Alright, so I am now in the city after an entirely intraweb-free week in the Vallee Du Rhone, tanned, rested, and carrying several bottles of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape (personal to customs agents: exactly two! Scout’s Honor!) I am shocked to log on and find that Alito has provided the crucial swing vote to all but gut the exclusionary rule. Oh wait, I’m not Ann Althouse or Stuart Taylor; I actually knew Alito was a statist reactionary! Whew, vacations can make you a bit dizzy.
Anyway, I seem to have a functioning, full-time connection in the apartment here, so I will be checking in periodically, perhaps with comments about the case although based on a quick skim I think I can endorse iocaste’s evaluation unreservedly. Meanwhile, continue to enjoy the fine blogging of guests and colleagues…
Off to France. Intermittent internet access in the meantime; enjoy our superb guest-bloggers and (fairly soon) my usual colleagues. I leave you with the following thought from Roy:
I don’t believe in that “love your enemy as yourself” bullshit, either, but I don’t get all bent out of shape when other people go for it. For one thing, unlike the shellfish provisions in the Old Testament, it has zero chance of ever catching on.
I think I’ve seen this kind of argument elsewhere, too, but I’m just baffled by what Ann Althouse seems to arguing here:
Amid all the efforts to stir up public outrage about the evils of government invading our privacy, MySpace and Friendster stand as monuments to our willingness to invade our own privacy. Do you expect the government not to take advantage of the information people post about themselves?
There’s also the problem of trying to make people care about the government listening in on phone calls when we walk around everywhere with our phones and talk in front of people all the time.
Nobody, alas, is more prone to cranky rants about people making annoying cell calls in public than me, but the logic here is just incomprehensible. Yes, sometimes post personal details about themselves on network sites, and they cannot have an expectation of privacy about these things (although I think that what people choose to keep private should be respected even if people make some things public)–but what does this have to do with the vast majority of people who don’t? How does the fact that people sometimes make phone calls in public diminish the expectation of privacy of phone calls that aren’t made in public? By Althouse’s logic, because an increasing number of people pose nude on the internet, there would be no reason to object if the government started taking nude pictures of people without their consent. Before 9/11 Changed Everything I would have thought this was too obvious to even require saying, but voluntarily waiving your own privacy and having someone invade it without your consent are categorically different things.
How is the contention of the “pro-choice” anti-Roe consensus that dominates liberal magazines and op-ed pages that in the wake of Roe‘s overturning states may pass some “reasonable” regulations and late-term bans but leave first-trimester abortions alone working out? Let’s examine the bill that Louisiana’s “Democratic” governor will be signing into law:
La. Governor Kathleen Blanco is expected to sign a strict abortion ban into law now that the Senate has given the measure final legislative approval.
Blanco said last week that she planned to sign the bill, which would ban nearly all abortions in Louisiana if the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion rights ruling is ever overturned.
Under the measure, doctors found guilty of performing abortions would face up to ten years in prison and fines of one hundred thousand dollars.
It should be noted as well that while Louisiana is certainly below-average in terms of abortion access, it’s not a radical forced-pregnancy state like Mississippi: it has more than a dozen abortion clinics and only modest regulatory restrictions. A law that banned abortion clinics entirely would have very dire consequences. And apparently Ohio’s next. (As Echidne points out, of course neither bill contains any criminal sanctions for women who get abortions, just for doctors who perform them: sexist all the way down.)
Why, it’s almost enough to make me think that abortion policy created by overwhelmingly reactionary legislators in low-turnout state elections may not necessarily reflect the policy preferences of the median national voter…
In this thread, our friend Pithlord continues his valiant (if, in my view, misguided) defense of a modest version of the centrist pro-choice position. I’ve discussed before my general belief that parental and spousal notification laws are excerable public policy, although I think the former (though not the latter) should probably be upheld as a matter of constitutional law. The short version is that these laws are usually superfluous in the case of stable, loving families, and create all kinds of problems for women in bad family situations. For what it’s worth, I also disagree with Pithlord’s a priori claim that husbands have a “moral right” to be informed of his wife’s decision to get an abortion. I think that this is too reductionist; as with questions of work, living arrangements, consensual sexual relations, etc., I think that such questions are contingent, to be determined by the members of a relationship and not easily reduced to categorical imperatives; I would not call keeping some reproductive choices private ipso facto “immoral” any more than I would call open marriages ipso facto immoral. My default assumption would be “a woman who doesn’t discuss her choice to get an abortion with her husband probably has a good reason” rather than assuming that she’s doing something immoral. (I’m sure I would hurt and disappointed if my hypothetical spouse felt she couldn’t discuss her choice with me. I’m also quite confident that I would be hurt and disappointed if she had an affair with my best friend without my knowledge; that’s hardly a good reason for the state to require her to provide written notification prior to having an affair, leaving aside the gender inequities inherent in laws concerning abortion.)
But let me run at this from another, more empirical angle. My preferred policy mix is not just some air-castle hypothetical. Pithlord is Canadian; as it happens, Canada has something close to my preferred abortion policy, providing state-funded abortion without the complex and frequently arbitrary regulations that burden access to the procedure in the U.S. (some of which, to be fair, Pithlord also opposes.) So here’s my question: what benefits have Americans gotten out of this? As I believe most pro-choice centrists will concede, these regulations create burdens on women, and these burdens also fall disproportionately on women in the worst family situations and with the least resources. So what, exactly, is worse about the Canadian status quo? Is there any evidence that women in loving marriages routinely fail to tell their husbands about abortions in Canada? Do women make “worse” decisions about abortion in Canada because they’re not forced to wait and given some state propaganda about the subject? Do any demonstrable consequences flow from keeping the state out of these difficult and intimate decisions?
And this is perhaps the easiest way to sum up why I oppose pretty much all of these regulations: their negative effects are clear and demonstrable, while their benefits (even if one accepts arguendo that the ends being pursued are desirable, which I don’t really agree with) are highly speculative and tenuous. I frankly don’t see a good reason to prefer the system found in more conservative American states to the Canadian one.
Yet another example. I’m sure that the intensive campaign to de-link NRO will start immediately! (Or, at least, as soon as they’ve started one for Jeff Goldstein.) Admittedly, there is a certain poetic justice in the fact that Armando actually thought that Trevino was serious and lent legitimacy to his silly Trojan Horse, but outing him is still bad.
The recent story about how not having access to Plan B is likely to lead to more abortions reminds me about this telling statistic, which appeared in the last Harper‘s index:
Percentage of U.S. abortions in 1973 and 2002, respectively, that took place in the first trimester: 38, 61.
One of the biggest effects of Roe was that it allowed women to get abortions in a more timely manner. Which makes this data a nice counterpoint to Jeffrey Rosen’s latest entry in the “let’s compromise on abortion by limiting the legal protection of reproductive rights to women I know” sweepstakes (which, admittedly, is the best of this useless genre.) I haven’t said anything about it because I have a print article coming about the subject, but like virtually all abortion “centrists” Rosen falls into the pro-life trap by assuming that the primary goal of abortion regulations that stop short of a ban is stopping the tiny fraction of elective third-trimester abortions. Like all such arguments, it basically sidesteps all of the difficult questions about regulating post-viability abortions; even if we concede that the Roe/Casey health exemption gives women and doctors significant discretion, there’s little reason to believe that changing the statutory wording around to protect women at severe (but not life-threatening) risk would make any difference, and not allowing later-term abortions even such health consequences would ensue is problematic, and even enforcing a strict exception only allowing abortions in situations where the mother’s life is at stake would be much more difficult to enforce (and require a great deal more intrusive harassment of women and doctors by state officials) than its supporters acknowledge. Trusting women and doctors, I think, makes much more sense.
But the bigger problem is that not only do most of the regulations beloved by urban-center-white-male centrists have absolutely nothing to do with late-term abortions per se, they are actively counterproductive if preventing them was their goal. If the “compromise” position is to maximize the number of elective abortions that take place in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, creating an arbitrary regulatory obstacle course that makes it more difficult for women with fewer resources to get abortions in a timely manner and also make it more difficult for clinics to operate is the worst conceivable policy. If reducing late-term abortions is the goal, it’s obvious that access to abortion should be broadened, not reduced, and in fact getting rid of intrusive regulations and increasing funding to Planned Parenthood clinics would in fact be a far more effective way of reducing late-term abortions than criminalization. That abortion “centrists” claim to be most concerned about late-term abortions while they advocate policies that will inevitably reduce the percentage of abortions obtained in the first trimester is one of the clearest marks of their fundamental unseriousness.
Linda Hirshman, guest-blogging at TAPPED, has an interesting follow-up post about the debunked Newsweek scare story on marriage. One downside of the fact that most of the women got married is that many of them had to give up their careers. In light of this, Hirshman decided to track down a man interviewed for the article, who was all for equality as long as it didn’t interfere with his partner being an unpaid maid:
So I am wondering to myself, was this the price they had to pay to land a husband after 1986? The old article did include a warning from one bachelor, Rick Kurson, a Boston stockbroker, that “equality was okay, but when he came home from work, he wanted dinner on the table.” (For future purposes, I will refer to such female dinner providers as “Caitlins,” v.t., “to Caitlin.”) Although Kurson’s was clearly the most obnoxious interview in that article and still the subject of commentary twenty years later, nobody at Newsweek or elsewhere apparently thought to see how Kurson’s quest for the perfect Caitlin turned out. So I called him up.
“Are you the Rick Kurson who was quoted in Newsweek magazine’s article about marriage in 1986?”
“I see from your telephone listing that you have a wife. Does she make you dinner every night?”
“No, she works.”
“And she drives the kids around and all that. So sometimes she makes dinner, sometimes I barbecue, sometimes we get carry out or go out.”
Hirshman: “But you told Newsweek magazine in 1986 . . .”
Kurson: “That was one line out of a four-hour interview. It didn’t represent what I meant even then.”
Turns out, after he appeared in Newsweek, Kurson left his job as a stockbroker, went back to school, got a master’s degree in social work, and became a therapist. At 39, he married his wife, they have two children. Like many of the women I described in “Homeward Bound,” she does not work full-time. But between her part-time work at a vintage store and her robust little business designing and selling jewelry made from vintage elements, she’s carrying a pretty full load. And he has the luxury, as a therapist, to control his hours so he can spend time playing golf, playing with their kids, and being with her.
When I asked him whether he would have married her if she had told him she always intended to work full-time, he said of course. “We fit together well, that was what was important. I immediately felt very comfortable, we sort of clicked. I was never married before, but we were engaged within six months and married within a year.”
“Although that quotation in Newsweek didn’t represent what I thought even then,” he continued, “I’m glad I waited until I grew and I grew up before I married.”
Now that Newsweek has retracted its prediction that college-educated women at thirty can not marry at all, it’s probably going to be only another decade or two before they recant the latest destructive suggestion: that they can marry but only if they accept a godly traditional lifestyle. They just have to follow the third Hirshman Rule: Never marry a jerk. Rick Kurson turned out not to be one, and I bet there are a few others out there, too.
I think this is an excellent point. In response to Aspazia’s recent question, I would say that (although marriage has historically been a crucial constitutive element in the oppression of women) there’s nothing inherently anti-feminist about getting married, at least under a legal framework that doesn’t dissolve a woman’s rights upon entering the contract. What is inherently anti-feminist is the constant pressure on woman to get married, as if you will cease to exist if you’re 30 and single, which is what compels so many women to make sacrifices that they wouldn’t otherwise and aren’t necessary.
Matt’s argument here can be engaged with on a couple levels. Certainly, there’s no question–even granting that it generally takes at least 2 viewings to sort these things out–that this season has been the weakest by a significant margin, and I’ll even concede that for the first time The Sopranos is somewhat inferior to Deadwood (or at least Season 2, which pace Matt is much superior to the fine first season) and The Wire, although the atrocious dream sequence aside it still towers over any drama on network TV.
As for the claims that the finale was “criminally terrible” of that “the writers have just totally lost respect for both their audience and their product and they’re basically just mocking us for watching at this point,” this is just silly. This ain’t 24 we’re talking about here; it remains an entertaining, very well-written and marvelously acted show. I would again concede the limited point that the finale wasn’t really a satisfying finale qua finale (although this has also been true of other seasons); one problem with the dream sequence was that it wasted two episodes, and this one did feel more like a setup for a conclusion than the conclusion itself. On its own terms, though, it was a terrific show. It was strong throughout, and two of the scenes–AJ’s bike bribe, and Carmine’s catastrophic sitdown–were minor Sopranos classics. (The latter scene did, however, clarify for me one thing missing from this season: Philly was useful as a thug, but as a boss he’s much less interesting than Johnny Sack or even Carmine Sr.) And while I agree that Chris’ relapse was the least interesting plot line, even there dramatization of the fact that he’s willing to risk his life for an affair even though if he gets the drugs he couldn’t care less about the sex was compelling and a logical character development.
The penultimate episode was also very good. It did (like, as I think Matt pointed out, Carmela visiting Melfi early in the season) provide an example of the show making more network-level compromises, providing screen time to characters whether the story demands it or not. Overall, the episode was a brilliantly structured example of various forms of bad faith; first, the comic version of AJ explaining that he stole from Blockbuster for environmental purposes, then the superb, bitter sequences with Tony’s corkscrew logic trying to convince himself about the killing of Vito (“If he wanted to pursue that lifestyle he should have kept it quiet.” “Wasn’t he?”), shifting between economic and homophobic rationales. And then there’s the dinner scene with Rosalie and Carmela, in which they engage in a discussion of Jackie Jr. pregnant with the knowledge that they probably know why he died but would prefer not to. (And, of course, we also remember who pulled the trigger on Jackie.) The problem with the latter, though, was that it was the only useful part of the absurdly distended trip to Paris, which was pretty clearly a “give Carmela 15 minutes” storyline that served no useful purpose. And there’s no question that these kinds of duff sequences, so rare in the first 3 seasons, were a lot more common in this one. But we’re talking about the distance between “very, very good” and “great,” not anywhere close to intelligence-insulting terrible, and while the season took way too long to get started it actually finished pretty well.
Shorter Captain Ed: You know what would be really neat? A constitutional amendment that would guarantee that judges would never make decisions I disagree with (you know, “mischief” involving marriage like Loving v. Virgnia.) I can’t see any problem with that! And the conservative base obviously disagrees more with “judicial activism” than with gay marriage, which is why they think a constitutional amendment that prevents legislatures from creating gay marriage if anything doesn’t go far enough.
And as I’ve mentioned before, his certainty about what judges should do is unburdened by any actual knowledge of the cases he’s discussing. He’s still erroneously telling his readers that the Supreme Court located abortion rights in the Fourth Amendment, and claiming that the Court has held “that teenagers can have abortions without parental consent.” (Sadly, No!)
A final point worth making, since this will come up even among people who have read the decisions they’re certain are wrong, is with respect to the claim that the Goodridge decision somehow thwarted the will of the people of Massachusetts. It’s not clear in what sense this is actually true. The state constitution has a provision to hold a referendum in such cases if the legislature objects; it failed. Legislators who supported the court fared better in state elections than those that didn’t. Goodridge is a classic case of conservatives assuming that if they disagree with a court’s decision it must be unpopular–the same incorrect assumption, of course, they make with Roe.
Julia: “Shorter Glenn Reynolds: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to object to it.”
Say this for the man: he continues to provide real innovations in ludicrous “stab-in-the-back” tautologies. It really takes a truly special combination of willing partisan hackery and a total lack of shame; a pretty rare find, when you think about it.