Email Debate with Kate (and friends) 2004

This debate was precipitated by an email sent by Kate (my cousin) about, a "non-partisan" group set up to call young, minority, and low-income people and get them to vote for John Kerry.

I signed up, too.
Viva la Bush!

you can't be serious. i had such high hopes for you my young friend...such high hopes.

Kate (sent to 20 of her friends with the Subject:My Cousin is Voting for Bush...)
Dear friends:
In just one week my cousin (who i love very much) is going to vote for George Bush. This is his e-mail address . I believe he is a reasonable person who can be dissuaded.
If you can think of any reason why this man should not vote for Bush...speak now or forever hold your peace...
(love ya brad)

Anne (Subject: fermez la bush - from a friend of k8's)
hello k8's cousin,
1) if you believe in bush because you believe in capitalism, consider this: the bush administration, rather than sustaining the infrastructure of american (also-called-global) capitalism, is undermining it by alienating necessary allies and pissing off more than anyone thought possible those who are already displeased (shall we say) with american policy, thereby nurturing resistance movements. marx said that if a massive social upheaval were ever to destroy capitalism, it would have to come from within capitalism's very heart, which is what i believe will eventually happen w/ bush. fyi: the word on the street (even in '00) was that a true radical would vote for bush b/c it promises to speed up the revolution. and p.s. - capitalism is not sustainable. do not let yourself be fooled into believing that it is. you're smarter than that if you're k8's cousin.
2) if you believe in bush because you believe in the republican party: run a google search on corporate subsidies, agricultral subsidies (not going to small farmers but to enormous corporate farmers). corporate welfare it's called. and it is a significantly larger amount of money than is spent on welfare for low/no income families. republicans may have meant small government spending at one point, but that's no longer true.
3) if you believe in bush because you believe "might is right" consider this: gwb whimpered like an undisciplined child on national television during the first debate - "this is really hard" he said. what would a sargeant or a general say to a soldier who said "this is hard". bush has no might. he has no right.
4) if you believe in bush because it's cool to be different: grow the f*** up. we're not talking about games, we're talking about human beings all over the world dying as a result of this administration's policies or lack thereof. there is always time for humor, but the time for immaturity quickly passes.
5) if you believe in bush for a reason that you can articulate in substantial, non-emotional, purely rational, logical, impersonal argument, I'd love to hear it, because I've yet to hear one.
uhm. thanks for reading this far if you've made it. k8 says she really loves you and is concerned about your vote, so maybe you'll consider some of this, or maybe not.
sincerely, annie bacon.
For the love of the ocean, she rocked the boat.
[Charlotte Tall Mountain ]

I don't care. I mean, he's voting in either Georgia or Kentucky, right. Those states are not contested. They're so red it just don't matter.
- natalie

Unless you want me sending him information about salmon restoration (which is the only thing Iím allowed to send from my work email address), please send any emails about the election to my home email address:

It's amazing how smart people can make such dumb decisions sometimes.


Ms. Bacon,
I am not particularly worried about capitalism - it's quite stable thermodynamically. Look for latin america to get richer once FTAA goes up just like Eastern Europe has over the past decade (although I am a bit dissappoint they don't plan to include the free movement of people as well).
As for Marx, economists have been working for the past past 150 years or so since Marx wrote down important and inciteful things. There are books you can buy with lots of equations in them which will show you. Don't let the equations scare you. Mathematics is the language of the universe and, if you don't take the time to learn to read it , you are really missing out.
I'll be perfectly honest with you. I really think Bush is a bit to dumb to realize he is something of a socialist when it comes to domestic policy. Sure he lower taxes, but he also massively expanded Medicare. Alas one must prioritize. Micheal Badnarik, whose domestic views are much closer to mine, wants to follow the "ostrich" foreign policy. So here is why I am voting for Bush: Foreign Policy. The guy wants to hunt down and destroy Islamofascists wherever they are (not to mention his free trade proclivities).
I assume you are voting for John Kerry. Naturally, you do this because you are a socialist. I can forgive you this because you are young; as Churchill said "if you are not a liberal when you are twenty you have no heart. If you are not a conservative when you are forty you have no brain." I think if you combine a study of economics and history with your activism you may be able to cure yourself, although not before this election. I recommend starting with Walter Nicholson's "Microeconomic Theory" assuming you have had calculus (if not, going back and learning calculus ought to be your first priority). Historically I recommend studying the Roman and Athenian republics; the first is the classic example of representative democracy falling to dictatorship. And never forget that is what you are currently advocating when you advocate socialism.
John Kerry is the epitome of the dishonest politician, but most politicians (Bush included) are somewhat dishonest. I would exempt Zell Miller from this. Anyone considering executive government office should study Zell's tenure as Georgia's governor. Any Georgian who attends a state college in Georgia and maintains a B average goes for free (or $3000 toward tuition at a private college). Anyone who sends their kids to pre-K (public or private) in Georgia sends them for free. Both of these are funded by lottery money, not tax money. There is no state sales tax on groceries - for anyone. If you know him only as the token democrat supporting Bush you are really missing out, although his speech at the convention was magnificent.
Look at John Kerry's senate record (or absense of it). What has he done in twenty years? What has he stood for? Re-election.
Lastly, and most importantly, John Kerry has no concept of foreign policy other than a socialist one. The UN is a corrupt, undemocratic institution whose time has passed. Chirac still harbors dreams of France ruling Europe. Schroeder is only Kanzler of a coalition government (and not very popular either- 29% in the last Sonntagsfrage). Compare that to John Howard's recent re-election in Australia and his strong support of Bush's foreign policy.
Bush is far from perfect, but he is clearly the best among the alternatives.
K8's Cousin

check it out you are on a website too.

You wrote:
I don't care. I mean, he's voting in either Georgia or Kentucky, right. Those states are not contested. They're so red it just don't matter.
- natalie
Actually, it's Tennessee, Gore's homestate he couldn't even carry. I sent the following email to someone who did think my vote mattered. Perhaps you can profit from reading it.

The email I had just sent Anne was pasted here.

Tennessee. Yes. Another red state. Well, I'm glad some people think your vote matters, but I still don't.
Incidentally, I wouldn't mind voting for certain conservatives, but the Religious Right has so maniacally bastardized their core values that most of them can't do a damn thing without the blessings of radical right wingers. And that sucks.
The Democratic Party as a whole, I will admit, has been rather ineffective in recent decades. But I think Bush is even 10 times more ineffective. And I fear the prospect of four more years of Bush. I don't think he is truly out to catch the "Islamofascists," as you call them. Rather, I believe he is trying to pretend he's out to catch them and behind the scenes profit from their terrorist ways.

Once again I say that Bush is something of a socialist on the domestic front. Talking about amending the constitution to defend marriage may curry some votes among religious folk, but it's putting the government were it doesn't belong. Freedom is about being able to do what you want as long as you're not hurting other people. And I'll go even further: not only is gay marriage okay, but I don't think the government has any business making recreational drugs illegal or setting the drinking and smoking ages. How dumb is it that I could raise children and be legally unable to buy alcohol? But Kerry has shown himself to be much more of a socialist than Bush, even saying openly that he plans to raise taxes on the wealthy!
Do you honestly think that Kerry will be tougher on the Islamofascists than Bush? I think he's much more concerned about popularity. Bush has destroyed his once-high approval rating by going into Iraq and then sticking to it - clearly not politically motivated. Islamofascists don't hate America because the USA did something to piss them off. America is main stumbling block on the road to the world domination of Islam. I don't know if you've read the Qur'an or studied the history of Islam, but from a fundamentalist perspective the goal of Islam is world domination achieved through violence. These guys are not going to leave us alone if we're nicer and try not to piss off the international community by chosing to do things which are difficult and messy. The Islamofascist thinks in terms of the history of mankind, not the next election cycle. They believe they are completing an unfinished task ordained by god, namely the world domination of Islam (yes, it's in the Qur'an). Look at John Kerry's record. He was a US Senator when the Soviets still wanted to wipe capitalism and democracy and he wanted to do nothing to stop them! Do really think he would approach the Islamofascist threat differently? Here's the scenario I see: He will do nothing until we are attacked again. He will try to look strong immediately thereafter by doing something with the military and then do his best to lull us back into a sense of security where terrorism is just a nuisance. Then he will do nothing until we are attacked again. Then the whole cycle will repeat itself.
Bush has taken the fight to the Islamofascists. Yes, Halliburton has made money in the process, but what company could stay in business if they didn't make a profit?
You can't look myopically at one or two issues when voting for president. Gay marriage and the murder of unborn children are important issues facing America, but so are taxation, young adults rights, honesty, the maniacs who want Islam to rule the world, world hunger, and social security among a host of other things.
P.S. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe every vote counts.

"the murder of unborn children"?
Oh geez.
I want taxes raised on the wealthy, personally.

Cousin Brad,
You are a great sport, for a neo-conservative freak of nature. I am hopeful that you will getting much mail regarding your reply to Anne. Your position is obviously well thought out and argued intelligently (if snobbishly). I hope you won't hold my not knowing calculus against me, and I won't hold the fact that you've never had a full time job against you. :) I'm glad you know this is all in good fun and that I love you very much...and am totally impressed by how well-read you are.
We'll just make you a name tag that says "Bradley:Compassionate, Conservative, Contractually-bound not to talk politics"

Brad (Subject: Libertarian)
If you must label me politically, I prefer libertartian to neo-conservative.
Also, you are rather unimformed about my job history. I have had full-time jobs most summers (including the past two) when I am not in school, and I held two part time jobs most of the time I was in school at GA Tech. Currently my Teaching Assistantship contractually forbids me from seeking other employment while I am in school, so I have been trying to tutor to get around that (without much success, I may have to look into consulting). So you will have to find some other reason why I can't hold your mathematical illiteracy against you.
Oh, and the name tag is catchy but inaccurate. I do like the "Contractually bound...." part though. It might keep Natalie from stringing me up. -brad

Brad (Subject: the unborn and taxes)
In ancient times (before abortion) women who did not want their babies would expose them out on the streets to die amongst the trash. (Incidentally, this was particularly popular among the Roman aristocracy. The christian religion grew in numbers in its early days by picking up and raising these abandoned babies.) It was murder then, and it's murder now. Our descendents will look back with disgust at abortion just as we look back with disgust at exposure.
Your desire to raise taxes on the wealthy comes from a false assumption, namely that the amount of wealth in the world is a constant. This is not true. Wealth can be created and destroyed. In a capitalist society like ours, those with the highest incomes correspond strongly with those who create the most wealth. When wealth creatation is taxed too heavily, people have no incentive to create wealth. For rich people this means they just sit on their money rather than investing it. Wealth creation is a tide which rises all boats. Government usually does not create wealth, it merely redistributes it.

I'm sorry i accused you of being compassionate. I promise never to make that mistake again.
You will still have a name tag saying "Kate's Crazy Cousin contractually bound to remain silent on all political issues"
similar alliteration...more accurate.
i'm signing off...

Brad (Subject: not conservative silly)
That's not what I meant! I'm not conservative. I think quite a bit needs to be changed in this country to protect individual liberty. We need to establish legislative protection for the rights of 18-21 year olds - they ought to have the same rights as any other adult age group. We need to repeal the 16th amendment and establish a "Fair Tax". We need to end the war on drugs and the idea of so-called victimless crimes. These are only encroachments on our individual liberty. We need the get rid of the UN and replace it with something more democratic. I want to end world hunger by freeing people to work where they want, build what they want, and sell it where they want, i.e. the free movement of goods, services, currency, and people throughout the world. (I think the last at least counts as compassionate, but my point is that people shouldn't be dependent on the compassion of government officials, but the laws that guarantee their freedoms.)

Bradley, you are wrong. Abortion as a practice through either herbal or surgical means has existed as long has pregnancy has existed. As long as women have the ability to become pregnant abortion will exist.
I'm sure that you know that a egg and sperm do not make a fully formed baby human at contact. It takes a full nine months for that to occur. Many early pregnancies end in miscarriages that women do not know about and do not mourn. Do we consider this a "loss of life"? No more than masturbation or menstruation. During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (when the majority of abortions occur), the fetus grows to be no longer than my thumb and at no wider than a pencil. THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY THIS FETUS COULD SURVIVE OUTSIDE THE WOMB ON ITS OWN. It has visible hands and feet but no feelings, thoughts, part of it's self even remotely resembles what we consider humanness other than it's "potentiality" to be human. Meanwhile the person (fully formed, integrated in to society, and emotionally and intellectually mature) has realized her entire potential, and is fully human. There is absolutely no logic to weighing these two beings as equal. While a fetus has the potential of growing into a human, it has none of the qualities of humanity that separate us from other sentient life, and it has full dependency on an adult woman who may or may not want to be a mother.
I won't bore you with statistics of maternal mortality when it comes to illegal abortion, because I know you are not interested in the millions of women who lose their lives each year out of desperation and lack of access to proper medical care. But, think of this: the country in the world with the lowest incidence of abortion is also the place with the most liberal abortion laws: Holland.
Put on a wider lens for just a minute and consider what your vote means for women in this country.

You may or may not be right that in the future we will look back on abortion with disgust. But am I right that you call yourself a Libertarian? A true Libertarian would realize that it is not the government's place to legislate such a private issue. In the early 1990s, the Libertarian Party recognized this and as part of their platform said it was inappropriate for the government to intrude on this private matter. In 1996 they watered down their language to appease the religious members of their party, which I think is a shame because Libertarianism in its pure form has its merits and now has been bastardized by its membership.

There are two ways to look at this from a libertarian perspective:
1). Murder is a private issue.
I do not believe murder is a private issue. (Although some of the most libertarian cultures have historically- look up wergeld in your dictionary). Societally this leads to vendettas and anarchy. Naturally even most Libertarians don't think this is the case.
2). The unborn are not people yet, and therefore have no rights.
This is the tack most who believe in abortion follow. Because they could not survive without help outside the mother's womb, they are not people yet. By that logic neither are diabetics, the wheelchair-bound, or anyone else who has needed medical treatment in their life. No, I cannot agree. Every human life, no matter how frail or unable to vote, deserves the protection of our laws.
This, and their ostrich foreign policy, are the two main disagreements I have with the Libertarian party. If their weren't Islamofascists out to kill us and rule the world I would surely vote Libertarian though.
If you want to see a party bastardized by their membership, just look how far Jefferson's Democratic Republicans have fallen in their two centuries of existence.

Brad (Subject: the unborn)
This is your pet issue so I'll defer to your knowledge of history with this caveat: I do know that exposure was the preferred method as recorded by history in the Roman Empire during the first few centuries AD.
Your arguement that a fetus could not survive on its own is false because this is true for most of society. Have you ever taken antibiotics? There's a good chance that disease would have killed you. What about a diabetic. Without insulin every day he would die. THERE IS NO CHANCE HE COULD SURVIVE ON HIS OWN. Can you grow your own food, make your own clothes, build your own shelter, and survive? No, you are dependent on other people to provide you these things. You give them money you earned providing someone else something.
And don't try the "potentiality" arguement either. My kids aren't fully formed, integrated in to society, or emotionally and intellectually mature, but they still ought be protected from murder by law. Seriously, have you completely reached your potential. I haven't.
You talk of maternal mortality in illegal abortions. What about the 40 million unborn who have been legally murdered in this country since Roe vs. Wade? 20 million of them could have grow up to be women. If you want to talk about women's rights you cannot ignore these 20 million.
Sure, it would be better for some women to kill their unborn children and go on with their lives. It would also be better for me to kill my parents and collect my inheritance now. That doesn't make it right. The ends do not justify such means.

Good. And please consider that part about Holland. It's true that the legalization of abortion combined with improved access to birth control will reduce the rates of abortion far more than criminiliazation ever could.
a diabetic is not entirely dependant on one other human for nine months for food, shelter, oxygen, and yes insulin. a diabetic can purchase food at a store, breath on their own, shelter themselves and buy insulin through a pharmacy. a diabetic is not going to change your relationship with your lover, prevent you from finishing school, take all of your money, time and attention. a diabetic is not an admission from a teenager to her parents that she is pregnant. a diabetic does not have the same potential to make you feel isolated or stigmatized. diabetes is never going to be the product of rape or incest. and while diabetes may kill the person who has will not kill their parents.
you have to see a difference between a twelve week fetus and your twins or max. you would not mourn the death of a fetus at twelve weeks the way you would brittan or alora. although you may mourn the potential of the child that might of been. And, like most people, you would not tell people you had 4 children if one was miscarried at 12 weeks.
Again, we are talking about 90% of all abortions happening in the first trimester. No thumb sucking, no kicking, no eye opening, no flexing and unflexing hands. These aren't women, not yet.
Tell are you really that morally consistent? Consider the following: Which "murder" would be the most morally outrageous? Which would have the greatest effect on society? In which case would you push for the strongest conviction of the perpetrator?
a child (4 years)
an adult (wheelchair bound)
an adult (fully able and healthy)
a fetus
a zygote
the inseminated egg
It isn't a black and white issue of murder or not murder. 40 million unborn since Roe versus the number of women who died due to illegal abortion before Roe. Unwanted pregnancies do not have children who depend on them, or families who love them.
Tell me if I came to you and said I had an abortion because I was young, or because I was poor or because i was raped, or because i wasn't ready to carry, love or raise a child. would you want to put me in jail? would you want to imprison my doctor? surely you would turn me in for murdering my father or mother, but what about the first two cells of my pregnancy, my zygote, or my fetus? I'm not sure even you would take that line.
Many of the women who lost their lives to illegal abortion were mothers of small children. If abortion becomes illegal, are you going to care for their children?

Mr. Wogsland,
With all due respect, your response was utterly condescending and typical of one whose mind is blinded by plentiful privelege.
I have studied calculus for two years, as well as macroeconomic policy, though not microeconomic, and these studies have only served to concretize my belief that capitalism as it is practiced by the US and most of the "West" is unsustainable over the next half century.
I am inspired in my activism, not by the "black block" (anarchist kids) or the young democratic socialists, but by Emma Goldman, Father Roy Bourgeois, Philip Berrigan, Mother Theresa, Amy Goodman, and countless others well over the age of 40 with whom I have more personal and intimate relationships. it seems to me that believing 'liberalism' to be a sickness of youth is itself a sign of emotional immaturity, or perhaps it is the justification one uses when one's heart turns against one's own.
It seems that you will not be swayed in your beliefs, but I must say, if you are attempting to sway me to your side, it might not be the best idea to use the example of a man who challenged a news anchor to a duel on national television. not much credit there.
As for Bush's cohort's foreign policy plans, I think you might be right. I think it's a great idea to hunt and kill anyone who disagrees with american policy. when will you come for me? or for your cousin?
Anne Bacon

I'm sorry if I pissed you off. Cara says I shouldn't discuss the issue further or I may become persona non grata. I think I know you better, so I will continue our debate. (Although if the wife is right then read no further and delete this email.)
I have experienced the loss of a 6 week old fetus. It was devastating, and I only knew about that fetus for a week. Cara was so distraught she refused to even consider trying to have another baby for the next two years.
Cara could have chosen to abort any of my children without my having any say in the matter. My children. Don't you think that is wrong. When you have sex, it makes babies. This is reality. If rob a store it can change your relationship with your lover, prevent you from finishing school, take all of your money, time and attention, but that doesn't mean you have a right to un-rob the store. People make mistakes that affect their lives everyday without being guaranteed a mulligan. That's life.
When you ask me to feel sorry for mothers who died trying to kill their unborn babies it's like trying to get me to feel sorry for robbers who were killed by the cashier at the store they were trying to rob. I'm sure those robbers have children, too. That doesn't mean we should legalize store-robbing so their parents won't get killed.
This is not a few skin sells or some semen we're talking about, but a human being. Any human needs the proper environment to survive, whether zygote or olympic athlete. Take this away and of course they will die. Just because the environment a zygote needs is different than yours doesn't make it any less human. If you put an olympic athlete on the surface of the sun, he will die, no matter what equipment you try to keep him alive with.
I am sure we will one day reach a level of technology where we can keep even a zygote alive outside of its mother and grow it into a full baby. How then would your argument seperate a zygote and a parapalegic for example? A parapalegic doesn't even have potential to become a fully functioning human.

Of course we can still talk about it. And I am not mad at you, merely suprised at your stance on a whole slew of issues that we've never had the time to debate.
I am very sad to hear that you and cara suffered a miscarriage. I know that it is a terrible and frightening experience for most couples. I also understand that some women who are pregnant form incredibly close bonds with their babies from the time of first knowledge of pregnancy. As a counselor, I listen to how people view their own experience and use the same words and phrases when I help them reflect on how those experiences felt. It's the opposite in politics, and I think in my attempt to bring these issues home for you, I have realized that I crossed a line. And I need to be more careful. I can't legislate how you feel about life.
Sadly we aren't going to agree on this issue. I want you to know (although I think you already know) that the best i feel like i can do in this lifetime is to limit the suffering of others. And to make this world safe for as many people as possible. Maybe abortion does not happen in an ideal world. But this world is not ideal. Criminalizing abortion only makes it more dangerous for doesn't make it dissappear. Maybe you think mother's who choose abortions should be punished (like people who get shot robbing stores)...but I think they should be helped.
I'm suprised at one thing, however. If you feel so strongly about this issue. If you feel trully that the act of abortion is murder, why would you still want to know me? I have knowingly and willingly assisted in 100's of abortions in the last year. I have lobbied congress, and organized voters to preserve the right to choose. I organized a bus load of women from arkansas to march on Washington D.C. What gives?

Ms. Bacon,
Firstoff, I'm not that privileged. Just because I believe in capitalism doesn't mean I'm good at it yet.
Secondly, I suggest you read someone like Friedman or Hayek or Rand before you become completely convinced that capitalism will fail. The reason capitalism is so stable thermodynamically is because an overwhelming majority of the population has a stake in preserving the system. Contrast that to socialism wherein only the elites are better off by preserving the status quo. If Marx was right, why wasn't Krushchev able to bury us?
Thirdly, I think what Churchill was trying to say is that the 40-year-old has had much longer to learn about the realities of the world. I chose to quote him because he recognized evil (Nazis) long before his peers. Islamofascism is a similar evil which John Kerry wants to wish away into a nuisance. Bush wants to face that evil and destroy it.
You need to look at and study real examples of socialist vs. capitalist countries. Look how much better off the average Eastern European is today vs. 15 years ago. Just citing names of famous people you agree with is not an arguement. Keep studying mathematics and branch out into microeconomic theory. I am completely swayable by an arguement based in logic built on common assumptions rather than assumptions most people don't hold (e.g. capitalism is doomed to failure).

I forgot -
I learned a long time ago: never trust a politician who seems to be honest.

Brad (Subject: the road to truth)
I love you. You are and always will be my cousin. On the other hand, it is a horrible thing that you kill babies for a living. Maybe I should ostricize you, but I think engaging you in dialogue would be more likely to change your opinion. Yes, I would like to see what you are doing made illegal and see you punished, but I don't have the power to do that (yet). You are an honest person, however misguided. You do what you think is right to the best of your abilities which is all anyone can do in life. I myself have gotten lost so may times on the road to truth I can not fault you for similar missteps. Stay open to others' opinions and keep learning. Maybe you will come to agree with me one day, maybe you won't. One can only do so much in life and I have chosen, for now, to make my contribution in physics and in my children. I will vote as an informed citizen, and continue to blog to vent political frustrations as they come up. Life is a long time. Perhaps one day we will debate eachother in Washington.

Without being excessively garrulous, can you tell me whether you think invading Iraq was really an appropriate thing to do at this juncture?

Oui, madame.

Should you care to continue the debate, the email addresses of the participants are as follows:

Last Modified: 2 November 2004 by Bradley James Wogsland.
Copyright © 2004 Bradley James Wogsland.