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Author Topic: Amniocentesis and abortion
vegimo
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Santorum told Face the Nation, "Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortion."

There are, as I see it, at least two ways to parse his statement. One would be that of all amnio tests done, at least half result in abortion. The second would be that of all amnio tests that show abnormalities such as Down, at least half result in abortion. Your political views will probably help determine which interpretation you would choose, and even then there would be much wailing about details as shown in the linked PolitoFact page.

I am not very interested in arguments for or against Santorum's insightful statement or misguided extremist right-wing views. My purpose in posting this is as a palette against which to present the following news item. The parents of a Down symptom child win a suit alleging 'wrongful birth' after a faulty amnio test. What do you think about their decision to sue, and what do you think about the decision of the jury?

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TomDavidson
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I think the verdict was correct, even though I'm "pro-life." The parents paid for amnio on the basis that it would enable them to more accurately plan their family. Whether such family planning is a moral behavior or not is irrelevant; if the clinic provided incorrect information, it is liable for the result of that misinformation.

I expect that all amniocentesis paperwork in this country will now include a liability waiver for incorrect analysis.

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Grant
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Their decision to sue seems curious to me, since they supposedly "love this little girl very, very much", but then contend that if they had known that she had Down they would have ensured that she never existed. The only way that makes sense is in the sense of an object rather then a person. I love my truck. But if I had known it would have cost me $4500 in repairs during the first year of ownership, I would never have bought it". I suppose somebody could even get away with saying something like: "I love my wife, but if I had known she would have been infertile I never would have married her".

I don't know all the information that was presented to the jury, but my experience with juries and the people that usually make them up are that they tend to favor individuals over companies, poor over rich, and put a premium on emotional suffering.

Unless there was proof of some sort of negligence on the part of the physicians or medical personnel, then I would not have made the same ruling. If the tests were performed correctly, and the results were read accurately, then there is no negligence.

What bothers me is the expression that children and adults with down syndrome are unwanted, and are burdonsome. Nobody wants their child to be born with down, but I think there is a gap between that statement and saying that a down child is "unwanted". A set of parents may not want their child to have down, but still want their child. That they are burdonsome, or comparatively more burdonsom then children without down symdrome, is undeniable. It still seems nasty to say, though it is true.

I don't know exactly how much an older child, or an adult with down understands. I don't know what to think about one of them discovering one day that their parents once recieved $3 million after stating, in court, that they would have prevented their birth and existance because of their Down.

What if one day they are able to isolate or identify a set of genes that identify homosexuality? What if you could test fetuses for this? What would you think about a mother or parents who decided not to let a fetus be born because they don't want a gay child? If the fetus tested heterosexual and the child turned out homosexual, could the parents sue the medical personnel who performed the test?

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AI Wessex
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You realize there are genetic predispositions toward and away from risky behaviors, and even genetic correlations with liberal and conservative tendencies.
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Grant
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I acknowlege your evidence, Al. But you have not made a claim. What does the evidence infer? What is your point?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Their decision to sue seems curious to me, since they supposedly "love this little girl very, very much", but then contend that if they had known that she had Down they would have ensured that she never existed.
I suspect the issue is that the care of Down's children is fairly expensive, and they may not have chosen to have a child with the syndrome for a variety of reasons. Since their child -- whom they love -- has Down's, they now have incurred extra expenses as a direct result of the test's inaccuracy. If they had a reason to assume the perfect accuracy of that test, then the extra expenses of raising their child are the direct responsibility of the clinic providing the test.

Like I said, I fully expect the main result of this to be legalese on test forms. [Smile]

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Pete at Home
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Lifers please correct me if I'm mistaken, but is it not true that Amnio often is taken to reveal whether there's a threat to the mother's life? And in that light, isn't Santorum being a mealy mouthed gasbag?
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I suspect the issue is that the care of Down's children is fairly expensive, and they may not have chosen to have a child with the syndrome for a variety of reasons. Since their child -- whom they love -- has Down's, they now have incurred extra expenses as a direct result of the test's inaccuracy. If they had a reason to assume the perfect accuracy of that test, then the extra expenses of raising their child are the direct responsibility of the clinic providing the test.

Like I said, I fully expect the main result of this to be legalese on test forms. [Smile]

I agree that the end result will be more fine print on forms. That doesn't mean that the forms will always have the legal result the lawyers wish they would have. If negligence is proven, then the form will not matter, since the innacuracy was not due to inherencies within the test, but to human error.

That said, I'm surprised that an individual or group actually would believe that a medical test, or any test for that matter, could have 100% accuracy. I also find it hard to believe that the test was actually advertised or presented as 100% accurate, but I wasn't there. Maybe the doctor or nurse actually told them, "yes, your baby (sorry, fetus) does not have Downs, and you can be 100% sure of this".

The liability of the extra expense due to having a child with downs can only be attributed to the negligence (or falsely attributing accuracy) of the medical staff if in fact the parents (sorry, the perspective mother, perspective dad has no say) can testify that they would have aborted the fetus if in fact they had known it had Downs.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Lifers please correct me if I'm mistaken, but is it not true that Amnio often is taken to reveal whether there's a threat to the mother's life? And in that light, isn't Santorum being a mealy mouthed gasbag?

I'm not positive the actual stated reasons behind undergoing Amnio. It seems to me that the reason is actually dependant on the fetus-carrier. They're the one who decide to have the proceedure, ask them. I don't even remember why Amnio is recommended.

It appears to me that candidate Santorum is woefully uninformed or unable to properly state his case. I don't know if that qualifies one to be a "mealy mouthed gasbag" or not.

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Pete at Home
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Since Santorum is a Republican candidate rather than a Democratic one, I suspect that we will not need to undergo eight weeks of dictionary and other semantic analysis of the words "mealy", "mouthed," and "gasbag."
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Grant
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No. But I can't promise you anything.
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kmbboots
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Are we talking about inconclusive tests or mistaken tests or doctors who choose to withhold information or falsely report test results on moral grounds?
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Are we talking about inconclusive tests or mistaken tests or doctors who choose to withhold information or falsely report test results on moral grounds?

Dunno. Those details have not been given.

[ March 14, 2012, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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vegimo
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Here is a source claiming subsequent tests showed different results and the doctors continued to falsely reassure them, and this one says that the initial test was performed wrong - that the tissue sample was from the mother rather than the child (fetus).
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Grant
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Then the issue is one of negligence that has been proven. Not false assurances or assumptions of test accuracy.

In that case, I would have agreed with the jury, as I stated in my first post. I would not agree with the morality of aborting a fetus with downs, but that is not the issue, nor was it ever from a legal standpoint.

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kmbboots
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We now seem to have laws in a couple of states - Oklahoma, Arizona that protect doctors even if they choose to withhold information.
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Grant
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I'm not aware of these laws. Nor can I understand a law whose purpose is to withold information from a patient which may lead them to do something that is by law legal. I support the right of medical practitioners to refuse to perform a treatment or operation that they believe is immoral. I do not support the withholding of information.
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cherrypoptart
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The slippery slope exists in places like India where women find out they would be having a little girl but choose to have a little abortion instead.
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AI Wessex
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Laws and customs in other countries can't be cherry picked and translated without context into our culture. From your Pa judge thread the judge made it clear that in the defendant's country that a little dissing of Mohammed is a crime punishable by death. You didn't defend the attacker in that case. Recently a woman who was raped was forced to marry the rapist to save her reputation. She committed suicide.
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AI Wessex
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I was extending your argument about aborting homosexual offspring to the testability of a host of other characteristics and tendencies. Those include violence, a variety of diseases, socialization factors, hair and eye color, as well as predisposition toward religious faith. In a closed self-perpetuating community you can select on damn near anything to reinforce what you like and avoid what you don't. Some people would like to skip the middleman altogether and just clone themselves.
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Grant
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Ahhh. I was aware of some of the other genetic traits, though I didn't know there were liberal and conservative genetic traits, that sounds interesting.

I just picked one that I thought would resonate while also bringing to mind yet leaving unsaid the entire debate over just how much influence our genes really have over our destinies. Genetic determinism isn't the subject however. The subject is the the morality behind the decision.

I'm not going to get deep into that either because it will become a morass and I'm going home tomorrow morning. I already feel bad because I never answered replies to my posts back in January, so I would rather slink away and dissapear like a forum ninja then pose anything someone might feel obliged to answer or begin some new debate.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think the verdict was correct, even though I'm "pro-life." The parents paid for amnio on the basis that it would enable them to more accurately plan their family. Whether such family planning is a moral behavior or not is irrelevant; if the clinic provided incorrect information, it is liable for the result of that misinformation.

I expect that all amniocentesis paperwork in this country will now include a liability waiver for incorrect analysis.

Funny, I'm "pro-choice" and yet, I find this judgement awful. The impact goes far beyond paperwork; it perpetuates a system of malpractice insurance that puts a massive burden on health care costs. I'll reserve full judgement until we get all the facts, but if this were an error, and there was no deliberate dishonesty, then our system is penalizing *inevitable* mistakes with massive burdens. Even if you believe (and I do) that society should share the burden of these costs, this is an awful method for doing so.

I'm a school teacher; what would an equivalent mistake be? Giving an incorrect grade? I can't imagine doing my job if such an error was so potentially ruinous. I can't totally blame the family for finding a way to provide for their kid, but again, this is such a terrible way for a society to apportion responsibility and blame that its beyond absurd.

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Grant
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I felt the same way about the judgement, Adam. I do however draw a line between "just making a mistake" and gross negligence. It's tough, I know.

In this case, however, it seems that the medical staff may have actually been purposely withholding information regarding the test. It appears there may have been deliberate dishonesty, and that this was not an inevitable mistake.

The good news is that malpractice is making good doctors better. They are more aware of possible mistakes and prep themselves and their staff on ways to avoid them. The bad news is that liability is causing many doctors to become scared. They will not take chances.

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kmbboots
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Fetuses may be people in Georgia. Women, apparently are cattle.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/09/georgia-lawmaker-compares-women-to-cows-and-pigs/

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Wayward Son
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That remark is not nearly as nutty as the bill itself.

quote:
State Rep. Terry England was speaking in favor of HB 954, which makes it illegal to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks even if the woman is known to be carrying a stillborn fetus or the baby is otherwise not expected to live to term.
WTF??? Women really are just incubators in some legislator's eyes. [Roll Eyes]
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kmbboots
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I am not sure how much is the bill and how much is State Rep. England wanting the bill to say that.
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vegimo
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I think it is another situation where bloggers or analysts from the opposing political group decide to concoct the most outrageous situation they can think of that would, in their eyes, be the consequence of something like this. (I think back to the cries of "Bush set himself up to be a dictator" and the echoes of the same cries against Obama in reaction to various Executive Orders.) I am glad that we have access to the bill itself and can read what it actually says instead of relying on the ThinkProgress interpretation.
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kmbboots
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Did you listen to the speech?
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vegimo
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Yes I did. England sounded like a rube, but I certainly would not have interpreted his speech to mean that he thought women should continue to carry and then deliver dead babies.
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kmbboots
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What do you think his point was in noting that cows and pigs do so?
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vegimo
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Do you think his point was what you said? Or what WS said?
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kmbboots
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I think, given the context, thqt he is saying that cows and pigs manage to deliver stillborn calves and piglets without having then removed surgically and, though it is sad, women should be able to as well. But I am willing to hear your interpretation. I would also be interested in hearing another interpretation of his comparison to a woman's sovereignty over her body to the right to participate in cock fighting.

[ March 17, 2012, 01:32 AM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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AI Wessex
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"England sounded like a rube, but I certainly would not have interpreted his speech to mean that he thought women should continue to carry and then deliver dead babies."

Really? I heard him to say exactly that. It breaks his heart, but he's learned from watching barnyard animals deliver dead offspring that sometimes that's just the way it is.

"I would also be interested in hearing another interpretation of his comparison to a woman's sovereignty over her body to the right to participate in cock fighting."

I think he means that he was deeply moved by someone who dearly loves cockfighting who would sacrifice that intense emotional gratification in praise for the higher good that women should not be allowed to abort their babies. All I can say is that the "young man" and Terry England really care deeply about their animals.

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vegimo
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This is the type of interpretation that I find disturbing. England said that he had the experience of delivering dead cows and pigs, and that it broke his heart to see those animals not make it. He did not say that he thought women should carry and deliver dead babies. You did not hear him say exactly that, you supposed he meant that. No matter how much you want to read into his words, that would still be your negative, and partisan, interpretation.

My interpretation of his meaning would be based on several things. He is arguing in favor of a bill that would severely limit abortion, and he most likely is in the camp that feels abortion rights should be restricted even more than would be provided for in this bill. Second, he obviously has some sort of a background in care for barnyard animals, and he also obviously feels that this background helps connect him with many of the other legislators. Third, he was most likely affected emotionally by his experiences in the past, and he wants to bring those emotions into his arguments. Fourth, an emotional argument is often less likely to be reasonably constructed or presented than one based less on emotion. Fifth, he most likely feels that there is a connection between the two subjects because they both deal with birth. And so on...

I would interpret what he said to mean that since he felt it was tragic even when those barnyard animals were born dead, how much more tragic is it to kill a human child? (Please note that I am not saying that this is how I feel.) I think that he was ham-handed (or cow-tongued) in making this association, but that is how I would parse his meaning. I would also say that he continues to illustrate that passion by showing that the young man he talked to would give up HIS passion - cockfighting - if abortion were banned. Again, it is a badly presented, emotional argument, and that is why I called England a rube.

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vegimo
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OK, after I wrote that response I decided to google Terry England. One of the top matches was for his own site, so I decided to check it out to see if he had anything to say on the subject. The front page says that he was "making the point that we spend a great deal of time debating the value of non-human life in the General Assembly, and less attention to human life." He also has more to say about the claim that he was calling for women to continue to carry dead babies. Read his own interpretation.
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hobsen
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Since England is under 35, and only a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, it seems to me he should be forgiven for making remarks which he now says were misinterpreted. For comparison Joe Biden is about 70 and Vice President of the United States - and he is still notorious for saying what he does not mean.

In vegimo's link, England's web page quotes Georgia state law as providing in part, "The term "abortion" shall not include the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device employed... to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of a spontaneous abortion." That does not make much sense, as a child who died after a spontaneous abortion has presumably already been removed, but Representative England is not responsible by himself for nonsense included in Georgia statutes. But so long as he does not try to change what current law says, I think he should be cleared of the charge that he wants pregnant women to carry dead fetuses to term, which could in fact involve serious danger of life-threatening infection.

A further check found references online to "stillborn" fetuses still inside the mother, including a case involving an elephant. So the usage is probably no worse than references to "American Indians." English as she is spoke remains a marvel, and usage has little connection to logic.

[ March 17, 2012, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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vegimo
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hobson, I think that politicians (well, not just politicians, but that's a discussion for another day) very often say what they do not mean, and Joe Biden may very well do it frequently. In this case, though, I believe that England meant (in his head) exactly what he said (ineffectively). I just do not believe that he meant what ThinkProgress, HuffPo, jezebel, hinterlandgazette, kmbboots, Wayward Son, or AI Wessex think he meant.
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AI Wessex
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Vegimo, the most generous interpretation I can make of his words in the video is that he is almost completely inarticulate if his intent was to express any sort of empathy or compassion for women who have to suffer through either abortion, miscarriages or delivery of a stillborn baby short of term. When I reach for a metaphor to describe those things I don't attach to someone's passion for cockfighting or the farmer's emotional loss of a farm animal that is a piece of economic property.

If I'm showing partisanship, well this is partisan season and he was debating a highly partisan bill. On a personal level I'm more offended that someone with the responsibility and authority to make laws for his state has such a limited intellectual capacity for visualization and empathy.

[ March 17, 2012, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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vegimo
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I think what I said was that he was arguing against abortion in an emotional way. I did not say that he was expressing empathy or compassion for the women involved. I think that he was a ham-handed, cow-tongued, chicken-brained rube. I do not think he was saying that women should continue to carry dead babies. I do not think he was equating animals to people. He was trying to describe passions and emotions in a way in which he felt comfortable expressing himself. He came across as someone quite different than what you or I would describe as normal. In other communities I am sure that he would be described as quite normal, while you and I would be the oddballs.

My complaint about the partisanship was, in part, regarding the categorization of someone on the other side as having limited intellectual capacity when their speeches and methods differ from yours. I found it intellectually dishonest to claim that Bush was a simpleton because he pronounced 'nuclear' incorrectly (or because of the many other things I am sure you are thinking about right now). Likewise, I find it intellectually dishonest to claim that Biden is stupid because he makes so many gaffes. I find it much more rewarding to discuss the actual issues rather than your interpretation of someone else's speech. As I stated in my OP, "I am not very interested in arguments for or against Santorum's insightful statement or misguided extremist right-wing views." I think that the contents of Georgia's HB 954 deserve discussion - I may or may not participate...well, I probably won't - but I also think that discussion of England's arguments about the bill very quickly found a home in the partisan world of outrage and hyperbole, and that is what I dislike most about partisan season.

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AI Wessex
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"My complaint about the partisanship was, in part, regarding the categorization of someone on the other side as having limited intellectual capacity when their speeches and methods differ from yours. I found it intellectually dishonest to claim that Bush was a simpleton because he pronounced 'nuclear' incorrectly (or because of the many other things I am sure you are thinking about right now)."

I wasn't until you mentioned it... Bush may or may not have had intellectual strengths (I don't see evidence for it in his decisions, which doesn't mean that I'm therefore biased, btw), but you do agree that this Georgian legislator is not the sharpest disk on the harrow, not the heaviest blow chopping down the tree of abortion rights, not the....ok, ok. So, other than I'm jumping on this guy in my first post in this thread, I'm not sure exactly what your beef (or pork) is with me on this. Note that you call him a chicken-brained rube but are concerned that I don't respect his intellectual capacity. I don't get it.

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