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Jonah Goldberg proposes federalism as means of peaceful coexistence betweeen the left and right. Trouble is, it has been tried before: Stephen Douglas. The other guy eventually won. Let's stick by Abe's "tough nut to crack."

In California, among other states, the left has long been at work on "independent state grounds" laws. In this regard, opponents of abortion are misguided in their focus on Roe v. Wade, which certainly should be overturned. Overthrowing Roe would permit state legislatures to restrict abortion, but it would leave other, liberal states with abortion rights protected. For more on "independent state grounds" see this book on democracy in California and this article by Edward Erler.

The Sage of Mt. Airy has more theoretical speculations on the meanings of federalism for the right and for the left.

Discussions - 15 Comments

One shouldn't expect to get even a mediocre understanding of history from Jonah Goldberg:

http://hnn.us/articles/122231.html

But of course, if axe-grinding is what one is looking for... he and the Regnery Historical Revisionism Team are the perfect sources for that...

Trouble is, it has been tried before: Stephen Douglas. The other guy eventually won. Let's stick by Abe's "tough nut to crack."

What is your suggestion here? That delegating to state governments discretion over what counts as an insurable medical service will be ineffectual in avoiding a forthcoming civil war?


In this regard, opponents of abortion are misguided in their focus on Roe v. Wade, which certainly should be overturned.

Until Roe v. Wade is overturned, the state legislatures have very little discretion over the matter.

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You need to lay off the bong. The results are embarrassing you.

Because, again, the defining characteristic of a liberal is one with a commitment to equality first and last, a commitment that ultimately allows for no differences at all and certainly not the liberty to be so that a federal system would allow.

I think the Sage misunderstands the motors of the opposition.

Art,
Enlighten me then, please.
The Sage

Temporizing in the face of an onslaught is always the preferred position of the wishful thinkers. Roe v. Wade made abortion on demand national. Overnight, the laws of 50 states were null and void. No appeal to states' rights will suffice to overturn Roe inasmuch as the argument is not over who should regulate abortion but rather what policy should govern it. The Supreme Court stopped just short of declaring that abortion on demand during all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatever was a positive good. It did not have to, having cleared away every significant obstacle to the imposition of its ideological fixation. Just as it took a constitutional amendment to end slavery, so it will take that step to end abortion on demand.

I thing you could say that 'equality' was a lodestar for pre-war anarcho-syndicalists and (in a more inchoate way?) the sort of student radicalism common in this country from about 1960 to about 1972. John Derbyshire has identified a residuum of this as a tendency of some to write as if " it is possible to have a functioning society in which nobody is subordinate to anybody else."

That having been said, I will offer you an alternative interpretation to what has been going on these last forty-odd years, as I see little evidence that the opposition imagines a society different in kind than the one in which we live, merely different in degree: invocations of 'equality' are justifications for gestures of 'concern'. Pseudo-equalitarian projects are occasions for building patron-client relationships between a certain sort of bourgeois and what Thomas Sowell has called 'mascot' groups. The patron-client relations involve the distribution of material benefits (one garners the goodies, another salaried employment distributing the goodies) and a mutual exchange of ego satisfactions.

These sorts of projects generally require the transfer of discretion from municipal politicians and local businessmen to the licensed and certified professions ensconced in the judiciary, public agencies, philanthropic concerns (often nursing on the public teat), and professional guilds, which is to say from people steeped in vernacular culture and attitudes to people who find it distasteful. This tendency militates against decentralization.

Thank you Art (honestly, thanks), but I think I'll apply Occam's razor to your argument and stick with the pursuit of radical equality as the chief motor of the Left.

The sheer impossibility of its attainment is part of what makes it so appealing to them. (How did Sowell describe them, "unconstrained vison", something like that?)

Moreover, pursuing the ultimate end of radical equality, "immanentizing the eschaton" as someone once said, is infinitely useful as it justifies ALL means, to include the means of sometimes unseemly client-patron relationships.

I say unseemly because while I will concede that mutually beneficial client-patron relationships often do develope as a result, they serve mainly as grease for the whole operation. They are never offered as a public justification for it.

That liberal elites are hypocritical about all of this is another issue altogether.

Cheers.

Justice Scalia remarked that they should be marching on Congress, not the Court. I think they should march on Congress via the Lincoln Memorial. The theme here is the replacement of arbitrary power (tyranny) by the rule of law. Roe is just one instance of tyrannical behavior within public life.

Jonah and the Sage seemed pretty funny to me. I almost wanted to write a sort of realistic rebutal that coined the term "invisible federalism", but then I realized I would just be talking about ADR, Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v Frye not from the standpoint of the actual rulings, but from a standpoint that considered left and right as simply opposite sides of the v. "invisible federalism" of course would be that body of cases which are aborted by mediation, pleas, negotiation and arbitration which in many ways is more representative of the actual law. The left and the right are basically those who fight to establish precedent, but overall these cases are somewhat exagerated in terms of being representative.

This invisible federalism agrees with the Sage: "However, federalism more broadly understood means that most political questions are best decided at the lowest level of authority practicable. It is at that lowest level that the resolution of those questions are most likely to be legitimate" -True.

This invisible federalism disagrees with the Sage: "that is, acceptable to the largest possible majority."-False, whatever standard is satisfactory to resolving issues for those parties with standing who actually have disputes.

Then I was going to talk about Forum Shopping and take a minority position in favor of Roe v. Wade, from a pro-life perspective.

That is I am pretty sure that Roe v. Wade was good because it is an issue about which we don't want federalism.

So what the court did was basically cut off the philosophical speculation of a range of people like Peter Singer, or maybe Justin:)

I don't know where you stand on abortion, but currently it is not a fundamental right.

I agree broadly with AD:

"Until Roe v. Wade is overturned, the state legislatures have very little discretion over the matter."

But I also disagree with AD on the same grounds. Abortion law and family law as to the particulars/barriers to abortion differ quite a bit from state to state. OK differs considerably from Mass.

Roe v. Wade has been partially overturned and modified, by the partial-birth abortion ban act (which I support) and by Gonzales v. Carhart.

So if we want to debate federalism lets start here.

In broad outlines, if there was no Roe v. Wade and subsequent history would we be better off?

We might have some states that pushed abortion closer to philosophical limits. So some states that still baned it completely and others which took a much more Peter Singer styled approach.

I am not sure you can really translate plaintiffs v. defendants into left v. right, but if you can't then the concept of left v. right is vacuous.

This being said, I think the Sage isn't off by much in thinking that the "left" is concerned with inequality, and the "right" pushes for a full throated federalism.

In this context despite being marginally pro-life I am on the left. The idea that the right to an abortion, or the protection afforded the unborn should hinge upon the capacity of the client to forum shop and then travel to the appropriate jurisdiction just seems wrong.

For the poor in certain states life would begin at conception. for the upper class life would begin at the lowest common denominator.

I can see a sort of eight month pregnancy billboard/with a slimer model on the other side under the title: "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!"

I know it is rather macabre, but I was wondering what you think of federalism in the context of abortion.

Is it at least plausible that the development of Roe v. Wade was a bad bargain for the Pro-Choice movement?

The ones really losing on the abortion issue are women liberal women that is..

Now instead of drowning your mistress, liberal men can now have their cake and it it too. People like Bill Clinton, John Edwards, the Teddy Kennedys of this world, can fool women into believing that they are all for women's rights by supporting abortion, while in fact they are backing the ability to kill the problem when their mistresses become pregnant and they don't want their adoring public or wives to find out. Loser - liberal women.

If you are man in this country, you have a free ride - literally - back women's lib and women's sexual freedom by dating and having sex with liberal women. If they get pregnant - tell them to exercise their feminist rights and have an abortion. Loser - liberal women

163 milion baby girls have been aborted in the world over the past 40 years because parents can now choose the sex of their baby and of course the preferred sex is men. Kill the girl babies... Loser - liberal women

Because of the high abortion rate of girl babies, there is now a huge thriving market for sex slaves. 27 million women/girls are sex slaves in this world. The majority of these slave trades are run by men and men profited greatly from it. Loser - Liberal Women.

Liberal women cried for their "rights" in the 1960's and do so until this day. They have caused themselseves and other women in this world more grief and trouble than Rush Limbaugh ever could.

Forget trying to fix abortion - let Liberal Feminists have their cake and eat it too. I can't image what it must be like to eat it.

No, it is never offered as a public justification. Disdain for the vernacular culture of the United States is never offered as a justification for high levels of immigration either. Morton Downey, Jr. once offered a justification for his methods thus: people have innocuous or pleasant phraseology that presents their opinion to others and sometimes to themselves. When you badger and yell at them, you get them emotionally off balance "and then they tell you what they really think".

Let me ask you a question: do you thing that people are motivated to get training as a social worker for some sort of equalitarian purpose? Do social workers have the experience of equal comradeship at any point in their day?

Certainly not all, but, yes, most of them do, They fashion themselves, as do most liberal elites, as something like a Vanguard of the Proletariat. They are sure that they, unlike the rest of us, have somehow escaped being prisoners of a false consciousness. This belief about themselves also conveniently excuses, or better, explains away their apparent hypocrisy about equality, that is, that some are more equal than others.

Certainly not all, but, yes, most of them do, They fashion themselves, as do most liberal elites, as something like a Vanguard of the Proletariat. They are sure that they, unlike the rest of us, have somehow escaped being prisoners of a false consciousness. This belief about themselves also conveniently excuses, or better, explains away their apparent hypocrisy about equality, that is, that some are more equal than others.

Sage, we are talking about some broad in sensible shoes who is employed by the county welfare department and skitters around to avoid sitting at the head of the table. We are not talking about some cartoon Leninist.

I'm sorry, but I didn't think you were referring to social workers at that lowest level, but, rather, defenders of social work and administrators of the various bureaucracies, i.e., liberal elites.

I will concede, as I already have, that patron-client relationships often develop as a result of the pursuit of equality by liberal elites. That doesn't bother the elites because it serves to secure the patronage of their clients thereby, which also serves their ultimate goal, the formation of a more egalitarian society, at least as they see it.

I do not think their conscious goal is for power in and of itself, but rather for power for the sake of the creation of an egalitarian society. Again, their hypocrisy about this another matter altogether.

There's nothing funny about it, but as I have witnessed their quite consistent behavior over the years, if they're not "cartoon Leninists", they do a pretty good imitation of them nonetheless.

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