29 thoughts on “Why not McCain?”

  1. From what I've gathered the concern regarding McCain's “conservativeness” is in regards to his apparent (lack of) socially conservative views. The McCain Feingold bill, his stance on illegal immigration and his support for embryonic stem-cell research all seem to be the major catalysts for concern (and patently absurd political hack attacks) about McCain's conservativeness.

    If I'm reading the news correctly embryonic stemcells are likely to be a thing of the past quite soon through cloning breakthroughs.

    The immigration issue isn't going to be solved by a round 'em up policy. But that non-solution will create more crime.

    I'm divided on the McCain Feingold deal. But not enough to boot Mac as a possible candidate to support.

  2. Michael,

    Sorry, I should have been more clear. The first aspect of my comment entailed what is “popularly” wrong with McCain's positions (an answer to Dan's query.) The last bit was a refutation of the “conventional” attacks on Mac's “conservatism.” That refutation included the opponents of McCain who would have Illegal Immigration be a matter of increasingly stringent laws and/or the ever popular “round em up” policies put forth by some. When you make something illegal and cannot possibly support that law through enforcement you've simply created more crime, more strain on the systems of law enforcement, the judiciary process and, ultimately, the systems of incarceration.

  3. Jay,

    Well-said. McCain-Feingold was a terrible idea, but fortunately money's strong enough to get around it, anyway.

    Michael,

    Large-scale immigration of ambitious youths can't help but create more crime. It also creates more economic growth. Ultimately, the question is if you want an old country or a young one, with the problems those conditions entail.

    I'd rather America be a young country.

  4. I think is more that being an Arizonan, McCain comes across as more libertarian and less evangelical then the other candidates.

    (Us people in AZ hate the Feds. )

  5. Makes sense; thought Dan's comment might have been what you had in mind, but I didn't want to start a flame war over it. Truthfully, I don't think that the crime risk is worth shutting immigration down either, but I do think someone implementing McCain/Kennedy would be wise to put thought and care into the details.

    Do you just hand the immigrants an id card and let them go, or do you gather information on them first? Physical information (biometric data, infectious diseases) could help catch them more quickly if they commit a crime or prevent an outbreak of something. Background data could be followed up on to make sure they are who they say they are, thus helping to catch career criminals or terrorists and find smuggling networks.

  6. McCain is a brave guy and a genuine hero who has earned and is worthy of our utmost respect; however, he is neither a conservative nor a liberterian. And, strictly speaking, he is not a liberal. He's somewhere inbetween in no-man's-land.

    McCain-Feingold is a ham-handed, unconstitutional attempt to restrict political speech. Along with politically correct speech regulation, this is a position strictly in modern left wing liberal territory. No conservative position here.

    Those of us from the west are proud of our many hispanic American citizens and friends whose forefathers chose American democracy over Mexican citizenship from the beginning, and most of them are no happier with the current illegal alien situation than western anglo citizens. And the failure of the national government to control our southern border has been a longstanding source of unhappiness throughout the western states.

    Unfettered access to the southwestern U.S. by aliens from south of the border is not acceptable. While some businesses benefit from their labor, illegal aliens impose an unacceptable social and financial burden. They broke the law to get here and along with a mostly unskilled, uneducated labor force they bring a criminal element that forms the backbone of major hispanic gangs (MS13, etc.) in almost all major cities, smuggle narcotics, and contribute inordinately to our prison populations, increase pressure on our social support networks, and stress our schools. They have limited knowledge of and little respect for our democratic traditions, institutions, and the rule of law. And because their earnings are so low, most pay no taxes and any taxes they do pay are nominal compared to the costs incured on their behalf.

    So, John McCain's liberal multicultural attitude with respect to illegal aliens is not that of a conservative.

    To his credit, McCain has made no secret of his philosophy and attitudes on the economy, taxes, and social issues, and one could go on with the laundry list of his less than conservative positions.

    Historically, America has had a core of citizen warriors that don't like war very much, but when attacked they will brook no appeasement. And John McCain's position on the response to 9/11 and the wars in Afganistan and Iraq are well known and get him a thumbs up from those who feel that it is appropriate to respond to our mortal enemies with extreme prejudice. Supporting his fellow American citizen's who will stand their ground and not wimp out when the chips are down goes a long way with conservatives.

    So, while I believe most conservatives would prefer someone more in line with their social, fiscal, moral, and religious views than John McCain, they will undoubtedly support him against a liberal Democratic nominee should he by some twist of fate become the Republican nominee.

  7. “Can anyone thing of a conservative thing McCain is known for, excepting hawkishness (assuming we count that as conservative)?”

    I can think of free trade in goods (even when people call re-importation a liberal idea), free trade in labor (even when people call immigration a liberal idea), to name two.

  8. “Unfettered access to the southwestern U.S. by aliens from south of the border is not acceptable. While some businesses benefit from their labor, illegal aliens impose an unacceptable social and financial burden.

    They broke the law to get here and along with a mostly unskilled, uneducated labor force they bring a criminal element that forms the backbone of major hispanic gangs (MS13, etc.) in almost all major cities, smuggle narcotics, and contribute inordinately to our prison populations, increase pressure on our social support networks, and stress our schools. They have limited knowledge of and little respect for our democratic traditions, institutions, and the rule of law. And because their earnings are so low, most pay no taxes and any taxes they do pay are nominal compared to the costs incured on their behalf.”

    Read my previous comment, Rex. McCain-Kennedy may not provide a satisfying scourging of societies ills, but it does provide something more important– information. Give an illegal alien a chance to come in out of the cold, and you gain a chance to find out:
    How he got here, so you can start shutting down the smuggling network that put him there.
    Where he came from, either so you can start nagging the Mexican government about conditions in some of its provinces or so you can watch out for OTHER foreigners disguised as Mexicans.
    What his biometric data (fingerprints and DNA come to mind) look like so any crimes he commits can be tracked back to him more quickly.
    Where he works, so you can start getting him paid a minimum wage and taxes paid for his labors.
    Where he lives, so at least some of that extra tax income can be directed at the schools and other social services in his area.

    His crime does not go unpunished, as he is required to pay back taxes plus a fine, to submit fingerprint data to DHS (just looked the text of the bill up), and to learn civic and english within a certain period of time. This last part also helps them to learn about our democratic traditions and laws. And the presence of democratic traditions and laws that actually help them and treat them fairly also gives them an opportunity to develop a degree of respect for same.

  9. McCain is blighted in the Republican party because he has advocated working across the aisle in Washington. That is the charitable reading. The uncharitable reading is that he is a traitor to many of the party's policy pillars.

    He is the Republican version of Joe Leiberman.

    His stances on issues and his persona make him a palatable Republican to many Democrats. The same qualifications make him political toxic waste to many hard core Republicans.

    For all that people talk about working together, the real winner in politics is vigorous, organized, competition. Nancy Pelosi and the Dems in the House have learned this. Harry Reid on the other hand weakly(and weekly) caves in to Republicans in the Senate.

    In a different era politicians were clubby and friendly, even mannerly. Today even the best pol is one serious gaffe away from humiliating loss. Pressure has increased from interest groups who, because of sunshine laws, know who is really working for their interest. The internet has increased the pace and effectiveness of spinners and dirty-tricksters.

    Politics, in other words, has become a brutal and untrusting place. John McCain aims to change that.

    Except that the game has rules.

  10. Michael,

    Excellent comment.

    Chris,

    An excellent point.

    McCain has some problems wiht party discipline, and those are rightfully worrying to Republicans. But Romney has done much more harm to the party, I think, by repeatedly going after other Republicans directly.

    I hope you are right about McCain's positive style. Hillary's negative one is the reason that I support Obama for the Democratic nomination [1].

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/01/03/vote-mccain-vote-obama.html

  11. The man has an 82% rating with the American Conservative Union… which doesn't happen if you're a “traitor” to your party.

    The truth is the Republican Party as currently composed and led has been betraying its principles and its history.

    Bush is not a real conservative. He's nothing of the sort. The only real conservative thing he's done is get 2 conservative judges onto the Supreme Court, which is, definitely a big deal.

    If McCain's immigration ideas were so out of line, why didn't he lose in one of the states worst-hit by illegal immigration, SC? The anti-illegal immigration advocates (who I actually agree with quite a bit) lost their damn minds about a few months ago when they thought the rest of the country shared their sense of panic and resolve. Its most certainly not so simple. The country supports stiff legislation like that passed by Oklahoma (the 1804 law) but has begun to understand something McCain has long understood…. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    Since Reagan cut funding to a number of government agencies, it has been no surprise that many of these agencies (like the FAA and what is currently ICE) have been doing a crap job over the past 20 years. Hmm… how is that a surprise? If you don't fund the service, the service doesn't fund itself, except in the rare case of the ICE which tripled its charges on most if not all immigration requests (ala a fiance visa that was once $155 is now $455) in order to attain some degree of independence from a fickle Congress.

    McCain wants to toe the line on spending, which angers many a supposed conservative in Washington (as well as their blogger and media allies) who have come to depend on their pork barrel projects. Indeed, one wonders if Sen. Tom Coburn, quite possibly the most conservative senator Washington has seen in the past 20 -40 years, is some type of liberal because he worked with Sen. Obama on several issues relating to reigning in pork spending and adding a serious degree of oversight and accountability into the system, ala a website citizens can visit to see exactly what the USG is spending their tax dollars on. He did that with McCain's backing and support… how is that not conservative?

    Most of all here is the delusion of many self-professed conservatives who live in a dream world where the GOP can shove its views down the voter's throats and get away with it. Those days are over, probably for the next decade or more, thanks to the gross incompetence and corruption of the prior GOP congressional leadership and Pres. Bush.

    What McCain understands is that he can avoid this defeat by building a new coalition of existing Republicans like veterans, budget hawks, foreign policy hawks, the young, independents and numerous other groups and save the GOP from likely defeat in November. Not to mention, and most important of all, McCain knows he can co-opt 30% or so of the Democrats in Congress on issues he wants their votes on, simply because his policy proposals will be conservative enough to win his party's backing but centrist enough to win the backing of the majority of the voters, hence making Democrat opposition quite dangerous for a number of red and purple state senators and Congressmen.

  12. Vimothy,

    “Can't agree with (or understand) your pro-life stance dan, “

    What is hard to understand about the proposition that infanticide is wrong?

    Eddie,

    “The man has an 82% rating with the American Conservative Union… which doesn't happen if you're a “traitor” to your party.”

    Well said.

    Further, Romney's lack of party discipline in gong after other prominent Republicans is a far more serious breakdown in party discipline, in my opinion.

  13. It's more the proposition that abortion is infanticide…

    For instance, do you take into consideration the age of the foetus?

    The age of the mother?

    The views of the mother?

    The context of the birth (like health issues, etc)?

    Maybe this is a generically European view, maybe this comes from watching Vera Drake, but I just don't see abortion as an issue.

    Oh and dan — my comments on your Greg Clark thread seem to disappear every time I try to send them.

  14. “For instance, do you take into consideration the age of the foetus?”

    Clearly, as before personhood abortion would not be murder, and after personhood it would be.

    For abortion before personhood, your other questions clearly are relevant. For abortion after personhood, your other questions are only as relevant as they would be in murder (do I take the views of a mother into account if she smoothers a two-month old? Surely — that's her motive.)

    “Maybe this is a generically European view, maybe this comes from watching Vera Drake, but I just don't see abortion as an issue.”

    I haven't seen the film, but certainly this isn't the first time in living memory that institutionalized mass killing of a defenseless class has not been a big deal in Europe.

    “Oh and dan — my comments on your Greg Clark thread seem to disappear every time I try to send them.”

    This problem sucks. Blogspirit's support is denying it, but I've seen the problem with my own eyes. I added your complaint to the help queue. In the meantime, please email it in, and I'll add it manually.

  15. “Clearly, as before personhood abortion would not be murder, and after personhood it would be.”

    Can you explain “personhood”? At what stage in the pregnancy does the foetus acquire “personhood”?

    “For abortion before personhood, your other questions clearly are relevant. For abortion after personhood, your other questions are only as relevant as they would be in murder (do I take the views of a mother into account if she smoothers a two-month old? Surely — that's her motive.)”

    What I mean is, if the mother risks death giving birth, would abortion (or infanticide if you prefer) be acceptable? If the child is mentally retarded or very deformed, would abortion be acceptable (e.g., is there an acceptable argument in favour that parallels eugenics or euthanasia)? If the mother is pregnant because she has been raped, would abortion / infanticide be acceptable?

    “I haven't seen the film, but certainly this isn't the first time in living memory that institutionalized mass killing of a defenseless class has not been a big deal in Europe.”

    Ouch — that's a bit below the belt, though if you wish to get into an argument about WWII, as I recall from history lessons, Britain never institutionalised mass murder like Germany, joined the war in defense of civilisation before America, and while we're at, it ended slavery before you did!

    But that's besides the point. (Isn't it)?

    Cheers for the help with your comments problem — I'll email it over to you.

  16. Excellent question on personhood!

    Traditionally, personhood has been associated with human agency, so that the quickening marks the beginning of personhood. Carl Sagan, for his part, argued that we have adopted the use of electrocardigrams to mark the end of peronshood, and we should likewise use that technology to mark the beginning. Another approach, which I've become sympathetic to, might be that the working memory and the capacity to learn are the marks of personhood.

    Certainly, any of these definitions are more defensible that location of the child in three-dimensional space, which is what abortionists refer to when they speak of personhood beginning at “birth.”

    You raise a number of important questions following this, and they are interesting: the same questions can be asked of smashing in an infants skull.

    Agreed on Europe being besides the point: this is true of both calls to European sophistication and European genocide.

    Thanks for the comment re: the Clark book. It's up now [1].

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/01/20/review-of-a-farewell-to-alms-by-gregory-clark.html#c1869001

  17. On personhood —

    Well, that's what I was wondering — clearly there is some ambiguity (much like the “torture” debate) over at what point, exactly, the foetus becomes a child, even for a pro-lifer. When, in terms of weeks, would say that personhood begins?

    “You raise a number of important questions following this, and they are interesting: the same questions can be asked of smashing in an infants skull.”

    I think that's a rather myopic answer. It implies that the life of an unborn child is worth more than its mother. It implies that we aren't going to consider abortion even in cases where the quality of life for the child or the mother is going to be severly impared. It implies that we aren't interested in realism or compromise in our debates about abortion. It implies that we won't consider that many people have abortions not because they want to but because they face constraints, and so would be in the same position (seeking an abortion), but in a more dangerous context (in a backstreet clinic), if it were banned. It implies that we refuse to be nuanced, or recognise our opponent's arguments.

    “The same questions can be asked of smashing in an infants skull.”

    It can be, but it's not the same. If it were, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

    If you think that abortions shouldn't be performed on foetuses after a certain period, just say so. If you think that your rules should be adhered to even in exceptional circumstances, it is enough to say that without trying to colour the debate.

    “Agreed on Europe being besides the point: this is true of both calls to European sophistication and European genocide.”

    Can agree with this, at least!

    “Thanks for the comment re: the Clark book. It's up now.”

    No worries — still having lots of weird problems with the comments though….

  18. vimothy,

    “When, in terms of weeks, would say that personhood begins?”

    Not sure. See above for potential guides. (I'm not sure that there would even be a universal calendar schedule.)

    “I think that's a rather myopic answer. It implies that the life of an unborn child is worth more than its mother. It implies that we aren't going to consider abortion even in cases where the quality of life for the child or the mother is going to be severly impared. It implies that we aren't interested in realism or compromise in our debates about abortion.”

    Forgive me for saying that's a rather myopic reading, and a rather myopic response 🙂

    If you argue that realism and nuance, a concern for the mother, etc., lead to cases where it is justifiable to kill an infant through abortion, then I do not see how you can argue that those same factors lead to cases where it is justifiable to kill an infant by smashing its head in with a rock.

    Likewise, if you argue that a universal concern for the sanctity of life prevent someone from ever being justified in smashing an infants head in with a rock, I don't see how you can argue that the same factor doesn't prevent you from killing an infant through abortion.

    “It implies that we won't consider that many people have abortions not because they want to but because they face constraints, and so would be in the same position (seeking an abortion), but in a more dangerous context (in a backstreet clinic), if it were banned. It implies that we refuse to be nuanced, or recognise our opponent's arguments.”

    Agreed. Likewise, the lack of a regulated market for contract killers for those who want people removed because of serious emotional and financial contraints to deal in “backstreet” settings that are far from safe!

    “If you think that your rules should be adhered to even in exceptional circumstances, it is enough to say that without trying to colour the debate.”

    What rules are those?

    More broadly, the method of contradiction and reduction to absurdity are valid forms of argument. Everyone can agree on cases that everyone sees are reasonable. The test of an argument is if it holds even in colored settings.

  19. “What rules are those?”

    The rules you seemingly espouse here: no abortion whatsoever, even for therapeutic purposes.

    “More broadly, the method of contradiction and reduction to absurdity are valid forms of argument. Everyone can agree on cases that everyone sees are reasonable. The test of an argument is if it holds even in colored settings.”

    Yes, but it wasn't your reductio ad absurdum I was objecting to, but the arrogance and lack of charity in your replies (“infanticide”; Europe and mass murder, etc). It is still not clear to me what you believe or where we disagree other than the fact that you think smashing babies heads on rocks is bad, except where the babies are not old enough to be people (in which case it's fine — smash away).

    I personally believe that elective abortion should be allowed for a limited period into the pregnancy, and that therapeutic abortions should be allowed as needed. In the case of spontaneous abortion, I consider the mother to be a criminal guilty of manslaughter, and hold that she should be charged and gaoled.

    “Agreed. Likewise, the lack of a regulated market for contract killers for those who want people removed because of serious emotional and financial contraints to deal in “backstreet” settings that are far from safe!”

    I suspect we've reached the limits of this method of argument. Regardless, women are not killing themselves in large numbers annually hiring contract killers on the black market. Women are not faced with the choice of either hiring a contract killer or dying in labour.

    “Forgive me for saying that's a rather myopic reading, and a rather myopic response :-)”

    Heh – that's your preogative, of course!

    “If you argue that realism and nuance, a concern for the mother, etc., lead to cases where it is justifiable to kill an infant through abortion, then I do not see how you can argue that those same factors lead to cases where it is justifiable to kill an infant by smashing its head in with a rock.”

    For one thing, it is less conceivable that killing a child after the birth would improve a given situation to any degree. For another, I don't think that anyone would argue that killing infants is acceptable. Generally, the argument is that the child is not really a child until a certain stage in its development (something that you actually agree with — or so it seems) and that the child's rights in the womb are subsumed within the rights of the mother to make chioces over her own body. Finally, there are obviously conceivable situations in which abortion could save the life of the mother, and where lack of abortion could kill both the mother and the child. It isn't a question of moral absolutism or self-congratulatory narrowness of vision.

    “Likewise, if you argue that a universal concern for the sanctity of life prevent someone from ever being justified in smashing an infants head in with a rock, I don't see how you can argue that the same factor doesn't prevent you from killing an infant through abortion.”

    Once again — I am not arguing for a mother's right to murder her children in order to have a more comfortable life.

    Regards…

  20. “The rules you seemingly espouse here: no abortion whatsoever, even for therapeutic purposes.”

    I don't support such rules.

    “I personally believe that elective abortion should be allowed for a limited period into the pregnancy, and that therapeutic abortions should be allowed as needed.”

    I do as well.

    “In the case of spontaneous abortion, I consider the mother to be a criminal guilty of manslaughter, and hold that she should be charged and gaoled.”

    “Regardless, women are not killing themselves in large numbers annually hiring contract killers on the black market”

    True. Crime against those capable of fighting back is typically the domain of males.

    “Women are not faced with the choice of either hiring a contract killer or dying in labour.”

    Is the life of the mother (presumably, deriving from the right of self-defense) the only exception for abortion you tolerate?

    “For one thing, it is less conceivable that killing a child after the birth would improve a given situation to any degree.”

    The hypothetical either is or is not possible. If it is not possible, say say. If it is possible, answer it. Doing otherwise just avoids the issue.

    “For another, I don't think that anyone would argue that killing infants is acceptable. “

    I believe that killing full-grown adults may be acceptable, so why wouldn't this be true of infants? The atlernative is to renounce war and self-defense.

    “Generally, the argument is that the child is not really a child until a certain stage in its development (something that you actually agree with — or so it seems)”

    Clearly, the fetus does not become a child until obtaining personhod.

    “and that the child's rights in the womb are subsumed within the rights of the mother to make chioces over her own body.”

    If all people have equal value, how can the right of one be subordinate to the right of another?

    “Once again — I am not arguing for a mother's right to murder her children in order to have a more comfortable life.”

    Perhaps I was confused by your earlier reference to Vera Drake, which is a biopic centered around a woman who coached women how to deceive abortion regulators in order to achieve a more comfortable life, without child.

  21. dan,

    Before I get into the meat of your response, can I just ask a tangental question — how do you feel about abortion after reading A Call To Alms, i.e do you feel that in the context of a natural / Malthusian economy abortion is ever justified in a way that it would not be justified in a post-industrial economy like the UK or USA?

  22. Vimothy,

    “do you feel that in the context of a natural / Malthusian economy abortion is ever justified in a way that it would not be justified in a post-industrial economy like the UK or USA?”

    I'm not sure exactly what the last clause means, but I'll say this: killing persons can be justified by circumstances.

    There is variation in living standards in both Malthusian and non-Malthusian economies: desperation can exist in both.

  23. dan,

    What I mean is, given that you agree that “elective abortion should be allowed for a limited period into the pregnancy, and that therapeutic abortions should be allowed as needed”, but obviously disagree with abortions performed after the attainment of “personhood” (however we define that), because the child's life should not be sacrificed to affect the living standards of the mother or parents, I was wondering whether you hold that view in the context of abortions performed in Malthusian economies under Clark's reading (given how important population size is), but it seems that you do.

  24. vimothy,

    “What I mean is, given that you agree that “elective abortion should be allowed for a limited period into the pregnancy, and that therapeutic abortions should be allowed as needed”, but obviously disagree with abortions performed after the attainment of “personhood” (however we define that),”

    To clarify: killing of persons can be justifiable. I “disagree” with killing in a broad sense, perhaps, but this does not mean that I oppose all taking of human life, either before birth or after.

  25. dan,

    Apologies if I came off as slightly cantankerous in this thread. It seemed as though you were deliberately trying to frame the debate in a way that allowed no room for disagreement (even though, as it turns out, we actually agree on most things regarding abortion). It reminded me of discussions I've had with leftists regarding “torture” and the use of waterboarding.

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