though, in the vast majority of cases the child will live if it is not deliberately killed.)

                While sex ed is a good idea for plenty of other reasons, like reducing teen pregnancy, the differences between abortion rates in the US and Canada (Canada does not have the restrictions on sex ed that more conservative US states have) does not convince me it would make any difference in the frequency of abortion.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                @katherinemw I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as far left as you economically argue for more restrictions on abortion. Is this just you, or is there a large left-wing anti-abortion (at least, relative to the status quo) faction in Canada?Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                I’m not concerned with, because I’m familiar with the statistics of half of pregnancies failing very early on.

                How do absolutist pro-life theologists resolve this conflict, anyway? Life is precious to God and begins at conception, but he kills half of us right off the bat anyway?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I’m not sure if “life is precious to God” is exactly the argument – I mean, it may be what they say, but The Problem Of Evil vs. Thou Shalt Not Kill being what it is, it’s always been OK if God does the smiting; but Man isn’t supposed to get in on the act (unless, of course, God tells Man to). Per God, life is supposed to be precious to *Man*.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                The phrase “playing God” has just taken on a much, much more sinister meaning for me.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                nah, dead’s dead. Peaceful, ya know?
                What kills me is the parents who deliberately poison their children, to “protect their childhood”Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                While sex ed is a good idea for plenty of other reasons, like reducing teen pregnancy, the differences between abortion rates in the US and Canada (Canada does not have the restrictions on sex ed that more conservative US states have) does not convince me it would make any difference in the frequency of abortion.

                Huh? Approximately 50% of pregnant teens in Canada have an abortion. Whereas approximately 35% of pregnant US teens do…

                …resulting in the US have approximately 3 teenage abortions to every 2 in Canada, based on per teen capita.

                This is, quite clearly, because about twice as many teenagers in the US *get pregnant*. Per 1000 teens: 44 get pregnant in Canada, resulting, at a rate of 50%, in 22 abortions. Vs 85 in the US, resulting, at a rate or 35%, in 30 abortions. So despite the fact a higher percentage of pregnant Canadian teens get an abortion, there are less actual abortions.

                I’ve seen people (despite all evidence) that sex education doesn’t reduce teen pregnancy. But I’ve never actually seen anyone argue that reducing teen pregnancy wouldn’t proportionally reduce teen abortions.

                How the hell does that theory even work? There’s less teenagers pregnant, so, feeling lonely, the remaining ones decide to get *more* abortions?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Because that’s how a lot of pro-choice people characterize all abortion.

                No, they really don’t. Almost no pro-choice people have any problem with Roe v. Wade’s ‘viability’ rule. There’s no organization running around pushing for the laws to be laxer than that.

                In fact, a good deal of pro-choice activity trying to make abortions able to happen *sooner*, because of good deal of the other side is trying to make them more complicated to obtain and basically ‘run out the clock’ on them.

                Late-term abortions are not something anyone wants. (This does not, however, mean they should be illegal. Amputations are not something people want either, but we don’t bar those.)

                when one in five children is aborted, don’t tell me it isn’t being used as birth control

                Of course it’s being used as ‘birth control’, that is, in fact, the very premise of abortion.

                The real question is what do you mean by this, and why do you think that’s a *bad* thing?

                What a lot of people mean by that is that women should *instead* be using earlier birth control to keep from getting pregnant in the first place.

                And if that’s what you’re saying, I have to point out, as a Canadian, you might not actually understand just how utterly screwy our health care system is. Women can’t just ‘get’ contraceptives besides condoms. And you might also not understand that the only people *pushing* for contraceptive use is…the pro-choice people. In fact, as a notable example, the anti-choice people in Colorado are trying to repeal a law that reduced teen birthrates by half by providing IUDs.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                at least selling birth control here doesn’t earn us a death sentence.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:


                First of all I should state that my wife and I had no miscarriages (that we are aware of). So anything I say about the experience of people miscarrying is speculative on my part.

                I also do not want to outlaw abortion, though like @katherinemw states elsewhere, I would not object to increasing the hurdles as the pregnancy progresses, as I think that comports better with most people’s intuitive understanding and moral judgements, as well as what we know of fetal nervous-system development/pain-sensation etc.

                That said,

                1.) I am not surprised at all that people tend to react differently to the death of a baby that they have seen with their own eyes draw breath, than one they never saw “alive” at all. I also would be far more affected by the death of someone I “knew” – however briefly – than by my accidental discovery of an already-dead unknown corpse in the woods.

                2.) It is my understanding that for (at least) couples trying to conceive, a miscarriage can in fact be quite emotionally-devastating to them. This is one reason that people often keep their pregnancies secret until the period of highest miscarriage risk has passed, so they can deal with any emotional fallout privately if they miscarry. To expect them to fish their miscarriage out of the toilet and put it into a tiny coffin and wail publicly, seems monstrous. I imagine there is also the possibility of self-flagellating guilt (“Was that one glass of wine before I knew I was pregnant what did it? Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second cup of coffee. Oh God, last week I had that shopping cart hit me in the belly.”)

                3.) Focusing on the (outward) expressions of grief or symbolic last rites, rather than the method of death, seems to miss the point rather spectacularly.

                The issue is not whether or not someone was buried in a shallow grave; the issue is what put them there.

                If you and I were camping in the middle of nowhere and I had a heart attack or took a fall and died, that sad solitary inadequate burial and mourning was the best you could be expected to do, under the circumstances.

                If, however, you intentionally killed and dismembered me, that shallow grave takes on an entirely-different meaning.Report

              • Avatar richardhershberger says:

                You have touched on the usual responses I get. In order:

                (1) This is merely an expansion on the “No, I really am an inhuman monster” argument. It is the argument that yes, miscarriages are the deaths of babies, but since I am not personally emotionally affected by this, the deaths of these babies are a matter of indifference. I don’t personally know a single soul in Nepal. I nonetheless consider the earthquake victims a matter of concern and fully endorse the commitment of my tax dollars to helping them, rather than shrugging my shoulders as asking ‘wadda ya gonna do?’

                (2) You have moved the goalposts. I specifically wrote about very early term miscarriages, of the sort that people hardly even notice. This is in answer to the specific, oft-stated claim that zygotes are real true babies. If you want to develop a more nuanced discussion about fetal development and viability and what this means for abortions, then I am right there with you. Contra KatherineMW, few if anyone is arguing for abortions at eight and a half months.

                (3) This is a variant on the shrug and ‘wadda ya gonna do?’ phenomenon. Of course are things that could be done. We could be devoting billions to a crash research program to stop the avalanche of dead babies among us. We are totally prepared to spend billions killing people in other countries. What does it say about us that are won’t do the same to save babies? Perhaps that we don’t really believe our own rhetoric.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                The fundamental point is that it is not death *itself* that has much moral component to most people; death comes for us all in the end, and is simply a fact of life.

                It is the precipitating event that matters to people’s moral intuition, and we tend to assign much more culpability to action than inaction. Nepalese children killed in a quake are one thing, Iraqi children killed by American bombs another. A child who ran out in front of my car on an icy road and got killed is a tragedy, but I am not a murderer.

                If, however, I floored it when I saw him…

                Anyway, thank you for clarifying what you meant, but I suspect no fruitful dialogue may be had here. It can feel comforting to believe that people don’t mean (or understand) what they say, but I suspect large numbers of people mean and understand just fine.Report

              • Between one third and two thirds of fertilized human ova fail to implant in the uterus. If that doesn’t bother anyone [1], but a device that increases the chances of that somewhere between not at all and infinitesimally is so evil that employers refuse to allow the insurance that they’re otherwise fine with providing to cover it [2], and pharmacists who routinely dispense all manner of deadly poisons [3] refuse to sell it, I have to think there’s something else going on.

                1. And I’ve never seen any evidence, I mean not a fishing shred, that it does.
                2. Hobby Lobby’s objection wasn’t to insurance coverage of birth control in general. It was to specific forms of birth control which in theory have the potential to prevent implantation, hence “abortifacients”.
                3. There are many documented cases of children dying from taking, say, acetaminophen. I’ve never heard of a pharmacist refusing to sell it.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                With references Hobby Lobby and pharmacists we move ever further afield from the discussion up above, so I am not even sure if this was directed at me, but it doesn’t change my fundamental point. Most people see the taking of intentional action to end (what they they see as) a human life, as very different from the ending of a human life by inaction, chance or accident (or, I suppose, divine will).

                If I am a garden-supply retailer selling deadly poisonous sprays and fertilizers, it’s not at all weird that I might sell them all day every day to a known farmer for his work; but if I suspect that someone plans to poison somebody else, or use the fertilizer to build a bomb, I might well balk from making the sale. I should, anyway.

                I’ll sell you acetaminophen, unless you tell me you plan on intentionally poisoning somebody else with it. Even though lots of people get accidentally poisoned on it every day.

                Heck, you even have (IMO) a right to kill yourself with it, but I *still* might balk at being the guy who sold you the poison to do the deed (assuming I could have known with any reasonable certainty beforehand what you intended to do).Report

              • But if I want to buy something to prevent a pregnancy, and there’s at most a tiny theoretical chance it will end one, some people won’t sell it to me. Most of who probably wouldn’t say a thing if I were driving a baby around without a car seat, which is a real danger to a real child.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW says:

                A lot of liberals think that opposition to abortion is just a way to clamp down on women having sex for fun and all the talk about abortion being murder is hooey.

                A lot of liberals are wrong about that. While I think that Gabriel’s characterization is right – that a lot of people feel that abortion is a serious moral issue involving how we value and protect human life, but that not all of them think that everything up to and including the morning-after pill constitutes murder – it’s absolutely not just a cause based on people wanting to control women.

                The thing that prevents genuine conversations on abortion is pro-choice people who refuse to acknowledge it as an issue involving anything other than “a woman’s choices about what she does with HER body”. The issue isn’t her body. The issue is what one person is allowed to do to another person.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                That’s an understandable position to take as a Canadian, Katherine, where there is no realistic prospect of abortion being banned en toto. American liberals/pro-choicers have no such luxury.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Can we call the child a soon-to-be person?
                I’m not trying to wish away the morality in this… but I am saying that your rhetoric is not unbiased.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                The issue isn’t her body. The issue is what one person is allowed to do to another person.

                As someone who supports legal abortion with few if any restrictions, I agree with this, and wish more people on my side would realize this. Arguments against banning abortion that don’t address this issue are just preaching to the choir, and miss the point entirely.

                While I think it’s true that restrictions on abortions are restrictions on women’s rights, this is a conclusion rather than a premise. It’s the mirror image of saying that abortion is murder. Both beg the question by starting from the assumption that a fetus either should or should not have a right to life, which is the only point that’s actually under dispute.

                But people seem to have more fun accusing their opponents of wanting to murder babies or keep women as second-class citizens than they do thinking up arguments for or against the recognition of fetal personhood, so here we are.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “I could see the get-out-the-vote teams in these same urban areas having to overcome a great deal of apathy in 2016.”

      Considering the open attitude of the GOP, and open attempts at voter suppression, I can see the opposite.Report

    • Avatar Pyre says:

      I’m tempted to do the Man Of Steel thing here again because this is not a gamechanger. When we were in college, a Democrat congressman (Can’t remember if it was House or Senate) made the ill-advised remark that he doesn’t need to campaign in the black areas of his state because they’ll vote Democrat regardless. Obviously, there was the minor lashing of frogs and “what I meant was…” remarks but, however ill-advised the comment was, he was right. The Republicans are way beyond the point that they’re ever going to be the party of choice for the Black population of the U.S. and it shows in the way both parties conduct themselves. Republicans put out their token candidates that nobody expects to win and Democrats conduct their policies regardless of how it might affect Black communities (Immigration and Southern California is a good example here.).

      Sure, it’s possible that there may be apathy but it isn’t going to be a game-changer and both parties know it.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        When we were in college, a Democrat congressman (Can’t remember if it was House or Senate) made the ill-advised remark that he doesn’t need to campaign in the black areas of his state because they’ll vote Democrat regardless.

        Jay Billington Bulworth?Report

        • Avatar Pyre says:

          It would have been someone between 1991 and 1996.

          Also, that movie wasn’t as bad for it’s time as people make it out to be although the ending did play a little much to people’s perception of “The way things are”. Yes, seeing Warren Beatty do the “socialism” rap was probably a bit much but modern politicians have made bigger asses of themselves in public.Report

          • Avatar j r says:

            As bad? I loved Bulworth. Haven’t watched it in about a decade, so maybe it hasn’t held up well, but I loved it when I saw it.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Hated it. (Though I haven’t seen it for a while, either.)Report

            • Avatar Pyre says:

              I liked it well enough to get a VHS copy of it at the time but I have seen many a retrospective review that has said the equivalent of “OMG, people actually watched this back then?!?” I’d watch my copy but I’m wondering if it would turn out to be like Brad Pitt’s episode of Freddy’s Nightmares. Something that the actors involved say “Yeah, look, I had to pay the bills/break into the business and it looked good on paper.”Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    The pessimism of the post (at least from the Democratic perspective) is unwarranted.

    A great deal depends on personalities in our system. The charisma of the Presidential nominee matters a lot and so does the ability of the nominee to organize local machinery. Given the high degree of fragmentation Republicans are facing, it may be that 2016 will produce a GOP as unenthusiastic for its nominee, and therefore as listless about pressing whatever advantages it has, as was the case in 2012.

    Further, the post is correct in noting that there is a significant urban-rural partisan cleavage. Our society is urbanizing and the battle for political control will be fought in suburbs and ring cities where there are close divisions. Democrats can win in these arenas.Report

    • Avatar trumwill says:

      They can win the suburbs and edge cities, but they can lose them, too. (Those are the places that a lot of people who left ruralia moved to.)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I think it would interesting to show which suburbs and edge cities go blue and which go red.

        The suburbs of the Bay Area are largely Democratic. This changed fairly recently. There are only four towns in the Bay Area that give more votes to Republicans: Danville, Atherton, Hillsborough, and Woodside. Atherton and Hillsborough are extremely weatlhy (home to the richest of the Silicon Valley rich like Meg Whitman. The median house price in Atheton is around 2 million dollars). Woodwise and Danville are just strongly upper-middle class. Other upper-middle class suburbs like Mill Valley (and all of Marin), Orinda, Lafayette, are strongly Democratic.

        I grew up in a strongly Democratic suburb of NYC. If you went over a few towns, it became more Republican.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          You actually have to go pretty far out of NYC before it starts becoming red. Which is pretty typical. Look at this map:

          And compare the counties surrounding Chicago or Philadelphia to the counties surrounding Houston or Kansas City.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            The changes to NYC are within living memory.

            I grew up in Nassau County. When I was growing up Nassau County was reliably red on all levels of government. Tom Suozzi was the first Democratic politician elected to County Executive in 32 years. The Comptrollers are also firmly Republican and the County Legislature is majority Republican.


            This could mean that there are things about the national GOP which are toxic thought.

            Interestingly there is only one Republican Congressperson from Nassau. Nassau’s State Senators are all Republican though.

            These demographic splits are kind of fascinating. Nassau County is very Democratic in national elections but very Republican in local and state elections.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              When I was growing up, my congressman was a Democrat. Not a now-he’s-a-Republican Democrat, but a Democrat who served as a Dem and lost as a Dem. To be fair, my part of the district was Republican, and in 1992 we were put in a Republican district. Which is also a sign of the times, because the Democratic state legislature put us there in a gerrymander.Report

            • Avatar Mo says:

              @saul-degraw California being a solid blue state is relatively new as well. Between Truman and Clinton California went Republican every time except for 1964. And I would note that Republicans in New York are more liberal than Democrats in most states. Whereas Republicans in California would be Republicans in most states.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                I don’t know if I would go that far. The days of Jacob Javits are long gone. Peter King is pretty hawkish even if he speaks openly against Ted Cruz. Staten Island is very culturally conservative but not full on Alabama.Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                Being a hawk has never been disqualifying for Dems. It’s not like Chuck or Hillary paid a price in NYS for their hawkish views.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                Hilary definitely paid a price for it nationally, though…arguably, it’s why she’s not the current, sitting president.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      You are probably right about how I see the divide in the Democratic Party but I think because I pay attention, I see it more. I think the Labour defeat in England is going to cause a debate about whether to say center or stay left. There are a lot of liberals out there who are suspicious of neo-liberals. Not me completely but partially. I do know others who see neo-liberals as only offering lip service to Democratic ideas and ideals. The hatred of Cuomo and Emmanuel is very real and in a significant minority of Democratic voters.

      The urban/rural divide raises questions of how effectively can the GOP neutralize cities and/or how effectively can the Democratic Party neutralize rural and exurban areas. Blue states tend to be blue because the cities are big enough that the GOP can’t neutralize them. Washington would be pretty conservative if it were not for Seattle-Tacoma-Redmond and Olympia. Oregon would be red if it were not for Portland, Eugene, and Salem. Jacksonville, MS is liberal but not big enough that it can’t be neutralized by the GOP. Same with many other cities in red states.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The size of the city matters, but only so far. Utah and Arizona are remarkably urban. The biggest difference between red states and blue states is that in blue states, Democratic influence extends beyond the city to the suburbs, and in red states they do not. That and how smaller cities vote, where applicable. (Smaller cities being why Montana is light red, Delaware is blue, and Idaho is very red.)Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      The pessimism of the post (at least from the Democratic perspective) is unwarranted.

      A great deal depends on personalities in our system. The charisma of the Presidential nominee matters a lot

      The charisma of Hillary Clinton is a source of optimism? For those with an affinty towards the Democrats? Hillary Clinton? Charisma?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I wonder if there is a test that someone can devise to determine how partisan affiliation influences opinions on whether a particular politician is charismatic or not. I don’t get Clinton hate. She is not as charismatic as Bill but I don’t find her off-putting. Likewise I find Elizabeth Warren to be warm.

        On the other hand, I have no idea what is appealing about Scott Walker.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          To provide a baseline, could you mention the last Democrat running that you thought was less warm than the Republican?Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            I’d rather hang out with Kerry or Gore even though Bush II was famously the “guy you wanted to have a beer with!”Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              So you don’t have one? Not even “Nixon in 1960 was less creepy than Kennedy”?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Nixon had INCREDIBLE personal charisma. Face to face, he could charm pants off a freezing man. Not very good onstage, in comparison.

                I’m not sure what we mean when we say charisma. Kennedy wasn’t so good upclose, but he could spin anyone onstage.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                I’ve been told that Rick Perry is incredibly good at working a room of people when he’s mixing with them. His problems happen when he’s on a stage.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            Reagan was always a friendly and charming fellow even though I really don’t agree with him. Bush the Elder came across warmer than Dukakis from what I remember.Report

            • Bush pere was weird. He seemed kind enough, but his mannerisms and speech patterns were like a parody of an Ivy Leaguer. In 1984 he could have destroyed Geraldine Ferraro in the VP debate simply by being much better informed and more capable than she was, but instead he patronized her the whole time and then bragged afterward about how he’d kicked a little butt.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Gore was a bit of a stuffed shirt. But i LIKE gore.
            Wes Clark was the same.

            The republicans haven’t had terribly charismatic folks for a while… (Huckabee’s a charmer, though…)Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW says:

            Chipping in as a Canadian, Preston Manning (former leading of the right-wing populist Reform Party) definitely had charisma. Not the Obama speechifying variety – people made fun of the way Manning talked – but he was someone who even his opponents could like. His time in politics was when I was a kid, so mostly I remember him from his appearances on Air Farce (popular political satire show of the time), but just from that he was personable and willing to laugh at himself.

            (How things change. I don’t think even Stephen Harper’s warmest fans could call him charismatic.)Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          it has nothing to do with hate. It’s simply that Hillary Clinton isn’t a natural politician; there’s nothing really wrong with that, but it makes the Game of Resolute Desks that much more difficult for someone who isn’t a natural.

          She has had, though, over half a lifetime to work on her game in the company of a very gifted people person. (perhaps too much a people person).Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          Likewise I find Elizabeth Warren to be warm.

          Fun fact: The warmth comes from the shit that she’s full of.Report

        • Avatar Dan Scotto says:

          Walker’s appeal to Republicans, IMO, is that he fights. His “everyman” thing would go over as well as Pawlenty’s did, if not for the union fights.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            See. I just don’t get why Scott Walker is considered an everyman. Maybe this just shows that I am odd but I don’t see why that is important in a President or other politician. It is nice but I would rather have a President who is likely to support policies I believe in (or enough of them) than have a President or politician that I like. I never got the Bush II is a guy you could have a beer with meme…This is not important in a politician.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “Given the high degree of fragmentation Republicans are facing, it may be that 2016 will produce a GOP as unenthusiastic for its nominee, and therefore as listless about pressing whatever advantages it has, as was the case in 2012.”

      If I were a higher-up in the GOP, I’d fear that the Klown Kar of 2012 is repeating itself, to the point where yet again once the big money guy (Jeb, this time) is nominated he’ll have compromised himself, on top of what the primaries did to the GOPReport

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I dunno. 2012 was a several month long primal cry of “Oh god, please not Romney”.

        Does Jeb inspire that level of “Please, God, no, anyone else?” from the GOP base?Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Yes, he really does. As mentioned in my comment to Barry, Jeb is not nearly as well positioned as Mitt was.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Mitt was fortunate in his adversaries in a way that Bush is emphatically not.Report

          • Avatar morat20 says:

            I don’t think anyone is well positioned. The GOP primary has a serious problem — they’re heavily fractured among at least two, possibly three, very intense groups — and they’re reaping decades of gradually increasing crazy.

            So you have candidates trying to appeal to people who are…very extreme…in their views on a given topic, and trying to appeal to just ONE group and not handicap yourself in the general is tough enough.

            Trying to appeal to two or more? It’s like tap-dancing through a minefield where half the voters are moving the mines under your feet with every step.

            That’s not even getting into the general election — honestly, I think the GOP needs to find something besides Reagan’s playbook as rewritten by Newt Gingrich. It’s been 35 years since Reagan and 20 since Contract With America. That carpet’s getting a bit threadbare, and it’s not papering over the chasms anymore.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think the main difference between 2012 and 2016 is that this time around:

        (a) I don’t believe Jeb will – or can – compromise himself in the way that Mitt did (and Christie would). He doesn’t want it enough, which is a concern but a different one. But that’s one of the things that’s fascinating about this cycle.

        (b) Jeb doesn’t have the sense of inevitability that Mitt did (compromise or no). I was a pretty big believer almost the entire 2012 cycle that Romney would get the nomination. I’m not at all confident about Jeb.

        (c) This time the conservatives have an actual alternative or two or three. 2012 might have played very differently if there were a Scott Walker or even a Ted Cruz to rally behind. But there was a gaping hole where that candidate would be. So… different dynamic.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Without looking I know that that NYTM piece is by Mai Bai.

    Do I know wrongly? Is it Mark Leibovich?Report

  5. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Governor is an odd duck in Colorado. Of the last 11 terms, 9 have been held by a Democrat. Republican Bill Owens (won in 1998 and 2002) was preceded by Democrats Dick Lamm and Roy Romer (three terms each) and followed by Bill Ritter (one term) and John Hickenlooper (started his second term this year). It seems strange that the Dems have done better at winning the governor’s office in Colorado over that period than they’ve done in any of California, Illinois, or New York.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I wonder what would happen if you looked at California migration patterns. Maybe a lot of conservative Californians from Orange County and similar places left and moved to Arizona, Montana, etc. My parents bought a house in the East Bay from a very conservative couple who moved to Montana.

      Illinois and New York are interesting case studies for the reasons I lifted above. NYC Suburbs might not vote Republican nationally but they are still very willing to vote Republican for in-state elections. Pataki was popular in suburban New York in ways that no national Republican can be.

      The thing about New York is that evangelical conservatism never really took a hold in the NYC-Metro area. Not the megachurch and white variety anyway. Evangelical Christians in the NYC area are African-American or Latino Pentecostals operating out of store front churches. White Christians in NYC-Metro land tend to be Roman Catholic (Wiki says that 39 percent of Christians in New York State are Roman-Catholic) with a smaller amount being in mainline protestant sects like Episcopalians, Quakers, Methodists, the UCC, etc.

      Conservative Roman Catholics still have some economic populism/social justice tinges that favor some variant of a welfare state. The NYC Archdiocese is just as likely to denounce cuts to food stamps and unemployment insurance as they are to denounce same-sex marriage. The Protestant Evangelical base of the GOP probably makes NY Roman Catholics nervous.*

      *Anecdote: I went to a law school at a Jesuit University. We had a law review symposium on Citizens United. One of the big lawyers in Citizens United was a conservative Protestant lawyer from a non-profit in Indiana. He made some barely hidden dog-whistle attacks about Papists and Roman Catholics at the symposium.Report

      • Avatar Autolukos says:

        I doubt you’d find that much outmigration by CA conservatives. Mostly, they were swamped in place by new arrivals and (at this point) have mostly died off; Nixon and Reagan were the same generation as their base.

        I think that living here is part of why I take the “death of the Republican Party” line of thinking a bit more seriously than the other way: instead of moderating to stay competitive, the CA party rode the Nixon/Reagan formula into the ground, then turned around and made a point of pissing on the state’s biggest non-white demographic to win one more election as the coalition was running out of steam. I doubt the national party will be as eager to commit suicide, but it did happen here.Report

        • Avatar morat20 says:

          Texas appears poised to duplicate that feat. I have seen little moderation towards Hispanics down here.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            What about P? He got elected to state wide office and is almost certainly from the pro-immigration wing of the party like the rest of his family is.Report

            • Avatar morat20 says:


              State level offices — especially the Leg — are full of xenophobes. Basing immigrants, well — Texas isn’t quite Arizona, but if you’re not pasty white you know which party views you as a scapegoat at best. (More cynically, at least half of them aren’t aware you’re a scapegoat. They really DO believe all that crap).Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “…and made a point of pissing on the state’s biggest non-white demographic to win one more election as the coalition was running out of steam. I doubt the national party will be as eager to commit suicide, but it did happen here.”

          Note that pissing off the largest ‘non-white’ demographic is precisely what the Base did in 2010-present, and is now a core party plank. They are clearly trying to deal with it by voter suppression. Hopefully, this will really, really bite them in the tenders.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          You see the same thing nationally that occurs on a state level. The Republican leaders are pandering to their current voters for short term electoral gains rather than moderating themselves for potential future electoral gains. This makes a certain amount of sense because politicians generally want to win the election coming up rather than the ones in the future. Still, at least some Republicans have to be aware that their current stances are going to kick them latter.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I think a difference between a state party and a national party is that the former tends to be tethered to the latter. Which is to say, it’s a lot harder for state Republicans to shift away from national Republicans, in part because the national party isn’t losing as thoroughly as the state party. If there is no quasi-successful national party, it has nothing to hold on to and nothing to identify itself with that isn’t failure.

          (It’s not just Republicans. I’ve seen some blue state Democratic parties actually become more liberal as the state slips further and further away from them. But they identify with Obama, which makes things like “We cannot deviate from our principles” more tenable. It doesn’t happen equally between sides, but it does happen with both sides.)

          If the Republicans fail to be competitive on a national level, they will adjust accordingly. That they can still win congressional elections may elongate the process, but even then patterns will likely emerge if the Democrats keep winning presidential elections. Whereas state minority parties may stay state minorities parties pretty indefinitely.Report

          • Avatar Autolukos says:

            It probably doesn’t help that the most experienced elected officials in weak state parties are likely to be from safe House districts. Is Darrell Issa your go-to choice for advice on how to compete in the Bay Area?Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              San Francisco just might be too blue. The city has been solidly Democratic since the early 1960s. Before then it was Republican though.

              Though Issa wouldn’t last in Silicon Valley either.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        There are lots of opinion pieces and a few harder social-science papers out there that seem to think California out-migration is making the destination states more Democratic and more liberal. I’ve been working (slowly) to try to find ways to make use of the county-level migration data that the IRS provides for recent years. The IRS doesn’t provide any info about political leanings, of course. The counties that are the sources for most of the out-migration to Arizona, Montana, and Oregon (consider that a control of sorts) are largely the same: LA, San Diego, Orange, Riverside/San Bernardino, Santa Clara. Most of that migration ends up in the most urban counties of the destination state, where by-and-large the Democrats are already the strongest. Net migrations are quite small compared to the states’ populations in all cases, and most of the migration to California is from the same counties where outgoing Californians settle.

        The numbers suggest, and I’m trying to figure out a visualization, that most interstate migration falls into two categories. The first is the inter-city migration I’ve already mentioned. The other is movement back and forth between border counties, eg between Imperial County, CA and Yuma County, AZ. The border migration is relatively small except for cases where there’s a sizable city on one side of the border. For example, there’s a bunch of border movement between Ohio and Kentucky because of Cincinnati, and between Texas and New Mexico because of El Paso.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          That’s long been the assumption. That red states are growing faster, but since they’re growing with people who move from blue states, they’re becoming less red. It’s often been my observation as well, at least back home in Large Southern City. And it makes sense.

          That said, I linkied something a while back where 57% of Californians moving to Texas were actually Republicans. If the Texans moving to California are liberal, which also makes sense, it could be contributing to Big Sort.

          Incidentally, the “People in blue states who move to red states turn red states purple” thesis should be remembered when we’re talking about people moving from ruralia to suburbia/exurbia/etc. You can’t rely on the existing demographics of a place and the growth of the place to make much in the way of political projections without factoring in the people moving there, whose politics will not always conform (or alternately, were already voting in politics that do conform).Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            Urbanization in general also makes people more liberal in the long run. When you’re living in the sticks or in the vast suburban sprawl, outside of good public schools and getting the trash picked up and potholes filled, you don’t see the need in front of you for government.

            OTOH, when you’ve got massive traffic backups, you either want more road construction or more mass transit, both expansions of government. If you see frankly, a bunch of poor people with issues, you might somebody to help them and outside of libertarians or very religious people, that somebody is going to be the government. Frankly, when you have a jerk playing the drums all night long, you’re going to want a noise ordinance – ie. evil gubermint regulation.

            Lasseiz faire works fine when you’re in big tract housing with 1/4 acre backyards. Not so much when you’re on top of each other, packed like sardines.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Often, but not always, and suburbanization can have mitigating effects. Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Florida are all more metro-heavy than Washington (and except Texas are in the top ten and ahead of New York).Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Sure. I mean, when only old white people from the Northeast move to your state to die or if your state is made up of a homogeneous conservative religion, you can stay conservative. 🙂

                But, look at your other examples. Nevada has moved quickly to the left in the past ten years (yeah, Sandoval is Governor, but he’s a pro-choice Republican who just passed the largest tax increase in state history to fund education improvements), Texas is slowly becoming more diverse (and was partly saved by the state GOP not going all Pete Wilson on Hispanic’s), and Florida as I pointed out below, has one of the 5 worst state Democratic parties in comparison to the Presidential PVI.

                I’m not saying suburbanization, especially suburbanization in the form of sprawl-y type development we’ve seen in Texas can’t mitigate effects, but I don’t think it’s a surprise for example, Nevada and Virginia have become more competitive as more people move to the large cities there.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Nevada’s urbanization is not anything new, though. The biggest reason for the shift, as I understand it, are immigrants and transplants. I would also argue that a big part of Virginia’s movement has also been transplants (and not from rural areas).

                Suburbs being an engine of liberalism (or a part of an engine of liberalism) is belied in part by the fact that suburbs themselves run a spectrum from blue to red. If they were solidly blue, Republicans would never win any elections. By and large, the difference between a blue state and a red state is defined by which way the suburbs lean.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                By and large, the difference between a blue state and a red state is defined by which way the suburbs lean.

                Quoted for Truth.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Saul’s gonna hate that.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      My experience is that Roman Catholics might be conservative. Sometimes they are very conservative but they never quite get to the levels of fanatical conservatism that one sees in a Michelle Bachmann or a Mike Huckabee.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “My experience is that Roman Catholics might be conservative. ”

        Technically, this is true – RC’s tend to have the same voting percentages as the overall US voting population.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

          Which really upsets the hardcore Latin Rite/Opus Dei types, who think all of those Catholics aren’t real Catholics.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      Michael Cain: Governor is an odd duck in Colorado.

      Kansas, too. Without looking up the history, it seems that Kansas has been just as likely as not to elect moderate Dems as Republicans. Bill Graves and Kathleen Sibelius immediately come to mind. Brownback is a genuine anomaly in that regard. But it also should be noted that he was formerly a Senator and we seem to reliably elect very conservative people to that position.

      It’s tempting to wonder if the rural/urban split will result in states mirroring the national pattern of GOP advantage in the legislature and Democratic advantage in the statewide offices but it really seems to be much more complicated than that.Report

  6. Avatar Will H. says:

    As I remember it (and I did a bit of work for the Dave Spence campaign), Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is a big “D” Democrat, a former AG known for pursuing almost exclusively matters quite politically charged.

    I read that wrong.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    I grew up in rural washington state. I wouldn’t call it “conservative”. I’d call it more libertarian than conservative. (Even in Seattle in the early 90s the vibe I got was decidedly libertarian (as in do your own thing) than liberal.) I don’t consider anti fedgov talk and annoyance with the fedgov as “conservative”. So may, but the impression I got was the attitude was more “leave me the hell alone” vs the more conservative-ly defined political positions.Report

    • Avatar Zac says:

      There is definitely a strong libertarian vibe to many conservatives in rural/suburban Washington. Lotta Ron Paul bumper stickers south of Seattle.

      On the other hand, we *are* responsible for inflicting Glenn Beck on the world.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Were you living in the part where folks burn down other people’s houses for a lark?
      Or over on the desert side?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Well, Glenn Beck was long after I left the area, so I take no credit. 🙂

        @kim I spent 11 years in the desert side. Yakima was the nearest big city in WA I was close to. I also lived in Seattle for a year, but that was a bit later.Report

  8. Avatar Pyre says:

    Eh. Democrat America isn’t going anywhere. Democrat America will eventually prevail and we will have a couple decades of what will be effectively a one-party system until the bad aspects of the DNC’s policies and direction overburden the system. I anticipate that the most likely outcome will be the rise of a third party to prominence as well as the repeal of the election laws that help keep third parties from becoming a threat. (I am open to other scenarios up to and including the complete collapse of the system but I suspect system collapse is a pessimistic scenario and that readjustment is the most likely one.)

    Republican America….. I admit that the 2014 elections surprised me. I was certain that the Republicans were beyond the point that the 6-year itch wasn’t going to happen. As such, I am willing to concede that my timeline was a little rushed but I still think that, in the end, Republican America is on it’s way out. It may kick and thrash for a decade or two more but, even if they did revamp their policies, their public image is so tarnished that it probably won’t make a difference.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      My own assumption is that either the GOP implodes and the Dems move so far right that they schism or else the GOP just spends some time in the electoral wilderness* and the Dems eventually get too lazy in power and get forced back to the left by a new revamped ideologically coherent GOP**.

      *A sojourn in the wilderness that, let’s be honest, the GOP has been burning its bridges madly to avoid. The entire tea party was essentially a primal scream of refusal to take their medicine.

      **No I don’t know what this new lean GOP would look like or how long it’ll take.Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        I find it interesting that, in your first scenario, you have the Dems moving right after a GOP implosion. While it is true that, in one-party systems, the ruling party tends to become conservative in the sense of wanting things to remain the same, I get the notion that you’re referring to more than just that. Some of the more difficult social aspects are things that I can see them trying to slow down progress on but failing. The “crumbs” strategy that I refer to above only really works when there is a strong and predictable opposition. (Example: Pot in Colorado was not meant to pass. The idea was that it would be proposed, state Republicans would pull the usual Nancy Reagan thing on the vote, and state Democrats would say “We would have passed it if it hadn’t been for those meddling Pubs”. When the Republican response became “meh”, Democrats were stuck trying to pull out last-minute opposition or, worse, pull a John Morse on the issue.) I can also see them reversing position on issues that would threaten control over the system.

        Overall, I can’t really see them changing course on what their actual direction always has been, though.

        I don’t really see the second part though. At least, I don’t see it as the GOP. Branding is important and I don’t see people rallying around a failed brand. Maybe they’d all become Libertarians or some new variant on words that I’ve heard too much of over the last three weeks. I just don’t see them coming back as the GOP.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Yeah I am not seeing how the Democrats move far to the right considering the most popular Dems are now firm economic progressives like Warren.

        Can you give an example of where you think the Ds will move far to the right? Bonus points for non-economicsReport

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

          I think North is talking about a situation where since the GOP is locked into a self defeating cycle of letting their hard-right primary electorate choosing who runs, they’re locked out of the Presidential race and the Democratic candidate is getting 60-65% of the popular vote, since every non-crazy person is voting for the Dem’s because the GOP candidate is saying very crazy things even mainline Republican’s can’t support (ie. think Steve Stockman-type stuff or Ted Cruz without the Harvard varnish).

          In that scenario, I can see the DNC pulling right simply because they’re getting all the votes, but the center-left and left getting upset and breaking away.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “Can you give an example of where you think the Ds will move far to the right? ”

          I think that they won’t move at all; the far Left will just redefine itself to be even further, to the point where the moderates look Right solely by comparison. It’ll be a battle over microaggressions and cishet normatives and “why can’t you see that I’m not the enemy here”.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Well first off Saul it bears keeping in mind that Warren is notably to the right of where a lot of liberals and liberalism were back in the mid last century to basically the late 80’s. So the Overton window has shifted quite a lot. In my scenario where I talk about the Dems moving to the right we’re not talking about the turning about Republicans but simply straddling the really comfortable and electorally popular middle. Really even liberals have moved right a lot over the past generation or so. You don’t see anyone but the most loony tunes left wingers seriously suggests we can do away with market capitalism for instance.
          Economically you could see the Dems straddling the middle go all in on free trade, raise taxes but refuse to increase spending significantly (the Canadian example suggests that a secure Democratic Party would probably pay the debt down significantly), possibly move in a deregulation direction but possibly simply refuse to issue new regulations or new safety net programs.

          Non economically it is more dicey because the left is so fragmented. I could very easily see a center straddling Democratic Party letting slip in some unscripted moment that they don’t give a damn about multiculturalism so they won’t support any heresy bans, hate speech/crime laws or speech codes. They could refuse to make much movement in environmental areas, especially global warming.

          But really we sort of saw this pattern with Bill Clinton and the DLC. They basically decided they needed an economic policy that made sense post Soviet Unions and simply stole the Rockefeller republican position on spending and let the neoliberal wonks repaint it in center left colors. The Republicans have been flailing about ever since trying to figure out what the fish happened.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            The window has shifted I concede that. I don’t think you will find Scoop Jackson’s anymore.

            That being said, I don’t think we are in a space where the DLC can ignore social liberalism and the safety net. Democratic politicians need to support EDNA which is an expansion of the Civil Rights Act.

            The free speech issue is already present but I have yet to see a serious Democratic politician urge for laws against hate speech. I don’t think Chait or Savage or anyone else is going to go full-Republican because the left-wing of twitter are all for what seem to be bans on hate speech. There are plenty of people who are much further to my left who also pause at the whole way trigger warnings and hate speech codes might stifle speech, academic research, and artistic expression.

            The free trade split is real but also is balanced by the fact that almost all Democratic politicians need to believe in climate change and something must be done about climate change. The solutions might be debated but being a climate change denialist is a no-winner for any would be Democratic politician.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Saul. if you read up the comment thread you’ll note we were discussing future scenarios, not current threats. I don’t think the Democratic Party has moved far enough to the right nor has the further left congealed around a solid constellation of ideals and policy desires that the center cannot stand enough to precipitate a split in the current political left of center.

              I’m also doubtful that any left of center politicians would ever turn on social liberalism or the safety net in general. They are more to the left and social issues is an area where the left is not just winning but romping to a win.

              But again we are most emphatically not talking about now, we’re talking about a future world where the GOP implodes either destructing or turning into a minor regional rump party and all their more moderate constituents pile into the Democratic party as voters and party members. That is the kind of thing that could cause a split. The Dems aren’t even close to one right now.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I’ll take the other side of this bet. Democrats manage to keep their coalition together in large part because of the threat of the Republican Party. If the Republican Party is not a threat…

      Which basically leaves a couple of options: The Democratic Party fractures into two parties (creating the third party that you refer to) or New Republican becomes the New Labour. I’ll bet on the latter, in large part because I think our election laws are pretty intractable (sad, but true). Combine that with the fact that the left side of the party is already getting tired of biting its tongue, and I think the worst-case path for the GOP seems clear.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Man it’s like we spoke in unison Trumwill.Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        Video games, dude. The answer to that is in video games.

        In the video game world, Jack Thompson is still used as a boogeyman despite the fact that he was rendered impotent and irrelevant close to a decade ago.

        Example: Recently, as part of my G+, I read an article on Mad Max: Fury Road which was an obvious cherrypicking of the worst MRA comments that one could find about the movie. At first, I said nothing because the person in question has a tunnel vision on feminism which is just wearying to try to deal with. Eventually, after much prodding, I did the research and pointed out that, if she went to IMDB or many of the sites that the article claimed to be from, the remarks are there. They’re also getting curb-stomped by the majority of the users there. Conversation kinda stopped there.

        Yes, I imagine that there are MRA sites where the majority of users agree with that. I imagine that the number is probably equal to the number of radfem sites. In the end, I know it won’t make a difference. In the end, regardless of actual validity or not, there will be another thing to convince her that her boogeyman is indeed real and validates everything that she believes is “the way things are”.

        Further, people have this overwhelming psychological need to be part of the winners. When the political/video game/comic book/sports/etc organization is a winner, then I’m a winner. To belong to the winners, I will use any means and any argument to keep my organization on top even after it becomes nonsensical and even counterproductive to my goals to do so. While this psychological need used to be confined to sports teams, it has since spread out (like the cancer it is) to encompass many aspects of our life and it most definitely includes politics.

        In the short term (short term being measured in a decade or two), the common Democrat would stay as part of the coalition because of long-dead boogeymen and the need to remain part of the “winners”. While there would be some small splintering, the early departures will be shunned and despised regardless of the validity of their actual views. In many cases, they will be used to validate the boogeyman that all True Scotsmen would need to be aware of and oppose.

        Eventually, you are correct. The schism between words and actions would eventually start to break through to some of the less devoted while a new generation would start to question the validity of the threat that forces everyone to belong to the One True Faith as they always do. But it won’t be a quick process.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          ” In the end, regardless of actual validity or not, there will be another thing to convince her that her boogeyman is indeed real and validates everything that she believes is “the way things are”.”

          There’s an article that’s been showing up on all the reliably left-supporting Facebook user feeds and message boards I read, about how every white Republican in America is totally going utterly bonkers about the idea of black men supporting open carry. Because, y’know, racist Republicans and stuff.

          The article mentions something like “the Conservative American Project” and claims it’s “one of the most widely-read sites on the internet”. Which is interesting, because I also read many right-wing websites and I’ve never even heard of that place.

          See also: Todd Akin.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            There will always be idiots.
            Until we can stop the police from harrassing black men who open carry, I can’t see how this is going to help much… maybe it’ll help down in mississippi, where cops can actually get to know the rural population… dunno.

            Never been a fan of guns, they’re tools not replacements for portions of the male anatomy. Still, they’re necessary more often than people think.Report

  9. Avatar North says:

    I think it’s an interesting contrast between the two parties in your example. One is clinging so tightly to the favored shibboleths of their base that it’s threatening electoral destruction or at least damage. The other is moving so emphatically towards practical political business that its base is accusing it of losing its identity.Report

  10. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One other thing that was pointed out to me:

    Off the top of your head, name five VP choices that Hillary Clinton might make that you could defend as being a strong choice if you were on the debate team debating it.

    Now do the same for the eventual Republican candidate. (Again, pretend you’re on the debate team.)

    Which group of five names took you longer?

    Is this indicative of a problem?Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Some of it is having control of the White House for six years. The President overshadows most of the people in his/her party. Presidents also short-circuit the careers of some promising governors and Congress critters by appointing them to senior positions in the Administration. My impression is that Obama has done that more than some other presidents.

      Those things said, one of the things I would worry about if I were in charge of the Democratic Party is becoming a very regional party at the upper levels. In the cycle starting up now, the Republicans have potential Presidential candidates from at least Texas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Their last two candidates were from Arizona and Massachusetts.

      Increasingly, the top Democrats are from BosWash or California. Arguably, Obama is more than a bit of a freak. On the Wikipedia page on potential Dem candidates for the Presidency in 2016, only one of the 11 that rate pictures is from outside the BosWash corridor (Al Gore, a serious retread). The last President elected from BosWash was Kennedy, 50 years ago. Even though they’d be my team, I will cheerfully bet a pint that if the 2016 Dem ticket is Clinton plus a BosWash VP candidate, they will go down in flames.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The last three VP picks after 8 years in power have been: Sarah Palin, Joe Lieberman, and Dan Quale. The one before that was Spiro Agnew.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        How about Heidi from North Dakota?
        I have Franken as a viable candidate too (though he was a humorist, he works hard). He’s probably better where he is.

        How about Wes Clark?

        /bias is inherent.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I still find BosWash resentment to be kind of odd and generally only in Americans not predisposed to vote Democratic anyway.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Sorry, these ‘x party is doomed unless they nominate y type of candidate’ always sound silly in the long run. I mean, Obama’s the first “urban” candidate to become President since probably FDR in ’32 (or maybe JFK in ’60). Obama’s the first Senator since JFK to become President. I’m not even throwing in the whole black thing.

        I mean, out of the 9 states you listed, 4 are pretty red, 1 has one of the worst state Democratic parties in the nation, 1 is a state that’s the punchline for corruption, 1 candidate was really from Utah and tried to pretend he never was Governor of Massachusetts, and one candidate is from a light-blue state.

        I’m not seeing a smoking gun here. Plus, if Hillary didn’t run, we’d possibly have candidates from Colorado, Virginia (which strangely no longer becomes a purple state that looks good for a Democrat to win in once they win it), Indiana, and Maryland.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          Not doomed, just a matter of potential concern. Having the party’s leadership, and it’s candidates for the big prize, all from limited geographic regions is potentially a warning flag. If I were running the Republican Party, I would worry about the obvious voting pattern, that I win in states across the South and up the Great Plains, but not so much elsewhere. If I were responsible for planning Hillary Clinton’s national campaign, I’d worry about this map and getting the party base outside the NE excited about her.Report

  11. Avatar LWA says:

    1. I’m kind of with North and Will here, that what we are seeing isn’t the implosion of one party and triumph of the other, but a realignment and sorting of old coalitions into new ones.
    2. Both parties have divisions, mostly between their Wall Street and Main Street wings.
    I’m also partial to the Sun/ moon framework that sees one party enjoy a period of dominance but not outright triumph, sort of like the New Deal Dems or Reagan GOP periods.
    Its interesting that when I troll Redstate or Hot Air to take the pulse of the RWNJs I hear a lot of griping about the elites and crony capitalism, the sort of buzzwords I used to only hear from college Marxists. As others have pointed out, if it weren’t for their loathing of joining forces with those of dark skin, most Reagan Dems would be happy to see Jamie Dimon in a tumbrel cart.

    3. The movers of all this will be the affluent late Boomers/ Gen Xers; they are the ones with both money and activism to push things in new directions. While the 1% and 0.1% can buy people like Jeb and Clinton, they still need the upper middles to fill out the rank and file.
    What is interesting is whether or when the upper middles get satisfied with neoliberalism and join with the 1%, or decide they are getting pissed on and make common cause with those below them.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      “decide they are getting pissed on and make common cause with those below them.”

      They never have. In municipal governance regimes where one party rules (usually Democrats, if that’s the case), the upper middle are almost always on the side of the so-called neo-liberals. De Blassio was the exception, Rahm Emmanuel and Muriel Bowser are the rules. I suppose Marty Walsh is the exception too, but he defeated Connolly pretty narrowly.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I think @kolohe is largely right. Being upper-middle class is what turns people into more business friendly Democrats unless they are plaintiff’s lawyers. Even those guys don’t like the high taxes. The interesting thing though is that upper-middle class liberals tend to earn their money in different ways than upper-middle class Republicans and therefore like different regulations and might support somewhat higher taxes.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        I’m thinking more of the New Deal where it wasn’t just the poor who swing against the 1%.

        Or 2008 when Obama won a majority of the upper middle class, or the recent articles about how the upper middles are the most anxious as they see the 1% leaving them in the dust.

        “Making common cause” doesn’t necessarily mean the poor will get a terrific outcome; just that the upper middles make their anxiety and anger known against the 1%.

        As we’ve talked about before, politics doesn’t necessarily require ideological consistency;
        The professional class can be “business friendly” and opposed to higher taxes on themselves, but receptive to the notion of making the 1% pay their fair share, or closing loopholes that allow cheating, or simply striking a better bargain with regards to how infrastructure is funded, by say, a tax on derivatives which raises revenue benefitting the commuters, while placing the pain on Wall Street which is safely scapegoated and abstracted.

        Seriously, the same political horsetrading that allows Wall Street to manipulate legislation to derive the benefits while socializing the risks and funding, can work in reverse. It just requires tipping the balance of power.

        As we liberals have pointed out ad nauseum businesses don’t have principles, they have interests. A medium sized software company (and its employees) doesn’t want taxes, but they do want the benefit of stuff like infrastructure, education, and healthcare. They sure as hell don’t want to pay their own way, and would love to see the costs socialized.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          They sure as hell don’t want to pay their own way, and would love to see the costs socialized.

          Why pick on businesses? There are an awful lot of individual people and non-profit organizations who would love to see the same thing.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Non profits are supposed to be working for the good of others (whether or not they do).
            I do know some corporations that effectively ARE charities, even if they make a profit…Report

          • Avatar LWA says:

            I would change that “awful lot” to 100%.

            Its why we socialize stuff we really, really, very badly want to make sure happens.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          “Or 2008 when Obama won a majority of the upper middle class, ”

          not really the case, the 74th percentile to 94th percentile of the income distribution in the 2008 election went to McCain.Report

  12. Avatar Stillwater says:

    The Republicans are going to need to find a way to modernize or become more moderate on gay rights and climate change to attract younger voters. Democratic Party members are going to need to find a balance between neo-liberalism and economic populism to help the blue-collar and working-classes.

    If this is correct – that politicians and political parties need to find policies to GOTV – then isn’t the reasonable conclusion that politics is just a bunch of hooey?

    Edit: or worse than hooey…Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Yes and no. I don’t think there is anything shocking about people banding together to support like minded policy goals. Yet policy goals might hurt the parties as well. The GOP is in more danger here. The debate between neo-liberals and neo-liberal skeptics is more policy based and more about views on how the world is or should be.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        But ….

        if the GOP is representative of conservative ideals, and the the GOP has to go searching for policy positions to advance those ideals, then in what sense is the GOP actually representing conservative’s ideals?

        Shorter: Parties don’t matter. Policies do.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          We seriously here, let’s get real. If you go in and strip libertarianism out (it belongs to the libertarians naturally) what does the modern GOP/Conservative movement stand for? Gun rights, abortion restrictions, debt fuelled foreign adventurism, corporate welfare and pissing on minorities to get plaudits from the right wing bleachers?Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Yeah the real challenge for the left is figuring out policies that answer populist concerns and are efficacious but have a relatively minimal economic and trade distortion footprint. Most of the stuff on tap for the left can manage two of the three but not all three.

      The right, on the other hand, needs to figure out what the hell they stand for because a lot of their current positions are either basically won and accepted on both sides or are madly broadly unpopular.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The American rights biggest problem is that they still haven’t made peace with the Counter-Culture yet. A lot of European conservatives were basically able to make peace with the radical social changes of the 1960s even if it was a reluctant peace at first. They still made peace though. Its why the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom moved from actively and viciously persecuted homosexuals during the 1950s to not even attempting to fight same-sex marriage while Republicans tend to want a suppression of the Sexual Revolution in total.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          The American rights biggest problem is that they still haven’t made peace with the Counter-Culture yet.

          I’d say that the American right’s biggest problem – if we allow ourselves the latitude to think something like this can be reduced to one single thing – is that it’s overly based on resentment over perceived or feared loss. And if that’s correct, it accounts for the increasing tendency of conservatives to identify themselves purely in terms of opposition to liberals. The thinking is that liberals are the bastards who’ve effed everything up for me (the conservative, obv) by taking away something of value.

          Of course, I don’t think most voter-citizens roaming the conservative wilds actually base their policy positions on resentment. Rather, a sufficient number of folks who actually do compel conservative politicians, especially given the absence of any effective positive policy proposals, to make the public face of the GOP (if not conservatism as a whole) appear batshit crazy.Report

  13. Avatar Shelley says:

    Where there’s Warren, there’s hope.

    Even if we end up in a “long twilight struggle” very different from the one JFK imagined.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Oi! Jaysus Christ, she’s not a Freaking Savior!
      While there’s a Left, there’s hope, — even as dark forces gather.
      And hell, we haven’t even lost Acadia yet!Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        Oi! Jaysus Christ, she’s not a Freaking Savior!

        What do you mean? If she approves the awesome and virtually flawless idea of having the Post Office act as a payday lender, she’s most certainly a savior.

        What can go wrong?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Why, what’s gone wrong with the payday lenders is wall street!
          Haven’t you been paying attention there?
          All those nice shiny new laws saying that they can’t charge outrageous interest…
          Wall Street’s decided that the plantation doesn’t need to swindle blacks to stay in business.Report

          • Avatar Dave says:


            All those nice shiny new laws saying that they can’t charge outrageous interest…

            So nice that when they got applied to the commercial banks that were in that business, they all decided it wasn’t worth it (all five of them…not a large number).

            What’s wrong with payday lenders is payday lenders.Report

  14. Avatar Kim says:

    Wait, WARREN’s not a technocrat? Sez who?
    I’ve got her forms right here (courtesy of a dehumidifier with a tendency to burn houses down).Report

  15. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Abortion continues down here:

    Much of the tension, it seems to me, comes from the inability to really prevent abortion without engaging in even worse outcomes.

    So we make abortion illegal… who do we arrest? What do we arrest them for? Do we arrest doctors for murder? Do we arrest the mother for hiring a contract killer? This is absurd. Even the most hardcore pro-lifers balk at arresting mothers for suborning murder. (I’ve met many who say that only a troll would ask the question in the first place.)

    Given that even most strident opponents know that the tools of the law aren’t an appropriate response to abortion, I’m guessing that the whole “we need to make abortion illegal” is arguing *NOT* for “we need to get law enforcement involved” but the argument is something more like “we want to stop abortion but we don’t know how but this is the only way we know how to publicly signal our severe social disapproval”

    On the other side, however, is the argument that says something like “if we agree that the law isn’t an appropriate response to abortion, and we apparently do, then we should be in agreement that there’s no moral content to getting an abortion. It’s like having a skin tag removed. It’s like having a parasite excised. It’s like evicting a bad tenant.”

    Had I never seen these arguments given, I might be willing to believe that someone arguing against these points was arguing against a strawman. But, seriously, I’ve seen these given. (Well, not the “tenant” one. The people I’ve seen use the other arguments are really into renters’ rights.)

    The If-Then statement seems to be “If this is morally wrong then we should make this illegal” with the modus tollens of “If it is not the case that we should make this illegal then it is not the case that it is morally wrong”.

    It seems to me that this particular P -> Q is false but everyone is running around as if it were true. We don’t really have a space in our society for “this act has moral content and it’s bad/morally wrong but we shouldn’t make it illegal”.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      We don’t really have a space in our society for “this act has moral content and it’s bad/morally wrong but we shouldn’t make it illegal”.

      One thing I’ve noticed again recently is the inability to keep multiple narratives in mind when it comes to certain topics.

      People don’t like it when you say that A AND B are both kinda (or at least potentially in some situations) true.

      Pick a side, son, it’s got to be one way or the other, and if you aren’t a B, then you must be a dirty, dirty A.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I dunno, @jaybird

      I think Bill Clinton hit just this note with ‘legal but rare.’

      And I would remind everyone that abortion rates are now lower than they were when it was illegal; that teen pregnancy and abortion have declined, and that the biggest group of people who still get abortions (beyond medically necessary) are women who already have children, and have to consider their ability to care for their existing children.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “Safe, Legal, and Rare” is something that you can get 66.67% of the population to agree with.

        It’s that 33.33% in the middle that is turned off by both “murder!” and “skin tag!” arguments.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          I’m turned off by both those arguments, and i’m not in the middle!Report

        • Avatar trumwill says:

          Also, the “rare” part is not so easy to achieve to the satisfaction of one side with means the other side deems acceptable.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            I consider poisoning children to be ethically and morally unacceptable.
            I am saddened that not everyone agrees.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              And, of course, it’s surprising how many ways you can find that someone is poisoning children, if only you look hard enough with the right kind of eyes.

              You might, for example, find that telling children they can do arithmetic on their own without resorting to a calculator’s assistance is poisoning their minds.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Pharmacy records, my dear.
                I do know someone who works for the CDC.

                As to why I’m bringing this up, they’re using chemotherapy drugs to delay puberty (seems some people are upset at “Mother Nature removing childhood”).

                Literal poison, in this case.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              I consider poisoning children to be ethically and morally unacceptable.

              Sure, easy to say. But have you really thought about this?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Yes. I do not consider allowing children to be badly burnt in the course of day to day work to be the most morally appropriate thing to do, but at least it keeps ’em fed. (should you wish to contribute to the funding of orphans, there is a line of fine glassware you can buy).

                I have relatively less objection to allowing a child to stray and die of exposure, than poisoning them in an attempt to delay puberty (though it’s far from the most moral thing ever). With the former, it’s a hard death, but a couple of days, maybe a month. Horribly hurting someone you intend to keep alive is just twisted, man.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m full up on glassware. Thanks tho. It’s always nice to have options, ya know?Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            Here I get really peeved — the other side wants no abortions, but they also (in some great numbers) want no contraception; let alone those things (the morning-after pill, IUD, Plan-B) that really do prevent unwanted pregnancy and are most useful for victims of assault.

            This is where the rubber hits the road and it’s truly wanting to control the behavior of women and really are going full-bore on the slut shaming. (And from what I can tell, the worst offenders of this behavior are, themselves, women.)Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Relatively few prolifers want “No contraception.” Many want none of certain kinds of contraception and others object to certain funding mechanisms, but contraception itself remains pretty popular.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          You’ve expressed that you incline to opposition to abortion, Jaybird. And that’s fine, acourse. But to criticize folks for promoting “safe, legal and rare” as an ideal given that you oppose abortion in general seems counterproductive to the goal you apparently hold.

          Furthermore, I have no idea what you’re getting on about with the “33.33%” wildcard nonsense. It’s not like this issue is clear-cut and it’s only the fckng crazies who don’t agree with us. Hell, I don’t agree with you, and I sure don’t think that you’re … ooops, I mean I … am crazy.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            You’ve expressed that you incline to opposition to abortion, Jaybird.

            No. I’ve expressed that I support the right of women to abort up to and including the moment of crowning for reasons as trivial as sex selection.

            Now, I have *ALSO* expressed that I think that abortion has moral content and that if there is a morality, there are probably a lot of reasons that many abortions are morally wrong (with some being wronger than others) but pretty much *ALL* of these are None Of My Business.

            But I don’t know if that is properly conveyed by saying “opposed to abortion”. I could see how someone might see “opposed to abortion” as being inclined to support legislation limiting abortion, for example.

            Which I ain’t.

            (But abortions that happen in, say, the first trimester or so are not likely to have a whole lot of moral content at all. The moral content grows as the fetus/baby does.)Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Fair enough. (Tho I recall previous discussions in which at least I got the impression that you opposed abortion, for lots of reasons, up to and including crowning.

              All that aside, I think it’s great you’ve come around on the idea that expressing opposition to a practice doesn’t equate with a desire to pass a law.

              I feel like we’re making progress.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, to be honest, a quick google shows that I have been saying something like the above since at least 2009. (See, for example, here.)

                I’m willing to say that you’ve probably got the impression that I was opposed to abortion because I communicated that I thought it has moral content.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                At least we’re clear that when you express opposition to a practice for moral reasons, you don’t intend it to be interpreted as code for “passin a law” even tho that remains the case for liberals.

                So maybe we’re not making progress afterall.

                I think I need to get one of your fancy decoder rings…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Huh, found something here where I said:

                I oppose abortion but not to the point where I’d be willing to have policemen show up at people’s houses and point guns at them to prevent it.

                I support the “pro-choice” position because I don’t trust The State.

                Oh, we were so young!

                Where you say “even tho that remains the case for liberals.”, I’ve got to say that I’ve not encountered that many liberals who argue against a thing only to peter out at the end and shrug and say “but, of course, we shouldn’t institute a policy based on this.”

                I’ve gotta say that all of the examples I’m thinking of end with a call for more funding, more legislation, or more oversight. (To be sure, liberals are *FAR* from being alone in this. Conservatives are just as likely to culminate in a big call for legislation.)

                Now, in recent years, there has been progress made on the whole “we need to punish people less!” front with regards to the war on drugs and prison issues in general and the Democrats (not necessarily liberals) are a lot better on SSM than the Republicans but I still can’t think of any prominent examples of liberals saying “This Is Wrong But We Shouldn’t Do Anything”.

                Please: disabuse me of that notion.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Nice. You’ve been internally consistent all these years.


                As I said not too long ago during the Charlie Hebdo threads, where you ended up being completely wrong, you’ve once again demonstrated to yerownself that you’re right!

                Stay locked in that closed space, Jaybird. It’s so much more comforting than confronting the world as it actually is.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I remember saying to you not too long ago that person who defines reality in terms of counterfactuals isn’t perceiving reality. That’s a nice idea, touching on the way reality is determined by perception and all.

                I rather like that concept, myself. Think it points to a real problem with ideological thinking and all.

                You, of course, are free to disagree.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m trying to imagine real exploration of ideas without conterfactuals and I’m unable to do so.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’m trying to imagine real exploration of ideas without conterfactuals and I’m unable to do so.

                Yeah. You left out the key phrase: “defined by”.

                Oh. And slippery slopes, too!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If we’re going to mock me for consistency as often as for changing my mind, we’re going to reach the conclusion that this is about us more than it’s about me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I haven’t pulled up 6 year old comments to demonstrate consistency.

                As if that’s something to be proud of…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, if the accusation is some variant of “You’ve changed your mind on this thing” and I say “I’ve been saying this for a while” and the response is mockery of how I was willing to dig up an old comment to demonstrate consistency, I’m back to thinking that this is one of those “look at this bitch eating those crackers like she owns the place” things.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I don’t know nothing about bitches eatin crackers, but I do know that my impression of just about everything I’ve read from you regarding abortion is that you’re opposed to it. For moral reasons! Even as you then say you don’t wanna pass a law.

                Yet when liberals say they’re opposed to stuff for moral reasons, you reflexively interpret that expression as advocacy for passin a law.

                I just find the difference interesting. Your expressed opposition (as a person!) doesn’t entail passing a law but another person’s expressed opposition (as a person!) does.


                It’s innerstin to me that categories of people can be so clearly cut.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You busted my chops during the Charlie Hebdo threads for not taking a sufficiently robust line on free speech, even tho I consistently said that the Charlie Hebdo massacre had nothing directly to do with free speech issues. In that discussion, I got the impression that my expression of speech (freely offered!) was inconsistent with your conception of speech (freely compelled).

                But maybe that’s just my own confusion.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I apologize for busting your chops.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Don’t apologize. You didn’t. But you sure tried!Report

              • Avatar North says:

                In fairness Still, Jay has been against abortion restrictions for my entire life on the site. Quite consistently.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Sure. But that’s not the focus of my discussion with him. Rather, it’s interpreting an expression of opposition to abortion with passin a law to prevent it. (Or whatever. The argument explodes into massive generalizations about “others” intentions.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Or this:

                Back when we were talking about free speech and Charlie Hebdo, there was lots of talk about not expressing the view that CH had engaged in offensive behavior. The idea – expressed by more regulars here than I care to list – was that expressing the view that what CH had done was offensive to Muslims amounted to a rejection of, and a threat to, free speech rights.

                Jaybird was one of the speerheads of that group, seems to me. Yet here he is saying that his personal views can be distinguished from his political views, even as he’s consistently collapsed that distinction in his political “enemies”.

                I’m just calling it out for the bullshit that it is. That’s all.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I’m skeptical on that, I remember not having a lot of time to go through that particular thread.

                If the liberals in that thread were just saying “Charlie Hedbo insulted Muslims along with everyone else.” and Jay was jumping all over that and calling them speech restrictionists then I’d say that is bullshit.

                But if the “CH criticism didn’t end with that period and instead went into a “and therefor the Muslim reaction was in some way reasonable” or “and therefor the attack was brought on themselves” or “and that is a counterbalance that in some way makes the violence inflicted on them somewhat just” or really anything much more than a period. Well then I could definitely understand the liberals in question getting pushed back on and I’d have agreed with the push back. Muslims are not infants- we don’t need to treat them like ones.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It was more like “Charlie Hebdo has the right to free speech and violence is wrong, but what they said was really offensive and they shouldn’t have said it.”

                I might not be getting the nuance exactly right, but we had a long discussion about the importance or non-importance of what comes before and after the “but”.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                No, that was exactly the opposite of what happened, as I recall it. And I recall it pretty well, being on the receiving end of all sorts of nonsense for expressing that very view.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And actually, I never said they shouldn’t have said it. My focus at the time – which is the same as now – is and was mostly focused on how distinct groups with disparate views of the world can figure out how to get along without killing each other.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Gunmen murder satirists. Asking the question “How can we get along without killing each other?” seems to elide the issue of “but the satirists didn’t kill anybody.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                Yes, even liberals think that murder is wrong.

                Adding: like, really wrong! (Unless it’s your property…)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Yes, even liberals think that murder is wrong.

                And, apparently, offensive satire.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And, apparently, offensive satire.

                By definition. If it’s offensive, then it’s wrong. Especially when it’s deliberate.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And, apparently, offensive satire.

                By definition. If it’s offensive, then it’s wrong. Especially when it’s deliberate.

                This is interesting. If I explore this, I think about stuff like Candide and Tartuffe and wonder at their wrongness. Heck, I think about today and I think about stuff like South Park.

                I admit to seeing them as providing a service.

                It hadn’t occurred to me to see them as being wrong.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                How could deliberate offense to person X not be viewed as wrong? I mean, given the semantics of the words “deliberate” and “offense” it seems to me like it logically follows.

                That said, I think the appeal of south park isn’t that their form of mockery is a service to the broader community. It’s that a slice of that community is willing to have their sacred cows slain in exchange for seeing the dreaded “others” sacred cows mutilated. It’s funny. I laugh. But it’s always at someones expense.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                “By definition. If it’s offensive, then it’s wrong. Especially when it’s deliberate.”

                So, Piss Christ is wrong?

                What about Bushitler?

                Pink Flamingos?

                Self Portrait with Whip?

                I find this line of thought deliberately offensive.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yeah. If we’re talking about people’s reactions to things rather than artists’ right to express themselves. (And the right to expression comes much later in the justificatory calculus than people’s reaction to expression, seems to me. It’s one level above, if nothing else.)

                I don’t know why that’s controversial, actually. Especially, as I said, if the intent is to be offensive (willful ignorance notwithstanding).Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                On some other thread, Chis and JR (I think…) basically stated that they can read the words that the other writes, but they just don’t make any sense to them (it was about private property.)

                Likewise, I can read your words and sentences here, and they make zero sense to me. I know you are acting in good faith, but…

                If I, or any person, write draw film something, I could not care less if someone is offended. In fact, I would often be happier if someone was offended (love me some punk rock.) The idea that someone could take away any sort of expression is, to me at least, the single greatest horror imaginable.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Aaron, \

                No worries. I rarely know what I’m talking about myself.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                for expressing that very view.

                Right, the quoted portion was meant to represent your side’s side of the conversation. Sorry that I wasn’t clear about that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                I don’t remember anyone saying that CH shouldn’t have written those cartoons. What liberals were saying is that if Muslims find it offensive then maybe wou ought to respect their views on this and not satirize the Prophet.

                But again, the mere mention of that idea, which has nothing to do with free speech laws, is interpreted by speech absolutists as advocacy for restrictions in free speech. How they make that connection is beyond me, actually. But if you squint hard enough, and view the world thru enough counterfactuals and slippery slopes, and adhere to all sorts of a priori principles, I guess it makes sense.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I conceded that I might have gotten the nuance wrong. For future reference would… “Charlie Hebdo has the right to free speech and the violent response is wrong, but what they said was really offensive and people shouldn’t say things like what they did” be more accurate?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Not from my pov. They can say whatever the hell they want. But respect for Muslim people and their beliefs might incline them to refrain from doing so in the future.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Course, when I mentioned this idea during those Hebdo threads the response from free speech absolutists was “don’t back down”! Keep posting the caricatures!


              • Avatar North says:

                It seems to me, in the absence of violence, posting caricatures like that makes you mean and culturally insensitive and people are well within their rights to not associate with you or think you boorish and unpleasant or ignore you. In the presence of violence in response to posting the caricatures I think there’s a strong social need to post the caricatures more and punish the violence when people indulge in it. I reject the notion that any group who’d resort to violence over speech gets to somehow exempt themselves from the consequences of that violence (which is both the Streisand effect and punishment for the violence they do). If it was any other way then we’d be inverting the incentives and pointing the road signs back towards the pre-enlightenment.Report

              • Avatar Mr. Blue says:

                @north I agree. Trumwill and I had a debate about this when we were debating whether or not to post the Hebdos at Hit Coffee. There’s nothing wrong with a desire not to offend, really, but the violence here, and the explicit threat of violence, changes the equation. Defining offensiveness by the standards of those that would resort to violence gives a lot of power to the violent, and this sort of violence should not be allowed to achieve its stated aim, if that can be avoided.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                @north @mr-blue Hebdo was… a close call, as far as that goes. What ultimately tilted me “against” was not that it offended those who believed that violence was justified, but that it is offensive to a lot of people caught in the middle. Basically, it’s a really wide net of offensiveness. It would be an easier choice if it only offended the radicals, and so that republishing only “punished” the radicals.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                That’s an excellent comment Will. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, and I like it. Makes sense to me and aligns with how I view all this stuff.


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I reject the notion that any group who’d resort to violence over speech gets to somehow exempt themselves from the consequences of that violence

                Well, that’s certainly not what I’m suggesting. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the attackers are murderers. They should be punished.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I’m with you 100% Stillwater.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                Is it possible to respect someone as a human being while not respecting the religion they identify with?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Is it possible to respect the type of religious fanatics who think it OK to kill people over drawings?

                Even if it is, can we ever really respect them *enough*?

                And really, aren’t those the type of people the cartoons are about? I admit, I am not an expert on CH‘s work, but I highly doubt that much, if any, of their Muslim-related satire was prompted by the many, many peaceful Muslims. Boring normalcy doesn’t prompt a ton of political cartooning.

                It was prompted by the ones stoning and beheading and blowing stuff up and subjugating women and outsiders in the name of the Prophet.


                What if some Amish sect went rogue tomorrow and shot Weird Al over his “Amish Paradise” video? It was the final straw, and they will not take this English disrespect any longer! What’s more, the Amish have never done anything to warrant such unprovoked disrespect!

                Would our response be, well, maybe Al shouldn’t have made that video?

                Or would our response be, you don’t have to modernize your thinking on everything; but on the topic of whether or not other people can poke fun at you without violent reprisal, you will enter the twenty-first century? That *this* much is non-negotiable, especially if your “negotiators” are masked gunmen?Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                The latter, of course. My point was that I have no problem Muslims (or other religious people) as people, it’s the ideas they purport that I take issue with. Better that we excise religion from humanity altogether; the Hebdo incident is just one more piece of evidence of its cancerous effects on the human psyche.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Better that we excise religion from humanity altogether

                Just a couple more caricatures of Muhammad oughta do the trick. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                I prefer mocking things out of sphere of the acceptable, as opposed to outlawing and/or violencing them away. YMMV, of course.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Good for you.

                Bad for the people you mock.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                Maybe it’s just a failure of imagination on my part (probably) but I guess I don’t see how it’s bad for them. Everyone benefits from ridding themselves of bad ideas. If you mock somebody for shitting in their supply of drinking water until they stop, I guess maybe they’ll feel bad about it, but hey, they’re not drinking poop-water anymore. Is that not a win-win?Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      “We don’t really have a space in our society for “this act has moral content and it’s bad/morally wrong but we shouldn’t make it illegal”.

      Don’t really agree with this. There are plenty of things that people think are wrong but aren’t illegal…even related to sex stuff. Divorce is easy, premarital sex is legal and seems pretty darn common. People cheat on their spouses all the time, they leave their families behind and those things aren’t illegal. Even same sex sex is legal despite people thinking its immoral and icky.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        All of your examples have to deal with marriage/sex… which is interesting.

        The only non-marriage/sex example I was able to come up with was alcohol consumption… but, much like with the marriage/sex examples, you don’t have to go back *THAT* far to find examples of it being illegal.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I only wanted to use marriage/sexy examples since those were most pertinent to the discussion. I could have added that porn is really really popular and consumed. Much more so then in the past although the miracle of internet certainly is part of that. No more having to buy it at a quickie mart anymore and make embarrassed eye contact with the clerk.

          Sex and drugs are probably the biggest areas where there is moral stuff but with vast changes in the legality of what can be done regarding sex. Far less changes with drugs except for booze although it is changing for pot. Of course pot has been pretty easily available for decades so people have been able to use.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            I don’t really consider most pornography to be a bad, immoral, oh god no sort of thing.
            So long as it’s drawn, I don’t even mind too too much about the pedophillic stuff (touch a kid and you’re dead. but I have no problem with people who can’t satisfy their twisted desires in the real world having a go at drawing).Report

        • Avatar North says:

          How about pretty much all speech? There’s all kinds of hideously immoral things you can say that remain perfectly legal to express.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Jay, what I find striking in your analysis is how you’re papering over the desired outcomes. Your beef with pro-lifers is they want to ban abortion and heave women and doctors who desire/need/perform them into prison. Your beef with pro-choicers is that you don’t like how cavalier their language about fetuses can get when they’re exasperated with pro-lifers. Maybe it’s me but there seems to be an imbalance there? I don’t see how one sustains the BSDI narrative here?

      I mean for fish’s sake the pro-choice side isn’t advocating mandatory abortions, they’re not demanding that people be forced to perform them (perhaps a miniscule batshit crazy fringe talks about compelling gynecologists or something) but the pro-life side’s stated objective is the forcible prevention, by the full power of the state, of women controlling their own pregnancies. They’re clear that they will accept any restriction they can impose with the equally clear assertion that they’ll use such gains as beachheads to claim further restrictions until they achieve their goal.

      What is more some pro-lifers have shed the blood of unambiguously real fully independently living human beings in the name of their cause and terrorize and harass uncountable numbers of women routinely in the pursuit of their stated cause.

      What I don’t get is how one can be comfortable devils advocating on behalf of this.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Nice North. Multiple pluses.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Your beef with pro-choicers is that you don’t like how cavalier their language about fetuses can get when they’re exasperated with pro-lifers.

        Well, technically, there’s also the moral content of the act being discussed. That’s sort of not nothing.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Are you sure this isn’t just an aesthetic issue? Like poverty is just an aesthetic issue?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If we’re unwilling to assume morality, how else would it be categorized?

            If we are willing to assume morality, we pretty much are stuck trying to figure out what morality consists of. Which might be a fruitful topic, of course.

            Maybe we’ll figure it out this time.

            In the absence of that, though, it’s probably preferable to pretend it’s a moral issue but use aesthetic tools to mock people who haven’t reached the same conclusion as the current fashion would dictate.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Let us be clear Jay; when you say “the moral content of the act being discussed” with regards to pro-choicers it seems to me that the act we would be logically discussing is the act of letting individual women decide whether or not to they choose to have an abortion because that is the pro-choice position.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I don’t see it as “letting” as much as “not having anything even close to standing to try to prevent”.

            If it’s none of my business, then it’s not something that I can “let” someone else do. They’re not my property.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              It goes back to property, yeah? The rights of property, such that gummint can’t justifiably impinge on em.

              What’s property other than a felt emotional attachment to a thing? Less so (or more so, depending on perspective) what is property other than a gummental codification of possession which on balance leads to outcomes that people collectively endorse?

              What is this conception of property of which you speak?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I may not be able to define precisely to everybody’s satisfaction what property *IS*, but I am content to say that, whatever it is, other people would *NOT* be it.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                I’m pretty sure that my uterus is mine.

                I also don’t think that abortion is a great thing; but not abortion is worse. I’ve known exactly one woman who used abortion as a from of birth control, and she had some very serious mental health issues that were untreated. I myself have had two unplanned pregnancies, and I have two children; I didn’t think having an abortion was moral. But if I’d had a third unplanned pregnancy, I would have had an abortion, because I had some health problems that threatened my ability to care for the two children I already had. (I couldn’t take the pill, hence the failures, and my husband, when we got word of the risks of a 3rd pregnancy, got snipped.) Combined with being the child of a woman who had her first child about two months after she turned 16, and being a victim of rape at 16 myself, I just can’t find it in me to condemn abortion; I wish there were fewer.

                But the problem with your argument here is that someone’s property rights extend to a group of cells that inhabit someone else’s property.

                It gets us nowhere in untangling the moral threads.

                Mostly, I find this odd notion that things have to be decided based on morals of humanity as if humans are separate from everything else. Morality means we humans have to consider our propensity to take over everything, and a failure to do that is also a moral failing; and I mostly place a woman’s right to control her reproduction in that moral calculus.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                What I think I’m missing in this conversation is how Jaybird is somehow being pro-choice for the wrong reasons or something. If someone thinks abortion is murder and is horrible, earnestly argues online for a person considering abortion to reconsider and even protests with a sign a respectful distance from the entrance to a clinic BUT doesn’t support legal abortion restrictionists or the organizations that back them… that person is pro-choice are they not? What is our beef with anyone who is unhappy about abortion but does not support impeding them with the force of the state?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                My beef isn’t with JB’s policy positions. Far from it, on this issue. It’s with his metaphilosophical positions whereby he attributes nefarious motives (ie., wanna pass a law) to liberals who express the exact same type of objections to individual actions that he has wrt abortion. Namely, that on considered judgment a particular speaker views it as morally wrong, but when Jaybird says it, it simply cannot (logical impossibility warning here!!) be viewed as advocacy for legal restrictions, but when a liberal says exactly the same type of thing he interprets it as advocacy for passin a law. Even tho the rationale for the judgment is identical in both cases.

                That’s why the free speech thing was relevant: so-called “liberals” who expressed the view that Muslims find these types of depictions offensive and maybe a recognition of that fact ought to play a part in our decision calculus were viewed – by Jaybird as well too many posters and commenters here to recount (it’s a long list, bro!) – as advocacy for legal restrictions on expression as well as undermining the principle upon which free speech is grounded. Simply the mere mention that Muslims find certain expressions offensive.

                It really blew my mind, to be honest.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Exactly, @stillwater

                I sortof get that feeling a lot; that people who don’t like liberals in general thing, whenever a liberal expresses an opinion, that that liberal’s gonna try and pass a law.

                That’s as stupid as if I said libertarians want to repeal all laws and dismantle the safety net.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                Personally speaking, I think you’re quite right to recognize that feeling, since that’s exactly the common analysis of what “liberals” (or “leftists” or “progressives”) mean when they express a view about a state of affairs.

                Liberals are in this unique category where simply expressing a view or making a judgment logically entails advocacy for a law.

                We’re really special that way!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Stillwater, believe me when I say that I have been watching these arguments for a while and I remember stuff like the debates over public funding with regards to stuff like Mapplethorpe and Ofili.

                Do you remember these debates? If you don’t, I’d be happy to give a bit of background on them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                believe me when I say that I have been watching these arguments for a while

                Do me a favor then. Shoot me a numbered list of all these arguments with their refutations and when I make one in comments just hit me with the number. I’ll take it from there, and quietly leave the discussion knowing that what I was saying was soundly refudiated long ago. It’ll save a lot of time for everyone concerned.

                Us liberals are really uncreative people. Unlike you and your kind. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s not really a numbered list with arguments with refutations situation.

                Perhaps there should be a bit of history. Robert Mapplethorpe was a photographer. Talented? I would think so. Great composition, beautiful use of contrast, a good eye.

                He also took pictures that some might consider “offensive”. In the early 90’s, this sparked a debate over “artistic expression”.

                Chris Ofili was a more recent example. In 1999, his painting of “The Holy Virgin Mary” caused a stir. This also resulted in a debate over “artistic expression”.

                There are a handful of other examples that come to mind but they’d all be short descriptions followed by “resulted in a debate over ‘artistic expression'”.

                Why do you think that the debate over “artistic expression” was so different with regards to Charlie Hebdo?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Man, I think it’s so cool that you’ve reduced all these type of disputes to a single paradigmatic incident/argument. How do you do that? I mean, I see all sorts of contextual nuance in each situation and include stuff I’ve learned over time into the mix. It gets so damn complicated!

                Your way is much better. Just pick a paradigm and fit everything else into it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Simply the mere mention that Muslims find certain expressions offensive.

                I don’t really see “that’s offensive” as much more than an aesthetic judgment. I’d be interested in hearing why I should view it as a moral one, actually.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Your views of it really don’t matter since you’re not the one killing people over the putative offense.

                That’s the point I tried to make (and thought I did make) during those Hebdo threads.

                Just because you don’t think it’s offensive doesn’t mean jack shit.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But the problem with your argument here is that someone’s property rights extend to a group of cells that inhabit someone else’s property.

                Whose argument is this responding to, Zic?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Yours, JB.

                I may not be able to define precisely to everybody’s satisfaction what property *IS*, but I am content to say that, whatever it is, other people would *NOT* be it.

                That last bit, the whole fetushood movement is giving, from conception, the rights of persons to those cells. Rand Paul’s supports this. So we then get this conflicts of property rights; the mother’s and the fetus’, both with claim to the uterus (and a substantial amount of the woman’s resources, like oxygen and nutrients), using the shared organ, the placenta.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, I see. Zic, when I referred to “other people”, I was referring to “the mother” and not “the fetus/baby”. I don’t see abortion as being “my business”. I don’t see how I’d have the right to prevent someone from getting one, I don’t see how I’d have the right to prevent a doctor from performing one.

                It was not a prelude to “and that’s why I’m going to fight on behalf of the unborn!”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I don’t see how I’d have the right to prevent someone from getting one, I don’t see how I’d have the right to prevent a doctor from performing one.

                how bout murder? Do you think you have the right to prevent someone from killing someone? Do you think you have the right to prevent someone from aiding in killing someone?

                What you said makes no sense at all given the actual issues in play, Jaybird. It’s a copout.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Depends on the circumstances.

                There are circumstances where I could see trying to prevent a murder. There are circumstances where I could see running and hiding. There are circumstances where I could see myself killing in self-defense. There are circumstances where I could see myself preventing from aiding in killing someone.

                When it comes to a woman terminating her own pregnancy, though, I don’t see what I could or should do to prevent it.

                I’m sure we could come up with “what if she was only getting an abortion because she was unmarried? Would you divorce Maribou and get re-married in order to save a child???” or some other hypothetical where it could be pointed out that I’m insufficiently opposed to the termination of pregnancies or something. Is that where we’re going with this?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                When it comes to a woman terminating her own pregnancy, though, I don’t see what I could or should do to prevent it.

                That’s because you’re conveniently silent on the personhood of the fetus, even as you’re silently attributing rights to the mother to govern her own body.

                So just say it clearly: on your view, the rights of the mother trump the rights of the fetus.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think it’s more that I don’t see how I have the right to trump the rights of the mother, even as she’s terminating the pregnancy.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Hence my asking you about your right to trump the rights of the murderer.

                So much for nuance.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There is a right to self-determination that exists for a pregnant woman that doesn’t come into play when we’re discussing two people outside of the womb.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Not for folks who oppose abortion. To them, it’s murder, dude. And you seem to reject that argument. I’m just trying to help you get clear on why you reject it.

                Your claim that you have no right to blahblahblah doesn’t really cut any ice here.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “I think that X is Y” is one of those arguments that can be countered by “I don’t think that X is Y”.

                If they want to argue something more robust, I’m sure that I’d be willing to put something more robust together as a counter-argument.


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Sure, they could argue till the cows come home. The issue is what you’re arguing. And you’re effectively arguing that the rights of the mother trump the rights of the fetus, insofar as either or both have any rights.

                But you’re a rights guy, yeah? So it’s prolly cool to attribute rights to both.

                Or at least aesthetic properties…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And you’re effectively arguing that the rights of the mother trump the rights of the fetus, insofar as either or both have any rights.

                Are we back to it being cool to say “you’re effectively arguing (thing you’re not arguing)”? Wasn’t that what got us into this mess?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Shoot I don’t know. I’m just trying to pin you down on an actual argument for your views other than the ole “I don’t think I have a right to do X to anyone involved”. Tho surely you think you have a right to prevent a person from killing another.

                WHich means, at least, that you think that a woman having an abortion isn’t an act of murder. Which in turn means that either you think the fetus doesn’t have a right to life which trumps the mothers right to her body, or that the right of a woman to self-determination trumps the right to life of the fetus.

                Is there another option here?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Tho surely you think you have a right to prevent a person from killing another.

                This is weird. I’ve already said something about this in the thread. I am quickly reaching the conclusion that you aren’t arguing against stuff that I’m saying but against an idea in your head.

                Is there another option here?

                It involves my rights to intervene.

                Now when it comes to the mother’s rights trumping the rights of the baby, sure. Why not. Okay. That can be true at the same time.

                But that’s not what makes me say “I don’t have the right to prevent you from doing this” to a pregnant woman interested in terminating her pregnancy.

                And pointing out that I’d presumably have the right to keep a wife from killing her husband so what’s the difference seems to be deliberately ignoring some of the differences that have already been pointed out (in this very thread).

                If, however, all we’re doing is playing the “you should believe *THIS* and so I’m going to argue against that position instead of the one you’re giving!” game, I’d rather go to bed.

                So I will.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                What are those differences?

                Is a fetus a person? if so, then those differences collapse.

                Is the fetus not a person? If so, then those differences collapse.

                Is the fetus a person but you still think that a mother’s determination to kill it is none of your business? If so, then those distinctions collapse.

                Is the fetus not a person but you still think that a mother’s determintation to terminate the pregnancy is none of your business? If so, then those distinctions collapse.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If we define personhood away or into existence, a lot of issues can be solved. So if I say that personhood exists on a continuum rather than on a bright line (which, seriously, it seems to), do distinctions collapse?

                I’m pretty sure that we all agree that a fertilized egg that fails to implant (for whatever reason) is of little moral consequence. We are able to grieve with a mother who has a miscarriage at some high number of months, though.

                Defining “personhood” makes the most sense to me as defining it in relationship to higher brain function and a definition that said that personhood did not begin until higher brain function kicks in which is… when? 25 weeks? That’s, what? The end of the 2nd Trimester?

                As such, I think it’s really easy to say that an abortion that happens prior to that isn’t “murder” as it isn’t killing a “person” by the definitions we’ve laid out here.

                Which just brings us to the whole issue of third trimester abortions and whether you feel it’s inconsistent of me to see these also as morally wrong but not something I have to prevent.

                Which brings me back to the point I made above that says that I don’t think that P -> Q is true but everybody runs around like it is.

                I realize now that I shouldn’t have said “everybody”. But there are enough people who are more than happy to argue that ~Q -> ~P and be flabbergasted that I don’t agree.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Hell Jay, I don’t mind why people are pro-choice, I just appreciate them being pro-choice. If someone ululated and told me Allah commanded they be pro-choice I’d do my best to keep a straight face and tell em “welcome to the team”.Report

  16. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Your views of it really don’t matter since you’re not the one killing people over the putative offense.

    That’s the point I tried to make (and thought I did make) during those Hebdo threads.

    Just because you don’t think it’s offensive doesn’t mean jack shit.

    This argument is alien to me.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Alien? Really? You think that you’re views of other people’s responses actually govern their behavior?

      Man, you’ve got more power than I first thought…Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If we’re saying that the only views on the offense that matter are the views of the people willing to kill others (how I’m parsing “Your views of it really don’t matter since you’re not the one killing people over the putative offense”), then I am honestly saying that this argument is alien to me.

        It is, effectively, saying “if someone wants their views to matter then they need to be willing to kill”.

        I suppose that it’s a restatement of “all political power comes from the barrel of a gun”, now that I think on it some more.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          No, it’s that your views about the legitimacy of offense-taking by the killers is completely irrelevant to whether or not they take offense and act as they do.

          Your views on respecting their beliefs and acting according to those beliefs, however, might change their behavior.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I think some Charles Napier* is an appropriate rejoinder here, if we have a deep obligation to respect Muslim social mores then they have a similar obligation to respect ours.
            “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

            *With the immorality of colonialism and the British Raj duly noted. But of course this is happening in our own home nations.Report