December 06, 2004

Reactionary Provincials

Marc Cooper points to a short, concise piece in The Nation by Michael Lind (an ex-conservative turned center-leftist who I’ve admired for years) that stands out in a sea of mediocrity.

In an era in which most U.S. population growth is occurring in the South, West and heartland, American liberalism is defined by people in the Northeast.

At a time when rising tuitions are pricing many working-class Americans out of a college education, the upscale campus is becoming the base of American progressivism.

In a country in which most working-class Americans drive cars and own homes in the suburbs, the left fetishizes urban apartments and mass transit and sneers at "sprawl."

In an economy in which most workers are in the service sector, much of the left is obsessed with manufacturing jobs.

In a society in which Latinos have surpassed blacks as the largest minority and in which racial intermixture is increasing, the left continues to treat race as a matter of zero-sum multiculturalism and white-bashing.

In a culture in which the media industry makes money by pushing sex and violence, the left treats the normalization of profanity and obscenity as though it were somehow progressive, making culture heroes of Lenny Bruce and Larry Flynt.

At a time when the religious right wants to shut down whole areas of scientific research, many on the left share a Luddite opposition to biotech.

In an age in which billions would starve if not for the use of artificial fertilizers in capital-intensive agriculture, the left blathers on about small-scale organic farming.

In a century in which the dire need for energy for poor people in the global South can only be realistically met by coal, oil and perhaps nuclear energy, liberals fantasize about wind farms and solar panels.

And in a world in which the greatest threat to civilization is the religious right of the Muslim countries, much of the left persists in treating the United States as an evil empire and American patriotism as a variant of fascism.

American progressivism, in its present form, is as obsolete in the twenty-first century as the agrarian populists were in the twentieth. If you can't adapt to the times, good intentions will get you nowhere. Ask the shade of William Jennings Bryan.
I think he’s off base about Larry Flynt and Lenny Bruce. Hardly anyone cares a whit for nasty ol’ Larry, and Lenny is from another era. (Also, as an aside, anyone who doesn’t care for Lenny Bruce might consider watching Dustin Hoffman portray him in Lenny and see if you don’t change your mind.)

I also think he's wrong about sprawl. Ask your average American what he or she thinks of sprawl, and you're not likely to get an enthusiastic endorsement. It's one thing to like your house in the suburbs, and another to be a booster for 2-hour commutes from the exurbs. New urbanism is rising, not falling, in popularity - and for a reason.

But Lind’s basic point stands. Progressivism, as he calls it, is both provincial and reactionary. What used to turn me off about the right now repels me from the left.

Not entirely, mind you. The Democrats have been the party of fiscal responsibility since at least the 1980s. (The Republicans create deficits so the Democrats can reduce them.) And the Republicans have plenty of provincial reactionaries of their own. (Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, anyone?) But that’s just another way of saying anyone who is literally progressive, rather than dogmatically so, has nowhere to go.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 6, 2004 06:24 PM
Comments

In a two-party system, each party is necessarily going to encompass a range of positions from the extreme to the center. Someone who is genuinely centrist supports the party that, at any given time, does a better job of marginalizing its extremeties and offering leadership from the center.

In short, this kind of complaint would only ring true if both parties were equally well defined by their extremes.

Which is obviously not the case.

Posted by: Mork at December 6, 2004 06:36 PM

Rightwing christians are "shutting down entire areas of research" because baby stem cells aren't necessary, and the thought of baby clone farms to harvest those cells just bothers them. In contrast, adult stem cells do work, and don't require killing fetuses or harvesting them like some bad dream out of The Matrix.

South Korean woman, paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/041128/1/3ovex.html

Scientists may have found a way to use adult human fat as a source of stem cells.

But you guys would rather harvest fetuses, all "for science" of course. If only those rightwing christians would just grow up or go away so you could have your Bladerunner dystopia without being bothered.

Posted by: David at December 6, 2004 07:01 PM

Forgive me for singling out one side issue--particularly as I agree with your overall point--but regarding "new urbanism," while I obviously can't say how it's working anywhere else, what's happening in my area, Dallas, is that, yes, some people are seeking out housing much closer to downtown; but only the affluent. They trade in a 2-hour commute for life in a gated townhome community that doesn't come cheap and is not without its own drawbacks (for example, traveling a few blocks in any direction takes residents out of the "bubble" and into surrounding, deteriorating areas). "New urbanism" will be an effective alternative to sprawl, and a strong issue for the left, only when it's affordable for working and middle-class families to practice it.

But as noted, perhaps other cities are having better success with the idea. God knows I've done the 2-hour commute thing enough in my life to want earnestly never to do it again.

I'm probably touchy about this one because of a charming article I read last week entitled "F*ck the Suburbs," which contained plenty of that sneering at sprawl Lind mentions. Helping workers move up to home ownership in relatively safe neighborhoods used to be a goal of Democrats, unless my memory's going. As long as they prefer to sneer and chastise the very class of Americans they claim to help, however, you and Lind will be proven correct about what they can expect in the future.

Posted by: ilyka at December 6, 2004 07:03 PM

Nice post.

That first sentence in the last paragraph, though...a joke, right? Conversation starter?

Posted by: TmjUtah at December 6, 2004 07:31 PM

MT,

Nice find. I agree with you about Lenny Bruce, though had the point been made regarding Hollywood values generally, it would certainly hold. As for new urbanism and what people SAY. Watch what they DO for how folks really feel. Some like cities, some like yards, so be it.

What the article doesn't take into account is that Republicans will invariably go too far and screw up. It has a probability of one.

Posted by: spc67 at December 6, 2004 07:43 PM

" The Democrats have been the party of fiscal responsibility since at least the 1980s. "

I take exception to that. Neither party has been fiscally sound for a while. Both are fiscal hawks when out of power, and spendthrift when in power.

And spc67 is correct, the Republicans will eventually lose their majority, keeping together a coaltion is never easy.

Posted by: FH at December 6, 2004 08:01 PM

FH,

The deficit went up under Reagan and Bush, down under Clinton, then up again under Bush.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 6, 2004 08:05 PM

MT,

The deficit is not the only measure of fiscal responsibility. Draining private pocketbooks through excessive taxation counts too. In additon, the Dems controlled Congress under both Reagan and Bush, do they not have accountability as well?

Posted by: spc67 at December 6, 2004 09:09 PM

The deficit is not the only measure of fiscal responsibility. Draining private pocketbooks through excessive taxation counts too.

I would have thought that the phrase "fiscal responsibility" usually refers to whether the government maintains the public accounts in good order.

Whether the resultant levels of impost and expenditure are appropriate is a separate issue.

In additon, the Dems controlled Congress under both Reagan and Bush, do they not have accountability as well?

Where does the buck stop again?

Posted by: Mork at December 6, 2004 10:05 PM

About that "sea of mediocrity". I read the whole set of mini-essays by all the wounded progressives. They only provide further evidence for Lind's opinion. Since 9/11 I have been describing myself as a "recovering liberal". After reading the self-righteous treacle of these folks, I think I can say I've recovered.

Posted by: EssEm at December 6, 2004 10:35 PM

I would argue that American “progressivism,” a total misnomer, was obsolete from day one. These same people are/were apologists for the murderous regimes of Castro, Stalin, Hirohito, The Taliban, Kim Jong Il, Saddam, Mao and countless others.

These people talk about “personal freedoms” but would gladly give up theirs and everyone else’s to the Federal government, which they’d love nothing more than to see it disintegrate into a totalitarian power that falls in line with their twisted worldview.

These people should be marginalized, and I’m proud to see that this country is finally coming to its senses. The worm is turning. My only concern is that it may be too late to fix a lot of the damage they’ve wrought upon this nation.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at December 6, 2004 10:36 PM

Thanks for bringing Lind's piece to my attention, I hadn't made it that far in the article. I agree with your "sea of mediocrity" comment; it is largely a group of academics writing, so we ought not be surprised. You missed one other "keeper", however. Van Jones (#2) points out that in recent contests, "EQ trumps IQ", an excellent observation (which illustrates the foolishness of asking leasing professors for advice at this stage).

Posted by: G.A. Dean at December 6, 2004 10:42 PM

Kay - I wonder if you can name one person who is a significant figure in the Democratic party who holds the views you ascribe.

Posted by: Mork at December 6, 2004 11:37 PM

Mork,

Maybe Joseph Leiberman. I don’t know if you’d call him a “significant figure” as he has unfortunately been marginalized within his own party. At least he offers some glimmer of hope among a sea the moral bankruptcy that is the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at December 7, 2004 12:24 AM

Kay,

I think you misunderstood Mork's question. He wants to know which significant members of the Democratic Party are totalitarians.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 12:27 AM

MJT, please look at Jeff Jarvis' nearly pathological free-speech support for obscenity from Howard Stern. Lenny Bruce started it, but virtually all Leftist humorists include huge amounts of cursing.

It is my view that human behavior and social norms are well modeled by actual driving habits. There is some "limit", but almost everybody goes over the limit, a little. Yet most folks do support having a limit, because honestly unlimited, like German autobahns, is so frightening.

So cops usually accept up to about 10 mph over the limit, and usually stop those going 15 mph over or more, if such are caught. And those doing only 5-10 over are usually a bit P.O.'d at the "real speeders" (despite NOT being innocent).

I believe that obscenity acceptance has been a supportive influence on the increase in Hate Speech, because humans have a desire to occasionally express strong, stronger, and VERY strong language. (Do you have a different belief? Any evidence?)

With all obscene words so accepted that they become "weak", another way, hate speech, had to be found to express the strong feelings.

I also used to think that expressing the strong feelings would relieve them. I now believe that such actions are only "feeding the wolf".

Legislation shouldn't generally "forbid" such expression. But they should be recognized as bad, and advertising such shows should be more heavily taxed, as well as time restricted.

Like most Liberals, you miss what's not mentioned.
Children. The moral values culture war is a little bit about whether the culture is going to be optimized more for families with children, or for adults without children. It's time to be more honest and admit that optimizing more for one is sub-optimal for the other. Social gay marriage acceptance (optimal for childless folk) is seen strongly as sub-optimal for families with children.

"Fiscal Responsibility" was a phrase used by Reps to sell their overall smaller gov't (in economics) theme. Thus Reagan's, and Bush's Tax Cuts fit that theme.
The Dems want lots of high taxes, and high spending. They only want to use the phrase to increase taxes -- where have the Dems proposed spending cuts? Bush was terrible in the election on failing to state that higher taxes means higher unemployment.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 7, 2004 12:47 AM

Mork, how about John Kerry never accepting that his opposition to the Vietnam War was, in reality, support for communist takeover in SE Asia. And the Killing Fields came from such a takeover. Kerry, and ALL anti-War Leftists, supported the genocide alternative. (But they didn't know! despite Russia, E. Europe, China, ... the VC. Only by intellectual dishonesty could they not know.)

I don't like Abu Ghraib, but accept that those who support Iraq invasion (me!) need to accept that such problems are part of their responsibility.

I am really annoyed that this standard of responsibility has been lacking on the Left.

When will Amnesty and Human Rights Watch call Sudan genocide? "Genocide" requires military action, "humanitarian crisis" allows apologies and later, empty, "Never Again" promises by Kofi or whoever leads the UN.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 7, 2004 12:54 AM

Excellent piece. He is right about Flynt though, my impression is that he is referring to the movie Oliver Stone made about Flynt, compared to Flynt's actual life. Flynt was an extreme misogynist, putting out a famous cover of a woman going through a meat grinder. But every issue of Hustler he did was full of racist and misogynist and just plain gross tasteless stuff, the absolute worst. Stone's movie made his whole life seem like it was about free speech, some kind of first amendment hero, which is preposterous.

Also, parties in power and Presidents have limited effect on the economy. Clinton was not responsible for the boom in the 90's that cut the deficit, there is nothing specific that he did to cause or even contribute to that boom. What is known is what the government can do that can influence the economy, such as cutting taxes, decreasing regulation, trade, etc. Sometimes the effects of that don't show up til after their term in office.

Posted by: napablogger at December 7, 2004 02:17 AM

“I think you misunderstood Mork's question. He wants to know which significant members of the Democratic Party are totalitarians”

I’ll take a swing at a slow pitch over the middle of the plate. It doesn’t get much easier than this. There are no significant Democratic party members who are per se totalitarians. However, the followers of Howard Dean (at least a third of the party) are objectively pro-totalitarian. They mistrust American power and subconsciously, if not even consciously, believe that our conflicts with the terrorists and their allies, are due to “blow back.” We are essentially responsible for their anger towards us. The United States should therefore be defeated. As Michael Moore, the guru of the Democratic Party’s left wing said, the Iraqi insurgents are similar to our own American revolutionary heroes. Does anyone else have any other easy questions that I might be able to answer? I can only hope that the next one might be a bit more challenging.

Posted by: David Thomson at December 7, 2004 02:18 AM

At a time when rising tuitions are pricing many working-class Americans out of a college education, the upscale campus is becoming the base of American progressivism
**************************************************
That is pure Bull, has this guy never heard of student loans? Anyone who wants to go to school can. They might have to work and go to school. I Did.

Posted by: Daniel Kauffman at December 7, 2004 02:42 AM

Daniel -- I think he's talking (mostly) about the Ivys. A friend's kid just got the Vanderbilt brochure. Tuition is up to $40K/year. Not too many middle-class or lower are going to think that a Vanderbilt diploma is worth $160K in loans -- and if you can find a job that'll pay $40K/yr part time over 4 years without a college degree, maybe college isn't the best choice anyway.

Posted by: Bill B at December 7, 2004 05:32 AM

" The Democrats have been the party of fiscal responsibility since at least the 1980s. "

Is this a joke? Or just more of your economic illiteracy?

Posted by: Winger at December 7, 2004 05:47 AM

Correction to above: the Larry Flynt opus was not the work of Oliver Stone, but of emigre Czech director Milos Forman. I was quite an admirer of Ken Kesey's novel which Forman brought to the screen, but I've never forgiven him for making a cultural hero out of Flynt, a First Amendment liability; a pimp like Flynt wrapped in the First Amendment remains a pimp and pretending he's not diminishes the culture.

Posted by: Ray Zacek at December 7, 2004 06:33 AM

"What the article doesn't take into account is that Republicans will invariably go too far and screw up. It has a probability of one."

Thats probably the best hope the Democrats have for winning the presidency back in the forseeavle future, not to mention Congress. Got any predictions on what they might go to far on?

Posted by: sam at December 7, 2004 06:45 AM

Tom Grey,
"I believe that obscenity acceptance has been a supportive influence on the increase in Hate Speech, because humans have a desire to occasionally express strong, stronger, and VERY strong language."

I dont really agree with this claim. But before we get into this, how are you defining "Hate Speech"? I'd like to know so I can be sure that we're talking about the same thing here.

Posted by: sam at December 7, 2004 06:49 AM

Dear gods.

Let's have another grammer lesson. Good old David Thompson has pulled out that Blogger's Favorite Label, "Totalitarian". Of course, like most bloggers, he has no clue what it means, except that its bad. Since he doesn't like Dean, he decides that the Deaniacs are Pro-Totalitarian. Here's his, err, logic?:

However, the followers of Howard Dean (at least a third of the party) are objectively pro-totalitarian.

Objectively? Objectively in what sense of the word?

Totalitarian, means that the government passes laws to control every aspect of your life. Your work, your leisure time, your religion, your sexual preferences, your food, everything you do is under the auspices of the Government. I don't recall Howard Dean, or any of the Deaniacs making any sort of noise that fits the moniker 'totalitarian'. Yet, David thinks he has somehow objectively lebeled them.

But it gets better:

They mistrust American power and subconsciously, if not even consciously, believe that our conflicts with the terrorists and their allies, are due to “blow back.” We are essentially responsible for their anger towards us.

If a group of people 'mistrust' the power of the ferderal government, then they are not totalitarian. Totalitarians want the governmetn to have MORE power, in fact, ALL the power. Sorry, David, your statements fit together like a grilled Ham and Swiss cookoo clock.

Now David brings up something else, thats completely counter to his poor supposition of pro-totalitarianism, the idea that America is responsible for the current state of Islamic nihilism. Unfortunately, once again, this is a decidedly non-totalitarian viewpoint. Totalitarians would push the ideology of Nationalism to the exclusion of all else. Thats what totalitarianism does. But, let's not have something as silly as language, words and Political Science get in the way of Mr. Thompson and his crusade against the Totalitarians.. or Windmills, he's not really sure.

Once again we see the problem with permitting loose language use. A few weeks ago we argued about this word, but several people said "well... its a close enough word..." Now, here we are with David Thompson, and his usage isn't even close. Shall even the English Language be a barrier no more to the rantings of the Dogmaticaly Political?

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 7, 2004 07:21 AM

David -- here's a novel idea: let the SCIENTISTS figure out what kind of stem cells they need -- umbilical cords, adults, or the hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos that will never otherwise become life.

Wingnut, TmjUtah -- It's not a joke to say the Democrats have been the party of fiscal responsibility since the eighties. Since the Reagan tax cuts of '81, the Republicans, with the exception of Bush 41 in 1990 (for which he was practically lynched by his conservative base) have been the party of having ones cake and eating it too. Democrats on the other hand, since Mondale's pledge to raise taxes in 1984, have been the party telling America to eat its spinach. The 1994 tax hike on the rich that created the fiscal surpluses of the late nineties was cast without a single Republican vote in support of it. And in 2004, again, it was Kerry once again who felt obligated to promise that he would not embark on his health care proposal unless he first halved the deficit, while Bush felt free to invoke painless economic growth as the solution for all fiscal difficulties.

spc67: fiscal responsibility means raising taxes. This is because most of the federal budget cannot be responsibly cut: current SS payments, current Medicare and VA benefit payments, debt service, and Pentagon expenditures make up over 80% of the federal outlays, and this percentage will only continue to increase. Contrary to the ignorance of most Americans on this matter (over half of Americans in a recent poll estimated that the U.S. spends about 25% of its budget on foreign aid) the discretionary spending that can be cut from the federal budget barely puts a dent in the deficit.

Tom Grey --
The Clinton years demonstrated that higher taxes do not always lead to higher unemployment.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 7, 2004 07:22 AM

One more thing (courtesy of Talking Points Memo): those of you who believe in the supply-side "free lunch" fantasy, or think that "draining private pocketbooks through excessive taxation" is a greater threat to the American economy than an out-of-control budget deficit, ought to read this editorial from the Economist about what the weakening dollar might mean. And keep in mind, Republicans, if the shit hits the fan, you won't be able to blame it on Democrats this time.

http://economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3446249

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 7, 2004 07:29 AM

What I find the most fascinating about these sorts of conversations are the sweeping generalizations and made-up insights that people supposedly have into the psyches of people they've never met and know nothing about except for whom they voted.

David Thomson wrote:
They...subconsciously, if not even consciously, believe that...
He is speaking about "at least a third of the party." This is tens of millions of people.

Not just their conscious minds, but their subconscious minds. Apparently, Mr. Thomson can do something that not even Freud could always do, even when he had them on his couch. No, he doesn't even need to meet these people.

This is about as powerful an insight as someone on the Left accusing a Bush supporter of being stupid for having voted for Bush.

There is quite a bit of this sort of speak in this comments section. "The Democrats want this, the Democrats feel that, no Democrat believes this, all Democrats are obsessed with that." Frequently, it is meant to imply that they are crazy, evil, or stupid.

When I use phrases like "the Democrats need to do this" or "the Republicans are using that strategy", I am generally referring to the leadership of each party, not its rank-and-file.

It seems to me, however, that many of these comments (as David's is) are directed at the mass of Democrats.

These are, generally, ordinary people. They are not crazy, they are not traitors, they don't love dictators. They lead lives that are fundamentally like yours. If you were to spend some time with them, you might actually like them.

To imply that you can peer into the minds of tens of millions of ordinary Americans and then accuse them of being pro-totalitarian is an incredible act of hubris.

Posted by: Blogtheist at December 7, 2004 07:39 AM

"Fiscal responsibility" means screwing the Tax Payers - got it. I forgot it isn't MY money (silly me). Both parties spend like drunken whores, but the Dems are more "responsible" because they want to pick my pocket before I can make any interest on my wealth.

PS: Mr. Rose, don't worry about my pocketbook. Mind your own business.

Posted by: Winger at December 7, 2004 07:53 AM
spc67:
What the article doesn't take into account is that Republicans will invariably go too far and screw up. It has a probability of one.

You say this as if it's a trait unique to Republicans.

Posted by: Mark Poling at December 7, 2004 07:54 AM

"However, the followers of Howard Dean (at least a third of the party) are objectively pro-totalitarian."

Perhaps he meant this as far a tolerating totalitarianism in places other than the US (e.g. Iraq).

But I will let David speak for himself.

Posted by: Winger at December 7, 2004 08:03 AM

I would have thought that the phrase "fiscal responsibility" usually refers to whether the government maintains the public accounts in good order.

Sorry, communist governemnts with balanced budgets shouldn't be labelled "fiscally responsible."

Where does the buck stop again?

For some, never with a Democrat.

Thats probably the best hope the Democrats have for winning the presidency back in the forseeavle future, not to mention Congress. Got any predictions on what they might go to far on?

Since I'm hoping we don't do it, I'm probably a poor person to ask, but if I had to guess, it'll be a social issue of some sort.

spc67: fiscal responsibility means raising taxes. This is because most of the federal budget cannot be responsibly cut: current SS payments, current Medicare and VA benefit payments, debt service, and Pentagon expenditures make up over 80% of the federal outlays, and this percentage will only continue to increase. Contrary to the ignorance of most Americans on this matter (over half of Americans in a recent poll estimated that the U.S. spends about 25% of its budget on foreign aid) the discretionary spending that can be cut from the federal budget barely puts a dent in the deficit.

B.S. We can begin means testing SS and Medicare and freeze spending everywhere else except defense and debt service and we'd be balanced inside a decade. Economic growth is a remarkeable thing. The question is, do we have the balls to means test SS and Medicare? Only a lefty would label social spending cuts or means testing "irresponsible."

You say [screwing up and going too far] as if it's a trait unique to Republicans

LOL, no it's how the Dems got where they are now, but it is hard to do when you are out of power.

Posted by: spc67 at December 7, 2004 08:54 AM

Tom,

Speed limits don't violate the First Amendment.

If you don't like Howard Stern, don't listen to him. It really is that simple. I don't listen to him because I think he's an asshole, but Jarvis is right. His show isn't piped into my house against my will, and I really don't need a nanny government washing his mouth out with soap on "my" behalf.

Does opposing nanny state behavior make me a liberal?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 09:48 AM

spc67 -- means testing social security and medicare would in fact put a dent in the deficit. But it cannot be implemented in the short term. In practice, it would mean that middle class and upper class retirees who PAID payroll taxes their whole life would no longer receive checks, and no longer have their medical bills paid for...not a political winner. But Clinton's 1994 tax hike actually included a very mild form of "means testing" -- retirees making over a certain income had 85% of their SS benefits treated as taxable income. This form of means testing was endlessly attacked at the time, and still is, as "double-taxation", by REPUBLICANS.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 7, 2004 10:05 AM

Markus,

Means testing can be implemented over time, the deficit need not be cured tomorrow. I'm also not sure why you think that's a political loser while tax increases are a political winner? As for "double taxation," do you think that's a good thing?

Posted by: spc67 at December 7, 2004 10:38 AM

Honestly, I don't see the point of obscenity. There are occupations where it is part of the culture, but I think its spread into the culture at large was sort of like the spread of blue jeans: a deluded expression of "working class" solidarity.

Back in 1965 I spent the summer working in a german nursery, planting, thinning, and so forth in the fields. My fellow workers were mostly spanish and italian, and one day I thought to show my "peasant" solidarity by blowing my nose on the ground. Needless to say, one of the workers took me aside and asked why I did such a disgusting thing.

No, obscenity doesn't mark one as hip, or special, or enlightened. It simply marks one as immature and possessed of stupid romantic fantasies about "real" people.

Posted by: chuck at December 7, 2004 10:39 AM

It WAS simple, when the vast majority of American power structures were church going WASPs. It's not, now.

And the SC has ruled, often, with nuances, that community standards enforcement on obscenity also doesn't violate the First Amendment.

There's written words; SC rulings; and right & wrong.

I look at the wisdom, in the absence, of not "using the Lord's name in vain".

I went through a big F-speech phase in college, thinking it cool. Today I try hard to not use any words stronger than sh*t, and prefer rats and nuts.

Now I look at raising my kids, and see how they "need" borders, tighter than necessary, so that they can occasionally go a bit outside the borders and it's not a huge deal.

There's no way of proving society is better with a "courteous" standard of speech instead of a "rap-curse is cool" standard, but I strongly believe it. And I understand it's a belief. Bill Cosby is beginning to complain about it, too.

One can't always turn off the outside world's obscenities, and it reduces the joys of childhood, as well as leading to more frequent unpleasantness in life.

What, if any, are the reasonable limits for society, and gov't, to control speech? There will always be a tension, but right now there is too much obscenity, so I favor measures to reduce it. I prefer those measures to be more economic taxes on advertising, but prefer outright FCC bans to the current excessive F words.

And maybe certain literary works, like Lady Chaterly's Lover or Private Ryan, need some special exemptions. And if the FCC chill means the "creative folk" return to more euphamisms, that's fine with me.

I'll have to review the 94 tax hike -- I thought the big issue under Clinton was the Welfare Reform. I'd favor more tax increases on gas use than on income & wealth creation.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 7, 2004 11:01 AM

spc67 -- As a rule, I prefer taxes on waste and wealth, rather than taxes on work. So no, I have no problem with taxing things like property more than once.

I have no problem with means testing from a policy standpoint. The argument from a political standpoint is easy, though, and overwhelming: means testing turns it into a welfare program, which tend to have very little public support.

And then, once they have become welfare programs, Republicans will be able to switch the bait and say what they really think: people have a lifetime to build their nest egg for retirement, and those too poor, stupid, irresponsible or unlucky to do this have no right to demand help from those who have done this, or are in the process of doing this. Therefore, Social Security and Medicare ought to be eliminated.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 7, 2004 11:09 AM

Chuck,

While I personally think that obscenity is the mark of someone with a poor vocabulary and a lack of respect, I do not think that the founding fathers had any plans to legislate words.

Words change all of the time. The intensity of words, the meanings of words and the 'vulgarity' of words. For example, In the 1950s, the film "The Moon Is Blue," became a center of controversy and actually got banned in some cities because it contained the word "virgin".

Is Virgin obscene? Should it be?

I would hazzard a guess that the reason most obscene commentary happens on the radio is because it maintains the 'shock jock' 'damn the man' mentality. Only because the Government tries to control them, do they get ratings for poor behavior.

Besides, if people don't like it, they can turn the channel, switch the station, or pop in a cd. If its on TV, they could even gasp not watch it and do something constructive instead.

I don't want the Federal Governemtn involved in my life any more than absolutely necessary. I don't think they need to regulate guns, I don't think they need to regulate Gay Marriage, I don't think they need to regulate medical marijuana, or recreational marijuana... In fact, I don't think that they should be involved in anything except Interstate commerce, national defense and protecting the freedoms and rights of citizens.

I'd rather they let me keep the tax money they spend on chasing Howard Stern or stoned cancer patients. I can think of much more useful things that I could do with it.

The issue is not about "what IS right" (which is based entirely on emotion, environment and perception) and is much more about what level of control we are willing to hand over to the government (which is based on rules/laws and Reasoning).

People need to take personal responsibility for their lives. If you don't like Stern, then don't listen to him. Why do we need a daddy or mommy government to take responsibility for what we watch or listen to? Are we that unable to tear our monkey brains away from the pretty lights and sounds?

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 7, 2004 11:09 AM

Lady Chatterly's Lover

Speaking of stupid romantic fantasies, D.H. Lawrence has got to be one of the biggest offenders. I don't know what his excuse was, given his background, except that he was always trying to be the man that he wasn't.

Posted by: chuck at December 7, 2004 11:26 AM

You're wrong about Larry FLynt, Michael. Early on in the W. years, Ashcroft was gearing up to come down hard on porn. Flynt was prominently featured in a FRONTLINE documentary on porn. It aired a couple of weeks before 9/11. After that, Ashcroft had other priorities.

Flynt remains, and never shuts up. The current issue of Hustler is outing Republican congressman David Dreier. Playboy is tanking, but Flynt's empire (now including strip clubs and sex toy shops) is thriving. He rakes the muck and makes the bucks.

That said, thanks for the link to the piece. I can't stomach The Nation anymore, and would have missed this otherwise.

Posted by: growler at December 7, 2004 11:37 AM

Mork, Totten,

Kerry, and Dean have both been given as excellent examples. I'll throw in Clinton too, or have we already forgotten about Waco, and the Cuban boy Elian Gonzales?

Posted by: Kay Hoog at December 7, 2004 11:43 AM

Kay,

Kerry, Dean, and Clinton are totalitarians? I just got back from a totalitarian country. (You know, a real one, not a totalitarian la-la land that only exists in feverish right-wing imaginations.) And I'm in the middle of writing an article about what it was like to be there. So you really might want to peddle this garbage somewhere else. Seriously. I don't have any patience for it right now. You sound like a 15-year old punk who thinks Bush=Hitler.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 12:27 PM

In additon, the Dems controlled Congress under both Reagan and Bush, do they not have accountability as well?

They controlled it under Clinton, as well -- or, at least, they controlled it long enough to get the tax cuts and Federal budget reductions underway. It's hardly controversial, however, to note that the President's agenda-setting power under current budget law gives him overwhelming responsibility for deficits and surpluses.

Posted by: Kimmitt at December 7, 2004 12:33 PM

David -- here's a novel idea: let the SCIENTISTS figure out what kind of stem cells they need --

Markus,

science without ethics? Spoken like a true nihilist. The Nazis pioneered science without ethics, so it's not a terribly novel idea at all.

If the frozen embryos are being harvested like so much cabbage, then I'm not in favor of leaving it to scientists at all. It's the next atom bomb as far as I'm concerned. Once it's out of the box there's no putting it back in.

Posted by: David at December 7, 2004 12:48 PM

science without ethics?

Is it truly science without ethics you rail against, or is it science without YOUR ethics?

There a difference.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 7, 2004 12:51 PM

Tosk,

if you too insist that ethical decisions be left to "the scientists", as Markus does, then that sounds to me like 'science without ethics.' Or at the very least, it sounds like science with THEIR ethics.

And ethics shouldn't be left to scientists, it should be left to the ethicists.

Posted by: David at December 7, 2004 01:00 PM

...yeah and everyone knows that scientists don't have political and ethical agends (snort). If they say throwing babies into blenders is for the "good of science," then we should go along with it without question.

Posted by: Winger at December 7, 2004 01:01 PM

"Democrats as the party of fiscal responsiblity" is about as free of rational thought as "Bush=Hitler."

(For that matter, so is "GOP as the party of fiscal responsiblity" -- expect in the area of their tax policy. Both parties spend YOUR money like drunken sailors. But you should be able to keep it as long as you can.)

Posted by: Winger at December 7, 2004 01:06 PM

Totten,

Look I asserted that these people have totalitarian LEANINGS and I stand by this. The evidence is insurmountable and clear as day. These people want more and more government intervention in our day to day lives. They are apologists for dangerous totalitarian regimes the world over, including the one you just visited. This is not to say I believe this is true of the many who vote for democrats, nor that there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but the majority of their leadership is unmistakably corrupt.

The disease of Marxism that infected the party decades ago has gotten so bad that organs will have to be removed and limbs will have to be amputated, and there will undoubtedly be little left of the patient once the operation is complete.

I’d also like to point out that I won’t stand for anymore of these personal attacks. I think I’ve treated you with respect and courtesy and only wish the same in return. I enjoy your writings most of the time, and enjoy your site, but I will not tolerate these insults.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at December 7, 2004 01:26 PM

And ethics shouldn't be left to scientists, it should be left to the ethicists.

Oh sure. Color me suspicious of the sort of person who would become a professional "ethicist." Scratch suspicious. I would trust such a person about as much as I would trust a proven serial killer. If thinking about ethics is part of a larger concern, then that's OK, we all do it, and some may specialize in occupations where it is paramount, religious authorities come to mind. But please, leave enforcement to the legislaters and the public. "Ethicists," phooey. Reminds me of the proposed Groningen Protocol, where doctors would have final say over the life and death of children up to age 12. Not the parents, mind you, that would be unprofessional.

Posted by: chuck at December 7, 2004 01:43 PM

But please, leave enforcement to the legislaters and the public.

you won't have to twist my arm to agree with that one.

Posted by: David at December 7, 2004 01:49 PM

Kay: I enjoy your writings most of the time, and enjoy your site, but I will not tolerate these insults.

Just try to remember that I almost voted for John Kerry (with a firmly plugged nose) and that my wife did actually vote for John Kerry (with a firmly plugged nose.) She also went on the grand totalitarian tour with me in Libya. So when I hear that Kerry is a totalitarian, "moderate" or not, you're making a pretty strong denunciation of the integrity of my household whether you intend it that way or not.

My wife doesn't vote for totalitarian candidates, and I don't consider voting for totalitarian candidates.

I hope you can understand where I'm coming from here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 01:57 PM

Children. The moral values culture war is a little bit about whether the culture is going to be optimized more for families with children, or for adults without children. It's time to be more honest and admit that optimizing more for one is sub-optimal for the other. Social gay marriage acceptance (optimal for childless folk) is seen strongly as sub-optimal for families with children.

An interesting idea, but I don't necessarily think that the two world-views are incompatible. For example, there's nothing about gay marriage that threatens children (I am gay and married, and I promise I will not barge in and scare your kids at Christmas dinner :-) and conversely, making society child-friendly doesn't hurt childless people. I mean, kids are our future whether you have them or not, and we should provide safe spaces, good school and a decent society for them to grow up in...things that benefit everyone!

Posted by: Mike Silverman at December 7, 2004 02:16 PM

David,

Tosk,

if you too insist that ethical decisions be left to "the scientists", as Markus does, then that sounds to me like 'science without ethics.' Or at the very least, it sounds like science with THEIR ethics.

And ethics shouldn't be left to scientists, it should be left to the ethicists.

No, I don't think that ethics should be left up to the scientists.

My point was that just because someone offends 'YOUR' ethics on a specific issue, that doesn't necessarily make them unethical. Some people might argue that using aborted or frozen embryos (which are already dead) to try to save or at least improve the life of living people is ethical.

Simply because their view of ethics is different, doesn't mean that they have no ethics.

Personally, my view on the subject is that, as long as abortion is leagl, stem cell research is equal to organ doners or bodies donated to science. I consider organ donation and donation to science to be ethical.

I would consider abortions specifically for use in such testing to be unethical... but, if the fetus is dead, the fetus is dead.

I respect your ethical viewpoint. I just didn't like the "My View or You're Wrong" sound of your initial post.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 7, 2004 02:33 PM

I respect your ethical viewpoint. I just didn't like the "My View or You're Wrong" sound of your initial post.

Sorry if I don't also respect your ethical viewpoint, but I certainly respect your right to voice it.

But I was objecting to Markus's implication that those decisions should be left to scientists.

And sadly, you jumped all over my post, not his.

why do you hate me Tosk???

Posted by: David at December 7, 2004 02:38 PM

Michael,

"Kerry, Dean, and Clinton are totalitarians? I just got back from a totalitarian country. (You know, a real one, not a totalitarian la-la land that only exists in feverish right-wing imaginations.) And I'm in the middle of writing an article about what it was like to be there. So you really might want to peddle this garbage somewhere else. Seriously. I don't have any patience for it right now. You sound like a 15-year old punk who thinks Bush=Hitler."

I can't speak for what Kay or David or anyone else may think; but David's original statement was "objectively pro-totalitarian". That reminds me of Orwell's assessment that British pacifists were "objectively pro-fascist": no matter what their intentions, the consequences of their action benefitted the fascists.

I think an argument can held on whether the policies of Kerry, Dean, and Clinton (and a lot of other folks on left and right and center) are in that sense objectively pro-totalitarian. It's not a proven case by any stretch of the imagination; but it's a legitimate debate. And it's definitely NOT the same as saying that the gentlemen ARE totalitarians.

Posted by: UML Guy at December 7, 2004 02:39 PM

I think an argument can held on whether the policies of Kerry, Dean, and Clinton (and a lot of other folks on left and right and center) are in that sense objectively pro-totalitarian. It's not a proven case by any stretch of the imagination; but it's a legitimate debate. And it's definitely NOT the same as saying that the gentlemen ARE totalitarians.

That's still a despicable libel. Orwell was writing of people who did not believe in militarily resisting Nazi Germany. There is no-one, no-one in the mainstream of the Democratic party who does not support the use of military force where that will be effective in combatting islamic terrorism.

The Iraq debate was only ever about whether Iraq was a threat to the United States and whether invading Iraq would assist or hinder the fight against real terrorists.

To my mind, the outcome has now decisively settled that question in favor of the doubters.

By your lights, that would make those who supported the invasion of Iraq objectively pro-terrorist - after all, their stupid decision has provided material assistance to the cause of Islamic terror ... but that's your fucked reasoning, not mine.

Posted by: Mork at December 7, 2004 03:05 PM

Mork: The Iraq debate was only ever about whether Iraq was a threat to the United States and whether invading Iraq would assist or hinder the fight against real terrorists.

I also remember arguing about oil, imperialism, unilateralism, and democracy in the Middle East.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 03:39 PM

I also remember arguing about oil, imperialism, unilateralism, and democracy in the Middle East.

Yes, but you went out of your way to find the most extreme voices on the antiwar side in order to more effectively demonize opposition to the war.

In the mainstream - including Howard Dean and the other antiwar democrats - the antiwar position was as I characterized it.

Posted by: Mork at December 7, 2004 04:10 PM

Mork: you went out of your way to find the most extreme voices on the antiwar side

I didn't have to go very far. The magazines I used to subscribe to wallow in that nonsense to this day. So do the people who live in my neighborhood.

If I lived in small town Alabama and had to put up with Bible-thumpers on a regular basis you can bet your ass I'd vent about them on this blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 04:42 PM

OK, Michael - but the terms of the question were whether these voices reflect the views of the leaders of the Democratic party ... which is the charge levelled by UML Guy above that I was responding to.

Posted by: Mork at December 7, 2004 05:06 PM

Kay wrote:

"Kerry, and Dean have both been given as excellent examples. I'll throw in Clinton too, or have we already forgotten about Waco, and the Cuban boy Elian Gonzales?"

Oh, man.

David Koresh WAS a totalitarian. Fortunately just a penny-ante, largely unnsuccessful one.

And what are you saying about the Elian Gonzales case? That child custody should be determined by mob rule?

Posted by: A.Canuck at December 7, 2004 05:09 PM

A.Canuck: David Koresh WAS a totalitarian. Fortunately just a penny-ante, largely unnsuccessful one.

He sure was.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 7, 2004 05:33 PM

Actually, Mork, I levelled no charges. I said there was room for argument. In response, you went ballistic and foul mouthed. Classy.

I would answer your statements, but you're not interested in argument, only accusation and bullying. I'll pass.

Posted by: UML Guy at December 7, 2004 08:18 PM

I said there was room for argument.

If I say that "there is room for argument" that the Republican party is worse than the Nazis, am I or am I not casting an aspersion on the GOP and its supporters?

At least have the courage of your foolish convictions!

Posted by: Mork at December 7, 2004 08:35 PM

You're right, Mork. You get to define the terms of the debate. You get to define what's libel. You get to define the facts. You get to insult with impunity. So you win. You're right. Yay, Mork!

Posted by: UML Guy at December 7, 2004 09:23 PM

You're right, Mork. You get to define the terms of the debate. You get to define what's libel. You get to define the facts. You get to insult with impunity. So you win. You're right. Yay, Mork!

Hey, I'm just telling ya what I think. If you've got a better argument, write it out and we'll leave it to posterity to decide.

Just don't whine about it, fer chrissakes.

Posted by: Mork at December 7, 2004 09:27 PM

Totten: "So when I hear that Kerry is a totalitarian, "moderate" or not, you're making a pretty strong denunciation of the integrity of my household whether you intend it that way or not.

"My wife doesn't vote for totalitarian candidates, and I don't consider voting for totalitarian candidates.

"I hope you can understand where I'm coming from here. "

Fair enough. But you should also understand where I’m coming from. Calling someone a “punk” in the neighborhood where I grew up was enough to get someone stabbed. But more importantly those kind of childish comments do nothing to further discourse. As we undoubtedly learned in the last election, this kind of negativity goes a long way in turning people away from your point of view.

If I’ve offended you or your family, I sincerely and genuinely apologize, and I hope we can put all this ugliness behind us.

Posted by: Kay Hoog at December 7, 2004 09:29 PM

I also remember arguing about oil, imperialism, unilateralism, and democracy in the Middle East.

Michael:

I think you're failing to appreciate how these topics were appropriate to the discussion of whether Iraq was a threat and whether the invasion would aid or hinder us in the war on terror.

Oil and imperialism spoke to the issue of the administration's true rationale for the invasion, in light of their close connections to the oil industry and the neo-conservatives explicit goals as set forth in the PNAC. Sure, some of the discussion was over-wrought, but all of it was concerned with the administration's commitment to a monumental gamble and arduous course. (Rather significantly, the administration chose to play down the risk and cost, and to oversell the threat.)

Unilateralism, of course, bore directly upon the issue of aiding or hindering, inasmuch as alienating allies necessarily risked dampening their cooperation. Too, democracy in the middle east was the administration's proclaimed broad strategy to win the war on terror, which I & others on the left have some sympathy with, but which we had little faith in this administration's actually caring enough about to do the job properly. (As Mork observed, I think the cirumstances, so far, favor the doubters, and for the reasons we gave.)

Posted by: Bloggerhead at December 7, 2004 11:19 PM

Hey, Bloggerhead, you probably shouldn't credit me with that sort of foresight. As I explained on another thread, I actually supported the invasion right up until the bleedin' obvious was slapping me in the face.

But I do agree that the things that are bleedin' obvious now were all widely predicted in advance. However, if there's a group that predicted the consequences most accurately, it's probably not the left but the "realist" conservatives of the Bush 41 ilk.

Posted by: Mork at December 8, 2004 03:08 AM

David -- I didn't mean to say that scientists should have the last word on the ethics of their experiments. For me, the three possible sources of stem cells (adults, umbilical cords, frozen embryos) all pass ethical muster. And in acountry where Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land, I think they should pass legal muster as well. Given these assumption, I want to hear from the scientists about what sort of stem cells would be best for their experiments. If in fact they conclude that umbilical cells are just as good or better than embryonic cells, I'll give that more credence than if I hear the same thing from someone who also is convinced that the world was created 6,000 years ago.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 8, 2004 06:55 AM

Markus,

You're dancing. I linked to the articles about alternative stem cells; therefore you don't have to take my word for it, you can take the word of the scientists and the patients whom the articles talk about. So this isn't about what I think about those stem cells, nor is it about what some other fundie thinks. And you know it. So stop dancing and prove to me there's even just a shred of intellectual honesty behind your smug intellectual facade. That would be refreshing, and even humbling.

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 07:47 AM

David -- just a hunch, but I get the sense that I am a lot more willing to seek out information that challenges my existing assumptions, and revise or suspend those assumptions based on that information, than you are. I'll be glad to read the articles that you provided. If umbilical cord stem cells do prove to be useful, that is fortuitous, since we don't appear to have a huge interest group intent on stifling research that uses them.

Posted by: Markus Rose at December 8, 2004 08:13 AM

David -- just a hunch, but I get the sense that I am a lot more willing to seek out information that challenges my existing assumptions,

Markus,

I also have my hunches. How bout this one, like I get the sense you'd be more willing to descend into barbarism for the sake of "science" than I would, because you're a nihilist and we're all just meat puppets?

Thanks for reading the articles and giving umbilical cord and adult stem cells a chance.

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 08:20 AM

David said: I respect your ethical viewpoint. I just didn't like the "My View or You're Wrong" sound of your initial post.

Sorry if I don't also respect your ethical viewpoint, but I certainly respect your right to voice it.

But I was objecting to Markus's implication that those decisions should be left to scientists.

And sadly, you jumped all over my post, not his.

why do you hate me Tosk???

I don't hate you David... I just don't like your sweeping generalizations when it comes to the rightness or wrongness of views that disagree with yours. In reading Markus's post, I didn't get the sense that he was implying that all ethical decisions should be left up to scientists... But when I read your post, it was pretty clear that you felt that you somehow held the monopoly on what is ethical.

And I usually pick on you because your posts are honest and at least follow a train of logic (usually). When deciding if I'm gonna reply to a moonbat liberal, moonbat conservative or someone not entirely insane... I'll choose the latter, and I count you foremost in that group.

I think thats a compliment.

Stem cells from umbilical cords and adults are a great area of scientific research. However, those are still somewhat limited in their usefulness. As of right now, there are simply some cells that those stem cells cannot become. Only embryonic stem cells, right now, have been found to contain the necessary flexibility in some areas of research. Perhaps that will change with more experimentation, perhaps it won't.

I do understand the concern that some people have about the ethical issues when dealing with fetuses. I am very much against the idea of aborting fetuses specifically for research. However, aborted fetuses and frozen fetuses are already dead. To me it's ethical to make use of deceased remains to increase our medical knowledge.

Its how we've learned almost everything we know about the physical body. Men of science for over 400 years were considered unethical (usually even called Ghouls) for experimentation and dissection on deceased human remains. Yet, it was this 'unethical' behavior that ultimately lead to major changes in the field of medicine. Today, bodies donated to science and organ donation are common and even considered a positive and selfless thing for people to do.

Ethics change over time. Once it was unethical to cut open the human body. If that was still the ethical view, how many of your friends and loved ones would have died from Appendicitis, Hemoragging or any other common problem, now easily fixed by surgery? Doctors would never have learned how to do that, if they had remained constrained by the Popular view of ethics.

Growing up as one of Jehovah's Wittnesses, I'm well aware of the potential danger in allowing dogmatic interpertation of religious ideas to affect medical science.

At the age of 6 I went into the hospital, due to a torn kidney. Atfer the operation my blood count was very low. The doctors felt that unless they saw imnprovement in 24 hours, they would need to administer a blood transfusion. My parents refused, even if it meant my death.

Fortunately, my blood count did improve... but there are many JW's who die every year because they believe that any use of blood (other than the stuff inside your veins) is not only unethical, but forbidden by God. They have plenty of scripture to back them up... if you interpert the scripture the same way they do.

If their view of Blood was more popular among other Protestant religions, then we'd be having this same argument over blood transfusions.

One hundred years from now, its possible that two people will be arguing over some ethical issue of the day and use Stem cell research as an example, just as I used dissection. Ethics change.

The Republican party is to be commended for realizing the need to become progressive. Unfortunately, one canoot be progressive only in the political and world politic scene. Progressive attitudes need to be formed to all aspects of society so that we do not stagnate.

Stagnation is truly The Greatest Sin.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord and Stuff

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 8, 2004 10:14 AM

David -- here's a novel idea: let the SCIENTISTS figure out what kind of stem cells they need. -- Markus

Tosk,

Do I think I have the corner on ethics? Of course I do. And so do you, and so does Markus. Of course, neither of us do, but it's our job to proceed as if we do, and the "truth" then emerges from that process.

However, if the above statement by Markus doesn't sound like it's cutting everybody but scientists out of that process, and therefore "sweeping", then I don't know what does.

My response to that was simply that it isn't left to the "scientists." It's left to slobs like you and me and Markus, through our legislators, to make those determinations. That's democracy, as opposed to Nazi Germany where "scientists" could pursue their craft uninterrupted.

That was my point, and you should have supported me, not Markus.

(But yes, I do hold the corner on ethics.)

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 10:39 AM

ps. and thanks for the compliment Tosk. It's a rare day that we raving rightwingers get one.

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 11:05 AM

For the record, I wasn't supporting you or Marcus. (Though I think Marcus was arguing against 'we the people' telling scientists that they don't need embryonic stem cells because they can use alternatives.)

You are right that all of us have our own indiividual idea of ethics. However, I disagree that we should somehow legislate ethics. I'm not sure that I like the government legislating Business Ethics, much less personal ones. I guess that's why I'm pro SMALL government.

I also disagree that we must "proceed as if we do [hold the corner on ethics]". I am much more of the opinion that we should always be testing, questioning and reviewing our own ethical ideals. Once I realized how mutable most aspects of 'ethics' are, I began to dislike any attempt to codify some specific sort of ethics for everyone.

I am not against ethics. In fact, I have voluntarily taken additional ethical requirements upon myself. Since becoming a CISSP (Information Security Certification) my personal view of what is ethical to do, gets superceeded by the set of ethics I volutarily agreed to.

I once considered it ethical to respond to cyber attacks with a full response (usually taking out the attacker), this is something I can no longer do. I once considered it ethical to hack and pull data from companies that were endangering the public, or trying to hide information from the public. While I still consider this ethical personally, I no longer engage in such activity because I voluntarily took on additional ethical responsibilities, in the field of Information Security. Gone are my days of Hacktivism.

I have my personal ethics, based on my life experiences and information that I've fed my brain, and I have additional ethics which I voluntarily accepted. This, I think is the only way in which Ethics should be dealt with.

Indeed, if you personally feel that it is unethical to do research on stem cells, then do as JW's do and refuse treatment that is based on 'unethical' science. For people that don't have a problem with the ethics, don't force your personal ethics on them.

Why do humans presume that they have the right to impose their personal ideas on others?

BTW - Dave, this isn't a tirade against you... you're just one of the best debators on the board for such a conversation :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 8, 2004 11:08 AM

Why do humans presume that they have the right to impose their personal ideas on others?

Tosk,

that's an easy one. Because we all have a corner on ethics (except you of course). But wouldn't you, Tosk, also "impose" your personal ideas on others if they persisted in imposing their's on you? In other words, if you were continually hacked, wouldn't you like a law against hacking imposed on them? Same thing. Or if corporations were continually robbing retirees of their pensions, wouldn't you like a law against that imposed on them?

Yes, those are moral and ethical impositions that you no doubt wholeheartedly support.

All laws deal with moral or ethical decisions of one sort or the other. Even simple laws against running a red light legislates ethics and morality-- the ethics against negligently taking someone's life for instance. Laws against grand larceny, laws to protect your privacy (against hackers) is all about legislating morality and ethics.

So why is it that some people (such as yourself) feel that some areas are off limits from such legislation? The answer is obviously religion. But that doesn't hold water.

Let's assume I'm an atheist, yet I oppose abortion or fetal stem cell research. Is that off limits? On what grounds? If I'm an atheist, religion is no longer a factor.

This artificial barrier the secularists have created around certain areas of discussion is awfully convenient for them, but it doesn't hold up logically.

Re your jehova's witness. You and I can disagree with them, but are you saying they don't have a voice? Aren't you also imposing legislation on them when you throw them into jail for negligently allowing their child to die? I see no value in your using them as an example. Everybody's imposing on everybody, and the artificial boundary secularists have created appears to be a one-way street, and is simply too convinient.

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 11:31 AM

On New Urbanism rising in popularity.

It is rising in popularity, mostly among the middle-classes. Especially the upper-middle. Unfortunately there is no possibility that New Urbanism developments will come close to providing enough housing for the vast population of lower-middle to lower classes. New Urbanism is especially rising in popularity for singles, childless couples, and emptynesters.

Frankly, it will just become another choice life-style, and will have no impact on housing sprawl across the country, just like mass transit doesn't have an impact on traffic congestion. No-Build boundaries, like Portland imposed, is one thing, but this also caused rises in land values which has been pricing lower classes out of the ownership market.

Posted by: Eric Anondson at December 8, 2004 12:02 PM

Besides sprawl, he is also dead-wrong on biotech; that's an issue which cuts across party lines.

Moreover, he is simply wrong about where the Deomcrats are on this issue. For example, tthere is a big push on by deep Blue Seattle politicians (all Democratic) to make bio-tech a mainstay of our future economy. Merits of such an economic development enterprise aside (I think it's largely a waste of effort) there is not a peep out of the citizenry against it.

So the way I see it, he is wrong about so many specifics that what is left? And don't you get tired of reducinhg politics these cliches?

Posted by: David Sucher at December 8, 2004 12:09 PM

David,

Wouldn't you, Tosk, also "impose" your personal ideas on others if they persisted in imposing their's on you? In other words, if you were continually hacked, wouldn't you like a law against hacking imposed on them?

Well, thats not a fair question, since I personally think that anyone who hacks me, risks the wrath of myself or one of my friends not bound by the CISSP. ;-)

Same thing. Or if corporations were continually robbing retirees of their pensions, wouldn't you like a law against that imposed on them?

I don't know. On one hand, it's good to hold companies to a standard. On the other hand, government intervention is never preferred. Personally, (and I know that this is an unpopular pov) I expect everyone to take personal responsibility. I would prefer to see a voluntary 'code of ethics' that corporations sign off on. In such a world, I would choose not to work for a company that didn't sign that code. They have a choice, I have a choice. Everyone gets to choose for themselves. If I really want the job, because it pays $100,000 a year and I only plan on being there for 2 years, then I probably won't worry about their unethical retirement system. If I plan on making a career somewhere, I'd be damn sure that they were ethical.

Yes, those are moral and ethical impositions that you no doubt wholeheartedly support.

No I don't support them, any more than I support legislation around corporations environmental policies. I don't like seeing the government make laws, when the issue could be resolved with personal responsibility.

All laws deal with moral or ethical decisions of one sort or the other.

I agree, and I think we should keep that list of legislated moral and ethical stances to a very small group of core issues, specifically ones that protect the life and liberty of the citizens.

So why is it that some people (such as yourself) feel that some areas are off limits from such legislation? The answer is obviously religion.

I'm sorry? I'm not sure I understand. Religion has nothing to do with my stance on federal control of ethics and morals. Religion, for me at least, is personal. I know what I think, I know what ideas make sense to me... but I'm sure as hell not insane enough to think that my religion should somehow impact other people's lives, particularly if they don't agree with my religion, or hold their own religious views counter to mine.

Let's assume I'm an atheist, yet I oppose abortion or fetal stem cell research. Is that off limits? On what grounds? If I'm an atheist, religion is no longer a factor.

So then are you saying that someone who bases their ethics off of their religious doctrine, should somehow be ethically superior to someone who bases their ethics off of something other than a religious doctirne?

Do you consider that to be a positive thing? I don't see pro-research people forcing anyone to give up fetuses for their knife, or forcing anyone to accept treatment that conflicts with their ethics. The only people who seem intent on imposing their ethics on others (in the context of this discussion) are those who are against the research, having based this ethical view on their religious beliefs.

This artificial barrier the secularists have created around certain areas of discussion is awfully convenient for them, but it doesn't hold up logically.

You haven't proven that the barrier is artificial or that it fails to be logical. I consider this statement to be one of opinion.

Re your jehova's witness. You and I can disagree with them, but are you saying they don't have a voice? Aren't you also imposing legislation on them when you throw them into jail for negligently allowing their child to die? I see no value in your using them as an example. Everybody's imposing on everybody, and the artificial boundary secularists have created appears to be a one-way street, and is simply too convinient.

I am not saying that they don't have a voice. I don't think that they should go to jail.

With Jehovah's Wittnesses (and I really think its a good example to use in this context), I fully support their right to refuse treatment for themselves and their families. They are convienced that a blood transfusion is a horrible and evil thing. Many JW's who have been forced to take blood, have been emotionally and psychologically damaged. In fact, there was a study in the 80's done by a couple psychologists who determined that JW's post-transfusion is very much like a woman post-rape.

I personally think that they are deluded by poor interpertation of religious ideas. However, it is their right in America to be bullheaded. Sometimes "Give me liberty, or give me death" rightly becomes "Give me liberty, give me death". Choosing to die for your beliefs is something worth doing... ewven if I personally think your views are silly.

As for the Children... While a number of court cases have protected the right for adults to choose, children are a more touchy matter. After all, the parents need to have the liberty to train their children anyway they choose. At the same time, should a parent who is perhaps deluded have the right to sentence their child to death.

I take the stance that once you are old enough to truly decide for yourself (the gov says thats at age 18), then choose to live, die, knock on doors, whatever. IF you are not old enough to decide for yourself, and if your parents exercise the right to be stupid, the courts usually take custody, have the transfusion administered and then return custody to the parents. The parents ethics haven't been compromised (though they're not likely to be happy), and the child isn't condemed by a Stone Age God and his confused modern followers.

With Blood transfusions, we're talking about life and death, with traffic laws, we're talking about life and death, the same for laws on homicide, food safety etc. However, with stem cell research, there isn't a question of life or death, unless you consider the life or death of the folks who might be helped by the research.

The fetuses are already dead. He's passed on! This unborn child is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If they hadn't stuffed him in a freezer he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, He's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-FETUS!! (With Apologies to John Cleese and Michael Palin)

This isn't a question of "Is it ethical to kill?" It's a question of "Once dead, is it ethical to use the deceased to hopefully save the living?"

I won't argue the issue of abortion here. Abortion is legal in this country and for the foreseeable future it will remain so. As such, there will be dead fetuses. The ethics here are about using dead cells to help living people, or not using dead cells to help living people. And in that context, I think that stem cell research is at the same ethical level as Organ donation and donating your body to scientific study.

Here's an interesting thing, which just crossed my mind.

Let's say that my wife and I had a child (Don't worry, I don't really plan on procreating right now). Now this child dies at the age of 5 and I learn about some scientific research that might benefit from the use of the corpse. Is it ethical for me to donate the body to science?

Perhaps the child dies aty the age of 2 and I find out that another 2 year old will die without a heart transplant. Is it ethical for me to donate the organ?

Maybe the child dies in childbirth, is it ethical for me do donate the body to science so that they can train students on infant surgery?

Is there any difference between the ethics involved there, and the ethics involved with that same body before it shoots out of the birth canal?

Is it stem cell research that you are ethically against, or abortion (where some of the stem cells come from)?

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 8, 2004 12:57 PM

So then are you saying that someone who bases their ethics off of their religious doctrine, should somehow be ethically superior to someone who bases their ethics off of something other than a religious doctirne?

No, that's not what I'm saying at all. What I'm saying is that simply because an ethical position has been deemed to be "religious" in nature shoulnd't automatically exclude it from the table. When the typical secularist (see Markus) says pro-lifers shouldn't legislate their morality because it's "religious", that's exactly what he's doing-- excluding it from the table. What he fails to realize, is that I have as much right to "impose" as he does, and the source of my ethics is completely irrelevant, just as his source is irrelevant. Like I've previously stated, I can believe unborn life worthy of being protected whether I'm religious OR an atheist both. And simply being the former doesn't in any way minimize my position, just as an atheist's position is not superior to mine simply because he's an atheist. When people dismiss a position, not on it's merits but merely because it's "religious", they wan't it both ways. But sorry that ain't gonna happen, and I think I've more than proven the barrier is artificial.

The ethics here are about using dead cells to help living people, or not using dead cells to help living people.

I wish it were that simple. It isn't. The issue here is not of harvesting dead fetuses, but of creating fetus farms through the use of cloning. Our "scientists" have chosen the ambiguous term "nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells" to refer to the process. But this is just a focus-friendly way of saying "cloning." But "nuclear transplantation" sounds scientific, trendy, even ennobling. You get my drift.

This is nothing new. The Nazis employed euphemisms to anesthetize any latent German moral consciousness. "Transportation Company for the Sick" was a sign placed on trucks that rolled through German streets carrying human cargo to their final earthly destinations. America long ago moved from "abortion" to "pregnancy termination." It sounds nicer.

Of course, you won't hear proponents of fetal stem cell research talking about this. It's too ugly, and they're too busy demonizing their opponents, like Markus is. This isn't about dead babies, it's about live ones.

I don't see pro-research people forcing anyone to give up fetuses for their knife, or forcing anyone to accept treatment that conflicts with their ethics.

Of course your reasoning breaks down when you fail to factor in the rights of the unborn who have no say in the matter. They are being forced.

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 01:42 PM

David,

But all of your arguments are anti-abortion or anti-cloning arguments. Those are another day and another fight.

"Of course your reasoning breaks down when you fail to factor in the rights of the unborn who have no say in the matter. They are being forced."

I haven't heard of any fetus being aborted specifically for Stem Cell Research, in fact, I haven't heard of anyone even considering aborting their child just to give scientists some cells (except on South Park).

The simple fact is that abortion is legal, I fully understand your moral ethics against it (In fact, I myself am conflicted about abortion... personal responsibility for your actions and all that ;-) ). However, legal abortion creates legally dead fetuses. Those dead fetuses could be destroyed/buried/whatever, or they could be used for research. Either way they are already dead.

Can you explain to me how the use of a dead fetus for stem cell research is any different than the use of a dead infant for scientific research or organ transplant? It's a point which you seem to have skipped over and one I think germaine to the conversation.

Would you explain, please, what the ethical issue is with using dead biomatter for research? Not your ethical issue with abortion, or your ethical issue with Clone Farms, but your e3thical issue with Stem Cell Research.

I fully support your religious ethics, just as I fully support Markus's more secular ethics. I think that you should absolutely live your life according to the ethics that you believe to be best for you. However, unless it is an issue of life(Again don't confuse the stem cell research with abortion) and liberty, I prefer you keep your ethics to yourself.

Tosk

BTW- This has been a great conversation... However, I will be away from my computer for the evening and unable to continue the discussion tonight. See you all tomorrow.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 8, 2004 02:13 PM

Tosk,

Forgive me for saying this, but the ignorance on this topic by people who claim to support fetal stem cell research is simply astounding. Like I said, this is about CLONING, and fetus farming; NOT about using aborted fetuses.

The embryos needed for embryonic stem cell research can come from two sources: (1) They can be produced by in vitro fertilization, or (2) they can be cloned.

Democrats are now poised to cross yet another ethical and political boundary: federal funding for the creation, study, and destruction of cloned human embryos.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/496nwmnv.asp

Posted by: David at December 8, 2004 02:37 PM

about lenny bruce: don`t know if anyone has mentioned it already, but don delillo`s "underworld" has a really cool (fictional, i assume) storyline in which lenny is the main character and delillo treats us to some renderings of lenny performances that are amazing. the novel itself is huge and long, but well worth the read just for the lenny passages, as well as the j. edgar hoover ones!

i haven`t seen the lenny movie yet...

n

Posted by: nathan in tokyo at December 8, 2004 07:44 PM

Mork,

You mentioned that you supported the invasion of Iraq until the bleeding obvious hit you in the face.

It hasn't hit me yet, maybe you can help me see it?

I will concede that the press has contended that Iraq is a "mess" all day and every day since it seems about 1943, but last time I checked, that doesn't make it so.

Aren't things worth doing inherently difficult? If folks who are pretty evil by usual left standards (in the mold of the KKK, more than anything, in both their modus operandi and rhetoric) resist what we're trying to do, does that thereby make it a mistake?

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at December 8, 2004 09:34 PM

Michael, yelling "Fire" in the theatre is illegal, as is libel.
Speech already has certain borders. To me, like driving. Your incomplete absolutism fails the child test.

I, too, prefer less gov't -- but the unintended consequence of gov't laws against discrimination has been an inability of anti-obscenity people to turn away from the foul mouths. To have "private" malls and spaces free from verbal filth.

I'd be fairly content to allow private contractors to make quite restrictive agreements against any and all undesirable behavior, including promiscuity, drug use, speeding, violation of any set of local, community standards -- and let people move in and accept the restrictions, or not. But many such private restrictions have been tested in gov't courts and found in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

If the gov't won't let me voluntarily discriminate against the foul-mouthed, I'm willing to work to have the law restrict them, too. And I know this is a potentially bad cycle of increasing gov't -- so I'm willing to scrap the underlying anti-discrimination laws, too.

Try to imagine how Jefferson would handle a Stern type -- likely call him a boor, refuse to deal with him, refuse to hire him, etc. Nearly the whole society acted that way, and it kept most behavior confined into conformist borders. Unfortunately, this included racism and sexism, where people were discriminated against based on who they were (female, Catholic, Jew, black), rather than on how they actually behaved.

I totally support discrimination based on behavior, like cursing or sex, while I oppose it based on identity. And am mixed on specific gov't actions, because gov't is already involved, and mis-involved.

The gay debate is significantly relevant, because the gay identity IS the behavior -- very few oppose any "gays" who abstain from any gay behavior.

Mork,
On Iraq as a mess -- what a joke. A year ago you'd prolly be saying Afghanistan is a mess, too; but look, Mo, new President!

I'm willing to say if there's not a newly elected Iraqi president, with at least 50% of the registered voters voting, by Dec 2005, the US is doing badly. Are you willing to say the US did great if there IS a president? (Oh, I forgot, the Dems always change the goalposts...)

On threats, it would help if there was an example. Say, for instance, on which day, exactly or nearly, did Japan become a threat to the US -- a day prior to Dec 7, 1941?

I believe Iraq was a threat. I'm fairly sure the Bush vision of democracy for the Middle East will lead history to placing him as a flawed but great US President. Meaning there are great democratic results -- which is what I'm working for, writing for, looking for constructive criticism for.

Are YOU working for good results?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 9, 2004 06:24 AM

David,

The article you linked to was obviously biased and nearly propaganda. Do you read anything that is based on science or do you read what the Red Pundits Spout and assume they're telling you whats best?

"Three decades ago, scientists gained the power to initiate life in the laboratory; now they destroy it routinely, without fear and trembling."

Was this written by a reporter or a pastor?

I'll grant you that embryo cloning is a touchy subject, and that its likely that Scientists would want to use embryo cloning, but its not the only option. There are thousands of already frozen embryos as well as many legally aborted embryos that are either gonna be trashed or used for research.

I'd just as soon use them for research, as opposed to land fill.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 07:27 AM

Tom Grey,

I fully agree and support your right to discriminate based on the individual (their actions, what they say etc). I think Howard Stern is indeed boorish. I choose not to listen to him. I know what channel he's on and when he's on (cause thats when I drive to work). He has a very distinct voice and I would imagine that most of America knows his voice by now.

Since I dislike the man and his actions. I take personal responsibility and DON"T LISTEN TO THE BASTARD.

See, its that simple. He's gets to do what he wants on the radio, people who like that sort of thing get to listen to it and enjoy it, and I get to turn the channel to something I like.

It's this weird bi.zare concept called freedom and it only works when the individuals who are free take on the personal responsibility that goes along with Freedom.

Americans, sadly are lazy and thoughtless. They want freedom as long as it complies with their reality. As soon as something doesn't fit... they want the government to make laws about it.

The Democrats want laws telling people that they have to approve of (insert devisive minority issue here), while the republicans want rules telling everyone (insert moral ideas of Stone Age God here).

Neither of these are in any way compliant with the original intent of this Nation. It's so funny to hear "Libretarians" name drop Jefferson, when trying to push a more authoritarian position for the government. Nothing could be further from his ideals.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 07:35 AM

Tosk,

"This is a moral and ethical decision," said Rep. David Joseph Weldon (R-Fla.), a practicing physician who was author of the cloning ban along with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). "We're talking about creating human embryos for the purpose of experimenting on them and destroying them. There's no evidence today that is justifiable."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A13624-2003Feb27&notFound=true

See? What you pro-stem cell people (the footsoldiers, not the leaders) don't even realize is that the battle over stem cell research is about cloning, not aborted or frozen fetuses. It makes sense though, because proponents for fetal stem cells aren't going to go right out and say it, they'll just quietly legistlate it. And you'll be none the worse for wear ethically because you won't even know.

Regarding the article I sent you, was this sentence too "biased" for you too?:

"As recently as July, John Kerry co-sponsored a bill that would allow the creation of embryos by cloning for research so long as they are destroyed after 14 days."

You should address head on the stated facts in the article instead of disingenously parsing the article for biased-sounding sentences. Or does it make you feel better to believe that the fetal stem cell industry is going to hang out at abortion clinics to scoop up mangled fetuses?

Denial and ignorance Tosk.

Or perhaps you already agree with me that clone farms would be barbarous? If you do, then that would narrow the issues of this discussion.

Posted by: David at December 9, 2004 08:18 AM

Personally, David, I think that embryos created in a lab environment are scientific experiments. There is no mommy, no daddy, no womb. Without at least the mommy and the womb, the embryo would not survive anyway. I don't consider life to be simply the seperation of cells in a petrie dish.

You're quotes are somewhat correct, scientists would like to have cloned embryos available for research... but it is not a requirement for continued stem cell research.

What do you recommend we do with the thousands of existing frozen embryos and the embryos that are legally aborted?

We can have discussions about the ethics involved in abortion or in cloning, but those are seperate from the basic issue of reesearch on dead embryos, and the use of embryonic cells.

Let's take it one step at a time. Let's try to focus here on the first ethical issue:

"Is it ethical to use deceased remains of an embryo to continue scientific research?"

Once we answer that, then we can go on to argue the ethics by which these deceased remains would come from.

Is that acceptable?

If so, please explain to me your ethical issue with research on dead embryos, without including the ethical issues with abortion and cloning.

Can you do that David? Can you seperate a complex argument into multiple sections? Or are you unable to do anything outside of your neurological programming and response pattern tapes?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 08:47 AM

Tosk,

I'm not alarmed by research on dead embryos, but the debate among policymakers isn't about dead embryos, it's about using cloning technology, i.e, creating embryos for destruction.

So you stubbornly keep trying to draw the argument towards the irrelevant (frozen embryos), and I keep trying to draw the argument towards the relevant (cloning).

But at this point it's moot because you've already stated that mass-producing embryos in a lab (cloning) is cool, so what's left to discuss?

All that's left at this point is that my side prevail over yours. You've been appraised of the facts, and your ethics are unnasailable (short of an internal shift). So my target (and yours) now becomes the "swing voter", i.e., the unconvinced and the ignorant.

Posted by: David at December 9, 2004 09:09 AM

David,

Tsk Tsk, Avoidance.

Well, I suppose you're right. If you're unwilling to argue the case point by point, then I suppose we are unable to continue the discussion.

See you next round ;-)

Love,
Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 09:19 AM

Tsk Tsk, Avoidance.

Tosk,

oh you should know me better than that by now. And unresolved issue to me is like red to a bull. But I think we did resolve it.

I'm not alarmed by research on dead embryos. -- David

I don't consider life to be simply the seperation of cells in a petrie dish. -- Tosk

Is there anything left to discuss?

I do have a question though. Is a clone who's raised to maturity not a human being because he doesn't have a "mommy" and a "daddy"? Or are they just Replicants to be used and disposed of. If your answer to question #1 is no, then it's also irrelevant that embryos in a lab have no "mommy" and "daddy".

Round 2?

Posted by: David at December 9, 2004 09:31 AM

David,

For a clone to grow to full maturity it must be implanted in a womb. Once that is done, molesting the embryo (in my opinion) is no different than abortion.

However, if the clones are never placed in a womb, it is impossible for them to mature. In that situation, since there is no possibility for Life, then I consider it to be no different than any other petrie dish of cells.

Would you support Stem Cell research if Cloning remained an illegal practice? For example, if scientists were only allowed to use existing frozen embryos or embryos from legal abortions, would you find that more ethically acceptable?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 10:06 AM

Would you support Stem Cell research if Cloning remained an illegal practice? For example, if scientists were only allowed to use existing frozen embryos or embryos from legal abortions, would you find that more ethically acceptable?


Yes and no. Using the embryo per se is not what I find objectionable. After all, we use adult bodies to further worthy causes don't we?

But using embryos that have been aborted is just another incentive for abortion, which I don't favor. So I would consider using those embryos as no more, nor less, objectionable than the abortion itself.

But like I said, this is moot. Scientists can't use decomposing and shredded embryo carcasses scooped up from abortion clinics to do research on stem cells. They need clone farms, or in vitrio embryos living and intact to do their research.

And that's still the issue, and I still oppose that. We have other alternatives, like umbilical cells and adult fat cells.

Question: when the artifical womb is created, will those cloned fetuses raised to adulthood be considered human even if they don't have a "mommy"?

Posted by: David at December 9, 2004 10:29 AM

"Scientists can't use decomposing and shredded embryo carcasses scooped up from abortion clinics to do research on stem cells."

Tsk, Tsk, did you not do your homework?

Stem cells can be extracted from embryos that have been aborted during the first four to five weeks of development. IN fact, they have three days within which to take the cells (if frozen this time is greatly extended).

" just another incentive for abortion,"

Do you have any evidence whatsoever to back up this statement? Is the fact that we have organ doners an incentive for suicide?

If a person is going to abort, I'm sure their logic wasn't "Well, gee, I'd like to have this baby, but we can sell it to a setm cell research facillity."

Come on, that's not logical or even arguable. It's a non-sequitur.

when the artifical womb is created, will those cloned fetuses raised to adulthood be considered human even if they don't have a "mommy"?

If ectogenisis ever becomes a reality, I'll consider the question then. As it is right now, artifical wombs are mostly likely only going to be able to save babies born months premature. There is no research currently that supports a fully artifical conception, growth and birth of anything.

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 11:12 AM

Tosk,

I guess we both haven't done our homework:

In Japan, an artificial womb has been created that incubates goat fetuses. The scientists who developed it say they are working on a model that can be used for human fetuses

http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/genbio/biolink/student/olc2/g-bioe-17.htm

I still think aborted fetuses for stem cell research will entrench a morally repugnant abortion industry. It would now have the financial and political clout of the entire biomedical industry behind it.

But can you give me the source of your information? I'd like to check on their "bias."

;-)

Posted by: David at December 9, 2004 11:25 AM

I hadn't seen any information on this new artifical womb. However, it isn't any different, in its basic use than the ones I mentioned earlier. From the article you linked to:

"Researchers remove the fetus from the mother at 17 weeks of development."

"Unfortunately, the media has sensationalized the research and distorted the device's use. They have speculated that women might want this technology because it would free them from the pain of childbirth. Scientists, however, envision how the artificial womb would benefit women with frequent miscarriages or problems with pregnancy and/or infertility."

This is the same technology that is currently being used to save premature babies (up to four months premature I think), however, there still MUST be a womb involved, for the early steps of development... A real womb, not a fake one. So, in my opinion, it's covered under the "once an embryo goes into a womb..." discussion that we already had.

I still think aborted fetuses for stem cell research will entrench a morally repugnant abortion industry. It would now have the financial and political clout of the entire biomedical industry behind it.

Are you saying that abortion clinics are going to start advertising on TV, encouraging abortion? Or that the biomedical industry will somehow give them money to convience more people to abort? What are you basing this on? Again, your statement is devoid of any fact or logical argument. Simply you 'thinking' it, makes it no more true than if I think that prayer in school will result in students that don't pray getting beat up. There no evidence nor logical train of thought that supports the idea.

A non sequitur is an argument where the conclusion is drawn from premises which aren't logically connected with it. Your statement that stem cell research will somehow create a booming abortion industry is a non-sequitur. Non-Sequiturs, while sometimes funny, are not part of a logical argument.

OK, I think we've hashed out several of our views on a number of key points in the discussion, so, as an exercise, let's see if we can't take care of your concerns though with a hypothetical situation.

If the governement permitted stem-cell research with the following restrictions, would you find it ethically acceptable?

1. No embryonic research is to be done on embryos created in a lab, then placed in a living womb with the purpose of aborting it for research (that way we can still study miscarried IVF embryos).

2. Abortion clinics may donate embryos to research facillities, but they can recieve no compensation for such activity, nor can they recieve tax credits for such activity.

3. Research on new embryos cannot be done until all existing frozen embryos are first used.

These (in my opinion)

1. gets rid of the concern that multiplying cells will be ripped from a womb (where they had a chance at life).

2. It removes the 'threat' of commercial abortion industries.

3. Finally, since there are currently over 10,000 frozen embryos, perfectly suited for this type of research, I think that would keep them busy for quite some time.

Do you have ethical objections to stem cell research under those restrictions?

BTW - I'm not sure what "bias" sources you're talking about. I was speaking from knowledge gained from my research into ectogenesis. I'm sure if you type that into Goo.gle you'll find quite a number of resources.

Tosk

PS - Look actual respectful discussion of real issues! If David and I can do it, so can the rest of you!

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 12:02 PM

Are you saying that abortion clinics are going to start advertising on TV, encouraging abortion? Or that the biomedical industry will somehow give them money to convience more people to abort? What are you basing this on?

It's simple. Political influence is lobbied for and purchased. The medical lobby is one of the country's biggest and most powerful. If profit is to be made from keeping those abortion mills in business, money and influence will be expended in large quantities to keep them running. Cmon Tosk, don't play the babe in the woods with me.

1. No embryonic research is to be done on embryos created in a lab, then placed in a living womb with the purpose of aborting it for research (that way we can still study miscarried IVF embryos).

2. Abortion clinics may donate embryos to research facillities, but they can recieve no compensation for such activity, nor can they recieve tax credits for such activity.

Definitely. It would help, but it still wouldn't keep the medical lobby from throwing it's weight behind the pro-abortion movement, and therefore ensuring a self-perpetuating relationship.

Do you have ethical objections to stem cell research under those restrictions?

It alleviates some of my concerns. But it fails to alleviate others. But my primary concern is cloning and the road that would take us down. You've addressed that.

Posted by: David at December 9, 2004 12:16 PM

Yay, discussion, compromise, understanding!!! It's amazing what we could do if the American Government was run by the People, and our representitives did what David and I just did here... instead of their partisan, pork barreled rulesmaking.

I now percieve that your concern may be that the Biomedical firms will lobby to keep abortion legal, while you would like to see it become illegal. Is that right?

If so, then fine, we'll have to agree to disagree on this issue. I think that Abortion legality (like everything else) should be left up to the People, their interpertation of Life, Morals and Ethics. I think that Roe v. Wade is a bad idea, and that abortion should be dealt with on a State Level. Whatever the people in that state decide, I'll support. Just like with Gay marriage. I personally favor people being able to support each other if they're involved in a relationship, 60% of the voting Ohioans disagree with me and so I support the change to the state constitution (not because I think its wise, but because it is the will of the people).

As a conservative though, I have to ask how you feel about the fact that the President banned funding of stem cell research by Presidential order, instead of democratic process.

As I said when you asked why I hated you... You're one of the few people on this board that can carry on an intelligent conversation. So, who else would I bother to debate with? ;-)

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at December 9, 2004 12:31 PM
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