Number Fifty-One

Tealiberasophoterianistic Perspectives

Is the tea party libertarian?

Over the last two years, a remarkable phenomenon has occurred, known popularly as the tea party movement. Ignited by the Bush administration’s TARP bill, and fanned into flame by the Obama administration’s bailout agenda, patriots who are disenfranchised by both political parties have taken to the streets in an effort to stop the liberal-progressive movement in its tracks.

It’s a fascinating political study for sure, regardless of what you think about it. In a time when protesters in Europe are defacing public property and waging protests because their entitlements are being taken away, Americans are taking to the streets to protest the government because it’s promising too many entitlements.

Of course, not all of America is on the same page. Scott Walker knows that first hand. All it takes is a little removal of collective bargaining and sharing of health care costs and chaos breaks out.

I’ve been part of this movement from its inception, ever since the original planning meetings for the first wave of Orlando, FL tea party events. I’m also part of two major tea party networks statewide, representing around 200 tea party and 9/12 groups in every county throughout the state.

There are a number of media perceptions of the tea party, which cloud the issue, and need to be addressed even before answering the original question regarding libertarians and the tea party.

1. “You’re just Republican operatives:” Well, the tea party started as protest of Bush’s policies, and probably cost the Republicans the majority in the Senate (Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle, anyone?).

We certainly are pretty vocal in our criticism of Republicans for being secret operatives. For instance, the tea party actually agrees with Obama when he says he inherited Bush’s mess. Of course we also think he’s made the mess worse, not better.

2. “As a Christian, you’re compromising your morals since the tea party’s fiscally-minded”: This one’s even easier to answer. Ever since the tea party fueled conservative route last November of congress and state legislatures, over one-thousand pro-life bills have been past in state legislatures nationwide. By winning populist support, I knew we’d open the floodgates to a pro-life agenda even without talking about it publicly.

This gets to the heart of the question: is the tea party a libertarian movement?

My simple answer to this is “no,” first because the tea party movement’s strength is that it defies traditional analysis. Any way you look at it, the tea party is hard to analyze, probably because it is so fiercely principled, something America hasn’t seen for a while. We’re not a Republican movement because they’ve become so progressive. We’re not a socially conservative movement because we’re focusing on fiscal issues.

But are we a libertarian movement? I would say no for the following reasons: We see debt as a moral issue, not just a fiscal one. If a father, for example, lived an outlandish lifestyle, racked up millions of dollars in debt, and then abandoned his children and left this debt for them to pay, I think that man would be a moral failure, not just a guy who had some back luck financially. The primary concern of many (not all) tea partiers is the moral implications of the progressive agenda.

The media misses this component entirely. To the media, we’re just an angry white mob that feel’s we’ve been “taxed enough already.” The economic view of history and politics has been well-established, unfortunately, and has blinded much of the media to some of our truest motives.

What’s hilarious about this misconception is the reality that I don’t pay any taxes. Most of the tea party movement is middle class, which pays very limited taxes. In America, 86% of taxes are paid by the top 25% wage earners. In 2 years of hanging out with tea party activists, I haven’t met anyone in this top bracket yet.

So why would I protest the fact that Uncle Sam writes me a $5k check every year? Why would I give up so much of my time and money complaining that I’m taxed too much, to purposefully advocate positions that will actually result in me getting less tax money in return? Is it because I’ve been “taxed enough already?” No, it’s because of an entitlement, what’s-in-it-for-me-now mentality that passes the bill to my kids to pay a 14+ trillion dollar debt that is greater than the GDP, devaluing their currency and the ability to prosper, is flat-out immoral and irresponsible and unlike the unions in Wisconsin and Europe, I’m not going to advocate for the government to do the same or more for me, I’m going to advocate the government do less for me.

I would argue that this attitude is what sets America apart from the rest of the world, both today and in the past.

Now in as much as I’ve said, the libertarians will probably agree with most of it, and certainly with the sentiment expressed. Where we differ is in how the issue of morality and personal liberty play themselves out once the federal government is removed from the picture. For morally conscious tea party members like myself, I see the tea party as a great tool to limit size of government in a way that will return power to the states, where advocacy battles on social issues can be fought and won, as the pro-life sweep over the last 3-4 months has proven.

Libertarians have a different value system. They are opposed to big government because it limits their personal freedoms. They see the tea party as an opportunity to limit government at the federal level, with an eye to advance the legalization of everything from pot to prostitution.

Let’s look at Obamacare, for example:

For me, Obamacare is so dangerous, not simply because it’s a terrible fiscal policy (which it is), and because it paves the way for the government to regulate every aspect of our lives from the type of food we eat to the beds we sleep on (which it does). It’s also terrible because it institutionalizes a value system that emphasizes money over life and creates federal bureaucracies and regulations that mandate health care options be biased toward people with greater potential to contribute financially into a tax system rather than that person’s value as a human being.

Obama put it best, when describing his advice to a woman who asked if any consideration should be given to a persons “joy of life” in making health care decisions, rather than their age and economic vitality. He described the main purpose of the new law was to eliminate waste by counseling them, saying, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain killer.”

Liberals have always devalued life. Unborn children are killed because they represent financial hardship for mothers who can’t afford them. Now they’re trying to eliminate the “waste” of caring for the elderly, figuring that pumping them full of medication is the cheapest way to tolerate them while they’re alive. After all, if we can’t legally kill them, let’s just dampen their will to live. Why should we give them a new hip replacement just so they can walk around their house, when a wheel chair will get them around their house just fine?

That unfathomable hypocrisy from a group of liberals that purports to care for the elderly is much more offensive than the fiscal irresponsibility used to accomplish their institutionalization of the culture of death they’ve been advocating for since the sixties.

The tea party movement is a unique partnership between social conservatives who are motivated by the sentiments I just described, and libertarians who seek other freedoms. What we agree on is the fact that socialist or pseudo-socialist government is evil. Where we differ is in our motives and what we’re trying to protect.

Libertarians can try to use this tea party movement to get their freedom to smoke pot and pay for sex all they want. As someone who’s in the prime of life, on the lower end of the middle class, the epicenter of all of Uncle Sam’s greatest promises and benefits, I’ll continue to advocate policies that deny myself freebies, not so that I can smoke pot, but so that I can look myself in the mirror knowing I haven’t taken a few dishonest bucks at the expense of my parents quality of life and then left my kids to foot the bill.

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Written by Jesse Phillips

May 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

46 Responses

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  1. Well done, Jesse. All the talk of how progressive our country has become should set up Henry’s article quite nicely :).

    Jake Phillips

    May 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  2. Boom. Well said.

    Janelle Phillips

    May 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    • Thanks!

      Jesse Phillips

      May 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm

  3. Before I respond Jesse, I want to make it clear that none of this is personal, and I hope we can have a lively and combative discussion while still keeping things intelligent and civil. One thing I’ve always loved about the Phillips family is that you guys can engage in heated debates without collateral damage.

    Wow, I really don’t know where to start. First of all, how can you expect people with full functioning mental capacity to believe that the tea party movement was initiated by Bush and TARP. TARP was BY FAR the least fiscally destructive policy of the Bush administration. Most of the money lent out in TARP has already come back and the rest is most likely on its way, and it may have averted a total meltdown of the financial sector. Why can’t you just admit that the Tea Party is about opposition to Obama? Tea Party protests first sprang up in between the time Obama was elected and when he took office indicating that tea partiers are opposed to the idea of Obama as president rather than his specific policies.

    Second, you are straight up uninformed about income distribution in this country. You say In two years you have never met anyone in the top 25% of earners? That would be households making at least $77,500 a year. Hardly an elite group outside the norm of Tea Party circles. I would encourage you to look into it and the staggering inequality that has been getting worse and worse ever since the 80s. It will hopefully give you some perspective about what’s really going on in this country. Here’s a good place to start: http://www.slate.com/id/2267157

    Third, “unfathomable hypocrisy” would be a good description of the Tea Party position on health care reform. You have dug yourself into the wrong hole by claiming that the liberals or the government devalue life or old people by declining to pay for their hip replacements. According to your views, why should the government be helping the elderly at all? Why not eliminate social security and medicare, which together make up about 34% of the federal budget. The people who are receive entitlements are not young pot smokers, they’re old people. You are certainly not in the ” the epicenter of all of Uncle Sam’s greatest promises and benefits,” that would be people over 65. But we have seen that the Tea Party is capable of unfathomable hypocrisy and now, after unbelievably hyperbolic criticisms of cost-cutting measures in Obamacare (like yours) we have the Paul Ryan budget which eliminates Medicare all together. Ryan’s voucher system would fail to cover the real costs of health care because their increases would be tied to inflation, which rises much more slowly than inflation in the health insurance market. Remember that situation you described about a father who passes on debt to his children because he has been fiscally irresponsible? Well what about a situation in which adult children have to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars because their parents no longer have Medicare to cover the costs of their surgery? That is a real situation which would play itself out in the thousands if the Tea Party had their way, not like your false equivalence between the morals of a family and that of a government.

    Finally, I’m so glad that you guys invited me into this blog because I’m probably the only one (let me know if I’m wrong) who would appreciate the special combination of ignorance, hypocrisy, batshit craziness, and balls that it takes to write that liberals have been advocating for a “culture of death” “since the 60s. It was liberals that pushed for civil rights, Medicare, the social safety net, and universal health care, and against the Vietnam and Iraq wars, the death penalty, and torture.

    jamestschannen

    May 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    • Civil rights a liberal issue? It was democrats that filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and opposed the Voting Act of 1965. The same political party that tried to stop black people from being treated as equal is now trying to keep unborn babies from being treated as equal. Some things never change.

      Jesse P.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      • Actually, some things do change, and one of those things is the Democratic Party. Before the 60s the Democratic party was a coalition included poor southern whites. Liberals in the Democratic Party like LBJ were principled enough to do the right thing and push for civil rights even though they knew it would send racists running into the arms of Republicans for generations.

        jamestschannen

        May 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    • “Wow, I really don’t know where to start. First of all, how can you expect people with full functioning mental capacity to believe that the tea party movement was initiated by Bush and TARP. TARP”

      Quite simple. By talking to them and asking them. You should come to some tea party meetings and get to know these folks.

      Jesse P.

      May 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      • I would like to hear you make an argument about why a rational person would be upset by TARP and not the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq War, the Medicare prescription drug program, and all of the other things Bush did to destroy the fiscal health of the federal government.

        If I go to a tea party meeting and talk to a bunch of angry old white people with you will you smoke pot and talk to a bunch of hippies with me?

        jamestschannen

        May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm

  4. James,

    I loved your last paragraph. It was classic. And I can guarantee that Jesse won’t get offended if you won’t get offended at him :-).

    While I agree with some of what you said, and disagree with some, my only real caution is that it seems like your last paragraph can only be true if it’s true by definition. John McCain is one of the biggest critics of “enhanced interrogation.” Does that mean he’s a liberal? I think you and I would probably have the same position on torture. I guess it’s a liberal position only if it has to be.

    Am I making sense? Woodrow Wilson, from an executive standpoint, probably set the Civil Rights movement back 30 years. Does that mean he was extremely liberal, but conservative on issues of race?

    Jake Phillips

    May 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    • Jake, obviously these issues were complicated and not completely divided down party or ideological lines. The left right and center political movements of this country have been extremely racist for the majority of our history, so I don’t think find a racist Democrat in the past or present invalidates my point that the civil rights struggle was at the time, a “liberal” cause. It was liberal because it wanted the federal government to take action to radically change society.

      Also, John McCain’s position on torture is a perfect example of how conservatives support torture. McCain after experiencing torture and standing against it for decades, shed his principles and expressed support for “enhanced interrogations” in an effort to court conservative voters. Fox news, the main voice of conservatives today, is constantly arguing that torture is effective and justifiable. We just saw a flurry of torture defending after the death of Osama Bin Laden.

      jamestschannen

      May 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm

  5. I have a lot of respect for libertarianism. Reading this, one might think you see libertarians as base hedonists. Surely a more charitable characterization would be more accurate.

    Joseph Anderson

    May 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  6. Joe,

    Where do you see that libertarians do not engage in something close to base hedonism? I don’t think that a Randian libertarian would object too fiercely to that term. (I say that as a moderate libertarian.)

    Jake Phillips

    May 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    • Setting Rand aside, I see libertarianism as being driven by a theory of what the role of government is. Libertarianism is not primarily about smoking pot and paying for sex. It is primarily driven by the belief that the government does not have a legitimate role in determining what choices an individual makes if those choices do not have a significant negative effect on other people. Libertarianism may attract some base hedonists, but to characterize it as a movement concerned primarily with clearing barriers to a profligate lifestyle is uncharitable. (I say this as a non-libertarian.)

      Joseph Anderson

      May 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      • Joe,

        I agree. My goal wasn’t to characterize the entire movement this way. I was trying to parse out some of the differences between the tea party movement and libertarians. And since we agree on so many things about the role of government, the true differences can only be seen when you begin to look at some of these secondary issues of personal freedom and the role of law in moral/ethical discussions.

        Certainly I don’t think that all libertarians agree with this, although there are a few militant ones.

        Jesse P.

        May 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      • I agree with Joe that Jesse’s main point was that the tea party isn’t libertarian because it’s not for legal pot and prostitution. Those are just the most obvious differences. Most libertarians aren’t for restrictions on abortion rights either. Their positions on defense spending, foreign policy, and immigration are also vastly different.

        I’m still waiting for Jake to defend cannabis legalization 🙂

        jamestschannen

        May 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      • No worries, James, that will come. I want to make sure that it’s good, when it does.

        Jake Phillips

        May 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    • I don’t in any way consider myself welcome in such a group of thinkers such as thou.. er.. whatever the plural smart sounding word would be for everyone posting here… However, I would like to say that if ever there were a Randian Libertarian… I would be him.
      Thank you. goodnight.

      Stephen Morgan

      May 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

  7. The conservative ‘culture of life’ that plays apologist for Bush who killed 100,000 Iraqis, and committed war crimes. The ‘culture of life’ fetus fetishists that want to restrict womens reproductive rights by a thinly veiled religious imperative despite data that shows the instance of abortion is less where it is safe and legal. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html

    The anti-choice groups have a great deal in common with the other very few cultures where abortion is illegal – like the Muslim theocracies that deny women rights and prosecute gays. If you want to live in a theocracy where womens choice is denied, I suggest Saudi Arabia or Iran.

    I find it very interesting that former First Lady Laura Bush is both pro choice and pro gay marriage… but we didn’t hear much about those views during the Bush presidency.
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/05/laura-bush-gay-marriage-pro-choice.html

    What is ironic is that many of the teapartiers talk about moral imperatives with a Christian world view. Ask yourself this, was Jesus closer to a CEO capitalist concerned with business and profit … or was Jesus closer to a liberal socialist who helped the poor and advocated paying taxes? Read Romans 13:1-7 and get back to me.

    Ellen

    May 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    • Ellen,

      I’ll address the abortion issue real quick, because I very seriously doubt that it will be a helpful, long-term debate. The issue of statistics is as irrelevant as it is deceptive. The only thing that matters is, 1) Does life begin at conception? and 2) Is it ok to kill babies?

      Science has proven that life begins at conception. I can send you articles if you’re even interested. And it’s not ok to kill babies.

      Jake Phillips

      May 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    • Ellen,

      “Fetus fetishist”? Really?

      What if your mom had decided not to keep you. You’d be dead. What if someone had tried to intervene to save your life and they were made fun of as having some sort of fetish. Come on.

      Jesse P.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm

  8. False premise. Acorns are not trees. Zygotes, blastulas, etc… are not babies. Your religious imperatives do not belong in law. A human zygote is not dissimilar from a shark zygote. False equivalencies and emotional and theological arguments are immaterial and have no place in law, unless you promote theological dominionism, which is not unlike the Taliban promotes. You are judged by the company you keep.

    Ellen

    May 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    • You’re avoiding my question. If your mom had decided not to keep you, you wouldn’t be here and you never would have had a chance to live.

      Jesse P.

      May 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm

  9. Ellen,

    Acorns are not trees? Please do not tell me you are re-posting tired Thomsian arguments that have been disproven time and time again. I do not care to respond to that line of thinking,. I’m sure people can do a simple google search and find about 17 philosophers that are smarter than me that have blown that argument to bits.

    You say that emotional and thelogical arguments…have no place in law. If you’re interested, I can send you a paper I wrote about a legal argument against abortion. It’s probably too long to post here, but I’d be happy to email it to you. Just let me know.

    I hope that my tone does not offend :).

    Jake Phillips

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

  10. Immaterial. Obviously. And I wouldn’t be here to care. Meaningless. Emotional appeal. Childish and argumentative.

    Isn’t it interesting that the party that touts personal responsibility, individual liberty and privacy wants to force me to conform to the wishes of their male dominated legislators in a decision that couldn’t be more personal and private? Is there any greater hypocrisy?

    Ellen

    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

  11. I must add that it’s ironic that you’re accusing me of false equivalancies after equating an acorn to a fetus, and an oak tree to a…human.

    Jake Phillips

    May 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm

  12. This is exactly why I didn’t want to go down this particular road. I’d much rather argue about whether Jesus is a CEO capatalist or a socialist. All of this only matters if it’s ever ok to take life. And if you believe that it’s ok to take life in some instances, Ellen, than we have a fundamental disagreement that is not worth arguing over.

    Jake Phillips

    May 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm

  13. I have never, even one time, heard an explanation as to why privacy should matter at all when the debate is whether or not it is ok to eliminate a life. Murder is always a personal, private choice.

    The way to justify abortion is not to talk about how private and personal the decision is, or how men shouldn’t have any say in the matter, or whatever…either abortion is taking a life, in which case it is murder, or it is a medical procedure akin to removing a tumor…in which case it is morally neutral.

    Stick to arguing that fetuses aren’t human till they reach a magical point in time where that changes. The privacy/personal choice is irrelevant otherwise.

    Joey

    May 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

  14. Joey:
    I completely agree with you that the question of privacy only should come up after it has been determined that the fetus is not a human life. I’m unsure that it is that easy to determine though (so I remain pro-life based on our ignorance and the seriousness of the gamble).

    This is such a tricky topic because most Christians (the ones who believe in immaterial souls, myself included) do think that the transition from matter to human is magical (in a way that matter to animal is not). Do we have any evidence that a fetus has a soul at conception? I really don’t think we have evidence either way. Even once the baby is born, I don’t think we have good evidence until rationality becomes manifest.

    I guess your argument must be that there is no time where we could claim on principle that there is a soul after it but not before, so in the absence of such a time the soul must be there from the beginning. That argument kind of argument can’t actually tell us there is a soul at conception, but only that we cannot be sure there isn’t one at conception.

    The argument that it is a potential human (of the kind Jesse employed) is curious to me. Do we have obligations to humans that don’t exist? How do they have rights if they don’t exist? Couldn’t we argue by the same reason that condom use is wrong (‘if your dad had used a condom at the right time, you wouldn’t be here’)?

    I’m definitely in the pro-life corner, I just don’t know if we have these arguments quite right, but in the absence of clear knowledge, prudence dictates caution.

    Joseph Anderson

    May 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    • My argument is not that it’s a potential human. My argument is that a fetus is human. The burden of proof is on the pro-choice argument to prove a what species it is, and then to show the exact mechanism through which that classification changes. Without such proof we can assume that any changes within the womb are the natural growth process of the same species.

      Jesse P.

      May 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      • Well, you’ve made more than one argument. Sure. But wasn’t this an argument: “If your mom had decided not to keep you, you wouldn’t be here and you never would have had a chance to live”?

        So, do you have an argument for valuing human life which is independent of souls, personhood, rationality, and self-awareness? The argument you gave in your reply seems to rely only on biology to identify what a human life is. Why is a biological human life valuable independent of souls and those things that follow from it? Would a human with no soul (and thus, no rationality, self-awareness, personhood,…; that is, a zombie) have the same right to life as a human informed by a soul?

        Joseph Anderson

        May 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm

  15. Back on the medicare, or should I say the Republicans evil plans to stick it to seniors, I thought I’d reference this excellent article:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/beyond-mediscare_567600.html

    Jesse P.

    May 24, 2011 at 8:45 pm

  16. Thank you boys for admitting that your arguments are based on magic and mystical concepts that come down to us – rewritten a thousand times by men in the Dark Ages. Damn, that’s one helluva way to justify your argument. I suppose you are evolution deniers as well? Wouldn’t be surprised. Can’t argue with statements based on dogma, it is beyond reason and rationality.

    Ellen

    May 24, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    • No need for condescension.

      I think there are conceptions of personhood that are independent of a belief in a soul that can yield anti-abortion arguments. I also think there are non-religious reasons to believe in a soul of some kind, though those are not particularly popular today (they have been in the past).

      I completely understand that there are conceptions of what a human being is and what a person is that could justify abortion, but I don’t know if one can have a warranted certainty of that conception. Without certainty that abortion isn’t the killing of a person, I think it would be much better to play it safe.

      Joseph Anderson

      May 25, 2011 at 12:16 am

  17. Ellen,

    As one who is rational I would love your answers to these questions:

    1. What species is a fetus if not human?

    2. By what process and mechanism does a fetus’ special classification change to human and when does this occur.

    3. If a mother has twins and the first one is born and then the mother decides to abort the second one still in the womb, what is the scientific difference between human outside and non-human inside the womb?

    I look forward to your rational answers.

    Jesse Phillips

    May 25, 2011 at 12:07 am

    • Let George explain it to you.

      [LINK REMOVED BY MODERATOR]

      Ellen

      May 25, 2011 at 12:16 am

  18. Wow, Ellen, I had hoped this would be a rational discussion. Please do not post videos with such vulgarity (the kids, you know 🙂

    I’d like to hear your answers still.

    Jesse Phillips

    May 25, 2011 at 12:21 am

  19. You give your kids free reign on your computer? If so, you need to learn a bit about parenting.

    OK, for what ever good it won’t do, I will explain it to you, but it won’t matter. Dogma is not rational.

    You’ve already denied the stats I’ve put forward that show the instance of abortion decreases where it is safe and legal. Why would anything I say be credible to someone who bases his worldview on magic and mystical supernatural concepts?

    Have you noticed? The vast majority of anti abortion rights people are Christian conservative parents. You’ll find a much broader demographic on the pro-choice side, much more representative of America. The American Taliban, those that want to force their religious views on society, are not just happy upholding their own moral compass, they want to force it on all others. In order to manipulate, they depict abortion in gruesome late term abortion photos where late term abortions are extremely rare and account for about 1% of abortions. Again, dishonesty and emotion to manipulate.

    No, a fetus is not a person. Human life, yes, but not a human being, not a person. Big difference. It is a developing person. The science that determines human life from a legal perspective is that of brain waves, the standard by which we can remove a person that is ‘brain dead’ from life support.

    Like ‘global warming deniers’ … much anti-abortion psuedo science has spouted fallacies like “At only 40 days after fertilization electrical waves as measured by the EEG can be recorded from the baby’s brain” as proof of life. Yes, it is proof of life but it is not a human being because it’s brain is not fully formed. A fully formed brain, (even an underdeveloped or mentally deficient brain) is the hallmark of what makes us ‘human.’

    An EEG involves measuring varying electrical potentials across a dipole, or separated positive and negative charges. Any living cell has an electrical potential across its membrane, and any living structure is a dipole, which explains why people have been able to put electrodes on plants, hook them up to EEG machines, and get “evidence” that plants supposedly ‘have feelings.’ BS.

    These type of measurments have nothing to do with “brain waves,” which are a nontechnical term for a particular kind of varying potentials produced by certain brain structures that don’t even exist in an embryo and associated with consciousness and dreaming as well as the regulation of bodily functions.

    To get scalp or surface electrical potentials from the cortex requires three things: neurons, dendrites, and axons, with synapses between them. Since these requirements are not present in the human cortex before 20-24 weeks of gestation, it is not possible to record “brain waves” prior to 20-24 weeks. Period. End of story.

    98% of all abortions are performed before the 20th week, before the fetal brain is fully functional. If you want to restrict abortions in the last trimester, I have no problem with that, but to crusade against abortion and equate it with murder is pure BS and disingenuous.

    Young parents, particularly of the religious sort, are so overwhelmed and impressed with their spawn that become emotionally involved in this argument. They are selfish and want all people to think like they do. They don’t consider the extenuating issues and this is consistent with the teabaggers. They, like most Republicans, side with the rights of incest rapists over the reproductive rights of the rape victim. Disgusting.

    Ellen

    May 25, 2011 at 12:42 am

    • You give your kids free reign on your computer? If so, you need to learn a bit about parenting.

      >> At least I let my kids live (that was a joke 🙂

      OK, for what ever good it won’t do, I will explain it to you, but it won’t matter. Dogma is not rational.

      >> Dogma can be rational, it depends on what the dogma is and the thought process through which the dogma was conceived. Your statement is categorically false, since dogma can be rational.

      You’ve already denied the stats I’ve put forward that show the instance of abortion decreases where it is safe and legal. Why would anything I say be credible to someone who bases his worldview on magic and mystical supernatural concepts?

      >> Interesting logic: making things easier causes them to happen less often? Why then do we have laws, I wonder? Seems to me that making things harder causes them to happen less often.

      Have you noticed? The vast majority of anti abortion rights people are Christian conservative parents. You’ll find a much broader demographic on the pro-choice side, much more representative of America. The American Taliban, those that want to force their religious views on society, are not just happy upholding their own moral compass, they want to force it on all others. In order to manipulate, they depict abortion in gruesome late term abortion photos where late term abortions are extremely rare and account for about 1% of abortions. Again, dishonesty and emotion to manipulate.

      >> I’m just not sure what to say if your best example of a moral group is the Taliban. Wow.

      No, a fetus is not a person. Human life, yes, but not a human being, not a person. Big difference. It is a developing person. The science that determines human life from a legal perspective is that of brain waves, the standard by which we can remove a person that is ‘brain dead’ from life support.

      >> You have no scientific grounds on which to divorce a human being from human life, or at least you have not proven any yet.

      Like ‘global warming deniers’ … much anti-abortion psuedo science has spouted fallacies like “At only 40 days after fertilization electrical waves as measured by the EEG can be recorded from the baby’s brain” as proof of life. Yes, it is proof of life but it is not a human being because it’s brain is not fully formed. A fully formed brain, (even an underdeveloped or mentally deficient brain) is the hallmark of what makes us ‘human.’

      >> I don’t deny global warming, I just think it’s caused by the sun and normal weather patterns, and has actually been on a cooling trajectory recently. The climate does change back and forth, and has for centuries. No denial there.

      An EEG involves measuring varying electrical potentials across a dipole, or separated positive and negative charges. Any living cell has an electrical potential across its membrane, and any living structure is a dipole, which explains why people have been able to put electrodes on plants, hook them up to EEG machines, and get “evidence” that plants supposedly ‘have feelings.’ BS.

      These type of measurments have nothing to do with “brain waves,” which are a nontechnical term for a particular kind of varying potentials produced by certain brain structures that don’t even exist in an embryo and associated with consciousness and dreaming as well as the regulation of bodily functions.

      >> A plants lack of ability to feel simply because electrodes can be passed through it does nothing to advance your premise that a baby cannot feel, or that a baby is not human if it could not feel.

      To get scalp or surface electrical potentials from the cortex requires three things: neurons, dendrites, and axons, with synapses between them. Since these requirements are not present in the human cortex before 20-24 weeks of gestation, it is not possible to record “brain waves” prior to 20-24 weeks. Period. End of story.

      >> The fact that brain waves are not present before 20-24 does nothing to suggest that the formation of brainwaves is anything other than a natural part of the human growth, rather than something that requires a change in classification

      98% of all abortions are performed before the 20th week, before the fetal brain is fully functional. If you want to restrict abortions in the last trimester, I have no problem with that, but to crusade against abortion and equate it with murder is pure BS and disingenuous.

      >> Okay, so you put a lot of emphasis on brain function. People are born without fully functional brains all the time. Are they less human?

      Young parents, particularly of the religious sort, are so overwhelmed and impressed with their spawn that become emotionally involved in this argument. They are selfish and want all people to think like they do. They don’t consider the extenuating issues and this is consistent with the teabaggers. They, like most Republicans, side with the rights of incest rapists over the reproductive rights of the rape victim. Disgusting.

      >> As someone who is a parent and knows the sacrifice necessary to raise children, I would hesitate to call parents selfish.

      Jesse Phillips

      May 25, 2011 at 12:57 am

  20. What I find that is most amazing in our day and age is the lock- step thinking that has come to define conservatives as anti-science. It’s as if they are programed to think a certain way, despite contrary facts and evidence.

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/06/scientists-overwhelmingly-believe-in-man-made-climate-change/1

    Dogma based on tales of the supernatural from the Dark Ages is not much of a leg to stand on when it comes to rationality.

    Ellen

    May 25, 2011 at 1:38 am

  21. Thank you for your outdated links and debunked information.

    It’s inexplicable to me that conservatives seem to represent the vast majority of the science deniers. I guess it’s a combination of low scientific literacy, lack of education, paranoid conspiracy theories, fixed persistent party-line thinking, and perhaps fundamentalist religion/creationism. I don’t know. One thing for certain, conservatives seem to have fostered an anti-intellectual hostility directed toward academia and higher education. On the subject of climate change, conservatives can not seem to separate science from political agenda. They see it as one in the same, a classical persistent response pattern. You don’t need knowledge when you can just spit out misinformation.

    http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/06/25/newspapers-retract-climategate-claims-but-damage-still-done.html

    You know, I always thought conservatives were pro miitary?

    The military, as opposed to the science denying Republicans, have realized that respected scientific bodies across the world have unequivocally concluded that global warming is occuring. Navy Rear Admiral David Tilley, a meteorologist and Navy oceanographer, has said that global warming is real, “an issue that affects our national security,” and the “greatest challenge of the 21st century.”

    From the US Navy Taskforce of Climate Change:

    “A preponderance of global observational evidence shows the Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice, global temperatures are warming, sea level is rising, large landfast ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctic) are losing ice mass, and precipitation patterns are changing …Climate change is affecting, and will continue to affect, U.S. military installations world- wide. Melting permafrost is degrading roads, foundations, and structures on DoD and USCG installations in Alaska. Droughts in the southeast and southwest U.S. are challenging water resource management. Sea level rise and storm surge will lead to an increased likelihood of inundation of coastal infrastructure, and may limit the availability of overseas bases.”

    Just keep denying. Do you believe in dinosaurs?

    Ellen

    May 25, 2011 at 4:26 am

  22. Ellen,

    You continue to answer my questions and research with belittling comments about how stupid conservatives are, while at the same time calling us closed minded.

    There is much debate about the climate with intelligent people on both sides. Yes, believe it or not, some people disagree with you not because we’re stupid, but because we do due scientific diligence and come to different conclusions.

    There are actually some people in the world who are almost as smart as you are and have come to different conclusions. I don’t question your intelligence for disagreeing with me.

    Jesse Phillips

    May 25, 2011 at 11:49 am

  23. You must be talking about the 3% ers?

    This data comes from a survey specifically of Climate Scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The study found that 97 percent of Climate Scientists agree that climate change is “very likely” caused mainly by human activity.

    “As for the 3 percent of scientists who remain unconvinced, the study found their average expertise is far below that of their colleagues, as measured by publication and citation rates.”

    What is interesting, if you look at the skeptics, they are usually either ‘Professor Emeritus-types” at the end of their career with little of no recent research, some like Seitz, and Singer, got their degrees well before the computer age, are on the take from the energy industry, and most are NOT climate scientists presently working in the field with any observational experience.

    My point is, what dog do conservatives have in this fight? It surely isn’t based on science denial exclusively. You didn’t just wake up one day and decide that the scienctific community was wrong. No, this was a politically induced group think that has been pounded into your brain from the right-wing media.

    It’s just an example of what I’m talking about. Just like you won’t find many agnostic creationists.

    Ellen

    May 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

  24. Ellen, then why are you against war if it kills people and therefore there is less global warming?

    I know, a ridiculous question. But there are ways of having a debate without asking nonsensical questions that aren’t related to the debate, and without belittling those who disagree with you. The original question was about abortion, and is it ever right to kill a human being. And I think Jesse’s question about people who are born with brain defects being actual people is legitimate. And you never answered. And turned it into a global warming issue.

    Janelle Phillips

    May 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm

  25. Ellen is engaging in classic ad hominem argumentation. I don’t fault her, it’s actually quite common, but there’s no reason to continue the discussion under those conditions. I am closing the comments. Ellen, if you decide to respond to Joe’s comment or my comment or Janelle’s comment, feel free to email me, and I will post it to this thread and re-open the comments. Otherwise, feel free to join other discussions on this blog. My email is jake at joshmp dot com.

    Jake Phillips

    May 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm


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