« Imagine That | Main | Shorter Washington Post: McCain is Lying »

July 30, 2008

Comments

Interesting food for thought. It seems plausible to me that "legal thinking" provides a refuge for a lot of political resentment on both sides of the fence -- conservative and liberal. Everyone has very calm, well-reasoned positions, but somehow always seem to arrive at the correct ideological conclusions, often without seeming to realize they're doing it.

My grudging impression has generally been that legal folk are willing to concede a lot of ground on the issues that aren't dear to them just to maintain intellectual credibility, but most of us still hold the same political positions for a long time and have just come up with progressively more elaborate justifications for them.

Too cynical? Why so serious? Scalia and Rehnquist both used to write legal opinions to cover for Nixon. I agree with Ezra Klein:

Look no further than Scalia; people always point to his "judicial brilliance." But he's only "brilliant" in the capacity to arrange any given set of circumstances into an argument in favor of what you knew he was in favor of before the circumstances were given to him.

I have learned to never underestimate the power of resentment. It is a smoldering ember that can leap into a flame with the stirring of the slightest breeze.

Methinks a great deal of the conservative movement has, at its core, resentment.

Jeeze! You saved me $8 from seeing Dark Knight this weekend.
(Nothing I didn't know already, I'm just being a jerk. ^.^ )

I don't quite understand how a legal conservative can rationalize these kinds of actions. Assuming they're a lawyer, then they've been trained to understand and promote the rule of law. How, then, can you justify breaking the rules of the system you should be focused on upholding (and reforming, for them)?

Put another (Biblical) way, what does it profit them to gain the world (the correct people in the system) but lose their soul (the legitimacy of the system or rule of law)?

It just seems that the people that got in are mostly hacks that want to politicize the system for whatever purpose. Legal conservatism is just used as a cover and any 'real' conservatives would just get in by chance.

Goodling didn’t see herself as evil. She saw liberals as evil — thus, it was critical to get the Christian Soldiers in there, law be damned.

I'm sure she didn't. I'm sure the terrorist who murdered churchgoers in a failed suicide attack this week because he saw liberals as evil didn't see himself as evil either. He couldn't get a job, his food stamps were about to be cut off. Must be the liberals fault, right? There are millions more conservatives listening to the same nationwide right-wing training broadcasts as he did. Wait until their food stamps get cut off too, it will be ugly.

I don't really see the need to play pretend psychiatrist here. I don't really care about the psychological motivations of right wing extremists.

I care about the psychological motivations of right-wing extremists, just as I care about the psychological motivations of Islamic terrorists. It's important to know your enemies, and the understanding may help you figure out what to do about them.

Very few people see themselves as evil, and it may occasionally be useful to be reminded of that.

But they lose me completely when they lapse into their babbling about evil activist judges who want to free child molesters and steal your guns and eat your baby.

But there are liberal groups seeking to "Take my Guns" (see article about vets names being provided to an FBI Background database as well), and I'm not sure about any judges that want to eat my baby, but there are "librUlz" who want to publicly fund abortion. I have my own personal views about abortion (begrudgingly pro-choice), but when taxpayer dollars fund it, then it becomes my problem and I'm complicit in something I personally consider murder. I'm sure many of you feel the same way about your taxpayer dollars going to the Iraq war (albeit at a much higher rate than funding Planned Parenthood or whatever, but you can catch my drift).

So I understand your theme of conservatives becoming irrationally angry, but don't think that there isn't real root causes in some respects.

Disclaimer: No I don't support what that murderous thug in Knoxville did.

It's important to know your enemies, and the understanding may help you figure out what to do about them.

I disagree. You don't need to know or understand a right wing extremist who murders churchgoers to know what to do about him. You don't need to know or understand a right wing extremist who politicizes the justice system to know what to do about her.

I don't really care if they think they're wonderful people. They've done enough damage and wasted enough of our time.

I have learned to never underestimate the power of resentment. It is a smoldering ember that can leap into a flame with the stirring of the slightest breeze.

Methinks a great deal of the conservative movement has, at its core, resentment.

I agree. As Publius was saying, conservatives aren't just some CEOs sitting around their office while their servants polish their wingtips. I currently reside in a blue-collar part of WA state, primarily employed at the local Navy shipyard. On the weekends, they fill the local bars and casinos with their Harleys and their pickup trucks. All-around decent, hard-working people. But they often see people that are on the streets protesting, Dems trying to institute new regulatory programs that negatively impacts them (e.g. smoking bans in bars), and politicians pushing for more gun control as a collective group trying to tear down America. Have you ever delved into the modern biker culture and the associated politics? I don't consider them extremists, just people responding to being co-opted into a new paradigm they don't want to be part of. They are also fiercely patriotic (many ex-military), and see opposition to the Iraq war as an opportunity for "the left" to denigrate America. I empathize with some of their positions.

LT Nixon: I have my own personal views about abortion (begrudgingly pro-choice), but when taxpayer dollars fund it, then it becomes my problem and I'm complicit in something I personally consider murder.

Obviously, I disagree.

LT Nixon, I empathize with them too, tho I think I share less of their values. Ferinstance, I'm a liberal and cigarettes make me physically ill, but I consider that my problem, not the smokers'. Smoking bans are pure nanny-statism.

But I have to admit, I find it difficult to understand the priorities of someone who cares more about smoking in a bar and owning a handgun than about wasting $300B and killing hundreds of thousands in a pointless war.

It also does drive me nuts when people (of all stripes) demonize a mass instead of checking facts about individuals. (One of the reasons I like this blog is that some participants occasionally listen to each other about facts). There is no mass liberal movement such as you describe your acquaintances imagining, and that's pretty obvious to anyone who stops to look. For that matter, most ideas put forward by "liberals" are probably pretty close to what your acquaintances would find reasonable, if they would put aside the bigotry long enough to consider them on their merits.

Publius, good post. Have you read David Kuo's "Tempting Faith"? In one illuminating passage, he tells about his disastrous attempt to fairly rate charities for receipt of federal funds. To remove supposed liberal bias against religious charities, he appointed "decent" raters, religious right-wingers. To his dismay, the results were far more skewed, to the other side: dinky religious groups that did little good rated much higher than any secular charities. He later talked to one of his raters, a nice soccer mom evangelical, who gigglingly told him that she had understood the "real" point of the exercise and given zeros to every secular group she rated.

Interestingly, Kuo saw this as a simple misunderstanding: she hadn't realized that he had wanted honesty, but she would have done a great job if she had. It did not seem to occur to him that there is something deeply wrong with a movement in which the default approach to winning is to cheat.

"Smoking bans are pure nanny-statism."

I think so, too. And I don't recall ever pushing for a gun control law in my life. Color me a libertarian-inclined liberal in those, and other regards. My kind of liberalism is more about allowing people to be free -- and having the tools to be free -- than about telling them what to do. Empowerment and freedom: eff, yeah. Constriction and restriction: eff, no.

I do recall living in Seattle from 1978 through early 1986, though, and I still miss it, and the Olympics and Cascades and lakes and the Sound and Rainer in the distance, and the PP Market, and on and on.

I empathize with some of their positions.

I don't. But I know lots of folks like that, and they don't bug me. I enjoy their company.

I just don't talk about politics with them.

It's a big country, with lots of different kinds of people in it. We don't have to all agree with each other, or even like each other. We do have to learn to deal with each other without shooting each other. Or corrupting and gaming the law or our political institutions to make sure our side "wins".

I can understand the frustration and resentment that occurs when things you value or think important fail to win the day in the public arena. We all go through it, and quite often about things that are a damned sight more important than whether you can smoke cigarettes in a bar.

If you want to swap tales about being "co-opted into a new paradigm you don't want to be part of", pull up a chair, dude. I've got a million of them. We could be here all night.

Trust me on this.

If conservatives want to get along, I'm happy to get along. If they want to kick liberals in the nuts, they should think twice. We have boots, too.

Let's not go there, OK?

Goodling should face whatever charges are appropriate, and if found guilty should suffer whatever punishment is appropriate. People like that need to be scrubbed out of public life. Period.

Speaking purely personally, I've had enough of this sh*t.

Thanks -

but when taxpayer dollars fund it, then it becomes my problem and I'm complicit in something I personally consider murder

a JDAM costs the equivalent of my entire tax bill for last year.

i wonder who my JDAM killed.

LTN: I agree with cleek. Our government uses my tax dollars for lots of things I not only disagree with, but consider profoundly immoral. The Iraq war is the obvious example. (I am not condemning people who fought in it -- I support civilian control of the military, even when the civilians are idiots. But the decision to invade Iraq was, as far as I'm concerned, deeply, deeply immoral.)

Moreover, there will always be a number of people (e.g., Quakers) who consider any war immoral, and think it involves murder. Does this mean that all wars should be privately funded? I don't think so. I feel the same way about public funding for abortion: the fact that there are people who think its murder should make us stop and ask ourselves whether it's worth putting them in a position in which their tax dollars go to what they think is murder, but if you think that protecting the rights of poor women to live their lives as they see fit, including the right not to bear a child they do not want to carry to term, then arguably it is.

To follow up on cleek and hilzoy's comments, in a slightly less hostile tone than my earlier post:

The law, and the public institutions of government, are how we negotiate our differences. None of us win them all. If we're going to live together, we all have to learn to live with that.

Folks like Goodling undermine those institutions. They remove whatever tiny assumption of fairness we might hold toward those institutions, and motivate us to seek other ways to advocate for our own interests.

It's not just that they cheat and lie to advance their agenda. They corrupt the institutions that make a reasonable dialog about how we want to live possible.

It's a really profound form of damage. We need to get folks like her out of public life, and not because we nasty liberals HATE HATE HATE her. There are lots of folks in public life I dislike profoundly, but I can live with it.

They need to get out because otherwise folks like and folks like LT's buddies have no constructive way to sort out our differences.

It's all bleeding Kansas from there. We don't want to go there.

If this seems like an exaggeration, I think it's not.

Thanks -

LT Nixon: Does the VPC want to take your guns? No. They merely wish to "approach[es]gun violence as a public health issue, advocating that firearms be subject to health and safety standards like those that apply to virtually all other consumer productst [sic]."

I choose this example to illustrate why I believe Publius is overthinking the conservative movement. The conservative movement is about benefitting the wealthiest under the guise of loftier ideals' e.g., more freedom and the like. To accomplish this, the movement has to create boogeymen.

LT Nixon: Does the VPC want to take your guns? No. They merely wish to "approach[es]gun violence as a public health issue, advocating that firearms be subject to health and safety standards like those that apply to virtually all other consumer productst [sic]."

I choose this example to illustrate why I believe Publius is overthinking the conservative movement. The conservative movement is about benefitting the wealthiest under the guise of loftier ideals' e.g., more freedom and the like. To accomplish this, the movement has to create boogeymen.

I feel the same way about public funding for abortion: the fact that there are people who think its murder should make us stop and ask ourselves whether it's worth putting them in a position in which their tax dollars go to what they think is murder, but if you think that protecting the rights of poor women to live their lives as they see fit, including the right not to bear a child they do not want to carry to term, then arguably it is.

The Quakers represent a small minority in this country. While you could argue (successfully I believe) that the majority of the pubic opposes an outright ban on abortion. I think the portion of the public who opposes state sponsored abortions is significantly larger than the number of people who are Quakers.

I would fall in that category. I think abortion is wrong, I recognize that is based completely on a belief with no scientific basis, and I don't believe that my beliefs should be foisted on anyone else. However, I do oppose having the state support this. By doing this, the beliefs of others are being foisted upon me.

I'm all for people living their lives as they see fit. If someone broke into my house and took money for an abortion, it would be considered theft. If the state does it, it is:

... protecting the rights of poor women to live their lives as they see fit, including the right not to bear a child they do not want to carry to term.

If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution grating this right I would be very appreciative.

I don't know about smoking bans. I have an anarchist streak, which overlaps with libertarian notions to some degree. But I know the social power of a ban, and when the ban does some good, I'm willing to put up with it. Here in Japan, my university is starting to go for the no-smoking stuff, and it is starting to put a dent in students who start smoking by making it a disfavored behavior. Also, my mother was a smoker and I believe her smoking gave a boost to her cancer (it was type 3 melanoma, which starts in the mucus membranes of the nose) and if nanny statism had let me be with my mom for even a little bit longer, I'd take it in a second. Admittedly a view skewed a bit by hindsight, but now, when I see my students take up smoking because it seems cool and by the time they are 4th year students, my eyes start watering when I come near them because they smell like an ashtray used continuous for 10 years, I think a little nanny statism isn't the worst thing in the world.

If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution grating this right I would be very appreciative.

If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution denying this right I would be very appreciative.

John Harrold: If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution grating this right I would be very appreciative.

Amendment 1: Freedom of Religion. A woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, without being prevented just because according to a religious belief she does not adhere to says it's "murder".

Amendment 4: Search and Seizure. The only way to enforce a ban on abortions violates her right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures".

Amendment 8: Forcing a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will as a penalty for having sex is cruel and unusual punishment.

You're welcome.

"I'm all for people living their lives as they see fit. If someone broke into my house and took money for an abortion, it would be considered theft. If the state does it, it is:"

"If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution grating this right I would be very appreciative."

16th Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
You're welcome.

PS: If the state breaks into your house and takes your money, it would be considered theft. But the state is entitled to tax you in order to pay for essential services, even if they are services you do not yourself personally use. And if you're pregnant and don't want to be, abortion is an essential service.

tril - good idea, i've been meaning to read his book for some time actually

Oh, and one final PPS: I think the portion of the public who opposes state sponsored abortions is significantly larger than the number of people who are Quakers.

The portion of the public who have got pregnant and needed to have an abortion, is significantly larger than the number of people who are Quakers.

If you accept that safe, legal abortion is a necessity, and the earlier it's carried out the better - and most Americans do accept that first-trimester abortion should be legal and available - then why should the state force women to delay a termination until they can somehow raise the money to pay for it?

lj, I'm glad you posted that (9:15 a.m. comment).

I reacted immediately to the suggestion that smoking bans are nothing but "nanny statism" because that sounds like all they are is an attempt to save people from their own bad habits. But they're more than that: they’re also an attempt to save me from other people's bad habits.

I get a headache from cigarette smoke. The world is a far far more pleasant place for me now that I can go into grocery stores, restaurants, even hospitals -- and not have to feel half-sick the whole time.

I am not saying it's an easy question as to where we draw lines related to the ways in which some people's active freedom to do something harms other people. And I mean that it's not easy in either direction. It's not easy to know what kind of majority/minority relationship might lead us to ban (or stop us from banning) some activity in some context(s), it's not easy to know how to measure the kind of harm done, it's not easy. And dismissing it as nanny-statism makes it sound like it is easy, and we've just screwed it up.

We put a lot of emphasis, in our verbiage, on freedom to do things. I do this myself; I have an incredibly strong libertarian/individualist streak. (If you want to talk about nanny-statism, let’s have a conversation about the treatment of kids in high schools. On second thought, let’s leave it for another time.... ;) But talking about “freedom to” leaves out something that I think is crucial, which is “freedom from” -- freedom from the unpleasant side effects of other people’s exercise of their “freedom to.” (Corollary: I wish we talked a lot more about how the corollary to having the freedom to practice the religion of our choice implies freedom from being coerced by other people’s religious beliefs and practices. Hello, I’m gay.....and I’ve lived through 5, or is it 6, referenda in my state, largely driven by some people’s idea that because I don’t share and abide by their religious beliefs, I should be a second-class citizen.)

I live in a quiet country place. There’s a bar/restaurant across and down the road a bit that has always been just as quiet and sleepy as the neighborhood around it. A few years ago, a new owner started targeting the camp counselor crowd, and we had music in the wee hours, motorcycles revving, people shouting, on a couple of occasions drunken idiots pounding on our door because they didn’t know where the f*** they were, etc. That restaurant owner’s freedom to expand his business was in danger of totally changing the neighborhood, drastically reducing my freedom from nuisance, and in fact my freedom to enjoy my life. Luckily...he sold the restaurant after a year or so and it reverted to form.

Whose freedoms, which freedoms, should preponderate? This is not an easy question to answer. Russell gets to the heart of it (as usual) when he frames it as a problem of how we talk to each other in trying to figure out how to share the world. Lots of topics that get talked/written about under the heading of "freedom" could be productively reframed (in my opinion) as being about the difficult task of figuring out what kind of world we're going to try to live in, given that we all have a slightly different version of it sitting around on our wish lists.

/rant

The Harvard Federalist Society breeds the same level of liberal hatred that Regent does.

Based on my personal experience, I've not found members of the Federalist Society to be irrationally nasty towards liberals (such as myself).

"Amendment 1: Freedom of Religion. A woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, without being prevented just because according to a religious belief she does not adhere to says it's "murder".

etc..."

Intellectual honesty please.

DBake: Intellectual honesty[, thank you!]

Fixed that for you.

Disagreement I've got no problem with. But don't accuse me of dishonesty.

Thanks to Publius for his (basically) generous post about my book. It is probably true that I don't deal with the "dark" side of the conservative legal movement in as great a detail as Publius would like. That's not because I deny it's there. There are parts of the book where I do point out, pretty clearly, that much of what holds the movement together is its deep anger with legal liberalism. I think the fact that this is much of the "glue" holding it together explains the vehemence. That said, I think there is much more internal dissension among conservatives about the way the Bush administration screwed up DOJ than often surfaces publicly. I can't tell you how many conservatives I've talked to that think that John Yoo was an extremist and a pretty bad lawyer (you see this in Goldsmith's book, but that's just the tip of the iceberg). People like Goodling treated the permanent DOJ lawyers as the enemy, but there were plenty of other--very conservative--political appointees in DOJ who deeply respected their professionalism, even where they disagreed with some of their positions on particular issues, and thought the politicization of the DOJ civil service was a disaster. I wish more of these conservative lawyers would come out more clearly on these issues, but I do think it's a mistake to think that Goodling was in any sense representative of what all of the conservative lawyers in the department thought was appropriate. Note also that in the book I mainly deal with the elite, secular side of the movement, and that's very much not where Goodling came out of.

Thanks again for your nice words--and I encourage your readers to pick up a copy of the book. I wrote it, mainly, for liberals. As Publius will attest, there is no book that I know of that is based on as much internal documentation from the conservative movement as The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement--on the law or any other subject. If readers really want to see what the conservative movement, at least at its elite levels, looks like from the inside, I encourage them to take a look.

There doessn't have to be an amendment that specifically guarantees a right to an abortion. The Tenth:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Or to the people. And the majority of Americans are pro choice regarding the first two trimesters of a pregnancy.

As far as rural Washingtonians and their values: I, too, live in rural Washington and I, too, am frequently exposed to the values to which Nixon up thread refers. I don't don't respect those values at all.

Basically we are talking parasites here. The rural working classes of Western Washinton are people who mostly live off the government in one way or another but bitch incessantly about high taxes, conveniently ignoring the tax dollars that go to subsidize their rural life style: either vet's benefits, timber industry, unemployment, disability, shipyard jobs, or whatever, it is all paid for by taxes. I don't have a problem with tax subsidies for jobs or tax subsidies to help people out. I do have a problem with people who choose to live in an area of high unemployment and who insist on working for industries that are either dying or exist only through the ependiture of tax dollars and then turn around an bitch about taxes. Hypocrits!

There is a smug arrogant assumption of superior patriotism amongst those members of that rural working class to which Nixon refers but the truth is they wouldn't recognize real patirotism if it bit them in the butt. Jingoism is more their speed. Lots of flags, lots of knee jerk ignorant support for Republicans, the enthusiastic dumbing down of wars to "My team must win!", combined with a complete failure to be well informed, an unwillingness to do the work of good citizenship.

Their cult of freedom is just a mask for selfishness. Freedom to them means "I want to do what I want and the hell with the consequences to you." So they want to over exploit the fisheries or dump sewage in Hood Canal or hunt cougars in order to drive up the deer population so that they can hunt more easily and so on. Sure one can come up with nanny state examples which irritate me too but their real beef isn't the petty inconvenience of nanny statism: what they really hate is the fact that they must limt their choices out of respect for others. It isn't the Wild West any more. This reality and the refusal to face it results in a lot of pouting sulking and whining.

Should we understand the pathology of conservatism? Sure. Information is always useful;. However the knowledge that the rural folks of Western Washingon are seething with resentment doesn't mean that their resentment is justified or that the target of their resentment is accurate.

On the congtrary these folks engage is all kinds of self defeating behavior of which voting Republican is just one example. Hating liberals lets them off the hook for taking responsibility for the results of their own choices.

And of course these are folks mostly hardworking annd nice to their kids and so on. They same could be said about every other social classes of Americans. After all most people are pretty decent in their behavior within the circle of their private lives. But the values of this particular subgroup in the area of politics are inexcusable: jingoistic, hypocritical, selfish, and dishonest.

To (among other things) wonkie's point about living off federal largesse, then bitching about taxes:

Legacy of Conquest, by Patricia Nelson Limerick.

The easy explanation is the conservative movement is one giant business-fronted movement. But it’s not. Teles shows how the movement only succeeded after it replaced business hackery with conservative idealism.

I would substitute 'coopted' for 'replaced' - 'business front coopted conservative idealism' - since the front and the business hackery were always still there. We may be reaching a point at which large corporations have had enough of conservative idealism because returns are diminishing (crappy educational system; crumbling infrastructure; compromised legal system; etc.), but if that's the case, it's taken a long time.

Publius is right that serious feddies are sincere, but I don't think sincerity (idealism) merits intellectual repsect (and feddies would obviously agree with that if the shoe is on the other foot, ie vis a vis liberalism). I appreciate that the best feddies take their ideals seriously, especially personal freedom, but it's interesting (as Bush would say it) that when abuse or corruption or violation of individual liberties comes to light as a as a product of the regime they are most definitely a vital, undergirding part, they tend to become, suddenly, mere intellectuals and individualists - said abuse has nothing to do with them; they are part of an overtly political movement (The Federalists), but when said movement bears fruit, then suddenly they are all merely individuals. Right. Respect? Only with a small 'r'.

But the bottom line is: ideals are worthless - worse than worthless, actually - if they are esteemed above, and are out of phase with, human nature and condition as it actually is. Feddies are no different in kind from Calvinists and other fundamentalists in this sense. The basic difference between liberalism and this kind of - I hardly want to call it 'conservatism'; I'll say 'fundamentalism' - is in fact overestimation of ideals. The difference between a simple, relativelty harmless fool and a gigantic, dangerous one is usually huge intellectual firepower.

what Nietzsche said: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster.”

Yes, he would know all about that. It's fitting that you would quote Nietzsche, who, by virtue of the ideals he rebelled so strenuously against, was thereby a prisoner of them.

Thanks Prof. Teles for the comment. And in case this post was unclear, it was an outstanding book -- the first of its kind in this area as far as I know.

I think the people on this site would really enjoy it -- and would encourage them to go buy it.

The law, and the public institutions of government, are how we negotiate our differences. None of us win them all. If we're going to live together, we all have to learn to live with that

Depending on where you're coming from, we don't have to learn to live with them.

Once you have a Complete Theory of Everything, and know How History Comes Out -- and movement 'conservatism' (as distinct from anything Cicero or Burke or Oakshott would recognize) does -- then you can begin the differential treatment of the progenitors of the ultimate winners and losers now -- we've Seen the Script, and they're not needed in Act V.

Maybe you don't actually eliminate them, but you don't bust your hump dragging their doomed, dead weight into The Glorious Future/New Jerusalem -- or giving them valuable jobs in the Department of Justice.

Perhaps I should be more specific. In the context above this following: protecting the rights of poor women to live their lives as they see fit, including the right not to bear a child they do not want to carry to term. was used to justify having the government _pay_ for abortions.

If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution grating this right (here I am referring to the right to have the state pay for aboritons) I would be very appreciative.

Thank you, Prof.Teles, both for the book and your comment. But one thing...

That said, I think there is much more internal dissension among conservatives about the way the Bush administration screwed up DOJ than often surfaces publicly. I can't tell you how many conservatives I've talked to that think that John Yoo was an extremist and a pretty bad lawyer (you see this in Goldsmith's book, but that's just the tip of the iceberg). People like Goodling treated the permanent DOJ lawyers as the enemy, but there were plenty of other--very conservative--political appointees in DOJ who deeply respected their professionalism, even where they disagreed with some of their positions on particular issues, and thought the politicization of the DOJ civil service was a disaster. I wish more of these conservative lawyers would come out more clearly on these issues, but I do think it's a mistake to think that Goodling was in any sense representative of what all of the conservative lawyers in the department thought was appropriate.

I sense the same reluctance to speak out against outliers here as I do in the more religious areas. The Dobsons and Kennedys are not being contradicted by other, less extreme evangelical and religious leaders, and, thus, the over-riding image of religion is that of extremism.

I think that's the case for conservatism, and not speaking up forcefully against this malfeasance may brand conservatism as this corrupt, incompetent monster for the next generation.

Jesurgislac wrote:

"Amendment 1: Freedom of Religion. A woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, without being prevented just because according to a religious belief she does not adhere to says it's "murder".

What are you saying? That the Supreme Court utilized argumentation based on the First Amendment to create a legal right to abortion in Roe v Wade?

Or are you promoting some sort of Hugo Black version of total incorporation?

Even Laurence Tribe said that the abortion ruling had no discernible substantive judgement upon which it was found.

Perhaps I should be more specific.

Um, probably not.

I think the point is that looking at the Constitution for specific rights that are questionable is kinda self-contradictory since the document itself is specifically set up as not needing to ennumerate those rights.

I hadn't read Prof. Teles' comment when I posted mine, and I wouldn't scoff at this:

I think there is much more internal dissension among conservatives about the way the Bush administration screwed up DOJ than often surfaces publicly.....in the book I mainly deal with the elite, secular side of the movement, and that's very much not where Goodling came out of.

But i think it illustrates my point very well. The elite, secular part of the movement doesn't necessarily like what their movement as a whole has wrought? How about that! I don't believe in guilt by association, but we're looking at much more than simple 'association'. The overestimation of the Ideal - the literalism, IOW - is still there, I have to assume.

OK, now I'm going to have to take a look at the book. Thanks pub.

Re. gwangung's point. I agree that more conservatives need to do what Goldsmith did--point out the distinction between reasonable conservative principle and professionalism, and partisan hackery. Otherwise the brand is in real trouble. That was part of what was going on with the Miers nomination, I think--nominating her was an example of hackery par excellence, and serious conservatives demanded that a serious conservative lawyer (Alito) get the nod. But really seriously criticizing the DOJ follies is arguably much more important, but also more difficult-in this case it requires that you call out people you actually worked with, there's the fear of providing "ammunition to the enemy," etc. But that's what serious movements have to be willing to do, or they get tarred with the brush of their least scrupulous members.

John, if you'd like to educate yourself why it's irrational for state-funded health care to exclude abortions, you might find The Sceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry, by Janet Radcliffe Richards, useful - it was published quite some time ago (I recall first reading it in the 1980s) but Richards does clearly outline both the premises she accepts, and the logical structure built on those premises, to justify state-funded health care including abortions. And having said that, I will do my best not to participate in this threadjack on abortion any more.

The Bush administration:
Worse than you imagine, even when you've accounted for the fact that they're worse than you imagine.

seriously criticizing the DOJ follies is arguably much more important, but also more difficult-in this case it requires that you call out people you actually worked with, there's the fear of providing "ammunition to the enemy," etc. But that's what serious movements have to be willing to do, or they get tarred with the brush of their least scrupulous members.

This is what serious intellectual movements have to do or else they aren't really intellectually serious, are they? The outcome otherwise is much worse than the movement's sustaining a hit to its image; the outcome is inevitably pretty much what has actually happened. When your oppoent is 'the enemy', what else can you expect? The fact that, with very very few (one?) exceptions this hasn't been done makes me sceptical of the intellectual integrity of the movement. Being able to argue brilliantly and voluminously doesn't mean your basic tenets are correct.

Just curious: who would count as a secular elite among prominent Federalists? Anyone a layperson would've heard of?

Two things.

First, smoking bans are not about the "nanny state". To my knowledge, nobody, anywhere in the US, is prevented from smoking. If smoking floats your boat, light up.

What is not allowed is smoking in public places, where other people will have to breathe your smoke. The reason this is not allowed is because it will make them sick, if not kill them.

If walking outside to have a cigarette is just too much to bear, you need to learn to deal. There are other people in the world.

And yes, I used to smoke, and spent many a delightful hour getting snowed on so I could feed my jones. It just wasn't that big of a deal.

The second thing is this:

When people talk about principled conservatives, as opposed to those nasty irresponsible conservatives who are, you know, actually in office, I find that I'm sort of at a loss.

What is it, exactly, that these principled conservatives want? What does their perfect world look like?

What is it, exactly, that they offer to the rest of us?

What problem is it, exactly, that they have the solution to, and what, exactly is that solution?

Cause to be totally honest, if anyone is actually sending the message out, I'm not getting it.

I've been talking to conservatives online and elsewhere for several years now, and I'm still not seeing what the good part is.

Thanks -

Jesurgislac

I suppose the next logical question I would have is: Where in the Constitution is the "right to government funded health care" mentioned? The government can do a lot of things, but rights enumerated are fairly specific: religion, speech, bare arms, etc. I have no problem with abortion being available, I simply disagree that people have a right to have the government pay for said abortions (or the right to have the government pay for their health care for that matter.)

There is nothing preventing women's groups from setting up abortion funds for poor women who cannot afford them. I have no problem with this.

Hilzoy:

I feel the same way about public funding for abortion: the fact that there are people who think its murder should make us stop and ask ourselves whether it's worth putting them in a position in which their tax dollars go to what they think is murder, but if you think that protecting the rights of poor women to live their lives as they see fit, including the right not to bear a child they do not want to carry to term, then arguably it is.

Ok, but just like opposition to a war, the people who want to march and vote to have their preferences reflected in the law are doing appropriate things to try to get their understanding reflected in the law. Comparing the Federalist Society or the rest of the conservative legal movement to terrorists who are only worth understanding as enemies (a tone most purely expressed by KCinDC but found all over this thread) isn't really getting it.

The abortion issue is especially pertinent in terms of abuse legal process considering Roe v. Wade. The conservative legal movement gained quite a bit of traction because it was a reminder that control of the judiciary was becoming much more important than having to bother with the democratic branches.

@ Mis En Place:

I don't think the VPC is very supportive of the modern AR-15, which I own one of. They would like to see a federal ban cover these type of rifles, ergo they want to "take my gUnz".

As for the conservative movement a guise to benefit a small subset of rich elite, why do so many rural areas (not known for their flagrant wealthiness) vote Republican?

Gary sez I do recall living in Seattle from 1978 through early 1986, though, and I still miss it, and the Olympics and Cascades and lakes and the Sound and Rainer in the distance, and the PP Market, and on and on.

Yeah WA state is great. I lucked out when they were assigning stations (I could've been shipped off to Norfolk, blegh!). I live on the peninsula, because that's where work is, but I try to get over to Seattle on weekends. Tacoma is a good time too, but most people won't admit it.

John: Where in the Constitution is the "right to government funded health care" mentioned?

Where in the Constitution does it say that the people of the US ought not to be allowed to pay for their health care by the collective, tax-funded, efficient, and cheaper method made use of by every other country in the developed world?

The insistance that health care in the US has got to be profitable to private business is the main reason why Americans pay more than any other nation for their health care, and have a worse health care system than any other country in the developed world and worse even than some Third World countries.

If you're claiming this is because it says it has to be that way in the US Constitution, cite.

If your argument is that Americans ought not to have what is not in the Constitution, that's against the Ninth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, I do believe.

But there are liberal groups seeking to "Take my Guns" ... there are "librUlz" who want to publicly fund abortion.

But there aren't "activist judges" doing these things. The conservative plaint isn't that "there are people who disagree with us", but that librulz have taken over the courthouses.

=================

Smoking bans are pure nanny-statism.

Outdoor bans might be, but since second-hand smoke kills, indoor bans should be supported by libertarians (the "fist" of the smoke is going past the "tip of my nose"). Your vice doesn't get to poison me.

(or what russel said)

===================

most ideas put forward by "liberals" are probably pretty close to what your acquaintances would find reasonable

According to The Gathering of Eagles web-site, Iran "is at war with us". I find that far from reasonable.

Russell,

What is not allowed is smoking in public places, where other people will have to breathe your smoke. The reason this is not allowed is because it will make them sick, if not kill them.

Smoking is a gross, unhealthy habit, I agree. But a bar is not a public place, it's a privately-owned and operated place.

LT Nixon: Smoking is a gross, unhealthy habit, I agree. But a bar is not a public place, it's a privately-owned and operated place.

Actually, according to most civil rights legislation, a bar is a public place. The bar's owner is not allowed to make it "Whites Only", or to ban women, or to ban gay people. Nor is the bar's owner allowed to regulate that 14-18s can have a drink if accompanied by both parents, or that 18-21s can have a drink if they're members of the US armed forces, or any other variation on the US's draconian drinking laws. So I think your argument that the bar is a private space and the bar's owners/managers are entitled to decide what goes on there, kind of fails.

If you could please point out the specific amendment to the Constitution granting this right I would be very appreciative.

Well, that's not how it works. The Constitution is not an exhaustive list of your rights--it's an exhaustive list of government powers. You have a whole universe of rights not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution--they're "self-evident" as someone once said.

Ehhhhhh.

As far as smoking goes, I'd sooner require that a bar informs a patron that smoking's allowed, and then let everything else sort itself out.

I've never understood the "smoking bans are nannystateism" crowd. Cigarettes are the delivery systems for highly addictive drugs. The state also forbids you from shooting up heroin in bars and it greatly limits the availability of many prescription substances. If Nicotine were treated like any other similarly addictive drug, millions of smokers would be rotting in prison for the rest of their lives. The truth is that nicotine addicts, junkies every one of them, can enjoy their addiction in bars anytime they want: all they have to do is go to a pharmacy and buy a patch. With current cigarette taxes, it will probably cost less.

The audacity of cigarette smokers stuns me. We've carved out a legal regime for them and given them a vast number of special privileges, but the minute we decide that minimum wage employees really shouldn't have to be forced to endure the stench of their odious habit, they demand even more special privileges. You would think that a group of drug addicts would demonstrate a little more humility and gratitude.

Smoking is a gross, unhealthy habit, I agree. But a bar is not a public place, it's a privately-owned and operated place.

In addition to Jesu's comments:

From the fact that "Cigar Bars" continue to flourish (even in California!), I'm sure there's a way around the ban. So the "drug addicts" even have a way to drink and smoke if they really wanted to, without poisoning those of us who don't.

But a bar is not a public place, it's a privately-owned and operated place.

Yes.

And they are prohibited from selling alcohol to minors. The bar and other serving areas must be kept clean. The glasses have to be washed with a disinfecting rinse. If they serve food, the kitchen has to meet a laundry list of public health requirements.

If you serve the public, you're a public place, no matter if it's privately owned.

You could sell me on an exemption for private clubs and for places like cigar bars, where people go specifically to smoke. But I don't see private ownership of the facilities as a reasonable exemption. Public health laws of all kinds apply to those.

Re: the AR-15, I would suggest that a campaign of education about the firearm might win more hearts and minds than claims that folks are taking your guns away. People freak out because it looks like military ordinance, and in fact the fully automatic version *is* a military rifle.

It's actually a useful, reliable, and relatively inexpensive firearm for a variety of civilian uses. I came to that conclusion after a patient and articulate AR-15 owner walked me through his reasons for owning one in an online forum.

Maybe you shouldn't have to explain why you want to do all the things you do, but sometimes going the extra mile makes the difference. Eyes on the prize, dude.

Just saying.

Thanks -

For those opposed to smoking bans, let me ask you a question. Would you be okay with allowing bars to improve the atmospherics by using fog generators that emit low level toxins? If not, what is the difference?

So I think your argument that the bar is a private space and the bar's owners/managers are entitled to decide what goes on there, kind of fails.

Does this mean that the local bar is going to be like the DMV where you have to take a number to get a drink?

Turbulence said The truth is that nicotine addicts, junkies every one of them, can enjoy their addiction in bars anytime they want: all they have to do is go to a pharmacy and buy a patch. With current cigarette taxes, it will probably cost less.

Thank you Turbulence for saying what I've told my boy for years.

Does this mean that the local bar is going to be like the DMV where you have to take a number to get a drink?

That would be a great improvement at a lot of bars.

The Constitution is not an exhaustive list of your rights--it's an exhaustive list of government powers.

So where in that exhaustive list of government powers is funding healthcare in any way, shape, or form?

So where in that exhaustive list of government powers is funding healthcare in any way, shape, or form?

Try reading the Preamble.

Whether or not it's a wise thing to do is a policy question and rightly left to political debate.

Does this mean that the local bar is going to be like the DMV where you have to take a number to get a drink?

Some bars I've been at would be improved by this! (I'm not sure how you get from "public place" to DMV, but whatever.) There are lots of "private places" where you take a number: butcher shops, delis, etc. What's your point?

==================

rightly left to political debate.

Or leftly right!

So where in that exhaustive list of government powers is funding healthcare in any way, shape, or form?

Article I, section 8.

LT Nixon: Does this mean that the local bar is going to be like the DMV where you have to take a number to get a drink?

It's an efficient queuing system, and service in some crowded bars at peak times would probably be improved by using this system.

But I don't follow your logic: because the government is empowered to regulate how bar owners treat their bar staff, including giving bar staff the right not to have to breathe second-hand smoke, why would that mean the government would also require bars to use an efficient (if impersonal) queuing system?

"If walking outside to have a cigarette is just too much to bear, you need to learn to deal."

Russell, more and more smoking bans ban smoking outside.

Example:

[...] The smoking ordinance, which was unanimously passed by the five-member Calabasas City Council last month, prohibits smoking in all public places, indoor or outdoor, where anyone might be exposed to secondhand smoke. The ban includes outdoor cafes, bus stops, soccer fields, condominium pool decks, parks and sidewalks. Smoking in one's car is allowed, unless the windows are open and someone nearby might be affected.

[...]

Smoking has been prohibited on most Southern California beaches and piers since 2003.

Example:
[...] Some public transit agencies have chosen to take the step of banning smoking in any public transit facilities, and went beyond just banning smoking on public transit vehicles or trains. Portland, Oregon's mass transit agency, Tri-Met, decided to prohibit smoking within all bus shelters, transit centers, and most MAX train stations, as of September 2005. This rule is enforceable by a fine, exclusion, or arrest.

Similarly, Illinois law prohibits anyone from smoking on public school property (indoors and outdoors).

"Would you be okay with allowing bars to improve the atmospherics by using fog generators that emit low level toxins?"

So long as the info is posted outside, sure.

I also don't campaign against locales passing smoking bans with health as an issue. I simply don't campaign for them, either.

On a comfort level, I'm uncomfortable in noisy bars and restaurants, and avoid them, but I wouldn't want a law passed restricting their decibel levels to my comfort level. I've also historically tended to avoid smokey bars and restaurants and places. I avoid all sorts of places I don't like, such as music venues with overly loud speakers (another health issue), as it happens.

"You could sell me on an exemption for private clubs and for places like cigar bars, where people go specifically to smoke."

You could sell me on letting bars and restaurants choose whether to be wholly smoking or wholly non-smoking, and letting patrons make their own health choices. What would be so terrible about that? What's wrong with being pro-choice?

For the record, btw, I've never smoked tobacco, don't expect I ever will, and don't care for tobacco smoke, particularly if I'm eating.

Hey, Publius, any chance you'll crib one of professor Obama's final exams if you're in a bind?

Comparing the Federalist Society or the rest of the conservative legal movement to terrorists who are only worth understanding as enemies (a tone most purely expressed by KCinDC but found all over this thread) isn't really getting it.

And here I thought I was being more reasonable toward right-wing extremists than now_what, who apparently wants to just lock them all up or shoot them or something, taking the attitude that the right wing tends to take toward "terrorists" and not worrying about where they come from in the first place.

I didn't mention the Federalist Society or "the conservative legal movement", but if all members of those groups are interested in killing liberals or using the Justice Department to improperly prosecute political opponents (as the people I was talking about are), then I certainly do consider them enemies.

You could sell me on letting bars and restaurants choose whether to be wholly smoking or wholly non-smoking, and letting patrons make their own health choices.

And the same for offices, movie theaters, airplanes? We know how "choice" works out. That's what we had before smoking bans, and it means there are no nonsmoky bars. I don't understand why bar employees should be the only workers exposed to smoke, while white-collar employees don't have to deal with it anymore.

You could sell me on letting bars and restaurants choose whether to be wholly smoking or wholly non-smoking, and letting patrons make their own health choices.

There's also the issue of the folks who work there, but generally speaking I wouldn't have a problem with what you outline here.

I take your point about outdoor public places, but I'd say basically anyplace that people should have normal access to, and where they would be exposed to cigarette smoke if smoking were allowed, is fair game for regulation.

It's really bad for you. You shouldn't have to stay away from places you want to go just to avoid it. There's a limit beyond which it becomes absurd -- "you can't smoke in your car because someday someone else might have to drive it" -- but I don't think we're in the neighborhood of that yet.

And yes, where that limit is is a matter of opinion. So, we all duke it out in the public sphere, and we land somewhere. Not everyone is going to get what they want.

Please nobody tell me that there's a law somewhere against smoking in your car because someday somebody else might drive it. :(

Thanks -

You could sell me on letting bars and restaurants choose whether to be wholly smoking or wholly non-smoking, and letting patrons make their own health choices.

How about if they posted a notice outside that said "Whites only"? What's wrong with being "pro-choice"?

How about if they posted a notice outside that said "Whites only"?

Smoking bars (which are not uncommon, in the form of cigar bars) don't exclude non-smokers.

Thanks -

Smoking bars (which are not uncommon, in the form of cigar bars) don't exclude non-smokers.

So we have a form of "pro-choice" -- if you want to smoke, there's a place to do so that doesn't exclude non-smokers. When bars were allowed to chose, there were few to none that made non-smokers feel invited.

russell: Please nobody tell me that there's a law somewhere against smoking in your car because someday somebody else might drive it. :(

Heard on As It Happens

While running errands on his way to work, self-employed decorator Gordon Williams was fined thirty pounds for smoking inside his van. Now, there's no law in the U.K. against smoking inside one's private vehicle. But there is a ban against smoking in public places -- including work places and work vehicles. So the council official who charged Mr. Williams claimed he was smoking in the workplace.

Mister Williams begs to differ. We reached him Llanafan, Whales.

I don't think the VPC is very supportive of the modern AR-15, which I own one of. They would like to see a federal ban cover these type of rifles, ergo they want to "take my gUnz".

Fair enough. But you'd be surprised how many people in central Pennsylvania think that being allowed to buy only one handgun a month is exactly the same as confiscation of firearms by jackbooted ATF thugs. I suspect that that's because they're a little crazed on the subject of Philadelphia liberals.

"I have no problem with abortion being available, I simply disagree that people have a right to have the government pay for said abortions (or the right to have the government pay for their health care for that matter.)"

You've moved your goalposts. Previously: "I think abortion is wrong, I recognize that is based completely on a belief with no scientific basis, and I don't believe that my beliefs should be foisted on anyone else. However, I do oppose having the state support this."

We've explained why the state might support it. Now you demand an explanation for why it's a constitutional right to have your abortion paid for, or for medical care to be paid for; that's a different argument. Why do you demand the right to not have the government support it?

"There is nothing preventing women's groups from setting up abortion funds for poor women who cannot afford them."

Government might or might not pay for all sorts of things; now it's just an argument over what is and isn't good policy. That's what legislatures are for.

"As for the conservative movement a guise to benefit a small subset of rich elite, why do so many rural areas (not known for their flagrant wealthiness) vote Republican?"

You seem to be suggesting that the fallacy of correlation isn't a fallacy. But it is. How does rural voting in any way contradict the assertion?

Moreover, obviously "the conservative movement" has a variety of threads, a variety of causes, and a variety of supporters. Reductionism isn't helpful.

Russell:

What is it, exactly, that these principled conservatives want? What does their perfect world look like?

What is it, exactly, that they offer to the rest of us?

Putting on my Understanding Others cap: government as small and non-interfering as possible; maximal individual freedom; prevention of bad ideas being adopted with insufficient consideration.

"Yeah WA state is great."

Western Washington (and Oregon and British Columbia), anyway. Eastern Inland Empire: nice if you like grain silos.

"The insistance that health care in the US has got to be profitable to private business is the main reason why Americans pay more than any other nation for their health care, and have a worse health care system than any other country in the developed world and worse even than some Third World countries."

Jes is correct.

"According to The Gathering of Eagles web-site, Iran 'is at war with us'. I find that far from reasonable."

If they go with the "they've been at war with us since 1979" meme, then, hey, on the bright side, reason to try Michael Ledeen for trading with the enemy.

"The state also forbids you from shooting up heroin in bars and it greatly limits the availability of many prescription substances."

I disagree with that, too. I want the purity of these drugs, and tobacco, regulated and information easily publically available. And maybe some zoning. That's all.

"So where in that exhaustive list of government powers is funding healthcare in any way, shape, or form?"

Here: "We the People of the United States, in Order to [...] promote the general Welfare [...] do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.promote the general Welfare..." and here: "The Congress shall have Power To [...] provide for the [...] general Welfare of the United States...."

HTH.

Preface: I smoke, but I don't really care about smoking prohibitions in bars. That said:

Talk to me about strippers vs. cigarettes, in bars. Some people enjoy sinful displays of naked flesh; some people enjoy sucking down carcinogens. Other people don't. But their eyes are assaulted by lascivious visions in the one case, their lungs are assaulted by exhaled carcinogens in the other -- if they willingly go into the establishment, I mean.

So, what's a consistent philophical position here? Ban both cigarettes and strippers in bars? Ban one and not the other? Or what?

-- TP

I always like this w.r.t. smoking:

Thank you for Not Smoking. Cigarette smoke is the residue of your pleasure. It contaminates the air, pollutes my hair and clothes, not to mention my lungs. This takes place without my consent. I have a pleasure, also. I like a beer now and then. The residue of my pleasure is urine. Would you be annoyed if I stood on a chair and pissed on your head and your clothes without your consent?

Tony P., is there a lack of stripper-free bars? Seems to me the market is handling the situation, though obviously there are regulations on strippers in bars in a lot of places as well.

Some people enjoy sinful displays of naked flesh; some people enjoy sucking down carcinogens. Other people don't.

Those people who want to suck down carcinogens can do so despite smoking bans: all they have to do is get a patch. No one will trouble them. The law won't punish them. Bar patrons won't yell at them. In fact, their insurance company may even pay subsidize the cost!

The issue is not whether nicotine addicts should be able to pursue their addiction. Unlike most drug users, we've decided that nicotine addicts should have no limits in that regard. The issue is air pollution. Given that the addicts can get their fix at comparable (or lower) cost using a patch, I'm confused on why they insist upon the right to inflict their stench on everyone else whenever they go to a bar.

"And the same for offices, movie theaters, airplanes?"

My personal opinion? Offices it's reasonable to have bans on, because having a job you want is far far far less optional than going to a particular bar. I'm fine with smoking and non-smoking theaters, if there are genuine choices always available. I'd be okay with having smoking and non-smoking planes if genuine choices were available, but given the practicalities, this seems unlikely, so probably not.

"I take your point about outdoor public places"

Watching an amateur or kids baseball game, and not being able to walk 50 yards away to smoke, seems excessive to me. And I repeat that I'm not a smoker and never have been. But I don't begrudge people their addictions, either.

"How about if they posted a notice outside that said 'Whites only'?"

As a society we've decided that racial discrimination is sufficiently pernicious that we won't allow that level of it. It's a choice. I support that choice, and don't support forcing non-smoking if someone wants to have a smoking bar; I'm content to let the free market handle that. I don't insist you agree with me; it's my personal opinion.

let me be clear that I’m not talking about her law school. The Harvard Federalist Society breeds the same level of liberal hatred that Regent does.

I'm not sure this part is quite right. In two years at Harvard Law School, despite being a flaming liberal and fairly vocal about it, I've yet to encounter any signs of hatred from the Federalist Society here. The FedSoc people I've met have always been willing to talk with me in a respectful way about political stuff -- totally unlike a lot of the unhinged liberal-hating rhetoric one sees elsewhere (including in Justice Scalia's opinions).

I think maybe that's because the FedSoc people at Harvard are really smart (well, many of them), and have thought seriously about their political philosophy, and furthermore are members of the elite, so they're feeling pretty secure both intellectually and personally. Whereas someone at a very low-ranking law school might have a lot more of the insecurities that can make a person feel resentful or bitter towards imagined liberal elites.

Of course, none of this explains what's up with Justice Scalia's attitude. Maybe he's repressing a lot of doubt and guilt over Bush v. Gore?

"Those people who want to suck down carcinogens can do so despite smoking bans: all they have to do is get a patch."

Nobody wants to "suck down carcinogens"; they want the pleasure of smoking. It's not my pleasure, but who am I do tell people what they should and shouldn't like if it doesn't, in fact, hurt me?

"Given that the addicts can get their fix at comparable (or lower) cost using a patch,"

Do you sincerely think people get the same pleasure from a patch? Although I can't testify to this myself, I'm reasonably sure millions of smokers could explain to you that you are misinformed.

Nobody wants to "suck down carcinogens"; they want the pleasure of smoking. It's not my pleasure, but who am I do tell people what they should and shouldn't like if it doesn't, in fact, hurt me?

I'm thrilled that smoking doesn't hurt you. It hurts me. It hurts my friends. It hurts lots of people I know. Did you ever experience going to a bar or a club and coming home to find that your coat and clothes reeked of cigarette stench days later? Have you ever known anyone with respiratory issues whose quality of life noticeably improved after their municipality banned smoking in some areas?

Do you sincerely think people get the same pleasure from a patch? Although I can't testify to this myself, I'm reasonably sure millions of smokers could explain to you that you are misinformed.

I can't speak to the subjective effects, but then again, neither can you. But to the extent that people are addicted to nicotine, their body needs nicotine itself. Nicotine addicts can't get by smoking nicotine-free cigarettes, so I'm skeptical that smoking rather than nicotine delivery is the key feature of their addiction.

What exactly do you think I'm misinformed about? That nicotine addicts associate feelings of pleasure with the physical act of smoking? Why would that matter? It doesn't mean that their cravings aren't satisfied with alternative drug delivery systems. I really enjoy tasty food from street vendors when I'm on the go in Manhattan, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a nice slow sit down meal at home. The experience is very different, but the key thing, namely satisfying my hunger, is the same in both cases.

Smokers who are not addicted to nicotine should be able to survive for a few hours without smoking. After all, they're not addicted. I mean, I like having sex, but somehow I manage to avoid doing so in public so I don't think it is a horrible burden to ask non-addicted smokers to do the same.

KCinDC, here in MA there is no lack of stripper-free bars; there is also no lack of cigarette-free bars. The reverse is not true: stripper bars do exist; smoking bars don't. That's not because of 'the market'; it's because of the law.

As I said, I'm not opposed to banning smoking in bars. I'm just looking for philosophical consistency -- from all sides. For instance, I can easily imagine persons who would permit cigarettes but ban strippers, in bars. How would we argue against them, if we had a mind to?

-- TP

Tony P -- don't know if this addresses your question (I'm not following the discussion all that closely at the moment). But it seems relevant to me that second-hand smoke is harmful to the health of anyone within reach, whereas watching strippers isn't. Watching strippers (or not) is a preference as between two activities neither of which harms someone who makes the other choice. Smoking isn't.

Implied in this argument is that I don't recognize anyone's notion of "moral" harm (watching strippers is sinful) as relevant. Harm to people's health is concrete and measurable. "Moral" harm is a matter of opinion.

"I'm thrilled that smoking doesn't hurt you. It hurts me. It hurts my friends."

Really? Someone smoking next door to where I live hurts you? Smoking abstractly hurts you?

I suggest you narrow your claim.

"Smokers who are not addicted to nicotine should be able to survive for a few hours without smoking."

I'm glad you're not interested in telling people what they should and shouldn't do, or in moral sanctimony. Myself, I'm not interested in instructing people on what they shouldn't do because they can survive for a few hours not doing it, and I'm less interested in using the power of the state to enforce my personal druthers.

If I were, I might try to pass laws preventing people from making dumb comments on the intertubes; they hurt me, and people can survive a very long time without posting them.

As I said, I'm not opposed to banning smoking in bars. I'm just looking for philosophical consistency -- from all sides. For instance, I can easily imagine persons who would permit cigarettes but ban strippers, in bars. How would we argue against them, if we had a mind to?

Pretty easily I'd think. Due to a whole of bunch of annoying physical and economic facts, the effects of cigarette smoke are much harder to contain than the effect of naked performers. The naked performers affect patrons optically and there is an easy way to shield unwilling patrons from those naughty naughty light waves: a 1/8" plywood board or even a curtain. This shielding isn't very expensive; it might cost up to $100 in capital costs with essentially zero maintenance costs. In contrast, if we wished to shield patrons from the effects of cigarette smoke, we would need to build separate ventilation systems and mostly air-sealed environments. This would cost tens of thousands of dollars in fixed costs and would require costly ongoing maintenance (air filters need to be replaced, etc).

Now, if the basic physical laws of how light and air travel (say diffusion got much faster) or if the basic economic costs of building air sealed environments changed, we'd have to reevaluate. But those things are not going to change. You can put your faith in the diffusion constant for air.

an easy way to shield unwilling patrons from those naughty naughty light waves

Goggles (painted black).

"But to the extent that people are addicted to nicotine, their body needs nicotine itself. Nicotine addicts can't get by smoking nicotine-free cigarettes, so I'm skeptical that smoking rather than nicotine delivery is the key feature of their addiction."

I'm not a smoker and I don't really get it, but I suspect you are missing out on the fact that people get a PLEASURE out of smoking that they don't get out of the patch. The patch fulfills the nicotine addiction part of the equation, but not the pleasure side of it.

Seagoon: Here! Have a gorilla.

Eccles: Oh! Thanks.

Grams: [Gorilla roaring]

Eccles: Oww! Oww! Ooh! Oww! Hey! These gorillas are strong. Here! Have one of my monkeys - they're milder.

Seagoon: And so for the rest of the voyage we sat quietly smoking our monkeys.

I'm not a smoker and I don't really get it, but I suspect you are missing out on the fact that people get a PLEASURE out of smoking that they don't get out of the patch. The patch fulfills the nicotine addiction part of the equation, but not the pleasure side of it.

That's quite possible. But are we talking about pleasure inherent in smoking or are we talking about pleasure that's been associated with smoking because the brain's been conditioned to associate smoking with the salving of a fierce chemical desire? If we're talking about the second, then (I'd guess) that pleasure wouldn't accrue to a patched smoker: eating doesn't feel good when you're already full.

If smoking in and of itself were pleasurable, even without the nicotine, I'd expect that we'd see lots of people smoking nicotine-free cigarettes just to gain that pleasure. But we don't really see that. People don't seem to like inhaling wads of burning paper into their lungs, even when the paper is well flavored absent a significant pharmacological effect. I could be totally wrong here. If a smoker who has used both wants to chime in, I'd be very grateful for their insight.

Offices it's reasonable to have bans on, because having a job you want is far far far less optional than going to a particular bar.

What if your job is working in a bar?

And the market had plenty of chance to solve the problem, but it failed. That's why people turned to laws. Without something to shake things up, "choice" simply means the status quo, with no option of going to a bar without being exposed to smoke.

Harm to people's health is concrete and measurable. "Moral" harm is a matter of opinion.

I absolutely agree, JanieM. Alas, we live in mutual citizenship with people who do not. That is, people whose opinion it is that moral harm is NOT a matter of opinion. They have it on good authority (the Highest Authority, in fact) that, while smoking might destroy my mortal body, prurience might endanger my immortal soul. Protecting me from eternal hellfire, whether I care to be protected or not, is their notion of civic duty. I do not want to cede philosophical ground to people like that by accepting arguments for banning smoking which they can then use for banning their favorite bad things.

BTW, when I go a bar, I'm usually not going alone. My circle of friends is such that, if bars were permitted to choose to be smoking or non-smoking according to their own assessment of 'the market', the non-smoking bars would get my business every time.

-- TP


So, what's a consistent philophical position here? Ban both cigarettes and strippers in bars? Ban one and not the other? Or what?

The difference here is that when you go to a strip club, nobody makes you take *your* clothes off.

It's strictly voluntary.

Thanks -

In re. "Tom"'s point, above. I think that the point of the commenter he is responding to probably is over-drawn. At least in my experience at Yale Law School, the law FedSoc students were not foaming at the mouth with hatred for liberals. I think that may have been more characteristic of an earlier generation of conservative law students, who thought that they were the only people like them at their institution and got treated pretty shabbily by liberal profs and students. The existence of the Federalist Society now means that conservatives have others like them to huddle together with for warmth. At least at Yale, liberals attend FedSoc activities and conservatives often come to ACS programs. So I think, perhaps oddly, the greater power of conservatives in elite law schools has made them less instinctually hostile to liberals. This is even more true for libertarians, many of whom find that they have as much in common with legal liberals as with conservatives. So, to whatever degree the raw hatred of liberals characterized legal conservatives, my sense is that, at least at the elite levels I've seen, it's declining.

Turbulence, it seems pretty obvious that both the nicotine and the physical sensations of smoking are involved. To use your analogy, not all foods (or all dining experiences) are interchangeable, even if they all satisfy hunger.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad