The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Federalism Is A Liberal Canard?

Posted on | October 23, 2011 | 44 Comments

by Smitty

Ann Althouse has the Perry quote:

“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision.
If that is your view, you are not pro-life, you are pro-having your cake and eating it too.”

I have always held that life begins at conception, and abortion is murder. What other logically consistent argument is there?

However, the federal government was delegated power by the states to manage multi-state issues, e.g. national security. Not to fret individual choices. On this, and so many other issues, the fundamental problem in American politics is the flattening of government into a single, federal mass.

So, as a SoCon, I would pray for the state setting up a baby abattoir on every corner, and making it legal to call a commitment ceremony involving a chicken ‘marriage’. And I understand too that there is a 14th Amendment argument to make about not letting the unborn be chattel slaves who can be snuffed at will.

Nevertheless, my contention is that ALL of our current fiscal problems are rooted in DC’s poking its pen into personal lives, in terms of housing, retirement, sex, education, retirement, etc. We can either repent of that Progressive idiocy, or keep on shagging that chicken as we are.

SoCons have got to understand that, secretly, Progressives welcome the precedent set by passing legislation that justifies DC meddling with individuals.


44 Responses to “Federalism Is A Liberal Canard?”

  1. Joe
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 11:47 am

    Quite a few pro lifers would be thrilled if the Court reversed Roe and went the opposite way (making abortion illegal through judicial decree).  I am not one of them.   Neither is Scalia. 

    The Constitution is silent on abortion.  It neither grants it as some sort of “right” nor does it bar it.  Roe is an abomination for that.  It goes well beyond abortion.  It is about as wrong as a court can be. 

    I would like to see Roe reversed.  I would like to see the issue go to the states.  You could in theory bar all abortions by a federal statutue (possible and raises issues of fed over reach, but possible) or by amendment.  Which means it would go to the states (as it should).  While a few states might greatly restrict it,  I doubt a complete ban would pass anywhere in the United States. 

    If you want to reduce and eventually end abortion, you have to convince people that is the right thing to do.  Because when you have (roughly) 60 % in favor of some abortion rights, there is little likihood of banning it.  The trend is definitely toward more restrictions and reducing the total number, but we are far from a ban. 

    My guess is Herman Cain is pro life and against abortion.  He would like to see Roe reversed.  He would appoint conservative justices who get why Roe is so flawed.  But I think he recognizes that there is only so much he can do as president.  And we should recognize that too. 

  2. Joe
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 11:54 am

    Of course Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, etc. are all concerned about Herman Cain because…well Herman Cain is kicking their asses. 

    Allah is paniced not over abortion, but over Herman Cain winning this thing and becoming (in his mind) the next Christine O’Donnell.  Ace, Rubin, Krauthammer, etc., etc. all are in that camp. 

    Romney is staying away from the issue…well because he knows he has a lot of issues of his own on this topic.   He will have guys like Hewitt do the attacks for him. 

  3. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    Smitty, I haven’t seen anything in that quote about Federalism.  Certainly, as a legislative matter, it seems like a topic best legislated at the State level, just like murder generally is.  However, there are still Federal murder statutes, at least some of which seem reasonable.

    A more correct (conservative, rule of law, etc) sort of statement from Cain would have said that as President he would enforce the law of the land, although he disagreed with it personally, and would like to change it. 

    I think that from the pro-life standpoint, abortion is a lot different than, say, drug laws.  I always think, especially with regard to social issues, that there’s a big difference between my judgment of a behavior and whether I think there should be a law.  Since I judge abortion to be like murder, I think a law protecting innocent life is appropriate.

  4. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    Get rid of Roe. That’s all.

  5. dad29
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    Cain just can’t help himself.

    Today’s news tells us that he would “sign” an anti-abortion amendment.

    Nope.  The President has nothing whatsoever to do with the amendment process.

  6. Peter Ingemi
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

    I think all that is moot.

    An unborn child is either a human being or not.

    If not then abortion is no different than a hangnail all the way up to the moment of birth.

    If so then it’s murder pure and simple and it’s not a question of “federalism”

    There is frankly no denying scientifically on the humanity of the unborn child but society has decided to try to redefine “person-hood” .

    The whole federalism issue simply clouds a black and white issue

  7. smitty
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

    Pete, I don’t have a disagreement with you, especially from a theological standpoint.
    Politically, though, federalism does simplify the question, by assigning tasks to appropriate levels of government.

  8. smitty
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    I wasn’t trying to say that quote directly addresses federalism.
    Federalism *is* a way to put federal tasks in the federal lap, and let the states have it 50 different ways.
    Some of which may be completely odious to people in other states.

  9. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    Yeah, I totally agree with that.  I guess the title just seems to be a little…confusing.  I suspect you were just being tongue in cheek or something, but it comes across as a weird sounding attack against Perry.

  10. ThePaganTemple
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    This is why I can’t come down firmly on one side or the other on this issue, because no side will ever be satisfied until its one hundred percent their way. And that’s never going to happen.

    Frankly, I don’t know whether there is a God or not, but if there is I would have to wonder whether I was interfering in some master plan he’s got to rid the world of evil. I’m serious too, read your Bible if you don’t believe me. One word-Canaan. God told the Israelites to kill every single man, woman and child, including the infants. He didn’t even let them spare their animals. He even wanted them to destroy the gold these people had in some cases.

    Sometimes the Israelites obeyed his rules, but not always, and when they didn’t, it pissed him off. Gods don’t seem to think the same way people think. They take a big picture view we can’t always comprehend.

    That’s my two cents, and that’s why I say, end Roe and let the states have at it. Let the leftist thin their own herds and consider there might be a reason its happening and leave it at that.

  11. Nashville Beat
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

    I would suggest that, if Roe is reversed, criminalization of abortion must as a legal matter be regulated at the State level.  Generally, the Federal murder statutes apply only to (a) venues unreachable by the States (the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States”, e.g., the high seas or foreign embassies, etc.), or (b) the murder of federal officers engaged in, or account of, their official duties.  I do not think a Federal statute making abortion a crime would survive appellate scrutiny.

    Further, I believe that regulation of abortion should be left to the States as a matter of policy.  As Joe points out, the widespread support for limiting abortion is not uniform in its specifics.  Richard Quinney, a sociologist prominent in criminal justice circles when I was an undergraduate, observed that enforcement of a criminal law becomes problematical (particularly in a democracy) when there is a lack of agreement on the norms embodied in it.  Let’s face it, a criminal law is enforceable only if it is almost universally complied with voluntarily.  If a significant percentage of people do not subscribe to the norm it represents, and that percentage may be as low as one or two percent nationally, it will serve only to undermine law enforcement in general.  We saw that with prohibition, and are seeing it today with drug laws.

    By allowing the States to regulate abortion, we are far more likely to see statutory schemes arise which will engender the widespread voluntary adherence necessary to a democracy, since those statutes can be more closely tailored to the norms of the inhabitants.  To the extent these statutes are unsatisfactory to people, whether too restrictive or too permissive, those people are free to migrate to states with laws that more closely conform to their norms, or may attempt to persuade their fellow citizens to their point of view without having to drag several hundred million people with them.  In short, reliance on the federal system of government will yield better compliance with the minimum restraint on individual freedom.

  12. Shawn Gillogly
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    Oh please. Now you’re just fishing. Every other candidate, save perhaps Newt, would’ve said it the exact same way.

  13. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    So ACEs efforts to eradicate Hobos should be pursued through state legislatures.

  14. Shawn Gillogly
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    While personally I believe in a personhood amendment, the start has to be overturning Roe and throwing the matter back to the states, or it’s a moot issue.

    As far as “legislating morality” goes. That’s a canard if there ever was one. Every law is a moral law. It is impossible to pass legislation without moral implications. That is different from legislation RELIGION, which I agree should not be done.

  15. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    “The President has nothing whatsoever to do with the amendment process.”

    Which should make answering do you support a constitutional amendment banning abortion easy. It may be the one element of the abortion issue making a distinction between personal opinion and presidential policy is a reasonable response to the amendment question. 

  16. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    “because no side will ever be satisfied until its one hundred percent their way.”

    Since when is “satisfaction” the standard? The whole point of the legislative process is compromise, not satisfaction. Leftists are quite satisfied with the current regime established by Roe that gives federal sanction to the killing of live children by the abortion industry. According to the vermin who support that vile decision, the killing of children is far from being evil. It’s enshrined in the constitution as a “right”.  It’s considered a sacrament by these sub-humans.

  17. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

    Simplifying murder is an abuse of federalism. If the states are allowed to determine which murders are acceptable they are allowed to kick that decision to the local level, Dearborn Michigan can then legalize “honor killings”.
    To Pete’s point above abortion defenders aren’t just denying the “person hood” of the unborn, they deny that the unborn are “life forms” at all.

  18. Charles
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

    I compute that there are 2^16 possible positions on the abortion issue. That’s 65536 possible positions, not all of them coherent or consistent to be sure, but still possible. Unless your position exactly matches mine, you will not get my vote. Or is that self-defeating?

  19. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    You don’t have to believe in God to know that abortion is wrong.
     Satisfying the wrong side of this issue is not a goal worth considering. It’s that whole bad person good person thingy. 

  20. McGehee
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

    An unborn child is either a human being or not.

    Unless it’s Schrödinger’s fetus.

  21. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

    If abortion was ever a states rights issue the Supreme Court screwed that pooch when it ruled in Roe v Wade. Even if returning that issue to the states was desirable, it still requires the high court overturning  Roe v Wade or a constitutional amendment.

    As an aside the comparisons of the drug laws to prohibition are somewhat tortured.

  22. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    No, that’s strictly private sector vigilantism.

  23. ThePaganTemple
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

    That’s just the problem, I don’t think its wrong in all cases. Maybe the vast majority of them, but as long as there’s no allowances for the small number that’s justified I can’t support a total ban, especially not as a matter of federal law.

  24. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    Actually, the comparison is perfectly straightforward: If Prohibition of alcohol required a Constitutional Amendment, so does the Prohibition of marijuana. Unless, of course, you buy into the expansive reading of the commerce clause that has allowed the Federal government jurisdiction over everything.

  25. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

    ” but as long as there’s no allowances for the small number that’s
    justified I can’t support a total ban, especially not as a matter of
    federal law.”

    Who asked you to?

     You’re using Planned non Parenthood’s talking points whether you realize it or not.

    Furthermore, it’s morally retarded. The logical implications of your statement are monstrous. You’re saying that unless you can be assured that some percentage of those children are snuffed out that you’d sleep better at night knowing every last one of them were killed.
    Sadly, that is a common canard. It’s pure evil, but then evil is the basis of the whole abortion industry. I think Herod the Great designed their talking points.

  26. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

    “You don’t have to believe in God to know that abortion is wrong.” Amen, brother.  The attempt to turn child killing into a religious issue is just a rhetorical ploy by the pro-abort vermin. If you have to be religious to be opposed to killing a live child, it’s time for a shitload of forced conversions.

  27. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    Why do you imagine your vote is needed?

  28. ThePaganTemple
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

    No I’m not using Planned Parenthood’s talking points, unless Planned Parenthood has decided here over the last two or three days that Roe v Wade should be overturned, because that is my main position. I’m just against any kind of anti-abortion law on the federal level.

  29. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    Something if done in moderation isn’t a bad thing.

  30. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  31. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

    There is not Federal authority to pass such a law.  The absence of Roe would turn it over to state legislatures. After all, there is no federal law against murder.

  32. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    First the comparison isn’t perfectly straightforward, alcohol has aways been considered an intoxicating beverage and drinking it has been an almost universal practice from the time mankind figured out that they could. One can question the logic of determining that alcohol and tobacco are not a drugs while marijuana and opium etc are not but the distinction has been enshrined in law. That alcohol use was acceptable to all to the point of being a “right” is why an amendment was required to ban it. It’s passage is actually an excellent example of progressivism run amok. The fact that criminal activity began replacing the legal businesses within an hour of the law taking effect should have been enough to prove how ridiculous the notion was. The original drug laws were considered to be more of a food and drug issue rather than commerce. The first anti-drug laws didn’t ban drugs out right but set up rules for possessing them that were impossible to comply with. The major practical differences between prohibition of drugs and alcohol are societal acceptance and constituency.

  33. Charles
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

    I don’t imagine it’s needed, I live in Massachusetts. Why do you imagine yours is needed?

  34. Bob Belvedere
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    Well said, Joe, well said.

  35. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    Why can’t you write your own material?

  36. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 5:20 pm


  37. jwallin
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

    Passing laws making murder a crime is not meddling in individuals lives. No more so than passing laws saying one cannot defraud others through the mail.

    To equate laws passed for the safety and the pursuit of justice for citizens  with passing other laws preventing a person from having their children ride in the front seat of their car is ridiculous.

    When a law restricts someone from victimizing someone else, that’s not an intrusion into individual liberty it’s when laws are passed that restrict an individual’s liberty or property or freedom of choice in a matter that does not involve death, injury or economic victimization, due to the opinions or beliefs of others or the belief by the government that it knows best what one should be allowed or not be allowed to do when no one’s rights are at risk is the error that has crept into governmental law making over the last 30 years. Mostly at the behest of Liberal Democrats pet beliefs.

    People like Michelle Obama promoting laws that restrict ones food choices in the name of reducing obesity or Michael Bloomberg deciding that only a select group of people should have the right to defend themselves are the types of public figures who need limits imposed on their ability to pass or get passed laws intruding on individual choices.

    Interestingly enough neither of those people have paid any attention to studies done that show HOW to accomplish what they supposed want or that their beliefs are in error or against the Constitution and have instead decided that laws need to be passed criminalizing behavior that is within one’s rights as a human being.

    It’s a tough call to make sometimes but there seems to be a mindset that it’s okay to murder a million unborn babies a year but it should be a felony if someone buys a used baby crib that’s not been approved by our lords and masters.

    That mindset needs to be stamped out and it starts locally with your neighbor down the street poking their nose into your business or you doing the same. 

    MYOB folks. It worked for over 200 hundred years.

  38. chuck coffer
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

    To call Roe “flawed” is charity of the kindest sort. I would call it a goddam lie and a mockery of law itself.

  39. dad29
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    Cain is in a bad habit of talking first and discovering the facts later (if at all.)  I like the old coot, but he really ought to take a Civics 101 course, ya know, before running for President.

  40. Nashville Beat
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

    Adobe_Walls, your points are well taken.  I was trying to trim down an already too long comment, so I did not put all the caveats in.  Prohibition and drug laws are in many ways not analogous. Prohibition of alcohol was much more problematic to law enforcement because a far greater number of citizens did not share the societal norm it was predicated on.  Far fewer citizens do not share the societal norm (mostly regarding marijuana) upon which laws against drug sales and possession are based, yet even this smaller segment of the population has led to the unforeseen effects of arguably distorted priorities, unwise tactics, and reduced respect for law enforcement.

    On the other hand, the number of people who reject the societal norms underpinning historically recognized crimes of, say, murder or robbery is vanishingly small (I am resisting the impulse to insert a snarky aside here), which results in very little resistance from, and even widespread support for, vigorous enforcement efforts.  My point is that, given the present lack of societal agreement, we are better off taking advantage of the opportunity presented by Federalism to let the States craft any legislative controls of abortion so that we maximize the chances of voluntary conformity to the norms of the subdivision of the country.

  41. Anonymous
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

    Your argument appears to contend that the advantage to letting the states decide whether abortion should be legal or not is that it would be much more practical from an enforcement point of view. The argument over whether abortion should be legal has none of the moral ambiguity of drug laws or that prohibition was purported to be based on. That a federal prohibition on abortion would be very difficult to enforce isn’t an argument for keeping it legal. I’m not necessarily advocating a massive federal effort to stamp it out. But making it illegal is the only moral course.
    A small minority of people managed to enact prohibition largely IMO, because the majority didn’t think it actually would. That the majority allowed it to happen is really quite remarkable and insane. 

  42. Tennwriter
    October 23rd, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    See: Cosmological Arguement.  Yes, there has to be a Creator.

    As to Canaan, I’ve heard the arguement that they were so riddled with disease from their immoral behavior, that it was needful to wipe them out, unless you wanted to have the Israelis get infected right and left.

    Think about it this way…if the Great Spirit had informed shaman who were the smallpox carriers among the settlers, it would be reasonable for him to demand his followers wipe those carriers out to protect his people.

    I tend to agree with you.  Its horrible, but it might be the best way to avoid some sort of 2nd American Civil War…fought with nukes.

  43. Andrew Patrick
    October 24th, 2011 @ 12:03 am

    Um…. isn’t murder more or less a state crime as it is? I don’t recall every homicide in Baltimore involving the FBI. Nor, for that matter, honor killings.

    Just because Roe made this a matter for every supreme court nominee to feign ignorance doesn’t mean we have to play the same game.

  44. ThePaganTemple
    October 24th, 2011 @ 8:34 am

    I’ve read that before, and I tend to think that’s probably right, despite the fact that I learned it from, ironically enough, the Klan (I was researching them for a novel I’ve since shelved). It does make sense. For one thing, it explains why they were instructed to kill all the animals as well as the people, since bestiality was commonplace and it was assumed they were infected as well, and may have even been how the disease started.

    The folks of Canann, of course, for all their faults were highly cultured and civilized compared to your basic American Leftist.