Gerrymandering encourages social liberalism

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

For instance, if you are a Democrat who is strongly pro-abortion rights, gerrymandering might be very much in your interests. That’s because the sharp polarization of today’s politics favors a lot of outcomes that are either the status quo or are easier to implement and enforce. That can favor social liberalism.

Note that many Republican representatives don’t actually want strong legal enforcement of the toughest social conservative positions — can you really imagine the government trying women for murder if they try to have abortions?

Whether you like it or not, American society seems to have hit on a pretty comfortable equilibrium — comfortable for our elected representatives that is. Democrats will strongly support liberal positions on social issues, and the Republicans will stake out more conservative positions. And Republicans will tolerate the Democrats getting their way for the most part. You can debate whether this mix is what a majority of voters want or should want, but it is the easiest outcome for us to agree upon.

Do read the whole thing.


I agree that American politics has largely settled into the Democrats getting whatever they want because the Republicans keep giving it to them. And I agree that the Republicans are only too happy to lie to the rubes that vote for them about what policies they support - with the Establishment, in particular, having never had the slightest little bit on an intention of doing a damn thing about abortion.

But I can't believe anyone cannot hear the howls of outrage about this from a lot of non-bi-coastal White America. The last thing this travesty of an outrage is is comfortable.

And yet the Democrats want to pull America even further to the Left than even their voters are probably happy with.

There are a couple simple explanations for the outcomes you cite.
1) In fact Democrats aren't very often getting the policies they want (see recent tax bill, new office of religious freedom being established in HHS, funding for The Wall now likely to materialize)
2) The hard right wing Republicans and their constituents from gerrymandered districts are in fact mostly getting their preferred policies. It's just that your personal preferences are simply far more extreme than even very conservative Republicans' and you likely can't be satisfied.

While SMFS seems pretty extreme based on comments here, the sentiment that Republicans are losing on everything is not really extreme. That's a mainstream Republican view (and one that catapulted Trump to prominence).

But also, I agree that many Democrats think they are losing, too. And the centrists don't exactly think they are winning, do they? It's interesting.

Of course, it's possible that everybody really is losing. This is not a zero sum game.

So that's wht we have become: a desperately divided country, where everyone thinks they are loosing - and they may be right!! When I was young, America was winning, America used to win wars and build things and have awesome infrastructure. Nut now we are losing and we don't have the guts to resist Chinese-Japanese-Indian aggression.

"When I was young, America was winning, America used to win wars and build things and have awesome infrastructure."

So, MAGA, then.

But is America being made great again? Or is she being humiliated by a narcissistic president and tribal fighting?

As a centrist, I believe we are muddling through ok. The big theme of the 21st century domestically is high drama which looks like a pulling apart, but I don't think much will come of it.

We are residents of maybe the biggest, safest, richest country in the history of the world, on a planet that continues to hook up millions of people to the power grid every month. Grinding poverty has been the bane of mankind, and it is shrinking.

High five me!

I agree that the last 100 years have brought much improvement and progress worldwide, but I see falling support for the drivers for that success. SMFS' "White America" is one example. A President that simply refuses to enforce the law is another.

And Will said it. Not me. I still think in the best of all possible worlds, Trump would have a moment of clarity, and resign.

Yeah, we only had 100 years (250 years?) of improvement because there wasn't any racism. Now there is racism.

Can't help you or anyone else with your Trump Derangement Syndrome at this point.

"Trump would have a moment of clarity, and resign."

And Hillary would become President by popular acclaim, amirite?

"A President that simply refuses to enforce the law is another."

Now he's concerned? How about a president who not only would not enforce the law, but actively stopped states from doing so too? Ask Arizona.

Will is also probably against Session enforcing the pot laws.

Brain, in 2016 you more or less said "Trump is a little unusual, but our institutions will keep him in line."

As those institutions are threatened, you just say "noticing is derangement."

That's really been the equation all along. Noticing the monumental unsuitability of Trump for the Presidency was just "derangement" because grasping the situation was too difficult to bear.

Our institutions have kept him in line. Our institutions will continue to keep him in line.

Let me ask this as a clear question:

Brian, are you up on the news, and is the news that our institutions are not under threat?

I'll make it easy for you:

Wow you really nailed it there Anonymous. Linking to an OpEd on the NYT's that's a self titled conspiracy article. Written by David Leonhardt, who's bio lists him as a "an American journalist and columnist writing from a liberal progressive perspective."

Yes, clearly America is doomed. That article can't possibly be another Left wing writer overreacting to Trump and posting a click bait article. Because the Left is always good and true and would never exaggerate for political reasons.


Should I really be surprised that JWatts takes the "I stopped reading at" approach to fact, knowledge, and debate?

The Times article contains facts which are also, amazingly enough, available elsewhere.

"Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper condemned what he said looks like a "partisan" effort to attack the Justice Department and FBI, referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' memo on alleged surveillance abuses, and suggested the proper course of action would be to call in an independent watchdog."

How many articles are there for JWatts to "stop reading at?"

"FBI Director Christopher Wray told the White House he opposes the release of a controversial, classified GOP memo alleging bias at the FBI and Justice Department because it contains inaccurate information and paints a false narrative, according to a person familiar with the matter.

I think the topic is kind of weird, and the whole idea of (paraphrasing) "watch out who might lose from real democracy," but .. "howls of outrage about this from a lot of non-bi-coastal White America" is more than a sad first comment.

It is the fundamental brokenness of our time.

Some folks don't want real democracy, they want "White" democracy. Some are even willing to gut the FBI and rule of law, if they can just get that in return.

Non-coastal white America is not exactly a bastion of social conservatism either-- hence the non-audible cries of outrage.
And behind the thing Tyler notes lies a cold reality: social liberalism costs the owning classes nothing, but serves as a distraction when it comes to unpopular things that the owning classes do want (or popular things that might cost the owning classes dearly). Hence the unspoken "bargain" on social issues.

there is an age old rule..if you give people pretty much everything they want it's only a matter of time before they'll want it all..human instinct is to go for the whole enchilada...we are a greedy lot...

I find this thoroughly unconvincing. It relies entirely on abortion, an issue where a supreme court decision has enacted a far-left policy and taken the issue almost entirely out of the hands of the legislature. Therefore the positions of both parties are largely not "real" (in the sense of expressing a preferred policy that they can actually enact). Both parties tend to express extreme viewpoints, but it's not clear what policies either side would support if they had actual freedom to legislate.

Abortion was not a far left policy at the time of the Supreme Court decision on roe v wade. It was Reagan that made it conservative issue almost 10years later.

If anyone thought that they could have got Congress to legalize abortion, they would not have turned to the Supreme Court.

They knew they did not have the public with them so they worked around the voting public. That is pretty far left. Reagan didn't make it an issue. The Courts did.

Abortion was under the purview of the state legislatures, not Congress.

Even before Roe v. Wade, it was voices on the left arguing for legalizing abortion and some on the right opposing it. It's true that the positions hadn't yet solidified into their current form, but part of my point is that the supreme court ruling caused that.

In terms of extremism, the abortion regime in the U.S., instituted by Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions, is about the most permissive abortion policy imaginable.

'it was voices on the left arguing for legalizing abortion and some on the right opposing it.'

As noted here, it was pretty much everyone but the Catholic Church, and this guy - '[Gary] Younge argues that enterprising Republicans were also keen to use the abortion issue to strip Roman Catholic voters from the Democratic Party. In the early 1970s, he points out, both mainstream Republicans like George H. W. Bush and Richard Nixon were pro-choice, and abortion was a non-issue with everyone but Catholic Bishops. The staunchest defender of the unborn in the US Senate was Edward Kennedy. Citing a 2011 article in the New Yorker, Younge explains how the Republican Party altered this social landscape.

Patrick Buchanan wrote a memo to Nixon advocating using the abortion issue to woo the Catholic vote. “If the president should publicly take his stand against abortion as offensive to his own moral principles … then we can force [Ed] Muskie [a failed Democratic presidential candidate in 1972] to make the choice between his tens of millions of Catholic supporters and his liberal friends.” The next week Nixon spoke of his “personal belief in the sanctity of human life — including the life of the yet unborn.”'

'Abortion was not a far left policy at the time of the Supreme Court decision on roe v wade. '

It did not even bother the evangelicals of the time - 'White American evangelicals are “pro-life.” This is the single most important political aspect of American evangelicalism. It is the single most important theological aspect of American evangelicalism. And it is the paramount factor in evangelical identity for evangelicals themselves.

It’s also a very recent development. Thirty years ago, this was not the case. Fifty years ago, it was unimaginable.

People like Lewis Smedes and Carl F.H. Henry remain revered figures in evangelical history, but if they were saying publicly today what they said publicly about abortion in their lifetimes, they would be excommunicated and shunned as heretics.

The speed and totality of evangelicals’ sea-change on abortion is remarkable. But what’s really astonishing is that such a huge theological, political and cultural change occurred within evangelical Protestantism and no one talks about it. No one acknowledges that this huge change was, in fact, a huge change.

The convention among American evangelicals, in fact, is to pretend that no such change ever occurred — that white evangelical Protestants have always been as preoccupied with abortion and zealous in their opposition to it as they are today.

It really is Orwellian. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

It’s unsettling. Rewriting history from earlier generations is one thing, but this is a change that occurred within my lifetime. This is history that can only be rewritten with the consent and participation of people who ought to be able to remember the truth.

Have white evangelicals in their 50s and 60s really completely forgotten the 1970s already? I don’t think so. But they are willing to pretend they have — en masse. Not for religious reasons, and not for ethical reasons. For political reasons.

It’s more than a little bit creepy. (And it’s even creepier to see the same pattern repeating itself with evangelicals and contraception.)'

The rate of abortions skyrocketed in the 1970s. Comparing say 1965 to 1980 is shocking. When you go from something relatively rare to something like 1.5M corpses a year, don't you think that could cause a change in peoples perceptions?

'The rate of abortions skyrocketed in the 1970s.' - Almost as if there might have been a reason, maybe some change in the legal framework?

'Comparing say 1965 to 1980 is shocking.' - Especially as contraception was first legalized everywhere in the U.S. in 1965 - - and abortion was illegal.

White evangelicals were generally much less active in politics in the early 1960s, and obviously they were much less activist about abortion at a time when abortion was mostly illegal. Arguably, it was Roe that galvanized the evangelical political movement.

Were they less active, or just less active as a coherent group?

It's not a far left policy, neither then nor now. It is mainstream and its legality is supported by significant majorities across most demographic breakdowns.

Polls are all over the place, depending on phrasing, the specific restriction at issue, and the state. Right now, US abortion laws are among the most permissive in the world, and if states were free to legislate, even many of the pro-choice jurisdictions would likely move to a more restrictive set of laws like those of the Netherlands or Germany, where the permissible period is shorter, and obstacles like waiting periods and counseling are permitted.

"Over 80 percent of women say they would ban late-term abortion and restrict abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, a new survey finds."

From 2016

The Knights of Columbus sponsored this poll...

I think Pew is a tad more rigorous.

That is not a denial that about 60% of women support legal abortion.

"can you really imagine the government trying women for murder if they try to have abortions?"

I can imagine the government revoking the medical licenses of doctors that perform illegal abortions. Of course, the really smart way to reduce abortion would be to allow women to sue abortion providers after the fact, say for "emotional harm" incurred later. That would allow anti-abortionists to position themselves on the side of sympathetic women "victims". For example, rather than try to require that women be informed of other choices like adoption before abortions, allow women to sue after receiving abortions if they weren't informed of other options. The models here are allowing smokers to sue tobacco companies and allowing investors to sue financial firms whenever they lose money for improper disclosure, etc.

Republicans' unwillingness and/or inability to play the victimhood game is probably a better explainer than gerrymandering of why they seem to lose on social issues. On the other hand, maybe their true social positions are to be anti-victimhood, e.g., they would rather allow more abortions than allow women to be positioned as "victims".

As seen in the rest of the industrial world, by far the most effective way to reduce abortion is to make birth control easy for women to obtain, particularly for younger women.

Of course, the U.S. will be providing another opportunity to see what the effects of making birth control more difficult to obtain will have on the American abortion rate.

"As seen in the rest of the industrial world, by far the most effective way to reduce abortion is to make birth control easy for women to obtain, particularly for younger women."

Scientific evidence does not clearly support this claim. The relationship between contraception use and abortion is a major debate, with some studies suggesting that contraception use reduces abortion, and others suggesting it increases it. The problem is that changes in abortion/contraception rates and policies are typically confounded by various factors and tied up in overall societal trends that make it hard to analyse this question in a robust way.

I would also add that most of the "rest of the industrial world" has much greater restrictions on abortion than the U.S.--restrictions that would have the left screaming about how Republicans want to steal women's rights if Republicans tried to enact them here. Even in nearly all European countries that are to the left of the U.S. in terms of general politics, very rarely is abortion on demand allowed after the first trimester, and some (U.K., Finland, Iceland), don't allow abortion on demand at all (at least on paper).

'Scientific evidence does not clearly support this claim.' - Nothing is 100 percent clear in this area of human behavior. Nonetheless, here is one study of the Netherlands - Which includes And of course, it is not only uncomplicated access to contraception that counts, but social attitudes - 'Special family planning programs in the Netherlands target groups at risk of unwanted pregnancy, particularly teenage pregnancy. Almost all secondary schools and about 50% of primary schools address sexuality and contraception. Sex education has largely been integrated in general health education programs. The mass media address adolescent sexuality and preventive behavior. Very large scale, nonmoralistic, public education campaigns that are positive towards teenage sexual behavior appear to be successful. Teens have wide access to contraceptive services through general practitioners who maintain confidentiality and do not require a vaginal exam and through subsidized family planning clinics.'

'and others suggesting it increases it'

The Dutch study contradicts that, though of course that is only study of one country's experience - 'Acceptance of contraception preceded liberalization of abortion. Society accepts abortion as only a last resort.' The Dutch abortion rate continued to sink, however.

'The problem is that changes in abortion/contraception rates and policies are typically confounded by various factors and tied up in overall societal trends that make it hard to analyse this question in a robust way.' - Well, America is about to provide data in a way that is unlikely to be all that confounded by various factors and societal trends.

'I would also add that most of the “rest of the industrial world” has much greater restrictions on abortion than the U.S.' - That is most certainly true, though generally more de jure than de facto in practice.

But to go back to the main point, the following is not exactly scientifically controversial, and the data is quite reliable - 'While, in the more developed regions the abortion rate has declined by 41% since 1990-94 to a current rate of 27 abortions per 1000 women, the abortion rate in developing regions has remained virtually unchanged for the past 25 years at a rate of 37 abortions per 1000 women. Nearly 88% of all abortions take place in developing regions.

The continuing high rates of abortion, particularly in developing regions, clearly underscore the need to improve and expand access to effective contraceptive services. Ensuring that women and couples have access to a wide range of effective contraceptive methods to choose from and that they receive comprehensive information about how to use their chosen method consistently and correctly is sound public health policy. Investing in modern contraceptive methods would be far less costly to women and society than the costs of managing the outcomes of unintended pregnancies.'

The conclusion in your final paragraph may be logical and common-sense, but the fact remains that it is not supported by the scientific evidence. The evidence is not there that "continuing high rates of abortion" in developing countries can be lowered by "improv[ing] and expand[ing] access to effective contraceptive services".

I'm not anti-contraceptive. It may well be that improving contraceptive access in developing nations is the best available policy given the limited evidence, or it may be good for other reasons than lowering the abortion rate. But we ought to be clear about what the evidence is.

'but the fact remains that it is not supported by the scientific evidence.'

If you say so - the decline is empirical data, the expanding range and availability of contraception is empirical data, and the broader programs in most developed nations to reduce unwanted pregnancy focus on education (including how to effectively use contraception), as abortion is considered something to be avoided. That focus, along with a declining abortion rate, would seem to actually be considered evidence. Admittedly, the U.S. is a fairly extreme outlier in such things. For example, the very idea of abstinence education, or disputing the effectiveness of contraception in reducing unwanted pregnancy is considered difficult to comprehend in places where abortion rates have declined, in large part due to public health efforts intended to achieve precisely that result.

Abortion is something to be avoided, after all.

Inferring a causal relationship from this is deeply problematic, due to confounding by various factors, just as discussed above.

'Inferring a causal relationship from this is deeply problematic'

Why? The people in charge of public health policy over decades in a number of countries were explicitly attempting to achieve the results that were actually achieved, using methods they believed would have the desired result, would seemingly only be problematic if one disagrees with both the results, and the methods chosen to achieve those results. Especially as these programs stretch out over decades at this point, and were corrected as necessary over time. As a matter of fact, the latest version of public service ads concerning condom use are probably out - Fasching has started, where drunken sex is considered part of the attraction of the '5th season' in large parts of Germany.

(Just to add, that avoiding pregnancy was not the only goal in mind - AIDS was very much considered to be part of the same broad framework in protecting people from undesired results when having sex, and again, the U.S. stands out as an outlier in how relatively ineffective it has been in dealing with that disease.)

Just maybe the lower rates of abortion in poorer countries is due to the absence of social security type programs. Poor people are dependent on their children to provide for them in their old age so they have more children. In developed countries other means of providing for old peoples income are available, so they have fewer children.

That seems as good or better an explanation of the data than your conclusions about abortions.

Abortion is about sexual ethics. If your fucking around town without protection and make a baby, grow up and do the right thing. You shouldn't have been fucking around town, and your certainly not going to add murder to your list of sins.

Middle class non-teenage women with family support networks should keep the baby because honestly they can raise it well and at best your committing murder just so you can slut it up another 5-10 years before doing the same thing when your a little older. Keeping the baby is "brave" in the sense that some freedom has been given up for the life of the child, but we are still talking about someone who is going to be able to manage those needs without becoming a burden to everyone else.

Calling single moms on welfare that spit out a brood of future single moms on welfare "brave amazing Christian women" for spreading their legs for degenerate thugs who happened to get them wet for a night so long as they are "brave" enough to let the state raise those kids on our dime is quite a site to behold. What the heck is these people's endgame? How do they see that working out long term? Most of these kids are going to grow up to vote for politicians that will be pro-abortion and anti-christian anyway. I certainly don't see anything "brave" about getting yourself into such a position in the first place. Nor anything brave about doing it over and over and over.

I'm well aware of the pro-life movement having morphed into a victimhood parade (I couldn't control my sexual urges and I'm incapable of making the moral decision of whether or not to murder a child because I'm not a decision making moral agent or human adult, I was tricked and am a victim!). If the pro-life movement has become nothing more then an advocate for using state force to provide resources to generational welfare families while excusing all female sexual or moral decisions by default regardless of content or congruence with Christian ethics then what is it?

Abortion is about sexual ethics. If your fucking around town without protection and make a baby, grow up and do the right thing.

Were they smart enough to do the right thing, they wouldn't have been fucking around town without protection in the first place.

Outlawing abortion isn't going to make responsible, loving parents out of the promiscuous and foolish. It's just going to create more children raised by parents who didn't want them and view them as a hassle. Said children will in turn grow up to be dysfunctional, damaged adults. We don't need more of those.

You want real results? Make contraception as easy to get as ibuprofen. Hell, mandate contraception until marriage and/or demonstration of economic ability to provide for the child.

Contraception is widely and cheaply available. Condoms are cheap as shit. The pill is cheap as shit. If you aren't using protection, its because you didn't want to.

Availability of abortion doesn't have a great correlation with reduced bastardy.

Slutting it up?

Are you aware that men have a role in this too?

Not from personal experience he doesn't.

'can you really imagine the government trying women for murder if they try to have abortions'

Roy Moore's godly vision of a much better world would almost certainly rejoice at such proceedings, and would be supported by many of the people that voted for him. Stoning as a method of execution being a bit less likely, admittedly.

And this is just silly - 'Gerrymandering encourages social liberalism' Gerrymandering has a long history in the U.S., and it is always about those with the power to draw boundaries favorable to their interests doing just that. There is absolutely nothing hard to understand about that, one would assume.

Though it is true that some recent politicians seem unaware that actually explicitly saying or writing things that directly point to political benefits for those drawing the boundaries is actually a corruption of democracy, and not an expression of it. The Supreme Court will be deciding on this - and social liberalism is not on the agenda.

But even Roy Moore, a far right candidate with a particular focus on religious issues, running in one of the most friendly areas to conservatives, did not advocate punishing women for abortion. Also, he lost.

I think your example supports Tyler's point.

'did not advocate punishing women for abortion'

Well, there is this legal opinion from Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Moore - 'Because a human life with a full genetic endowment comes into existence at the moment of conception, the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” encompasses the moment of conception. Legal recognition of the unborn as members of the human family derives ultimately from the laws of nature and of nature’s God, Who created human life in His image and protected it with the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Therefore, the interpretation of the word “child” in Alabama’s chemical-endangerment statute, § 26-15- 3.2, Ala. Code 1975, to include all human beings from the moment of conception is fully consistent with these first principles regarding life and law.'

Pretty hard to see how such a legal philosophy would not include penalizing a woman for murdering child, 6 weeks after that child's conception for example. That Roy Moore may not have made penalizing women for murder after an abortion a major political talking point is not surprising. But it is a logical conclusion to draw from anyone that supports the 'personhood' perspective. As Moore and his Foundation for Moral Law most certainly has -

Of course I have no idea what Moore believes in his heart - but it is extremely easy to believe that he would not tolerate someone being allowed to murder a recently conceived child without facing the same penalties they would for murdering their 2 year old child.

Of course I have no idea what Moore believes in his heart

Yet that did not stop you smearing him and anyone who might have voted for him in public. Odd that. Neither has what I assume was a long google search helped you one little bit. You made a vicious attack based on your personal prejudices without the smallest piece of evidence.

A decent person would apologize and withdraw that smear about now.

Even if Moore believes that (speculative), he was not willing to publicly take a stand in favor of it. How could it possibly get to majority support for legislation in Congress?

'Even if Moore believes that (speculative), he was not willing to publicly take a stand in favor of it.'

What part of his public legal opinion as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is unclear? And what part of a public amicus curia filing to the Supreme Court is unclear either? Those are direct links to his (or in the case of the Supreme Court filing, his and his foundation's) words. You can certainly argue that somehow, an anti-abortion advocate that explicitly pursues a legal strategy to say that a citizen exists at conception, would not then treat a woman having an abortion as a murderer, but that is extremely speculative, to put it mildly.

'How could it possibly get to majority support for legislation in Congress?'

Well, in the case of Moore, something along the lines of this quotation, after he lost an election but refused to concede, would probably apply - '“We also know that God is always in control”'

I think we can at this point both agree that Moore is fairly extreme, but it seems as if it helps to know people from Alabama and to have followed the guy for decades.

Let me try this again: Roy Moore, to my knowledge, has never explicitly advocated that women should be punished for getting abortions.

He wrote something that, in your opinion, would logically lead to that conclusion. That is not the same thing. Moore may secretly agree with this logic and be unwilling to state it. Or maybe he believes otherwise and has some logical basis for it. Or maybe he simply holds multiple, contradictory views--there's no requirement that humans must be consistent, after all. In the end, this doesn't matter for my point: which was that even Roy Moore, far right on social issues and in a very friendly environment for conservatives, was not taking this stance publicly. If no politicians are willing to publicly take that stance, there's no chance that it could be legislated.

'Roy Moore, to my knowledge, has never explicitly advocated that women should be punished for getting abortions.'

No, he has explicitly said that an American citizen's life begins at conception, and thus any action involving a child 6 weeks after its conception follows all the laws applicable to all citizens of the U.S. Is there something about the personhood movement you are not aware of?

That someone like Moore feels no need to publicly point out what his position would result in terms of women being equally punished for killing a child 6 weeks after conception or 6 weeks after birth is likely because they assume that those who agree with them already understand the consequences involved in such a legal framework. If you wish to argue that Moore is not interested in publicly explaining what the logical result of such a personhood perspective would be, fair enough. After all, it does seem a bit abhorrent when looked at it logically, doesn't it?

But to argue that someone who claims in a legal opinion or in public advocacy filings to the Supreme Court that an American citizen's life begins at conception will simply ignore the murder of that citizen six weeks after conception needs to explain how that would work. Particularly as Moore would undoubtedly have no problem punishing the murdering mother of a child 6 weeks after birth. After all, he was already in favor of punishing a mother for damaging an unborn American citizen based on that logic.

'He wrote something that, in your opinion, would logically lead to that conclusion.'

How many times does this need to be repeated? That is an opinion from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, from a 2014 case that involved the prosecution of a woman for endangering her fetus by using drugs, The text is plain, but let me highlight the relevant part - 'Therefore, the interpretation of the word “child” in Alabama’s chemical-endangerment statute, § 26-15- 3.2, Ala. Code 1975, to include all human beings from the moment of conception is fully consistent with these first principles regarding life and law.' The link to the Alabama case has already been provided. One would not really think that Moore's legal text would be hard to understand.

'was not taking this stance publicly'

Let us not be coy - it is impossible to get elected by openly proclaiming women should be punished for abortion. In much the same fashion that it is pretty hard to find an American politician advocating publicly for enslaving black people again. Even if Moore manages to illustrate how to dance around that subject too - 'At Moore's Florence rally, the former judge outlined all the wrongs he sees in Washington and "spiritual wickedness in high places." He warned of "the awful calamity of abortion and sodomy and perverse behavior and murders and shootings and road rage" as "a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins."

In response to a question from one of the only African Americans in the audience — who asked when Moore thought America was last "great" -- Moore acknowledged the nation's history of racial divisions, but said: "I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction."'

But if you wish, fine, Moore has only written a legal opinions about how a woman should be prosecuted for endangering a child in the weeks following conception, which is not the same as declaring publicly that a woman should be prosecuted for killing their child six weeks after conception.

And if you think that Moore's whistling is pitched wrongly - or he isn't whistling at all (see above - the man does seem to be pretty upfront in public about his beliefs), fine by me. And you also are welcome to believe that he would be more lenient to a murderer than merely someone endangering their unborn American citizen.

It's wrong to claim that someone supports X because they support something that in your view logically implies X.

'stop you smearing him'

I cited one of his legal opinions as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and an amicus curia brief to the Supreme Court, and this is smearing? What I meant was that I have no idea if Moore would follow through on the logical conclusions of his legal opinion and advocacy work. If you wish to call Moore a hypocrite and argue that he would not actually follow his publicly declared legal principles because you actually know what is in his heart, fine by me. I was trying to avoid calling him a hypocrite if he did not actually follow through on his beliefs.

'Neither has what I assume was a long google search helped you one little bit'

The google search took about 5 seconds. Moore has long been associated with the personhood movement, after all. Along with being associated with using the Bible to justify his view of American laws - that was the basis of the 'stoning' joke, obviously, Jesus being unlikely to recognize Moore's framework as having anything much to do with his teachings (or was that too subtle too?).

'A decent person would apologize and withdraw that smear about now.'

An intelligent person would understand that you cannot smear someone with the truth of what they write. But if you wish, I will happily say that I am confident that Moore is actually not a hypocrite, and if he could, he would imprison (and in extreme cases, likely execute) any woman who had an abortion. Based on his own writing as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and the logical conclusions that one can draw from it.

And as the almost majority of Alabama voters that decided a man credibly accused of molesting a 14 year old was better suited to represent them in the United States Senate than a man that successfully prosecuted two KKK members that killed 4 girls by bombing a church? Their votes speak more plainly to their fellow citizens than anything that will ever be written here.

> can you really imagine the government trying women for murder if they try to have abortions?

I'm pro-abortion, but this is an unfair straw man. Virtually all anti-abortion groups now advocate a model akin to Swedish prostitution law. Performing abortions would be illegal, but receiving an abortion would not be. The women wouldn't be prosecuted, only the doctors.

Notably, too, I'm pretty sure there has never been a case of a woman prosecuted for an abortion in all of American history. The only prosecutions that ever occurred were of the providers.

This is true but bizarrely inconsistent from a moral standpoint. If one truly believes that abortion is the equivalent of murder, there's no rational basis on which to support prosecution of the doctors but not of the women.

I'm not anti-abortion but I at least respect the logical consistency of stronger anti-abortion advocates. The above is just using rhetorical sleight of hand to obscure what is happening.

The controversy over abortion is one thing, damage by a mother to a fetus carried to term is another. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the poisoning of a human by another human, illegal in any other context. It's never prosecuted. Oddly, in legal action obsessed America, no mother seems to have been sued by her impaired offspring for fetal alcohol syndrome, although thousands of victims exist. Drug ingestion doesn't seem to be very good for the fetus, either.

While it's illegal for minors to purchase and consume alcohol and cigarettes almost everywhere in the US, it's absolutely legal for pregnant women to regularly get sloshed and puff away on Camels with no consequences. What's the libertarian position on this?

The libertarian position? Stuff your hands in your pockets and whistle loudly, or just check your marching orders from WaPo.

> it’s absolutely legal for pregnant women to regularly get sloshed and puff away on Camels with no consequences. What’s the libertarian position on this?

What's the non-libertarian position? Are we going to require pregnant women to wear gold stars so they can be identified by store clerks and bar keeps? Are we going to have SWAT teams kicking down the doors of young mothers because someone made an anonymous tip to the authorities? Should we require that government surveillance be installed at the homes of all pregnant women to make sure that they aren't sneaking cigarettes from their husband's stash? Maybe require all pregnant women to report to government centers for periodic blood tests? I'm sure throwing pregnant women in jail and carting 25%+ of all newborn babies off to foster care
is going to do wonders for infant health!

Seriously, this is a fine and dandy notion. But please explain how this regime could practically be enforced in a way that isn't totally insane or totalitarian. This is like a microcosm of everyone criticism of libertarians ever. "Hur dur. Libertarians are so dumb! Clearly X is bad, any idiot can see there oughta be a law!

One way to start would be to even allow a clerk or bartender with a conscience to say, "No, not here." The connection to abortion politics should be obvious. Your parade of horribles isn't moving.

That sounds great. But

1) There's nothing stopping a bartender from saying no now. It's not against the law to refuse alcohol service to a pregnant woman. (And certainly libertarians of all people wouldn't say there should be).

2) The sizable majority of alcohol related fetal damage occurs in the first trimester, when women aren't showing.

3) At most 1% of pregnancy binge drinking occurs at socially conscious bars. (And no, the evidence clearly shows no effect for less than 2 units of alcohol per day). The public health cases aren't sipping cosmos at upscale bars. They're downing cheap fifths of vodka from dive bars and liquor stores. Bartenders and clerks already aren't suppose to serve inebriated people, and yet that doesn't seem to stop anyone from getting inebriated. So, I'd say they aren't exactly effective gatekeepers.

4) Again, what is your actual plan? What specific policy changes would you make? Including who will be penalized and how for non-compliance. And how much do you estimate that will reduce pregnancy smoking and binge drinking?

Doug, respectfully you are missing the point. This isn't really my pet issue, and also don't much care what the "libertarian position" is on anything since it can apparently be whatever the speaker needs it to be.

The ease/cost/whatever of enforcement is a typical libertarian cover-for-the-left red herring here. There are a lot of people who are starting to wonder why child support is subject to a strict-liability regime whereas a woman can do anything up to and including poison, murder, and deliberately-raise-without-a-father her child. (Note that I personally don't care all that much about the abortion part.) There's nothing stopping a bartender from saying no—great theory, but saying no to a woman in this legal climate is usually not the way to make your day go smoothly.

Libertarians don't know because they haven't solved sorites paradox.

Have you solved sorites paradox?

But they solved the sororities paradox with MGTOW.

Supposedly it's illegal in 18 states.

What Cowen is postulating is a Republican Party with authoritarian ends and libertarian means. It's the libertarian's self-delusion, for what the Republican Party has become is a "synthesis of libertarian ends and authoritarian means". Cowen is grasping for straws. Here's the reality:

“The key is the libertarian idea, woven into the right’s ideological DNA, that redistribution is the exploitation of the ‘makers’ by the ‘takers.’ It immediately follows that democracy, which enables and legitimizes this exploitation, is itself an engine of injustice,” wrote Will Wilkinson, one of the dissident libertarians working at the Niskanen Center, last month. “The outsize stakes seem to justify dubious tactics — bunking down with racists, aggressive gerrymandering, inventing paper-thin pretexts for voting rules that disproportionately hurt Democrats — to prevent majorities from voting themselves a bigger slice of the pie.”

Or more succinctly: The alliance between the libertarians and the authoritarians exists not despite their libertarian ideology, but because of it.

Whether it's "authoritarian" to restrict abortion depends on one's view of the act itself. If abortion is the taking of a human life, then there's nothing inconsistent about libertarian/limited government conservative opposition to abortion. But a common liberal talking point is to not take conservatives' actual views seriously, then claim this is a supposed inconsistency.

Did you see what you did there?

The "pro" position is actually agnostic on the question of when an embryo becomes a human life. People choose in this difficult decision based on their own faith, and family and community support.

You are certainly free to have a certain kind of religious view under current law, to choose no abortions, to council against them.

But when you say "a common liberal talking point is to not take conservatives’ actual views seriously" you are missing something.

The "conservatives' actual views" may be that everyone must adopt their religion and perspective.

Dumbest post of the thread.

Are you even aware that do two-thirds of white mainline Protestants believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases?

Whereas seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants (70%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

This is one group attempting to put their religion on another, by removing choice. That simple.

What a fantastic locution—"Dissident libertarian." Will Wilkinson seriously seems to believe his own persona.

Or more succinctly: The alliance between the libertarians and the authoritarians exists not despite their libertarian ideology, but because of it.

It would be great if this were true of any actually-prominent libertarians, like, say Tabbarok, Cowen, or Wilkinson. About the best counter-example you could find is Peter Thiel, but of course they just accuse him of "bunking down" with those horrible "Americans" whose paper-thin racist pretexts like, you know, failing to identify oneself as an appropriately domiciled citizen at the polling place, are so off-putting.

I didn't know libertarians still existed that weren't of the social justice variety.

Americans deserve a better conversation around politics and better leaders. Talent optimization does not occur. The media gives us bubble gum with tweets and conspiracies. Elections center on personality. Voters are uninformed on policy differences and instead focus on outrage. Democracy has the flu.

Perhaps liberal positions are strengthened by gerrymandering, but is that the way liberals want to succeed, by default. The art of persuasion is truly a lost art. I advocate for proportional or competitive redistricting.

"Many Republican politicians will argue that abortion is morally equivalent to murder, but they don’t want to try women under the law as ordinary murderers."

No. But they wouldn't. They'd treat the women as victims and the abortionists as murderers. It would mirror what has been done with prostitution -- prostitutes themselves are no longer criminals but vulnerable, unwitting 'sex trafficking' victims of pimps and of their customers. Similarly, women having an abortion would be unwitting 'abortion trafficking' victims of Planned Parenthood. soon as you predict something, you discover that it is already happening:

The left might have some trouble resisting this 'vulnerable women as victims' framing of abortion since they seem to have bought into it so completely when it comes to prostitution and, well, pretty much everywhere else.

The political orientation of abortion could have been very different. It could have been Republicans fighting restrictions against it as interference with liberty and commerce, and it could have been Democrats working to restrict abortion in the name of defending the weakest portions of society. Those I've known with the strongest feelings against abortion have been women, who seem to view it as an attack on a uniquely female function mostly imposed by males covering up their philandering.

I too feel like a lot of republican/democrat positions are a coin flip. Republicans could easily favor abortion on the grounds that family planning supports the nuclear family, and democrats could easily oppose it for the reason you stated.

Liberals used to oppose immigration because of the brain drain effect on foreign countries. Where is that argument now?

Republicans and democrats seem to be similarly schizophrenic on foreign intervention vs nation building vs american isolationism.

The common thread is that liberals have been steadily taking much stupider but also much more obviously anti-bigoted positions. You'd have to be insane to want full open borders, but even if you're insane, you are definitely 110% not racist against poor brown people. That last part is all that matters.

They'll stay there until someone discovers even more effective meme technology that allows them to be 120% not racist. Although so far that whole "minorities can't be racist because racism is institutional" strain failed 8 consecutive sniff tests. A maximum of 5 sniff test failures is the cutoff to ensure percolation to the national mainstream.

Republican's tools to fight back are limited to taking strong pro-American positions. This kind of works for immigration, but it's not really clear what pro-American is and how that maps to traditional wealth redistribution arguments or women's rights. Liberals have staked out the strongest virtue signals, so as long as nuanced and reason debate are out the window, republicans are highly unfavored.

Maybe the corporations will save us. I'll wait for Google Presents America 2.0 as long as the legal system is determined by blank-slate machine learning algorithms.

"I too feel like a lot of republican/democrat positions are a coin flip."

Scott Alexander has written a couple of really brilliant pieces about the process of how new issues getting politicized:

I'm not convinced. The issues aren't a coinflip insofar as you know the arcana of politics. That is, something like knowing the payoff matrices for pitting one group off another.

Rotherham is predictable insofar as you know that liberals are already priced into downplaying minority crime. In a different world, perhaps on the back of lots of liberal outrage about rape and not so much talk about minority crime, cracking down on Rotherham rapists (with an emphasis that all rape is bad and the rules should apply equally to everyone) would blend nicely into the narrative. Perhaps if the story had broken around the Weinstein/#metoo arc, liberals would have rolled with it to accuse conservatives of underestimating and enabling widespread sexual assault.

Then, it's actually difficult to see the "immigrant crime" narrative, because liberals would be saying that men from all groups rape and all women are at risk.

This is what I mean when I say it's a coinflip. If you look at the stated ideologies of the parties, their positions on issues actually aren't clear at all. But if you know that in real life, the leftists are currently fighting a big pro-immigration campaign and mostly ignoring rape, you can predict how the chips will fall.

Alexander's autism lacks Cowen's humanity.

It's not as strange if you pay attention to the fundamentals: voters. Republicans were pro-abortion 50 years ago when Republicans drew heavily from what are now blue states. Massachusetts and Vermont were one-state parties until the 1950s and 1960s: Republican. You have to tease out which groups left and which stayed, and also their relative position within the party, there's less movement on issues. Flipping on things like states' rights is more obvious, whichever party lacks federal power is pro-states' rights. Procedural stuff, executive powers, etc. they totally flip flop on.

Ridiculous statement #1.

You misunderstand the liberal argument against prostitution. It is more complex than the basic libertarian argument because it recognizes differences in viable choices available to the poor than the wealthy.

Only a tiny percentage of all women in prostitution are there because they freely choose it. For most, prostitution is not a real choice because physical safety, equal power with buyers, and real alternatives don’t exist. These are the conditions that would permit genuine consent. Most of the 1% who choose prostitution are privileged because of their ethnicity and class and they have escape options. Poor women don’t have these options.

Ridiculous statement #2.

This seems more or less right, but I don't think it is uniquely American. Real democracies tend towards progressive changes over time. If you want to see some sort of cycle you can, but the trend is always towards the left, seen from outer space.

Wagner's Law.

"Democrats will strongly support liberal positions on social issues, and the Republicans will stake out more conservative positions. And Republicans will tolerate the Democrats getting their way for the most part."

This seems like a rather profound judgement of the status quo, and the conclusion of the argument - unfortunately, in this piece, the representation of socially liberal policies exhibit a remarkable level of selection bias... thought experiment --- please replace the social issue of abortion with the social issue of gun control, and re-evaluate. Does the conclusion still hold?

"Gerrymandering encourages social liberalism"

I'm not sure I buy the premise. It's reasonable that gerrymandering increases polarization. Since it directly aggregates populations by partisan affiliation.

However, it hasn't increased social conservatism to any noticeable degree. So, under your thesis would it increase social conservatism if Republican's were a minority in the House? This was the case from 2007 to 2009. And I don't think there's any evidence that this was the case.

So, what is special about social liberalism that increases by being in the minority, that doesn't effect social conservatism in the same way?

My guess would be the courts. A fair number of the socially liberal changes of late have come about via court order, not via legislative action.

That I could see, but that's not a result of gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering, by either party, is a crime against democracy.

Arguing that it helps a side who is not in power is simply a smokescreen for that crime.

Boy Tyler trolls with the best. No I will not click through. Don't feed the trolls.

I remember Steve Lansburg stating in one of his books something like: "My county government never sent me a New Testament, but they did send me a recycling bin."

I don't know about that Tyler. I could give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to federal gerrimandering, maybe, but it's absolutely not true when it comes to gerrymandering state houses, that have very different outcomes. How many states have theoretical right to abortion, but very narrow practical rights? States with one abortion clinic, with laws that mandate parental permission for minors, multiple visits to the clinic, with a 1 week waiting period (good luck if you are not local), and many other bonus regulations that make abortion very difficult for the poor? How about the state houses that pass laws banning local laws they don't like, like minimum wage increases?

Your conclusions just don't hold.

I normally like your analysis, Tyler, but this one just doesn't hold. In your chosen issue--abortion--gerrymandered majorities in several closely divided states have reduced the actual on-the-ground access to abortion without the necessity of prosecuting people for murder. And beyond the narrow issue of abortion, they have enacted a lot of other policies that liberals find unacceptable, like making it harder for people to vote.

I think a smarter analysis would look at gerrymandering as a direct--and desperate--response to liberal change by a shrinking constituency unwilling to make compromises. Consider gay marriage (which members of my conservative evangelical community regarded as one of the core no-compromise issues). You could see the poll numbers moving slowly-but-surely in favor of increased acceptance of gay people and eventual legalization of marriage all the way back in the '90s. As they lost ground, conservatives tried to create a new legal bulwark, including constitutional amendments in several states back during W.'s presidency. But the relative success of those campaigns wasn't a sign that society had hit equilibrium. It was the last failed bid of a highly-motivated minority to use levers of power to hold back a less-motivated majority. You can do that for awhile, but unless you use the time you bought to reverse the flow, you are just ensuring that the flood will be even bigger when the dam inevitably breaks.

"I think a smarter analysis would look at gerrymandering as a direct–and desperate–response to liberal change by a shrinking constituency unwilling to make compromises"

Huh, that completely ignores history. It's not like the Republican party invented gerrymandering in the 1990's.

They didn't invent it, but they did weaponize it to a far greater degree, and in interesting ways. There are a couple of theories floating around:

1) Computing tools got better, which allowed partisans to do more robust targeting in their maps. The problem with this theory is that the tools really didn't get THAT much better; the kinds of analysis and census data-parsing used have been available for at least thirty years, i.e. they existed in 2000 and 1990.

2) People self-sorted in a way that made it much easier to gerrymander and made the gerrymanders much more robust. This, to me, is actually a pretty compelling explanation for why the 2010 gerrymanders were so good, and I think it is supported by the Dem gerrymanders in Maryland.

3) The 2010 election was just unusual in giving Republicans an especially large bump in power to gerrymander. I pretty much buy this explanation, but what it doesn't tell you is why they were so interested in consolidating power to a degree that they had to predict would get them challenged in the courts, given that the Texas gerrymandering shenanigans of the 2000s were still fresh in everyone's mind.

So I should perhaps have said it with more precision: I think that the 2010 gerrymanders were not unusual for being gerrymanders, but it is pretty clear that Republicans adopted a surprisingly hardball approach to the practice--one that was guaranteed to provoke both legal challenges and a Democratic political response. It was, in other words, a predictably short-term strategy. Ten years sounds like a lot of time, but it actually isn't, in terms of the repeat-game of politics.

Put it a different way. Imagine that Republicans thought that they had a bright future, where increasing numbers of voters would choose to vote Republican because GOP policies were successful and popular. Now imagine that you won essentially fifty percent of the vote in the state. In such a world, it would make sense to draw every district with a 50-50 split. Then, when your success with the electorate increases, you will win EVERY seat in the next election, as every district breaks 51-49 or more your way. If, on the other hand, you see yourself as a fading party--you assume that right now is the high water mark of your power, with voters increasingly rejecting you--then you do what the Republicans did, sacrificing a few seats to create districts that can deliver you a legislative majority even with a minority of the vote.

I apologize for confusing you with the lack of detail in my earlier post. I was in a hurry to get out the door.

"In a country with more evenly balanced voting districts, we might see more pro-life Democrats, and that split could hurt the Democratic cause." I am so old I can remember back when Democrats celebrated diversity. A more succinct rendering of Tyler's sadly accurate summation of our current Orwellian zeitgeist would be "Celebrate Conformity!" A book in the offing no doubt.

Pretending that pro-lifers want to charge women who receive abortions with murder is a great example of mood affiliation on your part. You failed the ideological turing test there.

Why not though? Aren't they murderers?

The progressives have achieved every goal they set out 130 years ago. But all were failures except perhaps female voting and Social Security. All the others are or were bankrupting society. If it hadn't been for technology, this society would be destroyed now.

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