Perfect November 3, 2012

Over at the American Conservative, there a little symposium on how various conservatives are voting. I was particularly cracked up by Jeremy Beers’ contribution:

I’m sick of these holier-than-thou purists who say they won’t vote for Romney because he was once pro-choice and still supports various exceptions, or because he once invested in a company that made money by incinerating aborted fetuses, or God knows what else. Some pro-lifers even want to drag completely unrelated issues into the conversation — “torture,” preemptive war, even economics!

If you’re pro-life, Catholic, and of a conservative disposition, isn’t it obvious that the Mormon/Randian ticket is the only choice? I mean, the only pragmatic choice? This is politics, people! It’s all about compromise and getting your hands dirty. And I, for one, refuse to compromise my pro-life beliefs and dirty my hands by refusing to compromise my pro-life beliefs and dirty my hands. Even if that dirt is really blood.

Anyway, just do the math. Practically speaking, fighting abortion — and being pro-life! — is all about overturning Roe v. Wade. Nothing else matters. So, just multiply the percentages attached to the following outcomes to see that you have a moral obligation to vote Romney/Ryan on November 6: Chance that Supreme Court justice retires/dies in next four years (15 percent), times chance that President Romney appoints a justice he believes would vote to overturn Roe (50 percent?), times chance that said justice would actually vote to overturn Roe (40 percent? cf Republican appointees Souter, Kennedy, O’Connor, Stevens, etc.), times chance that Court takes up a case that challenges Roe during term of new appointee (generously, 20 percent), times chance that new appointee remains key swing vote in said case when taken up (again, generously, 20 percent).

Dude, that’s a .12 percent chance that electing Romney would result in the end of Roe! How can you ignore that, you purists? Did you say something about Iran? Syria?

There you go again, changing the subject. Some of us prefer to be practical.

As is proper and fitting for conservatives, the other contributions are all over the map. Enjoy!

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  • Chris-KABA

    Wow, that is quite the impersonation of Nostrildamis, (the unknown and far less accurate cousing of Nostradamus.) He sounds like a bad fortune cookie squared with all that pretending any of those SC things would ever happen.

    But then, I guess it makes sense when you just need something to draw attention away from the fact that you don’t understand that “pro-life” != “anti-abortion alone”.

  • Perfect indeed. Thanks very much for pointing this out, Mark. It makes a point that I have been trying to make with family and friends for months, far more effectively than I have been able to manage it.

  • Joe Carter

    Beer is a smart guy so it’s disappointing that he seems to think the only affect a president has on the pro-life cause is appointing Supreme Court justices.

    • Dan C

      The point by Beers is a parody of a substantive argument by pro-lifers for voting for Romney (or any Republican). Other arguments start to make attempts to indicate that because of varied policies a Republican may hold, that abortions will decrease. Liberal pro-lifers can, howver, contend similar arguments that liberal welfare policies will decrease abortion also.

      Blah, blah, blah. The arguments remain unchanged for decades.

      Jeremy Beer is smart enough to be entertaining on these stale arguments.

    • Will

      But Democrats constantly make the converse argument: that the Supreme Court appointments made by (fill in name of Republican) would bring on a police state where miscarriages would be subjected to autos da fe, or something.

  • Mary Shinn

    Tell me if this is true? If it is, all the Catholic direction from the clergy and lay Catholics of voting for the lesser of two evils DOES NOT apply to this election. Romney profited from abortion by the incineration of aborted babies?!!

    • J

      If someone was already planning to vote for Romney, I don’t see why that revelation would be a deal-breaker. The fact that he supports abortion in cases of rape/incest/whatever is far more heinous than disposing of the bodies of aborted children who were already dead.

      • Mark Shea

        Why would anybody find morally repellent a man who made his living harvesting the gold fillings from dead Jews? Just turning an honest profit from an opportunity that presented itself! Somebody else killed them. Just because killing them helped create an industry that sought more bodies in order to harvest more profit doesn’t mean the profiteer was a bad guy.

        • To be fair, this would be the equivalent of somebody with a pre WW II investment in the firm doing the deed who might or might not have sold prior to the gory years.
          The firm in question processes medical waste, a vital service. The disgusting bit is that aborted unborn are categorized as medical waste. Some services take on such contracts, others do not. So far as I can tell, these guys were not in the abortion disposal business when Romney green lighted the original investment. Did Romney make that a criteria for the initial investment? I can’t say one way or the other. After Romney left, did the service check with Bain that their new business wasn’t going to be a problem? I can’t tell that either. The funny thing is that all of that is not documented by either side.

          So what are we supposed to assume when you’ve got a tangled mess that’s imperfectly documented in the public record? Or do you have access that nails down when these guys started doing abortion business? Do you have any direct evidence that Romney was consulted and affirmatively accepted investing in a firm with these kinds of contracts? I’d love to see evidence one way or another.

    • When I investigated this a few months back, the man bought stock in a medical waste disposal company as part of his duties at Bain. There is evidence that dates a few years after that this company got some contracts with Planned Parenthood. At that point Romney was no longer with Bain and couldn’t have gotten Bain divested from these guys if he wanted to.

      This is something that can happen to any investor and I suspect a lot of good Catholics carry investments like this. You check your potential investment vehicle out, invest, and set a sell point and don’t think much about the investment going forward. There isn’t an easy way to do this sort of monitoring at present. Though Web 3.0 technology can manage it, that sort of stuff (semantic web data) is not widely deployed at present and even where it does exist, it’s not deployed in very easy to use forms.

      If you’re already looking for reasons to back away from Romney, I guess this will serve but I don’t think it would be fair to apply the standard *only* to Romney so check your own portfolio before you use this excuse.

  • Nonymous

    That is funny. Unfortunately it’s also a very accurate account of how Republicans think.

    • Chris M

      let’s be honest.. it’s an accurate representation of how MOST Americans think. Just change a couple of the buzzwords.

      • Kristen inDallas

        Oh you don’t even have to change the buzzwords. I no plenty of pro-choice democrats who will base their vote for Obama on that exact same 0.12% chance.

  • Good points here, but I struggle to find a conclusion. Is it that we should not vote? Is it that we might as well vote for Obama? Is it that voting 3rd party will bring the BEST results with only 3 days left?

    • J. H. M. Ortiz

      Why must these “points” have ANY practical “conclusion”? Must every assertion have a practical conclusion? “Our solar system has a planet beyond Neptune (namely, Pluto).” Is there something wrong with this true assertion simply because it has no practical application?

      • Will

        PLUTO HUGGER! I would leave it without saying anything else, but this site won’t let me.

  • Janet O’Connor

    I got to vote absentee this Election and what I did was write in Ron Paul’s name as I am sure many of his supporters are not because they are giving up on the process but that they could not in good faith for for either of these two candidates because they are pretty much the same. It is a matter of principal I cannot support someone who supports more than one intrinsic evil to keep another one who supports all intrinsic evils there it. I don’t believe it is a wasted vote either. I voted for John McCain back in 2008, but I did not want to do that again even if Sarah Palin was on the ticket.

  • The point is still valid, but I think the percentages, particularly the repetitively multiplied ones that all speak to the same thing, are a bit harsh. I’d put it this way (doing this as I write, without a sense of the outcome):

    Justice retires during term: 15%
    (I’ll assume that this person knew their facts/statistics here although it seems low to me.)
    Chance a Romney nominee would vote to overturn Roe: 25%
    (Combining the ‘Romney believes’ with ‘actually overturn, as separating them is just a way to force the numbers lower and there’s no way to differentiate between the two in practice. I’m basing this on how Republican nominated justices voted in Casey and dividing by 2 for “Romney effect”, which may or may not be unfair)
    Chance this person will hear a Roe case: 20%
    (sticking with article number, particularly considering the next one…)
    Change they’ll be the swing vote: ignoring…
    (Why does this matter? If it takes 2 more nominees to get us over the line (I’d guess one more but whatever), then Romney made it so it doesn’t need to be 3 more (assuming all the other statistics worked out).

    If I was to add a statistic I would add whether the person he’s replacing would have voted to uphold Roe. If it doesn’t change the makeup, why does it matter? But as I thought about it, if we lost a vote (i.e. went from against Roe to supporting Roe) that’s a bad thing. So it really doesn’t matter what the previous person was, we want whoever replaces them to be against Roe.

    Result: 0.75%

    So the point stands. 🙂

    However, all of this feels a bit like the SETI numbers of the likelihood there is life out there. It seems scientific, but the inaccuracy of all the numbers is so massive that it’s really idle speculation dressed up to look scientific.

    • Chris-KABA

      “However, all of this feels a bit like the SETI numbers of the likelihood there is life out there. It seems scientific, but the inaccuracy of all the numbers is so massive that it’s really idle speculation dressed up to look scientific.”


  • John Barnes

    Well Mark, the writers to whom you linked in this post aren’t real conservatives. Real conservatives are faithful to The Party (all praise its glorious name) above all else, and get their marching orders from Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Real conservatives are of one mind and know that whomever The Party (all praise its glorious name) coronates is the true leader we must embrace in spite of any evidence indicating he is the moral equivalent of play-doh and is bought and paid for by corporate interests that will profit regardless of whether or not he wins.

    You need to get in line, Mark. The Party (all praise its glorious name) must be victorious on Tuesday. A pox on you for ever suggesting otherwise!

    • Mark Shea

      I stand rebuked under the mighty, just and wise Party (all praise its glorious name).

    • pjm

      Could not have been said better than coming from Daily Kos itself.

      • Mark Shea

        John Barnes is a damn librul! Down with all critics of the Infallible Party (all praise to its glorious name)!

      • John Barnes

        That’s right, pjm — because I don’t goose step on the RNC platform and because I don’t get my marching orders from half-informed pundits, I must be a commie who’s shilling for Daily Kos. Brilliant reasoning, my friend.

    • Peggy R

      Is it not possible that a person supports a party because the person largely shares the established ideas of the party and thinks that our nation has its best opportunities under that party’s leadership, certainly as opposed to the other party? SUrely, one can involve himself in politics and see the party as a means to good governance rather than an alternative to say church or religion.

  • LadyBird

    What a bunch of hooey!

  • Mary Shinn

    Explain, so these two men are lying, David Corn and Senator McCain? They are wrong in what
    the found out about Mitt Romney?

    …”Now David Corn a brilliant hard hitting journalist for Mother Jones in the mold of Woodward and Bernstein, Redford and Hoffman who uncovered the Watergate scandal that proved that Richard Nixon was a b & e artist and chased him from the White House, David Corn has uncovered documents which show that Mitt Romney signed personally for the purchase of Stericycle in Nov. 1999, had sole voting and dispositive power and on the Bain Capital 2002 SEC filing Mitt Romney is listed as the sole shareholder, CEO, President, and Fetus Burner.
    Mitt Romney is only going to release his 2010 and 2011 tax returns he just told America. When in 2008 Mitt Romney auditioned to become war hero Senator John McCain’s Vice President pick Mitt provided John McCain with 23 years of his tax returns which show exactly when and how Mitt Romney made $50 Million on his investment in Stericycle. This is why Senator McCain recently said that Sarah Palin was a better choice for VP than Mitt Romney. The Republican Party, the self proclaimed Pro Life party is running Mitt Romney, the biggest owner of the fetus disposal arm of the nation’s abortion clinics.”…

    Catholics and I wish but some do not see, this applies to all Christians, you CANNOT vote for anyone who has legislated for abortion, it becomes a mortal sin on your soul. Romney has not shown by his actions that he has changed, we only have his word he is now for life and his horrid record. Romney needs God’s grace to guide him. Pray, Mormons are not Christian. Two pro-aborts, Romney
    and BHO, our country needs one, its going to take a miracle from God.

    • Peggy R

      I guess Catholics & other Christians can decide whether to believe Mother Jones or Lifesite News (via NRO where I found references)

      • Mary Shinn

        Read the responses in National Review article to follow. And doesn’t it matter, Romney changed his position on life four times, depending on who was going to elect him. There is video of Romney praising his own mother for supporting abortion! In the NRO article,

        …”No is the word from four sources who communicated with CNN on Thursday — all of whom have firsthand knowledge of Bain’s operations at the time in question. Three of the four are Democrats, and two of the four are active Obama supporters in Campaign 2012.

        All four told me Romney is telling the TRUTH.”…

        Romney today, in this election has not changed when asked about the “exceptions” to killing a baby in it’s mother’s womb. This shows he doesn’t recognize the truth, spiritually or temporally. Who wants a man leading this country who rejects a basic must be believed about Our Lord, He is God. Jesus always was and always will be 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity. Pray for Mitt’s conversion.

  • Melanie

    I was delighted to see you posted Jeremy Beers’ contribution to the symposium! I knew him back in college when we were active in Young Conservatives and Christian Coalition. He was cool then and even cooler now.

  • Jeremy Beer

    To Joe Carter (who is also a smart guy) and others — To be clear, I don’t think that the only thing a president can do to affect the pro-life cause is through Supreme Court appointments; I know well about the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City, not to mention federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, and not to mention lower judicial appointments. But I had only 300 words, and one hears so much about pro-lifers’ moral obligation to make their presidential choice with an eye toward overturning Roe that I thought a sarcastic point about how unlikely that is worth making.

    Then there is the question of whether being “pro-life” can be reduced to the question of abortion (or abortion plus stem-cell research, say). I’m rather convinced that pro-life concerns pertain to questions of war and torture (at the very least), and that Romney is an even worse option on these points than is Obama — enough such that, like Mark, I do not think one has a *moral obligation* to vote for him strictly from a pro-life point of view. I understand that others disagree and respect their point of view.

    Anyway, that was the serious point behind my sarcastic post, which I *do* feel a moral obligation to clarify here.

    Thanks for the space, Mark.

    • Dan C

      The political movement of pro-lifism overtly rejects any linkage to matters which may be at all be attractive to liberals. Pro-lifism, under a rubric of “pro-family” has embraced anti-gay marriage as an acceptable feature of its agenda, has accepted the religious liberty matter of opposing the HHS mandate, in practice opposes Obamacare, while professing oddly mission creep when it comes to matters of welfare, capital punishment, war, torture, education, and universal health care.

  • One thing that helps keep “pro-life” reduced to the question of abortion (plus a little ESCR and euthanasia) is repeated talk about whether a candidate’s positions are “intrinsically evil” — as though we were free to negotiate our votes for candidates whose positions are only circumstantially evil.

    • Dan C

      Exactly. Prudential judgement acknowledges the lack of complete moral clarity available for a given teaching. It still acknowledges that a Truth exists, capital “T” Truth, just that one has to determine it on one’s own, using the guidance of the Church in the light of the Gospels and Tradition and the magisterium. Of those three, one hears that the magisterium is binding on exactly no one about social matters and war from usual suspects. The terms intrinsic evil and prudential judgement have been largely warped as tools for the right wing Catholic with pro-lofe sensibilities.

      • Prudential judgement is to right-liberals what primacy of conscience is to left-liberals.

        • Mark Shea


  • ivan_the_mad

    This is one of the reasons why this is one of the two rags that merits subscription by me. The other is, of course, only the most literate and witty of all rags, Gilbert Magazine! If you’re not already subscribed to that last, run, do not walk, to and rectify that deficiency at once!

    Dappled Things is currently making a good case for itself.

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    However evil Romney’s stated positions are, it weighs on me that if he will do absolutely anything that will be politically expedient for him, then maybe he WON’T lie to the public and torture prisoners and wage aggressive war and kill civilians on a secret kill list, for the simple reason that the Democrat-controlled mainstream media would howl against him whenever he would try it, thus rendering it politically INexpedient for HIM to do what the MSM would continue to let Obama get away with.

    • Mark Shea

      He has already pledged to reintitute torture. Betting on a moral vacuum to do the right thing is taking a serious long shot.

  • Matt Bowman

    I find it strange that so many people rely on the false assertion that pro-life voting is mere Roe-only voting. There are a myriad of pro-abortion things that Obama has done, that a Bush did not do (and a Romney would not, by a strong likelihood–without calling Romney “pro-life” or whatever), well beyond overturning Roe. But whether it is the liberal Kmiecs arguing that abortion doesn’t matter so vote Obama, or the conservative vote-third-party people arguing the same, they just set up the straw man that pro-life voting means Roe and nothing else, knock it down, and declare the life issue to be a wash. Factually, it is absurd to suggest Roe is the only abortion policy thing that matters or even the main one. Obama promotes abortion overseas, funds international abortion groups, funded it in DC, persecutes pro-life sidewalk counselors, litigates to stop states from defunding Planned Parenthood, forces all employers to cover abortifacients, and on and on and on. But this is all very detail oriented. It is much more simplistic to say the only abortion issue between Obama and Romney is Roe, and the only difference is 0.12%.

  • Chris

    The flaw in Shea’s logic is that we are not comparing Mitt Romney to perfection. We are comparing him to Barack Obama. One of those two candidates was going to win. Nobody else had a prayer. Therefore a Catholic takes the two candidates and compares them on the issues. There was absolutely no contest in this election regarding which candidate was better for Catholicism. In fact the choice could be decided on abortion/ contraception alone. Partial birth abortion, abortion on demand, federal funds for Planned Parenthood, forcing the Church to provide contraceptive covering insurance vs. no abortion except life of the mother, rape or incest, no funds for Planned Parenthood, no partial-birth abortion, repeal of Obamacare and no HHS mandate. Seeing these two options all Catholics had a moral obligation to vote for the candidate who was the best on the non-negotiable moral issues . In this case that choice could not be clearer. In addition, the stakes in this election could not be higher. Not only are there most likely two Supreme Court appointments which could perpetuate Roe for decades, but Obama is fundamentally transforming the very nature of our government and the Constitution through executive fiat. Then there is Obamacare with decisions of life and death to be made by panels of government beurocrats because there will be limited resources. Choosing not to vote or to vote 3rd party after witnessing the last 4 years and knowing the tremendous importance of this election is to be blunt, a sin in the objective order.

    Shea and those Catholics who voted 3rd party can trot out all of the indignant sophsitry and rationalizations they want going through a laundry list of how Romney is not the perfect candidate. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that he was clearly better than the alternative on the foundational moral issue of life. Of babies being killed in and partially out of the womb. Shea proudly announced to the world and encouraged others to passively participate in contributing to a more pro-abortion country and a country headed towards a welfare state mentality. No matter what rationalizations he uses, he was wrong. There is no getting around it.

    If you want another candidate who you think is better than Romney you campaign for him in the primaries. But once the nominee is selected you compare that nominee with the other party’s. You don’t pout in the corner come election time staying home or throwing your vote away like a child out of spite. In the end you only end up spiting yourself. Enjoy four more years….