Friday, December 3, 2021

Abortion Science II

Guest of honor at a Singapore Full Moon party, via


Shorter David F. Brooks, "Abortion: The Voice of the Ambivalent Majority":

No, I don't mean abortion is the voice of the ambivalent majority. I mean I am the voice of the ambivalent majority, and I think the solution to the problem is obviously to be of two minds, which is what all but the extremists want, so I support overturning Roe and Casey without overturning Roe and Casey. This is the only appropriately moderate position.

That is: Brooks believes the Court should uphold the Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, in defiance of the finding of Roe v. Wade (1973) that the state's interest in protecting the fetus applies to a fetus that is 28 or more weeks old, and the revision in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992) changing that to the standard of "viability", a fetus that is capable of living outside the womb (28 weeks in the received medical opinion of 1973 but by now 23 or 24 weeks, sometimes set as low as 22); or in other words should allow Mississippi to introduce an entirely random standard whose only possible purpose is to reduce the number of abortions overall  (not that much—95% of abortions in the US are before 15 weeks) and then claim they hadn't overturned Roe and Casey even though they obviously had:

"Mississippi's ban on abortion, two months before viability, is flatly unconstitutional under decades of precedent," Center for Reproductive Rights Senior Director Julie Rikelman said during oral arguments. "Two generations have now relied on this right, and 1 out of every 4 women makes a decision to end a pregnancy."

Or, in Brooks's own words,

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Abortion Science


Image via Ms. Magazine.

Shorter Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, "The Case Against Abortion":

In the bad old days, we were dependent on philosophers, theologians, and lawyers to decide moral issues, which obviously led to a lot of disputes, for example on the question of abortion, but now we have science, which proves unequivocally that abortion is objectively evil.

No, seriously:

There is no way to seriously deny that abortion is a form of killing. At a less advanced stage of scientific understanding, it was possible to believe that the embryo or fetus was somehow inert or vegetative until so-called quickening, months into pregnancy. But we now know the embryo is not merely a cell with potential, like a sperm or ovum, or a constituent part of human tissue, like a skin cell. Rather, a distinct human organism comes into existence at conception, and every stage of your biological life, from infancy and childhood to middle age and beyond, is part of a single continuous process that began when you were just a zygote.

We know from embryology, in other words, not Scripture or philosophy, that abortion kills a unique member of the species Homo sapiens, an act that in almost every other context is forbidden by the law.

Monday, November 29, 2021

McWhorter Postscript


Lofgren writes in comments to yesterday's post:

I don't think McWhorter is proposing an alternative, "better" timeline. He's just making an observation about how the shift from Black-led street action to (often) White-led government action affect his own feelings as a Black man. Even in the quoted section, he explicitly says that he wouldn't want to live in the alternate timeline that you are proposing. It's not as though this observation is unique to him, though it is usually not framed around a personal feeling. Usually it is framed around historicity, specifically how ending segregation and the Civil Rights movement are often portrayed as great leaps forward for White people, who have learned an important lesson about sharing and caring and are graciously letting Black people act like they are equals (for now). A not so subtle implication, which MAGAs pick up on even if Liberals don't, is that all of this equality is kind of a trial offer from White America, which we can revoke whenever we want because it was not properly "earned" – i.e. taken from us – if it causes us too much trouble. This is not some crazy, out-there observation by McWhorter. He's not crazy to feel this way. It's the way the story is taught and the way that a majority of White America still views it.

I think you are being more than a bit unfair in your tweets and you seem to have missed important nuance. Like most eggheads, McWhorter wallows in nuance and likes to introduce extra nuance whenever possible, even when it is probably counterproductive or even illusory. You're criticizing him for failing at sci-fi style world building but he's just trying to express his feelings, not propose a spec script for HBO. It's not even like he is pretending to be rational. He's explicitly talking about emotions, not logic or reality. I don't think it's right to invalidate those emotions out of hand because they might lead to less optimal outcomes if he ever gets his hand on a time machine.

I have no idea where this reading is coming from. I was not criticizing McWhorter for "failing at sci-fi style world building". As Lofgren notes, McWhorter himself says that "none of us would want to rewind the tape and play things out again without the Civil Rights Act..." I was certainly not proposing an alternate timeline either. Did he read the tweets?

For the Record: McWhorter

Divinity, via Cold Belly.

Apparently John McWhorter doesn't think being eminent in the field of linguistics qualifies anybody to talk about history or politics.

But it's OK if you're a Republican. That's where people really value amateurism.

Friday, November 26, 2021



William S.L. Jewett "The First Thanksgiving Dinner" wood engraving for Harper's Weekly, 1868, via The Clark Museum. The first federal Thanksgiving, that is, proclaimed by President Lincoln in fall 1863 to express the Union's gratitude for the victory at Gettysburg, which is perhaps what Father is focused on while the children tuck in.

Happy 400th Thanksgiving! Though I guess it's understood that the first one wasn't, technically, a thanksgiving. That is, they must have held one after that 1621 harvest, but in church, praying all day, not feasting, and not inviting the heathen savages in, and that's not what we're historically informed about. The feast, actually three days of feasting, undoubtedly took place too, as Edward Winslow wrote in a letter to a London connection, George Morton (sent with the ship that brought their first harvest of "Indian corn" and barley for sale on the English market, because they'd done much better, with Squanto's help, than just being able to feed themselves), 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Class Interests


The Branko Milanovic–Christoph Lakner "Elephant Chart" showing global growth rates from 1988 to 2008 arranged by income percentiles, with its four major highlights: mediocre growth in red for the poorest people, or most people in the poorest countries, extraordinary growth in green for most people in the emerging economies of Asia, especially China, serious stagnation in blue for the pretty rich people of western Europe and North America in particular, and fabulous growth in purple for the global super-rich (not as fabulous as China, but keep in mind that the 1% are starting with a lot more money, ending up by 2020 with 43% of all the wealth in the world).

This post from Nathan Newman ("Education Polarization in Elections: People Are Voting Their Class Interests"), giving me at long last a way of thinking about that "White Working Class" that makes some sense, has been sitting in an open tab on my computer for almost a month. He's looking at the same voting pattern as everybody else, but he's seeing it in the historical context of how it effectively happened that the outsourcing economy of the last 40-odd years primarily affected white workers in relatively rural areas; because that's how the distinction between workers in the growing service industries and and those in the shrinking manufacturing industries had sorted itself out in the US, where the former remained as traditional multiracial and urban, the latter came to be concentrated in

For the Record: Brandon


Makeup by Kevin Kirkpatrick, via Vulture, January 2012.

Posted this in comments at Roy's SubStack, on the "Let's Go Brandon" phenomenon, in response to a comment by SundayStylie wondering "are we supposed to believe that the Fuck Your Feelings crowd have suddenly decided to revert to dainty euphemisms?" and thought it was something I'd want to remember:

It's middle school boys pretending to clear their throats--"A-whore! A-whore!" The immaturity is kind of the point. It's pretending Biden is your mom or your teacher, baffled and unable to respond, whereas if you just said "fuck" they could just yell at you and not let you go to the dance.

This is what Trump is particularly a master of, not just saying the quiet part out loud but claiming deniability as he does it. "You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist." Why is he not supposed to use the word? Because he's telling you he's a Nazi.

But whether you embarrass yourself by calling him out for it, or by not calling him out, you're the one who gets embarrassed, and all the cool boys in the class can't get over how funny it is.

I keep telling you Trump's base is middle-aged Beavis and Butt-Head.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

Monday, November 22, 2021

For the Record: Apotheosis


I can't seem to find anything about the source of this image, but I can't let it go.

Suburban Skies

Coffee Clatch, Park Forest, Illinois, 1954. Photo by Bob Sandberg, via National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

 Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, peering into his Kristol ball for a way to advance-explain the Republican victory in the 2024 presidential election (he takes their win in 2022 for granted) without mentioning the word "gerrymander" ("The Diminishing Democratic Majority") It's all about those suburbs:

I’ll call this, to be provocative, the “emerging Republican majority” scenario, in which it turns out that of the two big political migrations of the Trump era — affluent suburbanites turning more Democratic, working-class whites and then Latinos turning more Republican — the first one was temporary and provisional, and the second one permanent and accelerating.

Ross doesn't know, by the way, that there's a big intersection between "affluent suburbanites" and Latinos, because US suburbs are turning increasingly Latino, many neighborhoods resegregating as young whites seek to move into cities and old ones to exurbs; 54% of the Latino population lived in suburbs by 2016, by no means all of them very affluent of course, and that's growing, so you don't know what's going on. Also, not to repeat what I've said a million times, Latins are not a monolithic group and if you can't tell the differences in orientation between Venezuelans in the Houston area and Tejanos along the Mexican border, Puerto Ricans in Harlem and Dominicans in the Bronx, Cubans in New Jersey and Ecuadorans in Queens, you're going to be missing important parts of the picture. Moreover, that possibly "permanent and accelerating" swing toward Trump between 2016 and 2020 was from 18% the first time round to 27% in the second, not an emerging majority. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

For the Record: Don't Make a Federal Case of It (or Try If You Want to, But You'll Fail)


Because personally, if I'm a member of Congress and somebody portrays me as a cartoon serial murderer, I'm not going to think it's making fun of somebody else. If I were involved in it, of course, I'd put it more in the old Warner Brothers style than anime—that looks more satirical to me—putting Gosar's face on Elmer Fudd. And he'd fail to get his kill, that's a lot funnier, trust me.

And in Sinemascope