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Jay Lake
Date: 2007-08-07 20:40
Subject: [politics] The Grand Old Police blotter strikes again
Security: Public
Tags:culture, politics, sex
I've been on recently about conservative principles. (The comment thread there is pretty interesting reading, btw.) As regular readers know, I am continually astonished at the profoundly counterfactual thinking required of any conservative these days.

For a very basic example, conservatives hold fiscal responsibility and small government as core principles while their president and (until recently) their Congress racked up the largest budgets and budgets deficits in American history while pursuing the largest government expansion in American history. Yet my conservative friends still sneer at tax-and-spend liberals. Seems to meet that beats the hell out of borrow-and-spend conservatives, which is what tax cuts + budget growth translates to. At least tax-and-spend liberals live within their means.

I could go down the list, but if you are familiar with the news outside the conservative echo chamber, you know this litany as well or better than I do. (FOX News viewers need not apply — you guys still think WMDs were found in Iraq, there's no hope for you glimpsing reality during this decade.)

The one piece of raging conservative hypocrisy that has stuck in my craw since my political coming of age early in the Reagan years is the "family values" posture of the Republican party. Every election cycle they win millions of votes on that position, which amounts to a one dimensional definition of morality framed around abortion. If you're anti-choice, you're moral. If you're pro-choice, you're immoral. Beating Clinton over the head with his sexual pecadillos for years was just bonus chop for the Gods-guns-gays platform.

Yet literally weekly we see stories like this one:

Glenn Murphy, then-chairman of the Young Republican National Federation was recently arrested is being investigated for sexual assault on another man. (Shockingly, he has since resigned his post for unrelated reasons.)

The number of Republican figures caught up in values-based scandals, as distinct from, for example, political scandals like the New Hampshire phone jamming case, l'affaire Plame, or the US Attorney firings, seems to grow weekly. Google up some of these Republicans from the hit parade past year or so if you're not familiar:

Claude Allen, White House Domestic Policy Advisor (theft, fraud)
Don Sherwood, Pennsylvania Congressman (domestic assault)
David Vitters, Louisana Senator (solicitation of prostitution, and as a special bonus, diapers!)
Jay Garrity, Romney Campaign Official (impersonating a police officer)
Thomas Ravenel, Guiliani Campaign Offician (conspiracy to distribute cocaine)
Bob Allen, Florida Congressman (soliciation of prostitution)
Jim Gibbons, Nevada Governor (sexual assault)

How much mileage did each and every one of those figures get from denouncing liberals, crusading against immorality, and proclaiming allegiance to family values?

Remember John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban? Our friends on the Right were convinced that this one young man's actions in Afghanistan were evidence that all liberals were traitors, and the liberal worldview was profoundly unAmerican. That narrative sure played well on national media.

Somehow, that logic of guilt by association which smears all liberals everywhere never seems to apply to Republicans. The "values voters" go right on believing in the moral high ground occupied by these rapists, johns and drug dealers. At the same time, they've never let go of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky, which was at least both legal and consensual.

It's not that I really care personally. There are bad apples in every barrel, of any political stripe and walk of life. The system catches them where it can. But when you paint all over your barrel, "Truth, Justice and the American Way", and proclaim your moral goodness from the rooftops to gain 40,000,000+ votes in every election, shouldn't you be responsible for some iota of intellectual consistency?

As a friend heard in a lunchroom right after the 2000 elections, from a single mother with three kids and everything to lose under Republican social and tax policies, "At least there won't be any more blow jobs in the Oval Office."
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User: sheelangig
Date: 2007-08-08 04:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

They've got a good thing going, why ever would they change it to fit the facts? That's counter-productive, dontcha' think?

What I don't understand is why they don't understand the old honey or vinegar rule. If they want to convert folks to their way of thinking, why are they so amazingly rude to folks that think differently? As if I'm going to sit quietly and listen for awhile to Pat Robertson or Bill O'Reilly or some other loudmouth and then smack my own head and say, "Gee, you're completely right, I've been an idiot! Thanks for setting me straight."? What are they thinking? And with what body parts?
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User: shsilver
Date: 2007-08-08 12:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
O'Reilly and Limbaugh aren't trying to convert you. They're trying to rile up the true believers into thinking that their way of life is under attack so they won't get complacent.
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Chris McKitterick: Bush - Mission Accomplished
User: mckitterick
Date: 2007-08-08 07:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Bush - Mission Accomplished
Thinking about this just makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with half of the American voting base. When Bush got elected in the last go-round, I was depressed, thinking, "Are more than half the voters actively stupid? Can I be proud of living in a country of morons?" Then we discovered how voting-machine fraud alone could have been responsible for Bush winning, and that eased me a bit.

How depressing is that.

Meanwhile, these monsters who are working hard to implement totalitarianism while killing thousands of people - American and otherwise - in their idiotic adventures designed to enrich their cronies... these creatures get support from "morals" voters.

Um. Since when does a person responsible for wasting money, killing huge numbers of people, lying, cheating, stealing, and all the other things you listed... since when do they get to claim moral superiority?

Again, Americans must be idiots.

Perhaps the liberals should decide to claim that they want to end a woman's right to control her reproduction, if that's all the moralists really care about. Just long enough to get voted into office. Then fuck the idiots; we'll make some change for good. It's not like Bush has done much of what he promised.

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Brian Dolton
User: tchernabyelo
Date: 2007-08-08 11:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, well, in the UK, the left-wing party reinvented itself in the mid-90s, seemingly throwing aside some of its long-cherished Socialist ideals and appealing to a whole new demographic. Those of us who actually quite liked ome of those long-cherished Socialist ideals still voted for the party, in the hope that once they got into power they'd shuck off the new clothes and go "a-ha! It was us all along!".

But they never did. So be careful about supporting that strategy.

Oh, as for "killing huge numbers of people" - those who endlessly avow how sacred "innocent" life is and how abortion is unconscionably evil are also those who believe in lex talionis and that those who have eschewed innocence (which basicalyl appears to mean anyone who disagrees with them) are fair game. It's just one of those eternally entertaining oxymoronic dichotomies of life.
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-08-08 14:57 (UTC)
Subject: Democrats need to Stand For Something(tm)
Something like 3/5ths of the Democratic Party in Caucus (the Blue Dogs and Corporate Democratic Caucus) are little better than the Republicans, and are -certainly- not liberals.

Frankly, I think the Democratic party needs to move to the left (or, to be clear, towards the Progressive Caucus) and fight like rabid badgers for those positions. Bring the government to a crashing halt if they have to, but don't cede an inch to Bush, Lieberman, et al.

Take a strong, sane, consistent position. Stick to it, unless the evidence on which it is based changes.
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User: db_writer
Date: 2007-08-08 22:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, I'm frankly astonished that people are still dumb enough to vote for higher-taxes-Let's-pull-out-while-we-can-still-lose-The-President-doesn't-have-the-right-to-fire-his-own-employees-Let's-put-a-gun-in-a-five-year-old's-face-so-we-can-send-him-back-to-a-communist-paradise Democrats, but what do I know?
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User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-08-08 11:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, to respond to your post first--

Your comments about one-issue voters are spot on. My belief that abortion ends a life is about the only thing that gets me to consider the GOP ticket these days. While it is only one issue, it is enormously weighty. The abortion issue is to many Christians what the racial issue is to minorities, in terms of personal investment.

Further, there has not been a public framework for discussing the abortion issue with anything approaching civility since...well, since ever. BECAUSE the topic is weighted in the minds of both sides, and BECAUSE there is no consistent, open dialog, the topic is effectively closed, the Two Great Parties having divided themselves into rigid camps, with strictly enforced borders, and only silence or screed is allowed to flow between them.

This to say that calling someone's viewpoint "anti-life" or "anti-choice" doesn't really help the situation. It's propaganda spew.

I am against the way that abortion is implemented in this country. I also recognize that there are many people who are in support of the current laws regarding abortion who are good people. I recognize that our differences don't stem from an inherent MORAL difference-- but a philosophical, ideological difference. It is a dangerous thing, when you say, "THOSE PEOPLE..." instead of "THAT IDEA..."

Which is why I'm excited about Barrack Obama's run for the presidency. Not because I support his views on abortion (obviously, I don't), but because the man seems so doggone REASONABLE. He seems to lift political dialog to a higher realm of discussion. He's educated, erudite, and seems dedicated to serving people in a disciplined, effective way. Despite our different views on the abortion issue, I support him (right now) just because he opens the dialog.

I hope that he doesn't change. I hope that the Democratic caucus backs him to show that they, like me, are sick of the propaganda camps.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-08-08 13:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm not sure how long you've been reading my LJ, but I like to think that I make a pretty significant effort to see different sides of an issue, even while I'm ranting passionately about my own convictions. Your comment that the differences between the pro-choice and the right-to-life movement are philosophical rather than moral is pretty much identical to my own view of that divide, and frankly, a view that many if not most liberal-progressives hold.

However, in my experience it's been very unusual to find people from the RTL side who are willing to take that view.

The extremism doesn't come from the liberal position, which in this case completely includes the core conservative position -- as the bumper sticker says, "Don't like abortion? Don't have one." What I mean by that is that the liberal viewpoint on abortion allows the conservative viewpoint to co-exist peacefully, but the conservative viewpoint does not extend the same courtesy to liberals.

This is not to say there aren't extreme pro-choicers. Of course there are. But they are few and far between, and do not dominate or even heavily influence liberal-progressive politics.

If you count the edge cases -- shootings, bombings, blockades by protest lines -- very, very few of them are committed by pro-choicers against pastors, churches and congregations. The hot, hard passion runs the other way. Pro-choicers, after all, are literally sinners and murders in the eyes of their opponents. Right-to-lifers are simply misguided from a pro-choice point of view. The tilt towards irrational discussion is deeply rooted in that difference.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
User: db_writer
Date: 2007-08-08 22:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Invading Pakistan, an ally (so far) in the war, is "reasonable"?

I'd hate to see unreasonable.
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User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-08-08 12:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Glenn Murphy, then-chairman of the Young Republican National Federation was recently arrested for sexual assault on another man.

Glen Murphy has not been arrested or even charged (as of yesterday) with a crime. He is under investigation.


Not that it makes him less of a hypocrite-- assuming his publicly stated moral code eschews extra-marital sex.

I think it's important to be exact with these sorts of things.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-08-08 12:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for the correction! Now fixing the post.
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User: sheelangig
Date: 2007-08-10 04:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I don't think we should continue this conversation as I'm not sure communication has been occurring at all. I don't feel heard by you in the slightest. The idea that someone wants the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body, is utterly obscene to me.

I think I get that you see the potential inherent in any human life. Okay, sure.

I think I get that you value human life. I'm right with you, we're good so far.

What I am not getting is that you might value women as people in *exactly* the same way as you value fertilized eggs as people. No. I hear you saying that women should *have* to sacrifice their rights for the rights of the unborn. That logically and automatically makes them less important, lesser beings, legally and philosophically. That's where it falls apart for me. That's where I start to take things personally and so get scared, and then angry. I really, Really, REALLY don't want you having any power over me, because it feels that you don't see me as actually human.

How can I take you seriously if you don't take me seriously?

Ah well, never-mind. I doubt we will ever convince each other of anything except the intractability of the others position. You want perfection and virtue in humanity. I want freedom, and do not believe in the perfection of humanity.

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User: sheelangig
Date: 2007-08-10 04:47 (UTC)
Subject: Damn

Some things just don't thread as they should. The above should be attached to the abortion argument further up the page. But I'm probably done, as no one is listening anyway.
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User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-08-10 12:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What I am not getting is that you might value women as people in *exactly* the same way as you value fertilized eggs as people.

Even though I've said so twice?

hear you saying that women should *have* to sacrifice their rights for the rights of the unborn. That logically and automatically makes them less important, lesser beings, legally and philosophically.

But the "right" that you want is the right to end the unborn's life. If I accept the premise that the unborn is human, then I cannot accept the premise that it is moral to kill it WITHOUT some justification beyond the statement, "Well, it's my right because it's my body."

It may be your body, but most of our laws regulate what you can DO with it, especially as it concerns your body's interaction with other people. Logically speaking, the ownership of your body is not an argument against making laws that affect what you do with your body.

I hear you saying that women should *have* to sacrifice their rights for the rights of the unborn. That logically and automatically makes them less important, lesser beings, legally and philosophically.

Can you enumerate what rights you think you'd be yielding for the unborn to continue living?

That's where I start to take things personally and so get scared, and then angry. I really, Really, REALLY don't want you having any power over me, because it feels that you don't see me as actually human.

You are projecting an attitude onto me that I don't actually hold. Some evidence showing where I have personally and specifically degraded you would go a long way to helping me understand how to carry this conversation forward.

How can I take you seriously if you don't take me seriously?

I think I've fairly answered the questions and comments you've raised; I think this is a demonstration of my good faith that this conversation is valuable, and that you are a valuable participant in it.

If you feel that there are questions I haven't answered, or if you feel that I'm...oh, what's the word...equivocating, please let me know. I'm dedicated to the idea that a civil discussion can be held on this topic by people who are passionately opposed.

As far as my feelings are concerned, I wish that you would talk to the ideas I've presented, rather than to what you suppose my character must be in order for me to hold those ideas.

Then again, the point may be moot-- I won't have internet access from this afternoon until Monday, and by then, this thread will be buried underneath pages and pages of LJ posts. I'd be happy to discuss this over email, though-- you can contact me through my website, www.lordofallfools.com if you're interested.
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User: sheelangig
Date: 2007-08-10 18:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I said, "...because it feels that you don't see me as actually human."

You said, "You are projecting an attitude onto me that I don't actually hold. Show me evidence..."

The thing is, this is how I see anyone who wishes to control me against my will. I would guess that it looks like just a tiny thing to you, but I see it as an all or nothing deal here. We're either talking slavery/property or 1st class citizen. Either I'm one or I'm the other. No fuzzy lines. No gray areas. And one little shift can make all the difference. It hasn't been that long since women WERE slaves/property, I'm a little nervous about being pushed back there. Pardon my skittishness, eh? And while I'm all for the concept of the social contract, I'm still very, Very, VERY particular about what each and every sub-clause says.

Yes, it might be a lovely IDEAL, for every woman who had an unplanned pregnancy to be able to afford to go through with the pregnancy, and then, if she chose, give the child up for adoption. And by afford, I do not only mean financially. There are other issues than money in this world. It's because the rest of our culture causes these other, non-financial problems that we often need the escape valve of abortion. If our families didn't judge young women for being sexual, that would help some. If our employers didn't put us on hold, or just damn fire us, while our bodies do all this pregnancy stuff, thus destroying our careers, that would help some. If we didn't have a 50 percent divorce rate, that would help some. Our culture does not support women. We are supposed to pretend to be men, and when we don't or can't or aren't, we get devalued. Care of children is not valued in our culture, either. Whether it's the stay at home mother, or the full time work outside the home mother, or the part-time outside the home mother, we're all up shits creek. Fiscally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Probably other -ly's that I can't think of just now, too. If we screw to the point of pregnancy, we're screwed. We are punished for being actively sexual females. It's not pretty. And, you, you nice, well meaning man you, you don't have a clue. Or, at least, I sure hope you don't.

Life is unfair for everyone. I don't know what men go through, in general. I don't think I *can* know. I read about it, in an effort to make my sons lives a tad easier, to try and understand them. Beyond that, I dunno'. But making it MORE unfair for some, over an IDEAL, is just plain wrong. (We've been doing that to boys in our educational system for some time, I believe. I fight that, too.) Ideals, while lovely, are often unattainable. Legislating to get the unattainable is irrational.

If you are not actually proposing that we legislate against abortion, please forgive me. We probably have nothing to argue about, but maybe loads to discuss. If you ARE proposing that we legislate against abortion, I will fight you, tooth and nail, as long as it takes. Intractable, as I told you.

Okay, I'm screeching. That's because I still don't feel heard. I said yesterday I was going to stop. Maybe today, I will.
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