En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/27/0730

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January 27, 2009 7:30 AM - Mike

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Looking at your graphs and the source data:

Some notes:

1. The first time-slot is "1977-92", so presumably this is the total number of incidents across those 16 years. This might make it appear that levels of activity have come down significantly since then, but if I'm reading this right there was actually a spike in 1993.

You left 1977-92 off your graphs entirely, which is a reasonable way of dealing with the problem, but this also hides the fact of the spike -- which isn't to say you've distorted the data; I'm just pointing out the apparent existence of the spike.

I left off 1977-92 because it would have skewed the graph.

"True ‘violence’ meaning someone injured or an attempt to injure them is at the lowest levels since the early 1990’s." Just looking at actual "assault & battery", this is only true if you look only at last year (2008). The figures for 07 and 06 were higher than any other years, by a good margin.

If we look at just assault and battery, yes, it was up in 2007-2008. But if we look at every other category, it appears to be down, and obviously is down if we take the sum total of all buckets. Selecting the one bucket that has not gone down when 11 others have is, well, selective.

"Obama’s position of unlimited access puts him in a group of just 9% of Americans."

Exactly where has Obama stated this as his position, or given any indication by word or deed that he supports it?

Has he mentioned any support at all for even modest restrictions (2nd or 3rd term bans, parental notification laws, etc.)? If he truly supported any of those measures it stands to reason he would have mentioned it during the primaries, since this poll seems to indicate a majority of Americans would have been pleased. He is too good of a politician to have ignored that opportunity.

"I still don’t see anything that supports a claim that abstinence-only actually increases the number of pregnancies."

Do the math:
1. Abstinence-only causes no reduction in the amount of sex.
2. Abstinence-only causes a reduction in the amount of contraception used.

So you contend that a teen who attends an abstinence-only class will not feel compelled to follow their message of not having sex but will feel compelled to not using contraception? You do know that contraception IS discussed in most of those classes, right? The message given is that the only birth control method that is 100% effective is abstinence. I fail to understand how that would lead people to keep having sex and actually be less cautious about it.

"To support that claim that would mean that kids with no education of any kind would actually have less pregnancies than kids with abstinence-only."

We're not talking about the effect of ABE vs. no sex ed at all; we're talking about ABE vs. proper sex ed. Even ABE might have a slight positive impact over no sex ed at all.

No, I do not want to leave out abstinence altogether; I think I specifically said that any decent sex-ed program will cover it and emphasize that it is by far the most reliable way to prevent pregnancy.

So we agree that the claim that abstinence-only education actually increases the number of pregnancies is false. Since I never contended it was preferable to a more well-rounded approach it seems that you and I are on the same page here. I would like to see a more comprehensive approach and so would you.


"In the mind of a pro-lifer that is akin to giving someone the ‘moral choice’ of murdering their next door neighbor."

What if she feels differently? Would she consider it a "gift"? But I'm venturing into personal territory here, and I don't need to go there just to score a point... and she may well agree with you.

Again, when you see abortion as murder, the feelings of the abortion seeker, whether it be my daughter or a stranger, are irrelevant. As a society we accept that certain behaviors are morally wrong and we don’t really care about the personal feelings of the individual. For me, abortion fits under that group of morally wrong behaviors.

And you're again implying that there's minimal emotional cost to getting an abortion. For many women, the economic "ease" is greatly offset by the emotional pain of losing a potential child. Anti-abortionists would choose to translate this potential child into an actual child whom those women are killing, thus making it even more difficult to make a rational choice.

I believe I addressed this point before when I said:

“I don’t think liberals really believe that those women made a bad decision, but they are sympathetic to her anguish because it becomes a mental health issue for them. The most often heard retort these days to criticism that liberals don’t care about human lives is, “What about the suffering of the woman who has to make this decision…This isn’t an easy decision….etc” They de-emphasize the humanity of the fetus and over-emphasize the moral dilemma of the mother as a sort of trade-off. “You give us the abortion and we will promise you a lifetime of remorse. This also sort of becomes moot when so many liberals dismiss a conservative emphasis on adoption because it’s too hard on the mother mentally.”

"The murderer has free will to not commit the murder… the unborn child has someone else’s will imposed on them."

What if the death-row inmate is innocent? It seems to happen on a regular basis that new technology solves an old murder, and suddenly the guy (or gal... remember Bush's "please don't kill me!" mockery?) they were going to execute for it can't possibly have done it -- and yet conservative politicians will refuse to grant a pardon or argue for a new trial because we've got to be "tough on crime". WTF??

If a someone is executed when they are innocent it is obviously a terrible moral failing of the justice system. That’s why I tend to favor extremely unpleasant life sentences and a more robust and efficient appeals system. Give prisoners every legal opportunity to prove their innocence and when this is exhausted, make their stay in prison something akin to life on a chain gang.

"I guess it depends on where we draw the line. Do you put most ‘liberals’ in the 9% group that favors no abortion restrictions or in the 82% that would allow some restrictions? Are those allowing restrictions true liberals or centrists/moderates?"

I think most liberals are simply in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade, providing public funding for abortions in the first trimester (and for threats to the mother's health in later weeks), and not requiring parental notification for teen pregnancies. (Checking the polls would give more reliable data than just asking me what I think liberals think, however.)

Well in that case the polls would seem to indicate that only about 9% of Americans are ‘liberal’ by your standards, since the remaining 91% favor some level of change for Roe.

This whole discussion started because you claimed Progressive Conservatives were more flexible -- willing to compromise -- on this issue than are liberals.

Perhaps you're right: you seem to be more willing than I am to compromise your ethical beliefs for political expediency. What is the good that you hope to accomplish by such compromise?

Saving some lives is better than saving no lives. It makes sense to take what we can get for now and hope that modest restrictions will prove in time that we can go even further without pushing women back to alleys and coat hangers. This goes back to the notion of liberals passing up a good solution for a brilliant one. I prefer the good to no solution, at least in the short term. It is pragmatic to take small steps forward rather than remain idle.

You compromise politically in order to ensure the survival of your rationally untenable beliefs. This may be the essence of conservatism.

That statement is predicated on the belief that opposition to abortion is irrational, which you and I will remain in disagreement on. Personally, I find it irrational to pretend you can determine when life/personhood begins when you really can’t. You are drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and it’s really just your best guess. I’m not willing to accept a ‘best guess’ in this scenario.

For example: it might be worth it for pro-choicers to agree to a set of permanent restrictions on abortion if all the anti-abortion groups will agree to a "ceasefire" -- stop campaigning to further reduce abortion rights, reduce their "practically nonexistent" attacks on abortion clinics to actual nonexistence, stop spreading lies and distortions to win more uninformed warm bodies to their cause, and start working for solutions which reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

So let me try to understand this; you see a liberal saying something like this, “We realize that you believe abortion is murder and in that context over a million babies are ‘murdered’ every year in the U.S. So what we will do is agree to some concessions that will limit the current number of abortions i.e. ‘murders’ in return for you stopping the average 45 or so violent acts that occur yearly against abortion clinics, take down your yucky anti-abortion billboards and stop telling lies about us.”

To paraphrase you, I will never understand the liberal mind. If you honestly think those things would change the minds of liberals who believe abortion is a legitimate population-

But I really don't think you can call your position "progressive" if all you're doing is working to roll back hard-won freedoms. "Progress" is positive change -- change which makes people's lives easier and better -- not increasing restrictiveness.

I realize that much of liberal ideology is based on what is ‘easier and better’ for individuals and that is why they put much more weight on the economic potential of a 16 year old than on the life of an unborn child, however, you continue to miss the context. When I read you saying, “ But I really don't think you can call your position "progressive" if all you're doing is working to roll back hard-won freedoms. I hear But I really don't think you can call your position "progressive" if all you're doing is working to roll back the right to murder unborn children.” I don’t consider abortion to be a ‘freedom’ or ‘won’.

Just an aside, many people find seatbelts ‘restrictive’ but we see the common good in them. I see a common good in limiting abortion. I realize you find that an ‘irrational’ belief, but it is one that is shared by most Americans.