What Is the Libertarian Position on Abortion? UPDATED

That is the question posed by Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey to Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie for their “Ask A Libertarian” video series:

Ed reacts with appreciation for a “measured, thoughtful response.” As you might expect, I’m not so charitable.
No, Ed, this was not a thoughtful response. A thoughtful response would have asked what the scientific evidence reveals about the humanity of the unborn, and the discussed how the answer relates to the nature of liberty (you know, the root word of “libertarian”) and the libertarian purpose of government. Instead, all we got was platitudes about respecting differing views wrapped around, quite frankly, Naziesque talk of a “sliding scale of humanity” and how “definitions of life and death change with time.” Gillespie even admits that the sliding scale is an intuitive idea, rather than a logical argument.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that there are principled, consistent libertarians out there, like Libertarians for Life, who embrace the full implications of the statements “all men are created equal” and “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” But in what might be the most disturbing part of the video, Welch claims that only about 30% of libertarians call themselves pro-life. If that number is accurate (and I don’t know if it is), then that confirms my worst suspicions about libertarianism being merely a form of liberalism that wants to keep its paycheck rather than a sincere, coherent liberty ethos.
But hey, that moral and intellectual confusion is one of the reasons I’m a conservative and not a libertarian. That’s their knot to untangle, and I hope for the sake of the Right as a broader coalition that pro-life libertarians are successful in untangling it.

UPDATE: Speaking of libertarians and social issues, Ann Coulter nukes Ron Paul and company along similar lines, in a column so good we’ll let slide her misguided infatuation with Chris Christie:

Most libertarians are cowering frauds too afraid to upset anyone to take a stand on some of the most important cultural issues of our time. So they dodge the tough questions when it suits their purposes by pretending to be Randian purists, but are perfectly comfortable issuing politically expedient answers when it comes to the taxpayers’ obligations under Medicare and Social Security.

If they could only resist sucking up to Rolling Stone-reading, status-obsessed losers, they’d probably be interesting to talk to.

In my book “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America,” I make the case that liberals, and never conservatives, appeal to irrational mobs to attain power. There is, I now recall, one group of people who look like conservatives, but also appeal to the mob. They’re called “libertarians.”

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So, About This Mess in Wisconsin…

Sorry I haven’t been blogging on the epic battle that’s been going on over the past couple weeks between Wisconsin’s new governor, Scott Walker, and the public-sector unions. I’ve written an editorial with my take on the matter which I hope will be in the Fond du Lac Reporter in the next few days, at which point I’ll put the director’s cut up here on CFO.

In the meantime, here are some of the best general-overview articles I’ve seen on the controversy. They should all be read in full if you’ve got the time:

Wisconsin Myths and Facts” by Matthew Shaffer at National Review Online

The American Pharisees of Madison” by Marvin Folkertsma at American Thinker

The Means of Coercion” by James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal

Public Unions Must Go” by Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online

Lost: The common good” by the Editors of the Chicago Tribune

The Worst Generation’s war in Wisconsin” by Ruth Ann Dailey in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As for me, for now I’ll just say that the reactions by all sides have yet again conclusively demonstrated that lies, violence and venom are hallmarks of the Left, not conservatives or the Tea Party; and that Governor Walker is doing the right thing and showing tremendous courage and resolve. More to come later.

New on NewsReal – She Who Governs Best Governs Most?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Feminist identity-politics arguments for increasing the number of women in public office usually rest on the premise that females have unique insight or sensitivity regarding issues like abortion, pay inequality, and education, without which disproportionately-male government cannot be trusted make sound, tolerant policy. But at the Daily Beast, Tony Dokoupil floats a new, more pragmatic argument, that according to a new American Journal of Political Science study, women simply get more stuff done:

The research is the first to compare the performance of male and female politicians nationally, and it finds that female members of the House rout their male counterparts in both pulling pork and shaping policy. Between 1984 and 2004, women won their home districts an average of $49 million more per year than their male counterparts (a finding that held regardless of party, geography, committee position, tenure in office, or margin of victory). The spending jump was found within districts, too, when women moved into seats previously occupied by men, and the cash was for projects across the spectrum, not just “women’s issues.”

A similar performance gap showed up in policy: Women sponsored more bills (an average of three more per Congress), co-sponsored more bills (an average of 26 more per Congress), and attracted a greater number of co-sponsors than their colleagues who use the other restroom. These new laws driven by women were not only enacted—they were popular. In a pair of additional working papers, led by Ohio State political scientists Craig Volden and Alan Wiseman, researchers tracked every bill introduced between 1981 and 2009, and found that those sponsored by women survived deeper into the legislative process, garnered more press attention, and were more likely to be deemed “important” overall. All of which leads the authors of the AJPS paper, University of Chicago Public Policy Professor Christopher Berry and his student and Stanford doctoral candidate Sarah Anzia, to conclude that it’s the women themselves—specifically, their skills at “logrolling, agenda-setting, coalition building, and other deal-making activities”— that are responsible for the gender-performance divide.

After a century of American political thought all-but dominated by progressive assumptions about the nature and role of government, this is likely to strike many Americans as intuitively compelling. But conservatives should instantly recognize the problem here: success and effectiveness are measured by sheer number of new laws made and amount of money funneled back home, without regard for the merit or constitutionality of any of it. Dokoupil simply assumes as a given that “more” equals “better.”

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

Why Do People Believe Irrational, Simplistic Things?

And why are they so insistent upon holding on to those things in the face of clear evidence to the contrary?

It’s actually not as surprising as it might seem at first. I think conspiracy theorists and fringe types are often motivated by the same thing: humans are naturally tempted to seek simple answers to complex questions. We want to solve our problems in as few steps as possible, and it can be hard to acknowledge that life just doesn’t work that way. It’s comforting to

Birthers hate Barack Obama so much that they succumb to fantasies about a way to remove him from office that’s supposedly easier and can be achieved earlier than defeating him electorally in 2012.

The same goes for those who insist that George W. Bush stole Florida in 2000.

9/11 Truthers can’t bring themselves to imagine that a series of events ultimately rooted in government incompetence and human error could have allowed a handful of people from what they see as a drastically inferior part of the world to carry out such a horror on their own.

Isolationists seek a quick and easy fix to international dangers like Islamic radicalism. If we don’t have a presence over there, they won’t want to bother us here. (Iraq & Afghanistan are separate issues: to these guys, the wrath of the entire Middle East can hinge upon the presence of but a single US military base on foreign soil.)

The more dogmatic libertarians simplistically assert that society will be near-perfect as long as we let the government do virtually nothing, because they see government as the source of all social illness. While they’ve got a strong case that the private sector will generally be more effective than public, they hurt both by overselling the former and underselling the latter.

And progressives seek to legislate social ills like racism and poverty out of existence. They can’t admit that information is too dispersed, and that human behavior isn’t malleable enough, to make centralized government solutions work, or that there are always behavioral and psychological factors at play that public policy can’t always alleviate – and in fact, can often make worse.

These tendencies are annoying, frustrating, and counterproductive, but they’re also natural. Humanity will never be fully rid of them, so their mere existence is hardly worth freaking out over. The real issue is whether or not the mainstream indulges or embraces the fringe – and one side has a much better record in that regard than the other.

Bad Argument of the Day

Whenever somebody wants to argue for keeping or making something legal, but doesn’t want to be seen as liking that something (like abortion or drugs), you can be sure he’ll deploy the argument that, well, that might be all well and good theoretically, but it just wouldn’t work in the real world, because people would still find ways to do it anyway.

Of course, laws are rarely enacted with the expectation that they’ll reduce something’s occurrence to zero or near-zero. Legal prohibitions are meant to identify what society finds intolerable, prevent as much of it as can reasonably be expected in a free, imperfect society, and punish those who do it anyway. The argument against prohibiting abortion or drugs because people will still obtain abortions and drugs is no more logical than it would be to argue that it’s pointless to prohibit murder, rape or robbery because in 2008 we had 16,272 murders, 89,000 rapes, and 441,855 robberies, despite long-standing laws firmly punishing all three.