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Bloggingheads
03-21-2008, 05:49 PM

uncle ebeneezer
03-21-2008, 06:13 PM
Wow, here I post something on the McWhorter/Loury diavlog about Christ and politics, and what is the subject of the very next diavlog? I'm not saying I'm necesarrily a divine prophet, but....

somerandomdude
03-21-2008, 06:31 PM
Yay, another chance for Amy Sullivan to scold us intolerant Democrats!

I think it's pretty simple - the Dems are closing the evangelical gap because every single person of every description is leaving the Republican Party. I'm sure we're gaining among hedge fund zillionaires and gun nuts too. But all this will change the minute Republicans recover some strength. And we should welcome this because most evangelicals are basically not good people and we shouldn't have them in our political coalition. Most evangelicals, until about 5 minutes ago when the Republicans self-destructed, were 100% on board with endless war, torture, and the whole Bush agenda. The hell with 'em, I say, they're not good people and they're shrinking in size anyway.

somerandomdude
03-21-2008, 06:35 PM
One thing I don't get is why Amy Sullivan keeps beating this drum. It was an issue in 2004, and then people realized it was mostly a hoax. Find something new to write about! As Atrios says about Lord Saletan, tell women how they should feel bad about having abortions or something!

somerandomdude
03-21-2008, 06:41 PM
Amy Sullivan kinda reminds me of Bruce Bartlett's attempt to get African Americans to vote for the Republicans. It's a totally ridiculous idea and there's just no reason for it. I mean, evangelicals are deeply pro-life, care a lot about regulating sexuality, etc. If we can use pretty words or whatever to get a few of them to vote for us, great. But they are a Republican base group, they believe Republican things, so they should be voting Republican and will do so as soon as the Republicans get some credibility again.

razib
03-21-2008, 06:49 PM
Amy's misrepresenting when she says that nothing has changed re: religion & America over the past 40 years. The last generation has seen an enormous spike of the marginally religious switching toward having no religion. Most of the surveys show an increase of "no religion" on the order of 50-100% over the last generation. So what you are getting is more polarization. Yes, American is more religious than Europe, and after the massive drop in church affiliation in the 1960s the dynamics were pretty static between 1970-1990. But we're now in a second phase of secularization, where those who stopped paying tithes but remained identified as a particular denomination are now cutting the nominal ties too.

somerandomdude
03-21-2008, 06:55 PM
Guys, I hope you buy my new book. It's about how Democrats can win by capturing evangelicals, gun nuts, the super-rich, and every other element of the Republican base.

Can I be a senior editor at Time Magazine too?

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 08:25 PM
Wow, here I post something on the McWhorter/Loury diavlog about Christ and politics, and what is the subject of the very next diavlog? I'm not saying I'm necesarrily a divine prophet, but....

Yeah, amazing! I mean, what are the odds that religion and politics would be talked about in this country??? And at the same time!!!

;^)

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 08:37 PM
somerandomdude:

My emotions agree with you (about shunning evangelicals as political allies), but my thoughts are on the fence. I think a case can be made that there are some people out there who would self-identify as evangelical Christians, who would indeed say they were pro-life and anti-gay marriage, but who don't place these items at the top of their priority list. There are some for whom issues such as stewardship of the environment, or caring for the poor, or not waging war, or cutting back on the prison-industrial complex, or fixing health care, or reducing economic inequality, are more important. There are also some who just plain feel used by the GOP.

So, on the nice side, I would say that as rabid an atheist as I am, I would welcome building coalitions with such people.

On the more crass political side, here's the pitch: It's worth reaching out to them to win because you can make tactical gains. Either you make the Republicans have to spend money to campaign among groups they used to count as gimmies, or you get the evangelicals to go back to their old ways, where being involved in politics was not considered appropriate. Demobilize the Republican base, in other words.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 08:41 PM
Dear Mr. Wehner:

Since you felt it was appropriate to refer to a past Surgeon General as a member of the "loony left," I presume you will not take offense at my labeling you a wingnut.

brucds
03-21-2008, 08:57 PM
"how we got to the point where people assume that if you are religious you have to be Republican"

I'm sorry - that's a nutty statement. People might assume that if you are a certain kind of "religious" you have to be a Republican, but the problem there isn't with the Democrats who don't attract those people but with that kind of crappy religion. There's also, almost without fail, an underlying racism - or racial assumptions that consider white people "normative" and black people "other" - in these discussions.

I'm not anti-religion but I am anti-dumbing down these discussions and the parties ignoring the twisted nature of much of what exists under the "evangelical" umbrella (actually theological evangelicalism isn't directly connected to these morons - they are closer to the anti-intellectual tradition of fundamentalism and biblical literalism, not to mention the tradition of "Christian" churches which were instituted as officially and proudly racist. Increasingly that's replaced by their overt mysoginy and homophobia. The reality is that many of these churches were born not as seekers of redemption but as willful sinners - the largest of these, the Southern Baptist Convention is not a reputable Christian church IMHO. It was founded in unapologetic racism and continues as an institution run by modern Pharisees - Richard Land being a case in point. Awful man. I'd hate for the Democratic Party to consider creating comfortable zones for guys like that - as it did in the past before it broke with the Dixiecrats.

There are some so-called "evangelicals" who exist in more of a "gray" area - but it's still going to be tough. We have a likely nominee who wears his religion on his sleeve and it's become problematic because, as I've said before, these issues can't be untangled from the racial divide or the imperatives of prophetic Christianity that takes social justice seriously. A candidate who can give a great sermon, as Obama did at Ebenezer Church in Atlanta, is not only not good enough for most of these people, he's getting slimed and I don't see (with the notable exception of Mike Huckabee) "evangelicals" doing a damned thing to defuse the attacks. Not! Good! People! in too many cases. (I'm leaving issues of political opportunism aside - I get the feeling, underneath all of the piety, this is Amy's real hobby horse.)

brucds
03-21-2008, 09:44 PM
I just read a piece by E J Dionne over at TNR in which in discussing his relationship to Trinity UCC and Reverend Wright, Obama invokes the spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr...but Democrats don't have candidates who are conversant enough with religion ! (Niebuhr, incidentally came out of the evangelical church - before "evangelical" became a misnomer for "crazy rightwing fundamentalist.") Also, some clown who worked in the Bush White House doesn't get props from me as a paragon of "good Christian." Sorry...

Wonderment
03-21-2008, 10:21 PM
Yes, Elders was dismissed as "loony left," presumably because she made that outrageously criminal and heretical statement about masturbation: "I think that it is part of human sexuality."

Good thing President Cllnton, that paragon of sexual ethics, fired her on the spot.

Wonderment
03-21-2008, 10:40 PM
There was also the annoying comment about "the cultural left" at about 44 minutes in.

What on earth is that supposed to mean? Just code for pro-choice?

I think Amy took it that way, but I think he meant to extend it to other unstated issues (gay rights, science curricula, etc.)

Jack McCullough
03-21-2008, 11:25 PM
What's the evidence that Amy Sullivan is a liberal? She sure doesn't talk like one, and she doesn't seem willing to stand up to that right-wing demagogue Wehner.

There are a couple of things:
1. Like all Republicans, Wehner doesn't give a rat's ass about poor people, so for them to pretend they do is just a lie.
2. She can't call anti-abortion nuts "pro-life". They're not. If they were they would be opposed to capital punishment, war, global exploitation, and for anti-poverty programs, immunizations around the world, and, most importantly, honest sex education and universal availability of contraception.
3. She needs to step up and say that if we want to make abortion rare, and a key component of reduction of the need for abortion, is universal availability of contraception.
4. There is no great mystery about why people want to reduce the frequency of abortion. Whether you agree that it is murder, as the anti-choicers claim to, or not, it is a terrible decision for the woman to have to make, and if we can avoid that by creating economic conditions that support stable families, and by enabling everyone who needs it to have affordable, reliable contraception and Plan B, then we'll have made progress by avoiding imposing the kind of pain on women as a punishment for having sex that the R's want to.

Baltimoron
03-22-2008, 12:53 AM
...or, is it "the defecating (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9453?in=00:06:49&out=00:09:10)" (exactly why Martin Luther argued that Christians should read the Bible while taking a dump, because the Devil can invade all orifices)?

In the olfactory wake of my own post-January 29 Florida Dem Primary effluvia, why do I have to line up with the Dems and GOP? Is this just a result of a duopolistic system, where the Dems and GOP try to compete for the largest number of voters across shifting, broad fronts. I'm not surprised national party leaders would take antagonistic positions on any issue, because that's how parties win elections. The MSM craves conflict, too. But, most people I would argue inhabit much narrower, personalized subsets of perspectives, and seek to create alliances.

When the Democratic machines of the 20th Century broke down, and the labor unions and urban machines stopped shuttling voters to the polls, peer pressure as an electoral factor decreased. Karl Rove with his stats reinvigorated a form of applying pressure on voters to fall one way or another, but now that tactic is universal among both parties, so it's back to zero. Short of some Obama-esque voter mobilization drives, I don't see how parties will ever become relevant, unless they can match voters' preferences. That means smaller, two-or-three issue parties, or regional parties, not national ones. But, the winner-take-all system undermines that. Voters, like me, are becoming unrequited, because it takes longer to settle for a third-best choice. It's almost easier just to write-in or spoil a ballot. Or, abstain.

And, if you're a religious preference voter, community and church activities might suffice for what you want.

Consumatopia
03-22-2008, 01:52 AM
In the last minute you can catch Peter Wehner pulling something really slippery.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9453?in=00:52:57&out=00:53:09

"I would dispute that explaining the rationale for the policy is putting somebody in a box"

Of course it wouldn't, but Peter here is complaining that politicians won't explain their personal views on abortion (why they "personally" believe abortion is wrong), not their policy views. And that's where the boxing in lies--people might have a variety of views on abortion and still agree that sticking the messy hands of government into the bodies of women in desperate situations simply won't end well. The specific reasons why abortion is or isn't wrong just don't enter into the "safe, legal, rare" argument. Insisting that politicians step out and air their personal views would only divide us where no division is necessary.

For example, some people might want to feed the poor because they're humanitarians, and some people might want to because they're Christians. They can either agree on the policy and be happy, or they can spend time fighting over whose reason is the right reason.

TwinSwords
03-23-2008, 09:10 PM
Wehner says (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9453?in=00:44:41) that the Clintons "destroyed political opponents and people that they believed stood between them and power."

Just curious: Who's on the list of people the Clintons destroyed?

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 09:35 PM
Wehner says (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9453?in=00:44:41) that the Clintons "destroyed political opponents and people that they believed stood between them and power."

Just curious: Who's on the list of people the Clintons destroyed?

Well, to start, don't forget that Hillary had Vince Foster rubbed out.

TwinSwords
03-24-2008, 01:29 AM
LOL!

Well yeah, but besides that one little murder, I mean.

Andrya6
03-25-2008, 03:56 PM
I think Amy Sullivan’s take on abortion makes a lot of sense. Pro-life voters are starting to realize that while the Republicans have been running against abortion for 28 years, they have no serious intention to actually make it illegal. The most they’ve produced for the pro-lifers is purely symbolic political theater (like the ban on partial birth abortion, which didn’t save a single unborn life).

At the same time, by cutting the federal subsidies for contraception and child care for low income women, they have increased the number of unwanted pregnancies and decreased the likelihood that a low income woman will see having a child as something that she can survive.

I think the Democratic nominee can pick up a lot of moderate pro-lifers by saying “yes, I’m going to keep abortion legal- but I’m also going to reduce it to the absolute minimum by making sure every American has access to contraception and that every working single mom can afford the childcare that she needs.”

bjkeefe
03-25-2008, 04:09 PM
Abdrya6:

I think the Democratic nominee can pick up a lot of moderate pro-lifers by saying “yes, I’m going to keep abortion legal- but I’m also going to reduce it to the absolute minimum by making sure every American has access to contraception and that every working single mom can afford the childcare that she needs.”

That's a very sensible-sounding idea.

Of course, were you to propose it as an actual participant in the American political process, I predict you would be squashed like a bug.

Andrya6
03-25-2008, 04:40 PM
I respectfuly disagree. As a Catholic I know that a lot of my fellow Catholics are what I'd call "moderate prolifers"- they really hate abortion and regard it as the killing of a human being, but also see the problems with making it completely illegal. I'd expect them to be very open to a candidacy that advocated taking active steps to reduce the abortion rate. (Abortion rates are generally lower in western Europe than the US- which shows that this model can be effective.)

After all, Bill Clinton did very well among Catholics - and won the 1992 election-using the slogan "safe, legal, and rare". I'm simply proposing attaching specific policy proposals to that motto.

Given that ethnic Catholics who are generally anti-abortion but otherwise liberal are a large group in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, I think this is a winning formula.

You'll never get the yahoos who want to punish people for having sex and subordinate women, but they are off limits to Democrats anyway.

bjkeefe
03-25-2008, 04:56 PM
Andrya6:

Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with your proposal, in and of itself. I just think it has no chance in the climate that is the current US debate about abortion. The people who are against it are so against it that they've forced the pro-choice people into the position of refusing to budge, too, for fear of sliding down the proverbial slippery slope. "Safe, legal, and rare" is a good slogan, and I don't doubt that most Americans ultimately want that as an outcome. It's just that on an issue like this, the extremists on both ends are the loudest, the most focused, and the most passionate, and you'll never get a candidate to run on any kind of compromise position. Why piss off your base?

My sister is a good counterexample to your example of certain Catholics. She is a committed Democrat living in Pennsylvania, and when Rick Santorum was running for re-election in 2004, she wouldn't have voted for him if you held a gun to her head. However, the Democrat that ran against him was pro-life, so she voted Green instead, despite months of my lobbying her not to "waste" her vote. The preservation of choice is that important to her. I don't think she's especially rare in this regard.

Once the election is over, it's conceivable that it could be a different story, especially if the Dems get the WH, hold the House, and get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But as a plank in the platform in a campaign? I just don't see it happening.

Andrya6
03-25-2008, 06:11 PM
BJ

But your sister kind of makes my point! Surely she'd be open to voting for a Democrat committed to reducing the abortion rate without compromising choice? ... which is what I'm basically suggesting.

By the way, there are a lot of Republicans who feel the same as your sister- who vote Republican ONLY because they (correctly) think that there is no way the Republicans will ever actually ban abortion, especially for middle class women. As more and more pro-lifers realize that they are being played for suckers, more will be open to a non-coercive approach to reducing abortion.

Andrya

bjkeefe
03-26-2008, 04:12 AM
Andrya6:

But your sister kind of makes my point! Surely she'd be open to voting for a Democrat committed to reducing the abortion rate without compromising choice? ... which is what I'm basically suggesting.

No. I guess I didn't make it clear enough. My sister wants no legal restrictions on abortion, and even though she conceded to me that the Dem candidate running against Santorum would be highly unlikely to further his agenda in this area, his stated views were a deal-breaker. My sister might well be in favor of reducing abortions by, say, increasing proper sex ed in schools, making contraceptives more easily available and affordable, removing the prescription status from the "Plan B" pill, etc. -- after all, no one is in favor of using abortion as the primary method of birth control -- but she is not going to accept much from a candidate besides pledges to do things like this. Any hint that the politician would be willing to compromise on getting such proposals through by allowing restrictions on abortions would probably cost that candidate her vote. Mine, too, unless the candidate was great on everything else.

By the way, there are a lot of Republicans who feel the same as your sister- who vote Republican ONLY because they (correctly) think that there is no way the Republicans will ever actually ban abortion, especially for middle class women.

I agree. And it's also true that for a lot of people, abortion is not the most important issue, no matter how they feel about it.

As more and more pro-lifers realize that they are being played for suckers, more will be open to a non-coercive approach to reducing abortion.

That's a hope, and I have seen some anecdotal evidence in support of this, too. But I think it will be a long time before the extreme anti-abortion faction loses its clout or even loses its interest in making this issue the first filter for its candidates. Think about Rudy Giuliani, for example. There were undoubtedly other reasons for GOP primary voters not to like him, but there's no doubt his earlier sympathies for pro-choice positions hurt him badly, right out of the gate.

The thing is, the most adamant anti-abortion person is also highly likely to be against contraception, and in favor of abstinence-only sex education. Think about the Catholic Church, to name but one group: their official position is so rigid that they can't even bring themselves to sign off on condoms to slow the spread of AIDS.

So I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for reasonableness to break out here.

Andrya6
03-26-2008, 04:41 PM
Heya BJ!

Surely your sister (and you) would not desert Obama or Clinton, uncompromisingly pro-choice both, if either proposed an abortion reduction program along the lines I have suggested?

Of course you won't get the hard-core anti-abortion folk, and yes, they are mostly anti-contraception. (I noted with horror that Peter Wehner's idea of an abortion-reduction program was "abstinence education"- does he expect low income people to be celibate their entire lives? Sheesh!) However, I am sure, knowing many moderate pro-lifers, especially my fellow Catholics, that many of them can be "peeled off" from the Republican party by offering them a non-coercive abortion reduction program.

As for the Catholic church being officially anti-contraception, that's true, but that teaching has been overwhelmingly rejected by US Catholics. My admittedly unscientific sample is that about 90% of US Catholics use contraceptives.

Andrya

bjkeefe
03-26-2008, 06:01 PM
Andrya6:

Surely your sister (and you) would not desert Obama or Clinton, uncompromisingly pro-choice both, if either proposed an abortion reduction program along the lines I have suggested?

No. As I've said, it's not the proposal itself that I had a problem with. It was the idea that a candidate would campaign with any sort of detailed proposal along those lines. Wasn't arguing policy, was arguing political realities.

As for the Catholic church being officially anti-contraception, that's true, but that teaching has been overwhelmingly rejected by US Catholics.

True, if by "US Catholics," you mean the members of the congregation. The bishops and archbishops aren't saying anything different from the Vatican, though, last I heard. (I keep hoping for a schism, but that's another issue.)

My admittedly unscientific sample is that about 90% of US Catholics use contraceptives.

I am trying to think of a way to probe for details concerning the extent and methodology of your data gathering without getting beat up by the Comment Nanny.