Posted by Brad @ 6:38 pm on August 20th 2012

Two Quick Thoughts on Rep. Akin’s Statement

First of all, the statement, because I love it.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

There is just so much awesomeness to unpack in that statement, I won’t even bother. But it makes me laugh out loud every time it plays on T.V. I don’t know how the interviewer didn’t immediately respond with “Da fuck?”

And, of course, it’s not like this is an incredibly rare way of thinking. I am not one to tie one dude’s incredibly marginalized boneheaded remark into a “statement on his party” or whatever, but we’ve seen this sort of thing roughly reflected in legislation in states across the country, and there is a healthy minority of mostly Republican congressmen that I think at least sort of think along those lines.

But after that, my SECOND thought is:

This guy is in charge of your HEALTH CARE.

Thanks Democrats!

26 Comments »

  1. As to your transition (“This guys is in charge of your HEALTH CARE”): One of the “in the aftermath” major push backs from the GOP at large has been that it is grossly unfair to paint the party and conservatives based upon the ludicrous statements of Akin. In a way you have taken it a step further that that and slimed the entirety of government. One could just as easily make the same statement about “your NATIONAL DEFENSE” or “your “. I guess what I am trying to say is so what? You have a statistically significant portion of one particular movement/party that has utterly absurd and repugnant views on rape, birth control, sex, and the role of women. And you find this a useful libertarian criticism of government involvement in health care. Its an extraordinary stretch, and I say that as a person at least sympathetic to libertarian criticism of expanding government. It seems particularly odd to the point of ironic given that these offensive and troubling statements are coming from a person affiliated with the ideology/party that has spent the last few years aggressively opposing government involvement in health care, and yet your implicit criticism is for those supporting government involvement in health care. Its like an alternative world, Call it Earth-Rush Limbaugh, where a Republican says something completely crazy, but you find a way to blame the Democrats.

    Comment by Jack — 8/20/2012 @ 9:39 pm

  2. The empty “your” was supposed to have a “insert any government function even a minarchist could find legit”

    Comment by Jack — 8/20/2012 @ 9:40 pm

  3. I don’t have any particular desire to go hunting for Akinism in either party, and I don’t know what Brad means when he says that this is a common way of thinking. As a teacher in a Kansas City Catholic school I exist at ground-zero for bad anti-abortion arguments and until this story hit the airwaves I had never heard this sentiment expressed anywhere.

    What we have here is a man too stupid to be permitted elective office, and his party’s decision to proffer him as a candidate will cost them a Senate seat. Full stop.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/21/2012 @ 11:30 am

  4. Traditionally, in systems that lean more free market, the decisions on which care are based, from the macro to the micro, are made with patients, doctors, insurance companies.

    In systems that lean towards more government-control, you insert a political class into that decision-making paradigm.

    The assumption of people that lean more liberal always tends to follow Kip’s Law, in that they always imagine the central planners to be making the decisions they would consider right and proper.

    But, of course, the more say the political class has, the more politicized the decisions become, and that means across the entire spectrum – so it’s not just Kathleen Sebelius making patient care decisions but also, potentially, this guy.

    And, of course, the other difference is that in a free market system, theoretically at least (this has not worked well in our hybrid system), if your doctor is a lunatic who thinks like Rep. Aiken’s or even your insurance company, you can always find another one. That is not necessarily the case in a government system, where if your Congress, say, are a bunch of lunatics, you can’t go to a competing system for care.

    If we become a country of Medicare For All, it is the Director of Medicare, the person who appoints him, the person he reports to, and the people that craft legislation constraining and defining him and his office – maybe one of those people will be a doctor. The rest are as likely to be Rep. Aikens as they are to be science and reality-based progressives. You can not bother getting your prescriptions filled at a pharmacy that lets its staff morally object to your prescriptions. You can not escape a Stupak Amendment.

    This is – or at least shouldn’t be – a controversial statement. And you are absolutely right, it is indeed one that generalizes to other areas, which is why our default position, if we distrust politicians, is to be distrustful of expanding their portfolios. Unfortunately, very well intentioned people keep putting Cheney in charge of energy policy or Rep. Aiken in charge of health care, and then complaining about the results.

    But really, this is a bit further than I intended to take it. I just felt it was worth noting that this yahoo’s voice is far more influential on the health care you receive today than it was four years ago. Worth noting, is all.

    Comment by Brad — 8/21/2012 @ 11:31 am

  5. As per Rojas, I have in fact heard it expressed before – you do have to go fairly down the rabbit hole though. This is the same class of people, roughly, that believe in ex-gay therapy and the like, or that Oklahoma public schools are so rampant with lesbianism that girls aren’t allowed to go to the bathrooms in pairs. Believe it or not, there are men who have some pretty funky ideas about these kinds of things. Typically wherever sex is involved.

    Here is one rundown of a few other examples. It is admittedly a small sample size – but then again, so are the people with the power to get these kooky things reflected in law. Here’s Rep. Steve King seemingly agreeing with Akin, although he did back off thoroughly later. You can decide for yourself if his initial statement was a total case of misspeaking.

    There is a “soft” version of this position as well, incidentally, which is basically that forcible, stranger-rape differs qualitatively from other kinds of rape. Paul Ryan, Rep. King, and Rep. Akin, for instance, all sponsored a bill that would restrict abortion funding to all cases except “forcible” rape. TPM also does a decent (overstated, sure, but it’s TPM) job of parsing that. Which strikes me as fairly weird, in that it’s both not very consistent with pro-liferism AND not very consistent with concern for rape victims. But regardless, NONE of it is particularly consistent for patient-centric medicine.

    Comment by Brad — 8/21/2012 @ 4:02 pm

  6. Oh I understand the small government critique and Kip’s Law and all that, but you jumped the shark for me on that one. Out of curiosity, what are the free market health care countries you admire?

    Comment by Jack — 8/21/2012 @ 9:47 pm

  7. I’m blowing the whistle on that King quote. I’m not a fan of the man, but he’s right; his initial quote was taken WILDLY out of context by people who are currently on a hunt for comments of a specific type. The original headline for that TPM piece, as of this afternoon, was along the lines of “GOP Rep says he’s ‘never heard of pregnancy’ from rape or incest.”

    Comment by Rojas — 8/21/2012 @ 10:19 pm

  8. I agree to an extent, and what really matters there is that he supports abortion coverage in case of “forcible rape”. But come on, wildly out of context? The qualifier “personally” there is a bit of a dodge. His first impulse in response to the question is that he’s never heard of it, but if such a thing were ever brought to his attention he would consider it. The example is a non-forcible rape of a 12-year-old. The very strong implication there is that he’s never heard of such a case, implying that it isn’t a category of rape he’s willing to allow exists. That he also is willing to consider counter-examples is fine, as far as it goes, but the implication is still “I don’t know such a thing exists, but if somebody ever proves it to me I’ll think about it.” At no point in that answer does he imply “yes”, btw – and in fact at no point in his clarification does he do it either – instead reiterating it has to be “forcible” for him to consider the exemption. So it is perfectly fair to imply two things from this question:

    “But what if someone isn’t forcibly raped and for example, a 12-year-old who gets pregnant? Should she have to bring this baby to term?”

    The first is that he doesn’t know if such a case exists.

    The second is that the answer is yes.

    One can argue about what’s in the man’s heart or what the meaning of legitimate or personally is, but that answer, while different in degree, is not fundamentally different in kind than Rep. Akin’s.

    Comment by Brad — 8/22/2012 @ 11:36 am

  9. But in any case, it’s the weakest example. My point is: People like Akin do exist, they do exist in lawmaking capacities, and they do have more say in how health care in America is run in 2012 than they did in 2008. That’s all I’m saying.

    Comment by Brad — 8/22/2012 @ 11:37 am

  10. But again, I will say that Akin’s position on the body rejecting pregnancy in cases of forcible rape is rare, but not unheard of it, among legislators. But that’s a sideshow here, ultimately – although admittedly the awesomest part of his statement.

    But what really might kill Republicans is Rep. Akin’s main point. Clearly, he used “legitimate” here not as a synonym for “approved” or “the good kind” or whatever, but as a synonym for “forcible”, which is the way Republicans traditionally phrase it and which is their main distinction in terms of abortion protection or their view of rape generally. And many Republicans, largely, do, as a matter of record, divy up rape cases along that line. You can have a philosophical and mostly esoteric discussion along those lines, but you damn sure can’t have a political one – good luck, for instance, being Rep. King and having to explain why a 12-year-old getting raped (but not forcibly) by her father deserves a different level of protection and ethical calculus than the 23-year-old getting assaulted in an alley (then you wind up in the situation we are discussing above, where he essentially has to try to tap-dance around denying such situations even really exist to any substantial degree).

    But that is the position of the current Vice Presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, King, Akin, and 150 other House Republicans who signed on with them on that bill. That is not a fringe position at all in the GOP.

    And actually, that’s giving Ryan short shrift. His actual position is there should be no abortion for any kind of rape whatsoever – which is also, incidentally, the position in the official Republican Party platform, and what can fairly be called the majoritarian position in the Republican party. Which I can at least understand – it’s internally consistent. But it also is a position that doesn’t have majority support among virtually ANY constituency (awesome chart here) save hardcore pro-life fundamentalists. Not even bible literalists, people who self-describe as “extremely conservative”, evangelicals, etc. are willing to sign on to that position which, again, is the majoritarian GOP position.

    And now the GOP is having to stand on it, or not – as they did the question of contraception. And I get the impression that even those Republican lawmakers who AGREE with both positions, or at least decide to sign off on them, sure as hell don’t want to RUN on them.

    So yeah, you can say that Rep. Akin’s position is an incredible outlier from just one yahoo (although as I’ve demonstrated even the HARDEST version of his position – that forcible rape is a credible distinction but luckily that never really results in pregnancy – is not an unheard of one among GOP lawmakers), but then you have to acknowledge that he was expressing a pretty common position – that forcible rape is a distinction that should matter legally, such that other kinds of rapes get different ethical math informing things like abortion freedoms – and that even that position is a SOFT version of the official position of one of America’s two parties. And that is NOT a conversation that will serve ANY pro-life Republican candidate well. And in a weird way, I’m sort of thrilled that it’s being thrown in their faces to defend, or not. If a debate moderator were worth his salt, his first question to Rep. Ryan is the same one asked of Rep King.

    And final thought: “What we have here is a man too stupid to be permitted elective office, and his party’s decision to proffer him as a candidate will cost them a Senate seat.”

    It will be FASCINATING to see if that winds up being true. I think it will too, and might bet on it, but I’m not sure how good I’d feel about that bet.

    Comment by Brad — 8/22/2012 @ 2:39 pm

  11. And sorry to pile on, but if you want to talk about blowing the whistle on bullshit quotes, here is Paul Ryan consciously taking HIMSELF out of context:

    In an interview with the CBS Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA, Ryan tried to distance himself from Akin, with whom he once co-sponsored a bill to re-define “forcible rape,” asserting on Tuesday night that “rape is rape.”

    “His statements were outrageous, over the pail. I don’t know anybody who would agree with that. Rape is rape period, end of story,” Ryan told KDKA.

    And asked if abortions should be available to women who are raped, the seven-term Wisconsin congressman said he stands by his record.

    “Look, I’m proud of my pro-life record. And I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It’s something I’m proud of. But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration,” Ryan said.

    Unsaid: “Rape is rape. Insofar as the victim of ANY kind of rape should not be allowed to have an abortion.”

    That is his position throughout his entire political life (the only exception he allows is to save the mother’s life).

    Look, I’m really not looking to be unfair – I can even respect the pro-life position in this regard. And, equally, I don’t think a Romney/Ryan presidency would be any more than marginally bad for women’s health in practice – namely, I would doubt that, if they were elected, rape victims or abortion seekers would find their day-to-day lives radically altered (although I certainly wouldn’t argue that pro-choicers should vote for them on those grounds, or that there wouldn’t be reason for concern in that I also have no confidence they’d STOP those things in the ay a Democratic president would). I honestly don’t think it’s something Ryan or Romney would get animated about or have as a particular item on their political agenda. I think social conservatism in both their cases is probably less than a deeply-seated core belief that informs all their politics so much as it’s a practical compromise on their parts. They are not Rick Santorum, in that regard – although this is me making assumptions on their behalf, against the grain of their public statements. And frankly I don’t even think it makes me less likely to vote for them – I personally believe abortion is the most overrated voting yardstick there is and, again, strongly suspect it’s not something that will animate their administration if elected (although it will exist).

    But this is, in Ryan’s case, his STATED POSITION AND CONSISTENT RECORD on which he has sought political office, including currently, his entire life. This is not a fringe position I’m trying to paint a party with, but an actual plank of the platform that all their internal constituents vote on and approve every four years.

    To me, that’s worth airing. And Rep. Akin’s statement was very stupid, and the part of whether pregnancy can happen IS a (relatively) fringe position even in his party. But the moral outrage here is not, I strongly suspect, based on those elements of his statement, but rather the core thinking behind them (forcible/non-forcible rape, or whether any rape “counts” in terms of abortion)- which is, again, a stated, animating, unambiguous, and governing principle behind roughly 50% of the people that make laws in this country.

    Again, worth noting. And, again, we are giving them more and more authority to make day-to-day patient care decisions.

    Comment by Brad — 8/22/2012 @ 2:55 pm

  12. 25 paragraphs later, I would endorse one of the many Brad points and shove back against another:
    1. Ryan as only a budget wonk is BS and the media will pick up on it. His culture war votes matter more than his rhetoric, and them votes ain’t good.
    2. If we had a fully free market health care system, the federal government passing a law against abortion or limiting abortion or coverage of birth control would have just as much of an impact as doing so in a less than free market system. Stated differently, Brad’s “thanks democrats!” argument is BS.

    Comment by Jack — 8/22/2012 @ 11:01 pm

  13. As I think many, many women can attest, state efforts to impact the administration of health care has as much a direct impact as federal legislation – think of efforts in Kansas, Virginia, etc. to make abortion virtually illegal, largely through Department of Health and Attorney General Offices.

    And state legislation also tends to have more impact than federal legislation, as heretofore the federal government has been largely disinclined and in many cases disallowed (because they didn’t have the authority) to render that kind of legislation (except in D.C.). So you have a situation where it wildly varies, from state to state, how easy reproductive care generally and abortions specifically are.

    The difference is you can always go the next state over – which is a situation that happens in a near-majority of abortions currently.

    Now, federalize that.

    Supporters of the ACA seem to always imagine we’ll be Rhode Island or New York. Seems just as likely we’re Virginia or Missouri.

    Comment by Brad — 8/23/2012 @ 1:00 pm

  14. But really, here is the litmus test for my argument:

    Rep. Akin – and potentially Senator Akin – has more power to impact women’s health care now than he did prior to Obama.

    True or false?

    Comment by Brad — 8/23/2012 @ 1:10 pm

  15. I honestly don’t know, but I will stipulate he has incrementally greater power to negatively impact, whereas various fundy dominated state legislatures have less. But your argument is applicable to all federal laws, right? And yet I don’t see the doomsday scenario playing out in this field. It comes back to our Ron Paul debate: you don’t want the structural potential for Federal wackjobbery, but are quite happy with ten or states actually enacting wackjobbery.

    Comment by Jack — 8/24/2012 @ 12:27 pm

  16. Indeed – and I fall in the line that I would like to decentralize that variance as much as possible – which is, indeed, how our government is meant to be structured (federal defaulting to states defaulting to localities defaulting to private citizens), for exactly that reason I agree with. The higher up the chain you go, the less recourse you have. And yes, that applies to all federal laws. The opposite of that structure, incidentally, is the entity one up the ladder from you, every time they disagree, trumping, such that the locality grabs authority over the individual because they think the individual is too stupid to exercise it thoughtfully, and the state grabs authority over the locality because OMG that locality is crazy, and the federal government takes authority over the state because wtf Utah, and then suddenly we have all authority rolling, essentially, uphill, with the individual being on the short end of the stick and the federal increasingly the monopoly. And that’s when you have a true ruling class – a small handful of people making decisions for everybody (Rep. Akin is in that class, btw – you, and your wife’s doctor, are not).

    That is, perhaps, the central insight on which our government was founded, and designed to protect against.

    It is not ideal that Missouri is crazy. But I’d rather have Missouri be crazy than all of us have to be Missouri-crazy.

    Which I’m trademarking, btw.

    Comment by Brad — 8/24/2012 @ 3:35 pm

  17. And what area do you think would be better? Voting access? Women and minority treatment? Health care? Environmental issues? Seriously, and I don’t mean that as a rhetorical, what major areas that are currently federalized do you think would be better at the local level?

    Comment by Jack — 8/24/2012 @ 9:29 pm

  18. Pat answer*: All of them – so long as basic federal protections outlined in the constitution and Bill of Rights are vigorously and meaningfully upheld.

    States have no more right, in my view, to deny due process, equal protection, privacy, voting rights, allow fraud, etc. etc. etc., than the federal government does. To argue otherwise is, I think, a canard, or more realistically, to argue that since some parts of the law might get ignored, the proper response is to ignore other parts. The problem with that, of course, is you wind up creating a system of law which is completely arbitrary and open to the whim of whoever happens to be adjudicating at that moment. It becomes essentially an arms race of qualitative, political disagreements, in which the law as written, in both spirit and letter, is less important than what somebody in charges thinks is the best intention – be it protecting the rights of a minority whose status as such as not yet permeated, or protecting the country of terrorism. When Madison and Adams refer to the tyranny of the majority, they are not, contrary to popular understanding, primarily concerned with the electoral college or the belief the the common rabble are stupid or malicious or whatever. They are concerned with a system that becomes, in essence, governed by transient partisanship rather than inviolable principles. That does not mean rigidity – there is ample recourse to change law, up to and including those principles (which is what the Bill of Rights, in essence, is). Rather it simply means that you can’t ignore a law that your predecessor, or the rightful seat of authority on the matter, passed or adjudicated, because you’re the next guy, and you think those yokels were morons. And that the solution, when you disagree with such a law, is not to simply say “that’s bullshit; we’re not doing that.”

    And I don’t mean to be archaic here – I am not talking about 17th century Virginia. But if you believe that there was any basic insight that led to the creation of this country, it was this – the people closest to a law’s effect are usually the people best equipped to have input on said law. That is not to say that you can’t always find smarter, more forward-thinking, or even better people. Just that, every system designed to suss out said people, grant them authority, and trust that they know best, tends to end badly, as after not even a generation it becomes less about what’s good for those poor ignorant locals and more about protecting the power of the ruling class and ceding them more and more authority.

    You are absolutely right that, if we found such a class, and they were thoughtful, smart, forward-thinking, etc., that such a system governed by them would be preferable. And the good thing is you get to pick those people! Along with everyone else, including the morons who vote for the people you are trying to pick those rulers to fight against–who, by the way, may very likely outnumber you. Ergo, you can pick your Congressman, Missourians can pick Rep. Akin, and whoever wins gets to decide health care for EVERYBODY.

    Again, our entire system of government is founded on this principle – that if anybody comes to you and says you should subjugate yourself to them because they know what’s best for you, you should run the other way. I am not being pat, as there is a tradeoff, for sure, which you’ve identified. The tradeoff is that the more local you get, the more variance there is, and the more variance there is, the more capacity there is for the very bad (and the very good). Under the sort of system I’m talking about, local administration of government would have the capacity to vary much more than it does from town to town, county to county, state to state. And that, by definition, means you’re going to agree with some more, some less; some will offend you, some will strike you as the One True Path.

    But, ALL of those local systems would have less power of you than just the federal system does now.

    And, more to the point, the founding fathers looked to that tradeoff, and were willing to make it. Why? Because they looked at nearly every other system of government, the vast vast majority of which was of the kind that you’re talking about in which the smart guys that knew best were in charge, and determined it was worth it.

    Comment by Brad — 8/25/2012 @ 12:14 am

  19. *Unpat answer: environmental protection is an area I think the feds are better set up for, and there are other exceptions as well. The question is do those counter-examples merit themselves as EXCEPTIONS, or the rule. Your answer here is rule. Mine is exception.

    And, incidentally, I feel like you’re leaning towards civil rights as a counter-example. They are not. By definition, a civil right is indeed a FEDERAL proscription. You don’t have a right to free speech or equal protection because Florida says you do. It is, in fact, the JOB and FUNCTION of the federal government to protect that for you, including against state or local governments.

    How that is, in practice, defined does indeed vary, but that’s going to be the case regardless of where the seat of power lies (as the evolution of Supreme Court interpretations should tell you), and it’s never going to be perfect – homosexuals were going to be deprived of rights under any system, for example, until the people catch up – although, again to be clear, it was entirely local and state evolutions that preceded and spurred the federal ones (which have not yet caught up, in fact). To put that another way, if it was entirely up to the feds, our nation would be one-size-fits-all on the question of gay rights right now, in August 2012. And you think that one size would be Massachusetts? Try Virginia. You want to know what rights homosexuals have when the majority decides? The only reason the conversation has advanced beyond that is because states were allowed to have that conversation in the first place.

    So, I sort of reject the idea that civil liberties are the counter-example here – minority rights, voting access, etc. Those are not questions that are legitimately the purview of local or state governments – they are the defined ground rules. Where we really get fucked, in that regard, is when the federal arbiters decide to arbitrarily redefine what those rights are, outside the proscribed process, and without the checks and balances our system is built around kicking in because we collectively decided to stop holding to them because, for all the 10 we agreed with, we found the 1 counter-example where we didn’t and abandoned the whole thing. We stopped protecting civil liberties in the way the system was designed around NOT because local governments took too much power or the federal government not enough. Rather, it was when enough people decided the ground rules no longer mattered in this or that instance (gay rights, due process, privacy, pick your poison), and the ruling class sold them on the notion that they were right enough to warrant trumping those other yahoos. And at that point, the system breaks down, and becomes exactly what we were defined to protect against – the ruling class deciding what’s best for everybody based on…well, based on what they think is best for everybody.

    And the answer to the system breaking down in such a way is not, I don’t think, to double down on further breaking it down. And the constructive reaction to feeling like the ground rules – the civil liberties – are being unfairly impugned on is not to throw out the concept of ground rules altogether. Unless, of course, you want Rep. Akin in charge of abortion care in America because Republicans have fucked health care. Or to give Hillary Clinton the power over whether an American lives or dies because Democrats aren’t serious about terrorism.

    Comment by Brad — 8/25/2012 @ 12:16 am

  20. The idea that you think there are but a few exceptions to this State power over Federal power tells me most of what I need to know about your views. Adding to this the perception that defining these limited exceptions is obvious and would be honored by the newly empowered States tells me the rest. I just think this is just plain ahistorical bordering on delusional. You have carved out a massive area (civil rights) as if it were an exception, and as if it were clearly protected Federally per the Constituion even under your States rights interpretation. If you move dramatically, and it would have to be dramatically, towards the States authority interpretation, the whole of State-Federal power balance would shift with it like an Overton window, and civil rights would be swept right along with them. You want it both ways and its just not realistic. There would have been know loving v Va, there would be no lawrence v Texas, and a hundred other abominations against the individual would be carried out in retrograde states. You can’t just magically wave away civili rights as not a problem.

    Comment by Jack — 8/25/2012 @ 10:29 am

  21. Closing the loop.

    You are right in one respect: what I’ve outlined above should tell you all you need to know about my political philosophy.

    I’m not carving anything out or making “limited” exceptions. I’m saying that, in America, there are defined rights, and there is a proscribed system for defining those rights. Those rights include: freedom of religion, speech, free assembly, due process, equal protection, and so on and so forth. There is a legislature to redefine those rights, a judiciary to interpret them on a case by case basis, so on and so forth. And that said system begins locally, and moves on up, but only when a certain burden of proof is met (that the question is the purview of the higher authority).

    That’s it. I’m not proposing anything radical. Hell, I’m not proposing anything at all – I’ve got no idea what Overton window you’re talking about. I’m saying that we have a rule of law in place, and should follow it. I am further saying that any exception to that system – which, again, is our system of government, the basic ground rules upon which our society is founded and which can be traced back to the Magna Carta – ought to be treated with extreme skepticism, and the burden of proof belongs there.

    It is not enough, in my view, to say that the system doesn’t work as you’d like it to, or as you believe it should, and that’s a justification for scrapping it in part (which is really to say scrapping it in whole). Since Party X is circumventing your preferred interpretation, you must also circumvent to correct, ad nauseum. I do not believe that we should waive this system on a case-by-case basis, because those cases-by-cases will be defined by the short-term, political, and by definition arbitrary interests of they day – it’s defined by you. That’s great when that’s Jack, because Jack is smart and good and knows when people are being idiots and assholes. But maybe not so much when it’s Rep. Akin.

    My system corrects for that – does yours? You agree that federalism ought to be usurped when states are being stupid. But you only agree with that, presumably, when YOU think it’s stupid. Do you agree with it when Rep. Akin thinks it’s stupid, or Dick Cheney, or whoever? I will answer that for you: you do. That is the power you are advocating: that a system of laws, governance, and checks and balances are awesome, until you’re doing it wrong, at which point the non-assholes have to step in and correct. Your mistake, of course, is assuming that you, or people that agree with you, are the non-asshole, and always will be. As I said, just as likely it’s Akin – you going to quote me Loving v. Texas then?

    The fact of the matter is civil rights is NOT something to be magically waved away, but that’s only true in a system where power centers are held to a set of ground rules, and we hold them accountable whether we agree with the short-term outcomes or not. When we support the ground rules because our favored interpretation is winning, but advocate throwing them out when they are not, you are guilty of exactly what I’m talking about – rendering our system of governance more, not less, beholden to partisanship, short-sightedness, and, yes, guys like Rep. Akin getting far more power over our daily lives than you deserve. To put that more plainly, the approach you advocate because you think Rep. Akin is an idiot gives Rep. Akin more power than.

    Again, this isn’t true if only everybody would quite being an asshole and you were able to elect only the people that agree with you. Because you’re right, and the other guys are not only wrong, but so wrong as to justify taking extraordinary measures to stop. But here’s the news flash: EVERYBODY thinks that, at one time or another. You think you have a monopoly on thinking you’re right about how to define rights? And you honestly think that, if your political class is able to hijack the system to take that power away from the morons, that they’ll keep it?

    You have no more right or ability to say that states can’t define marriage rights because when they do some of them will fuck it up according to you, then Dick Cheney has the right to say that Due Process is great except in cases where he doesn’t agree with its application.

    I am not being flippant. This is not a metaphor. These are identical arguments. For every Bush that thinks the regular American system is too stupid to handle terrorism, there is an Obama that thinks it is too stupid to handle health care, etc. Etc. Etc.

    I am totally unconcerned about the case-by-case here. What matters is whether or not we agree with the PREMISE, which is general, and will apply as much to the people you think are idiotic and malicious as it will to you, unless you are so confident, as I said, that Republicans (or whoever) will disappear tomorrow and you’ll be given the levers of power (Kips Law).

    And the ultimate irony here is you calling me out for radicalism – Overton window and whatnot. I am not calling for states to secede. I am not calling for 50 Bill of Rights. I am not asking for any proactive steps whatsoever.

    I am literally asking that we STAY THE SAME, and that any efforts to usurp our system of government, even in discrete cases, be treated with skepticism and a burden of proof that lies with them NOT being able to take autonomy from private citizens.

    That that has become a badge of radicalism says, I think, more about our current political state than it does about me.

    Comment by Brad — 8/30/2012 @ 3:34 am

  22. Goddamn you type too much. Did you know that there is a class of people (call them “Jacks”) that sometimes forego a debate with you because they know you will write roughly 10 times as many words? I would be interested to someday see you forced to constraing to an equivalent word count. Don’t take that as something I am asking for today, I just think it would be interesting.

    Anyway:
    You are asking for a change, a major change, in that you very clearly want to reduce current federal power and let it derive to the states and further to the local governments. You can pretend this is not a change by waiving your preferred interpretation of the Constitution, but in terms of the way things are actually occuring now vs what you propose, its a major change. #16. “Indeed – and I fall in the line that I would like to decentralize that variance as much as possible”

    You seem to think that were we to shift the power structure and let it derive significantly more towards the states then prescribed rights would answer the problems of protecting, for example, civil liberties. I do not. If you shift the power in general then you have to shift along with it the constitutional interpretations that define the powers. As an example, does the 14th amendment fully, partiall, or barely incorporate the bill of rights against the states? Shift the powers, and incorporation would be reduced along with it.

    Again: which free market health care systems do you admire?

    Comment by Jack — 8/31/2012 @ 10:23 am

  23. One more thing: No where did I call you out for radicallism, though I can see how my perhaps poorly phrased use of the Overton window may have lead you to that. What I called you out for is a specific BS argument (“thanks democrats” in the wake of a GOP fiasco) and what I see as some sort of naivete about the way empowered states would rule compared to the federal government.

    Comment by Jack — 8/31/2012 @ 12:57 pm

  24. Eh, I have to write shorter for a living – this is where I let loose. I’ve always been a free association first draft guy (the guy in college classes who would have the gall to ask what the MAXIMUM word count for papers for). I once started a conversation about what real-life superpowers people have – everyone’s got one. Rojas’ brother can tell, from anywhere in the house, when a TV is on, even without sound. Me? I can type 120 word a minute with 98% accuracy and total coherency even when blackout, falling down drunk (of course the content usually takes a turn for the worse).

    In any event, your “Anyway:” paragraph above is interesting, in that we really do live in a system – right now! – where the default setting on everything is decentralization, and the burden of proof to take rights away from people, localities, or states gets higher and higher the more federalized you go. That we’ve gotten to a point where you think expressly articulating that paints a radical picture of deviation is kind of fascinating to me. Not wrong – because you are absolutely right that the continental drift of American governance has been, in the last few generations at least, that federal trumps and the only institutional hurdle you have to clear is “if the people in power think it’s a good idea”. But state’s rights or the larger concept of decentralization is not a vestigial tail – it is literally the whole structure of governance and jurisprudence in this country – again, right now.

    You, I feel, would have it that those powers can’t be trusted to individual states, because state governments have the capacity to be stupid. Likewise, we can’t individuals to correctly interpret their freedom, because many of those people will be morons. So we federalize.

    My only point, in this entire thread, is that’s all well and good, but those individual morons or stupid state legislators are precisely the same people that make up the federal government. It is just one big state. There is no mechanism that makes a federal employee smarter than a state one, or a federal officeholder somehow more prudent or thoughtful than a state one. Like anything else, it’s a crap shoot – sometimes you’ll get Obamas, sometimes you’ll get Palins, and all the time you’ll have about 600+ of them in Congress that run the full gambit, sometimes with this bloc in power, sometimes with that one, sometimes with this prevailing political wind, sometimes with that one. The exact same process you describe as a threat to civil liberties at the state level is PRECISELY the same threat to them at the federal one – the only difference is, the higher up you go the less recourse you have. AND if you’ve already decided that those actors aren’t bound by the rule of law – because to do so would mean maybe not getting your preferred outcome – there is also less checks and balances. New Jersey has a lot harder time deciding that the whole Due Process thing is bullshit for terrorist suspects so really they should just be able to kill them as they see fit, than Barack Obama does. And that’s more and more true the more we arbitrarily decide that the basic structure or prohibitions or mechanisms for change of checks should just be ignored because they’re passe.

    The point I’m making is just Kip’s Law, plain and simple. When you give more and more power to less and less people, you run a GREATER risk of human variability finding its way into law. When you have 5000 congressmen across the nation deciding health care, one Rep. Akin isn’t a big deal. When you have 500, he is a very big deal indeed. And when it’s executive, you essentially stake all of health care on the wisdom, pragmatism, and thoughtfulness of the American general election voter every four years. And hey, so long as they just elect Barack Obama every four years, that’ll work out great!

    As I said in my very very first comment: we all had a laugh about Rep. Akin, and a chill about an idiot like that making laws. My point is: Rep. Akin has more power over women’s health now than he did in 2008. That’s either true or false – and we both agree it’s true. All the rest of this conversation is sidebar.

    Anyway, let’s put this one to bed. We’ve both had our say here, although I’m sure we’ll pick up the states rights argument at a later time. You really seem to hate states. Although to be fair, I might too if I lived in Florida.

    Comment by Brad — 9/1/2012 @ 2:17 am

  25. OK last response from me as well:
    I don’t have a problem with few powers provided to government. I am in fact all for a reduction in powers in plenty of areas. But once those powers have been ceded, I think the general trend towards Federal over State is usually correct given the interconnected nature of our country, particularly in the post industrial telecommunications age, and given that in most cases that I can think of the Federal government actually does do it better than the State. There I refer to the significant number of states that will royally fuck it up, not merely to the average state performance compared to average Fed performance. Extremes matter more to me perhaps than they do to you in your calculus.

    Comment by Jack — 9/1/2012 @ 9:22 am

  26. Incidentally.

    Comment by Brad — 9/6/2012 @ 11:52 pm

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