The editors of Lawyers, Guns & Money do not necessarily endorse the sentiments of all of our fine advertisers. On an entirely unrelated note, I thought this post was interesting.
I’ve been wracking my brain for about 15 minutes now, trying to think of the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard uttered in a meeting (excluding my own bovine contributions). But given the fact that I tend to sit through most meetings with calliope music and images of dancing pandas running through my brain, I’m not sure I have any real memories to retrieve.
Matt is right about this. In addition to the fact that it’s contrary to progressive interests to have Penn advising people, there’s the additional issue of what it says about Clinton’s priorities that she would hire him in the first place. Clinton wants her head pollster to be somebody whose specialty is giving catchy names to wholly arbitrary groups of affluent people as a justification for throwing progressive policy initiatives under the bus. This says something important about her judgment, and what it says is obviously not good.
The latest dustup over Liberal Fascism is quite the howler. The delay is amusing enough, but Goldberg — who can’t seem to shake that Barton Fink feeling — is now defending himself by claiming that he’s been really . . . like . . . busy, or something.
As my wife, various friends and colleagues and sundry others can attest, the book is delayed because it’s not done yet. The reasons for that have to do with any number of things (revisions, work distractions, my father’s death, the birth of my child, etc etc) and, as far as I’m aware, marketing isn’t even on the top ten.
Now, I can empathize with the obstacles to genius that clutter the daily life of Mr. Loadpants — I’d be so much more productive, for example, if I weren’t staggering under the oppressive demands of work or dealing with my child’s unending state of self-interest. Moreover, my father has cancer, my dogs aren’t getting walked enough, and my quest to master the knuckleball and make a run at the major leagues has hit a number of snags I’d just rather not discuss publicly. All of this is making me quite stressed out and tired and unproductive.
All that aside, I’m also self-depreciating enough not to suggest that anything I do represents “a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.” And unlike Jonah Goldberg, I don’t claim to be composing a Significant Political Analysis of Libero-Fascism while dicking around and linking to games like “Pac Man with Guns.” Honestly, I’d find Goldberg’s lack of productivity more plausible if I thought he were spending his days wrestling John Goodman in a LA hotel room and walking around with Judy Davis’ head in a box.
Prof. B has a good post about the strange plan in Texas to pay $500 to have babies and give them for adoption. She hits the most obvious problem: Honey, $500 isn’t even going to pay for the extra groceries you’ll eat during a pregnancy. Let alone the prenatal care, if you’re not insured or on Medicaid, or the cost of the birth. Senator Patrick, would you agree to take care of a neighbor’s dog for nine months for a measly $500?”
So, yeah, that doesn’t seem likely to change much behavior. But there’s also a practical problem with the law: how do you know they were going to get an abortion? Give application forms only at clinics. But how do you know they really wanted an abortion and weren’t just coming to get the 500 bucks? You get the idea.
This kind of thing often happens the other way, as forced pregnancy advocates come up with various wedges to try to water down abortion rights. “But what if abortion is used as sex selection? To kill fetuses with the gay gene?” Back when we had abortion trolls, they often brought it up as if it were definitive objections. The problem is, though, that even if these choices are always immoral there’s no way these distinctions can be drawn in legislative enactments. Once you assume that most women will be smart enough to lie or stay quiet if asked their motives, how do you prove that women are getting abortions for bad reasons? Presumably, one suspects, by creating doctor panels, which given the impossibility of evidence in most cases will be ineluctably arbitrary. The choice, as always, is really simple: ban all abortions, or trust women with the ability to make choices (understanding that some will be ones you wouldn’t agree with.) The criminal law is too crude too accommodate efforts to ensure that abortions are obtained for specific reasons, even if we could agree on what they are.
John Bolton cements his reputation as one of the most loathsome human beings on the planet:
Mr Bolton now describes it as “perfectly legitimate… and good politics” for the Israelis to seek to defeat their enemy militarily, especially as Hezbollah had attacked Israel first and it was acting “in its own self-defence”.
Mr Bolton, a controversial and blunt-speaking figure, said he was “damned proud of what we did” to prevent an early ceasefire.
I suppose it’s telling that Bolton would regard as “good politics” a war that turned out to be a humanitarian catastrophe for Lebanon and a political catastrophe for Israel; I would be keen to hear Bolton’s account of what, precisely, the United States gained by thwarting any effort to achieve the only decent solution to last summer’s war. As for the matter of Bolton’s pride, it seems to me that “damned” is the operant word.
. . . Loomis has more . . .
and Bolton’s #1 Fan is breathless with glee . . .
The conservative blogger has died after what by all accounts was an immensely courageous 5-year battle with lung cancer. My father’s mother (who, incidentally, was also not a smoker) passed away from lung cancer when he was 13, which is a powerful reminder to me that this could happen to anyone. R. I. P.
The main question about this upcoming Edwards press conference would seem to be how awful it’s going to be; I certainly hope fervently that the news will be more benign than seems likely. Even if Elizabeth is ill once again, I’m not sure that it will end John’s campaign–every family is different, of course, but I wouldn’t want my unfortunate hypothetical spouse to put off a pursuit of her dream job to care for me full-time almost no matter how sick I was (although a presidential campaign is evidently pretty sui generis in terms of the time it takes away from family.) Anyway, I’m not going to even think about how this will affect the race until we know about Elizabeth’s health. Let’s hope she’s well.
I probably shouldn’t dabble in theology, but this contradiction doesn’t seem like much of a contradiction:
But once you recognize homosexuality as a genetic reality, it does create a theological dilemma for the Mohlers among us, for it means that God is making people who, in the midst of what may otherwise be morally exemplary lives, have a special and inherent predisposition to sin. Mohler’s response is that since Adam’s fall, sin is the condition of all humankind. That sidesteps, however, the conundrum that a gay person may follow the same God-given instincts as a straight person — let’s assume fidelity and the desire for church sanctification in both cases — and end up damned while the straight person ends up saved. Indeed, it means that a gay person’s duty is to suppress his God-given instincts while a straight person’s duty is to fulfill his.
I don’t think there’s anything about evangelical Christian doctrine suggesting that all people walk equally difficult paths; God, I assume they would say, obviously lays greater challenges before some than others, for reasons that only He perceives. Just as someone unlucky enough to be born to a Muslim or atheist family faces a more difficult challenge than one born to good Christians, someone born with an inherent predisposition toward some specific form of sin faces a particularly difficult path.
Indeed, the simplicity of this argument makes me wonder why religious conservatives seem so terrified of the notion that their might be a genetic basis for homosexuality. Conservatives have long been tolerant of and even attached to the idea that certain forms of difference are inherent. Inherent difference in race, class, and gender provides an easy and convenient explanation of inequality, and a ready defense against egalitarian arguments. In the case of homosexuality in particular, the “inherent” argument gives fools like Mickey Kaus a simple dodge: I don’t like gays because I’m genetically predisposed to not liking gays.
On the other hand, I’ll also admit that I really don’t understand the other side of the argument. Leftist, progressive politics has a strong record of denying inherent inequality and inherent difference; this is key to the leftist critique of racial, gender, and class hierarchy. On the question of homosexuality, however, a lot of progressives seem willing to accept the “inherency” argument, and even to use it as a foundation for a case about equal treatment for gays and lesbians. Now, I know that this isn’t an argument that finds much currency in Queer Theory, but it does seems to have a lot of popular support, at least among the gay men that I know.
I can certainly understand the value of the “inherency” argument as part of a personal narrative (“I didn’t choose homosexuality”), and as a rhetorial device making family life easier (explaining to your dad that your gay may be easier if you don’t use the language of choice), but it has always struck me as deeply problematic for two reasons. First, I’m genuinely hostile to almost all arguments that rest on a genetic basis for contemporary socio-political behavior. There’s a reason that John Tierney loves stories of evolutionary psychology so much; they almost always involve justifications of certain kinds of inequality. More importantly, they’re almost always sloppy; recall Mickey Kaus’ silly arguments about smart college students marrying smart college students and consequently producing tremendous inequality in the 1980s and 1990s, as if the elite had never intermarried before 1977.
The second and bigger problem has to do with the political narrative. Simply put, resting an argument for the political rights of a small minority on the logic of inherent difference strikes me as remarkably ill-conceived. It depends on this idea that the majority will concede rights to a minority that it may find morally reprehensible because the minority is inherently reprehensible. In other words, it implies that the only option available to the majority in the face of inherent difference is acceptance and the concession of political equality. It should hardly need be noted that this is not the only option available to such a majority, and that the language of inherency carries with it some extraordinarily dangerous implications.
Much better, I think, to try to develop a vocabulary that doesn’t depend on the distinction between nature and choice. In other words, some characteristics cannot be useful described as either chosen or inherent. The job then, within a liberal framework, at least, is to make the case that these differences ought to be politically irrelevant, and that the gay/straight distinction shouldn’t matter for questions of marriage/benefits/rights claims/etc.
Those are my thoughts, anyway. I concede the field to the political theorists…