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March 12, 2009

Stupidity on Stilts

Apparently Democrats, along with some people in my own party, don't do nuance well. The usual cast of nitwits (via memeorandum) have their Hanes Ultrasheers all in a wad about Michael Steel's latest "gaffe".

Except I don't see anything at all inconsistent in his statements. As a matter of fact, they happen to coincide with my own beliefs on the matter. I'm a conservative. Do you want to throw me out of the party for failing to toe the line, or is anyone within the Republican party able to grasp the simple concept that any large group of people who come together because they share a core set of beliefs may not mirror each others' beliefs on 100% of the issues?

Here's the supposed conflict from Steele:

How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?

Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

Explain that.

The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?

Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

You do?

Yeah. Absolutely.

Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?

The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states.Let them decide.

It's plain from reading Steele's original remark that "do women have the right to an abortion" refers to this nebulous concept called reality.

The fact is that women do currently possess the legal right to an abortion in this country. They can choose to bear a child or have it killed. They don't have to ask Michael Steele for permission.

Steele's personal opinion is that abortion is wrong and Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. But he recognizes that his personal opinion is not synonomous with the law of the land.

Moreover, he recognizes that in the unlikely event that Roe were overturned, the issue would pass to the states and they would decide on an individual basis the form in which abortion rights would vest in any individual woman. You know, that whole democracy thing?

And this would happen in all 50 states. Even if Michael Steele didn't like it.

It's truly not that difficult, folks. Try to keep up.

More thoughts here from a reality based Republican.

Posted by Cassandra at March 12, 2009 11:37 AM

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"...the issue would pass to the states and they would decide on an individual basis the form in which abortion rights would vest in any individual woman. You know, that whole democracy thing?"

One nitpick.....that's a republic thing, not a democracy thing.

"In contemporary usage, the term democracy refers to a government chosen by the people, whether it is direct or representative.[64] The term republic has many different meanings, but today often refers to a representative democracy with an elected head of state, such as a president, serving for a limited term, in contrast to states with a hereditary monarch as a head of state, even if these states also are representative democracies with an elected or appointed head of government such as a prime minister.[65]

The Founding Fathers of the United States rarely praised and often criticized democracy, which in their time tended to specifically mean direct democracy; James Madison argued, especially in The Federalist No. 10, that what distinguished a democracy from a republic was that the former became weaker as it got larger and suffered more violently from the effects of faction, whereas a republic could get stronger as it got larger and combats faction by its very structure. What was critical to American values, John Adams insisted,[66] was that the government be "bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend." As Benjamin Franklin was exiting after writing the U.S. constitution, a woman asked him Sir, what have you given us?. He replied A republic ma'am, if you can keep it[67]"

Posted by: DL Sly at March 12, 2009 02:33 PM

[return nit]
Yeah, Yeah, Democracy = Every person votes on every thing, Republic = A Representative votes on behalf of others.

Sure that is the dictionary definition. The problem is that no one except the dictionary uses it that way.

Keep in mind, that by dictionary definitions Iran is a Republic too. Do you really want to lump the US and Iran together as similar gov'ts?
[/return nit]

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 02:44 PM

able to grasp the simple concept that any large group of people who come together because they share a core set of beliefs may not mirror each others' beliefs on 100% of the issues?--Cassandra

HERESY!!! There is no such thing as 'free thinking' in the party of wingnuts.

Posted by: Cricket at March 12, 2009 02:53 PM

want to know why we have Obama in the White House????? Because of stuff like this. Anything that is close to not being the exact way some on the right want someone to say something, it is time to throw them under the bus. we are eating our young and telling them we are not going to listen unless you think exactly as we do.

We are going to be in the wilderness for a long time if we keep this up. No wonder we lost the last elections, we are fighting each other, not the true enemy,The Progressives.

I am Pro-life as anyone, but the constant litmus tests and other crap will not help our cause. Reagan would be ashamed of what his Party became,it is the Big Tent Party, the one that encompasses everyone,not just one issue or policy. You know the one that was for limited government, not the one that dictates morality to people. Strong Defense and Personal Freedom.

Just my 2 cents

Posted by: Stix at March 12, 2009 03:04 PM

You're preaching to the choir :p

I agree with you.

I know that I have made more than a few readers mad with my constant harping on this point, but the damage from Obama being in office is going to take decades to undo. We have a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democrat running the show virtually unopposed and NO way to stop them from literally remaking the country.

Personally, I don't think it was "worth it" to teach the party a lesson about ideological conformity.

Politics, like marriage, is the art of compromise. When we let the perfect become the enemy of the good, we don't end up with the half loaf we would have had if we'd been more flexible, but no loaf at all.

And how's THAT for a bunch mixed metaphors? :P

Posted by: Sister Mary Bag o'Metaphors at March 12, 2009 03:35 PM

Not to mention the rather obvious fact that in a representative Republic, you don't get to impose your way of thinking on others unless you outnumber them :p

And we.... don't. When you're outnumbered, you have to give something up to get other things. And that's as it should be unless we want America to be a place where these things are decided at the point of a gun rather than though debate and democratic representation as outlined in the Constitution.

A fact many conservatives tend to forget.

Posted by: Sister Mary Bag o'Metaphors at March 12, 2009 03:38 PM

I do think Sly's point is worth dismembering :p

I was aware of the distinction but used the vernacular, which is not at all precise. The Founding Fathers feared democracy, contrary to what the reality-based community seem to think.

So, while I agree with Yu-ain that we generally use the terms interchangably these days, perhaps we shouldn't?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 03:44 PM

Posted by: John "Danger is my cognomen" Donovan at March 12, 2009 04:46 PM

I think the vernacular is just fine. No one seriously advocates for direct democracy gov't and I think the distinction the vernacular allows between Democracy = USA versus Republic = Iran is valuable.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 04:47 PM

Dangit, meant to change the moniker...

Posted by: John "Dammit I'm a Grandfather, does that make me look old?" Donovan at March 12, 2009 04:47 PM

I'm not a Republican and I'm certainly not socially conservative, meaning that I haven't really felt the "right" to comment too much on Steele and the GOP. However, since this appears to be a site of thinking people, rather than loons... my thought is that Steele appears to have 'foot in mouth disease' something awful. Wasn't this guy chosen (supposedly... though I know it was a tough slog to end up with him) for his ability to COMMUNICATE and his MEDIA SAVVY. How is that man not able to control his mouth and be clear re: the GOP platform? Whatever his personal opinions, wasn't he hired as the chairman to support, explain, and present the GOP platform and why its good for America?! Why does it seems like he desperately needs to just shut up and direct all enquiries to his publicist?

So, as an outsider looking in, I have to agree with the vocal Conservatives on this one that his appointment was a mistake. I'm not expressing a view on the GOP or the platform, only on Mr. Steele being the one trying to present a positive view of the cause. I could accept that a reporter may have taken a statement out of context or, perhaps, shortened a long response due to column space available that may give an incomplete explanation of his opinions, but this is happening over and over again. It has to be the messenger at this point, doesn't it?

Posted by: Rob in Michigan at March 12, 2009 04:47 PM

When you're outnumbered, you have to give something up to get other things.

First: Core principles are non-negotiable -- everything else should be on the table.

Second: Make our core principles more appealing and the other side's less so.

Third: Recapture the English Language and return meaning to the words -- at chow tonight, a rape counselor told me her official title has been changed to "Sexual Assault Facilitator."

Posted by: BillT at March 12, 2009 04:50 PM

Well, the problem Rob is that in this particular instance Steele did say exactly what I would like him to say.

Abortion shouldn't be a federal issue. But rather a State issue.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 05:08 PM

And to be clear. I'm not saying that the selection of Steele wasn't a mistake. Just that this particular case isn't evidence of it.

This case is just an example of one excuse being as good as any other when you need one.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 05:11 PM

I don't know whether Steele is a mistake (I agree with much of Rob's assessment) or whether he has a microscope and a magnifying glass up his wazoo and every small misstep is being reported and flogged to death.

This is a tough time to be the RNC chair. And he's trying to change the party and that's not an enviable job.

You may be surprised to hear this, but I've had similar thoughts about Obama - people are on him like a duck on a June bug. I'm not sure this is a good thing, overall. There seems to be a lack of perspective here - I'm concerned about the BIG things he's doing.

The small stuff? What President doesn't have gaffes and mistakes and whatnot when he's starting out?

I feel the same about Steele. Give him a chance and don't throw him under the proverbial bus for inconsequential things. At the same time, he needs to tighten up his communication skills given that the media are all over him.

The Rush thing was a mistake. It's not non-recoverable. He just needs to keep his guard up more.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 05:23 PM

1. Congratulations, John! :)

2. Bill, I agree. The devil of it is, which core principles? And we need to stand for an agreed-up set of core principles WITHOUT making anyone who doesn't agree feel like an outcast, because they may agree with 95% of what we stand for.

5% ain't worth the votes we'll lose. No one - no one - in the party should have to walk on eggshells or apologize for their stance.

This is what irks me so much about the 'RINOs out' faction. I may feel the same way about far righties, but I don't begrudge them the right to disagree with me. We ought to be able to discuss principles and priorities without going hermitile on each other.

Just my opinion.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 05:27 PM

WHAT?!?!?! Sexual Assault Facilitator? You have got to me kidding me.

core principles are 'limited government'
individual accountability (no bailouts or welfare, no exceptions) for straters.

Posted by: Cricket at March 12, 2009 06:19 PM

STARTERS! Oooh that makes me so mad when I do that!

Posted by: Cricket at March 12, 2009 06:20 PM

Well Bill, one of my core principles is that one shouldn't have to beg and bribe the gov't to excercize a constitutional right.

But I also support the expansion of CWP laws.

Doesn't that compromise my core principle? Well, yeah. I guess so. But it's still better than not being able to excercize the right at all. Would it be nice that New York city adopted Vermont style carry over night? Sure, but it ain't gonna happen. Half of something is better than all of nothing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 06:23 PM

Sexual Assault Facilitator.

Must have come from the same idiot who came up with the name "DUI School". I mean, is that something we really want to *teach*.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 06:28 PM

"Keep in mind, that by dictionary definitions Iran is a Republic too. Do you really want to lump the US and Iran together as similar gov'ts?"

Well, I suppose, Yu-ain, that would be as accurate as saying that since some lawyers have been, and/or are, shysters, that all lawyers are shysters.
0>;~}
My nit was that the Princess already has a post up about words and meanings.......
And, I use the two words as accurately as I can, every time I can.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at March 12, 2009 06:32 PM

John, first Congrats!!! and second, I think the moniker ought to say, John "Does this 'I'm A Grandpa!' t-shirt make me look old?" Donovan.

*snnnicker*
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at March 12, 2009 06:38 PM

Congrats to you and yours Grandpa John!

I too agree with Bill. No adherence to the core, no discernible principles, nothing to attract the middle, the base fragments and then whacha got? BO, Harry and Pelosi, that's what!

Recognizing that the demon is in the details, I nominate the Princess and those she might choose to be her accompaniment to the post of RNC Cluebat At Arms.

Who knows, we might be able to shake out some leadership, align disparate tent dwellers and plot a winning course via the judicious flailing of said bat in the right hands.

But as has recently been belabored, the skills needed to deal with the media and present the message are pretty high up on the list.

Hmmm... Beginning construction on a platform now, one plank at a time, might be a job well suited to the less than demure, the opinionated and the hash-masters of the blogs/forums. Starting now the grassroots might yield something workable or at least some solid basis for a platform/direction for the GOP in 2010. Or for those anxious amongst us, in 599 days and a wake up.

Posted by: bt_have-abacus-will-travel_hun at March 12, 2009 06:49 PM

GEtting back on topic, the Constitution is totally silent on abortion, regardless of what was decided in Roe v. Wade. As Mr. Steele said, it was wrongly decided.
However, the 9th and 10th amendment leave ample room for individual states, "the several states", to decide on matters on which the Constitution is silent.
Thus, under an honest and historical understanding of Federalism, then yes, individual states could decide to make abortion legal.
And then it would be a political battle (voters choose) whether that is what they want, or not.

When the Constitution is silent, there is ample room for the several States to decide many issues in the grey area. Unfortunately, too many people are unsatisfied with the concept of Federalism, and insist that once something is legal somewhere in the country, there must be "Universalism", in the sense of getting the Supreme Court to impose it everywhere, rather than persuading Congress to vote on such and issue, and allowing the Executive to approve or veto.

We are, a Republic with democratic institutions and practices. Nothing wrong with that. Iran is a Republic with a theocratic supreme council capable of vetoing any popular vote (unlikely) by the parliament. The Iranian parliament is only made up of various shades of the same color of political viewpoint, as the Supreme Ruling council only allows certain people on the slate of those allowed to run for office. So the Iranian Republic is that, with the actual reality of a theocratic dictatorship.
Good for them.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 12, 2009 06:50 PM

"And, I use the two words as accurately as I can, every time I can."
I stand by Sly in this regard, guilty as accused.

Posted by: bt_have-abacus-will-travel_hun at March 12, 2009 06:51 PM

Well, I suppose, Yu-ain, that would be as accurate as saying that since some lawyers have been, and/or are, shysters, that all lawyers are shysters.

How so, 'cause I don't see it?

To me the analogy would be like calling both your local ambulance chaser and Chief Justice Roberts just lawyers.

It is true, they are both lawyers, but they aren't at all the same thing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 07:07 PM

Well Don, yes and no on the abortion/Constitution thing.

The real issue is that the Constitution is completely silent on almost all criminal law, period. Nothing about murder, theft, assault, or a host of other crimes.

The right of privacy supposedly found in the due process clause has never been interpreted in any other case to protect any criminal act. You can't kill your spouse because "it's private", you can't assault your child because "it's private", you can't steal from your mom because "it's private". Since when did privacy ever get to change what is considered a criminal act.

It may mean that the police cannot search through all medical records looking for people with abortions. It may mean that police must obtain a specific warrant after demonstrating probable cause that *you* had had an abortion. It may mean that any evidence improperly collected is inadmissable in court. But it does not mean that any act committed in private is legal.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 07:26 PM

But the assumption from Colonial days (previous to independence) was that Common Law would remain intact. There were already plenty of local statutes to address common criminality; theft, assault, upholding of contracts, etc.
Most of our local legal codes and laws are still rooted in Common Law ideas that date back to Colonial times.
And that continued to be the predominant case for law until well into the 20th Century, whether it be misdemeanors or felonies. That also was the purpose of the 9th and 10th amendments (to preserve local law enforcement).

With respect to Roe v. Wade, this was a decision handed down by the Supreme Court, so there HAD to be a Constitutional hinge to swing a decision on, and that's what was lacking. And in doing this, it was also an attack on the idea of Federalism and the sovereignty of the states in making law.

There is also a Federal Criminal Code (getting larger all the time), derived from the Congress (perfectly legal and Constitutional) that applies to interstate crimes where jurisdiction is hazy or unclear, or exceeds the ability of the local or state government to pursue and prosecute.
The Congress could also vote on abortion (yea or nay), and have on occasion voted to impose limitations and control (which is also Constitutional)on abortion.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 12, 2009 08:59 PM

"It is true, they are both lawyers, but they aren't at all the same thing."

You say you don't see, but you do. Just as all lawyers aren't the same, neither are all republics. Which was my point, wrt, comparing the US (Chief Justice Roberts) with Iran (a local ambulance chaser) and both being a republic.

I like that analogy, though.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at March 12, 2009 10:00 PM

The problem is that I think calling them both lawyers does a disservice to Roberts and an undeserved compliment to the ambulance chaser.

I would prefer language that distinguished the two instead of equating them.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 11:41 PM

For those of you still not clear on the difference between "democracy" and "republic", here is a tutorial.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at March 13, 2009 09:00 AM

HF6,


Thanks for the pointer! That's good enough for a certain group of munchkins immersed in their elementary studies, under the tutelage of Task Mistress Walkin' Boss.

Private schools are grand in that they not only allow, but encourage discussions on such subjects as U.S. American and the dreaded Anglo-Euro history.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: bt_have-abacus-will-travel_hun at March 13, 2009 10:44 AM

WHAT?!?!?! Sexual Assault Facilitator? You have got to me kidding me.

Nup. And she was *not* a happy camper because it appears the PC twit O-6 who coined the term is the only one in Iraq who doesn't realize what that word combo means.

Posted by: BillT at March 13, 2009 12:31 PM

The Marine Corps isn't any better.

Years ago my espoused one was forced to attain "Sexual Harassment Training".

I kid you not. I still bust his chops about that one nearly 20 years later:

"[batting eyelashes] .... Umm... aren't you big strong guys supposed to be naturally good at that sort of thing? I'm surprised you need to be shown how..."

And then I run like helk. He always catches me, though :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2009 12:35 PM

No doubt to demonstrate the skills he learned there.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2009 12:47 PM

What can I say?

The man *is* enthusiastic about his work. Fortunately for me, ice cream was not involved :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2009 12:53 PM

I call the "Villainous Corollary to Godwin's Law."

Once ice cream gets mentioned, the thread is dead.

Posted by: John "Does this 'I'm A Grandpa!' t-shirt make me look old?" Donovan at March 13, 2009 01:01 PM

Sorry, I must protest. Ice Cream has never killed anything.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2009 01:17 PM

"Once ice cream gets mentioned, the thread is dead."

I thought that was egg salad? Or was it the mazola oil and visqueen?

Oh! I know!!

Sex and relationships!
heh
That oughta do it. For Mr. DeBille, anyway.

0>;~}
*snnnicker*

Posted by: DL Sly at March 13, 2009 01:51 PM

.


> They can choose to bear a child or have it killed.

The biggest issue, Cass, is the inherent presumption involved in the choice of the term "have it killed".

I, for one, while generally discouraging abortion, have a hard time with the idea that a clump of four cells attached to a uterine wall has the exact same rights as an infant in swaddling clothes.

Terminating the continued existence of one is inarguably "killing". Terminating the other seems a lot more speciously referred to in that manner -- Nature seems to do that A LOT, if so, which calls the entire moral and ethical objection to the process into question.

=====================

At the heart of this and several other hot-button arguments (Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide, for example) have to do with a key question:
What is a human life? What is humanity ??

Is it DNA? Is it the capacity for self-awareness? Is it the form of a human? Is it the ability to reason like a human? How about time-binding, also fairly unique to the human intellect? Compassion? Empathy? Courage, Honor, Decency, Loyalty? Noblesse Oblige?

I limit myself to testable concepts, here... "souls" are not scientifically provable, and I'd argue that The Law should be carefully limited to those things -- even ethical and moral concepts can be philosophically derived from the concept of enlightened self-interest. And it seems to me that we ought to be able to define it in some testable sense, because otherwise you have a problem with inflicting the choice onto people of other religious persuasions.

===

There is no hard-and-fast, "we pretty much concur that this is the minimum" idea for what it means to be HUMAN. Establishing this is the first step towards resolving many of the concepts of what should be The Law. Until then, you're just going to have one side or the other blatantly at odds with whatever principle is enshrined in Law.

.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at March 16, 2009 08:00 AM

If Steele was so ambiguous so that I couldn't understand it, he is not the proper man to lead the GOP.

If he indeed believes that a woman should have the right to kill their unborn child (rather than speaking to reality as we know it), and he speaks about it as the Chairman of the GOP, then this "new and improved" Republican party is not one that I want to be affiliated with, and I'll be bailing.

So if the Republican party retains Steele, they will prove themselves to me as either ineffectual or evil. In any case I'll be picking another party to be affiliated with.

Posted by: Tony at March 16, 2009 01:17 PM

Tony,
Has someone ever been so unambiguous that one could always understand them?

Sounds like you are setting a pretty high standard.

I can understand if it becomes routine. But you seem to be suggesting that once is unforgiveable.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 16, 2009 02:44 PM

I, for one, while generally discouraging abortion, have a hard time with the idea that a clump of four cells attached to a uterine wall has the exact same rights as an infant in swaddling clothes.

In much the same way, I suppose, that an infanct in swaddling clothes does not have the same rights as a 21 year old.

Yet neither may be purposefully terminated.

But you are correct. The issue at hand is at what point do you gain natural rights (and/or when do you gain the protection of same). The only meaningful delineations I see are Delivery, Implantation, and Conception.

Delivery seems specious to me. If a doctor were to take a 37 week-old fetus and cut a whole in the mother's belly and jab an awl into the fetus' brain and scramble it this would be a legal abortion. If the same doctor were to pull the fetus out of the womb then jab an awl into the fetus' brain and scramble it, this would be murder. I fail to see why a change in location of 12 inches makes a darn bit of difference to the act.

My feeling is that if you couldn't do it outside of the womb legally then the fact the fetus is left in the womb for the act is no excuse.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 16, 2009 03:10 PM

hole, not whole.

Call me a bigot, but I hate homonyms.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 16, 2009 03:12 PM

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