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Federalist Fred:

Senator Fred Thompson appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning. The transcript is here. One thing I found notable about the interview was Thompson's explicit commitment to federalist principles. Here is how he described his views:

I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That's what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is, is—serves us very, very well.
Many politicians say such things. President Bush, for one, spoke quite a bit about the need for state flexibility when he was a Governor and a candidate, but seems to have forgotten about such things over the past six years. It appears Thompson actually means it, however, as he stuck to his federalist guns even when confronted with issues where many "conservatives" abandon federalism and embrace federal power. He even endorsed state autonomy where such a position meant rejecting policy positions favored by significant portions of the GOP base.

On abortion, for example, Thompson said that he believes that life begins at conception, and that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned. Yet he further stated that he opposes a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion and the language endorsing a federal prohibition in the 2004 GOP Platform.

Similarly, on gay marriage, Thompson said that he believes "marriage is between a man and a woman," but stops short of endorsing a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. Rather, Thompson said he supports an amendment to prevent the imposition of gay marriage by the judiciary, but that state legislatures should be free to recognize gay marriage if such a policy is supported by the people of a given state. As I understand it, Thompson's position is essentially that outlined by Michael Greve, and which would provide a constitutional backstop to the Defense of Marriage Act, but would not prevent states from making their own choices about gay marriage.

I have no idea whether Thompson's positions will help or hurt his electoral chances. But I also suspect I am not the only one who finds this apparent commitment to principle refreshing.

Kovarsky (mail):
one thing about that interview struck me as downright bizarre. what did he mean when he was contrasting his views on abortion when he was younger versus now? basically, the interview revealed that thompson feels that he has become more certain that life begins at conception over the course of the last 13 or so years.

he said something to the effect of "after i had my first child i wasn't sure life started at conception because i was young and busy, but now i'm older and around more . . ."

to anybody paying attention, that sounded a lot like "i believed in abortion when i was young and didn't have time to deal with kids, but now . . . ."

he may want to work on his sound bites a little more.
11.4.2007 9:55pm
curious:

to anybody paying attention, that sounded a lot like "i believed in abortion when i was young and didn't have time to deal with kids, but now . . . ."


That's exactly how it came off to me. Also, I believe it is fair to finish your sentence with "that I'm running for president."
11.4.2007 10:18pm
Doug Iverson (mail):
Yea, that "federalism" thing. Sure is nice to hear someone seems to pay it more than lip service. I, myself, decided a long time ago that abortion was wrong because life started at conception. Yet, I fully realize that a federal ban on this would be a two edged sword. Its better to let individual states decide this whether abortion should be banned. Likewise, gay marriage should be decided in a similar manner.
11.4.2007 10:18pm
A. Person (mail):
I wouldn't be so quick to assume it is a "commitment to principle." Thompson knows that the gay baiting isn't such a prominent issue nowadays, and actually increasingly offends people. As for his position on abortion, he knows perfectly well that the most he can politically hope for is chipping away at Roe v. Wade and that a constitutional amendment is impracticable.
11.4.2007 10:36pm
Zacharias (mail):
Federalism alone doesn't solve the privileges and immunities problem of whether or not all states need to recognize gay marriages performed in a state that allows them.

This issue doesn't come up with abortion, but there would be chaos if married people were considered unmarried once they crossed a state border.
11.4.2007 10:46pm
Hewart:
I rather think that A. Person's take on this is fairly canny.

Thompson's position seems carefully crafted to allow him to appeal to conservatives and their social views while drawing up short of advocating the more extreme policies that would grossly offend centrists.

In politicians' mouths, the principle of Federalism has often been used to play just this sort of cagey political calculus.
11.4.2007 10:55pm
Fuz (mail) (www):
Fred seems to be the only GOP candidate to mention Federalism, which I too find refreshing. Please, somebody pander to us Federalists.

Cagey political calculus? Perhaps. Perhaps too it's a salespitch for Federalism. "you can't have your cake and eat it too, but neither can those bastards."

The real test: does Fred continue to support Federalism when the topic swings to, say, the War on Drugs?
11.4.2007 11:09pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Fuz beat me to it. I agree. We'll know Thompson is committed to the PRINCIPLE of federalism when he announces he believes Raich was wrongly decided.
11.4.2007 11:22pm
Fuz (mail) (www):
Thoughtful: actually, Radly Balko gets the credit.
11.4.2007 11:33pm
Tek Jansen:
If Fred Thompson is in favor of federalism for same-sex marriage, then I assume he would be in favor of the federal government recognizing same-sex marriage licenses that are granted by states. Did he explicitly state that he favors repealing DOMA?
11.5.2007 12:06am
Jason F:
Senator Thompson voted in favor of DOMA.
11.5.2007 12:32am
Cornellian (mail):

This issue doesn't come up with abortion, but there would be chaos if married people were considered unmarried once they crossed a state border.


I wouldn't be so quick to assume that chaos would ensue. What do you think happens now when people are validly married in one state then move to another state where the marriage isn't valid because they're too young, or cousins or some such thing?
11.5.2007 12:47am
tsotha:
These are wonderful positions if he supports them when elected.

The "pandering" argument doesn't make sense to me. For every conservative who's happy with abortion decided at the state level there will be one upset he doesn't support anti-abortion legislation at the federal level.

Same goes for gay marriage. Seems like a wash to me politically.
11.5.2007 12:49am
BGates:
His first child was born in 1960. Somehow he didn't see the sonogram. It's a mystery.

By 1964 he had 2 more children and had earned a law school scholarship to Vanderbilt while completing a double major in philosophy and poli sci. Now he claims that period of his life was "busy". You're right, Kovarsky, that's suspicious.

Worst of all, he says something happened that changed how he felt about the issue, but he is still unwilling to criminalize people who make what he now feels pretty sure is a big mistake. It's like the Spanish Inquisition all over again.
11.5.2007 2:30am
Nessuno:


By 1964 he had 2 more children and had earned a law school scholarship to Vanderbilt while completing a double major in philosophy and poli sci. Now he claims that period of his life was "busy".



People forget that Roe v Wade wasn't decided until 1973. And until that point, most abortion just wasn't something people thought about, certainly not in a political or even moral philosophy context. Even the Justices who decided the case didn't believe it would be controversial.

So it is very likely that someone who had three children by 1964 didn't use a single brain cell thinking about abortion one way or another.

By 1994 it was a major issue, especially for a politician. There is little doubt that nowadays, any politician might see their child's sonogram and think about the legality of terminating pregnancy.
11.5.2007 6:32am
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
Sen. Thompson does, in fact, demonstrate a grasp of principles (including but not limited to federalism) and an adherence to them. Cynics (like "A Person," commenting above) can find a number of odd, out-of-step votes he cast as a senator that are indeed explainable on the basis of that commitment. Thompson is not a triangulator, and doesn't pick his positions based on either primary or general election electability concerns.

I, too, watched his MTP appearance today, and I was struck by how Tim Russert ended up looking like a yappy, frustrated dog -- the kind Paris Hilton carries in her purse -- because Sen. Thompson would not pander to his 10-second attention span.

The downside is that Fred rambles. That's acceptable on the senate floor, and even, sometimes, on a courtroom floor. It's a serious flaw in a political candidate. He needs to work on making more one-word or one-sentence answers. (That, in fact, is how to bring a yappy dog like Russert to heel, because he'll dance in circles snapping at his tail in frustration over one-word answers; a sharp candidate can take advantage of that time to do his own mental calculus, which right now Fred tends to do while he's rambling.)

If Thompson can sharpen his skills by year-end, he'll be the Republican nominee. If not, he won't. I don't know whether he will or not, but I hope he will.
11.5.2007 6:45am
Arkady:
Fred might be committed to federalism. Unfortunately, the base of the Republican party is not.
11.5.2007 7:32am
Mikeyes (mail):
This issue doesn't come up with abortion, but there would be chaos if married people were considered unmarried once they crossed a state border.


The potential for this happens all the time, at least in Wisconsin. All it takes is for you and your common law wife to move from Kansas (where common law marriage is readily recognized) to Wisconsin (where common law marriage does not exist.) Your insurance rights, etc. would automatically terminate from one state to another. Mostly what seems to happen is that persons who are in a common law relationship in another state don't move to Wisconsin.
11.5.2007 7:49am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Nessuno's analysis seems spot on. I was pro-choice before my daughter was born. As a new father, when abortion news came on CNN, I would look at my daughter and think "legally, we could have ended her." The very thought was repulsive. Granted, this isn't a rational reaction, but I suspect it is relatively common. I'm still intellectually (and arginally) pro choice (with great confliction), but my gut reaction is horror.

I think it entirely possible that Thompson had the same type of epiphany when his first post-Roe children were born.
11.5.2007 8:41am
Temp Guest (mail):
BGates:

His first child was born in 1960. Somehow he didn't see the sonogram. It's a mystery.


It would be more of a mystery if he had seen a sonogram back then. The experimental use of sonograms for fetal imaging didn't start until 1958 or so in Scotland.

Cohort analysis of poll data consistently show that people age into a distaste for abortion, so Thompson's trajectory is not at all surprising.

Unfortunately, a federalist constitutional amendment option to the so-called DOMA amendment would likely have the primary effect of splitting support away from the DOMA amendment. The activists who want a court-imposed right to homosexual marriage will not waver. Introducing a federalist amendment will just ensure the demise of both the DOMA amendment and the federalist amendment. Sort of like Ross Perot's run for president which gave the election to Clinton. Or, for that matter, Ralph Nader's run for president which gave the the election to Bush.
11.5.2007 8:42am
Ramza:

The potential for this happens all the time, at least in Wisconsin. All it takes is for you and your common law wife to move from Kansas (where common law marriage is readily recognized) to Wisconsin (where common law marriage does not exist.) Your insurance rights, etc. would automatically terminate from one state to another. Mostly what seems to happen is that persons who are in a common law relationship in another state don't move to Wisconsin.

No, No, No it isn't that simple.

Marriage is an area that is not covered directly by the Full Faith it is also covered by Conflict-of-Law principles which is inherent in the US legal system. Because of this how the states would recognize the marriage is inherent for the reason why the people are asking for the marriage to be recognized.

Here is a good guide on whether a state would cover a gay marriage from a different state (origin state) if it goes against the states expressed interest (conflict state).

SSRN: Interstate Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages and Civil Unions: A Handbook for Judges

1) Evasive marriages. Couple A goes to Massachuests for 72 hours to get married and then returns to a state that has a DOMA state amendment or law. Under this situation the court voids the marriage for there is a strong expressed public policy by the state with the state's version of DOMA.
2) Migratory marriages. Couple A marries in State A and lives there for several years. They then move to another State which wouldn't allow the marriage due to their classification (such as age limits, blood relation, common law marriages, same sex marriage, etc). In the vast majority of the times the conflict of laws has yielded recognition (but not always, see the above SSRN paper).
3) Visitor Marriages. The party is visiting the conflict state temporary (such as a car accident in Oklahoma involving a gay married couple and medical decision making process). Conflict of Law states the marriage should be recognized.
4) Extraterritorial marriages. Neither party is visiting the conflict state but they have a litigation issue involving the conflict state (such as one partner died and they had property in the conflict state). The marriage occurred in origin state, in this area the caw law has been unanimous, the conflict state recognizes the marriage.

Your Wisconsin example falls under number 3, and the vast majority of cases this is recognized. Please show me a Common Law marriage that was not recognized under Conflict of Laws, for I have not heard of such a case.
11.5.2007 8:56am
Tim Dowling (mail):
Preemption doctrine provides another important test of a genuine commitment to federalist principles. The current administration has been running roughshod over state and local laws by arguing preemption at every turn, often with a flimsy statutory basis. When he was in the House, Federalist Society founder David McIntosh offered a bill providing that no federal law should be construed to preempt state and local law unless it contains an express preemption provision that is unambiguous as to the fact and scope of preemption. The bill failed. Would Thompson support this approach?

The Riegel v. Medtronic case now pending before the Supreme Court, which concerns preemption of state common law actions against manufacturers of medical devices, provides an interesting test case of the standards used to evaluate preemption.
11.5.2007 9:00am
Anderson (mail):
I'm not surprised that Thompson's support for abortion would diminish over time. I've had the same experience myself, catalyzed by the birth of my little boy.
11.5.2007 9:00am
wm13:
Unfortunately, no political actor has any genuine commitment to federalism, starting with, most notably, the federal judiciary. For example, as we saw just recently, the Supreme Court is much more likely to uphold federal restrictions on abortion than state restrictions. Unless a national commitment to federalism for its own sake developed, it is unlikely that one side on any particular political dispute will unilaterally disarm by embracing federalist principles.
11.5.2007 9:15am
Waldensian (mail):

支气管炎 气管炎 鼻炎 肺癌 呼吸机 氧气机

How dare you sir. How dare you. Can you provide any evidence for this outlandish assertion?

晚会致辞 追悼悼词 节目游戏 毕业致辞 思想宣传 组织人事 晚会主持词 会议主持词 婚礼主持词 哮喘 支气管炎 气管炎 鼻炎 肺癌 呼吸机 氧气机

I think you are confusing Senator Thompson with Senator Craig. And no, I do not believe that the venus flytrap issue is relevant.

游戏 毕业致辞 思想宣传 组织人事 晚会

Nice to see that Godwin's Law is still in effect. We both know that the question of whether Israel has a right to exist really isn't material. Given the DC real estate market, the ramifications for the right to keep and bear arms should be quite clear, even to you.
11.5.2007 9:16am
Dan Weber (www):
Fred seems to be the only GOP candidate to mention Federalism, which I too find refreshing.
I don't want to be a Ron Paul fanboy, but when it comes to Federalism and Constitutionalism, Paul has the rest of the field in both parties beat.

And before you say that Paul isn't a serious candidate, InTrade has him in third place among Republicans, ranked higher than Fred Thompson. Sure, maybe that's still way too low, but in that case, Thompson is an even longer shot than Paul. (And if you disagree with InTrade, you can make some easy money.)
11.5.2007 9:20am
JosephSlater (mail):
Brillian, Waldensian!!!

And though I don't mean this in any way to be about Sen. Thompson, (A Person and Hewart have it right, I think), since we're sharing anecdotes about feelings about abortions, I'll say I was pro-choice before I had a child, and I'm still equally pro choice.
11.5.2007 9:40am
JosephSlater (mail):
Er, um, "Brilliant," that is.
11.5.2007 9:41am
PLR:
I'll give Thompson points for bucking the current GOP orthodoxy on hot button issues. That will offset some of the points I have deducted from him for his gratuitous -- and unlawyerlike -- slander of federal judges over the years.
11.5.2007 9:45am
Anderson (mail):
And no, I do not believe that the venus flytrap issue is relevant.

Come now - what part of "婚礼主持词 哮喘 支气管" don't you understand?
11.5.2007 9:48am
Respondent:
"The Supreme Court is much more likely to uphold federal restrictions on abortion than state restrictions"

Wm13,

On what do you base that assertion? Do you really believe any former or current member of the Supreme Court believes that Carhart I and Carhart II were both rightly decided?
11.5.2007 10:19am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I hate to mention it but support for a constitutional amendment to do something is not a violation of federalist principles because a constitutional amendment takes so much widespread support that it is a federalist act in itself.

Congressional legislative actions may be anti federalist but an amendment can't be.
11.5.2007 10:35am
Kovarsky (mail):
And though I don't mean this in any way to be about Sen. Thompson, (A Person and Hewart have it right, I think), since we're sharing anecdotes about feelings about abortions, I'll say I was pro-choice before I had a child, and I'm still equally pro choice.

just to make this a little more explicit - what was truly bizarre was not that thompson seemed to be saying that his attitude changed after having a child (which is perfectly normal), but that his attitude changed based on how much time he had available to be a good parent.

if you believe that the problem of absentee fathers is one of the big arguments for allowing women to abort unwanted pregnancies, the comment is particularly odious.
11.5.2007 10:53am
Virginian:
Opposition to gay marriage is an "extreme polic[y] that ... grossly offend[s] centrists"?

Yeah, that's why anti-gay-marriage amendments pass by such overwhelming majorities -- even in liberal states. Just because you and the NYT editorial board oppose such amendments, doesn't make them extreme. Rather, support for gay marriage is, by just about any definition (e.g., radical change to historic norms, opposed by large majorities), an extreme policy.
11.5.2007 11:06am
Sara:

I don't want to be a Ron Paul fanboy, but when it comes to Federalism and Constitutionalism, Paul has the rest of the field in both parties beat.


Please - be a Ron Paul fanboy! He's amazing, and definitely the best federalism candidate. His record of votes in Congress shows he actually is committed to his principles. I think he has far more support than the main stream media wants to admit.
11.5.2007 11:07am
markm (mail):
Sara, sorry, but although Ron Paul is the only candidate out there that comes close to my principles, he is a fringe candidate. I like to see him running because he will ask the questions everyone else avoids, but if nominated, he'll lose worse than Goldwater or McGovern.

OTOH, Thompson only has to get the message out in spite of the media's antipathy to him and everyone else that isn't a leftist (starting with Bush, who's no conservative). His positions are broadly acceptable to most Republicans and many moderates, and he has a chance to win the general election because (unlike the media's RINO darlings) conservatives would get out there and both campaign and vote for him. And yet, he is the closest thing to a libertarian to get a major party nomination since I can't remember when...
11.5.2007 12:12pm
some dad:
As for Fred not seeing a sonogram in 1960 --

Not only were songorams new, but it wasn't that likely that a father went along for the Ob/Gyn appointment, either. In fact, into the 1970s, most hospitals had rules forbidding fathers from the delivery room; they had to hang out in the waiting room. Modern paternal involvement is very new.

So it's not just the technology; it's that a typical father's involvement is much different. And once you spend nine months reading up on fetal development as you go, as opposed to just buying cigars on delivery day, then it's quite sensible to change your views on whether the growing fetus is, indeed, a human life worthy of legal protection.
11.5.2007 12:13pm
Jam:
Likewise, sarah and markm, I am voting for Dr. Paul. He has been walking the walk of [attempting] limiting the Central government to only the explicitly delegated authorities for many years.

I am glad when people change their minds after careful consideration but conversions for an election makes me skeptical.

Mr. F. Thompson is playing second fiddle to Dr. Paul.
11.5.2007 12:18pm
Hewart:
Weber and Sara make good points. Ron Paul has been singing Federalism and the Constitution's praises for a long time, now, and he's been all but ignored by Federalists.

Then along comes Basset Hound Fred espousing Federalist ideas and he's hailed as "refreshing" in his novelty. Cult of celebrity, perhaps?

Also, for someone who's a "tough on crime" conservative, it was illuminating to see Thompson say that capturing OBL was "more symbolism than anything else". Capturing and bringing to justice a mass-murderer who caused more loss of American civilian life than any other man in the history of our country is "more symbolism than anything"? Wow. So much for "Law and Order Fred".
11.5.2007 12:21pm
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
I´d like to know if a President Thompson would allow states to legalize marijuana and creates their own drug policy. That´s what REALLY matters..
11.5.2007 1:19pm
abu hamza:
i'm getting fatigued by the whole conservative politician/federalist topic. here are my two observations about federalism:
1) conservatives are against a big federal government program except when they're for it

2) freddy acts like when a state government is acting instead of the federal government, that that is "freedom". well it is not. governments do not have freedoms, governments have powers. people have rights and freedoms. federalism is really abotu state sovereignty vs. federal power. it's about structure of government, not about our freedoms and our rights. not to say that individual rights aren't impacted by the structural balance between federal government and state powers, but it's indirect and the quote reveals that fred thinks governments can have freedoms but really government cannot.

great debate here though
11.5.2007 1:34pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I'm not surprised that Thompson's support for abortion would diminish over time. I've had the same experience myself, catalyzed by the birth of my little boy.
Ditto.

And Thompson's commitment to federalism is why I like him. I voted for the medical marijuana initiative in California--later came to regret that decision. But Raich was wrongly decided. The states have the right to pass smart laws, stupid laws, and bizarre laws, unless those laws are clearly in violation of their state constitution, or the federal constitution.

I'll take my chances with some states keeping abortion legal. I am not happy about it (although I would not support a complete ban on abortion quite yet), but that doesn't mean that Idahoans need to have a veto on California laws.
11.5.2007 2:22pm
mariner (mail):
but that doesn't mean that Idahoans need to have a veto on California laws.


And, I suspect, much nearer to your heart, Californians shouldn't have a veto on Idaho laws.

Yes?
11.5.2007 2:39pm
Rock Chocklett:
I hate to mention it but support for a constitutional amendment to do something is not a violation of federalist principles because a constitutional amendment takes so much widespread support that it is a federalist act in itself.

Congressional legislative actions may be anti federalist but an amendment can't be.


I understand federalism as a political principle that focuses on the apportionment of power between the federal government and the states, with the states' receiving the greater portion. A constitutional amendment could not be unconstitutional, but it could be anti-federalist, even with the states' approval. After all, the states can decide to give the federal government more power, necessarily at their own expense.

I do disagree with the original post's characterization of supporters of a constitutional abortion ban as less than genuinely conservative. I'm all for a constitutional ban. The 14th Amendment, substantive due process and equal protection aside, would be suspect on the same grounds as the proposed ban. But I'm thankful states no longer have the "choice" to deny the protection and provision of their laws to persons on account of their race.
11.5.2007 2:48pm
MDJD2B (mail):

His first child was born in 1960. Somehow he didn't see the sonogram. It's a mystery.


That's becasue SONOGRAMS WEREN'T DONE THEN, except on an investigational basis. Even 10 years later, the machinges were enormous and the procedure was just done in high risk situations.

Mystery solved.
11.5.2007 3:22pm
pip (mail):
If we wanna talk seriously about states' rights we should be looking at Ron Paul.
11.5.2007 4:00pm
Waldensian (mail):

Come now - what part of "婚礼主持词 哮喘 支气管" don't you understand?

Look, let's cut the crap: you and I both know that 哮喘 支气管 is really just a codeword for welfare mothers. And if you quarrel with that, sir, why you can just go and 婚礼主 yourself.
11.5.2007 4:11pm
Aultimer:
Clayton Cramer, Anderson (and Sen. Thompson) -

I'm a dad too. I find that the Libertarian Club sweater (hair shirt?) fit much more comfortably if you're against aborting pregnancies without being FOR government intrusion into terminating pregnancies, at both the federal and state level. Why does figuring out that babies are nifty mean that the feds should regulate their supply?
11.5.2007 4:16pm
Tom R (mail):
I like Ron Paul. Might even consider voting for Ron Paul. But I can tell you, 99% of the people I talk with think the guy is a nut job. And I live in one of the most Republican districts in Ohio. Conversely, Fred Thompson plays well up here and his federalism arguments play well too. That said, he's just going to have to campaign harder and get more concise with his message.

Regarding abortion issue. His position is much like mine. While I would never recommend anyone get an abortion, it's not the role of the federal government to decide if the practice is legal. This also expands to gay marriage (which I see no problem with) and drug use (which I see simliar to dry and wet counties in some states). Fred hit a home run with me just mentioning federalism -- but will it be a home run with voters -- I don't think most voters are comfortable with the amount of control Fred would give back to the states.
11.5.2007 4:26pm
BGates:
Thompson became more personally opposed to abortion when he saw a sonogram with his second wife than he was while raising 3 children with his first wife some years before either sonograms or Roe v Wade existed, though he refuses to countenance outlawing abortion as a federal official, even explicitly disavowing the Right to Life platform from 2004. This is 'odious', contends Kovarsky, because abortion should be legal since it's very hard to be a single mother.

I had an easier time following the dispute between Waldensian and fdf.
11.5.2007 4:38pm
Kovarsky (mail):
waldensian,

that made my day.

also, this debate about the sonogram seemse a little obtuse if you actually watched the interview. yeah, he mentioned the sonogram, but his point was not that not seeing the sonogram the first time made the difference.

also, his answers on iraq were stupid beyond words. when asked whether he would withdraw troops he said no, then he said yes. when asked which one he meant, he said he would withdraw troops if we achieve some form of victory, as the administration has predicted, sometime next year.
11.5.2007 4:38pm
Zywicki (mail):
Sen. Thompson also adheres to federalism when it comes to tort reform. See here.
11.5.2007 5:32pm
Maureen001 (mail):
Nessuno and Smallholder's comments show they are clearly males (Smallholder plainly identifies himself as such) and possibly not of the era of which they comment; perhaps that is the basis for totally off the mark comments.

Nessuno says "People forget that Roe v Wade wasn't decided until 1973. And until that point, most abortion just wasn't something people thought about, certainly not in a political or even moral philosophy context. Even the Justices who decided the case didn't believe it would be controversial.

So it is very likely that someone who had three children by 1964 didn't use a single brain cell thinking about abortion one way or another."

What a disconnect! The 60s departure from the mores of earlier decades created a tremendous amount of conflict for young adults (they didn't come to be called "kids" until much later in the decade, and the expectation that they would conform to the sexual ethics of their parents was still prevalent), especially young women, that eased considerably with promotion of "free love" in the mid-to-late 60s. Pregnancy in high school was still grounds for being removed from contact with the student body, even when the pregnant young woman was married prior to graduation and at the time of pregnancy. Abortion took place under conditions frequently risky or life-threatening to the woman undergoing it. News programs of the time carried commentary and news items about abortion constantly because several states had begun either allowing or more stringently forbidding abortion. I graduated high school in 1970 and remember vividly what was taking place then. Roe v. Wade did not come about in a social vacuum!

The Justices who decided Roe V. Wade didn't believe it would be as controversial as it became because what they were deciding was far more limited than what abortion practices came into being following their ruling. This is the pertinent part of that ruling:

"...3. State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman's health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a "compelling" point at various stages of the woman's approach to term. Pp. 147-164.

(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. Pp. 163, 164.

(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164.

(c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165..."

Other parts of the ruling had to do with standing of the various parties, defining a physician as solely qualified to perform an abortion, and that Roe's post-abortive state did not render her position moot. Although recognizing that there was application to other states in this ruling on Texas' anti-abortion laws, SCOTUS was NOT determining an unlimited right to access to abortion, at taxpayer expense when qualified, which is what has come to pass. Arguments included noting that exceptions in the case of jeopardy to the health or life of the mother existed in every state translated to defeat of the argument of Fourteenth Amendment protection as applied to the fetus, and the fact that penalty for abortion was not the same and was considerably lesser than for murder.

Justices acknowledged in the opinion written by Justice Blackmun that the ruling would likely have impact on many states with similar laws as Texas, or some applicable part. It was also newsworthy because there had been a number of previous rulings on the subject of abortion that attempted to scientifically or philosophically determine at what point life begins; this ruling argued that the state begins to have a compelling interest in protecting the life of a fetus at the end of the first trimester, arguably on the basis of contemporary science but in reality, arbitrarily. Simply stated, SCOTUS ruled "We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation." That's a far cry from the "unfettered right to abortion" as characterized by liberals today.

For myself, while I would do everything I could to discourage a young woman from having an abortion, I would not ever presume to decide on someone else's behalf, no more than I would urge a hysterectomy or brain surgery. It is a decision to be made by the woman in question, hopefully with the counsel of her spiritual advisor, medical advisor, and her mate.
11.5.2007 5:37pm
Waldensian (mail):

I had an easier time following the dispute between Waldensian and fdf.

Oh yeah? Well 持词 哮 you too, buddy.

In all seriousness, does anyone know why somebody would choose to post to the VC in a non-English character set? I see this kind of thing on a fairly regular basis. Once, I even tried to pump it through the Google translator (no success).

And today I just couldn't help but do a few riffs on it.

If it's some kind of scam, I can't even figure out what the scam is. This infuriates me. I'm like a rat trying to find the corner in a round room.

I should note that this is not an unusual feeling for me.
11.5.2007 5:39pm
Virginian:

1) conservatives are against a big federal government program except when they're for it


You're conflating Republicans and conservatives. Real conservatives (which includes some, but far from all, Republicans) are against a big federal government in a but a few, Constitutionally-sanctioned (in black and white, not hidden in some penumbra) areas.
11.5.2007 5:44pm
BGates:

Although my, my, my head and my legislative record’s always been the same, when I saw that sonogram of my little now four-year-old, it’s, it’s, it’s changed my heart. It’s changed the way I look at things. I was looking at my child when, when, when I, when I saw that. And I knew that, and I felt that. And that’s the way I feel today. And I think life begins at conception.

Somewhere in that, Kovarsky finds hostility to the plight of single mothers. Where? Maybe 'beyond words', which is where he goes to find the unsatisfactory part of Thompson's Iraq answer.
11.5.2007 10:00pm
Kovarsky (mail):
BGates,

It was nice of you to omit the part of the exchange that I was, you know, talking about. It's amazing what you can find when you selectively edit transcripts!
11.5.2007 11:24pm
BGates:
Kovarsky, it's impossible to tell what you are, you know, talking about. It's amazing how much more comprehensible your argument would be if you ever quoted the transcript!
11.6.2007 6:18am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Then along comes Basset Hound Fred espousing Federalist ideas and he's hailed as "refreshing" in his novelty. Cult of celebrity, perhaps?
Chance of winning, perhaps. It's refreshing to see a mainstream candidate, rather than a guy in single digits in polls, talking about it.

Also, for someone who's a "tough on crime" conservative, it was illuminating to see Thompson say that capturing OBL was "more symbolism than anything else". Capturing and bringing to justice a mass-murderer who caused more loss of American civilian life than any other man in the history of our country is "more symbolism than anything"? Wow. So much for "Law and Order Fred".
Did you read the whole paragraph, or did you get distracted after the sound bite? He clearly explained what he meant: that getting OBL doesn't end terrorism.
11.6.2007 8:02am
Kovarsky (mail):
BGates,

I didn't "quote" the transcript, but I certainly paraphrased effectively enough so that a bunch of other people who had seen it clearly knew what I was talking about. You just left out the passage where Thompson referred to being "too busy." I don't see any need to quote the transcript verbatim if I'm accurately conveying the gist of what was said.

You, on the other hand, selectively quote text verbatim, even when it omits important content. Maybe that's a virtue in your world, I have no idea.
11.6.2007 11:16am
BGates:
Yeah, your first post paraphrased it effectively enough that one person agreed with you, and you felt the need to be 'more explicit' in your second comment. Then you said something about what he said about abortion was 'odious'. I took a blind guess at what passage you were referring to, and of course missed it, because you are so mystifyingly opaque.

What part of what Thompson said was 'odious', and what made it so?
11.6.2007 2:55pm