The South, having learned nothing, is rising again

It’s not unprecedented for me to feel a little embarrassed for my beloved native state when the Legislature comes back to town each year, but, not wanting to sound like my friend Doug Ross (to whom politicians are a lower order), I try to greet the dawn of each session with optimism.

It was hard enough to do so when I was paid to do it — when, as captain of HMS Editorial Board, I had to strike the proper undaunted expression as I paced the quarterdeck — and now, it’s even tougher. (Towards the end, I started fraying around the edges a bit and showing my impatience.) After the humiliations we suffered in the eyes of the world in 2009 — our stimulus-denying, soulmate-loving gov; Joe (the Volcano) Wilson; the joker who demanded that government keep its dirty hands off his Medicare and so forth — the one good thing about it all is that it kept the world from noticing that a significant numbers of lawmakers, apparently nostalgic for the 1860s, were trying to resurrect nullification.

And indeed, they didn’t get all that much attention. So of course, they’re starting this session by renewing their mad effort.

There doesn’t seem to be any rational justification for this movement. It seems rooted in a deep, primal desire to scream “No!” at the world — especially the rest of the United States of America. Not at anything in particular, just at the rest of the world for, I don’t know, being the rest of the world. Related to the mentality behind the “We don’t CARE how you did it up North,” which at least had some wit going for it, this humor-free initiative seeks to shout, “We don’t want to have anything to do with anything Y’ALL want to do — especially not if it involves gummint, and might do some good. Because the LAST thing we want is for gummint to do any good and give any of our folks the suspicion that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the root of all evil.” (And most of all, don’t you DARE try to do anything about fixing our single greatest domestic problem, this health care mess. We ain’t havin’ nuthin’ to do with THAT.)

Some would say that there’s something in the water, but I think it’s genetic. There’s something perverse in the DNA of white South Carolinians. I see it in myself from time to time, but I suppose some of it leached out of me during the years I spent elsewhere, because I’m able to override my more antisocial, self-destructive impulses. Most of the time.

But some of our white folks are determined not to learn a thing from the way their last attempt to cut themselves off from the rest of the country ended (badly, for those who started it — just in case you weren’t paying attention, either). They want to reassert their negation, and do it loudly.

Some of you Democrats will notice that these recent embarrassments I cite are all the works of Republicans, and seek to make some partisan point that gives you a moral advantage of some kind. But don’t. These things are being done by Republicans just because all the white folks who run this state are Republicans these days. Their daddies were Democrats, and they engaged in much the same foolishness. This is genetic, not party-based.

To those pushing this madness, I say this: If you’re bored, and just busting with energy to do something, why don’t you spend some time actually addressing some of the real-life problems that face this state? Here’s a TO-DO list I drafted for you last year as I was leaving the paper. And don’t worry, nobody’s gotten in there ahead of you and grabbed the good stuff. It’s all sitting there, unaddressed.

62 thoughts on “The South, having learned nothing, is rising again

  1. Walter Durst

    I have sat in on the Senate’s proceedings for the last three days as they debate a useless resolution on their displeasure in Obama’s health plan. A resolution that will mean nothing to the citizens of our state, as it does not address any pressing issues. It is a consitutional matter. If I wasn’t a political junkie, I would really feel like it was 3 wasted days. Although, they did vote to rename a portion of a road in Aiken County for MLK.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    But folks with tons of SC white DNA who are currently Democrats simply do not engage in the kinds of nullification tactics Republicans of similar lineage do. ‘Splain that, please.

    I believe those who are of white southern lineage and Democrats must simply be more evolved if your theory is to hold. I’ll buy that.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Well, Kathryn, I reckon they’s just somethin wrong with em. They ancestors was abolitionists or somethin.

    Me, I’m more of a true South Carolinian. I’m such a rugged individualist I refuse to have anything to do with either one o’ them Yankee parties…

    I’m working on this as a strategy in case I ever run for office. How’m I doin’, as Ed Koch would say?

  4. Wayne Bell

    The second and third “whereas’s” in this silly document speak to the 9th and 10th Amendments as granting us the right to privacy especially in matters related to our health care. Isn’t this the argument that resulted in Roe vs Wade. I believe I’ve heard or read that some Conservative jurists claim that the Constitution does not grant a right to privacy. Anyway it was both a grand and pitiful show but it sure as Hell will not address Brad’s to do list or mine either. One other thing, it looks like this deal has created a wee bit of tension amoung the GOP leadership and the Bright, Mulvaney gang. Check out todays Journal.

  5. Elliott

    I am from here. All of my great-grandparents were born here. All ancestors that I have traced came over from the British Isles or Germany in the 18th century. What is the matter with me? Why don’t I see the world like other South Carolinians do? I and most of my paternal relatives are Democrats and believe in the health care bill. My spouse is a retired state employee, and we have great government health care. I am concerned about the South Carolinians my age, in their fifties, who do not have health care. Most of these people have been layed off from working in textile mills or have jobs without health insurance. Private insurance does not work for these people. They all have pre-existing conditions, and health insurance is unaffordable. In my county about 50% of the population is black. The black people know that we have to have government help with this. The white people are against THE health care bill. When I ask which one, the house or senate bill, they say Obama’s health care bill. I have been diligently writing my congressional delegates to let them know that we need this, but the white people without insurance tell me they do not want it. I am beginning to think why bother. Maybe I am too paternalistic. After all, I have good health care. If the people who need it don’t want it, why should I fight for it? Why does skin care affect citizen’s views on the health care bill. Economically neither blacks nor whites can afford health care.

  6. Lynn Teague

    I’m not sure that “individualists” aren’t a large part of South Carolina’s problem. Nothing personal, Brad, but our greatest failure after more than 300 years is failing to acknowledge that we’re all in this together.

  7. Greg Jones

    Each year, in one building, we convene two rooms full of Don Quixotes, or at least that’s what they think they are. Otherwise why would they spend so much of their life in an endeavor that has to leave them so unsatisfied.
    As far as fixing anything, including the cigarette tax, if it has to do with revenue, it will only pass if Hugh Leatherman wants it to pass.
    Why doesn’t he just go to the statehouse by himself?

  8. Steve Gordy

    All of this reminds me of the cynical crack in the [Raleigh] News & Observer from a few years back: “To South Carolina: The next time you want to fight the U.S. government, make sure you’ve got the army to do it with.” I think our legislature has a mass case of learning disability.

  9. Brad Warthen

    Lynn, that was my point. I was being ironic. I’m all about “we’re all in this together.” In fact, if you wanted a bumper sticker for my approach to politics, that’s about as close as you could get…

    And Wayne, I’m quite convinced that the Constitution has no sweeping right to privacy. So at least I’m consistent.

  10. Doug Ross

    How come I’m a cynic for seeing the government for what it is? If it ain’t paranoia if people ARE really out to get you, then it ain’t cynicism if there is overwhelming evidence that the government is broken.

    I’d accept an imperfect government that had some measure of accountability, intelligence, and fairness. What we have in South Carolina meets none of those standards.

    Yesterday’s news brought the story that warmed my cold, cold heart.

    Nine Vermont state office candidates favor secession

    “SHELBURNE, Vt. — Peter Garritano thinks it’s time for Vermont to call it quits with America.

    The way the 54-year-old automobile salesman sees it, the “empire” is about to implode and tiny Vermont can lead the way by becoming its own independent republic. So he’s running for lieutenant governor, topping a slate of secession-minded candidates seeking statewide offices this year.

    Their name: Vermont Independence Day.

    “The only hope is to just say, ‘Look, this isn’t working for us. We want to start fresh again, with a real democracy,”’ Garritano said. “I think that’s the answer. Hopefully, it won’t take another horrible economic breakdown to realize that the people running things don’t look out for the little guy, or us, or the soldiers. It’s all about profit and getting the last drops of oil on Earth and trampling people’s rights.”

    Garritano, gubernatorial candidate Dennis P. Steele and seven candidates for state Senate seats plan to declare their candidacies Friday.

    Their cause isn’t new: It’s the latest incarnation of a movement that’s bubbled in Vermont and elsewhere for years. Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Texas all have made noise about seceding, to no avail.

    Their method is: Organizers say it’s the first time since the Civil War that a secession movement has fielded a slate of candidates for statewide office, although individual pro-secession candidates have run before.”

  11. Herb B.

    Kudos to Elliott! At least for the first part. Personally, I attribute a lot of the sudden opposition to the health care bills to a lot of mis-information that is being spread around.

    Although–Mortimer Zuckerman had a well-thought out piece in US News awhile back. His thesis is that the problem is not the way health care is provided, but the way it is paid for. He may be at least partially right.

    I’m sort of un-insured, except that I belong to Christian Care Medishare, which is supposed to share medical bills. Our share is much more affordable than an insurance premium. They do share bills, except for, you guessed it, pre-existing conditions (which are my plague), and they are usually six months behind on payment, which is playing havoc with our financial reputation. I’ll bolt to any decent program that Obama can get through Congress.

  12. bud

    Some of you Democrats will notice that these recent embarrassments I cite are all the works of Republicans, and seek to make some partisan point that gives you a moral advantage of some kind. But don’t. These things are being done by Republicans just because all the white folks who run this state are Republicans these days. Their daddies were Democrats, and they engaged in much the same foolishness. This is genetic, not party-based.

    This really takes a contortionist to come up with this crap. Of course it’s the GOP who is behaving badly. And damn I WILL make a partisan point over your obsurd objection. I would say this is more evidence that the Republican party in this country has gone insane.

  13. Brad Warthen

    bud, take it easy, dude!

    The thing is, you and I both see so clearly the madness in the Republican Party. Yep, I’m pretty fed up with them these days. The difference between us is that whenever I get to that point, whenever I’d had it with a party, I then turn and look at the other one and think, Ohmygosh, is THAT my alternative?

    Bottom line, I’m glad you can see the problems with the Republicans. I wish you could see the problems with the Democrats.

    Now as it happens, some of my very favorite folks in politics in SC in Democrats. In fact, a list of my faves in this state would probably be Democrats disporportionately, although Lindsey Graham and some others would still be high up.

    But there’s two problems with that: Nationally, Democrats are pretty different from SC Democrats, and tend to lack the characteristics I like in the SC variety — or rather, tend to have objectionable characteristics the SC ones lack.
    Secondly, in SC, Democrats simply aren’t much of a factor. I think they have a chance to be after this election, but it remains to be seen.
    So what I’m saying is, as much as I like Joe Riley and John Spratt and Inez Tenenbaum and Joel Lourie and James Smith and Doug Jennings and so forth, that does not translate to liking Democrats AS Democrats (considered from a national perspective). Nor does the fact that I like Obama overcome my distaste for Pelosi and Reid’s approaches to politics.

  14. bud

    I see plenty of fault with the Democratic party. They’ve been woosies when it comes to doing the hard and necessary stuff needed to turn our economy around. It needs a dramatic infusion of money, and quickly, in order to get folks spending. Cash for Klunkers worked amazingly well but it was way too small to have any long term effect. And there are some problems with their handling of military issues and they pay too much attention to PC. And indeed Pelosi and Reid are not my favorites. And don’t even get me started on health care reform.

    But the Dems are not completely insane the way the GOP is. Just look at who their darlings are: Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Joe Wilson, Mitch McConnell, Bobby Jindal, David Vitter, etc.

    And just look at how sullied John McCain has become over the last 2 years. He’s gone from a right-leaning, yet pragamatic statesman to an attack dog fundamentalist. Heck he’s only about a half step away from becoming a tea-bagger.

    I’m a proud liberal who supports the Democratic Party. Not because they’re perfect but because it gives us the best hope for a prosperious, healthy and just future. If the GOP could ever get it together and become somewhat normal then I could at least have a bit of respect for them. But as long as they continue behaving like obstructionist media hounds then I have to give my full support to the only party that still makes some sense, the Democratic Party.

  15. Brad Warthen

    That’s the thing — I’m not a liberal, proud or otherwise, not the way its currently defined. I might have been back in JFK’s or FDR’s day, but not today.

    And I think today’s liberals are pretty worthless, present company excepted. A liberal who won’t even try to get single-payer is kind of a waste. True health care reform is fundamental to being a worthwhile liberal. If you can’t do that; if you start off wanting to compromise the whole thing away (which makes where you’ll end up — nowhere — predictable), then what do I need a liberal for? Might as well go with a conservative. And while you can’t rely on them on a worthwhile liberal precept, you can absolutely depend on them never to see an abortion they don’t like. And on that, I disagree with them adamantly.

    And then there’s the subject of national defense, which is where you and I part company most dramatically. I think the Democratic Party sort of lost its mind on the subject during Vietnam, and has not recovered. As I say, I was much more in tune with the liberals who advocated a strong defense, AND using all our power (including, but by no means limited to, military power) to advance the ideals of liberal democracy around the world. You know, FDR, Truman, JFK — and in latter days, Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn, Joe Lieberman, and so forth. Today’s Democratic Party won’t even tolerate my kind of Democrat nationally, even though I’ve seen some positive signs, such as the pro-life Bob Casey’s election in PA a couple of years back…

  16. Doug Ross


    There is no evidence that suggest Cash For Clunkers did anything except pull in a bunch of sales that would have happened anyway into the month of August. There has been no residual positive impact. Do you have proof otherwise that it did anything except increase the deficit (future payback required) for a short term blip?

  17. bud

    And while you can’t rely on them on a worthwhile liberal precept, you can absolutely depend on them never to see an abortion they don’t like. And on that, I disagree with them adamantly.

    Of course that’s a completely dishonest take on the liberal stance on abortion. But I’ll save that for another day.

    Doug, car sales were atrocious before klunkers, bad after klunkers but fairly decent during klunkers. Seems like it had some positive effect in inducing car sales that otherwise would not have occurred ever or would have occurred many months later. I admit it didn’t cure our nation’s economic woes but given the bump in car sales it did help a modest amount.

  18. Brad Warthen

    That wasn’t Doug. That was me. And I was being completely honest.

    You will protest that it’s not YOUR position. Fine. But it IS the position of the kind of Democrat who gives the party a bad name, and that kind is unfortunately setting the tone on this issue. It’s no compromise. Ever. Knock down all barriers, even to partial birth. The general thrust is to sacrifice “safe” and “rare” to “legal.” And to sweep aside anyone who dares to depart from orthodoxy.

  19. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Elliott–If I had a nickle for every time I’ve felt just as you do…I could fund health care reform. Maybe Atlas needs to shrug, huh?

  20. bud

    Liberals believe in the dignity of all people. Liberals are skeptical of government interference in individual decision making yet reserve the right to allow it under extreme circumstance. Liberals deplore the use of violence to project American beliefs on foreign people. Liberals believe that free-market capitalism is a good start for a nation’s economy to produce goods and services and provide income to it’s citizenry. Yet liberals also believe there are many negative spillovers associated with unchecked capitalism and thus feel it is necessary for government to regulate capitalism. However, liberals are skeptical of government to perform in the best interests of individuals but find it necessary nonetheless to rely on it. As a result liberals find it offensive for government to be involved in the vast majority of individual decisions. This does not mean that liberals agree with decisions that are made. Nor does it abrogate the responsibility of individuals when they make poor decisions. Yet the danger of an overbearing government usually outweighs the risks associated with allowing individuals the freedom to make decisions.

    Liberals find it repulsive that our government would allow the military industrial complex to become so large and powerful that it serves as both a catalyst for greed and a target for foreign radicals who fear the misuse of military power.

    In a nutshell liberals are a skeptical bunch and believe it is better to allow individual freedom while accepting regulations over the nation’s economy and also accept the need to assist others through necessary entitlements programs.

    Given the current state of the Republican party liberals find that organization to be at odds with virtually all the principals that make liberalism the best of all governing philosophies.

  21. HP

    “…not wanting to sound like my friend Doug Ross (to whom politicians are a lower order), I try to greet the dawn of each session with optimism.”

    This too shall pass.

  22. Brad Warthen

    Liberals believe in the dignity of all people, except when they’re at their most dependent and vulnerable — in the womb.

    Seriously, though … your description sound more like “what bud believes” than what liberals believe, but that’s fine. And it also underlines the absurdity of party loyalty. The fact it, bud, you do not believe the same things that all other “liberals” or Democrats believe. That’s why you shouldn’t limit your self-definition by embracing the party label. Keep thinking for yourself, and agree with Dems when they agree with you, and Repubs when they do, and Unpartisans when we do (and if you’d try just a little harder, you’d find you and I agree about a lot). Don’t always condemn one group and lionize the other. Don’t think you have to defend Democrats whenever you dismiss Republicans; the two things don’t necessarily follow. (I am trying here to root out the heresy of dualism as applied to our politics. To this cause I am devoted. Call me the Grand Inquisitor.)

    A lot of your description describes not the liberalism of the early 21st century, but that of the 19th — classical liberalism, or libertarianism. It’s the area where you and Doug agree a lot. Do you think of Doug as a liberal — that is, a modern-day liberal?

  23. Karen McLeod

    Brad, those of us who are pro-choice believe in the dignity of all human beings, which means humans have the right to choose whether or not to abort a fetus. That fetus is going to be a human being, but does not have precedence over humans who are already hear. Do I wish people wouldn’t get stuck in horrible situations that lead them to choose abortion? You bet! But do I think that those who are that desparate should have access to safe abortions. Until we can figure out how to eliminate those situations that drive women to an abortionist some women will need to choose abortion. I would rather not see the back alley butchery that we had before Roe vs. Wade. And I cannot for the life of me figure out how so many ‘right to lifers’ show no interest to children of poverty, rape, or incest once they are born. Both mother and baby seem to lose their “dignity” at that point.

  24. Brad Warthen

    Thank you, Karen, for helping me with my overall point.

    In describing pro-life people who don’t care about people after they are born, or about the mother, or whatever, you are absolutely not describing me. I’m a Catholic, Karen. We care about people at every stage of their lives, and we don’t draw an arbitrary line at the moment of their births. Now, will you find Catholics who are inconsistent? You betcha. Which just further underlines the problem with labeling groups as this or that.
    But explaining my position as “Catholic” (even though I believed these things before I was Catholic), you’re at least using a much more coherent, consistent term than “liberal” or “conservative.”

    Karen, forgive me for saying this because you are valued here and do a lot to contribute to a civil forum, but what you just did is commit the error that I rail against here. You argued by saying “We who subscribe to this team or this label or this side of the argument believe THIS, and anyone who disagrees obviously believes THAT, and is therefor illegitimate.”
    It’s simply not true that anyone who disagrees with you suffers from the fatal logical flaw which you attribute to him or her, as a way of reinforcing your own position’s legitimacy.

  25. Brad Warthen

    Back to the Republicans — they really do seem to be in a process of self-purification. “Pure” as in the sense of pure, unadulterated nihilistic nonsense. They are trying to purge any sort of reasonableness from their ranks. This is an appalling spectacle to watch. The good news is that it make it highly unlikely to seize (or at least, to hold for any period) power in the near future on the national level. Meanwhile, their hold on SC has GOT to be wearing thin. South Carolina does demonstrate a remarkable tolerance for utter raving nonsense, but at some point it’s bound to wear out. Right?

  26. Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t think Karen said what you said she said, at all. She said, in essence, “An argument I will endorse in favor of safe, legal abortions and against the so-called pro-life position is….” She did not consign pro-choicers who don’t agree with her to apostasy or censure them a la the Lexington Co. Republicans. I also would challenge you to find a pro-choice person who would not agree with what she said. It is the heart of our position.

    She then went on the say “so many right-to-lifers…” which is saying SOME not ALL.

  27. Randy E

    Karen, a fetus at 6 months in the womb is a “future human” but if delivered prematurely IS a human? I find this to be a gaping hole in the whole pro-choice argument.

  28. Randy E

    Brad, there are significant differences between the parties. One need only look at the demographics, the platforms, and the national candidates in 2008.

    One party pursues an agenda to care for fellow humans in need while the other pushes an every man for himself world view. In the GOP primary, poverty was COMPLETELY ignored save a few words from Huckabee.

    One party had an African-American, a Hispanic, and a female running for president. The other has officials referring to an ape as Michelle Obama’s ancestor, demonizing immigrants of color or citing proudly their support for a segregationist presidential candidate.

    While I am pro-life, I find the democratic party’s adherence to the Sermon on the Mount values much more aligned to my values.

  29. Karen McLeod

    Brad, I did not mean to insult all those who oppose abortion. I realize that the Roman Catholic Church believes that human life begins at conception. I can understand that point of view. I apologize if I hurt your feelings. Now, if you’ll check, I did not refer to all anti-abortionists but to “so many.” And I will stand by that, because if so many who espoused that cause put as much time, money, and effort into helping those who are desperate as they do into fighting to keep others from having abortions, the need for such abortions would be less in this world. And, once again, outlawing abortions won’t prevent them: it will merely prevent ones that are at least safe for the mother. Whether you mean to or not outlawing legal abortions promotes the coat hanger variety unless you correct the underlying causes first.

    And now, as you say, to the Republicans. Too many people, good people, believe them when they claim to be religious (so were the Pharisees). And people, lots of them, listen to, and believe the likes of Rush Limbaush, Xenophobia is alive and well in this world. Finally, they have mastered the art of setting up ‘evil, straw democrats’ then knocking them down. Too many people trust Fox news only–if they trust any news media at all. And far too many listen to slogans rather than reason. Raving nonsense lives!

  30. Susan

    Impugning the motives of people on either side of the abortion debate is just an obfuscation and does not help in discussing a very emotionally charged issue. “Some pro-lifers don’t care about people”. “Pro-abortionists don’t care about babies”. Either way, adds nothing to the discussion in my view.

  31. Susan

    ad hominem was the phrase I was looking for, I guess. And I recognize that Karen isn’t really trying to build her argument on whether pro-lifers care for actual born folks, but just expressing frustration about it. I’m just expressing my frustration about how much our national debate runs in that direction, I suppose.

  32. Brad Warthen

    Actually, Martin, that’s not the question at all. You might ask about women making “major life decisions” with reference to buying a car or a house, or taking a new job.

    This isn’t even about the woman’s life. It’s about someone else’s. And letting the one most emotionally involved, most interested person, someone who is quite likely in a traumatic state of mind, decide life or death for that other person is completely and utterly inimical to our traditions of justice and due process.

    We do NOT deny life without due process (I don’t think we should deny life at all, but definitely without due process). And that consists of people who are NOT personally interested in the case making a decision, people who have nothing to gain from the verdict either way.

    The idea of letting one woman decide life or death for another person when the outcome affects the rest of her own life, and when she is quite likely under severe stress, is absolutely INSANE. I truly cannot understand how anyone who has lived in this country, under our Anglo-American traditions of justice, could embrace such a notion for an instant. It absolutely blows my mind.

    And when people say facile things about how it’s a simple matter of respecting a woman as a grownup making her own decisions, as though she were picking out a toaster oven or something, I just run out of words…

  33. Burl Burlingame

    Whatever one believes, government needs to be secular. One of the things that made me crazy about Bush/Cheney is the way they larded government appointee positions with people whose major qualification was fundamentalist religious background.

  34. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad–don’t forget that for many of us not of your faith life does not begin at conception but rather at birth. For example, one is born again to a new life in Christ, not conceived again. It is not a foregone conclusion to many of us that life begins at conception, so government intrusion into our decisions about our bodies IS an issue. Since legal abortions are considerably less risky to the health of a woman than carrying a fetus to term, it is hardly on a par with choosing “a toaster oven or something.” Your beliefs imposed on a pregnant woman could cost her her life…a life clearly conceded by all to be a life in being.

  35. Elliott

    Thanks Kathryn
    Since I am of the few with tons of SC white DNA who is currently a Democrat, I’ll try to think of myself as more evolved.

    Herb B,
    My question is why does every white person in SC but me and you, Kathryn, and Brad (on his good days) believe that propaganda? Why can’t they see it isn’t true? What makes all of my neighbors so gullible?

  36. Kathryn Fenner

    All kidding aside, there may actually be a genetic component. Maybe the people who settled here and stayed long enough to be here for several generations, instead of moving on to somewhere that suited them better, are seriously independent-minded, like unto being hermits.
    I guess deep down, I hope that if I can create a fair and just society that takes care of the less fortunate, should someday the wheel of fortune turn and I need some assistance, it will be there.
    If you believe your good fortune is predestined or otherwise part of God’s plan and you believe it is permanently so, you don’t necessarily care about those who God obviously forsook — after all, He must have His reasons, right? If you believe that you and you alone control your destiny, you also have no sympathy for slackers and ne’er-do-wells. I believe that I was born at least on second base, and that my team-mates helped me make it home. If you were born on third base and think you hit a triple….

    Some people seem to be genetically like cats and some like dogs. I am a dog—a pack animal who looks out for my pack and needs the mutual support. I certainly have encountered many “cats”— dated quite a few in my day, and worked with many at big law firms–they don’t need or want people (sorry Barbra).

  37. Burl Burlingame

    And then do a combo Google search: Monica Goodling, Regent University and Pat Robertson

    Regent University deliberately funnels Robertson’s fundamentalist graduates into government work, and the Bushies welcomed them

  38. Maude Lebowski

    Throughout human history women have been deprived of the same basic rights as men because of the fact that we carry, deliver, and care for human infants. When this fact changes I will revisit my stance on abortion. Until then I agree with you that “I truly cannot understand how anyone who has lived in this country, under our Anglo-American traditions of justice, could [not understand]such a notion for an instant. It absolutely blows my mind.”

  39. David

    I never understood why abortion is a religious issue. Nevertheless, I think both sides have good arguments going in their favor. I have no strong opinion on this like everyone else seems to have. But from a practical standpoint alone I think it’s best for abortion to be legal and, as a society, we continue trying to reduce the number of situations where it is necessary.

    BTW, this is a great summary of personal accounts.

  40. Maude Lebowski

    “explaining my position as “Catholic” (even though I believed these things before I was Catholic), you’re at least using a much more coherent, consistent term than “liberal” or “conservative.”

    I find it odd that someone would use their Catholic religion as evidence that they value human life when Catholics have killed tens of thousands of humans via convert-or-die evangelism and that the Catholic creed deems human life irrelevant beyond one’s willingness to believe that Jesus was God and even then this life is seen as fairly unimportant compared to the (unknown, unproven, and possibly non-existent) afterlife.

    “This isn’t even about the woman’s life.”

    That’s just sad.

  41. Brad Warthen

    Maude, I must protest. I have not killed ANYONE via convert-or-die evangelism in WEEKS, at the very least.

    Anyway, that wasn’t evangelism. It was the enforcement of orthodoxy. Whole different thing.

    Back to seriousness — I like David’s statement that he doesn’t have strong convictions on the subject. I think a LOT of people lack strong convictions on the subject, and tend to adopt whatever stance keeps them from being yelled at by zealots on either side.

    But here’s the thing: If you are truly uncertain — and in truth, no one can empirically establish to everyone’s satisfaction when life begins — then the only humble, reasonable, cautious and moral position is to NOT let abortions take place. Follow me here: If you’re wrong, and the unborn IS a human being, then you have done a horrible thing that cannot be undone, ever. The only justification for the “pro-choice” position would be if a person were absolutely, 100 percent certain, without any possibility of being wrong, that he is not killing a human being. Which, of course, is completely impossible.

  42. Barry

    I agree Brad. As the father of 3 little ones, my wife and I have never been able to understand how anyone could rationally look at their child’s beating heart on a monitor in the doctor’s office and say it’s not “life.” Logically, it doesn’t compute in any way.

    It just makes people feel better to deny it.

  43. Karen McLeod

    Brad, the problem is that you aren’t going to stop abortions until you stop the desperate situations that lead women to choose to abort the fetus. You chose to decide that I was unilaterally personifying pro-lifers as evil, when in fact I did not. I don’t believe that you choose to force victims of rape or incest, especially underage victims, to have their attackers’children. I reallize that the child that would come into being is innocent. I don’t believe that you force women to spend their lives in poverty, while condemning their children to the same poverty; I know that there are many charities that provide some support for unwed mothers. I don’t believe that you force women to risk their lives with high risk pregnancies, or to seek a dangerous illegal abortion, nor do you force children to have children. These are merely the results of the pro-life stance. I understand that the Holy Roman Church holds as a tenet of faith that life begins at conception. I am not about to force anyone who believes this tenet to have an abortion, any more than I would force an adult Seventh Day Adventist to receive a blood transfusion. But if a person comes into a hospital needing a blood transfusion, I would expect that person to have that choice, and if a nurse or doctor believed for religious reasons that transfusions were against God’s will, I would expect that person to at least allow others to administer the transfusion. That’s one of many reasons for separation of church and state. The thing is, the anti-abortion stance kills and maims people, women, both physically and spiritually, even though that certainly is not the intent of those who take that position. That is why I support pro-choice.

  44. Kathryn Fenner

    @Barry — “Life” and “a human being” are not the same things. A tumor is living cells, a bacterium is also. We have no qualms about extinguishing those. Most of us eat meat and all of us eat plants that were once living. Sentimentalizing your experience of your children does not make a fetus a human being.It does not give you the right to make a woman, or worse, a girl, carry a fetus to term.
    A fetus is a potential human being. We should have qualms about what happens to it. A sperm is half of a potential human being. The Catholic Church and many others over the years have said “every sperm is sacred.”
    Should we outlaw all birth control as well?

  45. Maude Lebowski

    Every abortion is the killing of a human life form. That is a simple fact and I don’t understand why there is even any debate over it. Obviously then this is where I disagree: “The only justification for the “pro-choice” position would be if a person were absolutely, 100 percent certain, without any possibility of being wrong, that he is not killing a human being.” I believe that there are justifications for keeping abortion legal, safe, affordable, and private which supersede the right to life of a fetus.

    Sorry to derail your topic further…

  46. Karen McLeod

    Burl, that is incredible. Biblical quotes on rifle sights!! What is this–a “kill for Christ” movement?

  47. bud

    And letting the one most emotionally involved, most interested person, someone who is quite likely in a traumatic state of mind, decide life or death for that other person is completely and utterly inimical to our traditions of justice and due process.

    You’ve made this argument many, many times. And it still makes no sense. Why should Brad Warthen have the authority to make a life or death decision concerning another person? That’s essentially what you’re arguing. And it falls far short of making any logical sense.

  48. bud

    Here’s another thought. Let’s say some government panel is formed with the responsibility for making decisions regarding abortion. And let us further say that a woman who wants an abortion comes before this board to plead her case and this panel approves her request. Would this situation meet Brad’s “communitarian” requirement that a dispassionate entity, free from a traumatic state of mind makes the final decision.

    Or, is the end result what matters? If the only legitimate outcome for pro-lifers is that no abortions can be performed, regardless of who makes the decision, then Brad’s “traumatic state of mind” argument is illogical.

  49. Brad Warthen

    I fail to understand what part of my point bud is failing to understand.

    This much I can set him straight on, though — it’s not about Brad Warthen deciding. If bud advocates (as he should) that only disinterested parties should sit on a jury or preside over a capital murder case, I certainly wouldn’t characterize that as “bud decides.”

    There are two separate points here, bud. Let’s go back to my capital punishment example — in that case, there’s the political/constitutional issue of whether we should allow capital punishment. I would say no, but since we have it, I would say that at the very least we should have the safeguards in place to make the process of deciding when to apply the death penalty as impartial and unaffected by personal interest as possible.

    It’s the same as with abortion. First, there’s the question of whether to allow it. Again, I would say no. But once I lose THAT argument, I’m certainly not about to sit still for a system that places the decision of when to have an abortion entirely in the hands of the MOST interested party — or perhaps I should say, the second most, next to the unborn child.

    I realize that pro-choice people have recited the “let the woman decide” mantra so often that it makes sense to them, and (as with sleep-teaching in Brave New World) it may be very, very difficult for them to see that there’s anything wrong with it. But within the context of the American system of due process, there is everything wrong with it.

  50. bud

    If Brad Warthen is on the abortion panel he will always vote no. If bud is on the panel he will vote yes. Of course this is about Brad making the decision. If we establish a panel that always agrees with you then we have a pro-life panel. If they always agree with me we have a pro-choice panel. Why not just skip this whole panel nonsense and just let individuals decide for themselves? This is really a circular argument. I could just as easily make the same argument in favor of a dispassionate panel that has the authority to force abortions even if the mother wants to carry the baby to term. Pro lifers can easily see how tyrranical that system would be.

  51. Karen McLeod

    “And letting the one most emotionally involved, most interested person, someone who is quite likely in a traumatic state of mind, decide life or death for that other person is completely and utterly inimical to our traditions of justice and due process.”

    Senario. A woman is involved in a traffic accident. She is badly injured and is in a coma. Her husband is, of course, the one who makes the medical decisions for her at this point, including whether to chance a dangerous operation, to do nothing, or to remove her from life support. Given your statement above, he should not be the person who makes these decisions. And Brad, I understand the Roman Catholic belief that human life begins at conception. But I’m curious; given that stance, what do you do about an ectopic pregnancy?

  52. bud

    The other analogy here is the death penalty. If we have a death penalty, so the argument goes, then we should have a panel to decide whether that persons lives or dies. That panel is of course the jury. Given the vagaries of juries I would maintain that the same sort of logic that rejects the pro-life positioin will, ultimately also doom the death penalty. Here’s why. If jury A includes only anti-death penalty folks then they will never apply the death penalty. How much sense does that make to have something as crucial as life or death be decided by the vagaries of jury selection. It therefore makes no sense to even have a death penalty at all. Once you make that decision then it makes no sense to try and come up with any sort of “just” death penalty protocols. And I don’t. I just reject it out of hand.

  53. Herb B.

    Ah, I thought so, Burl. It’s going to take me a little time to do some research on this, but for your first point, I think that Mollie Hemingway fairly well debunked Neil Lewis in this commentary. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, because I don’t really know your writing, but methinks you are thoroughly biased. More to come . . .

  54. Herb B.

    Burl’s sources are betraying what I think is a general tendency by journalists who really don’t understand religion, and who also tend to uncritically accept the uninformed reporting of people like Lewis.

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