David Shane Depends on what you mean by gridlock, but they certainly wanted the passing of legislation to be difficult. Otherwise we'd have a simple, unicameral, republic. Instead we've got this complex system of checks and balances, with two houses of Congress elected at different times that both have to OK a bill, then a president who could veto it, then a Court that could overturn it. It's very hard to pass a bill in America, and intentionally so.
David Shane I'm not sure exactly what point of mine you're addressing, but I make no such assumption. I have plenty of liberal friends and do not, as a rule, think them either insensible or stupid. As to legislating morality - abortion is one topic where you simply cannot raise that objection. As I said to Lori, most pro-life folks think abortion is murder (or might be - see link). You don't come up to someone who is trying to stop a murder and say "now now, don't try to impose your beliefs on these other people". And they try to impose those beliefs not for their sake, but for the sake of another. I encourage you to read the argument linked above.
David Shane You have to put yourself in their shoes - the prolife movement does not see abortion as a privacy issue, it is a life issue. They think abortion is murder. So of course they're going to try to stop you from getting an abortion. If you saw a murder in progress and did nothing to stop it you would be a horrible person. Some women don't think abortion is murder, obviously, and so in fact they really don't know what happens in an abortion - not everything that happens. It may be a hard decision even for them, but it isn't hard enough.
David Shane People do change their mind about having an abortion after seeing an ultrasound - that's just a fact. That's why people want to require them. Now, I could write you a syllogistic argument against abortion (http://bit.ly/GHMj20), and if we were all perfectly logical robots, that should be enough. But we aren't, we often need to have an emotional experience to change our mind about something, and seeing your child inside you is such an experience.
David Shane OK, if that's what you think. I was just addressing the hypocrisy in the way commentators are handled at the moment. In my opinion, the problem with several of his other examples of "misogyny" is that they aren't misogyny, they're just misogyny in the author's opinion (and perhaps also in your's). Not in the opinion of many other people, including many other women - a fact the author briefly acknowledges, if only to tell us that those women are "cultural reactionaries" whose opinions apparently don't count. (And as I say below, dismissing the opinion of all conservative women as "reactionary" and therefore unimportant is arrogant at least and possibly a form of sexism itself.)
David Shane Right, but neither is Rush Limbaugh, which is kind of Constantine's point. Yet his views are taken to be typical of the Republican party, whereas Maher's and Schultz's are not taken to be typical of the Democratic party.
David Shane This isn't your main point but... gridlock isn't a bug of American government, it's a feature. I had a professor in undergrad who liked to say that America's founders devised a system so broken that it would be difficult for the government to take away your freedoms even if it wanted to. That's why those old Democratic complaints about Republican "obstructionism" always missed the point - we want a government in which it is darn difficult to get legislation passed quickly, or at all. That's one of the ways our government protects the rights of ideological minorities - which, ironically, is often precisely what those "obstructionist" Republicans were trying to do.
David Shane Right. And what about liberal commentators like Ed Schultz and Bill Maher who have said very similar things to what Limbaugh said? By this reasoning, shouldn't they be put forward as evidence of a Democratic war on women?
David Shane Ultrasound requirements are pushed by people who think the fetus is a human being and want to protect it by requiring mothers to see, literally, just how human their child is - that's pro-women (and pro-men). And I wonder - most of my pro-life movement friends are, in fact, women. What do you think of them? Are they all "reactionaries" - whatever that means? (They're certainly "reacting" to what they think stupid and evil policies.) Do you think they're just dumb, and/or brainwashed by men? I think it quite arrogant - dare I say sexist? - to dismiss all conservative women as essentially traitors to their gender, allies in the "war on women", as if any intelligent woman would certainly share your politics.
David Shane But, with the thought that the best defense is a good offense: http://catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0045.html Peter Kreeft is a Catholic philosopher, but emphasis on the philosopher. He doesn't reference a single Bible verse or pronouncement of the Church in that article. You don't need to. Everyone should be pro-life.
David Shane But you shouldn't see that as a relevant issue, because no one is fighting against women making personal choices for themselves. The *entire matter*, the *only* important question at all in this debate, is if the fetus is a person. If you can convince the pro-life movement that it (he/she?) isn't, then the pro-life movement disappears overnight. That's all they care about. Anything else you have to say matters not at all.
David Shane There are more people in America trying to adopt domestic infants than there are domestic infants up for adoption. There are literally more than enough people out there willing to care for your new child, if you are unwilling or unable.
David Shane You aren't "free to make your own decision" if that decision will hurt, much less kill, someone else. Most of the pro-life movement thinks abortion is murder. You aren't free to decide to murder someone. If you write an article like this, you've got to acknowledge what your opponent really believes. You can talk about a woman's right to govern her own body all day long - but it's irrelevant, because the pro-life movement has nothing against that. It's the child's body they're worried about. And as Gary rightly points out below, the highest human right is probably the right to life. Outlawing abortion is pro-human rights.
David Shane Right. Why would we be against them, spending their money, to make our products cheaper? You sometimes hear national security arguments in favor of tariffs or subsidies - something like "we need factories that can make tanks in this country, even if we have to spend extra money to make sure they stay here". Those arguments are a little more persuasive, but the economic argument is quite weak.
David Shane I think we should have it as a principle that whenever it is practicable to allow people with a moral objection to opt-out of a program, we should allow it. And it's clearly possible in this case. So I'm not really phased by arguments of, "look, people are already funding something they disagree with in this case ". Maybe they are, and that's unfortunate - we ought to be trying to decrease the number of times that happens, not increase it!
David Shane I'd say. 1. True, health insurance is used differently than other insurance - and that's a problem. Let's fix it, not add to it. 2. Food stamps are for the poor, not everyone. I'm fighting the idea that we should make birth control free for everyone, not just the poor. 3. We should respect someone's right to object whenever possible. In this case, it's clearly possible, so let's do it.
David Shane OK, but notice that you're now saying that is really isn't just a personal choice, you do want to force other people to be involved - and if you do that, then you should expect it to become a political fight, right? If you do want to help such women "pay for the pills", I think there are better ways than by trying to make contraception free for everyone. In my article I mention the Children's Aid Society, which provides contraception for free to people below the poverty level - helping people in that way instead avoids all of the negative consequences mentioned in my article.
David Shane Libertarians are generally much more concerned with "negative liberty" than "positive liberty", so I don't see most of them supporting a birth control mandate, especially one that steps on people's religious liberty. And indeed, John Cochrane, whose article is linked above, is a Cato scholar. Reason Magazine also came out against the mandate, with "Obama's Misguided Birth Control Mandate" and other articles: http://bit.ly/yHZUKE .
David Shane But that's the problem Kathleen - when you force insurers or companies to cover it, it ceases to be a personal choice. Now, suddenly, other people are involuntarily involved. Yes, please, let us make it a matter of personal choice! I'm am totally in favor of that.
David Shane Oh, I know the two issues aren't identical, but Karl mentioned the unborn, and I find abortion to be an even clearer issue than birth control, so that's where I went with my reply. And I'd agree abortion hurts women too. I haven't quite visited every church in America, but I think many of them say plenty about the responsibility men have for their children. Always remember that the stuff that makes the media, the stuff we all end up talking about, is the controversial stuff. Not all the stuff, or even the most important stuff.
David Shane But saying something should be accessible isn't the same thing as saying that the government or an insurer should be paying for it. In my article, I mention the Children's Aid Society, which will offer more expensive forms of birth control for free if you are below the federal poverty level - that is a much better way of making the product accessible then by having the government pay for it or forcing insurers to do so. It's voluntary, so nobody's conscience is being violated. If you are someone who can afford the birth control you need using personal funds, you pay for it yourself, so you don't destroy the market either.
David Shane But that doesn't really answer any of my objections. Even if those conditions were fulfilled, covering toothpaste (or birth control) with insurance (or by government program) would still raise the real cost, a price increase that would eventually trickle down to affect everyone. It would be better if everyone who could buy it on their own, did - most can. And, after that, if there are a few people out there who cannot afford the product they need, the answer is to find some specific and voluntary way to help only them. Not to make the product free for everyone. Especially when doing so means forcing some people to violate their conscience.
David Shane I think the reason there is such a focus on the unborn is because the moral issues are more clear cut with them. Capital punishment kills someone who has killed other people. Abortion kills someone that hasn't had a chance to harm anyone. Abortion is obviously wrong (if you believe the fetus is a person). Capital punishment is much murkier. Religious institutions are not political institutions - they don't like getting involved in politics unless the proper moral position is very clear. I think.