Further to Douthat — Babies, Babies Everywhere…

Update (already!):  Note that Anne Laurie beat me to this topic this morning.  See that post for a couple more fine links to posts explicating the failings of young Ross.  All Douthat all the time is a pretty grim prospect, ain’t it folks.

Plenty of folks on the blogs, including here, have had their way with the recent essay in defense of the use of poor white women as baby farms for discerning elites, written by the lesser half of The New York Times’ current conservative op-ed. embarrassment, Mr. Ross Douthat.


I’m not going to repeat what others have said better.  Read our own Anne Laurie’s take; check out Amanda Marcotte, who ropes, ties, brands and clips young Ross in a thousand words or so; see our own (again!) AsiangrrlMN’s riff on the apparently foreign (to Douthat) notion that some women might actually, sincerely, decline to accept motherhood as a necessary fulfillment of their personhood;  delight to Tintin’s allusive stylings over at Sadly No; and with TBogg, always trust the shorter.


With all that out there, in this post I just want to poke a few more holes in Douthat’s reputation for intellectual honesty/fun with numbers, and then, in a hopefully more concise item to follow in a few hours, to use a lovely piece by a former student to shine  a little historical sidelight on the monstrosity that Douthat seeks to gussie up with a bucket load of nostalgic fantasy.

On the numbers:  Douthat in his column states that before 1973 there was a comparative abundance of babies available for adoption — one out of five single white women making babies gave their kids up.

Now, he writes, only one percent of such pregnancies lead to adoptions, and “would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason…,” basing that assertion, apparently, on the word of Melanie Thernstrom writing in the the Times Sunday Magazine* who claimed that she chose surrogacy because adoption was just too hard.


Well, there are actual data on this point, and while there has unquestionably been a drop in adoptions in the US since 1970, the scale of that shift is (surprise!) much less than Douthat implies.

According to the Adoption History Project, adoptions in the US peaked at about 170,000 per year in 1970, declining over the next several years to about 125,000 per year by the 1990s, a number that has remained pretty much at that level since.  (Note, for those of you keeping tabs on Douthat’s insistence on white babies as the gold standard, as it were, that foreign adoptions accounted for about 10% of that total in FY 2009, with the numbers of babies coming from abroad declining since 2004.)


All of which means that while Douthat seeks to argue that women’s autonomy over their own bodies has made it virtually impossible for wealthy white couples to gain access to the children of their dreams– it ain’t so.  We do not see the implied outcome that adoption rates/availability  have dropped by 95% in the last four decades.  Instead, actual adoptions are down by a little more than 25%.


That still leaves his qualitative claim, of course.  So, let’s check that too:  have adoption waiting lists extended “beyond reason?”


No.  With just a quantum of actual reporting you find a very different picture of domestic adoption as a couple might experience it in 2011.


Which is what I did, calling a local Massachusetts agency, Jewish Family Service of the North Shore, to speak to their adoption specialist, Ann Wordfork, about the facts on the ground.


According to Woodfork, the landscape for domestic adoptions has remained pretty constant over the last several years.  Every couple she sees that sticks with it, she says, gets a child.  The adoption process, especially if it comes in the wake of years of infertility medicine, is an emotionally demanding experience, so people do drop out, of course.  But, Woodfork says, once a  couple completes its adoption “book” — the collection of photos and personal statements with which prospective adopters present themselves to birth mothers seeking a home for their children-to-be — you can take about one year as the rule of thumb as the time it will takes for you to bring home your child.    Compared to the time that couples seeking a baby through the old fashioned channels “try” and then gestate….well there’s not much in it, is there?


So, when Douthat claims that allowing women to make their own decisions about their bodies has left adoptive parents out of luck, he is simply wrong.  And he is so because he either deliberately chose to deceive his readers, or more likely IMHO, he is so wedded to his assumption/conclusion that it never occurred to him to check.**


One last point on Douthat’s intellectual dishonesty/ineptitude.  One of the striking failures in this column and his mode of thought more generally is his touching faith in the simplest of causal explanations.  Abortions up and adoptions down since 1970?  Well then that’s the whole story.


Except it’s not, of course, and Douthat even presents one of the ways his logic fails without noticing that he’s blowing his punchline.


Recall that he suggests that Thernstrom and her husband were driven to acquire their children through the use of an egg donor and two gestational surrogates because adoption was effectively unavailable to them.


Not so.  Rather, both in the immediate case and in the spread of this response to infertility, what you see is an alternative to conventional adoption, not a sequel to its failure.  More broadly, there are a lot of factors that shape people’s decisions about whether or not to seek an adoption.  Advances in fertility medicine means that some couples who couldn’t have conceived do.  Gamete donation changes the landscape.  Surrogacy certainly does — especially if you are rich.  All of which adds up to a changing family landscape in which some couples, mostly in the overclass, who would once have been adoptive parents now acquire children by other means.***


The shorter to all of the above:  Once again, Douthat tries to find a deep social reason to deny women’s autonomy, and to advance that goal he gets just about everything wrong.


Last, just to go a bit bigger than the relatively inconsequential Douthat:  if this is what passes for elite public intellection on the Right, (and it is) then take this as yet one more overlong reminder why these clowns shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near power.


Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est.


*Warning:  pretty ghastly piece at that link IMHO; I may yet blog on one aspect of it, in which the author happily glosses over the critical difference in power relations in surrogacy vs. adoption.  Or I might not, as the internal clues to the author’s unreliable narration seem sufficiently obvious, and life is short.


**I’m not claiming that I’ve committed a proper act of journalism here myself, by the way.   One interview with one social worker at one of Massachusetts 50 or so adoption agencies does not a comprehensive account make.  The point is not that I’ve proven adoption is easy; rather, I’m just trying to show that Douthat’s account of the state of adoption in this country doesn’t stand up to a minimal investigation of either the historical statistics or informed anecdotal experience on the ground.

***Again — I’m not making a broad claim here.  I haven’t gathered the statistics that could tell me how deep a bite surrogacy and fertility technology and the rest are taking out of conventional adoption.  Woodfork did tell me that in the professional meetings that discuss such issues, these alternatives to adoption are taking on a much larger share of the discussion, while adoption’s percentage of mindshare at such meetings is shrinking.  But that’s just one more anecdote, and I’m not going to plant a standard on this hill.  Instead, what I’m trying to do is to point out the flaws in Douthat’s approach  — the notion that all it takes is one correlation to explain any amount of social life.  Never forget:  milk drinking leads to heroin addiction!

Images:  Rembrandt van Rijn, Hannah in the Temple; Samuel’s Prayer Testing, 17c.

Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun The Marquise de Pezay (or Pezé), and the Marquise de Rougé with Her Sons Alexis and Adrien. 1787.

77 replies
  1. 1
    Maude says:

    I only come here for the pictures. Haven’t learned to read yet.

  2. 2
    Bella Q says:

    The true believers in the personhood of the unborn make stuff up to support their position (never mind that they have little concern for most of these once born). This is not news. It is, however, sadly unnoticed both in its occurrence on a regular basis, as well in the zeal and tenacity with which they seek to deny women autonomous choice over their bodies. We (general “we”) need to point this out at every opportunity. Thank you Mr. Levenson.

  3. 3
    West of the Cascades says:

    I’d add an anecdote that supports Tom’s suspicion in the text tied to asterisk *** – some friends of mine (who work on Wall Street and presumably are of the overclass) took several years and repeated fertility treatments to get their first child; were then told that the chance of fertility treatments working again was essentially zero; and had a second child via sperm donation. Three decades ago, their scenario (inability to conceive naturally) would have resulted in two adoptions — now they did not need to adopt at all.

  4. 4
    El Cid says:

    If you insist on a rigid adherence to empirical data, scrutiny of its context, and a logical framework, then you’ve eliminated most of Douthat’s and his master David Brooks’ reputation as having a handle on real sociological research. Why would you do such a thing?

    These are the reasonable conservatives whom we love having on our discussion programs.

  5. 5
    cmorenc says:

    If Ross Douthat and Bobo (David Brooks) actually were representative of mainstream Republican thinking, particularly that of the party’s elected politicians, we progressives could probably deal quite satisfactorily with that, even while regarding many of the premises behind their thinking with scathing criticism. For example, some sort of satisfactory, bona fide bipartisan compromise solution to Health Care reform would likely have been possible with the likes of Douthat and Bobo that may have still fallen short of progressive ideals, but nonetheless would have been much more coherent than the untidy mess the counter-progressive faction within the Democrat’s own congressional contingent were able to inflict on it from the huge leverage the GOP’s total lack of cooperation handed to them. And the country would have moved on with some satisfaction at the mutual accomplishment of the parties, to focus on one or several of the other pressing issues facing this country.

    The reason they’re so annoying isn’t so much that they’re so often full of shit in many of the premises that underlie their superficially plausible discussions of issues, but rather that they represent the closest thing to sane, reasonable, good-faith consideration and attitude we’re likely to see from the GOP side, and that isn’t close enough when the vast majority of their side is so irresponsible and outright batshit insane.

  6. 6
    brantl says:

    Can we please just call him Douche-hat? Please.

  7. 7
    Jay C says:

    So in addition to being based on shaky moral grounds and questionable intellectual ones, Douthat’s BS adoption piece is wrong on the numbers as well (because he didn’t seem to want to be bothered to check the facts)?

    What a shock! Hoocoodanode…….?

  8. 8
    Bob says:


    This is a great post. I am an adoptive father, who is often frustrated by the media and the general public spitting out the broad generalizations and untrue conventional wisdom about adoption. Each of your points were excellent and corrected the record.

    Here is the biggest lie:

    “… because adoption was effectively unavailable to them.”

    Even if I were to state that: “Adoption of a blue-eyed blond male was effectively unavailable to them.” It would be untrue. Although their wait would be longer than if they chose to not discriminate.

    I have adopted kids through both domestic and international programs. Both had their ups and down, but not any different than a pregnancy. When adopting my daughter, who was born in the U.S., we waited 4 months after turning in our paperwork for her to come home. She was only 15 days old at the time.

    Adoption is also much cheaper than people realize and less likely to end in failure than the media portrays.

    Thanks again for correcting the record.

  9. 9
    matoko_chan says:

    the fuckers want to reinstall the White Patriarchy Social Cohesion model of social compact.
    it simply cant be done.
    the GOP is doomed and Douchebag knows it.
    they cant survive the demographic timer and the flight of young high IQ students.
    Douchebag and Salam wrote about this in Grand New Party.
    Page 154– Salam-Douthat stratification on cognitive ability.
    More white babies wont help the GOP when only the stupid ones stay republican.
    they ALL realize this, and have been trying to attract youth and minorities and women…..epic fail.
    racism and ant-intellectualism is so deeply ingrained in the GOP base that it cannot be switched off.
    AND the TP/GOP is a religious party now.
    As proof, consider that there cannot be a republican presidential nominee unless they embrace the counterfactual religious doctrines of fetal personhood and creationism/IDT.

  10. 10
    Rick says:

    Holy crap — this little brouhaha caused me to look up some info on the adoption agency that we used to adopt our son.

    Turns out the former director left his wife/co-director for a Guatemalan woman, and they decided that facilitating surrogacy was more “practical” because international adoption had become too darn hard.

    I knew surrogacy existed — I had no idea that it often (or usually?) involves implanting white-middle-class gametes into third-world wombs.

    Seems grossly exploitative to me — but hey, who am I to question the invisible hand of the market?

  11. 11
    Crashman says:

    This is some bad-ass writing Tom. Keep firing away. The Times should be required to reprint this post as a rebuttal.

  12. 12
    Deb T says:

    It’s straight out of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”. It was one scary book when it came out because it was just so damn plausible. Now, like Orwell’s 1984, so much of it seems to be coming true.

  13. 13
    Alwhite says:

    Speaking of Party, has anybody here gotten to Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story”? Here is a favorite part:

    The old Republican Party has become the Knothead Party, so named during the last Republican convention in Montgomery when a change of name was proposed, the first suggestion being the Christian Conservative Constitutional Party, and campaign buttons were even printed with the letters CCCP before an Eastern-liberal commentator noted the similarity to the initials printed on the backs of the Soviet cosmonauts and called it the most knotheaded political bungle of the century.

    The old Democrats gave way to the new Left Party. They too were stuck with a nickname not of their own devising and the nickname stuck: i . . . LEFT usually it is, often LEFTPAPA, sometimes LEFTPAPASAN (with a little Jap bow), hardly ever the original LEFTPAPASANE, which stood for what, according to the Right, the Left believed in: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, The Pill, Atheism, Pot, Anti-Pollution, Sex, Abortion Now, Euthanasia.

  14. 14
    icecreammang says:

    OT but pertinent based on the quality of this post:

    More Tom, less ABL.

    While there is a place for her stylings, it ain’t here. Posts like Tom’s make that more and more clear.

    That’s just, like, my opinion man, but I’ve given it some consideration and I stopped lurking to post it.

  15. 15

    The big point is that Douthat sees adoption primarily as a way of providing babies for (heterosexual, married, white) parents who want them, not as a way of providing parents for children who need them. It’s one more example of the anti-abortion position that a child’s need for protection starts at conception and ends at birth.

  16. 16

    @icecreammang: if you’re going to take the time to stop lurking in order to insult me, for the love of cheese, have the stones to do it ON ONE OF MY POSTS.

    [your comment was pending in moderation, so i unmoderated it to tell you that you’re a coward and a bit of an asshat. thank you and have a day.]

  17. 17

    So many people demolished this with thoughtful responses that involves facts and stuff. I just assumed he was not fully competent to understand the basics of reproduction. http://vixenstrangelymakesunco.....uthat.html

  18. 18
    Exurban Mom says:

    Thanks for this. I am especially fond of the “wow, there’s more explanations for this than are dreamt of in your puny mind, Douthat,” portion of the post. This is exactly what I try to tell my students when we talk about proper use of statistics in support of logical arguments.

    I would teach Douthat’s piece as a “good bad example” if I could be sure we wouldn’t get bogged down in the social issue of abortion.

  19. 19
    suzanne says:


    Seems grossly exploitative to me—but hey, who am I to question the invisible hand of the market?

    This is my primary concern about adoption, even though my husband and I would both love to do it. Even a domestic adoption strikes we as exploitative, and international adoption borders on human trafficking at this point. We’re not infertile, though we know lots of people that are, and I have to say, I don’t see any of the choices—be they having a bio-kid, adopting, surrogacy, ART—as easy or without consequence.

  20. 20
    Catsy says:

    Douthat’s name will forever be pronounced “douche-hat” in my household.

    I just can’t take this guy seriously.

  21. 21
    SRW1 says:

    On a tangential note to surrogacy: The Independent reported today that some members of the UK medical establishment are calling for the legalization of a trade in human organs. I am sure glad that our social betters are still seeing some value in keeping us undeserving parasites around.

  22. 22
    Origuy says:

    My sister and her husband tried IVF first, as I suspect many couples do. After numerous attempts, they turned to adoption. They did have problems, as some Christian agencies wouldn’t work with them, because he’s Jewish, and some Jewish agencies wouldn’t, because she isn’t.
    After some time, they were accepted by a 16-year-old girl about to give birth to a mixed-race baby. Her 18-year-old boyfriend was pressing her to keep the child, but her mother was supporting the adoption. After she gave birth, she decided to keep the child, as I’m sure a lot of young women do. This is in Indiana where the adoption can be reversed anytime withing three months. In a few weeks, however, the father went back to jail and she moved back with her mother. Mom insisted that she go on with the adoption. Apparently, this child wasn’t his only one.
    My sister and BIL had gone to New Jersey for Hanukkah; he got the page before they had taken off their coats. His mom told him him to turn around and go back to Indiana before the birth mother changed her mind again. It was a tense couple of months for all of us before the adoption was final.
    That was eleven years ago. They’ve kept some contact with the birth mother, but I don’t know how much; she’s in another city from them.

    Oh, and the Rembrandt is very appropriate for her since her name is Hannah and they are bringing her up Jewish.

  23. 23
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    Douthat commits the same sin most do when talking about adoption: focusing on infants. Not one word on the abysmal state of the foster-adopt system.

  24. 24
    icecreammang says:

    @Angry Black Lady:

    Well, Tom’s post helped cement my overall feeling about the blog, what I like about it and what I don’t, after about a year or so of reading it daily. So I posted it here in this thread.

    If you see that as me slagging you to raise Tom up, ok, I can see that, but I strongly feel my post wasn’t an attack on you per se–just an airing of an opinion re: what I think suits this blog and what doesn’t.

    I said your writing style doesn’t suit this blog. That is not an insult. But the part about de-lurking to post it maybe raised it to the level of insult, so I do apologize for that.

    However, I don’t think it warranted being called a coward and an asshat.

  25. 25
    MikeF says:

    I think this:

    We do not see the implied outcome that adoption rates/availability have dropped by 95% in the last four decades. Instead, actual adoptions are down by a little more than 25%.

    should probably be adjusted for population growth, which makes the decline more like 50% – IMO that is substantial. And I’m sure there are deserving families out there, not just of rich white folks, who have a harder time adopting than they ideally would. Quite bizarre though that Douthat thinks this should lead to legal coercion to force women into carrying unwanted pregnancies to term.

  26. 26
    StringonaStick says:

    Douchehat fails to make note of the advances in infertility treatments precisely because he’s seriously catholic, and ya know the Pope doesn’t care for that kind of thing.

    Surrogacy is another thing his mitered master doesn’t approve of, though those with the most available cash can still get a baby with at least 1/2 of their genes from their future rich daddy, maybe even mom’s eggs too if they are so inclined/wealthy.

    Seems to me that both of these new options have had much more impact on adoption rates than abortion has, though there are plenty of non-white, non-infant, perhaps not perfect kids who’d love to have a permanent home and never get one. How’s about Ross and his religious buddies spend their time addressing that problem? Oh right, not a rich white person issue.

  27. 27

    @icecreammang: not that this is my fight and disregarding all the DNF warnings…

    DUDE! This is JC’s blog. He asked ABL to write here. Regardless of what you in all your wisdom and experience might wish, think or opine you are IRRELEVANT to the situation. Fuck off!

  28. 28
    icecreammang says:

    Your point is well made re: it being JC’s blog and not having to conform to my wishes.

    But “Fuck off”? Really? I provided some mild feedback, that’s all. Now I feel like I’m getting trolled!

    Keep up the good work everybody. BJ kicks ass, on that we can all agree!

    Now let’s see if I can build on this momentum and post some substantive comments that nobody could possibly interpret as insulting or troll-like.

  29. 29
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Douthat’s advanced research method usually consists of calling up white supremacist Steve Sailer and asking him what he thinks. No, it doesn’t work very well.

  30. 30
    daveNYC says:

    DUDE! This is JC’s blog. He asked ABL to write here. Regardless of what you in all your wisdom and experience might wish, think or opine you are IRRELEVANT to the situation. Fuck off!

    Technically, everyone who isn’t Señor Cole is irrelevant to the situation. He could replace all the front pagers with the random output of a rabid Rhesus Monkey chained to a typewriter (or just links to Freeper land, same dif) if he wanted to. Doesn’t mean that we lose the right to bitch and moan about it though. I do seem to remember some bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth when we started reading the posts of our new ombudsman a few months ago. This complaint just happens to be directed against a slightly more popular poster.

  31. 31

    @daveNYC: you didn’t hear them from me.

  32. 32
    dj spellchecka says:

    dross-hat lives in a world where all sex does is lead to abortion….kinda odd, but he’s famous for turning down sex so i suppose he’s not familiar with other possible outcomes…

  33. 33
    slag says:

    @Erik Vanderhoff:

    Not one word on the abysmal state of the foster-adopt system.

    I don’t even like kids and I’d be interested in hearing a little more about this. You got a post?

    Also, I nominate Tom as the official deconstructor of “free market” nonsense. Keep the hammer, Tom, and drop it often.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Tom Levenson says:

    I’ve been at the library, and so haven’t been keeping up with the thread as I should.

    So, a couple of things. First to a question on the post itself, from@MikeF:
    You’re right about pop. growth of course. But I decided not to go through the calculations, because that one correction opens up a lot more. For example, the raw number of births to unmarried women has changed a great deal, as has its proportional weight among total births — a factor which pushes the 20:1 calculation back the other direction than the correction for population change. There were other numbers I wanted to refine this — most important detailed statistics on adoption over long periods of time, which apparently don’t exist (for unsurprising reasons, when you think about it) — and numbers on the waiting list or total number of couples seeking an adoption.

    Given the length of the post, and the finite amount of time I had to go into this, I just decided to leave my numbers uncooked, while noting, as you do, that the scale issues don’t shift much. It’s a little rough, I’ll admit…

    Now onto the next comment, to discuss you can guess what.

  36. 36
    rikyrah says:

    there are over 500,00 children in foster care- in this country.

    100,000 of them are ready to be adopted.

    DOUTHAT needs to quit. he needs to stop bullshytting.

    say it’s about the shortage of WHITE INFANTS, and then it would be about him trying to tell the truth.

  37. 37
    Calouste says:


    Not suprisingly the first person they quote in support is a Harley Street surgeon. Harley Street is probably the area with the highest concentration of private medical clinics in the world, which, in a country with universal healthcare, gives you a decent clue as to who the customers are.

  38. 38
    Tom Levenson says:

    @icecreammang: @Angry Black Lady:

    Yo. Let’s get a couple of things clear.

    A: as noted above, this is John Cole’s place. If he tolerates my logorrhea, then y’all have to. I’m glad many of you seem to like it.

    B: as noted above, this is John Cole’s place. If he kvells to ABL’s fine oratory, then y’all have to take that in stride too.

    C: It’s kind of folks to ask for more from me. Sorry to say, though, you’re getting all there is, and quite possibly more than there should be, given my day job and family and all.

    D: You may notice that there is no shortage of bits on the internet. More TL does not mean less ABL or vice versa. Y’all should thrill to have the opportunity to ignore either or both of us as the mood takes you. And given C, if for some reason folks were to piss ABL off enough for her to pick up her marbles and go home, that would be the only result. Less or no ABL…which would suck as

    E: …I love ABL’s stuff. You may notice she has a different style from me. I am … how to put this gently … a little ponderous. I mean, I really do take John Foster Dulles as my guide in polemics. Just bludgeon folks until there’s nothing left.

    ABL goes a different route, with rage and a beat to her prose and just a fine ear for invective. More of this please … and if you don’t like that kind of thing, great! Read my stuff twice. It’s OK…and comparisons are not merely invidious, they are irrelevant. (That’s not irrelevant. It’s a hippopotamus.) (Old joke. You had to be there.)

    and finally,

    F: in keeping with the theme of this post/thread, John Cole “adopted” ABL and me on the same day. That makes us blog-siblings. Mess with her, you mess with me.

    Also too.

  39. 39
    numbskull says:

    @Roger Moore: Eggs acklee.

    I know several adoptive parents. In all cases, sure, they wanted kids. Badly. But also in each and every case, a huge motivator was the desire to provide a home and family for a child. In fact, now that I count on my fingers and toes, nearly half of the people I know who are adoptive parents also have biological children. Thus, for those people, THE motivation was providing a loving family for a child who did not have one.

  40. 40
    SRW1 says:


    Jebus, thanks for the info. As if that stuff was creepy enough without it.

  41. 41
    Anniecat45 says:

    Adoption before Roe v. Wade, when there was supposedly a bigger supply of infants, was certainly not as simple as Douthat seems to think. Prospective adoptive parents still had to have home studies and interviews before they could adopt, and usually had to wait some time before a baby was placed with them.

  42. 42
    MikeF says:

    @Tom Levenson: Makes sense. I agree that Douthat’s 20% (or 9%) vs 1% figure is a weird one to use as a jumping point for conclusions about the overall supply/demand dynamic of adoption; as you point out there are loads of confounding factors. And the more I think about it, the creepier the whole adoption availability argument for pro-life ‘legal protections’ seems.

  43. 43
    Yutsano says:

    @Tom Levenson: And can I say, good sir, you say FOAD with style and panache. :)

  44. 44
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Yutsano: Heh. Thanks.

  45. 45
    icecreammang says:


    And your bootlicking sycophancy is top-notch!

    Tom’s response to an innocuous few comments here sits cold in the shadow of his posts. He restated what is both obvious and already stated by others in this thread (and that in no way detracts from his exhaustive, and for him, exhausting main page contributions).

    ABL’s profane, high-snark, pop culture-laden, shoot-from-the-hip, shit-flinging posts are effective for that type of post. Lord knows tons of people on the interwebs try that and fail mightily. She does not.

    Still, I stand firm in thinking her posts seem far more out of place here than E.D. Kain’s, whose posts are ideologically but not really stylistically different than the other main posters. But that didn’t stop a whole lot of hell-raising here about whether his material belonged here–it seemed a healthy back and forth for what BJ was about.

    Maybe my comment adds to other, similar feedback JC gets on ABL, maybe it’s a weak fart into a strong wind, I don’t know.

    But you “fuck off and die” commenters are brewing some very weak tea, indeed.

  46. 46
    Llelldorin says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Enthusiastically seconded. This is one of the rare places where Democrats have adopted an effective combined arms strategy. After getting hit with ABL’s finely-tuned, rage-fueled blasts, JC’s bombs filled with the bitter sarcasm of the betrayed idealist, and DJ’s open mockery, then having the remains bludgeoned into paste by Tim&Tom’s implacable, unstoppable behemoths, conservative ideas tend to go down and fucking stay there.

    Posts like TL’s are magnificent, but they’re not that strong alone. Confronted by TL alone, Republicans play “Gutsy populist vs. the bloodless technocrat,” as they did in ’88. Confronted by ABL alone, Republicans go into turbo-libertarian-coded-racist mode. Confronted by both at once, they go sulk on other blogs.

  47. 47
    Yutsano says:


    And your bootlicking sycophancy is top-notch!

    Well aren’t you just the delicate little wallflower whose name I’ve never seen here before? I’ll make you a deal: You go out, make your own damn blog, put in the work to get it noticed, then you get to decide what is and isn’t fair play on it. Which BTW both the commenters you’re mentioning here have done and both will tell you it’s WORK. Jc’s blog, JC’s rules, JC gets to decide who comments on it. Not me, and not you. So get off your duff and start contributing to the community here or go back to lurking and STFU. Bashing the front posters isn’t the best way of making your introduction. Which BTW you’ve now insulted two of them.

  48. 48
    icecreammang says:

    @Llelldorin: @Yutsano:

    Confronted by ABL alone, Republicans go into turbo-libertarian-coded-racist mode. Confronted by both at once, they go sulk on other blogs

    Now that makes some sense, and has me thinking I’m looking at things all wrong, causing me to reconsider what JC is curating here. It goes quite a bit further than the childish “it’s JC’s blog he can do what he wants to.”

    Perhaps the FOAD brigade can learn something from a post like Llelldorin’s. I know I did.

  49. 49
    Mokichi says:

    I notice that no one has commented (that I’ve seen at least) that Melanie Thernstrom is the daughter of the right-wing profs Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, and that she has made a career off of dramatizing her elite Harvard experiences and connections.

  50. 50
    ricky says:


    This post, and the ones to which it linked, deal with an incredible topic. You have chosen to sully it with silliness.
    Go away.

  51. 51
    Yutsano says:

    @Mokichi: Ooh good catch there. That couldn’t have anything to do with Douthat’s selection of her as an example now could it?

  52. 52
    icecreammang says:


    This post, and the ones to which it linked, deal with an incredible topic. You have chosen to sully it with silliness.

    You are 100% correct. For that I apologize.

    Go away.


  53. 53

    Tom Levenson, thanks for the h/t, man. I really appreciate it. I also deeply appreciate the fact that you took time to deconstruct Douthat’s numbers. They seemed hinky to me, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. This post clearly demarcates his idiocy/lies. About the only good thing to come out of that horrible Douthat piece is that there have been so many excellent rebuttals to his nonsense.

    ETA: Oh for the love of…don’t like it, don’t read it. That’s pretty much how it works all over the internets. Sheesh.

  54. 54
    matoko_chan says:


    I stand firm in thinking her posts seem far more out of place here than E.D. Kain’s

    you DO realize that E.D. Kain is just McMegan with a dick, dont you?
    E.D. is Cole’s Token Reasonable Conservative.
    at least ABL represents you chromosomally impaired intransigent cudlip.
    ED = McMegan = Sully = Douchehat = Kristol = Fat Jonah = Dr. Manzi
    they are ALL THE FUCKING SAME!
    fucking poseurs pretending “conservatism’ is anything other than white supremacist jesus-humping patriarchy daddies.

  55. 55
    matoko_chan says:

    @asiangrrlMN: BUT IT DOESNT STOP HIM.
    all the mannered statistically sound takedowns in the widewide world dont even scuff that fucking misogynistic creeper’s self esteem.
    jeezus H fucking keeyrist inna handcart, COLE LINKED HIM AND AGREED WITH HIM ON AARON BADY’S POST.
    Douchebag just spews another pantsload of recycled conservative crapology and all the cattle just shut up and swallow.
    in the feedlots its called drenching.

  56. 56
    daveNYC says:

    I am … how to put this gently … a little ponderous. I mean, I really do take John Foster Dulles as my guide in polemics.

    I’ll have to disagree with that. Unless we’ve defined ponderous down to the point where it simply means correct spelling, complete sentences, and well written paragraphs that advance an argument supported with facts.

    Then again, we are heading towards a future where the English language will have deteriorated into a hybrid of hillbilly, valleygirl, inner-city slang and various grunts. To quote the bard.

  57. 57
    icecreammang says:


    I’ve clearly fallen flat on my face with my debut comments, but don’t for a second think I’m co-signing any of that Kain/McCardle/Douthat, etc. bullshit. The rational, thoughtful picking apart of their weaksauce is the biggest part of why I enjoy BJ.

    Those fools give us targets to help sight our rifles. So with EDK we’ve got our very own, rather than another crank who gets a blockquote and a link. I get it.

    And thanks to Llelldorin, I get the purpose that posts like ABL’s serve, so consider my complaints about her dead in the water.

  58. 58
    Tom M says:

    The NYT has been awful since they started the whole Whitewater nonsense and it hasn’t gotten better with op-ed pieces of crap like Douthat, Collins (she was editor of the page- boy is that sad) and Dowd.
    Luckily, Krugman and sometimes Herbert make up for it so I guess I’ll keep my subscription but junk like this latest from the ex-Atlantic blogger makes me write them nasty-grams.

  59. 59
    ricky says:

    For my own reasons I found this post’s topic compelling, so I read Douthat’s column and the blog pieces linked by Tom.
    Given my personality, I liked Tintin and TBogg’s flippancy just fine. Given my profession I found Tom’s statistical
    destruction satisfying. Angry Bear offered good work along those lines as well. Pandagon did not disappoint given my admiration for those who enjoy pointing out Macotte’s predictable literary pondering, political postering, and inflappable fondness for the f-word.

    Then I read AsiangrllMN. Shorter AsiangrllMN. This babymaking thing is all very damn personal. And to hell with those of you who do not understand that crucial point.

  60. 60
    Tom Levenson says:

    @daveNYC: Again, thanks.

    I wish I could bring myself to wield a scalpel as well as club, but I guess I gotta dance with the one that brung me.

    I like mixing metaphors too, by the way. You notice?


  61. 61
    Chadwyck says:

    Don’t feed the trolls!

    It just makes them bigger.


  62. 62
    demz taters says:

    Jonathan Swift nailed it best:

    Why Bristol Palin is different

  63. 63


    Unless we’ve defined ponderous down to the point where it simply means correct spelling, complete sentences, and well written paragraphs that advance an argument supported with facts.

    I can send you some of my briefs if you want arguments supported with facts. i write arguments supported with facts all the live long day.

    looky here, people: i started blogging three years ago because it is fun, and because i enjoy it, and because i do it for myself. it is practically a full-time job on top of my already full-time job.

    i don’t know what drugs cole — whom i have respected for years — was ingesting when he asked me to post over here, but i accepted his invitation and there are no takesy backsies. (until he says so anyway, in which case i will continue to blog at ABLC with asiangrrl and ee.) i copy less than half of my posts over here.

    complain about me all you want. you don’t like my style, my topics, my pictures, my italicization, my [insert gripe] that’s fine. i don’t care. i also don’t care if you express your displeasure. i do, however, get irritated when people drop dumbass complaint bombs in posts written by other people. just last week someone accused me of copying the style of Angry Black Bitch in a new year’s eve open thread.

    weak sauce.

    it’s john’s blog to do with what he will. i really can’t understand all the griping about what john chooses to publish. i don’t understand all the e.d. kain anger either. there are eleventy billion blogs out there. you don’t like the direction this one is going in? jump ship.

    cole has implied in earlier posts that he doesn’t give a crap about feedback. i don’t either, unless it’s constructive, and no “make an argument and back it up with facts” is not constructive in the context of this post which was not an attempt to make an argument and back it up with facts.

    i play fast and loose with grammar and with style on purpose. you don’t like it? ::shrug::

    seriously. get a grip.

    in short, your argument is invalid.

  64. 64
    Anne Laurie says:

    Thanks for doing this post, Tom. Numbers (statistics) are not everything in an argument, but they are part of a good one, and you handle them brilliantly!

  65. 65
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Mokichi: __

    I notice that no one has commented (that I’ve seen at least) that Melanie Thernstrom is the daughter of the right-wing profs Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom, and that she has made a career off of dramatizing her elite Harvard experiences and connections.

    Excellent point! Perhaps I should add her to the Lexicon definition for ‘Neocon Nepotism‘…

  66. 66

    @Tom Levenson: oh, i loved that movie. brung it on!

    ETA: great post. being an adopted child of miscegenators, it hits home for me.

  67. 67
    Mokichi says:

    Granted, I don’t know what Melanie Thernstrom’s politics is (maybe somebody else does?). Just that she definitely writes from a position granted to her by elite status —

  68. 68

    @ricky: Wow, ricky. I like your shorter me very much. Thanks.

  69. 69

    Just a few random anecdotes re: adoption. First, I suspect the reason Eurpoean American infants are less available for adoption may be less Roe v. Wade and more that many young mothers are keeping their babies. Any high school teacher will tell you that they have a few young parents in their classes which never would have happened back in the day.

    Second, a young woman of my acquaintence who had elected to place her child for adoption was so pressured by the staff (in a local Catholic hospital) over her decision (How can you give that sweet baby up?) that she reversed her decision. That “sweet baby” is now 13 and totally out of hand as his mother’s health (the main reason for her initial decision) has continued to decline to the point that grandma is raising a teen. Another example of how people should really mind their own business in matters of reproduction.

  70. 70

    @Llelldorin: @icecreammang: i didn’t even know i served a purpose here. i thought i was just the jackwagon flailing about throwing curse words hither and yon. now this whole enterprise has more gravitas.

    it’s all good. let’s smoke the peace pipe.

  71. 71
    Beej says:

    Hmmmmm, interesting piece. I was adopted way back in 1947, way before abortion was legal anywhere in the U.S..
    It took my parents about 2 years from the time they applied to the finalization of the adoption. Not that much different than current timelines, apparently.
    If there has been a change in the number of children available for adoption, I would guess (and I’m willing to admit it’s just a guess) that the major contributing factor has nothing to do with abortion. The major contributing factor is the removal of the horrible stigma attached to an unwed mother back in the day. It is now, if not encouraged, at least acceptable for a woman to have a child without being married and to raise that child. For those of you born after 1970, I doubt that you can even imagine the kind of censure a woman endured if she had a child “out of wedlock” in the ’40’s, ’50’s, or early ’60’s. If she was still in high school, she was forbidden from attending during and after her pregnancy. After all, she might give other girls “ideas”. Boys, of course, faced no such censure. Apparently, giving other boys “ideas” was just hunky-dory. Don’t you just love a nice double standard?

  72. 72
    Brachiator says:

    Coming in with a late point in this great (and sad) thread. One irony to all the gnashing of teeth about adoptions is that a part of the health care bill includes an enhanced adoption tax credit, based on the costs to adopt a child.

    Couples who adopt a child can receive a refundable tax credit amounting to as much as $13,170 per child, up from $12,150 in 2009.

    Sadly, for Douthat, as far as I can see, you don’t get bonus bucks for prime white babies. You can, however, get the maximum credit amount if you adopt a special needs child, even if your actual costs are less than $13,170.

  73. 73
    smitty werbenmanjensen says:

    It wasn’t until this moment that I thought of egg donation (or sperm donation for that matter) as “gamete donation.” And given the Right’s love of the preborn, they should get that it’s just donation by any other means.



  74. 74
    JD says:

    The assumption that adoption decreases as abortion increases is questionable. The US abortion rate peaked in 1981 (at 29 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age) and is now at 19.4 per 1,000. The number of abortions peaked in the early 1990s at about 1.6 million and was at 1.21 million as of 2005 (latest data available). Finally, in the early 1980s about 30% of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) ended in abortion, compared to about 22% in 2005. So if Douthat’s assumption was accurate, there should have been a substantial increase in “adoptable babies” since the early 1980s. Or to put it differently, the assumed relationship between abortion and adoption does not seem to exist; rather, it appears that many women who in the past would have placed their child for adoption (or would have been forced to do so) are now raising that child themselves.

    Sources: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs.....ion.html#2 and http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs.....000608.pdf

  75. 75
    Xenos says:

    @smitty werbenmanjensen: Gametes are pretty valuable, right? So if they are donated, should the donaters not get a tax deduction?

  76. 76
    Eli Rabett says:

    Not to put a fine point on it folks, you are missing the point. Our fine feathered Republican friend has openly stated that he would impose his wishes on others for his personal satisfaction. How libertarian of him, you know the guys who think that traffic lights are impositions of the mommy state on them. He is, to be polite, scum.

  77. 77

    1970 marks (more or less) the beginning of the national campaign by the religious right to make women who become pregnant feel like degenerate monsters if they do not keep their children. No one seems to want to touch that topic with a ten foot pole, but I bet that it is the primary reason that there are less children available for adoption.

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