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Commentary
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, March 07, 2006

South Dakota is bringing the abortion debate to a head...
Gov. Michael Rounds of South Dakota signed into law the nation's most sweeping state abortion ban on Monday, an intentional provocation meant to set up a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.
Frankly, I stay away from the abortion debate, because I'm conflicted on many levels. I am pretty certain that Roe V Wade was bad, bad constitutional law and that it has distorted our political process. However, I don't think repealing Roe V Wade would solve the abortion problem. The battles would be just as strident, but on state levels — or there would be new runs at federal legislation or constitutional ammendments to codify some approach to the abortion issue.

So, how about this: let's repeal Roe V Wade. But instead of throwing the abortion debate back to the states for eternal conflict, why don't we actually introduce a constitutional ammendment guaranteeing a right to privacy. Liberals have said for years that it can already be found in the emanations of the penumbras of the constitution, so they should have no problem with making it a bit more clear for the rest of us. Conservatives argue that it's not there, so this will give them a chance to accept or reject its explicit inclusion in the Constitution. Everybody can settle the underlying Constitutional problem once and for all!

Only, here's the deal: if liberals genuinely want a constitutional "right to privacy", they have to mean it. No limiting this right to privacy to the uterus. If there's a Constitutional Right to Privacy, then it extends to everything. Income, drugs, video games, internet, business. Everything.

I can accept a constitutional right to privacy, but if it only extends to abortion, then it's not a right to privacy at all. It's a right to abortion. The two are not the same.

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The NYTimes does a very strange story about bloggers getting tips on information from Wal-Mart...
...some bloggers have posted information from Wal-Mart, at times word for word, without revealing where it came from.
Ok, grant that copy/paste repitition of somebody elses work is bad form, but is this information compromised by having come via a Wal-Mart flack? Are we to believe that Union flacks don't feed information to anti-WalMart bloggers?

As James Joyner notes, this is not really all that different from the way newspapers operate. Many stories come about as a result of the reporter being fed information by an interested observer, sent press releases or tipped to new polls. In fact, one wonders how NYTimes reporter Michael Barbaro came across this Wal-Mart information? Was it a tip? Why was the genesis of this story not disclosed?

In fact, I've received tips from reporters — including one at the New York Times — on stories they've written. Reporters themselves are involved in flacking for their own work. There's nothing wrong with that. It's the ideas that matter.

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Kevin Drum...
I was amused by this paragraph from George Will's column today. He is contrasting the "old" paradigm of poverty — that the poor need housing, transportation, training, etc. — to the new paradigm:
The new paradigm is of behavior-driven poverty that results from individuals' nonmaterial deficits. It results from a scarcity of certain habits and mores — punctuality, hygiene, industriousness, deferral of gratification, etc. — that are not developed in disorganized homes.
In other words, the poor are poor because they're lazy, dirty, weak, and come from bad stock. Is Will seriously trying to pretend that this is a new view of the poor?
I'm often annoyed by this absurd reduction of the very simple, very reasonable idea that choices — individual behaviour — affects outcome. It's not the sole determinant, of course. One could be disadvanged in a variety of ways that reduce one's possible output/income potential. But at the end of the day, people do make small choices that accumulate to determine their income status. This is beyond dispute.

To some extent, Drum is right that it's not a new view of poverty, but his description of the view bears little to no relation to what Will described. (and Will's view is not quite that this poverty paradigm is new, so much as it is that this poverty paradigm is an increasingly dominant explanation) Drum's view is that "description is demonization". Will's view contains no such moral value judgements — just a recognition that choices affect outcomes. Incentives matter.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
I agree with the notion that a right to privacy needs to be all encompassing; however, I fail to see how a right to privacy, if delineated in the Constitution, would create a right to abortion. The entire conflict with abortion rests on the definition of human life. It’s not a debate about privacy.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Kevin Drum’s reaction to Will is very understandable. If Will’s interpretation takes hold, that moves the status of poor people from "victims" to "moral agents", and the corrollary would be massive changes in the current welfare state. The welfare reform of the 90’s would be the template, moving aid towards programs that contain limits and tangible feedback on the effects of the aid.

The left does not want this. First, the concept of "victim" is extremely valuable to them. It simultaneously condemns the power establishment and also grants carte blanche to the left’s political allies.

Second, feedback mechanisms and incentives demonstrate that human psychology does not work the way a leftist likes to pretend that it does. Remember when the left swore that welfare reform would put millions on the street? Their complete misunderstanding of incentives was behind that mental mistake, and is also the foundation of much of the left’s political agenda.

For example, healthcare as a "right" that should be "free" is based on the idea that people are not responsible for actions that affect their health, and that they won’t respond to incentives to do a better job of managing their health. They view a person’s health as something outside their control, and therefore something for which the individual should not be held responsible. (Of course, certain matters related to healthcare are outside the individual’s control, but certainly not all of them, nor I would argue, even most of them.)

Nope, we can’t have poor people be viewed as adults responsible in any way for their own condition. Who knows - they might actually decide to vote for Republicans next! Can’t have that.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Well let’s skip the "Right to Privacy" how about it and just overturn Roe v. Wade. It WAS bad Constitutional Law as was Griswold v. Connecticut. What it will do as one of my professors said is make abortion safe and legal in most states that voted for Michael Dukakis. This is really where the fight ought to have been the whole time. And rather than Right to Privacy Amendments, when 34 states outlaw all abortion or allow abortion, no doubt with restrictions, THEN we pass a Constitutional Amendment on the subject... of abortion. This really ought to have been a fight, a messy and loud one, fought state-by-state rather than an issue decided by 5 USSC justices.

Same thing with gay marriage. A Federal Marriage Act or Amendment really ought to just say, marriage, for Federal purposes of tax and benefits, is the marriage between one man and one woman, but each state has the right to determine what marriage is, within each state for its legal purposes, and that no state is required to acknowledge any other state’s definitions without an express written agreement. When 34 states say "yea" or "nay" to gay marriage then the Federal Government can recommend an amendment.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Why bother to have a constitutional amendment for abortion or even "privacy"? Why not do as the Founding Fathers intended and leave this up to the individual states? If the State of Massachusetts wants to make abortion legal under all circumstances, then let them do so. If the State of South Dakota wants to make it illegal under all circumstances, then let them do so. The entire question of abortion should NOT be within the purview of the federal government. Ditto drugs, gay marriage, alcohol, or any other issue that is not explicitly addressed in the Constitution or its amendments.

LEAVE IT UP TO THE STATES.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
I’ve got serious problems with the idea of a "right" to privacy. I wish I could say I’ve got my own original brilliant formulations, but they were all blown out of the water when I read The Transparent Society by David Brin. It’s truly a great book and I encourage everyone to read it.

I have no problem with people looking at me; no one can do me harm simply by looking at me, unless they have information leverage over me. What I have a problem with is people being able to look at me and me not being able to look back at them. I have a problem with some people having secrets and others not. I have a problem with asymmetrical information. All the real problems with the telescreen in 1984.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Well Docjim505, whilst that may be the Roger Sherman approach to the Constitution it’s not the one we’ve ACTUALLY chosen. So, we will need to address these societal issues, I just want the adjudication to occur at the state level, then ratified at the Federal Level. Because whoever is RIGHT will want the "right" decision to be nation-wide, just look at slavery, would you propose we leave that to a state-by-state determination? Well to some of us, abortion-to me the murder of the unborn (and no we don’t have to agree on that)-is just the same sort of moral issue as slavery was and needs a nationwide determination. I just think that Roe V.Wade was a bad way to make the determination, as well as the wrong answer. So, I’m pushing for the right answer, produced in the right way.

Also, for gay marriage there needs to be SOME Federal action, on my IRS forms can my wife and I claim marriage, can my wife, I and the neighbors next door claim marriage for tax purposes? What is marriage for the determination of tax liablity and benefits? And that is a real-world question, and though Libertarians may lament that the Federal government provides tax benfits and welfare benefits, nonetheless it does, so it is a question that must be answered. I am just in favour of a minimalist answer, until the society makes a call on this issue as well. And elements of our society want a call made, Andrew Sullivan wants the right to marry his partner and I don’t want him to have that right, and both of us want an answer.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe wrote:
Because whoever is RIGHT will want the "right" decision to be nation-wide, just look at slavery, would you propose we leave that to a state-by-state determination?
Part of the problem with the way we’ve perverted the Constitution is exactly what you say: people have gotten the idea that we have a one-size-fits-all federal government that has the authority to decide what’s best for all of us and the power to make those decisions binding. I say that we need to return to the federal system that was made by G. Washington and Co. in 1787.

As to your question about slavery: yes, it should have been left to the states. So. Carolinians seceeded because they feared the Lincoln would use the power of the federal government to make the "right" decision to abolish slavery.

I realize that the world is a bit more complicated than it was in 1787, and that there are powers that the federal government ought to have that are not explicitly in the Constitution. However, we need to keep that list of powers as short as we can, and one way to do this is to look to Raleigh, Sacramento, Concord, Topeka, Madison, etc. far more than we look to DC when framing our laws.

I just think that Roe V.Wade was a bad way to make the determination, as well as the wrong answer.

I agree on both points. The United States is a federal democracy, not a judicial oligarchy.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
As to your question about slavery: yes, it should have been left to the states. So. Carolinians seceeded because they feared the Lincoln would use the power of the federal government to make the "right" decision to abolish slavery.
Well docjim505 it’s postings like that that say why libertarians will never run the nation...I mean that in a respectful way, or at least a non-snarky way, but I ask, you would allow one human being to OWN another human being, all in the name of state’s rights? And abortion is the equivalent to those of us on the pro-life side, you’d allow the murder of innocent humans simply because 50% and 1 person thought it OK in a particular state?

These a major moral issues and they aren’t going to be decided on a state’s rights basis... as I want the RIGHT answer, but want it done the right way, let each state make it’s own way, UNTIl about 34 have made a roughly similar position and then introduce an amendment. Hey if 34 states are allowing gay marriage or banning abortion, I’m willing to bet that that makes it acceptable public policy.

And the democratic system allows for some distinguishing, after all abortion, slavery, gay marriage ignite passions in a way that the 70 mile per hour speed limit does not. So I’m not worried about those who are upset by the "immorality" of a given speed limit. I’m willing to bet that most folks won’t care and really won’t escalate that debate to the level that the first three are or were elevated to.

To finish up, you’d allow California or Michigan to discriminate against Jews, as long as the State Legislature and voting public made it official public policy, via statute and state constitution? If the answer is "Yes" I’m afraid that you are doomed to a fairly long stint in the Political Wilderness.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
In other words, the poor are poor because they’re lazy, dirty, weak, and come from bad stock

I don’t know about the "come from bad stock part" but the rest sounds about right.

It’s common sense, but the surest ways to poverty: Not finishing high school, becoming hooked on drugs, not wanting to work, or becoming a single parent.

Sure sounds like lazy and weak to me.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Well Shark, you’re doomed to a long stint in the Wilderness, too. "Cuz you’re blaming the victim, and that ain’t gonna fly. I’m in 12 Step Work and we don’t use the phrase "weak and lazy" to describe our failings, because those words apply to us a PERSONS. Instead, we discuss our poor choices and their consequences.... you see we’re OK people, we’ve made a set of bad choices and you know what that works a WHOLE lot better in describing people and things like poverty rather than saying the poor are lazy and weak. It is better AND MORE POLITIC to say, the poor have made poor choices and to seek to remedy those choices or limit their consequences or to incentivize BETTER choices, rather than to simply write them off as you seemingly do.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Hey, Jon. Why do you put several subjects under one post? I don’t care for it because it makes comments more unwieldy. Why not create several shorter posts?

Maybe you’ve addressed this before, but I missed it.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
Joe wrote:
To finish up, you’d allow California or Michigan to discriminate against Jews, as long as the State Legislature and voting public made it official public policy, via statute and state constitution?
Yes, no matter how personally distasteful or offensive I find such practices. My view is that we live in a democracy. This does not guarantee that voters always make prudent, moral or "right" decisions, but I trust that, over the long run, they will do so (cf. Churchill’s comment to the effect that democracy is the worst form of government... except for all the others).

Naturally, I want "right" decisions to be made and right policies to be implemented. The problem is that what is right for me may not be right for somebody else. I think that the Founding Fathers realized this: the people of Virginia had different concerns and needs than the people of New Hampshire, who had different concerns and needs than the people of Georgia. Hence, aside from issues that require a uniform national policy such as foreign affairs, national defense, patents, etc, the Constitution leaves setting policy in the hands of the States and the people.
And abortion is the equivalent to those of us on the pro-life side, you’d allow the murder of innocent humans simply because 50% and 1 person thought it OK in a particular state?
Yes, and I am pro-life. I am also pro-democracy and support the idea of majority rule even though I might not agree with the outcome. If that be the case, then it is incumbent on me to do what I can within the system to change the outcome and not hope that some judges or justices will nullify the results of the ballot box in my favor.

Right now, we’ve got a situation in which SEVEN men decided that abortion is OK across the United States. The people didn’t get a chance to vote on it, not even through their representatives in Congress. The reason for this is that the Supreme Court back then decided that they knew how to make the "right" decision and usurped the power of the Congress and the individual States to make their decision binding on all of us. Natch, in the eyes of those who support abortion, the justices made the "right" decision. I disagree not only with the outcome but also with the process: it is about as undemocratic as we could get without asking the British to come back.

I also object on similar grounds to the fact that so much power is concentrated in Washington. I’ve long objected to the fact that a small group of Senators and Congressmen NOT EVEN FROM OUR STATE have so much influence over the lives of us No. Carolinians. By the same token, I don’t think it is right that our Congressional delegation has the power to meddle in the lives and businesses of people from Ohio, Montana, or Hawaii.

I think we agree on the need for the right process to be followed in making such weighty decisions. I believe that the best process is to leave it to the States as the Founding Fathers intended.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Concerning Abortion, the pro-abortion forces and the Left must be laughing their asses off.

1) We have no clue where Roberts or Alito stand on this when actually confronted with the issue.
2) Ginsberg, Stevens, Beyer, Souter, & Kennedy will like make it 5-4 against based on political leans. (I know its suppose to be a legal decision. yeah right.)
3) Not allowing an exception in the case of incest and rape is about as far to the opposite you could go and would have the least possible amount of popular support.

Looks like the Conservatives have been reading and believing Democrat talking points. For one, the claim that the court is now Conservative. No, seriously, some people will swear by this. The other that Roberts and/or Alito will help end abortion.

Instead what is a high possiblity is a SCOTUS ruling that will entrench Roe v. Wade and thereby entrench Judical activism.

If anti-abortion advocates were smart they’d make a run at parental notification, or partial birth abortion a few times to feel out the new court first.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
I live in a nice (well, it’s OK, anyway) area of Atlanta ("Atlanta—Like Visiting A Third World Country Without Leaving the USA!") that is near some not-so-nice areas. Every day I see people who—whatever other factors might be out of their control—would probably have better lives if they had made better decisions. (And isn’t that true of us all?) Chiefly: not becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs; not getting a high school education; not having children one can’t financially support. I don’t demonize such people. I just don’t want to to subsidize them. Of course, I don’t want to be forced to subsidized the "deserving" poor, either (the fact that you might be poor through no fault of your own gives you no claim on me, especially one enforced at gun-point); but it especially irks me to be forced to subsidize the urban underclass whose mission in life seems to be to make city dwelling an ordeal for the rest of us. Everytime some lard-assed mama with a bunch of kids gets on the 10-items-or less line of the supermarket ahead of me with an overflowing shopping cart and then pays for it with food stamps, funny thing: I find something wrong with that picture.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Everytime some lard-assed mama with a bunch of kids gets on the 10-items-or less line of the supermarket ahead of me with an overflowing shopping cart and then pays for it with food stamps, funny thing: I find something wrong with that picture.


Well Bilwick do you celebrate when some well coifed, slender, Pilates-toned, breast augmented Trophy spouse with only one child "gets on the 10-items-or less line of the supermarket ahead of me with an overflowing shopping cart and then pays for it..." via Visa?

I just wondered if welfare reform was simply a matter of enforcing the express lane limits at the local shop n’ save? Or if it’s the 10 kids? Or that she is lard-assed? Or is it that it’s a Mama, would it be OK if it were a guy? I apologize but you just seemed to get grumpiest about something odd.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Tee-hee: I thought my post would make somebody mad. No, Joe, I can’t say I would exactly "celebrate" it when the Pilates-toned trophy wife abused the 10-items-or-less line in the supermarket. But at least I’d be compensated by the view. (There’s no ass like a Pilates ass.) The lardassed welfare mom on the other hand, not only doesn’t compensate me, but adds aesthetic insult to injury; not only with her looks, but with her noisy kids. The trophy wife does insult me with her my-husband’s-rich-so-I-have-more-rights-than-you attitude; but at least I’m not forced to subsidize the trophy wife. Her husband takes care of that. And he gets his compensation.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
but at least I’m not forced to subsidize the trophy wife. Her husband takes care of that.


But YOU DO, Bilwick, you do... it’s called Corporate Welfare and/or Farm Subsidies.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well, I had a response to your last comment, Joe, but when I attempted to post I got a comment that it contained some offensive phrase. I proofread it and the only think I found was an expression meaning "bovine excrement." The funny thing is I used the abbreviation, which I thought was inoffensive (if mildly naughty) not the full eight-letter word beginning with "b." I then tried substituting "bogus" for the abbreviation, but I was still blocked. So no response from me except this, and I don’t know if this will go through. Let the world know my story.
 
Written By: Bilwick
URL: http://
Odd, that is happening... must have a variant of the Fark.com filters.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
To finish up, you’d allow California or Michigan to discriminate against Jews, as long as the State Legislature and voting public made it official public policy, via statute and state constitution?
Drive people on average more intelligent and creative out? Go right ahead. It certainly hurt the Germans.
 
Written By: triticale
URL: http://triticale.mu.nu

 
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