"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, October 07, 2005

$0.02

Movement conservatives have their panties in a bunch over Harriet Miers. So be it--she is apparently not herself a movement conservative. News flash--neither is George W. Bush.

Dubya is of the Christian evangelical strain of the Republican coalition, one that has common cause with the "movement" almost across the board--a regard for the societal norms that by hook or crook raised us from the Hobbesian ooze, a belief in a higher moral order, and an economic liberalism that's really an opposition to statism, especially the post-modern kind which holds man is no more than the sum of his atoms, and his society no more than a set of conventions to be manipulated for maximum utilitarian efficiency.

I may be stretching here to point out that the conservative movement has attracted many Catholics and Jews, whose heroes number Catholics Thomas Aquinas and William F. Buckley, and on the neo-con side the putatatively Jewish (but likely atheist) Leo Strauss. Logicians all of the first order, from religious cultures that highly value such things.

However, to the Luther-inspired evangelical system of values, faith alone saves. The best person for the job is not the one with the best mind, but with the best philosophy, and Jesus is the best philosopher. Therefore, character, that which leads one to his values and then binds him to those values when the going gets tough, is the true measure of a man.

Or woman, in this case. And having worked side-by-side, day-to-day with Harriet Miers for over ten years, this is one decision for Dubya that isn't as hard as it looks. (I never believed he was taken in by Vladimir Putin, just trying to inspire the man's better angels.)

I understand the desire of Ann Coulter, et al., for a brainiac over a "good person," but be careful what you wish for. Intellect and logic are mighty but also give us Friedrich Nietzsche and Peter Singer.

It is character that abides. And if you poke through the accounts of Ms. Miers' life, a rare combinition of humility and assertiveness, there is little doubt that Dubya is convinced she's one of the best persons he's ever known, and his worldview is that the best person for the job is always the best person. (Based on my familiarity with the law industry as a headhunter, I find her qualifications adequate, if not bootstrap-admirable.)


I often have to use the completion-backwards principle to divine the workings of Bush's brain, as I've attempted here, but add in the politics of the matter, that Harry Reid suggested that Miers wouldn't get much of a fight, that the GOP half of the Gang of 14 is wobbly, and that this has not been the best of years to throw around the weight of his slim electoral majority, and the pick makes sense to me, at least from Bush's point of view.

Movement conservatives may rightfully say they didn't vote for Bush to get half-a-loaf Supreme Court candidates. However, many other folks who voted for him too may be getting just what they want, including the President himself.

34 comments:

James Elliott said...

I'd say you've probably hit the nail on the head there, Tom. Bush got re-elected, he's not running again, so he doesn't have to give a crap what anyone thinks. He's an emotional, gut-feeling based "thinker" with a nepotism complex you could pilot the USS Abraham Lincoln through. I'm sure he just "feels" that Miers is the right woman, common opinion be damned.

Either that or God told him to nominate her after He told him to Purge The Holy Land.

I'd like my president with a side of schizophrenia, please! Where's my Haldol?!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Nepotism, perhaps, James, but character is very difficult to assess in the world of politics. First-hand knowledge should count for something (and is more appealing to this side of the aisle ever since David Souter).

After all, JFK "felt" his brother was the best choice for attorney general.

James Elliott said...

I read an interesting article, I think in The New Republic, by Noam Scheiber contrasting traditional nepotism with Bush and Reagan cronyism. In effect, the picking of White House Staff and Cabinet members has always been a mix of the intensely personal and the professional. A sitting president, regardless of party, has to gather around him or her people whose character, loyalty, and input they know they can trust. So, naturally, they will draw from a pool of friends and acquaintances. This is perfectly acceptable and understandable.

Where G.W. Bush and Reagan have deviated is in the selection of cronies of cronies (of cronies ad infinitum) to staff crucial federal agencies, whereas before (and after, in the case of post-Reagan G.H.W. Bush and Clinton staffing) the standard was to staff agencies with elite (i.e. experienced) civil servants and/or professionals in that agency's field.

My impression is that Bush views the judiciary as little more than another cog in the Imperial Presidency wheel, like the agencies. He would then see no contradiction or difficulty in selecting someone he "knew" the caliber of as opposed to an "elite" choice. Remember, this is the man who has great difficulty grasping the fact that other people may have intelligent reasons for disagreeing with him. It's the downside of his great emotional intellect and cunning.

Hunter Baker said...

I'm with James on this bit. (Oh, the horror.) The cabinet agencies and White House jobs are reasonably staffed with those you trust and who are loyal to you. The same is just not true of the courts.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not personal loyalty, but loyalty to the same things, in this case Higher Things, First Things. A perhaps Aristotelian (and dare I say Aquinian) definition of "friendship," but one of perhaps the greatest of importances.

Hardly cronyism. It's what makes a Reform Club or a marriage, or a society tick. Not comfort or even affection, but admiration.

Pastorius said...

Good to see you back writing, Tom.

If Harriet Miers is a "strict Constructionist" then she doesn't have to be particularly brilliant to do her job, does she?

It would those judges who believe in taking the laws of other nations under advisement who would have to have a tremendous breadth of knowledge one would think. The more precedents you have to keep dancing on the head of a pin, the more subtle the mind would need to be.

And, I agree with TVD that Bush showed political pragmatism in his choice.

Hunter Baker said...

Tom, I will say that you have put the absolute best possible spin on this nomination and I don't mean that in any negative way. You've reached to the heart and have found the strongest possible justification, but it still isn't enough for me.

You have at least a foot in the legal world, if not more, so I know that you know there is a very recognizable group of individuals who have mounted a challenge to the therapeutic brand of justice practiced by progressive courts. The members of that movement have a very good claim on this Supreme Court position and they have compiled the right resumes'.

The other major point here is that we are right on judges and the public is more with us on this issue than Iraq, Social Security, etc. It is absolutely to our advantage to fight it out over a known originalist. It makes no sense to duck a fight. None at all.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I appreciate your appreciation of my skills at sophistry, Hunter, but I did want to point out that the Dobson wing of the party (and Bush himself, I assert) are tickled pink to nominate a genuine religious conservative. The leader of the opposition hands him the opportunity on a platter, and Bush says, "This is better than coon fritters and some of Granny's varmint stew!"

To boot, Bush's capital is at an ebb. He enjoys no Reaganesque reelection landslide, so his own party members are feathering their own nests, slapping him down in the Senate over the "torture" thing. A loss on this nominee would be disatrous to the rest of his term, a loss in a fight he doesn't even want.

Why would he bet his presidency on an unknown quantity that might just be arrogant enough to get himself borked? From Bush's POV, it seems little to gain and everything to lose.

Further, I myself think judicial brilliance might be a tad overrated since I see no evidence that Thomas or Scalia have made the slightest dent in either their fellow court members' or the public's perception of the Constitution. Politics is politics, and the court is no exception.

The right has its chattering class, too (we are proud members), and I think we overestimate our influence. Who elected Bush, Buckley or Dobson? ("The Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore" is not an option here, James.)

Hunter Baker said...

Bush's capital would increase with a strong judicial nominee, not diminish. I'll tell you something else, the Borking of 1987 was one of the best things that ever happened to the GOP and conservatism. We lost out on a brilliant jurist, but gained a major rallying point.

As far as Scalia and Thomas go, I can tell you that we read opinions from both in law school and making a dent in the minds of law students is worthwhile in and of itself. Scalia is particularly good reading and more law students than are willing to admit, admire him.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'll certainly concede it's good to have them in the mix of our public debate, although I doubt Clarence Thomas gets much good pub at Harvard Law School. But I think the days of a Scalia or a Ginsberg getting 90+ confirmation votes are over. The Senate is no longer a gentlemen's club, and this SCOTUS thing is no longer an intramural sport; it's primetime all the way in our 21st century 24/7 news cycle.

A peek at what our friends over at "People for the American Way" have been up to is instructive:

McConnell is dead meat. His explicit condemnation of Roe would never get through the GOP wobblies in the Senate, and would probably start the next Civil War.

A Luttig decision is associated with the hawkish view of treating enemy combatants that the Senate just repudiated 90-9. DOA.

Meanwhile, the worst PAW has on Miers is that in a radio broadcast, Dr. Dobson "explains his support for Miers and notes that he 'can't reveal it all, because I do know things that I'm privy to that I can't describe.'"

Look, I'm probably with you being closer to McConnell than Meiers, but Bush isn't, and he gets a vote, too. If he can pull off an easy victory with his preferred candidate (and throw a few crumbs to a key party constituency), and a fight for ours would threaten the republic, the former course holds all the cards.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Let's try that McConnell link again, and try to spell M-i-e-r-s correctly...

jp koch said...

You hit the nail on the head when you said Bush is not a Movement Conservative. Also, it should be noted that, W remembers what happened to his father when the Movement Cons turned on his father. We conservatives should realize that W is a Texas Republican, not a conservative. He is also a man with poor politcal instincts.

Both Roberts and Miers were nominated out fear of the Gang of 14, and the memory of Bork. Bush should have nominated Luttig, or Owens last summer, and challanged the Gang to a fight. The Gang is in my opinion a judical disaster in the making. Not giving a President the ability to get a floor vote for his nominees is a costing the President his constutional powers. The Gang is the Left's last defense.

jp koch said...

I had to weigh in on one more thing. When you said the SCOTUS is no longer a gentleman's club, I didn't know if you meant that as something good, or something bad.

I think most of the legal conservatives would like do begin the process of getting SCOTUS as much removed from politics as they can. This cannot be done until Federal Judges return to judging, and stop acting like Philosopher Kings. Bork's approach to judging comes closests in many conservatives minds. I do not want a justice who wishes to push a conservative social agenda. That is the Republican Party's job.

Also, Justices should be of the highest intellectual caliber since what they should be doing is intellectual work. They should also have a written body of knowledge that anyone with nexis/lexis or google can find. A President should never have to nominate stealth judges. I know my ideal of a judge would eliminate most polticians, and private lawyers. Even Roberts would be eliminated. My definition would favor heavily tenured law professors as well as sitting appeal court judges. I think that is the way it should be.

I also find it disturbing that people are making (for better or worse) a big deal of Miers religious background. It wouldn't bother me a bit, if a justice was atheist, so long as he/she has a proven track record of judical review that stays true to the law's orginial intent.

connie deady said...

I've sort of reached the point of being willing to concede Roe v. Wade just for the humor value in taking away the major rallying point of the religious right.

Perhaps we could take some money from Iraq and use it to pay for the care of the unwanted children. I believe statistically there were loss abortions under Clinton than Reagan, or so I've heard.

I'll concede religious symbols, too. Frankly I think they matter little, but they are apparently a big deal.

I did read a dissent by Scalia yesterday doing some research on 4th amendment in a case where he felt it violated the 4th Amendment to detain people at the convenience of the County until they could get around to preliminarily arraigning them before a neutral magistrate to determine probable cause. So maybe there is something to strict constructionism, as long as it applies to the bill of rights.

jp koch said...

I think Connie inadvertantly stepped on her tongue in her previous post. Obviously, unknown to her, there were less abortions under Clinton as opposed to Reagan for the simple fact there were less teens (the Roe effect) in the 90s.

Also, Connie's offensive remarks about religious symbols demonstrates, that after 30 plus years, the liberals still don't realize how repugnant abortion is to religious people. She will concede the symbools indeed (As well as many elections).

Also, the 4th Amendment, as well as most laws pertain to American citizens, not foreigners who wish to devastate our nation. She may not realize it, but the Geneva Convention only applies to soldiers who don unifrom, and enlist under nation states. Since when is Al Queda a nation state?

Tlaloc said...

"Also, Connie's offensive remarks about religious symbols demonstrates, that after 30 plus years, the liberals still don't realize how repugnant abortion is to religious people. She will concede the symbools indeed (As well as many elections)."

Amazing how self righteous you can be. The religious fundamentalists haven't figured out after 2000 years how repugnant it is to have them try to force their views on everyone else.

Matt Huisman said...

Of course, liberal fundamentalists never impose their views on anybody...that's why in academia and newsrooms you see people voting 90% liberal...that's why it's impossible to get images of partial-birth abortion on TV or in print media...that's why we're not even allowed to vote on things like parental notification or partial-birth abortion...that's why judicial activism is the centerpiece of the liberal agenda...because only conservatives force their views on others.

If you want to point out where our side goes overboard, fine...just don't give us that crap about it only being us.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm not offended by Connie's remarks---I think they are wise: Why should the non-religious make a big deal out of symbols they themselves hold meaningless? Why should they antagonize the religious by demanding their removal?

Sounds intolerant to me, and Connie's obviously quite the tolerant sort.

As for Roe, I've seen the same meme among the more thoughtful left, that if Roe were overturned, the issue would (rightfully) go back to the states, and the right would lose not only the hot-button issue itself, but what it represents in terms of judicial fiat vs. the will of the people.

Matt Huisman said...

I've heard that same idea (that overturning Roe would hurt the Right politically), but I'm not so sure I buy it. More so than the right, the left is a coalition of smaller, very intense, interest groups (gays, enviros, labor, etc), and abortion is the issue that they all rally around...the glue that holds them together.

When you look at all of the wanna-be Presidents on the left, the first thing that they are required to do is swear allegiance to Roe. Sure the other stuff is important, but Roe is the only non-negotiable.

[BTW, this is not meant to be an attack on liberal tactics - just an observation on their structure.]

Tlaloc said...

"Of course, liberal fundamentalists never impose their views on anybody..."

PC is a good example of liberal impositions and I hate it, your other examples however are less real.



"that's why in academia and newsrooms you see people voting 90% liberal..."

Educated people tend to vote liberal? Well gosh there are two ways to explain that. One is that an enormous conspiracy exists amongst the myriad (almost universally conservative owned) news organizations and public and priate universities. OR maybe the more educated you are the more likely you are to be liberal.



"that's why it's impossible to get images of partial-birth abortion on TV or in print media..."

You also can't get images of blown up Iraqis in the print or on TV. You think that's due to liberals? Of course not. It's due to media self censoring themselves from images they consider too graphic.



"that's why we're not even allowed to vote on things like parental notification or partial-birth abortion..."

Tyrrany of the majority is one of the things the constitution protects against by saying explicitly that no you can't just vote on anything you want. Some freedoms are too dear to be left to the mob. And really thank god! But if you have a problem with that blame the founding fathers.



"If you want to point out where our side goes overboard, fine...just don't give us that crap about it only being us."

As above liberals certainly do make attempts at control. But these attempts (while odious) are so minor and infrequent by comparison to the Republican agenda of total dominion over all life that it's ludicrous to even compare them.

Tlaloc said...

"I've heard that same idea (that overturning Roe would hurt the Right politically), but I'm not so sure I buy it. More so than the right, the left is a coalition of smaller, very intense, interest groups (gays, enviros, labor, etc), and abortion is the issue that they all rally around...the glue that holds them together."

I don't think so. Unions, enviros, and Gays have no interest in abortion. Of course big business has no interest in abortion either but they want to use the social conservatives. The big difference is that social conservatives are much much more likely to be single issue voters than anyone on the democrat side. As a result the social conservatives are easy to manipulate, just cast yourself as the more anti-abortion politician and you can guarantee their vote everytime.

That's why the republicans will never really try to outlaw abortion: because it hurts them to do so and of course they don't personally care about the issue.

Matt Huisman said...

"One is that an enormous conspiracy exists amongst the myriad (almost universally conservative owned) news organizations and public and priate universities. OR maybe the more educated you are the more likely you are to be liberal."

My understanding was that liberals were committed to ideological diversity, unlike those narrow-minded 'litmus test' conservatives. With all of that extra brain power, you'd think they'd be able to pull that off.

"You also can't get images of blown up Iraqis in the print or on TV. You think that's due to liberals? Of course not. It's due to media self censoring themselves from images they consider too graphic."

More like regulatory oversight then self-censorship. But they do the next best thing, and endlessly 'cover' the story. (I must have missed all of the favorable pro-life coverage.)

"Tyrrany of the majority is one of the things the constitution protects against by saying explicitly that no you can't just vote on anything you want."

True, and I'm glad you're at least referencing a concept found in the constitution. But a tyranny of the minority doesn't exactly inspire me either.

"And really thank god! But if you have a problem with that blame the founding fathers."

Someday, up in heaven, I plan on asking the founding fathers why they explicitly included all of those provisions for abortion.

Tlaloc said...

"My understanding was that liberals were committed to ideological diversity, unlike those narrow-minded 'litmus test' conservatives. With all of that extra brain power, you'd think they'd be able to pull that off."

Except that conservativism is by and large a function of insular mindsets. How then do you encourage conservatives to be included in your larger group when interaction with larger groups undermines many of the pretenses that are the foundation of conservativism? COnservativism in it's modern sense is patriotic, xenophobic, anti-intellectual, and religiously bigoted. All of these points of view come from a sense that the conservative's specific race, religion, nationality, and mentality are inherently superior to all others. Contact with others tends to slowly correct these errors of judgement.



"More like regulatory oversight then self-censorship. But they do the next best thing, and endlessly 'cover' the story. (I must have missed all of the favorable pro-life coverage.)"

Somehow the prolife movement isn't exactly a big story next to the war on Iraq. I'm not sure how you find that unreasonable. Given that the majority in this country emphatically do not agree with the pro-life position (they may want some restrictions on it but they do not want it banned) it would be odd to demand that the news give them special treatment.



"True, and I'm glad you're at least referencing a concept found in the constitution. But a tyranny of the minority doesn't exactly inspire me either."

What tyranny is that precisely? I mean has Planned Parenthood gestapo come to your home to force an abortion on you? No. Abortion is optional. Having an option cannot be reasonably construed as tyranny.



"Someday, up in heaven, I plan on asking the founding fathers why they explicitly included all of those provisions for abortion."

While your at it ask them why they explicitly made corporations people. Or why they explicitly created an airforce a hundred years before planes were invented. Or why they explicitly wrote that you can have a glock 9mm handgun, an uzi submachinegun, and a Ak but not a 30mm cannon. I mean that's just wacky!

Matt Huisman said...

"Except that conservativism is by and large a function of insular mindsets. How then do you encourage conservatives to be included in your larger group when interaction with larger groups undermines many of the pretenses that are the foundation of conservativism?"

So you believe that either no conservatives apply or that when they do, the amazing powers of reason on the left overwhelm their simple minds and convert them to the 'truth'. As someone once said, "I mean that's just wacky!"

"Somehow the prolife movement isn't exactly a big story next to the war on Iraq."

There was a time when it was deserving of top-billing, and the MSM coverage was certainly not viewpoint-neutral, and it was impossible to use images of any kind to explain the relevant procedures. Contrast that with your example of Iraq, where those who would advocate showing images of bodies blowing up do not find it difficult at all to get their viewpoints across, and use plenty of imagery in the process.

"Abortion is optional. Having an option cannot be reasonably construed as tyranny."

Unless you're the baby!

James Elliott said...

"that's why we're not even allowed to vote on things like parental notification or partial-birth abortion..."

Dude. California? Proposition 73? Special election? Get a clue.

Tlaloc said...

"So you believe that either no conservatives apply or that when they do, the amazing powers of reason on the left overwhelm their simple minds and convert them to the 'truth'. As someone once said, "I mean that's just wacky!""

I believe that there are very few qualified conservative applicants in social fields because by the process of becoming educated in those fields they are undermining their own conservativism. Economics is of course an exception since it is based upon exactly the kind of insular self reflecting echo chamber mentality that supports conservative thought.

How many PhD anthropologists do you know who are hardright conservatives? Not many right? Is it a coincidence, a conspiracy, or something more fundamental?



"There was a time when it was deserving of top-billing, and the MSM coverage was certainly not viewpoint-neutral, and it was impossible to use images of any kind to explain the relevant procedures. Contrast that with your example of Iraq, where those who would advocate showing images of bodies blowing up do not find it difficult at all to get their viewpoints across, and use plenty of imagery in the process."

Matt usually you seem like one of the more reasonable posters here but you've gone off on a bender. The media always has a bias, it's called "ratings." If the majority are pro-choice, and they are, the media will of course bend that way so as to get viewers. Similarly your Iraq example breaks down when you look at the media coverage in the beginning when the war was popular. It was obscenely pro-war. The media never took the administration to task over lying us into a war for their goals instead of national security. Never. They bought the Administration's feeble case without question because that's what their audience wanted. Is it contemptible? Sure. Do I wish we had a truly impartial media? Absolutely. But to claim their impartiality never swings rightward is to ignore absolutely all of 2000-2003.



"Unless you're the baby!"

That presumes that a fetus is a human being and has rights. That is simply not the case. The mother has the right to have tissue removed from her that she doesn't want, regardless of whether that tissue is a cancerous tumer, an unattractive mole, or an inviable fetus.

Matt Huisman said...

"Dude. California? Proposition 73? Special election? Get a clue."

Dude. The gnarly 9th Circuit Court is like, totally not stoked about these laws. And every similar law in the country has either been enjoined by the courts or has a bitchin' mechanism for bypassing consent.

Matt Huisman said...

"That presumes that a fetus is a human being and has rights. That is simply not the case. The mother has the right to have tissue removed from her that she doesn't want, regardless of whether that tissue is a cancerous tumer, an unattractive mole, or an inviable fetus."

Let’s just stay here for a moment. The whole abortion argument boils down to when we recognize the beginning of a new life. (I’m going to assume that you view that ‘tissue’ as a life worthy of protection once it is out of the womb, and that we both agree that human life deserves protection.) If so, we’re just arguing over a fact (when something becomes human life).

[Side note: If we can’t reach an agreement here, I don’t see how the constitution can provide any mechanism for resolving this discrepancy other than to say that legislatures should decide. Our society has decided that life is worthy of protection. I don't know why it should abandon the decision as to what qualifies as human life to each individual.]

I don’t assume that abortion advocates are evil (we don’t like that word around here anyway), and most, in fact, have very noble intentions (probably because we all are subject to natural law - just kidding). You believe it's just tissue, and are sympathetic towards the mother. I believe it's a human being, and am sympathetic towards the baby. At the end of the day, someone will be ‘forcing their views’ on the other on this issue. It just seems unavoidable to me.

James Elliott said...

Dude. The gnarly 9th Circuit Court is like, totally not stoked about these laws. And every similar law in the country has either been enjoined by the courts or has a bitchin' mechanism for bypassing consent.

You're right. It must be a conspiracy among federal judges, most of whom were appointed by Republican presidents. Oh, wait...

Don't go bitchin' about people not being able to vote on these issues when your assertion is patently false. You weren't complaining about the implementation of said propositions, you were insinuating the people had no vote on these topics.

Oh, and those "bypass mechanisms" mean going down to the local juvenile court. It ain't exactly a picnic or a stop off for some tea and crumpets on the way in to the clinic.

Maybe parental notification laws don't fly because they're not in the best interest of the child? Ever consider that? Teens in California have had access to the same rights and prenatal and contraceptive care as adults since 1953. It's also the only state that doesn't accept federal dollars for abstinence only. Hey, guess what? Latest data indicates California has the biggest drop in teen pregnancy rates, meaning fewer abortions! Things seem to work okay over here, and we don't need your proselytizing to do it.

James Elliott said...

Let’s just stay here for a moment. The whole abortion argument boils down to when we recognize the beginning of a new life.

You are indeed correct, Matt. Now, given that there is no scientific agreement as to when "personhood" occurs, we are faced with two opposing rights: The potential right to life of a potential person versus the right to choice. Absent a scientific grounding for the establishment of personhood, the right of choice for the mother is given paramount concern. I absolutely guara-goddamn-ty that, were the NIH and AMA to come out with a definitive, agreed upon answer to that question, the majority opinion would swing in a heartbeat, and gladly so.

Until then, the Constitution and its inherent principles mandate that we err on the side of personal liberty from the tyranny of others. Until that day, we'll keep calling you anti-choice and you'll keep calling us pro-abortion.

As a side note, did you know that over 80% of all counties in this country have no abortion clinics?

This would seem to be a problem with a non-issue in a large part of this country.

Matt Huisman said...

Let's reset the primary issue first...Tlaloc was unhappy about religious fundamentalists forcing their views on everyone else.

My arguement all along has been that, especially with respect to abortion, it is inevitable that one side's viewpoint is going to be 'forced' on someone else. I acknowledge that abortion advocates are making good-faith arguements in favor of their position, and I can understand and expect them to be frustrated when they lose (which doesn't happen that often).

In my opinion, the pro-life camp is making it's arguements in good-faith as well, with a real desire to protect the weak in our society.

I say all of this because I just think it is absurd to think that one side is unique in trying to 'force' their views on the other, and that they should 'back off'. Both sides are aggressively advocating for their position, the result of which would 'force' their viewpoint on the other side.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"agreed upon answer to that question, the majority opinion would swing in a heartbeat, and gladly so."


A heartbeat would probably satisfy most. Or brainwaves, the lack of which are the modern definition of death, and one might therefore logically conclude the presence of which might indicate life.

Brainwaves appear somewhere in the 40-43 day window, interestingly enough right at the cutoff dictated by some scholars of Islam...

Matt Huisman said...

Now let's look at some of the side issues...

"You weren't complaining about the implementation of said propositions, you were insinuating the people had no vote on these topics."

From my standpoint, a vote for laws/propositions that are always declared unconstitutional is hardly a vote.

"Absent a scientific grounding for the establishment of personhood, the right of choice for the mother is given paramount concern."

But why? Because of '...emanations, from penumbras...'? You may not agree, but I think that a pretty strong case can be made that 35-week old hunks of tissue have incredibly strong similarities to newborns (which virutally everyone would say deserves protection). What significant changes are there from that point on that change it from non-person to person?

That said, I believe that well-intentioned people may disagree on this, and that ultimately, our society as a whole needs to decide the issue of when life begins. (And I say this with the understanding that I may not always have the votes I would like.)

"I absolutely guara-goddamn-ty that, were the NIH and AMA to come out with a definitive, agreed upon answer to that question, the majority opinion would swing in a heartbeat, and gladly so."

If that happened, you'd probably be right. I happen to believe that the more technology enables us to know about the pre-born, the more we will come to identify them as humans deserving of protection. (One example, Stanley Fish once conceded to Robbie George that the evidence of life worth preserving was sufficient to argue from a scientific basis that abortion was wrong. I use this example only as evidence of a trend, not for an establishment of agreement within the scientific community.)

"Until then, the Constitution and its inherent principles mandate that we err on the side of personal liberty from the tyranny of others."

In the past I might have agreed with this line of arguement, but from a constitutional law perspective it sure seems like this arguement has been watered down so as to be almost meaningless. In addition, I would argue that it places a burden on your side to reexamine the scientific facts of the issue on a regular basis. I don't believe your side has done so for a while(or intends to).

jp koch said...

Tlaloc,

You contrdicted yourself. If you are correct, and let's say the majority of people receiving PHD's are liberal- where is the Diversity? It would appear most of the socical sciences have become homogenius, and stale.

If the Modern Universities are anything, they are echochambers. You hear essientially the same thing being said and done whether you are at Harvard, SMU, or Spokane Community College.

The term Diversity has, in recent years become an Orwellian word used to ensure conformity. The ordeal of Harvard's President Lawrence Summers this past summer is a good illustration.