Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A widening chasm... Is there a "left" vs. "right"? And the Russian mob.


"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics." - Erma Bombeck, author (1927-1996). *

To be clear, we already have two holidays celebrating veterans and those who have fallen or sacrificed for nation and freedom. And remembering yet-again certainly has a place on America's Independence Day. Alas, Donald Trump’s shamelessly self-centered hijacking of the DC July 4 commemoration had a political purpose. Republicans are seeing arterial loss of support among members of the U.S. military officer corps - the 3rd best-educated clade in America and deeply concerned over the GOP's all-out war on all fact professions, including science but also the Intelligence Community and FBI and the rest of the slagged "deep state." 

This loony display - rained-upon by the heavens - did not shore up support from the officer corps, who saw it as a waste and distraction - like some spandex-wearing 'Space Force.' But the officer corps are not main audience for all this lobotomized bluster. That is Red America, and (I believe) the enlisted personnel and noncoms who come disproportionately from southern states.

If we see a widening gulf between commissioned and non-commissioned personnel, a dangerous situation may arise that we haven't seen since Vietnam. A factor that goes unmentioned even in recent "new US civil war" novels like Tears of Abraham and Our War.

== “Left” and “right” as obsolete concepts ==

Robert Reich brilliantly questions the continuing usefulness to the Left-versus-Right axis that is not longer meaningful in older ways:

A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market.” Reich avows that both sides used to have some validity. 

Indeed, I’ve long held that infrastructure, R&D and especially the uplifting of poor children are all defensible as ways to enhance competitive market enterprise. History has proved this correct.

What has not proved correct is the interpretation of “free market” that took over the U.S. right since the 1980s, raging against any regulation erected to prevent cheating or to provide a flat-fair-open-competitive playing field. Especially, the cult called “Supply Side” has been utterly disproved, as oligarchy-demanded tax cuts fed asset bubbles and slowed money velocity, while sending wealth disparity skyrocketing and actually reducing investment in research or productive capital.

Reich is a better communicator than I am, with a bigger platform, so he goes to the heart of why oligarchy-owned media keep pushing a “left-vs-right” narrative.  

I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted. In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy…. So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – split off people of color from working-class whites, stoke racial resentments, describe human beings as illegal aliens, launch wars on crime and immigrants, stoke fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation. Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.”

Wow. A bit more “lefty” than I would put it. But totally correct and we’re agreed this calls for real militancy. In fact, it’s a pity no one will put this in historical context. Like how the American Revolution wasn’t against “government” but against a royal/feudal oligarchy that monopolized trade and rigged markets... the kind of oligarchy that’s always been the worst enemy of true enterprise. (Try actually reading the Declaration of Independence.)

Reich concludes that: The only way to overcome the oligarchy and Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is for the rest of us to join together and win America back.” 

 And yes, that “join together” part means resisting the siren calls of sanctimonious splitting that are already pouring from Moscow provocateurs, urging our “left" to wage war against moderate or enterprise-oriented democrats and independents and even the “deep state” public servants we’ll desperately need.

About that! Note that while pundits pay top attention to the "leftward swing" of many deep blue districts, where AOC types are primarying old line democrats (and welcome to do so), little is paid to the ones who made the real difference in 2018, ex-military officers who ran in red and purple districts, taking ground and putting Rep. Nadler in a position to issue subpoenas. That is the trend terrifying Koch-Murdoch-Mercer-Putin and the oligarch crowd.

They are counting on our own fringe nutjobs to burn flags and spit on soldiers and veterans, partly egged-on by memes generated in a special basement of the Kremlin. We certainly can rip defeat from the jaws of victory; we've done it before. And that was what this July 4 stunt was all about.

== The future ==

An interesting Australian documentary about the year 2040, on how we can solve our climate problems and make a better world. And a film review.

Oleg Kalugin – now 84 - was Vladimir Putin's boss at the KGB and said Putin's background is essential to understanding today's Russia. Putin brought back some of the worst sides of the Soviet regime. As a former KGB guy, his psychology is based on the old traditions of the Soviet system."

== Russian Influence ==


“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Trump Jr. boasted at a real estate conference in 2008. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” 

Here’s another gem from this amazing and important article: “The money, illicit and otherwise, began to rain in earnest after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. President Boris Yeltsin’s shift to a market economy was so abrupt that cash-rich gangsters and corrupt government officials were able to privatize and loot state-held assets in oil, coal, minerals, and banking. Yeltsin himself, in fact, would later describe Russia as “the biggest mafia state in the world.” from Craig Unger's article in The Atlantic: Trump's Russian Laundromat.

“After Vladimir Putin succeeded Yeltsin as president, Russian intelligence effectively joined forces with the country’s mobsters and oligarchs, allowing them to operate freely as long as they strengthen Putin’s power and serve his personal financial interests. According to James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Co. who consulted on the Panama Papers, some $1.3 trillion in illicit capital has poured out of Russia since the 1990s.”

Among the nuggets in this article exposing relentless Trump ties to the Russian mob (2 years old but devastating): “In 2015, the Trump Taj Mahal was fined $10 million—the highest penalty ever levied by the feds against a casino—and admitted to having “willfully violated” anti-money-laundering regulations for years.” Oh, but it gets far more spectacular.

Seriously, this is an important article. Then there’s Craig Unger’s whole book: “House Of Trump,House Of Putin: The Untold Story Of Donald Trump And The Russian Mafia.”

----
*Preserving the only continent without (much) in the way of borders and standing armies was the maybe #3 or 4 reason the Union had to win the 1860s phase of our ongoing Civil War. For most of US history, citizens never saw soldiers and moved vast distances without checkpoints. Ponder how that would have changed if the Confederacy won. Followed by another war between nations in the 1880s. And another in 1914. But now we're in the territory of science fiction....

68 comments:

Doug S. said...

Are you referencing Harry Turtledove's alternate history series in that footnote? (The one that starts with How Few Remain?)

Daniel Duffy said...

You want the future? Forget about "2040" and watch HBO's "Years and Years".

David Brin said...

See ol' Two Scoops cavorting with Jeffrey 'like em young' Epstein (in this case 2002): "I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life." ... Now? How many times across just the last year has DT proclaimed about some scandal-exposed official or pal: "I barely know the guy!"

Supposedly "moral" redders fall back on the "Cyrus Excuse." Cyrus was a pagan, but God's chosen instrument. Trump is the diametric opposite of Jesus in every conceivable way, but he gets an endless hall pass for one reason only. He enrages the same folks who confederates hate, and have always hated. Smarty-pants folks who know a lot. Oh and minorities and 'libbers' and furrin allies. Them too.

The same is true of KGB-trained Kremlin agent Putin and all the Lenin-raised Russian oligarch mafiosi. And GOP casino moguls, North Korean communist tyrants, Saudi murder-princes, Wall Street parasites and inheritance brats. And the ever-lengthening list of Republican child-molesters. All of them great guys! Why? Simple. Because they make you and me (smartypants types) frown in disapproval.

That's what makes them the elect and chosen ones of the Almighty.

Claiming moral superiority, Red America scores worse in every moral category from teen sex/pregnancy/STD/abortions to domestic violence, alcoholism etc... plus an endless Drug War and ever-more supply side never-right voodoo theft...

And *you* lot are at fault, for not reading your Bible and learning how to talk to those neighbors of ours. You can start with this simple line from the Man himself.

"By his fruits you shall know him."

https://www.newsweek.com/morning-joe-video-trump-epstein-maralago-party-1449700

Larry Hart said...

reposting from after the "onward" last post...

A.F. Rey:
I've always wondered, for those anti-abortionists who believe that DNA defines a unique person,...


I doubt those anti-abortionists care a whit for newfangled book-learning concepts like DNA.

jim:

That is the kind of reaction I want!!!
First of all it reinforces that Trump is rapey and creepy and an old pervert.
Second it makes republican women who say things like that seem to be nut jobs.


In any other candidate or president, Trump's sexual proclivities would have Republican voters racing each other to denounce him. Somehow, in him, it evokes a kind of vicarious envy instead. They love the guy precisely because they wish they had the balls to act as he does.

It's one reason I suspect he actually uses Mule powers to inspire loyalty in his supporters and despair in his opponents. Like any good story, it explains a lot.

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman points out the obvious:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/15/opinion/trump-twitter-racist.html

...

Last week Bill Lee, the Republican governor of Tennessee, signed a proclamation ordering a day to honor the Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom he described as a “recognized military figure.” Indeed, Forrest was a talented military commander. He was also a traitor, a war criminal who massacred African-American prisoners, and a terrorist who helped found the Ku Klux Klan.

Put it this way: The Nazis had some very good generals, too. But the world would be horrified if Germany announced plans to start celebrating Erich von Manstein Day. There are, no doubt, some Germans who would like to honor Nazi heroes. But they aren’t in positions of power; their American counterparts are.

...

It’s tempting to say that Republican claims to support racial equality were always hypocritical; it’s even tempting to welcome the move from dog whistles to open racism. But if hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, what we’re seeing now is a party that no longer feels the need to pay that tribute. And that’s deeply frightening.

A.F. Rey said...

I've always wondered, for those anti-abortionists who believe that DNA defines a unique person,...


I doubt those anti-abortionists care a whit for newfangled book-learning concepts like DNA.

***

No, that's one of the talking points for those arguing that the fetus/embryo/zygote is a "person," with all the legal right thereof.

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/cnn-contributor-when-a-woman-is-pregnant-that-is-not-a-human-being-inside-of-her/

duncan cairncross said...

Re-Abortion

If I need some of your blood or one of your organs (you have two) and I am your son then I am NOT "entitled" to it

Even if I am your child and I will die without it I am NOT entitled to your blood or organs

The "Pro-life" people would give MORE "rights" to a collection of cells than to an actual living breathing child

David Brin said...

You know I can zero in on flaws in the enlightenment side. Like dissing forced school busing. I also think it's dumb how "our side" has accepted the narrative of the right that this is a digital, on-off matter.

HClinton said "we aim to make abortion safe, legal and rare." A very good bit of polemic that encapsulaized a very advantageous position, if liberals were to take it. Because indeed, abortion is LESS common where girls are fully taught to feel empowered and to have access to birth control.

Faced with this, the rightists replythat we'd negotiate with Nazis to murder FEWER innocents, instead of pulling out the stops to end Nazism forever.

"Digital (on-off) laws for an analog world."

Anotherlefty failing, not making clear the spectral matter of gestation period. In their purity, they are unable to negotiate a reasonable sliding scale. It used to be all about viability and women could not abort if the fetus was close to term. That's still the law. Pro-choicers often hate on that, but seriously? you'd draw no line? The right has made huge hay over late-term abortion...

...when probably 99% of those are cases of anencephaly or (worse hyroanencephaly, where an apparently healthy fetal body is found to have no brain. Should a woman be forced to give "birth" to such a thing, the pain and the hormonal washes ... for nothing?

In fact, I don't know that it is 99% (anybody?) but if it is, then why not say so? And if it's not, then WTF are the other cases?

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

Even if I am your child and I will die without it I am NOT entitled to your blood or organs

The "Pro-life" people would give MORE "rights" to a collection of cells than to an actual living breathing child


Not only that, but they give more rights to a fetus than to the living, breathing adult mother. Which has always been my take on the abortion issue--it's not about whether the fetus is human or not--it's about the right of the woman not to be pressed into service as an ambulatory incubator. It's not that one has rights and the other doesn't, but that the law must adjudicate between conflicting rights.

As a separate issue, from a purely legalistic POV, fetal personhood causes all sorts of difficulties with laws that were written presuming that legal personhood confers upon live birth. The immediate one I think of now is whether a fetus on US soil is a US citizen, when he has not yet been born, naturally or otherwise. Does the unborn child have Schroedinger's Citizenship--a wave function which reflects both citizenship and non-citizenship until the wave function collapses at birth?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Faced with this, the rightists replythat we'd negotiate with Nazis to murder FEWER innocents, instead of pulling out the stops to end Nazism forever.


They used to say that, back when they agreed that Nazis were the bad guys.

Jacob said...

Call me Pro-Science. I believe that eventually we will not have to regularly deal with crap trade-offs.

Treating a fetus as subhuman has a lot of parallels to treating a minority as subhuman. It isn't ok to end them when they threaten 'real' people. Nor is it ok to just pretend every baby would be born healthy into an environment where they have a shot at the American dream.

Life vs Choice is a trade off between Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Both sides are American and both sides have a crap solution that is un-American. Technology will in the future replace the abortion procedure with transference to a willing woman or an artificial womb. At which point, abortion should be exceedingly rare except in cases of threat to the life of the mother.

The Pro-Life movement could even organize to cut down on the vast majority of Abortions before the tech is ready. They would need to ensure that there would be zero financial burden on prospective mothers including post birth and career related. That there was a long waiting list of homes waiting to adopt any child (not just those shiny ones they imagine when thinking of Abortion). I would consider zero children of any age waiting for adoption to be a prerequisite. I think the narrative would change. [Viability, Health of the mother, ongoing trauma, and other misc would still apply.] This is not what I see when I examine the general Pro-Life movement.

Simplification of this issue doesn't help things. Acknowledge the value in the others position and problem solve a solution to the dang problem. We're tool users and inventors. Let's devote the money we're throwing at a crap political tug-o-war towards a solution where our grandchildren or theirs will not be turned against one another.

duncan cairncross said...

Treating a fetus as "subhuman" is entirely accurate
At most a fetus is a "potential" human

Treating a fetus as being a human is opening an awful bag of worms - is a man masturbating guilty of mass murder?

What about a fertilised egg?

Larry Hart said...

Jacob:

Technology will in the future replace the abortion procedure with transference to a willing woman or an artificial womb. At which point, abortion should be exceedingly rare except in cases of threat to the life of the mother.


Or in the case of a non-viable fetus. I would hope a woman carrying a child who won't survive to birth, or who will die horribly upon birth, won't be forced to transfer that fetus to another woman in a ghastly game of "hot potato".

Larry Hart said...

I can't find the exact tweet at the moment, nor do I care to bother, but when @realDonaldTrump accuses Democratic congresswomen of being filled with hate, I suppose he's vigorously protecting his trademark.

Jacob said...

Hi Duncan,

What you've done is disagree with the other side's perspective of what a person is. That argument has been tried and led to a lack of self determination for women in areas where the Pro-Life movement is in power. I judge it non-productive to your goals.

Pretend you do believe, suggest ways to obtain both your assumed and your actual goals together.

---

Hi Larry,

I hope most would agree that we should be working to eliminate most cases of non-viability with Science as well. We already do a lot to put our thumb on the scale. We're just not most of the way there yet.

I tried to indicate that I thought the health, liberty, and self determination of women is very important.

Larry Hart said...

Again, Benedict Donald's concern with others seems to be that they're infringing on his trademark on deplorability.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/opinion/trump-racist-tweets-squad.html

The whole White House team has been talking about the squad. Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday claimed they represented “a dark underbelly in this country.”


"I know you are, but what am I?"

Larry Hart said...

Jacob:

I tried to indicate that I thought the health, liberty, and self determination of women is very important.


I know you did. I was adding an additional consideration to what you said, not arguing against it.

jim said...

Whenever I talk about abortion, I always start by saying that I take the biblical perspective that your life begins with your first breath. It always throws people off their game when you point out that Adam became alive when God breathed life into him.

This point of view is also consistent with a topological understanding of when your life begins: when you become separate from your mother. Also with an ecological perspective, your life begins when you start to independently interact with the wider world.

Then I transition into saying that I trust, love and respect my mother enough for her to make the decision on weather or not to bring me into existence.

Then on to the fact that the abortion rate in the US has fallen by 50% sense the early 1980’s and that I would be happy to work with anti abortion people to reduce that even further, as long as long as we do not remove the right of a woman to control weather or not she continues a pregnancy.

Larry Hart said...

Abortion is the issue I have always been most conflicted about.

I can see the side which says that the fetus (after a certain point) is a thinking and feeling being who is not responsible for the way in which he was conceived.

I can also see the side which says that pregnancy is a medical condition, one which until very recently (and still in many cases) has been life-threatening to the woman. And in the case of rape, pregnancy amounts to the woman's forced slavery as a living incubator.

One does not invalidate the other. Both points of view are valid. Both parties have rights which are in conflict.

Ultimately, I come down on the side of personal autonomy (the fetus can't assert such rights as it is wholly dependent on the woman carrying it). Add to that the fact that an adult woman is a member of society in a way that an incomplete fetus is not. I don't claim the correctness of my position to be self-evident, but that's where I stand.

A.F. Rey said...

I caught a few moments of Trump's rally in NC last night, where the crowd started to chant "Send her home! Send her home!" I had heard about that chant, but hearing it drove a pin through my heart.

A week ago, none of these people would have thought about sending any Congresswoman "home." They may have disliked them, criticized them, perhaps hated them. But expelling them from their country, or repeating a racist chant, would not have crossed their minds. But in a matter of days, they have embraced this idea, internalized it, and made it their own.

These are people who are looking for direction and guidance for their anger. They need someone to tell them where to look, who to hate, how to hate them. They don't care about the morality of their actions. They just want to win, and will blindly, enthusiastically follow whoever they think will lead them to victory.

My first thought when I heard the chant was "now it's time to impeach Trump." But my second was more depressing. Someone is already plotting on how he can direct these followers to perform illegal acts to destabilize the country and hopefully gain more power for himself or his group. And he will want to act soon, within the next few years or months, because he knows Trump is an old man in not-so-great health. He won't be around in the next decade or so to be the focus of these followers.

It really is going to come to a shooting war, isn't it?

Jon S. said...

Ah, that old classic, "when life begins".

From a Biblical perspective, Rabbinical councils have long held that the fetus begins to have rights of any sort after "quickening", when the mother can feel the fetus moving within her. That one can be a little subjective, but at least evenly applied.

We used to define death as when someone stopped breathing, then when their heart stopped beating. Now, with modern medical techniques routinely "restoring life" to such patients, we had to either adopt a new standard or start calling our doctors "necromancers". Currently, the standard is when the brain stops producing certain outputs on an EEG. I suppose that if we could find a way to measure fetal brain activity, we could use that as a standard for "the beginning of life".

And, as Jim notes, the Book of Genesis states that Adam became alive when God "breathed the breath of life into his nostrils", which by extension means that you're only alive when you can breathe through your nose, I guess. Would that mean that a bad cold would be considered fatal?

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

the Book of Genesis states that Adam became alive when God "breathed the breath of life into his nostrils", which by extension means that you're only alive when you can breathe through your nose, I guess. Would that mean that a bad cold would be considered fatal?


Once you become alive, you're still alive. The condition that brought you to life doesn't have to be the only thing keeping you there.

Nice try, though. :)

David Brin said...

Digital laws for a clearly analog world. jim, alas, shows that our side can also be crazy. The whole notion that an 8 month almost ready and viable healthy fetus can be aborted as the bearer's whim is just plain nuts. It demoloishes any credibility and you know which side I am generally on.

Mark Bender said...

As a retired enlisted service member (NCO), I can confirm, from my perspective, that your following assertion rings true:

"This loony display - rained-upon by the heavens - did not shore up support from the officer corps, who saw it as a waste and distraction - like some spandex-wearing 'Space Force.' But the officer corps are not main audience for all this lobotomized bluster. That is Red America, and (I believe) the enlisted personnel and noncoms who come disproportionately from southern states."

I retired in 2012 and have kept fairly close ties to the current and retired enlisted corps via a few social media groups that I administer and many where I am a participant/voyeur. What I see is an ever-strengthening loyalty and fealty among the general enlisted toward Trump. I see this far less within the officer corps and with the more educated, degreed enlisted. What is most bothersome to me is the militant stance of the Trump loyal within this enlisted base. Militant in the sense (and I'm paraphrasing here), "love America or leave", "liberals are crazy and should be sent out of the country", "illegal immigrants get what's coming to them. They should not try to enter the country because they will get what they deserve", and so on. The xenophobic, anti-Muslim statements are even more disturbing as might be imagined.

jim said...

Nah David
The world is not analog and it is not digital, it is both.
Just ask a photon ;-)
Ask one way and it behaves in an analog fashion, ask a different way and it behaves in digital fashion.
Is it a particle? Is it a wave? Yes


And again I trust the women who are pregnant to make the decisions about their pregnancy. And the women who get late term abortions typically get them for very good reasons not on a whim

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

The whole notion that an 8 month almost ready and viable healthy fetus can be aborted as the bearer's whim is just plain nuts.


It also seems like a red herring. How many women actually wait until a baby is about to be born and then abort it? Why would they?

Actual late term abortions that I've heard of are for medical reasons (baby's or mother's), not because someone decides she'd rather not go through the last few hours of pregnancy after all.

Alfred Differ said...

A.F. Rey,

Shooting? Yes. I think so.

War? Not likely. You'd have to split our armed forces into two causes they'd fight for. I don't see it.

Civil unrest seems much more likely, but I doubt it will get to '68 levels.

Alfred Differ said...

Some of you who want to argue for choice in the abortion debate need to refine your arguments a bit. I am seeing evidence some of you could not paraphrase their positions.

1. Accept that many of them see abortion as murder. There is no rationalizing things for them on this. One murder is too many. Look into your own hearts and think about how you feel about murder, pedophilia, or something like that were you see red immediately. That is what some pro-life people are doing emotionally. You can disagree with them on the definition, but in doing that you are probably engaged in rational thought. Are they? No… and you have no reasonable expectation that they should.
2. Accept that many of them see pregnancy as a choice made either by the mother-to-be or by God. The choice is already made before the abortion decision even if the mother-to-be was ignorant of the pregnancy. She chose to have sex... in cases where she gave consent. In that choice, she surrenders some of her rights relative to the fetus-to-be. Same applies to the father-to-be, but with far fewer medical risks. His are mostly financial and legal risks. Pro-life people can reasonably argue that consent involves some abandonment of personal rights if pregnancy occurs.

I am not taking their side in this debate, mind you. It is just that they CAN make reasonable arguments and pro-choice advocates should be able to refute them. Many of you here are not doing that. Not even close.

I know a libertarian who makes an argument that the fetus is essentially renting the womb, the mother is the property owner, and consent gives rights to the fetus that should not be breached without due process. I find his argument unpalatable and of the kind that would piss off both sides ensuring libertarians are seen as crazy, inhuman monsters. Still… the consent argument is worth considering. It gets at the issue. If your neighbor believes consent is an invitation to God to deploy a soul, you will have difficulty convincing your neighbor to allow the ‘murder.’

Personally, I would prefer to trust the mother-to-be to define when her fetus is human. I do not think I should have a say even if I as the father-to-be until after she gives birth. Disagreements on that level would be obvious grounds for divorce, but no one should own another person. Telling the mother-to-be what she may not do is demoting her to the status of property. I can accept the fact that some see abortion as murder if in my position I can avoid slavery. That is part of what makes me libertarian, though, and many disagree… especially believers who vastly outnumber me.

Alfred Differ said...

With regards to how to do battle in abortion debates where rational arguing is NOT required, I think we are better off engaging in civil disobedience. DO NOT shoot your neighbor, but DO oppose them and keep it simple.

'Murder' is has a working definition that depends on a large fraction of us agreeing on what it is. If your community can muster 90%+ support for defining 8th month abortion as murder, your opposition to it is toast. Live with it and move on to 7th month, 6th month, pregnancy w/o consent, and all the other variations.

I'm not convinced we live in an analog world with a continuous spectrum, but a digital world with many intermediate steps between 0 and 1 is indistinguishable when you squint a bit. Look at the support for each step and fight where it makes sense to fight. How much support is there for 'life starts at conception'? How about 'no difference between rape and voluntary consent pregnancies'? I know which ones I fight and which ones I don't though my principles would allow for fighting all of them. Pick and choose your fights or you wind up looking like the libertarian loon I know who would piss off everyone on Earth if it meant he could BE RIGHT! His attitude makes me wonder if he wants to die a martyr.

jim said...

Oh, and as far as me being a "crazy person" I like to point out that I am the only person who has said that they would be happy to work with the anti abortion people to reduce the number of abortions as long as the rights of women are preserved.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Rational approach. Many would do that since abortion makes a lot of us squeamish. Reducing the chances it is ever needed cuts the chances it will be wanted.

I'd pay to ensure all women had safe, effective, long-term, reversible contraception, but I'd stop just short of having our public education systems advocating it to teenagers. Let the non-state actors do it. I'd pay to support all that and fight for it too.


I'd still rather not jump off the deep end in this next election cycle with respect to abortion. Women are already pissed off enough that we don't need to be stoking the fire. Just smile and be supportive. Nod affirmatively, but add no fuel. The political fight is about a far larger concern.

scidata said...

Re: Ansible
The more I dig into this thing, the more it ties into the ongoing themes of politics, science, and philosophy found throughout "Contrary Brin". I'm seeing a strong influence here. I'm currently reading LeGuin's "The Dispossessed" (Nebula award, 1974). Although published as the fifth, it's actually the first chronologically in the Hainish Cycle. It details the mathematical theory behind the Ansible.

"There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

David Brin said...

jim - " And the women who get late term abortions typically get them for very good reasons not on a whim."

Yes. 98% are probably anencephaly.

But you patronizingly assume women cannot at times be crazy, impulsive or downright evil. Less often than x% of men? sure. But squint and see you are patronoizing.

Sorry, a healthy 8 month fetus deserves consideration viz a mother having a hysterical reaction to a husband's philandering.

David Brin said...

jim did I call you crazy? If so sorry. But it was H Clinton who dec lared abortion should be safe, legal and rare.

duncan cairncross said...

Re-Abortion

I like the Canadian approach - it's a purely medical matter and the only "Person" concerned is the mother

Any other approach gives a fetus MORE rights than an actual baby

Or do the "Pro-Life" people believe that any person in need of part of somebody's body is entitled to have that part??

Gator said...

8 month abortions
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm
>1.3% occur after 5 months.

But sure I guess we should base all our policy concerns around something that almost never happens. (Or when it does, it does for health reasons.)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Some of you who want to argue for choice in the abortion debate need to refine your arguments a bit. I am seeing evidence some of you could not paraphrase their positions.


I can see both sides. I already acknowledged that I am more conflicted on that issue than on any other because both sides are "right"*

That said, I think the pro-lifers betray their own high ground when, for instance, they come out as strongly against contraception or non-procreative sexual acts as they do against abortion, or charge a woman with murder for getting into a fight in which she is shot and her baby dies, while not charging the woman who shot her. The religious right is not about protecting babies, but about controlling women, and knowing that, I tend to dismiss their ostensible arguments outright.

Still, I'll address some of yours:


1. Accept that many of them see abortion as murder. There is no rationalizing things for them on this. One murder is too many.


This is one I can agree on. I mean, I disagree that it is murder, because to me it is more like "not donating your kidney to someone who will die without one." A heartbreaking choice, but well short of murder.

But even if we let that ride, they do not believe that one murder is too many. They're pro gun, pro "stand your ground" laws, generally pro war, and pro capital punishment. You can argue that "they" are not monolithic, but I'd bet money on any virulent anti-choicer's views on any of those other issues, especially if they are registered Republicans.

Also, they don't seem to have a problem with asking--even insisting on--their mistresses to abort their inconvenient offspring. Without even a hint of irony or shame.


2. Accept that many of them see pregnancy as a choice made either by the mother-to-be or by God. The choice is already made before the abortion decision even if the mother-to-be was ignorant of the pregnancy. She chose to have sex... in cases where she gave consent. In that choice, she surrenders some of her rights relative to the fetus-to-be.


I can also agree with that. When we were teenagers, my brother was convinced that laws, customs, and norms restricting who one could have sex with were purely about preventing pleasure, whereas I could see that there were good reasons to insist that those taking the chance of conceiving should have a plan for taking care of the result.

Again, the pro-lifers betray their high ground when they insist that the argument holds even in the case of rape because that wasn't the fetus's fault. I mean, it also wasn't the mother's fault. Why should she have to bear the physical/medical risks of carrying her rapist's child to term? Also, as Thom Hartmann points out, allowing abortion in the case of rape is a way of discouraging the subset of rapists whose goal is to get a woman pregnant. The Republican congresscritter who refers to rapists as "sperm donors" is just the icing on the cake.

Just sticking to medicine, though, a woman who consents to sex could be said to consent to bearing a child, but sometimes medical issues show up in either the baby or the mother during pregnancy. In those cases, abortion should be left as a medical decision, not a political one.

I am not a fan of abortion as a means of easy birth control, but I also don't know anyone who treats it that way.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I know a libertarian who makes an argument that the fetus is essentially renting the womb, the mother is the property owner, and consent gives rights to the fetus that should not be breached without due process. I find his argument unpalatable and of the kind that would piss off both sides ensuring libertarians are seen as crazy, inhuman monsters. Still… the consent argument is worth considering. It gets at the issue. If your neighbor believes consent is an invitation to God to deploy a soul, you will have difficulty convincing your neighbor to allow the ‘murder.’


Again, I think this is a betrayal of the high ground, demonstrating ulterior motives. On two counts.

One, everyone apparently has property rights in their persons, including one who is literally incapable of entering into a contract, except the mother.

Two, they'll argue about which rights are given up in return for consenting to sex, but they'll apply the same argument when consent was not given. Again, I'd wager money that the neighbor believes conception is what triggers God's deployment of a soul, and that consent has little or nothing to do with it.

David Brin said...

If one percent happen after 5 months, and 99% of those are for anencephaly or other lethal tragedies, then what is the problemn with saying; 'You had 5 months. Now we are within our rights to call that 'human' and demand you take 4 months of responsibility for her." Sorry, I deem it quite possible for a woman to choose to be harmfully evil. Not as often as men, but it is within reach and we have a right to look at it, when it happens.

And yes, make it safe, legal and rare, and put priority to asking, each time, what could have prevented it from coming to this.

Larry Hart said...

Oh, I left off the explanatory asterisk above:


I already acknowledged that I am more conflicted on that issue than on any other because both sides are "right"*


* From "Fiddler on the Roof". Tevye listening to two men arguing:
After one finishes..."You are right"

Then after the other makes his case, "You are right."

A third man snarks, "He is right? He is right? They can't both be right."

Tevye: "You are also right."

Darrell E said...

On abortion I agree that it should be legal, safe and rare. I am unsure where or if a legal line should be drawn. I am sure that there should always be exceptions to any limits for circumstances that entail serious risk to the mother or high confidence of a serious problem with the fetus that would render it inviable.

Though statistics on abortion are not particularly consistent across sources and should always be seen as having large error bars, because reporting is problematic for a variety of reasons, some general trends seem to be pretty clearly true. The rate of abortion has gone down over time. There is a statistically significant correlation between degree of religiosity and increased rate of abortions. Late term abortions comprise a tiny percentage of all abortions, depending on the source and the exact time frame from about .5% to 1.45%.

However, I am not so sure about the claims of many on "my" side that late term abortions are almost always for drastic fetal problems, like anencephaly, or because the mother was at severe risk. Data on reasons for late term abortions is very poor. Very few studies have been done on it, all with a lack of good data because reporting is sketchy. Those few studies, which I've reviewed to one degree or another, all agree on a few general things. Abortions due to fetal anomalies and danger to the mother's life "make up a small minority of late term abortions." What seems to actually be the case is that the large majority of late term abortions are due to "logistical delays such as difficulty finding a provider, raising funds for the procedure and travel costs." Some other reasons . . .

"They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and [experiencing their first pregnancy]."

"The other half of the women had challenges finding a provider, getting necessary approvals from doctors in states that require them, or had financial constraints. All the women in the study traveled to other states to get the procedure done.

“These are people who wanted an early abortion and tried to get one but were unable to do so because of the substantial obstacles that were placed in their path,” Kimport said."


[quotes from this article Tough questions — and answers — on ‘late-term’ abortions, the law and the women who get them]

Let's not argue suppositions that aren't well supported. None of the above surprises me or makes me favorable to the Pro-Life perspective. What it I do think is that this information is a damn good illustration about how much more there is to all of this than just abortion itself. And how anti-abortion folks are contributing to the number of late term abortions and the additional suffering that goes along with them. Abortion needs to be made legal and safe everywhere. And we need improve our safety nets to help and protect women in need and in abusive relationships. In general we need to continue to empower women.

kvs said...

It is a perfectly reasonable ethical view to say that you consent to sex you consent to the results. The problem with making something like that law (aside from imposing ethical viewpoints on others) is that implementation of it is highly problematic. A short search found some examples of women whose life was at serious risk with the pregnancy, but apparently not enough to get an abortion in a public hospital (https://rewire.news/article/2019/03/07/not-dead-enough-public-hospitals-deny-life-saving-abortion-care-to-people-in-need/). Also, if there are exceptions in the case of rape, who determines if it is rape? If it requires a conviction (a) the threshold of proof is very high and (b) it takes a long time. For that reason I try to say that the issue is government making the decision, but there is a lot of room for other ways of reducing unwanted pregnancies.

I don't know if there has been a study about whether the reduction in the stigma of unmarried pregnancies has helped reduce the rate of abortions. It would be interesting to see that.

Deuxglass said...

I notice that none of you are women but you do have strong opinions on abortion. Abortion is a woman's decision and it is she who will have to live with it therefore we as men have not much say in it because we do not suffer the consequences either from a religious point of view or from the modern moralist view. My belief is that only woman have the right to legislate on abortion. Male legislators should abstain. It should be a debate between women because men in this situation have little skin in the game. They gave their seed but the life is nurtured in the woman. We should just butt out and let them come up with a solution that they like. If women hit us with big paternity payments then so be it. After all men could have just said no instead of going for it and if they went for it then they assume the consequences.

ElitistB said...

By walking down the street, I do not consent to being assaulted and raped. Is it a possible outcome and a result of my choice? Yes, but that doesn't mean I consent to it.

I'm not sure I'd consider the above reasonable or ethical. It is indeed a possibility, but that doesn't mean I consent to

ElitistB said...

Deuxglass, I half agree with you. All legislators should abstain. If for some reason 90 percent of women think the other 10 percent should never have an abortion, I still don't think the 90 percent should have a say.

Deuxglass said...

ElitistB,

Male legislators should abstain but fat chance of that happening. Male Republican legislators wouldn't like that but I wonder how many male Democrat legislators would go along. I think it should be brought up and see what happens.

Darrell E said...

Deuxglass,

To be clear, you are saying that males should not have an opinion about abortion (your first sentence) and that males shouldn't legislate on abortion? I largely agree with you on the latter (at least in spirit), but on the former? Bullshit. Every male should be offering their support to the females they hold dearest, if not to females in general. Not to mention that the tired old trope of "you should STFU, your opinions and ideas can't possibly be valid if you've never experienced it yourself" is pure crap. Yes, women should absolutely take the lead. No, men's opinions are not necessarily inappropriate and can be helpful to women.

Deuxglass said...

Darrell E,

Of course men will have opinions on something like abortions and that they should support their dear partner. What I am saying is that the ultimate decision should be the woman's and that having men being the deciders, which is the current situation, disenfranchises women in this very important subject. To be brief, men pollute the debate. If women had control of the debate then they would be 100% responsible for it's resolution which in my opinion is the best way to lead to consensual legislation.

kvs said...

Not all of us are men, but my note above on ethical value was meant to be personal -- I would not tell anyone else what to do.

jim said...

Ok I am squinting now,
OH BOY!
Seems like a lot of patronizing going on here and not just me.

With all this support for women folk, many seem to forget that women can be EVIL AND CRAZY!!!! (just ask locum ;-)

Although I am not sure what is worse
a) an evil crazy woman having a late term abortion
b) that same woman giving birth and "raising" (abusing/ neglecting) a child.

Deuxglass said...

Jim,

Come on Jim. There still will be laws to take care of those cases. There are crazy evil women but there are crazy evil men too so what would change? Just because women would make the laws concerning abortion doesn't mean that no laws will be made.

jim said...

Sorry Deuxglass I should have made it clear that I was not really being serious.
I was kind of joking with David's response to my previous comment.

Deuxglass said...

Jim,

I should have caught your humor. Sorry.

jim said...

No need to apologize,
I really need to work on making it more clear when I am not being serious.

David Brin said...

Thanks jim, for appearing sane and reasonable in your PCness compared to Deuxglass. You at least can see there's something bizarre about a position that:

-- a women can, in a fit of rage that no male has any right to even question of examine, kills a viable, healthy 8.5 month old fetus but is punished if she waits a week and then kills the birthed baby.

Non, no. Oh no! No male can even have an opinion about that! Not even in abstract!

Oh, for sure, once you start with that extreme case I described - which has maybe happened fewer times than I have fingers and toes(!) you open up a discomforting spectrum that's far easier dealt-with by making grand, universal proclamations! Say yes to everything in paragraphs two and three above! But in fact, history is rife with stupidities and injustices that were based upon demanding comfortingly pure digital laws for an analog world.

David Brin said...

Let's be clear on a pragmatic outcome here. Positions like that of Deuxglass do NOT help the cause he claims to espouse. It serves the propaganda pupose of the mad/manipulative right, giving them ammo to call us a pack of dogmatic and murderous fanatics, drawing a line between "property" and "human" that is just as fictitious and artificial as the one they seek to draw, at conception.

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin
As soon as the fetus can survive outside the womb - about 6 months - then I would consider him/her to be able to be taken from the mother

Which would make your 8.5 month "abortion" just an early birth - IF IF IF the fetus was actually viable

TCB said...

Consciously elective abortion is a rare phenomenon peculiar to certain hyperfecund technologically disruptive primates with intimate knowledge of their own inner workings and abstract models of future events.

Religion is also a rare phenomenon peculiar to certain hyperfecund technologically disruptive primates with intimate knowledge of their own inner workings and abstract models of future events.

Both, in the view of almost any animal, plant, or other organism, are pretty goddamn unnatural and incomprehensible.

What if the primates, for complex ideological reasons, incomprehensible to any other organism, outlawed the wrong one?

David Brin said...

DD: "Which would make your 8.5 month "abortion" just an early birth ..."

Facile, my friend. Does this mean it is illegal for the carrier of the 8.5month fetus to reject it and expel it, except under hospital conditions where it has a best-chance of survival? Okay.

But every week of early birth carries a statistical risk of problems re birth weight and side effects like poor eyesight. Can a guardian be appointed to file suit on the infant's behalf? After birth, for damages? Or before?

Those odds get worse the farther back in time you go. It can affect future fertility. Who is the "woman" here? JUST the carrier? or her damaged - unwelcome and rejected daughter?

Yes, these cases are spectacularly rare! So why fight over them, giving the enemy a chance to use them to call us dogmatic, murder-allowing assholes, and thus discrediting 99.9999% of womens' tright to keep the procedure "safe, legal and rare"? Should the very, very few women who are (under these conditions) making an unambiguously evil decision, be given such power?

reason said...

The word "dark" here is particularly unfortunate.

TCB said...

I feel like this current argument violates my 'thousand year rule.'

Will people care about a topic in a thousand years? If not, then it's not that important now.

What a few individuals do to a few other individuals, however heinous, almost never affects the welfare and survival of the many, far into the future. And by the many, I include trees, fish, frogs and bugs, because we have never proven that the human race could survive in a world without them. The human population is over what the planet can carry sustainably, and probably has been over capacity for a hundred years. We are reaping the whirlwind.

I don't worry about giving the anti-abortion fascists ammunition; they make their own. They make up their own 'facts'. They act and speak always in bad faith. They are the reason any compromise Dr. Brin may suggest cannot work. Barry Goldwater predicted how they would govern:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”

The fascists do not even care if we survive; Jesus will ride in with the cavalry, right?

And here we are arguing about fetuses that, if brought to term, may not reach adulthood without seeing environmental collapse or nuclear war...

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Sorry, I deem it quite possible for a woman to choose to be harmfully evil. Not as often as men, but it is within reach and we have a right to look at it, when it happens.


I don't think what's being argued here is that women are always good. At least that's not what I'm arguing. Priority given to the woman is about her biological risk with pregnancy.

Again, I'll assert that the types of laws being pushed by the anti-choice lawmakers are not aimed at women being harmfully evil:

* They oppose contraception as well as abortion
* The aim to prosecute women for natural miscarriages, making the worst time of her life into a crime to accuse her of
* They actually prosecuted a woman for getting into a fight in which she was shot and her baby died (while not prosecuting the other woman who shot her)

Do you ever caution Republicans not to give us ammunition when they make clear that protecting babies is a cover story for their intent to control women's bodies?

Jon S. said...

Having sex is not in and of itself consent to become pregnant. That's why we have several methods of birth control - if I'm using a condom, and she has an IUD, there's a reasonable expectation that there won't be children as a result, and if there are, that's a problem, not something to which anyone "consented".

On the other paw, I can feel this argument a bit, because there was a period during which, for complex legal reasons, my fiancee and I couldn't get married. However, we did want children, so we stopped using birth control (which of course meant we were "consenting" - hell, we were planning). So of course she got pregnant - but then the fear hit her, because her parents were part of an Evangelical church and she feared what they'd say if they knew she had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. And then there was the first checkup, where the doctor said that based on certain measurements there was a 30% chance our baby would have Down's syndrome.

We had to have a discussion, given these factors - should we keep the baby, who at that point was maybe ten weeks along, or should she consider abortion? She was against amniocentesis, which would permit a genetic assay to rule Down's in or out, because it's an invasive procedure and presented some risk itself. Over about the next week, after considerable talking and worrying, we elected to go ahead with the pregnancy, a decision we haven't regretted for a moment since (well, I think there might have been a couple of times during labor when she wasn't so certain, but... :) ).

(Parenthetically - her mom was disappointed that we didn't wait, but when she saw us all together, she relented. Well, that and both her mom and dad doted on our little girl - they turned out to be really into that "grandparents" thing. And when we finally did get married, we had a lovely moment when Hillary was coming up the aisle, and two-year-old Morgana wriggled loose from Grandma, ran over to jump on the train of Mommy's dress, and shouted, "Yippee!")

My point here is that we had a choice. Despite what her parents might have wished, no law dictated our actions - all the options short of anthropophagy were open to us. And in my opinion, that's exactly how it should be, for everyone.

Larry Hart said...

An obviously rhetorical question, but when an orange-haired demagogue spews forth hatred while vowing to "Make America Great Again" (with the clear implication that she does not currently merit that distinction), why is it not incumbent upon him to go back where he came from?

Liberals are routinely demonized for not loving America enough, for "hating" America, but in any case for criticizing America. But the problem apparently isn't the criticism per se. It's the fact that the criticism is of our Republican masters. It's acceptable and even expected for them to criticize America as long as the criticism amounts to "America isn't right-wing enough."

Lawrence said...

... spit on soldiers and veterans."
I assume you are referring to the treatment of men returning from duty in Vietnam. Are you under the impression that this actually happened? If not, why mention it?

David Brin said...

Jon S. Wonderful story.
Lawrence, you are lawyering. You know damned well there are lefty flakes who give Hannity etc ammo. We cannot, should not repress them. But dig it, the ONLY hope Trump has in 2020 is if they can help stir a leftist insurrection splitting our side.

You know this. Moreover we will not be tolerantly and indulgently shrugging hi a Nader or Stein rears their ugly heads. We'll fight the outright enemies of civilization that they are.

David Brin said...

onward
onward