January 24, 2006

galilean contemplation

My Son’s Christmas present has given me a new perspective on the Universe.

Literally.

Looming over his “library” now is a rather substantial telescope that was the only present on his Christmas list. Dad, of course, is learning a bit of astronomy now too since at his age substantial assistance is to be expected.

Doing astronomy you spend a lot of time in quiet dark places. Just the kind of places that bring on a pensive mood whether you want it to or not.

Try some time to avoid thinking while gazing at the heavens. The wonders of the Universe that lie behind those little pinpoints of light will set in motion the mental wheels of even the most mentally rusted American Idol fan. The big questions are inescapable out under the stars.

One haunting quandary for me is the whole disenfranchised state in which I find myself. It seems like at least once a week I hear a remark somewhere to the effect “if you do not vote, then you do not have a right to complain”. And like a Raven tapping at the door of my cranial chamber, there is that omnipresent deep voice that subconsciously insists that voting is a patriotic duty.

I continue to stand by my right to complain: it is not my fault that there are no candidates for which my conscience will allow me to vote. At a minimum I have a right to complain about that. Since my disagreements are rooted in substantive issues, I do not think abstention fairly takes me out of the substantive discussion either.

But then, of course, there is the Louisiana Defense.

In 1991, Louisianans had a choice in front of them for Governor that is hard to forget: Edwin Edwards, on his comeback from a corruption indictment (actual prison time only came later), and David Duke, a neo-Nazi and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. It is hard to blame the fine citizens of that State who stayed home on election day rather than forcing a choice between a lizard and wizard.

I too will continue to choose none of the above.

It is significant to my view that I find both of the major American parties equally obnoxious on the issues I care most about: Human Rights, abortion and fiscal responsibility. On the issues alone it is impossible to find someone to vote for that is even somewhat consistent with myself on the critical things.

But my disenfranchisement is much deeper than mere disagreement on the issues.

The rotten core of the problem is that both parties are working against the best interests of the American people. A vote for either of the two major parties is a vote for more power consolidation, more sound bites, and more guests at the Congressional Country Club. In short, voting the majors is voting to continue the course of self-destruction. If I were ever convinced that either a Democrat or a Republican candidate was a real Mr. Smith, I could probably hold my nose on the issues and vote.

And self-destruction is exactly what is occurring. Consider, if you have the courage, the last quarter century of headlines.

Robert Bork. Jim Wright. Iran-Contra. Republican traitors in budget wars. Gingrich quits. White-watergate. Perjury skates. Democrats for the war. Body bags in Babylon. I can’t take it anymore.

I didn’t start this fire. And truly, the full list would be so long that Billy Joel could produce another hit single.

This is just the public corruption side of the analysis. If you look at the substance, it is a hard case to make by those who support the major parties that their loyalty has produced any results. They will make that argument, again and again, but I suggest you consider the facts as they are and not as you wish them to be. Decades of Democratic dominance yielded scant progress on key issues at best. Over two decades of Republican dominance have yielded perhaps even less for their base. Has anyone checked the deficit lately?

What we have instead of substantive progress is an increasing accumulation of power in the hands of fewer and fewer people. When it was Democrats grabbing power, the Republicans wailed. And now, of course, the names are changed but the crimes against Liberty are the same.

Reflection is always a good thing. In the end, I remain unrepentant for refusing to vote for those who are running our formerly great nation further into the ground. I have admitted my not voting really stands for nothing in the greater scope of things, but then my conscience is perhaps a bit less troubled as the wheels are coming off of America.

To ease my conscience further, my goal remains to trouble partisan hearts without mercy. Eventually facts make a difference. Just like with Galileo.

Where was I? Darn. Mars moved totally out of view.

271 Comments:

Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Disenfranchised is OK. Defining yourself as such is a potential liability. If you define yourself by it, then when an answer comes along that gets us going the right direction, you will be less likely to help the country/state/local move in the right direction because you are trying to be true to your championed cause. Imagine if our founders took that line of reasoning? Do the current Dems & Repubs stink? Oh, yea! Big time. But when someone like Ron Paul comes along, just because he doesn’t scratch his rear the same place you scratch yours doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put him in a position to help...and we do that by voting.

Refractor or reflector?

Prof. Ricardo

4:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

To ease my conscience further, my goal remains to trouble partisan hearts without mercy.

Well, you should stick to stuff you are good at... and troubling other's is pretty much the sweet spot.

Not equal... one side bats for corporate america and god, the other side bats for those who really need help. If god created all of those stars in your telescope, he certainly doesn't need a democracy batting for him.

btw... pity the soul who stares up at the universe and thinks about the two party system.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Flame Thrower said...

The problem is of course, is that the era of the "Citizen Statesman" is long gone. That period of time in our history when the political leaders were first farmers or surveyors or merchants and came to Washington or Philadelphia to do their countries business and then returned home to continue making a living. Their government service was a duty not a career and in most cases not financially very rewarding if at all.

Today the political leaders are politicians, folks who make their living at the public expense and while sad, it should not come as a surprise that very quickly the main focus of these individuals becomes making their living by staying in office rather than doing what is right for the country. As political parties have become institutionalized these politicians have discovered that they enhance there ability to remain employed if they join an organization ( a political party) and over time the party becomes more important than the country, placing the country number three on the list of important things after themselves and their party.

But...I still vote and complain to my elected officials, it is at least something I can do.

To Common Good I'd like to propose that who made the stars is stll open to question.

4:52 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Prof.

So some drug dealers live in Mexico? I still don't get the point of you are making regarding harassing day-laborers in Denton, which is what these "Minutemen" were doing recently, and which is why I got so unnerved about it. Armed drug dealers on the Mexican border is one thing, day laborers waiting for work in North Texas hundreds of miles away, entirely different. For that matter, I can turn on Cops tv show tonight and see some whites with amphetamine labs doing worse damage to society; does that mean me and you should leave the country, because of what some other "whites" that have no association to us whatsoever do?

Besides, the solution to this is again, change "the law." Legalize marijuana, and take the money out of it for the gangsters. Kill their golden egg "drug" goose, and let it work for us instead by generating tax revenue.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Hey Yoshi... take that racist stuff :) back to the other thread. We are talking about stars and slamming the GOP here. :)

Flame Thrower... great handle.

You said: Their government service was a duty not a career and in most cases not financially very rewarding if at all.

Isn't that the truth, although today even in the most conservatives dreams, our government is now complex (it just has to be by definition). We have discussed term limits here... Tony came up with some pretty good guidelines... long enough for the elected types to develop the knowledge to fill the senior need, but not long enough to be a lifetime career.

I thought Tony was heading towards "the stars creator" in his post, and then he turned straight into the two party system... never saw it coming this time. Sneaky.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

OK... I just kidded Yoshi, and now I'm going Off topic... or maybe not. One of the parties and their prez sold us on this war.


The wrong chess move in this world matters. Iran was the move, and Iraq was not.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Your stance on this has always troubled me, Curmie. While remaining consistent to your "everything sucks and I won't be a part of it" campaign, it leaves you well on the sidelines when it comes to what the rest of us are actually DOing. Knowing you, that is quite what you prefer. Still, you must know that a man who doesn't trust cannot be trusted. I think TJ said that, I can google it but I'm still on the company nickel.

Also, faced with a Louisiana-like decision, I can certainly see why people would stay home - Criminal v. Klansman - but don't you think that's arguing from extremes? I heard somewhere that doing so is usually the sign of a weak argument. Again, I should probably google that one as well.

Your litmus test of voting appears to be out of balance. The idea that YOU will find someone whose political stars are completely in line with yours is very skewed, to say the least. I'm glad that LBJ was around in 1964 to sign the Civil Rights Act. I'm happy that people put him in that position. I'm glad that people in my family went to the polls and voted to give Ronald Reagan a chance at running our country. In light of the threats we faced in those following years with the Soviet Union, I think that's important. I’m very happy that I was a part of the majority that put Bush in the White House for the aftermath of 9/11. The idea of not seeing Gore’s smug, pedantic, non-acting face in light of such a threat is pretty comforting. I'm happy that I can help keep Cornyn to the right of Specter on the Judiciary committee and know that he'll reflect many of my same views. Cornyn shares my beliefs in relation to abortion and conservative jurisprudence and I’m happy I’m a small part of helping him stay there. You on the other hand, create a test so unreachable by mortals that you'll never have to stand behind your man. We don’t do these things because they are easy but because they are right. I think a Democrat said that. He certainly represented a few things I believed in.

I know you don't care about all this and in your mind you probably think that you are indeed helping the country more by not voting than those of us fools that continue to do it. Still, participation in the process, in my opinion, far exceeds a sideline-mentality that says "if I build nothing, it will come."

6:37 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

I really do not define myself according to disenfranchisement. Internally, that is not how I tick.

I have a lot of problems with Ron Paul. I had respect for him when he was still a Libertarian. That he bolted for the GOP in order to get access to office speaks volumes about what is wrong with this country.

I actually only demand that someone be in alignment with me on three things. First, they must be pro-life. Second, they must be substantially civil libertarians. On those two I do not demand perfect conformity to my own view. If someone was a reasonable compromise abortion opponent and moderately vigorous in defending human rights, I'd be right there with them.

My last requirement is fatal however: I demand that the person not be a Democrat or Republican. I can not compromise there because if they are beholden to their party, then nothing else matters.

Give me an independent or third party candidate that gets anywhere close on the first two, I'll not just vote for them, I'll campaign for them.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Flamer,

First, Welcome!

Looks like we may have a little in common. Do you not share my concern that by voting for the big two that you implicitly condone what is happening?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

Good to hear from your radical right keyboard again.

Your post reminded me of an exchange I had over your way once with a person handled Optomistic Realist, I think. Seems you think alike on this point.

I'm confused how my voting for someone that I find repugnant is classified as not doing anything. I suppose the hours I spend actively engaged in debate with others both here and on other messageboards is nothing in your book. Frankly, I do not know what better course I have available. Please advise me if you can because I need the help.

I am very happy that I am not side-lined as you say that I am. Rather, I am in the mix in the most vigorous way I know how within the time limits and resources at my disposal.

My test is far from unreachable by mortals. That is what is so sad: that we are so mired in the stupid political structures that exist that there is no room for reasonable viewpoints such as my own.

I'm glad your vote clears your conscience. If only you were not destroying our country in the process. But then, that is your perogative.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

See if this bothers anyone else besides me. I knew the Congress critters accepted gifts and trips, but I had no idea that Supreme Court Justices did.

Sure... Scalia isn't an activist. Good one.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Cornyn, Sessions, Santorum... I can pick these clones out now a mile away. They are surely our US versions of the Taliban. Just wait until they get 60 votes in the Senate instead of 55... the 30 year crusade for theocracy will finally be fulfilled.

The puritans are coming, the puritans are coming... Run away, run away. {Paul Revere meets Monty Python... that's even weird for me}

9:47 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony Plank,

That he bolted for the GOP in order to get access to office speaks volumes about what is wrong with this country.

Without a revival of sorts, jettisoning the two parties, or their stronghold, will be difficult. Without a change in educating our next generation, a revival is nearly impossible. Having the government educate our children - that government that supports and encourages a two party system - is hardly an avenue to educate our children on the liberties that you and I value so much.

So, how do you propose we kick off this new desire for a third party, or no party, phenomena to take off? I’m all ears. IMO it will take a dissatisfaction of parents with government education, resulting in either parents or private schools imparting knowledge of our original founders thoughts and ideas on liberty, government, etc. Only then will the parents themselves and a sufficient number of an up and coming generation be equipped to discern political directions and options.

Currently, the sheeple, mass stupids, and lemmings are quite content to let government hold either end of the bat to beat them with, liberal or conservative. Without a paradigm shift, you can expect to sit on the sidelines for a very long time.

Prof. Ricardo

10:59 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Tony,

While I have more and more sympathy for your position of disenfranchisement, I am still concerned by the strict test of party affiliation that you include in your requirements. Or rather, non-major party affiliation.

Couple of points. First, I don't agree that the candidates are always beholden to their parties. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are two good examples of candidates who wound up having the reverse effect, i.e. their parties moved significantly to accomodate the candidate. Victory loves company.

You could almost make the case that Reagan did most of Clinton's groundwork for him, in moving the Republican party towards the extreme religious right and winning that way, the Dems were intimidated into moving to the right themselves, and from there it wasn't really far to Clinton's "center".

In any event, I think both men re-made their party platforms to a significant degree. Therefore I don't agree that major party affiliation in and of itself should be a disqualifying factor. A great leader will force his party to accomodate him. What is lacking is great leadership.

To that end, and given the absolute primacy of the two-party system in our electoral politics, I would suggest to you that perhaps you should look to the primaries as a place where you could cast a meaningful vote. In recent elections, the primaries were the only time I got to vote for anyone that I remotely cared for. Needless to say, none of my preferred candidates have made it through to the general election yet. But at least I feel like a vote in the primary is meaningful in the sense of sending a message to the party of what kind of candidate you are looking for.

Don't forget also that voter turnout is even lower in the primaries, therefore your vote counts for more. Realistically, you should consider primary election voting as a means of making a statement about what kinds of candidates are served up by the parties in the general.

11:33 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof,

Tony and I both came out of the public school system with a healthy respect for and understanding of the liberties and values our country was founded upon, as well as a thorough knowledge of the constitution and our form of government.

I don't remember at all being taught that the two-party system was necessarily best, or even desirable. I have nothing against private school education, per se, and there are many things wrong with our public schools, but in this case I think your attack is spurious.

On the other hand, many private schools in my area are fully engaged in promoting a one party system. The Republican Party, of course.

11:48 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof,

You do make a good point however, only it's not limited to the public schools, that in general our children are inadequately informed about the founders thoughts and ideas.

I amazed at how many young people I meet who think that the Founders would support the idea of Christianity being the national religion, or that civic duty involves blindly following our commander-in-chief without question or criticism, or that the primary mission of government is to keep us safe by whatever means necessary. The Founders would certainly howl viciously at the current perversion of words like "patriotism" and "liberty".

12:03 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof said, ” Without a paradigm shift, you can expect to sit on the sidelines for a very long time.”

Well, as I explained to TexaCon, I do not think I’m on the sidelines in any way other than the voting booth itself. I for one am not optimistic about a paradigm shift. I think you are correct that if we are going to get change it will most likely start with outraged parents and grandparents. Presently the outrage is simmering and what is needed is leadership to tap the rage.

Which leads me to my old buddy DavidR’s post.

That was the first serious budge I have ever felt in my decision to go to the polls. I am sure the primaries are loaded with people not yet bought off. I will give this some serious consideration.

And you are correct, the people at the top are not necessarily beholden to the party. Your examples are excellent and I totally agree. But still, the people down below end up beholden to them. Both before elections because of coattails and after because of the power they wield at the head of the party.

The proof of that can be seen clearly in the Clinton Senate trial: party line vote. No matter how you felt about things, that is one time that if someone was voting their conscience or as a proxy for their constituency when the vote should definitely not been purely partisan.

And we agree totally on the need for great leadership. You know I have written about this here in the past. We have had a succession of politically astute leaders…Reagan, Clinton, W. But no real leaders on issues. I suppose Reagan had the cold war, Clinton had the deficits and W has Haliburton shareholder value. But really, even those issues were shaped and molded politically and not according to what was right for America.

9:39 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"The Sheeple?"

Prof., if you coined this phrase, you need to patent this quick...

That's classic...

9:47 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Anyone here ever cast a vote that determined an election? Does anyone here think their vote will ever be the one vote margin needed for victory? Does anyone think their protest vote against the incumbent that wins 95% of the time counters that guaranteed win in any way? Most of us here had their state send Cornyn and Coburn to the Senate. I'm all for education {actually agree with Tony on the free education}, but my state didn't send Coburn to the Senate because of IQ or lack of a broad education... a majority actually believe in the theocracy movement and the need for more superstition in the public square. Are you going to educate them out of that? Prof wants to educate it into them. When does education become proselytizing? Is proselytizing really education? Better get started... you are going to be quite busy. I think the biggest two threats to democracy is religious zealotry and economic power that intends to hold on to that power. Religious zeolatry controls mass voting blocks, and economic power controls the puppets once they are in office (lobbying is $1 = 1 vote). I would have guessed by 2006 that we would have tamed the religious zealotry beast, but I really don't see any signs of that happening. Continued terrorists attacks almost gurantees it more of a growth industry rather than any retreat. Consider the Federalist Society and the 30 year movement built around intelligent people who wake up every single day with a single thought... "how can we get back to our nation's Christian roots, and have Christians define our laws and democracy for everyone else". I don't think that is going to change anytime soon... so I'm not optimistic in denting the flood of elected pharisees from red state america. The best we could hope for in the short run is fighting back against the economic power once they get there, and that's who really owns the government anyway. I laugh when I see the rats from both parties running to the cameras claiming they have "the best rat trap to fix the lobbying problem". Ask any of them during their pitch about term limits or federally funded elections... and watch the rats dance. The GOP will tell you $ is free speech {and bless their little hearts, our Supreme Court backed that democracy killing jewel), and the Dems will tell you "the mass stupids can vote us out anytime they want to". Can we really blame all of this on the Congress critters... the public backs a system where they have to spend an equal amount of time raising money as performing the peoples business. I'm sure some are about to give me all of the reasons we shouldn't have public funded campaigns... save your typing, none of them will be good enough. I have no problem with Tony's non-voting... it's a non-issue. He lives in a red state, and if his democracy participation is limited to voting, they will be sending the Cornyn's until he drops... {Cornyn would seem like a match for Tony in many ways ???}. If the goal is really having an impact on your democracy, you have to move past the myth that your vote really counts for much. Unless you are doing something to change trends, value perceptions, or government rules, you are not effecting outcomes. Regarding government rules, consider the lack of power in Congress by the minority party. When the minority party in Congress might as well come home under our system of government, it's hard to make the case that fulfilling your voting duty impacts anything other than your own conscience. We are a polarized nation on the role of government and religion in government. If you want to have an impact, you have to change those broad trends. Anyone have any ideas how to do that without any $. You could make the case MoveOn started that way, but they still were on the losing side of the election. I think about it all of the time. I would gladly earn a living fighting to move the trends toward secularism and liberal social justice... I would consider that noble life's work. I've even considered business ideas that would be for Dems Only... i.e. use Capitalism to make the point (wouldn't that be irony). Some would say that is just feeding the polarization and working against coming together (zealotry if you will :). Well, sadly, I have come to the conclusion that horse has left the barn... there is no compromise with the theocracy movement, and no compromise between being a government that bats for the "middling people" or one that bats for economic power. Choose your side, and fight it as good as you can. One thing is for sure, our rants here are just therapy... we AIN'T changing democracy here.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

One thing we could do immediately for democracy:

Anytime a Senator or Congressman uses the phrase "the american's believe"... they would incur an immediate electric shock to the testicles, or {pick your spot for the women}.

We should pass an ammendment that requires the phrase "my 50% of american's believe".

This is the kind of rule changes that can make a difference.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

I say wire ‘em up, throw the switch, and then lets Blog on what we think they would have said if they’d survived. Nothing like a clean slate.

Prof. Ricardo

1:14 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I loved "sheeple" also... it's a subtle version of "mass stupids".

We should start MassStupidsUniversity.com. :) You have to figure after Bush there are many more adults just a bit less apathetic when it comes to understanding their government. Nothing like Mr. Insanity to get the sheeple's attention.

So Prof, you liked the testicle electricity experiment? There's many variations on implementation we could try. I would like to see it implemented for King George... all audience members would be given a hand-held device with a "sizzle them balls" switch. This wouldn't work in the press conferences, because you have to have balls in order to know when they are due some electric current. I would love to be the one Dem who snuck into one of those staged Republican audiences ... I would be the one in the back who just ducttaped the "sizzle" switch to the "ON" position. I'm sure this will probably get picked up in the NSA sweep... my government provided Rapture is just around the corner. It's been nice knowing you guys... even TC. :)

7:09 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common: “...my government provided Rapture...

Crap C.G. You look to the government for everything. :-D

Prof. Ricardo

7:49 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Is "King George" really all that bad? Or is it, as I suspect, just a fashionable thing to say for "anti-everything" crowd?

10:00 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good,

This is Capitalism at its best

10:04 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Absolutely... King George is that bad. That view is hardly anti-EVERYTHING. I'm not anti-Yoshi... YET. :) I tired of Tony's the use of Shrub and needed a replacement. I was listening to Bruce Fein (Deputy Attorney General under Reagaon) respond to a senate committee's questions about the non-FISA surveillance. Fein had just given his opinion that this action was no doubt a violation of law. He was then asked if this rose to the level of an impeachable offense. He gave what I thought was a very reasoned response.... i.e. you did something Senators seem incapable of... used some common sense. Paraphrasing his response: "If you jumped right into the impeachment charges, the White House would lock down, and you would be in courts for 6 years over this. Instead, a wiser course would be to offer Bush the chance to work this out with congress. If he then still snubbed the congress, then yes, we really do have a King George and it's time to talk impeachment".

King George is a perfect fit for this executive power grabbing bunch... particulary Darth Cheney.

24 x 7 until they are gone.

10:31 AM  
Blogger David R said...

Yoshi,

yes, "King George" really is all that bad. In fact the use of this moniker is rather an insult to the original King George, who really wasn't a terrible monarch as they go.

I always run out of negative adjectives when describing all the faults and crimes of George W. Bush. A few that readily come to mind: incompetent, dishonest, unethical, uncaring, criminally negligent, lazy, pompous, hypocritical, and mean-spirited. I suspect very much that he is a sociopath. I believe strongly that he should be impeached for his many crimes, negligence, and abuses of power.

....David R

4:09 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Geez, it sounds like we've got Hitler for a president.

The media does a pretty good job of making him look about average....

So they listen to a few phone calls. I'd have a laugh if I knew they heard one of mine...

6:20 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

In fact the use of this moniker is rather an insult to the original King George, who really wasn't a terrible monarch as they go.

Good point.

Yoshi, I wish I didn't feel this way about our president... you can ask Tony, I supported him right up to the Iraq war coupled with tax breaks for our wealthy. I discovered I was 100% Democrat on his watch... not before it. I find myself trying to seperate out those things he can't control (those things I shouldn't hold against him personally), and the harm that he causes by pompus calculated decisions.

First, a list that shouldn't be personal:

- He is not even close to US president-worthy. Most of us aren't. Anyone who uses the phrase "president-worthy" is by definition NOT president worthy. :)

- He is a conservative. I fail on this one all of the time. I hate, despise, spit on Conservatism... but not Conservatives (not just because of their conservatism).

- 911 was a nation changing event that would have challenged ANY president. I think there was serious psychological damage to the US population (much of what I don't even think we recognize or understand). ANY president would have a hard time dealing with this.

- We were a polarized nation before, Bush didn't create it.

- Bush / Gore election. He started out with a large part of the population thinking he stole the election. That entire alignment of the stars was a fluke.

Things I hold Bush personally responsible for:

- After 911, we desperately needed a president for all of us... that Uniter not a divider bullshit he slung out during his first campaign. He has made a conscience choice every step of the way since 911 to stick to his original partisan goals, and his first choice (not last choice) is to pick a fight. In the face of national tragedy, our high-schooler prez still plays politics. If that isn't impeachable, I have no idea what is?

- I hold it personally against him that he considers himself president worthy. Why on earth would he come to that conclusion? He was born into wealth, and had a 40 year track record of mediocre... or worse, repeated failure. Like I said... that decribes most of us (other than that born into $ thing), but we don't all come to the conclusion we should be president. Money and connections lead to Rangers deal -> governor -> White House. Kind of the opposite of the American dream.

Examples of politics and partisan agenda first ahead of the country, in spite of 911:

- Misled nation into Iraq war. Bush AND our Congress failed us when they were most needed. Think Feingold in 2008... is Iraq vote was NO.
- "Mission Accomplished"... criminally stupid
- Andy Card... you need to market your product at the right time... they marketed 911 and Iraq for elections
- Tax breaks to the wealthy in a time of war. His value system based on greed is beyond conservatism...it's evil.
- Filled entire government with cronies with the smug desire to dismantle ANYTHING REGULATION. Nice... what an idiot. "Doing a heck of a job Brownie is just a typical Bush chrony appointment".
- Cheney on stage with Bush after winning in 2004 "We have a mandate". Even after 911, even with Iraq going on, there is Darth Cheney the VP flipping the bird to the other 50% of the nation.
- Cheney early in presidential term #1... rolled the energy company CEOs right into the White House... welcome to the White House you guys bought. What can we do for you.
- Flew Airforce One around the entire country selling the genius idea to turn our old age safety-net (Social Security) into a stock market investing scheme... called it an ownership society gift. Even our apathetic public saw threw that bs.
- After Katrina, the prez and his minions went on the attack to say "the local governments screwed up also". Good grief... be the fricken president in crisis when we need you... it doesn't matter how much the state or city messed up during those early days. The buck stops at the Oval Office... quit playing the politics for a month or two... PLEASE.
- Plays the god card for political gain. Enough said.
- Rove... Dems think police action after 911, GOP thinks military war on terror. Sure Karl... requiring following FISA law is a sign of weakness... good one. Thinking Iraq was a TRAGIC chess move is being weak on terror.... good one.
- Karl and company turning out a US spy. Can't you see all of the Bush pardons coming in 2008.
- Rumsfeld still here... how much proof do you need.
- Colin Powell, Larry Lindsey, Paul O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman.... graveyard of those who dared to tell this guy... "you know, your are kind of stupid".


Yoshi... just too much stuff on the personal list. I really hope we survive him. It was a cruel twist of fate that 911 happened at the same time the US made one of it's worse choices for president.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

So they listen to a few phone calls. I'd have a laugh if I knew they heard one of mine...

That's another trick Bush and company pulls. They confuse the conversation of requiring legal judical oversight with "beeing weak on terror because you won't let Bush ON HIS OWN determine what the boundaries should be". It's an obvious good trick, because it is working great against the sheeple. {keep a tab Prof}. I'm already willing to allow the government data mining capabilities probably farther than they are actually going now... but I don't want the executive to be able to do ANYTHING domestic without the judicial branch in the loop. Even if it's broad sweeping judicial warrants (maybe even broader than FISA) we have to keep the judicial branch in the loop... or you get Nixon. Remember? Exactly where do think Darth Cheney would draw that line? Yeah... I thought so.

6:50 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Tony,

It occurs to me that in all your ranting against the two major parties and their stranglehold on the system, you have not pushed for any significant structural changes to our electoral process.

No amount of magical increase in the IQ of the voting public will be enough to overcome the structural impediments to a multi-party (more than two) democracy built in to our electoral system.

However, if the three structural reforms that I propose below were to be enacted, I believe it would be feasible for a third party or independant candidate to win the Presidency of the United States in the near future, even if the American public remains every bit as stupid and ignorant as they are today.

OK, here we go, in order of easiest to hardest to implement:

1) Eliminate the electoral college, and any other similar winner-take-all apportionment of voting blocks that may exist at the state and local levels. Election results at every level must be tabulated by including every individual ballot cast (the "popular vote").

2) Modified instant-runoff vote tabulation. In this system, voters have the option to "rank" up to 3 choices for each office, although marking a second and third choice is not required for a valid vote. To win, a candidate must achieve a majority (more than 50%) of the 1st choice votes. If no candidate achieves a majority, then an instant runoff calculation occurs. Votes are converted to points. A "first choice" vote is worth 3 points. "Second choice", 2 points, and "third choice" 1 point. The winner is the candidate with the most total points. There are many possible variations on this theme that I would consider. The theory is that voters are given the opportunity to more fully express their preferences, and if a candidate cannot achieve a simple majority of votes, then a compromise consensus winner will emerge who is the most acceptable to the highest possible majority.

3) Full public financing of election campaigns. For each office, a level of total expenditure for campaigning will be determined, as well as a minimum threshhold of signatures which a candidate must gather on "nominating petitions" in order to be eligible for the ballot. All eligible candidates will receive an equal split of the money. No additional campaign expenditures will be allowed.

Number 3 is obviously the most difficult and complicated to achieve and I am grossly oversimplifying it here for the purposes of discussion. However the potential benefit to our democracy is absolutely huge, in many ways. Specifically regarding the two-party system, full public financing would make party affiliation irrelevant for campaign financing. And isn't that the most significant influence and weight that the parties have to throw around? Not to mention the source of all the corruption.

To those who argue that all campaign finance reform is a violation of freedom of speech, I have two rebuttals.

First of all, there have always been recognized limitations on speech where the public welfare is concerned. This idea is not controversial. And certainly the public welfare, indeed the survival of our democracy, depends on fair and *equal* access to the means of campaigning, i.e. money.

Secondly, in my view the freedom to buy a louder microphone than anyone else can afford in order to drown out the other voices is most definitely -not- the same thing as the freedom of speech that we all hold dear. You could even make a case that this freedom to outspend and out-advertise in an effort to drown out the other voices effectively results in the *denial* of free speech to the candidate with no money (for money read: party affiliation, Tony).

I think #1 above is pretty much a no-brainer, #2 and #3 are clearly the way we should go but I make no claim to have thought these out in great detail. Just throwing these ideas out there, along with the general observation that this is the kind of thing we need to push for if we want to break the two-party stranglehold on our politics. This ought to get some juices flowing if anybody is still watching this thread.

...David R

7:58 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Yoshi,

Regarding the most recent controversy that you reference about a "few phone calls"....

We don't actually know how many phone calls we're talking about, do we? That's a secret. And that's something you should consider before using that kind of a characterization.

But, more importantly, the issue here is not whether we think it should be ok for the CIA to listen to phone calls.

Let's be very clear here (because damn sure nobody else in the media is), the issue is that the President signed an order which BROKE THE LAW.

There can be no argument about this, really. The law of the land is that they had to go through the FISA court to get warrants for this sort of thing. The President repeatedly signed executive orders which said, in effect, I authorize the NSA to ignore the law of the land.

To me, the number of times this happened, or the specific reasons given in each case, or the fact that the President "informed" Congress that he was going to break the law, is immaterial to the discussion we should be having as a nation.

This is not an isolated incident, the President has repeatedly and blatantly stated that he will disregard the law when he sees fit. Why, he said it just a few weeks ago in his "signing statement" when he signed the McCain anti-torture ammendment. He flat-out said that he believed he had the right to ignore that law also if he saw fit to do so.

So the discussion we should be having is not whether it's ok to do warrantless wiretaps, or whether they did a few of them or a lot of them, or whether Congress was "informed" about it.

The discussion that matters to our democracy is "Should the President be allowed to break the law, solely upon his own discretion and judgement, if he feels that National Security is threatened by that law"?

What I fear, even more than Shrub's stupidity and negligence in times of crisis, is that many, if not most, people would answer yes to that question. Which means that much of our Constition has become a joke.

...David R

8:23 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Well, I suppose I understand the seriousness of the wire-tapping, but there very well be legitimate security reasons for doing so....

however, I forget about President's reluctance about the anti-torture legislation....

that's pretty big deal....

12:27 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

DavidR,

Great post.

First, it is true I have seldom made suggestions for structural changes. It is easy to get lazy and not do that when you are convinced that we are screwed. I think you have some intriguing ideas that we should take a looks at.

Let me respond in reverse order and consider your proposals starting at three and proceding to number one.

I have always been in favor of campaign finance reform. I think there is little that compares to the utility of such reform in getting some of the financial corruption out of the system. It is urgent and compelling. I would couple this with term limits of a very limiting nature.

I do, however, agree that the legal argument asserting that campaign donations are protected speech is a sound one. We can go into that in some depth if anyone cares to. While you are completely correct in your analysis with regard to competing liberties, it is not a situation that the Supreme Court has normally applied a balancing test. In ConLaw parlance, I do not believe that the rational you suggest is sufficient to clear the requirement that such legislation be closely tailored to meet a compelling state interest. I do believe that a Constitutional Amendment along the lines you describe is overdue and even of an urgent nature.

On your second point, I can not see that mattering much unless it is coupled with improved ballot access for third party candidates. Or perhaps a turn toward a no-primary system where multiple candidates from the same part can be considered and balanced the way you describe. Absent these types of reforms, you are still going to get a result that is a choice between the major party annoited and thus favorite sons. Either way, I think it is a good suggestion and even without the other reform, it could make an impact on an occasional race.

I do, however, stand firmly opposed to the elimination of the electoral college. I would be curious to hear your analysis as to why this particular reform would be so helpful. In my view, it would mostly serve to eleminate the voice of the rural and small state voter. A notion such as this is probably very attractive to those of the Democratic persuasion in the current political climate. In my view, the current system already has too much bias in favor of the small states.

Hey, agreeing on two out of three is not bad for you and I.

Oh, and I'm totally with you on your most recent response to Yoshi.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

There is nothing they can not get access to without a warrant. Warrantless searches are a very big deal indeed. I do not see anything legitimate about their need for violating our liberties in such a pervasive fashion.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David R,

Wow, I have turned into David R... without the musical talent of course. :) I find it kind of eerie how much we are on the same page. In the past that would have made you question your thinking... but don't worry, I'm different now. :) Of course, when you post similar thoughts here... it is intriguing. I think maybe I will email my thoughts to you, and you can post it. :)

Regarding your three points/suggestions... I would say (and have said here) that unless you change to publicly funded campaigns, the rest is just background noise. I watched a Senate committee hearing this week regarding the lobbying corruption, and was very surprised how many Senators came right out and said the same thing (they spend most of their time in a fulltime campaign $ collection mode). Of course, most of the Senators making this comment were Democrats. It becomes pretty obvious that most of the GOP senators believe that those with the most $ having the most influence is as American as apple pie.... kind of a Capitalist view on democracy and EQUAL. Regarding your #2 and #3... I'm not positive about totally getting rid of the electoral college (although I'm definitely leaning that direction). I had posted here before that I am totally behind changing to some scheme like Colorado has... the state's electoral college votes are not winner take all, but rather per precinct (I think that's right on how they divide/weight the electoral college votes... definitely right about the fact they are not winner take all). I know our state is going to vote red, and I know for sure my vote is just for my conscience. If the 40% blue vote gave 40% of Oklahoma's electoral college votes to the Democrat, then my vote counts. Under the current scheme, it is just for my conscience. I think a popular vote within the state is preferable to the Colorado scheme of per precinct. You could do this and keep the same national electoral college scheme, and it would honor the small states like Tony suggests (just not in a winner take all mode). I like your ideas on #2... I heard those kind of ideas expressed in the 2004 election by independent candidates (I think the green candidate did). They make sense to me... I think a statewide popular vote gets you most of the way there, and throw your #2 on top of it... and I think it could be win-win... even intriguing. :)

You were just addressing election rule changes, but I would add Congress to the list of required Democracy rule changes. I don't need to post them again... I have made them here already. Bottom line... if you leave Congress (both House and the Senate) in their current winner-take-all modes, you can pretty much count on them moving in the two party polarization direction after they get there (even with your better election scheme).

Tony P,

I do, however, agree that the legal argument asserting that campaign donations are protected speech is a sound one. We can go into that in some depth if anyone cares to.

I'm very interested. That ruling would appear to fly right in the face of EQUAL in our democracy. It's so obvious this leads directly to "those with the most $ have more votes". This is yet another example why Supreme Court justices have to consider Consequences (what Breyer calls active liberty) in their rulings, rather than some black and white software algorithm. What was the case that ruled $ was free speech? I would be interested in reading some on that, and the vote makeup. Maybe I should google. :)

In ConLaw parlance, I do not believe that the rational you suggest is sufficient to clear the requirement that such legislation be closely tailored to meet a compelling state interest. I do believe that a Constitutional Amendment along the lines you describe is overdue and even of an urgent nature.

Interesting that this would require a constitutional amendment. I don't know about that, but I would be for it... seems to be a core need of our democracy, and I would like that put in clear writing in the Constitution. IMO, the merging of Democracy and Capitalism is NOT as American as apple pie. The entire idea of our structure of government is equal democracy participation... I challenge anyone to find in the Constitution intent that those with more $ should have more influence on their government. The right to petition your government was NOT weighted by one's bank account.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I can't think of all the reasons Bush and his administration makes me detest him in one sitting, so I expect ongoing installments going forward.

Bush and Bush administration detestable occurences:

- Leiberman proposes Homeland Security, Bush admin fights it as hard as they can. They lose out, and then claim it as their idea.

- Did we mention Katrina. What else really needs to be said.

- The NSA issue being discussed on this thread. They broke the law... period. These are bad guys. Any Republican Senator or Congress critter supporting this type of action by the executive branch... trying to sell it with 911 fear tactics... are bad guys.

- Providing the $ billion dollar payout to industry under the guise of helping our seniors purchase drugs. The corruption of this administration is part of their DNA... their constituents are corporations not people. As Nadar said... "Bush is a corporation masking as a human being". I think I heard Wisconsin alone has 48 provider choices. Sure, that's the way to serve our seniors.

- Bush looks right in the camera and says "they hate us for who we are and not what we do". Newsflash... the recruiting pool comes from WHAT WE DO... Bush knows it, his administration knows it and yet they look right into the camera and lie. They can't talk the public into their righeous Democracy crusade unless they can keep America from examing it's own policies.

- The utter silence about the ongoing destruction of much of middle class America due to globalization and manufacturing migration out of the US. Regardless of your opinions about whether or not this is inevitable, you certainly can't make the case that this issue is too trivial for the President to put front and center on the priority list. Instead, you get passing comments by his economic teams that "outsourcing is good". Well, maybe, but to be that "strong leader" which Bush claims he is, you certainly have to address the masses during this pain on an ongoing basis. We are in desperate need of planning for future New New Deals, not a core commitment of a partisan agenda to do away with everything New Deal. This alone certainly provides proof for David R's sociopath charge. I can't think of a single domestic policy of the Bush adminstration that has worked in the favor of anyone other than those at the top of the Capitalist food chain. We truly have a trickle down administration. As Cheney said during the intitial debates over tax breaks... "it is our due". It's pretty obvious our government and what it can do for corporate america "is their due" according to them.

- Can you say staged audiences and backdrop PR promotions for Bush appearances. Is there anything as sick as the leader of the free world's democracy staging the audience and providing the adverstising's recommended message. The leader of the free world is a common peddler.

Ah... more therapy. Please feel to add to the list as we go forward.

24 x 7 until they are gone.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Flame Thrower said...

Tony....I do dislike the fact that when I vote it does "endorse" the dork I voted for. This is particularly true when you get a George Shrub (no I did not vote for him) talking about his mandate when he had to go to the Supreme Court to "win" the election. However, I am also concerned about what happens when the electorate shrinks to the point where smaller and smaller interest groups have a disproportionate influence on the election results.

The point of the democratic process is after all, to reflect the view of the majority. When the majority does not vote, the process breaks down, Remember you can always write in a vote whether it's for Donald Duck or someone serious.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

To anyone who cares. If I may quote at length from America: The First 350 Years by J. Steven Wilkens.
--------------------------------
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

The electoral college was formed for three reasons:
a) To prevent undue influence from the Congress -- "No Senator or Representative...shall be appointed an elector."

b) To hinder corruption -- i.e., the possibility of a small group of powerful men manipulating an election.

c) To prevent undue influence from the larger states.

The electoral college was a brilliant safeguard to these dangers. It was formed to be the exact numerical counterpart of the Congress with one elector for each congressional district and two "at large" for the two senators. It was assumed as Rushdoony points out,

"that prominent and able men from each congressional district, and from the state at large, would be elected or appointed as electors, and, to retain their independence and integrity, the electors could not be a 'Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States.'" (The Nature of the American System, p. 11)

Under this arrangement, each voter would vote for three men -- one to represent his congressional district, and two "at large" representatives to represent his state.

Each elector would cast his vote according to the vote of his district and the "at large" representatives would vote as their states voted. It was not unusual for a state to cast its electoral votes for three or four candidates. Corruption under this system was rendered almost impossible.(emphasis added - P.R.) As Hamilton observed,

"This process of election affords a moral certainty that the office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union...It will not be too strong to say that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue." (The Federalist, No. 68)

By the 1830s however, things began to change. The Constitution did not demand that electors be elected from each congressional district and lure of political influence which a "general ticket" would give was too much to resist. The general ticket took power from the congressional districts and gave it the state -- or more particularly, to those districts which contained large urban centers. Politicians could ignore the rural districts in their states and concentrate on the urban areas.

By 1836, every state except South Carolina, chose their electors by general ticket.

This has had three very important results:
a) It gave great influence to the large cities at the expense of the rural communities.

b) It has made for the "citification" of politics. The interests of urban areas dominate.

c) It has given tremendous power to minorities and special interest groups. Prior to the general ticket, minorities had very little influence on politics simply because they were not large enough to influence the elections in every district.

As a result, minority groups have become the most important factor in national elections, simply because they control the balance of power in most states. The majority can therefore be safely ignored. Since the 1860s, minorities have been the dominant force in the framing of national issues and public policy.

The problem with the Electoral College is not its structure but the use of the general ticket.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Wealth gap widens... this works as long as those on the bottom end accept it... you know the one's at the top accept it.

Yoshi,

I saw something on Nightline a couple of nights ago that reminded me of your "breaking of the law defense". In 1936, some decent hard working people broke the law and changed the quality of much of the middle class lives for the next four decades. They were met by the Capitalist and Personal Property mantra in full force. They were surely referred to as Communists. It's really amazing how those two voices live on even today. The strikers were right in 1936, and their spirit is right today.

Flint Sit-Down strikes

The wealthy are never going to wake up and offer a fair deal. They will always keep everything they can get away with. I find the lower end of our economic spectrum an amazingly accepting group. I don't expect that to last forever. IMO, globalization is about to add stresses to our society not seen since the depression. I just don't see how a country migrates it's entire manufacturing base to other countries and replaces all of those jobs. I just don't see it... I guess time will tell.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

As a result, minority groups have become the most important factor in national elections, simply because they control the balance of power in most states. The majority can therefore be safely ignored. Since the 1860s, minorities have been the dominant force in the framing of national issues and public policy.

The problem with the Electoral College is not its structure but the use of the general ticket.


It would seem a statewide popular vote that divides the state electoral college proportionally, while keeping the national electoral college system solves most of these problems.

1) The small states still keep their total electoral votes.
2) The problem of candidate only paying attention to the minority swing votes go away, because it is no longer a winner-take-all vote... all votes will count.
3) By changing the winner take all statewide vote to "everyone's vote will be applied to an electoral vote"... you keep minority voters voting. Nobody can possibly doubt that huge numbers of Democrats in Oklahoma never vote because it's a given that the GOP will win this state. However, even if I know I'm in a 10% minority, I would know that vote counted.

KISS... if your vote counts, you are likely to keep voting. Set up a system where minority voters don't count, many will quit voting.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David R,

Do you have any thoughts about a Democrat filibuster over Alito. I have mixed feeling about it. I do not think judging, or selecting judges can be reduced to a math formula... i.e. there is no such thing as generic agenda-free judging. Maybe the word should be worldview and not agenda, but the point is judges are human, and make human decisions based on their frame of reference. If you could cookie cutter that frame of reference, then we could use software and not judges. You don't get Ginsburg and Scalia constantly voted opposite on social cases simply because one followed the law, and the other did not. So if I'm a Senator, sitting there making a call... I do so not from a math formula or the bs spit out about "interpret the law, not make it", but rather by weighing current court makeup, current social movements, and consequences of the appointment. Some call that moving politics into the judge selection process... I do not. I would call that recognizing judging can't be wrapped into the neat little black and white box that the GOP claims it can.

So back to my question... what about an Alito filibuster. I have no doubt that I would vote against Alito based on the realities I listed above. The court is changing permanently before our eyes, and I would be on record voting against that change. The question becomes... does the protest against that at this time rise to the level of raising a filibuster symbolically... which will be stopped by the GOP nuclear option. I'm inclined to say it does. On the other hand, there should be consequences for the public for electing Bush. Everyone knew he was a Scalia fan, and the risks associate with that. Of course that doesn't mean any president gets to pack the court, but still... the public voted for this. In the end, the consequences will be felt most by specific groups...i.e. women.

Mixed feelings.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I would ask you how are women going to feel this change. And as you stated earlier, Bush was elected, because of his like for a "Scalia" type on the court. As to your question, I think the LL should do what is in their heart, i.e. what their base feels.

"by weighing current court makeup, current social movements,"

I think that it is the duty of our legislators to weigh our current social movements to determine how the courts act. I believe it is for the courts to determine whether or not what the legislators are determining the "current social movement" to be is either in tune with the present constitution of "these United Sates" (not some half baked country like Denmark)......IMO

4:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Hey Randy P,

I believe it is for the courts to determine whether or not what the legislators are determining the "current social movement" to be is either in tune with the present constitution of "these United Sates

The point I was making is that determining the "current social movement" to be is either in tune with the present constitution of "these United Sates is NOT as simple as the "just interpret" crowd would have you believe. I have become convinced you can be a judicial activist by either 1) seeing things that aren't supported by the Constitution, allowing for sections of broad intent in some of the clauses OR 2) by ignoring intent, allowing for broad intent in some of the clauses.

No justice disagrees with "2/3rds of....", but they will disagree over "reasonable....". The art of judging happens regarding the bill of rights... not so much on the sections that define the structure of government, although that may not be totally true given the unitarian executive movement that came up in the Alito hearings. At least that is my perception... Tony is the lawyer around these parts.

5:05 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Tony,

IMO the electoral college no longer serves any of the orginal purposes you and Prof have stated. At least not in any significant way. In the final tally, the winner of the electoral college is almost always the winner of the popular vote as well, and the few times that this hasn't been true in recent history, the difference has been very small.

In truth it is not the electoral college per se, but rather the winner-take-all apportionment of electoral votes, that I object to. In my opinion this system is a significant disincentive to people who might otherwise vote for an independant or third party candidate.

There can be no better example of this than the controversy raised in Progressive circles by the Nader campaigns of 2000 and 2004. The argument was loudly and repeatedly made that Nader should stay out of the race because the only possible effect of his candidacy on the electoral college vote would be to assist the Bush/Cheney ticket.

The electoral college system added tremendous weight to these arguments in two ways. First, there was no possibility of Nader receiving a single electoral college vote. Every single vote for Nader would add up to ZERO in the electoral college. Secondly, in the "battleground states" (a term which would cease to exist without the electoral college), Nader votes could have a wildly disproportionate effect on the election outcome.

So, in 2000 and 2004, the primary effect of the electoral college system was to create extremely powerful disincentives against the Nader campaign that had nothing to do with his positions on the issues but was based entirely on electoral mathematics.

Regarding your comments on reform #2, I agree you need more choicesw on the ballot for this to make much difference. I do talk about ways to increase ballot access in reform #3, and on further review I think this is an important enough issue by itself to hereby propose:

Reform #4, some kind of "nominating petition" system to mandate access to the ballot for candidates who can show some reasonable base of popular support.

7:14 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof,

That was very interesting about the origins of the electoral college. I had not known that the original concept was that each voter voted for three electors. It would be interesting to do a study to see how the electoral count would have turned out in the last few elections had electors been, um, elected that way. Although, any such study would have to be taken with a grain of salt since I believe that people would actually vote differently under that original concept.

I do still question the efficacy of the electoral college, even under a by-district apportionment system, to achieve the goals you listed.

As far as preventing undue influence from Congress, if I'm not mistaken the electoral college rules actually state that if no candidate achieves a majority, then Congress gets to decide the President, right? Or something like that, anyway it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to set up a scenario in the rules where Congress elects the President if you want to eliminate undue influence by Congress.

Also, big big problem with by-district apportionment is a little thing called gerrymandering. The mapping of Congressional districts is, I would say, very much unduly influenced by Congress. And subject to corruption by a powerful few. For example, see "Tom Delay" and "Texas redistricting".

I guess the only rationale left for the electoral college is preventing undue influence by larger states. Tony and I have argued before about how much difference those extra two electors are worth in terms of giving the smaller states greater influence. I think not much, and certainly not enough to justify all the other problems caused by the electoral college.

...R

5:26 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David R,

Also, big big problem with by-district apportionment is a little thing called gerrymandering.

Yep... which would seem another thing that a statewide popular vote would fix. There would be no point to carving up the state into modern art.

Are you ignoring my questions or just me? :) You must have me on ignore... can you do this on this blogsite? :)

9:37 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

DavidR,

Sorry for my slow response. Things have been very busy in Curmudgeonland…the short story is I am starting a new job in three weeks. Wish me luck.

As is the case so often these days, we have more agreement than we perhaps even think we do. I too do not like the winner take all aspects of the elector slates. This is a function of the individual state laws and a direct result of the two parties’ desires to limit ballot accesss.

Now the argument that the winner of the electoral college tends to be the winner of the popular vote just does not close the matter for me. While specific examples elude me, it seems there is a real possibility that there will be a small state issue of importance in our future. Just look at the Blue/Red maps and you can see that there is a significant divergence in how rural and urban America views things. I believe that the electoral college is the only thing that keeps big state dominance in partial check. Perhaps it would have no effect but I’m just not comfortable with that yet. Regardless, I think we agree that the opportunity for a Nader to get an electoral vote would be a huge plus for third parties generally.

I’d be curious to hear more about your reform #4…sounds like something I would favor. Are you suggesting a National provision for ballot access. I’d definitely be behind that.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Flamer,

I have made your exact point in posts past: nothing is more irritating than these schmoes claiming a mandate on all kinds of specific issues when they have won an election by a percentage point or two. Best I can tell there hasn’t been a real mandate on any specific issue in a lot of years. Perhaps the Reagan era tough stand on communism is the closest I can think of and that really wasn’t an overwhelming mandate either.

This is a huge part of my Disenfranchisement. If I had voted Democratic last election and they had won, next day they would’ve been claiming a mandate for abortion rights and I would’ve had a hand in that claim. If I had voted Republican, I would have had a hand in lending support for their mandate for their continuing and obnoxious abuse of our civil liberties. I could not live with myself in either case.

And I think the old “Donald Duck” vote is no more noble than not voting. It is the same thing in my view. Even if we had a national “none of the above” movement, that would be no better than not voting because it would have no legal significance.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Equal Protection mean the equal protection of the law. This is not the same as guaranteeing an equal outcome generally. The notion is that before the law you are treated equally.

Obviously the rich always have access to things you and I do not. The ability to speak on a large platform is just one of them. In a free society, it is pretty much impossible to prevent a rich person from exercising their right of free speech. If Bill Gates wants your attention, he has the money to buy an hour’s worth of prime-time TV and get you to listen to him. If you want to limit his ability to do this, a Constitutional Amendment is the only way to go.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Equal Protection mean the equal protection of the law. This is not the same as guaranteeing an equal outcome generally. The notion is that before the law you are treated equally.

I don't think we are talking about equal outcome but rather, equal input. I am talking about what Breyer calls Active Liberty. Breyer believes (and so do I based on his arguments) that active liberty provides for an equal particiapation in our democracy... i.e. it's the part at the top of the Constitution that defines the structure of government. I don't see how a Supreme Court justice can factor in consequences of calling $s free speech, and not see that as anti-equal participation (input) in government.

If you want to limit his ability to do this, a Constitutional Amendment is the only way to go.

Maybe this requires an ammendment, but as a reminder we are talking about two seperate issues. One is the campaign funding, and the second is lobbying and access to those elected. I think public funding of campaigns would go a long ways to be much MORE equal... even if Bill Gates was going off doing his own thing on top of that. Right now, the numbers to even get in the Senate game seem staggering. Have the government buy enough airtime from the broadcasters... and you blunt the huge advantage of those with the most cash. Sure.. you could still have the Gates and Soros bid up to levels of advantage again... but you can't tell me it wouldn't be 75% better than the current fixed process.

Now on access to the critters once they are already elected... you outlaw donations to parties and individuals at the same time you provide public funded campaigns. Private citizens are still free to exercise their free speech and free will by buying commercials... but free speech shouldn't = giving $ to parties and individuals. If that needs to be an ammendment... then fine... but I wonder. The Supreme Court made a ruling that $ is free speech. Seems like they could just reverse that ruling without an ammendment.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I’m not sure what you last post meant. I’m not being sarcastic at all-what exactly is your argument?

Active Liberty is obviously a term that Breyer coined. That doesn’t make it bad, but I’ll not comment on that directly without more information.

So you don’t see how donations is a form of speech? I’m not sure I can help you if you do not understand that giving money to political organizations gives voice to one’s viewpoint. The connection is not even a loose one.

But do not loose track of the fact that I totally agree that we need to have Constitutional Amendments to implement the types of things that you and DavidR have described. We will never get the money totally out of the process but we can limit it affects.

What is the likelihood of any of this coming to pass? If negative probabilities were possible, that is where I would go to find the answer.

Why? The Democrats and Republicans have slowly built armor around their artificial two party system. Do you think two-thirds of the state legislatures are going to vote to cut their own throats? Of course not.

The only slim chance is a Constitutional Convention. Given how overly politicized things are these days, the only likely out come of that is a provision that if you aren’t Democratic or Republican, you have to be at least 90 years of age to stand for election to Federal Office.

7:34 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I always assumed the two-party system was somewhat just a matter of practicality.

If there were several parties, all disagreeing, it might be harder to pass legislation than it already is. There would have to be all kinds of coalitions, etc.

Of course, that may not be a bad thing.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

My exact position is that all of the coalition building would be a good thing. Not automatically so, but it would open the door to substantive discussion. One of the great tragedies is that we spend all our time on political positions rather than the underlying substantive merit. The old budget wars come to mind. The Democrats said the Republicans wanted to starve old people and kill babies. The Republicans called them class warriors and tax and spend liberals. In reality, there wasn’t but a fraction of a percentage difference in the budget proposal. It was a made for TV sham. I naively want us to actually discuss the merits of individual budget line items.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

It’s no news that I think that Pres. George Bush is a fine and decent Democrat who never met an expenditure he didn’t want to approve of.

It troubles me that he does not understand the Constitution and its meaning the way I believe it should be understood. He has parroted many phrases that sound like he understands, but I am not convinced.

The bypass of FISA in surveillance is troublesome. Its not that terrorist should not be detected, caught, arrested, and punished, along with terrorist actions foiled before great damage is done. But there must be a safeguard that prevents government from destroying the people’s freedoms and ultimately becoming a tyrant themselves.

Bush was clueless on the McCain Feingold. Clueless.

Like all the politicians that take the reins of a billion horsepower race car like the U.S., they can’t resist blipping the throttle a few times, revving her up, maybe even laying a long strip of rubber because, hey....I’m in control. I wouldn’t ever do anything to hurt the people. I’m here to help. Whatever I do will be for their good. They just don’t understand that I would never overstep my “self-control” bounds. Sure I overstepped the bounds of that ol’ governing document the Constitution, but its so confining, so governing, so limiting, that it doesn’t let me help my people the way I could. If only I had unlimited ability to help the people, think of the good I could do.

Yep. Every dictator is somebody who wants to help bring about their wonderful end result without the constraints that they would demand on any other leader.

With respect to the topic of surveillance....
Q. If Osama Bin Laden calls this country, should we care?
Q. Should we find out who he talked to and what they were saying?
Q. If a spy/terrorist/enemy is contacting someone within our country, is this a “private” or personal conversation and/or is it an act of war communications that we must try to intercept?
Q. If 100% of the surveillance is of inbound phone calls from known terrorist numbers, or outbound to the same, is monitoring those calls a threat to our freedoms?
Q. Is this authority to monitor spy/terrorist/enemy communications inbound and outbound from our country different from this authority that we had in WWII? If so how?
Q. Is our current concern over monitoring a result of the ever increasing encroachment of government since the WWII similar authority AND the confusion over what is a right, who are covered by constitutional rights, and the ability to differentiate between “good monitoring” and “bad monitoring?”

I believe we should make enormous efforts to intercept spy/terrorist/enemy inbound and outbound communications. I also believe that the howling on the Democrat side is disingenuous because of the executive orders of Carter and Clinton that permitted far more intrusion into private American lives.

However, the Republicans are just as apologetic of any act Bush does. Were Bush to understand and reverence the Constitution, I would feel better. But there seems little clarity on the subject coming from him. His reasons for surveillance are because we voted him in to “protect us.” I beg your pardon? He scares me. And the alternative is John Kerry, or God forbid, Hillary?

Prof. Ricardo

9:50 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

You have questions, I have answers!

Q. If Osama Bin Laden calls this country, should we care?
A. Yes.

Q. Should we find out who he talked to and what they were saying?
A. Yes, with a warrant.

Q. If a spy/terrorist/enemy is contacting someone within our country, is this a “private” or personal conversation and/or is it an act of war communications that we must try to intercept?
A. Yes, with a warrant.

Q. If 100% of the surveillance is of inbound phone calls from known terrorist numbers, or outbound to the same, is monitoring those calls a threat to our freedoms?
A. Yes it is without a warrant.

Q. Is this authority to monitor spy/terrorist/enemy communications inbound and outbound from our country different from this authority that we had in WWII? If so how?
A. The answer is irrelevant. FDR ignored the Constitution all the time. Define “authority”. If you mean by that the government possess the present power to do it, then there isn’t much difference in quality (quantity being a different matter). If you mean legal authority, the no, there hasn’t been a changed to the 4th Amendment since then.

Q. Is our current concern over monitoring a result of the ever increasing encroachment of government since the WWII similar authority AND the confusion over what is a right, who are covered by constitutional rights, and the ability to differentiate between “good monitoring” and “bad monitoring?”
A. Yes.

More questions?

11:02 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

The Answer Man,

As you move from the monitoring inbound phone calls from criminal spy/terrorist/enemy cowards to actual war with them on their ground (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, etc.) obviously we do not need court issued warrants “in the field” conducting recon/spy efforts by our military(do we?). Given that the whole criminal terrorist cowards issue is a lot greyer than war efforts against a known country or territory, is the border defining the requirements for warrants whose soil we are on? If they, the criminal terrorist cowards, come to our soil, does that warrant requirement still stand? Does that also extend to enemy’s standing armies on our soil, or just to criminal terrorist cowards?

Prof. Ricardo

2:03 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

At first glance, the issue seems pretty simple. You are either ok with any US president defining for themselves what is ok spying IN the United States OR you keep the federal courts in the loop. If the answer is ... "we keep the federal courts in the loop on US soil" (which is an obvious YES), then it may still require a change to FISA laws or something entirely different, but keeps the judicial branch in the loop. If your answer "no, it's ok for the president to define the boundaries of what is acceptable on US soil"... then it doesn't really matter how careful he is being today... you have acquiesced with one branch (the executive branch) defining this under it's own control. Not exactly checks and balances when it comes to fundamental rights. Now I will throw something into the debate which I have not heard anyone else bring up. We throw around the term "warrants" like it solves the problem. What happens in the situation where we actually don't have an insane president (like the current one)... and the president's judgment is correct... and some misguided judge overrules him. I don't necessarily feel judges are any more prepared to make life and death calls over the president. I assume FISA works via a panel of judges or something to make sure national security doesn't depend on one judge... but even then, you could have judges working in block like the Bush/Gore SC case. I know I don't want the executive branch given carte blanche over US soil... but it's not as straightforward as the black or white, choclate or vanilla, Democrat or satan argument it is framed as.

btw... for King George.

You go into the State of the Union with the polls you have, rather than the polls you would like to have. :)

2:59 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

I think which soil and citizenship is essential to the equation. We should not be running roughshod with the rights of anyone other than nationals of declared enemies or international criminals. I can define all of that vague language if you want-I actually have some pretty specific ideas about this. One of my papers in law school was closely related to this topic.

But in short, on American soil you need a warrant.

BTW, there is a time tested doctrine in 4th Amendment law called “hot pursuit” where the police is given some leeway on mistakes. I support that doctrine even though its flexibility gives me a Maalox moment.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

I think Bush is going to go bonkers on alternative fuels tonight on his state of the union address. Personally, I wouldn’t mind messing with alcohol or bio-diesel on a voluntary basis. But you can bet your aunt Martha’s buttered biscuits what he proposes tonight will cost somebody some money....and it won’t be his.

Set up your score card with several columns.
Put a tic mark under each column every time you hear one of these phrase words or phrases.

Billion/Million (list amounts)
“Protect you (or America)”
The environment
Dependence on (foreign) oil
Ear marked
Bipartisan
Immigration reform/work program
New words he made up tonight (list)
Times the Dems failed to applaud when Repubs did.

Don’t forget the popcorn. I think Tony is supplying home brew. In fact, he’s probably expecting us tonight to join him for the show.

Add up all the billions at the end of the address and divide by 290 million. That’s how much extra $$ all this will cost for every man, woman, child, and nursing home resident.

P.R.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Actually, watch for the same genius that suggested investing old age insurance in the stock market to suggest people working from paycheck to paycheck put $10,000 a year aside for medical bills. Let the games continue... hide the wealth and save on safety-nets. Some of that old fashioned family values.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

--- John Kenneth Galbraith

6:23 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

King George State of the Union:

god-god-fear-fear-green headfake-democracy crusade-fear-fear-god-god

Dem rebuttal:

We-too-god-so-choose-us

And the dance goes on.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

There was a state of the Union speech recently?

9:23 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Of particular note was the mid-sentence interruption on Social Security reform when the Dems nearly did the "wave." Is it really possible to pass popcorn thru your nose?

P.R.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Of particular note was the mid-sentence interruption on Social Security reform when the Dems nearly did the "wave."

The Dems were giving Bush the purple finger.

There was a state of the Union speech recently?

Yes... but I just caught you up, so no worries. I did forget part of it:

iraq-right-you-wrong-we-holy-they-evil-NSA-OK-I'm-King-rich-rule-poor-suck-soldier-family-prop-then-forget-about-them

There... now you have it all.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Active Liberty is obviously a term that Breyer coined. That doesn’t make it bad, but I’ll not comment on that directly without more information.

So you don’t see how donations is a form of speech? I’m not sure I can help you if you do not understand that giving money to political organizations gives voice to one’s viewpoint. The connection is not even a loose one.


I will use Breyer's own words from his book Active Liberty rather than paraphrase.

Breyer: "The United States is a nation built upon principles of liberty. That liberty means not only freedom from government coercion but also the freedom to participate in government itself."

Breyer uses the term Active Liberty to refer to the bolded phrase above, and Passive Liberty for the other (Bill of Rights). The terms come from history... that's another post/email if you are interested.

Breyer: "Later courts--the New Deal Court and the Warren Court--emphasized ways in which the Constitution protected the citizen's "active liberty", i.e. the scope of the right to participate in government.

IMO, the scope is exactly what we are talking about when we debate whether or not $ should equal free speech... because by definition those with more money (in our current system) participate with advantage (not equal).

Breyer: "The concept of active liberty-- as I said at the outset-- refers to a sharing of a nation's sovereign authority among it's people".

Jefferson: "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves."

Breyer is making the point that Active Liberty (government participation) was an EQUAL liberty in the Constitution.. i.e. equal to our Bill of Rights liberties. You hear people dwell on Bill of Rights liberties all of the time... particularly when they are making their Activists charges. But it would seem much of our history as a nation has been spent making progress in the area of government participation (black vote, woman's vote, civil rights, etc.). I guess my point is it would seem pretty obvious we still have a ways to go if our current rules gurantees greater $ guarantees greater government participation. I absolutely do not get equating $ with free speech. Obviously there is a tension between individual rights to spend money as they choose, and equal government participation by citizens... but surely the nod has to be given in the direction of equal chance in government partipation.

You either keep striving towards equal (knowing 100% equal is not possible), or you give in to the old faithful TRADITION voices... those same voices that fought progress every step of the way. They fought the abolition movement, they fought women and blacks getting the vote, they fought civil rights, they fight pluralism today, yada yada yada. And the dance goes on.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Oops... forgot part of the State of the Union.

permanent-tax-breaks-for-the-millionaires-will-make-you-poor-sucker-lives-better-trust-us-it-all-works-out-based-on-vodoo-economic-theory

10:51 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Well, I found it funny that I didn’t know about “active liberty” and found my self a bit puzzled that CG was giving me a history lesson. So, I went looking for more information. What I found was an excellent discussion in a review of Breyer’s book. The author set the record straight on the terminology…”active liberty” is what I learned as “ancient liberty”. I think the term ancient makes a lot more sense to me…Breyer’s term looks like marketing.

So now we have that clarified.

I think anyone actually interested in this whole matter should read the review I refered to which can be found here.

I’m not sure what you are saying, CG, when you said,

” I absolutely do not get equating $ with free speech. Obviously there is a tension between individual rights to spend money as they choose, and equal government participation by citizens... but surely the nod has to be given in the direction of equal chance in government partipation.”

You say you do not get, then explain it, then say it should be changed. Which is it? We agree, at least, that it should be changed.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Uh oh... I think we agree on this so it will lead to boring. :)

The author set the record straight on the terminology…”active liberty” is what I learned as “ancient liberty”.

Yes... I knew this... he says that immediately in the first chapter. I didn't want to go off on a history lesson for my point... plus I have found I have to give you stuff in little chunks at a time or you go all YODA on me. :)

I think the term ancient makes a lot more sense to me…Breyer’s term looks like marketing.

I think both make sense... it's ancient, in that this socities in history were based on similar liberties, but it's also Active... in that it's be an Active ongoing fight to strive for equality in parcipitation.. Maybe Active Ancient Liberty would work for you. Besides, surely you wouldn't hold free speech marketing against a citizen. :)

You say you do not get, then explain it, then say it should be changed. Which is it? We agree, at least, that it should be changed.

Should be changed.... and we end up at boring. :)

Did I mention I hate conservatism? I spit on conservatism. I challenge it to a duel. It took a progressive movement to create this country. Why would anyone think it should have stopped at the convention?

2:04 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Did I mention I hate conservatism? I spit on conservatism. I challenge it to a duel.

Am I the only one that is hearing a French accent and getting images of Clouseau about now?

P.R.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

LOL... that is perfect... I can hear the inspector spitting on conservatism now. I can also see the Prof jumping out from the shadows and attacking.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Aaaahhhhhhaaaaaahhhh! Whack!!!!

Boss? Boss?

4:17 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Hahahaha….that is funny.

But I have to admit, CG was working on brilliant when he observed,

“It took a progressive movement to create this country. Why would anyone think it should have stopped at the convention?”

Right on target. As far as it goes anyway. The founders also set us on a course that made us a nation of laws and not men. So, there is a natural tension, and IMNSHO it is a healthy tension, between progressive pressure and ordered liberty.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I was thinking about King George's (KG) democracy crusade. That is not in the constitution last I checked. I also don't remember Congress voting on this or proposing an amendment that says our government and our military will be about the business of democracy creating and nation building. That said, putting that aside, assuming you wanted to be in the nation and democracy building business, I would think it would require careful analysis of both 1) our genius we wish to export AND 2) the history and demographics of the population we wish to export it to. I question both our ability to measure and predict #2 (and don't buy KG's bs that people are people and freedom will save the day), and OUR democracy genius. From where I stand, 200+ years into the US experiment finds the American dream soley an economic dream.

btw... I think we have it wrong with the mass stupids... it's much closer to mass greedy. I think we vote millionaires into the Senate rather than tenured professors because we value economic success above all else. Plato... step aside for Mr. Kaiser.

1:38 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

House of Bush, House of Saud....

Common Good, I've had that book piling dust for a few months already... should I invest the time to read it? Is it legit info, or is it a bunch of conspiracy theory stuff like Farenheit 9/11?

2:54 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I've never read that book. I did read Kevin Phillip's book American Dynasty which covered the Bush dynasty's ties to the CIA and Saudi. There is definitely something there beyond conspiracy theory... the kind of stuff you would just as soon not know about your own country. btw... I'm still waiting for a list of lies from Farenheit 911. I'm interested any facts on that movie beyond I don't like Michael Moore. I watched the movie... and have intended to add it to my NetFlix queue to watch it again. Even if the entire first half of the movie was lies (and I've yet to hear any proof of one lie... but have not googled on it... which I will before I watch it again), the second half of the movie covering our military recruiting was spot on imo.

And King George Intends to Democratize This... SCARY

4:40 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Yea, this uproar over the cartoons is ridiculous... these people need to grow up..... there wouldn't even be the damn cartoons if they'd just stop blowing themselves up all the time.... it seems like maybe these cartoons made them a little self-conscious..... "mock the devil and he will flee..."

Maybe.

Regardless Farenheit 9/11, it certainly "bent" the truth a bit. The part about the bin Ladens leaving the country, well, they did leave, but not immediately. Maybe 2 or 3 days later. And besides, what's the point Moore was making anyway? Or that some distant relative had helped finance some venture W. Bush was involved in 20 years ago? I mean, that's making an ominous connection but it isn't really making any clear statement except Osama bin Laden comes from a diverse, rich family.

The second half was certainly better, but on the other hand, we do have an entire generation of fatherless boys who've never done anything but hit the remote control switch for the T.V. I don't think the military is a bad thing, it gives discipline, and frankly, opportunities. And they get to travel and get a broader perspective. It isn't just ghetto kids going in.... there is criteria... think they won't accept college graduate young adults? Trust me, they will offer everything they can for one. They prefer them. Poor kids simply have more incentive. It's not a conspiracy at all.

They are spending a fortune in Iraq. I seriously doubt this is just "to get the oil."

And Moore also painted the picture of a calm and serene Iraq. Sorry, but I don't respect stupid social constructs like "territorial integraty," as you know from my immigration posts. Saddam was just an illegitimate mafia ruler. To me it's morally equivalent to the local police removing the drug dealer from the neighborhood.

Of course, I'll read the book, and maybe my opinions will change....

7:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

They are spending a fortune in Iraq. I seriously doubt this is just "to get the oil."

Estimates are coming in at $1 trillion. If Yoshi could turn the clock back and spend that $1 trillion on Africa instead... I bet I know which one you would pick. Saddam had regional aspirations... we need to divorce ourselves from the region and take a tougher line with Israel.

There is zero chance to overcome this with force. We can check back in about another 100 years. I think Buchcanan's isolationism has been absolute insanity... but with the middle east he finally got one right.

12:20 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Right, impossible to do with force, but they aren't just using force on everyone. They are trying to Re-Build the country, get water and electricity flowing for people, get people in school, etc.

The problem is sabotage. Some people have a problem with everyone else going on with their lives peacefully, so they want to blow up bombs in squares with kids walking by. They want people to live in constant fear for their lives. (It's not a good way to maintain long-term popular support.)

The irony is, we are just there for Iraqis own safety.

9:51 AM  
Blogger David R said...

Yoshi,

I have to agree with Common Good, Fahrenheit 9/11 contained nothing but factual reporting. Now, some of the inferences drawn from those facts are questionable, but there aren't any outright lies that I can tell.

What's the big deal about the Bin Laden's leaving the country? Again, I don't really believe in a a Moore-type conspiracy theory, but it's another example of complete incompetence and blatant cronyism by Bush. To wit:
1) Law enforcement was not given sufficient access or time to interrogate the family members. These are family members of a mass murderer. Seems kind of important that the FBI be able to question them at length, even if they have nothing to do with their relatives activities, they likely know something useful about his whereabouts, habits, associates, etc. Lack of interrogation of these people is emblematic of total incompetence.
2) The entire U.S. commercial air system was still shut down at the time the Bin Laden's were chartered out of the country. Think of it. The only planes in the skies over the entire country were either military, or chartered corporate jets ferrying a known mass-murderers relatives out of the country before they could be questioned, or harrassed, or inconvenienced.

Gross incompetence coupled with cronyism, the story of the Bush administration and the Bin Laden family airlift.

David R

1:03 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Yoshi,

You wrote:
"They are trying to Re-Build the country, get water and electricity flowing for people, get people in school, etc. The problem is sabotage...."

Well, yes, that's a big problem.

But please, don't give the Bush administration a free pass, they have mismanaged the reconstruction of Iraq to an extent that would be hard to believe were we not watching it with our own eyes.

Where to start? Not enough troops to begin with to keep order. No plan for reconstruction. I mean really, no plan. Corruption on a massive scale, no-bid contracts to Halliburton and other Bush Admin crony corporations. No plan. Lack of oversight or minimal acceptable auditing procedures to keep the Haliburton boys honest with the money. Did I mention no plan?

Incompetence and corruption on a massive scale. Plus sabotage, yes. Sabotage from an insurgency that has been aided by the complete incompetency of the CIC and lack of any coherent plan for maintaining order in post-invasion Iraq.

Your post sounds like, if only the Iraqi insurgents would desist and act in the interests of their own people, then the Bush reconstruction "plan" would be rolling right along. That we are doing our best, only to be foiled by those we are trying to help. The truth is far less flattering to those in charge of this misadventure.

By the way, the gross incompetence, willful negligence, rank corruption and dishonest public statements at every turn by the President vis-a-vis the Iraq War are yet more reasons for his immediate impeachment and subsequent removal from office.

I'm impressed with the staying power of this thread!

David R

1:16 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Tony,

Back to electoral politics and my proposal #4 for ballot access, absolutely I am proposing a system of mandatory ballot access at every level, including National. And I don't think it requires proof of nation-wide appeal to get a spot on the national ballot. Significant regional appeal should be enough. Which in turn would salve some of your concerns about the little Red states getting their voices heard.

....R

1:23 PM  
Blogger David R said...

CG:

Terrific State of the Union synopses. I didn't watch it (makes me too violent, I start breaking things when I listen to Bush speak for more than 30 seconds), but I bet I could pass the review quiz now.

Thanks........David R

1:26 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

The problem is sabotage. Some people have a problem with everyone else going on with their lives peacefully, so they want to blow up bombs in squares with kids walking by.

That is a problem, but it's the trees and not the forest. The forest is the fact we are dealing with a part of the world where the majority has NO INTEREST in seperating their religion from their state. It's not an ignorance issue, it a choice based on incredibly religious populations following their faith. Islam is the state as far as a majority is concerned. You can't change or defeat that... and therefore you will never beat any insurgency based on that. If Bush's democracy crusade, in reality, can't possibly be anything other than replacing the current governments with theocracy's... then what exactly have we done to fight terrorism and spread human rights. The ENTIRE thing is a fools erand, which is certainly fueling terrorist recruiting. I give Iraq a 10% chance of turning into any form of government which could even come close to making the case the war was worth it. I give Aghanistan a 0% chance of democracy. As Michael Scheurer says in his book Imperial Hubris, Karzai is nothing more than the major of Kabul and will be very lucky to get out of there with his life. The country is made up of tribal religious sects that would rather die than ever accept any central government that was driven by Islam. The entire middle east democracy domino crusade is built from arrogance and ignorance. They may just pull off theocracy-lite in Iraq, but it certainly isn't going to be followed with a democracy tsunami in the middle east, and it therefore has absolutely NOTHING to do with our fight against terrorism. Our only chance to turn down the terrorism boil is to 1) remove ourselves from the middle east... contrary to the lies Bush is willing to tell you, we are fighting a DEFENSIVE Jihad, not an OFFENSIVE Jihad.. AND 2) we will have to take a more aggressive posture with Israel... it's time to take on the US power structure that allows Israel to wag the US democracy. Yoshi, you mentioned that you might a book on Bush and his family ties to Saudi. Bush and the Bush dynasty is old news, we will pay for Junior's incompetence for the rest of our lives. The damage is done... Junior inflamed what we were up against after 911. As Michael Scheurer states... "our choice now is between bloody war or endless bloody war".

I have linked the Amazon reviews for Imperial Hubris below... several excellent reviews that are worth reading even if you don't read the book. The American public is going to have to become more informed, or our leaders will gurantee that ENDLESS BLOODY WAR.

Imperial Hubris Amazon book reviews.

David,

I start breaking things when I listen to Bush speak for more than 30 seconds

I understand. I think I force myself to do it because some voice says I will be needed as a witness at a later date. :(

2:06 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

David R: “...Fahrenheit 9/11 contained nothing but factual reporting.

Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11

P.R.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

David R: “...Fahrenheit 9/11 contained nothing but factual reporting.


Michael Moore: The Dems' David Duke

Newspaper: Moore faked its headline
Used it to back his assertion 'Gore won election


Woman claims Moore manipulated '9/11' scene
Controversial filmmaker 'made me look heartless to the world'


P.R.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

David R: “...Fahrenheit 9/11 contained nothing but factual reporting.

War, Lies, and Videotape
A Viewer’s Guide to Fahrenheit 9/11


What's wrong with Fahrenheit 9/11?
Michael Moore claims that Bush is manipulating the American people. But who is manipulating whom?
by Joey Tartakovsky


In one of the best-known scenes from Fahrenheit 9/11, President George W. Bush is captured on film appearing more concerned about his skill at golf than his leadership in the war for civilization. Speaking to a throng of reporters, President Bush remarks, "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now, watch this drive." These three phrases alone seem to many incontrovertible evidence that Bush, insincere about the threat of al Qaeda, merely mouths boilerplate that looks robust in the morning papers. It makes for great sneering. Now, as it turns out, President Bush was talking not about al Qaeda, but Hamas, which had suicide-bombed in Israel hours before. But don't expect the movie to mention such a detail, for here Bush looks silly, and this is the great purpose of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Fahrenheit 911
by Travis Snyder


P.R.

11:53 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof,

I fail to see how it paints the President in any more flattering light to know that he was referring to a recent Hamas atrocity, rather than Al-Quaeda in general, in his boilerplate sound bite. If anything, the film does Shrub a favor if it leaves the viewer with the impression that the President was uttering meaningless boilerplate about the general threat from Al-Quaeda. If in fact he was referring to a specific Hamas atrocity that occurred only hours previously, with blood still fresh on the ground, it makes his jocular attitude seem even more cavalier and unfeeling.

David R

12:56 AM  
Blogger David R said...

While I do not wish to lend any credence whatsoever to any of Prof's links in response to my Fahrenheit 9/11 post, I will say that I mispoke when I said that the movie contained "nothing but factual reporting". That was silly of me, the movie is clearly a propaganda vehicle written and directed from a recognizably liberal/progressive point of view, and contains much conjecture that is solely the opinion of Michael Moore. What I meant by the statement was that the factual events which are portrayed in the movie are accurate in that they meet or exceed current standards for factual reporting from any major news outlet as far as I can tell.

David R

1:16 AM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof wrote:

"Bush looks silly, and this is the great purpose of Fahrenheit 9/11."

I don't really think any objective viewing of the movie would come to the conclusion that its "great purpose" is to make Bush look silly. That is merely an unavoidable byproduct of listening to what comes out of the man's mouth on any given day.

David R

1:23 AM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof,

After giving this much thought, I believe I understand now the significance between whether Shrub was referencing Al-Quaeda or Hamas in his bromide on terrorists that quickly desolved into a demonstration of golf prowess.

It hinges upon the fact that Hamas has never specifically targeted American civilians, does it not? Therefore the President can be forgiven for the juxtoposition of his golf game with the struggle against terrorism as subjects to which our attention should be equally raptly held, as long as we were talking about those killers of Jews -over there- in the land of Isreal. This cavalier and insincere attitude towards Israeli, non-Christian death and dismemberement in a foreign land is inherently more defensible than had he been referring to the threats of Al-Quaeda against Americans, threats which would obviously induce a sense of patriotism so strong and politically useful that even his golf game might take second-seat for a few moments (at least until he managed to get off camera).

Given your previous clear statements about the worth of non-Christian vs Christian life, I should have seen this distinction sooner. It should have given me an immediate clue as to why you thought this information was the tiniest bit relevant.

Sorry, it takes some serious effort on my part to get my brain wrapped around that kind of nuanced, twisted view of the sanctity of innocent human life that some terrorism is more terrorism than others.

David R

5:29 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

David R.

#1 - Bush was not my choice for Pres. Don’t think that when I call the Left to be accountable for their lies that I take a position that I haven’t taken. Don’t assume. Regardless of what Bush is, Moore is a hateful deceptive propagandist. No Tuxedo in Hollywood can cover that up.

#2 - “Given your previous clear statements about the worth of non-Christian vs Christian life...

Explain and defend or retract this comment please.

#3 - My quote of What's wrong with Fahrenheit 9/11? was merely an illustration of Moore’s deception. If you remember, before the fence/wall was erected by Israel, bus & other bombings by those freedom loving, kind Palestinians were happening on a weekly and sometimes even more often basis. A response by Bush to a single act of terrorism killing a few in another country compared to Bush responding to 3,000 dead in NY would be a gross deception on the part of Moore. Given the response was after one of many attacks in Israel, and Moore’s deception bridges journalistic bias and license into pure evil intent. Hate Bush all you want. You may even have good reasons. But do not let, as much of the Left has done, your hatred of Bush to be the measuring stick to define truth. I was responding to your ONE statement “...Fahrenheit 9/11 contained nothing but factual reporting.” You admitted that you miss spoke. I’m satisfied with that.

P.R.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

OT: Superbowl ads and Rolling Stones.

My favorite ad was the cave-man/dinosaur Fed-Ex ad. My second place was the streaking sheep... followed closely by the lady who ended up in the lap of the stranger on the plane. :)

Maybe it's just me, but when a rock band's groupies have to carry around Viagra, it may be time to give it up. I was listening to Mick sing "I can't get no satisfaction"... and I was thinking, NO SHIT, I would be surprised if you can even pee straight. :)

David... keep Prof straight. Prof is a good man, but he will have to be dragged in a progressive direction kicking and screaming. I think our "hatred" of King George is well-founded. We didn't need Michael Moore for that. Of course Michael Moore is a propagandist... but I remember thinking his movie was pretty much on target. The two examples just covered here are good examples. You were 100% correct about the Laden's being flown out... it wasn't about the odds of family members being involved, it was TOTALLY about bypassing standard legal protocol. Shrub on the golf course captured this guys arrogant nature perfectly. If these are the type of examples of Moore lies, then they are pretty weak. I intend to watch Moore's movie again... and will try and read some of Prof's links before then. I'm still waiting for any real lies. I'm not interested in Moore's personality, or other political ideas he may have that I don't agree with... I'm interested in any Moore lies of substance in his 911 movie. The fact a majority in this nation gave King George a second term is very, very sad. The evidence was in front of the public by that point... you have to believe it was an informed choice by 2004.

9:03 AM  
Blogger David R said...

Prof,

I'm not aware that I have assumed any positions for you that you have not stated yourself.

In a previous blog discussion between us you made it clear that it was ok to kill innocent Muslims in order to protect innocent Christians. You tried very hard to rationalize this in many ways, including an effort to deny even the hypothetical possibility of such a thing as an innocent Muslim, but there could be no misinterpreting your position that Christian lives were more valuable than non-Christian lives.

Did Moore actually state that Bush's comments were directed specifically towards the terrorist attacks in NYC? I don't think so. Where is the deception?

Even taking your word for it that Bush was, in fact, responding to some specific Hamas attack, that information does not affect my interpretation of that segment at all. Bush comes off as ungeniune in his concern for terrorist attrocities, flippant and sanguine. There's no real need for further context here, the segment stands alone. I think you could probably find better examples of bias or misleading journalism in the film than this.

I see no evil intent in what Michael Moore does. He merely provides a counterbalance to the huge number of conservative mouthpieces in the news and entertainment media. He is no more biased and misleading that Bill O'Reilly or (insert any number of conservative media mouthpieces here).

I measure truth objectively, one fact at a time. I do not let Michael Moore tell me what truth is any more than I would let Bill O'Reilley, or Prof, tell me.

Hate Michael Moore all you want. You may even have good reasons. But do not let, as much of the Religious Right has done, your certainty of his damnation become a certainty of your own righteousness, the measuring stick by which you define truth.

David R

9:39 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

This is a question for Curm... our resident lawyer and knower of everything Washington. I sat down to watch the beginning of Attorney General Gonzales testifying before the Judicial Committee, and Spector and his fellow republicans refused to swear him in. I have always thought Spector was one of the good guys (he was batting for the wrong team, but followed the law more than politics)... but this gives me real pause. I'm I missing something? How is it possible that a sitting Attorney General, called before Congress fulfilling a Constitutional oversight role... has the option of not being sworn in. Spector stated that Gonzales was willing to be sworn in... but it was his (Spector's) call not to require it based on law and precedent. That really has the smell of a deal behind the scenes... over National Security and domestic surveillance of all things. Jeeze!

9:44 AM  
Blogger David R said...

Adding on to CGs question, if the AG is not sworn in does that eliminate the possibility of a later perjury charge?

...R

9:56 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I can guess where this NSA surveillance issue is going to fall out for me.

1) I absolutely would not allow the executive branch a free hand in defining surveillance of American citizens.
2) I'm not positive if avoiding that free hand necessarily means a warrant... or a warrant in our traditional sense.

Here is where I don't have the answers. For example, the current policy the Bush admin is persuing, is to allow NSA professionals to make the call on who falls under the category of reasonably likely to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. If not them, then who is better to make that call? FISA judges. What if the NSA professionals are the one's making the right calls, and the FISA judges get it wrong? This isn't as simple as just require a traditional warrant, IMO.

11:40 AM  
Blogger David R said...

More broadly, and I hope Congress addresses the topic this broadly at some point, the President's current policy appears to be:

I am a wartime commander-in-chief. In that capacity I am above the law, and I can break or ignore any Act of Congress or binding international treaty as I see fit, or I can make up new laws for new classifications of people, entirely upon my own discretion.

Or, more simply put, if the President does it, it's not illegal.

That about sums up Administration policy. They've used it in the past to excuse torture and indefinite imprisonment without charge. They use it now to excuse illegal wiretaps. And they'll continue to use it until Congress grows a spine and resumes it's rightful place as a co-equal branch of government.

David R

11:51 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David,

Yes, I agree with you... both on how this administration has acted, and what are the main legal issues. Cheney publicly said on a Nightline interview a couple of weeks ago that presidential powers have been stripped over the last several decades, and they intend to get them back. They aren't hiding anything. That's what all of the unitary presidency questions were about in the Alito confirmation. The Federalist Society is ready to go back to Monarchy. This is all about defining the executive branch powers in the face of a lifetime of terrorism threats. Using the argument of special presidential powers at a time of war has to be revisted. We will be at a time of war {terrorism} until we die, so we are in affect defining permanent presidential powers.

Believe it or not, there has been some very good questions/statements by the Senators this morning... Kennedy in particular. Here are a few comments/paraphrasing:

Kennedy:
- The administration MAY, or MAY NOT be correct in their view that the administration is acting under the law. What is certain, however, there is an equal body of legal experts who think the administration is breaking the law. Why would the administration take this kind of risk... it potentially puts frontline intelligence folks at future legal risk, and possibly provides a basis for legal recourse by terrorists in our courts at a future date. Why not consult Congress, change or further specify the law, etc. to nail this down rather than leave it to chance. Kennedy pointed back to the Attorney General under Ford facing a similar dilemna, and spending hours with the Congress to tailor the required law. {I have to say Kennedy was outstanding this time... he didn't go down the partisan trail... his questions made his points for him).

Grassley:
If Congress has a problem with the NSA now after the leaks to the papers... then they should have had a problem before the leaks. Where were they? {I have to agree with this... assuming most of the Congress critters weren't in the dark. Gonzales says the top 8 were the only one's consulted {Top 2 GOP in Congress, Top 2 Dems in Congress, Top 4 Senators on the two intelligence committees (I thought there was only 1)}

Biden (always my favorite, although I have become fond of Feingold):
- When will we know the war is over? {Gonzales(G) tap dance followed}
- If the NSA professionals make the final call, how many in the NSA make that call? G: don't know.
- 5,10,100,250? G: don't know.
- Does the NSA have any written guidelines to determine reasonable suspicion of Al Qaeda affiliation? G: Yes.
- Can you tell us what they are? G: No, this is under operational control of NSA.
- Has anyone, under oath, provided this written guidelines to the Senate Foreign Intelligence committee? G: Not sure.
- If this hasn't happened, and if Sen. Roberts doesn't require this... then this is serious negligent Congressional oversight.

Pretty good stuff. I would have liked studying law... just not practicing it. :)

IMO, this should lead to a different type of warrant than permission warrants. I think we will need audit warrants... i.e. let the NSA professionals have a certain amount of reign in decision making beyond judicial approval... but document and audit. Maybe that is what FISA already is about... don't know.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

btw... If I was to list the number one reason {out of the thousands} why I hate this president, it would be that his first reaction is always the arrogant one... picking a fight is ALWAYS HIS FIRST choice. That should be an automatic disqualification to be a president in the US post-911.

1:21 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Common Good wrote:

"What if the NSA professionals are the one's making the right calls, and the FISA judges get it wrong? This isn't as simple as just require a traditional warrant, IMO"

Yes, that is why the FISA court was created, in recognition of exactly what you say. A FISA warrant is not a traditional warrant. The standard of reasonable suspicion is set lower. The FISA court has shown extraordinary deference to those NSA professionals, denying only a handful out of thousands of FISA warrant applications.

The administration has yet to offer credible evidence that the FISA law has impeded in any significant way the ability to obtain wiretap warrants for terrorism investigations.

Unless, unless, the administration wants to implement a version of the old Total Information Awareness program (funding for which was struck down by Congress in the early days of its inception). If the administration wants to, say, mine thousands upon thousands of email and phone communications through a computerized system which then flags those deemed "suspicious" for further human review. There's no way under FISA to apply for -that- kind of warrant.

And so I suspect that is exactly what is really going on. This whole sham about NSA professionals meticulously evaluating individuals for connection to terrorism is a smokescreen, a red herring. The NSA guys never see a name until it has been popped out of a huge data mining operation that involves the random, and extensive, monitoring of the electronic communications of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens.

Think that's a paranoid fantasy? I wonder what the NSA thinks of this blog?

David R

1:32 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

David,

Yes, that is why the FISA court was created, in recognition of exactly what you say. A FISA warrant is not a traditional warrant. The standard of reasonable suspicion is set lower. The FISA court has shown extraordinary deference to those NSA professionals, denying only a handful out of thousands of FISA warrant applications.

That was my take... it doesn't sound like the FISA judges block the NSA officials.

I originally thought this was about data mining, but the head of NSA flat out denied that... and even as conspiracy minded as I tend to be, I don't think he was lying. As I have said before, whether or not we are data mining now... the first dirty nuke that ever goes off will be followed by immediate measures... the least of which will be data mining. I'm not making that prediction as a moral choice (i.e. right or wrong)... just a prediction of our population's choice following such an occurence. I'm for dealing with this reality now, rather than reacting. Congress should be actively involved in defining presidential power and scope for our lifetimes of terrorism... we should drop the peacetime surveillance discussion for now. Even if data mining isn't the choice now, a decent president(human) would recognize that we are in for the fight of our lives, and the executive has to do this with Congress going forward. What kind of a sick **** would be playing some kind of power grap with the current stakes? Maybe a sociopath? :)

2:38 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG said, ”I have always thought Spector was one of the good guys…”.

This is what thinking will get you CG. You need to just relax and let me think for you.

The key thing here is DavidR’s question-yes, it is all about avoiding future perjury prosecutions. There is no other reason to not swear a witness in. Specter was giving Gonzales a license to lie.

And that stuff about oaths of office is horse-hockey. Let me see a federal official removed from office based on breach of their oath and maybe I’ll change tunes. I won’t hold my breath waiting.

If you want to understand these things, it is extremely important to not loose track of the fact that the committees are nothing more than made for CSPAN infomercials. While there are occasional surprises, for the most part the discourse is scripted. Not scripted word-for-word, but scripted in terms of content.

The administration was wanting to make its sales pitch and Congress wanted to do its fraudulent impression of a watch-dog. There is no way to do that without a prominent member of the administration and they are unwilling to participate if there is any chance they can be called to account for their misrepresentations. As long as there is no chance of prosecution, any lies can be spun in the media. “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

But having a show for mass consumption is in the best interests of all parties. When that is the case, a deal always gets done. This was far more than simply “smelling” of a behind the scenes deal. This was not even behind the scenes…only the motives have been hidden to protect the guilty.

It is best to take off the partisan glasses and look at the simple facts, facts unadorned by political presuppositions, about these creatures that control our formerly great nation. When you come down off the political high, the reality of where we are as a nation is an ugly, ugly thing.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

It is best to take off the partisan glasses and look at the simple facts, facts unadorned by political presuppositions, about these creatures that control our formerly great nation. When you come down off the political high, the reality of where we are as a nation is an ugly, ugly thing.

It gets worse from where I am? Bummer... I'm already on a downer.

I spit on conservatism... I drool on conservatism... I drop moisture on conservatism... I... I... **** it. I will just have a beer and ignore it. :)

3:44 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

A little cultural experience for you Common Good, go see this when it comes out in the next few weeks

6:51 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Yes, it gets worse. Welcome to my world...the real one.

And you are correct. Beer is important to me-not as a means of escape, but just as a matter of enjoying life. All this crap from inside the beltway will kill you if you let it.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Thanks for the heads-up. I hope it's a good movie... most of them are a waste of time.

Tony,

Specter said he was not asked by the Bush administration to wave swearing in. You believe him... don't you?

7:56 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

What do you mean, "most are a waste of time?"

If you mean movies about teenage ninja vampires that fight drug dealers and get in car chases in Los Angeles, big Hollywood crap movies, I see where you are coming from.

Otherwise, the media, films, etc, are the MOST effective way of communicating basic ideas about humanity to the "mass stupids."

8:07 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

The last great movie I have seen is Braveheart... enough said. There are some decent movies... like Crash for example, but it's amazing how little entertainment is provided considering the budgets. I generally go to movies for entertainment... so that's how I measure them. I can name many TV series that are better entertainment than the movies... Sopranos, 24 {I'm hooked}, Rome {excellent}, Entourage, Real Time, Daily Show, The Colbert Report, etc. Going to movies is what the wife and I do/did. I have found now that unless it's a special effects driven movie that I want to see on the big screen, we just put it on the Net Flix queue and watch it at home... with the added benefit of not having to sit next to someone coughing or talking.

Common Good Critics Corner....

9:18 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Well, I saw Cinderella Man recently…I put that close to the top of my list. There is a TV show I like now: Mythbusters.

Oh, if Specter says there wasn’t a deal, then I’m sure you can believe him. By the way CG, can you send me the email addresses for Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy…I seem to have misplaced them.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Braveheart was a 10... Cinderella Man was an 8. Great is 9 and above.

Some of my 9 and aboves:

Braveheart
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Star Wars (first one)
Forrest Gump
Aliens (first one)
Jurassic Park
....

Barely missing the cut:

Romancing the Stone
Rob Roy
...

Here comes the critics... :)

10:11 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Iraq was the match... congratulations, we won a religious war.

Bill Kristol and the neocons were wrong. They now HAVE to sell a war in Iran or admit they were wrong. Which one do you think is on their agenda?

10:41 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I thought "Crash" was terrible. It was so over the top politically correct.... and that part with the little girl jumping in front of her daddy in slow motion, it was so cheesy I couldn't hardly bear it.

Braveheart was good when I watched it, but I think Gladiator is better.

Alien, Raiders, and Star Wars are also on the top of my list. But I notice these are all "guy movies."

Has anyone seen Whale Rider, like I recommended to Tony recently? Prof, you can get that one for your kids.... it's a masterpiece...
of course, it might make them realize there are other cultures out there in the Pacific, which might confuse them to learn that the whole planet doesn't live in fear of the wrath of sadistic Anglo-Saxon Jesus (that was a joke for C.G. by the way). Seriously, it's a great movie for families.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

OH! I totally forgot Gladiator. Definitely a 9+.

I'm surprised you didn't like Crash... the entire movie was about highlighting prejudices... and I thought they did it in a masterful way. JMO.

But I notice these are all "guy movies."

Well... I am a guy.

11:22 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Crash was what I call "too L.A.'ed out" for me.

Movies should deliver their messages in a more subtle way. Crash just wasn't realistic for me... Brokeback Mountain is another movie about predjudice, but it was actually good, and not cliche Hollywood politically correct melodrama.

Yea, you are a guy Common Good, but that doesn't mean you have to put down Mark Twain to read Conan novels. Rent Whale Rider.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

"We believe... that we have all the legal authority we need," Cheney said.

King George and King Cheney


Yoshi... I bet Cheney wouldn't appreciate you pushing for us to get closer to our feminine side. :)

3:04 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Forgive me for predicting the 2008 Presidential contest this early... but it helps me forget who we have leading the country today.

2008 winner: Russ Feingold

Yeah, I hear you guys laughing hysterically, but here is why this is going to happen. By 2008, just being a Democrat will not be enough cover for Iraq. If you voted for Iraq, forget about it. This takes out the Hillary's and the Biden's. This leaves Feingold and probably a Democrat governor or two. Feingold's "NO" vote on Iraq will turn into the Howard Dean 2008 moment which will beat the Dem governor contenders. Contrary to popular opinion, the GOP heir to the thrown is not McCain or Giuliani. The Corporate-theocracy Hydra has already selected their preacher. Virginia Senator George Allen is that preacher. So it's going to be Feingold vs Allen... and theocracy will fall short this time because Iraq will be the elephant in the room.

You heard it here first. Karl Rove says the Dems have a pre-911 worldview. Feingold said the other day in the NSA hearings... "The Bush administration has a pre-1776 worldview."

3:44 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I'm not much for predicting, but I'll bite.

2008 Presidential Election: Hillary in a plurality but by a couple of percentage points.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

I may pull a Tony and sit this one out. The last 14 years have been devastating to liberty....not to mention the previous 80, not to mention....

Prof. Ricardo

5:14 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

If the winning Dem candidate was a "YES" vote for Iraq... I will join you in the great 2008 sit-out. I expect our leaders to be informed about basic nation demographics before you try and nation-build it... even if I (a mass stupid citizen) don't have a clue.

OT Humor... Leno: "Did you hear we are building some new missiles that could be used against China? Unfortunately, since we no longer do manufacturing in the US, we have outsourced the job to China."

5:34 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I just heard on the news that there has been a huge decrease in college kids majoring in IT, and many Engineering fields. They are being smart capitalist, even as young adults. They are aware of IT outsourcing and the industry using work visas to keep salaries low. Accounting and civil engineering enrollment is up. Good for them... the corporations are free to define the labor pool, but students are free to not buy into that definition. What goes around comes around. We don't manufacture, and we don't IT... what is it we still do again?

5:44 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A Russian astronomer has predicted that Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity.

Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg said Monday that temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak, RIA Novosti reported...
-------------

And the heat goes on....

P.R.

6:50 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Man, where does everyone get off with the freedom/ liberty stuff.

"The last 14 years have been devastating to liberty....not to mention the previous 80, not to mention...."

I've got so much liberty I don't even know what to do anymore!!!! Any more freedom to do whatever the hell the want anytime I want and my head will explode.

Let's just be honest. We've got it made. If they took 95% of our existing liberties away, we'd still have it made. This isn't the biggest issue in the world... and if it is, then I'm getting high, eating pizza, and playing Nintendo tonight.

11:21 PM  
Blogger David R said...

Right on, Yoshi. Oh, and I just saw the movie "Cinderall Man" last night. WOW!! GREAT!!

One thing you should keep in mind, though, the big issue is how easy those liberties of yours can be taken away. I mean, really taken away. Remember Japanese internment camps in WWII? If another major terrorist attack happens, is it far-fetched to imagine Muslim internment camps in the U.S? What about the McCarthy communist witch-hunt years. People were blacklisted, careers destroyed, denied the ability to make a living.

I agree with you, we have it made. I'm concerned about how easily it can be taken away, and I don't like it when the government makes it even easier. We are one more major terrorist hit in the U.S. away from the possibility of some serious lifestyle changes that even Yoshi would notice.

So Yoshi, I encourage you to pay attention to things government does that would make it easier for them to change your life in a heartbeat. These are serious issues. Even if they say they would "never use" such powers inappropriately, or whatever. You are young. You would not -believe- how fast they could fuck your life up, tomorrow, using any number of Patriot Act provisions or assumed Presidential dictatorial powers. And if you think you actually have to have something to do with terrorists for this to happen, then you are just being naive.

David R

6:42 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I agree with Yoshi and David.

We do have it made... we could lose a lot of liberties and still have it made... AND we still have to be vigilant and informed when we consent to some liberty adjustments in the age of terrorism.

Yoshi said: "I've got so much liberty I don't even know what to do anymore!!!!"

Ironically, I had intended to make that very point this morning. We are all obviously reacting to Prof's post. Prof and Tony subscribe to a level of liberty zealotry that I will never subscribe to, but I totally understand their voices of warning based on history. I am convinced that we will have to make new liberty vs securtiy choices going forward. This will be very difficult, because we will not all draw our liberty line in the sand in the same place. You will hear passionate accusals at one extreme claiming that anyone who accepts one ounce of adjustment is a fearful decrepit citizen not deserving of security... {insert Benjamin Franklin quote here}. At the other extreme, you will have The Federalist Society Monarchy mongers telling you to step aside and don't interfere with the president making these decisions for the rest of us. In the end, it will be like everything else in a democracy... compromises based on the realities we find ourselves in. I am not interjecting a moral opinion on these choices in this post. My personal liberty line in the sand (PLLITS... I should patent that) will most definitely allow domestic data mining in the face of the reality of dirty nukes (and worse). My PLLITS would not allow that under sole executive branch discression... either FISA or some new FISA hybrid must be in the loop. That said, I totally accept the liberty suicide pact line in the sand as a MORAL position... I'm a huge fan of Mr. Franklin... the dude was much wiser than me. Then again, in his time humans could only kill each other a little at a time... realities change.

I think the travesty (a travesty, obviously the list is long) of our leadership is it's utter failure to have this conversation with the American public post-911 NOW, rather than a constant downward cycle based on reacting to future 911s. If the consensus is zero liberty adjustment no matter what may come, then fine... it was a moral choice by the majority. It is the adult's right in any society to make these calls for themselves and for posterity... even the extreme of a suicide pact out of principle. Some are likely to say, that adjustements in liberties (i.e. domestic data mining... I'm not really lobbying for that, just the most obvious example that comes to mind) have ZERO effect on our security. I simply think that is nonsense. If anyone wanted to debate that, we could do it in another post. Bottom line... our society should be having this very ADULT conversation NOW. We need to define the limits of a Bush and Cheney NOW. I would go so far as to say we need to plan gradations of liberty adjustments now. For example, we may very well say domestic data mining under FISA review is not accetable NOW, but following a first WMD event, x,y and z will be rolled out. They plan for government succession... how exactly is planning for liberty/security choices not the same thing in an age of WMD terrorism. I could be all wet... maybe US government as ususal can service any domestic WMD event. Maybe post-dirty bomb, the normal cycle of state approved constitutional amendments will work find in the face of chaos? I find it sickening one motivated Saudi can effect my country of 300 million. I find it sickening how one Saudi can change for decades domestic spending and agendas on social justice in my own country. I find it sickening that there exists such a thing as humans that would destroy property and kill over cartoons about their religion. We can either be sick and face these realities with wisdom and required compromises to live to fight another day {maybe your kid's other day}, or we can have this clash of civilizations NOW.

btw... I'm a big fan of the sunset clause. If reality ever snaps back to pre-911, awsome... let those compromises expire.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I am tempted to not respond as I’m sure it is all so predictable now. But in case there is someone new to the fray, I’ll pontificate a bit for the cause.

There are two distinct conversations here that tragically get combined in all discussions. Such is as it is with the mass stupids. The first conversation is how should our liberties be protected, or to state it differently, what restraints should we put on the government. While I am less amenable to compromise on changes to the limits on state power than are many, I am willing to have that conversation. I’m sure there is reasonable compromise that can be reached.

The second conversation is how we legally implement changes to our Constitutional protections once we have agreement that we need to make changes. This is where my head often explodes.

Congress does not have the legal authority to go beyond its enumerated powers in the Constitution. It is further constrained by the explicit protections provided to individuals by the Bill of Rights. The only LEGAL way for Congress to acquire the power to do more than this is through a Constitutional Amendment.

This is the core of what we are about as a legal entity. Either We the People are sovereign, or we are not. You can’t have it both ways. And if Congress steps outside its limits and the People acquiesce, then the People have seceded that power for all time.

And it gets worse than that. Once Congress is allowed to run amok over a set of our rights without We the People being afforded their due process rights, the limits are off. If Congress has the power to pass and enforce the Patriot Act, then they as a matter of legal necessity have that power for all time. Sunset Provisions do not mean diddly-squat: it they have the power, then they can pass a law to remove the sunset. Or new and more invasive legislation.

I was made fun of profusely by you and others when I made that argument, but look at what happened when the Patriot Act came up for renewal. The Constitutional shredding topic did not even come up. I told you prior to the adoption of the Patriot Act that its adoption meant the legal end of our Constitutional protections and this is exactly how it has played out.

Sure, we still enjoy a lot of freedom in the former great country. But that freedom is now subject to the pleasure of the State. Our legal standing is no better than the citizens of any other country in the world. The structure on which our unique systems of law was built has been destroyed.

America is in her death throes just as surely as was Rome in second century of the first Millennium. Our institutions will succumb slowly and surely to the fascist pressures which continue to build on a daily basis. This trend will be held in check by historical tradition for some time. Our power will hold off the barbarians at the gates for a good long time. But just like the day when Caesar declared himself a god, our government has declared itself as the fundamental sovereign. And like the Roman citizens, We the People cheered saying “let the good times roll”.

We have collectively traded our birthright for a bowl of patriotic soup. Only as long as that soup sustains us will we be able to deny what we have become.

But when soup bowl runs dry and the hunger sets in, do not whine to me because I told you so.

By all means, enjoy all these great liberties that Uncle Sam permits you to enjoy for now, for tomorrow we may surely die.

2:29 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Well, I do understand that the things I take for granted can be removed from me.

I just think the point I was probably trying to make is often times it seems like everyone is a "trainspotter," looking at micro-issues melodramatically rather than being concerned with the big picture, the big global trends.

Certainly we all have to pay attention or politicians will abuse their power, but the Professor's statement indicates everything has just gotten worse for liberties in the past 80 years and beyond. I just don't see it.

The world doesn't seem like a George Orwell novel to me.

Cinderella Man was good, I saw it on the plane. I liked seeing what it was probably like during the depression, the Hoovervilles in the park, etc.

3:29 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

In fact, I always see the world as becoming more and more decentralised, not more centralised.

They can make laws all they want. And when there is non-compliance from 99 percent of the people, the laws just fade away and change.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Wow... you must have had those couple of beers at lunch. I certainly hope so. :)

I was made fun of profusely by you and others when I made that argument, but look at what happened when the Patriot Act came up for renewal. The Constitutional shredding topic did not even come up.

Congress didn't think the Patriot Act was unconstitutional. Why did you expect them to suddenly discuss that because of a sunset clause? The sunset clause served it's purpose... they are arguing over certain provisions as we speak ONLY BECAUSE it sunsetted and forced the conversation... otherwise it would be cranking along.

I understand your position that The Patriot Act was unconstitutional. I have no idea... way above my paygrade. I have been trying for a while to understand or guage when something requires an amendment or not... and still have no way to define that.

You divided the liberty conversation into two parts:

1) what we will allow the government to do
2) legal procedure to make these allowances/adjustments

Then you go off into some head exploding and I think you called me a mass stupid {good job, I respect that and can't disagree}. The main point of my last post was WE SHOULD DEBATE AND AGREE ON REQUIRED SECURITY MEASURES(liberty adjustments, government allowances) NOW rather than end up in more Patriot Act reactions. I can't really see why you wouldn't also be for that, even if you know your position is "we need to do nothing different". Your best chance of keeping us at "no changes" would be having our society think this through before the next tragedy... and then hoping we have the will to stick to what we decided. Personally, I don't undertand how emergency state ratified constitution amendments would work post-WMD event. For example, going back to the domestic data mining. The general consensus now is "no domestic data mining". That may also be the consensus after the first half-dozen dirty bombs. Common sense, however... would lead one to the conclusion we would likely reach a point (maybe at economic collapse) where we would demand the liberty status quo be adjusted. Planning ahead to me would involve 1) an honest assessment of whether that state ratification process is adequate post WMD incident 2) planned gradations of government allowance in the security domain 3) any amendments needed now to facilitate this planning... i.e. maybe a streamlined amendment process provided by a constitution amendment {sounds like Kramer's coffee table book on coffee tables}.

I will ask this again: if we have government succession plans, why wouldn't we also have enhanced government security allowances plans? The only logical defense of not having such plans is a belief that our current amendment ratification process will always be sufficient in emergencies, no matter what may come. It would seem that corporations spend a lot of time on risk planning, but our government does not. Just consider Katrina. We need planning on multiple levels... emergency response, post-event care, planned increased government allowances if necessary. I mean get real... nobody is going to stop the government from doing most of those things I'm asking to plan ahead. Do you really prefer that all happens in chaos?

Ramblings of a mass stupid....

3:37 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I also always thought of "freedom" as being directly related to "money."

If you've got loads of money, you are free, no matter where you live.

If you don't have money, no matter where you live, you aren't free.

You drive a bomb-mobile, then the cops pull you over to question you. You drive a Lexus, the cops kiss your ass and wipe your windshield for you.

There are homeless people living in Washington D.C.

What does freedom mean to them?

Makes me think of A. Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Freedom is below food, clothing, and shelter.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

But that freedom is now subject to the pleasure of the State. Our legal standing is no better than the citizens of any other country in the world.

200 years ago that was common knowledge. Today you can’t find 10 people in a hundred that have ever heard of that or 3 people in a hundred that can explain it. (Statistics manufactured for emphasis :)

Just because a government has been given authority to govern a particular area of society doesn’t mean it has to exercise and restrict that liberty. Yet government, local, county, state, national, and even international are expanding as fast as they can and often going outside the bounds of their given authority. That is the nature of government. That is the history of all governments. That is the threat of governments for our future. As Tony says, any ground given up now, is lost forever.

And do not confuse the tearing down of social mores and promiscuity with liberty. When your child wants to set up a lemonade stand, but is hampered by sign laws, sales tax, business licensing, and health code inspections, liberty has flown the coop. The direction we are headed is more regulations, more permission (licensing) to do more businesses, more burden of paperwork, and more personal information being required to be disclosed.

Over reaching government didn’t start with Bush and it won’t end with him either. That’s the reason you restrict the office, not extend it substantial authority and hope good people are placed in that position. Neuter that bad boy and let freedom ring.

P.R.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I also always thought of "freedom" as being directly related to "money."

Makes me think of A. Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Freedom is below food, clothing, and shelter.

I love you man... but not in a Brokeback type of way. I couldn't agree with you more. If I was chosing between eating and a little government snooping vs total freedom and missed meals and lost cities... I will take the meals and keep the cities. I wonder if old Ben would be disappointed in me.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Neuter that bad boy and let freedom ring.

Sorry, that won't lead to a decent society in 21st century USA. We are too big now for volunteer only safety-nets... and a USA without safety-nets would be a USA that should cease to exist. If we can't evolve past Darwinism, then let's call it quits. One extreme thinks zero government can work, and the other extreme thinks we can tax at any level and avoid all wars. The truth is democracy is harder than that... there is no easy out. An economic system isn't good enough on it's own, and any government with a failed economy isn't good enough on it's own. There is no such thing as a successful regulation free economy... it will never happen. If we make stupid regulations, we need to do away with them or modify them... but you don't do away with the rule book.

I listen to you and Tony claim we now have a useless society because we are doing this liberty thing in the wrong way. I've been watching these Muslim riots across the globe on TV the last couple of days... and I compare that to our daily lives. All I can say is I truly hope I can live out the rest of my days in this f***ed up a place. Now if you want to talk about our social justice failures regarding how we treat our poor and the growing wealth gap... you will be on to something.

Have you noticed we are all really, really pissed off about something... even if it's not all the same something. Did someone turn up the boil down here on planet earth? Maybe at the end, the only records that will be left will be internet blogs. :)

4:11 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Prof, I understand your frustration about the permit your children have to apply for to get a lemonade stand. But have you ever driven down Cooper St. in Arlington near UTA?

There is a very good reason there SHOULD be zoning laws (which obviously they don't have in Arlington.)

While I hate red tape and bureaucratic paperwork just as much as anyone else, I do think in today's complicated world there is a happy compromise somewhere between too little and too much.

My freedom to swing my fist stops a good distance from your nose. When we all live on top of each other in cities, that's just something we have to work out.

Those 250 year old books you are reading involved people who probably lived on vast tracks of forest that they had all to themselves and their human slaves. It just "ain't" that way anymore.

4:41 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"Have you noticed we are all really, really pissed off about something... even if it's not all the same something."

-Yes, Yes, Yes. I have certainly noticed. I call it "the pain of being a man."

4:42 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

“But have you ever driven down Cooper St. in Arlington near UTA?”

All the way past that damnable Parks mall. Makes my blood boil. Would rather streak through a cactus field blindfolded.

I hope you all will visit Anne Coulter today.
Calvin and Hobbes – and Muhammad

There is nothing so funny as connecting the dots of reality, and Anne does it so well.

P.R.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I hope you know I wouldn't read Coulter for many... but I did for you. You have to admire her spunk for spitting into the wind. The problem is, even after the spitting, the wind is the wind, and she's just a spitter... a spitter that has to travel with a bodyguard these days.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Some guys get all the breaks.

P.R.

10:28 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:39 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:42 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Some guys get all the breaks? C'mon, you can tell she's a dyke. (Is that spelled right?)

I did like the article, but it wasn't so brave a statement. Everyone already knows all this stuff.

But is this really about Islamic characteristics any more than the Watts riots were about black people? Seems this is less about Islam per se and more about being frustrated and ready to blow your top.

I mean, yea, the Taliban blew up some Buddha statues. And I can assure you there are some weird wacko "Christians" I've met in downtown Fort Worth who would do the same if they had their own country. This one guy I know even thinks "Passion of the Christ" should be banned b/c it's "Catholic." The point is, and this is as politically incorrect as Ann Coulture could dream of being, is that some people are just "backward." Let someone grow up in Arkansas, let alone Afghanistan, and of course, they are NOT going to be as "advanced" as us city slickers. It isn't because they are Islamic, or Christian, or they watch the Psychin Network. It's about what social class you come from. Poor people = More ignorance = more frustration = more violence.

Simple equation.

And Catholics DO want non-Catholics denied access to birth control, for the record. I know some extremists myself...

9:22 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"As my regular readers know, I've long been skeptical of the "Religion of Peace" moniker for Muslims – for at least 3,000 reasons right off the top of my head. I think the evidence is going my way this week."

-Maybe someone should give Ann a little history lesson. Christianity hasn't exactly been a peaceful religion either... we have to keep it in perspective... ever hear what happened to the people that used to live in America before the Spanish arrived to "save" them? Or about all those Africans we shipped like animals on boats? Or the crusades? Or basically all of Europe's wars over those trivial Catholic/ Protestant details?

I mean, we've only REALLY had terrorism for about 10 years. You'd think we've been living with it for centuries the way we are spinning these stories. Let's at least be fair and keep it in perspective.

Religion, like "race," is just an excuse MEN try to use to justify their bullshit. But religion isn't the real cause behind all this stuff.

Am I right? Or am I right?

9:26 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Geeze CG. I point out that the mass stupids merge the discussion of WHAT we should do and HOW we should do it, and then you turn around and commit the same atrocity. At least you are a guy so when you piss into the wind you get a little extra distance before it blows back on your Birkenstocks.

For the record lest you folks forget, my position on social safety nets is somewhere between CG’s communist utopia and Prof’s libertarian nirvana. My narrow point is legal. To discuss how free we are at this particular moment in time is to truly miss both the big picture and the point I’ve been hammering for some time.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

I’ll go you one better. I think religion is evil. This is why I am careful to talk about Truth rather than about religion. Marx was completely wrong. Religion is not an opiate: it is a stimulate of the most unsavory variety.

It is no accident that the church I attend is a Restoration Movement church and not part of an organized denomination. I think the recognition of the evil in religion was central to what Christ taught.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Geeze CG. I point out that the mass stupids merge the discussion of WHAT we should do and HOW we should do it, and then you turn around and commit the same atrocity.

In the age of losing multiple cities at the same time to WMD events, it is the same discussion. What we choose to do {or as I suggest PLAN to do) must be facilitated by HOW. The only point you could be making is that our current amendment process is sufficient no matter what may come. If so, just come out and say that, rather then some vague fog of superiority.... well, with you, not so vague. :)

Curmudgeon-land must be like Hotel California... you can visit but you can never leave.

I think religion is evil.

I second that. The faster we get religion out of the public square, the less property we will lose. That's got to be painful to our buddy Prof... in order to serve the capitalism he loves, we have to keep him out of the public square. Pawaaaaaaaa!!!!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

It isn’t about sufficiency. It is about legality.

Lets boil this down: in your view, the system is broken and we have to take whatever measures necessary to protect the republic from destruction from our enemies. If there are compromises to liberty along that essential path, then so be it.

My view is that what distinguishes us as a nation is a system of laws that places sovereignty in the hands of the individual. If you destroy that legal structure in an effort to protect us from our enemies, then what you were theoretically protecting no longer exists.

Now, it may well be that either path is a path of destruction. I’m just more certain that your approach is destructive than is mine. To cobble together some observations of others, sometimes the evil you know is better than that you do not. We know the evil hearts of men and what those in power will do with their new found prerogatives. We do not know whether in fact these terrorists are capable of being as destructive as what we might imagine.

If I were wagering, I’m betting against the known path of destruction which is the sovereign state and loyal subject model which we are morphing ourselves into.

11:03 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

There is this story I used to hear about some disgruntled sniper that shot a bunch of people in Germany. The story goes that he had easy shots because the Germans were only running on the paved trails, instead of running everywhere, through the grass, etc.

This reminds me of trying to conduct a war on terrror while simultaneously trying to preserve hitherto unexercised rights we have. Like C.G. says, several cities could be destroyed by WMDs all at once, and we've got to first get through red type and bureaucrats to try and prevent it.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Lets boil this down: in your view, the system is broken and we have to take whatever measures necessary to protect the republic from destruction from our enemies. If there are compromises to liberty along that essential path, then so be it.

Do you spend more than a couple of seconds reading my posts? I really have to wonder if you have a reading issue sometimes. :) I have had success typing in uppercase for you on occasion... so let's try that again.

MY MAIN POINT IS WE SHOULD PLAN SUCCESSIONS TO GOVERNMENT POWER IN THE FACE OF SEVERE SECURITY THREATS, RATHER THAN REACT TO CHAOS. I offered an opinion that I was willing to allow data mining at this point... but that was just my opinion... hardly the point of my post. My reasonable suggestion of planning ahead of disaster, hardly suggests that means we have to throw out the Constitution. Maybe that means we change how WE THE SOVEREIGNS amend the constitution... maybe it doesn't. Maybe the PLANNING ends up with your position... treat our government amendment rules as commandments, and live with the consequences.

My view is that what distinguishes us as a nation is a system of laws that places sovereignty in the hands of the individual.

Go back and find any suggestion I made to change that. Changing our amendment process is not by definition the same thing as removing our sovereignty. We can streamline our servereignty process and still be sovereign.

Yoshi gets it: Like C.G. says, several cities could be destroyed by WMDs all at once, and we've got to first get through red type and bureaucrats to try and prevent it.

I want Bush to be able to do common sense we need to survive, but I want him on a short lease (i.e. checks and balances oversight). IMO, clinging to some "business as usual" position post-911 regarding our amendment process is suicidal... but at least PLANNING that and DEBATING that now is better than reacting after ANY next terrorism hits. Maybe it never happens again... but hardly something I want to bet on.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Well, your language seldom reflects what you just said. Like your ringing endorsement of sunset provisions.

Changing our amendment process might be a fine thing to do. But guess what? It needs an amendment. It is not a matter of just clinging to an outmoded process. Either we are a nation of laws or nation of subjects. You can’t have it both ways. Now I might disagree with streamlined amendment processes depending on what you have in mind, but that is a different discussion. My cranial pressure comes from the lack of a recognition that the issue even exists.

I am about the biggest pro-planning sort of curmudgeon you will find. But dropping unconstitutional legislation on our heads does not planning make.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony said:
Changing our amendment process might be a fine thing to do. But guess what? It needs an amendment.

From my previous post:
Planning ahead to me would involve 1) an honest assessment of whether that state ratification process is adequate post WMD incident 2) planned gradations of government allowance in the security domain 3) any amendments needed now to facilitate this planning... i.e. maybe a streamlined amendment process provided by a constitution amendment {sounds like Kramer's coffee table book on coffee tables}.

Like I said before, I don't know when a Constitution amendment is required and when it is not. I'm sure a response would be anything that violates the constitution requires a constitutional amendment... but then that requires interpretation which seems to vary just a bit. :) Maybe all of the Senators who thought The Patriot Act was legal without an amendment are wrong, and Curm is right? My impression has been more things should be amendments... i.e. we have been too cautious over the years when it comes to amending the constitution... but again, above my paygrade.

Let's try a real world example as a hypothetical amendment threshold question. Let's say NSA has reasonable suspicion that an overseas Al Qaeda member (OS) just sent email instructions to sleeper cells (SC) in the US {maybe encrypted, maybe buried in graphics, etc.). In order to mask this communication, the OS spams the message out to thousands or maybe a million US email accounts along with the SC accounts. The argument is that our Constitution requires a warrant (probably FISA in this example) to data mine these emails (correspondence to private citizens). So following the constitution, there must be a paperwork requirement for each of those 1,00,000 citizens (maybe in summary form... don't know). According to FISA law, the NSA can jump on this immediately IF the attorney general gives the OK based on probable cause, and if the required paperwork is received within 72 hours.

So... any streamlining need there? Any constitutional amendment required in there.

Now let's sprinkle some more reality on the situation. The NSA gets a lead that OS instructions to SCs just went out, but the NSA has no idea which email (i.e. which spamming) it is included in. The only way to determine which emails include these SC instructions is to data mine all incoming email from overseas until the correct email batch is found. There is no warrant that can be created for a citizen/s... we don't know what we don't know. The only way to find these instructions is to data mine all incoming... let's say all incoming from the middle east. Do we want to say 1) this form of domestic data mining can never be legal 2) it can be legal under circumstances x if checked and balanced by y. If the answer was yes some data mining should that require a constitution amendment... or maybe The Patriot Act starts to make much more sense than state ratification for every single security change required in this hightech globe. For example, does each new email technique that comes up that hides terrorist correspondence require a new state ratified amendment.

This site is hosted by a IT dude/Lawyer/Historian.... surely that combination of skills could be drawn on to offer reasonable suggestions beyond it's the law dude. :)

2:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

btw... I still ringingly support sunset provisions. I see them working as we speak... Congress had to stop and do an oil check on the Patriot Act. They are haggling over the details... i.e. the sunset provisions served their purpose. Your point about the Constutionality of The Patriot Act is a different point (perhaps even much more important.. IF YOU ARE RIGHT)... but regardless, does not change the fact that the sunset provisions served an important purpose.

An analogy would be arguing against the utility of NFL Instant Replay because you thought the game was corrupted by the owners.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Tsk, tsk. Really my friend: leave the thinking to me. It will cause both of us less stress and you can be right most of the time that way.

Hard to know where to begin with that blast of stuff.

First, let me assure you that the fact of the matter is that everyone of those stinking, two-faced, money-grubbing, jack-booted (credit to DavidR for the jack-booted label) Senators who assert that the Patriot Act is constitutional are in fact wrong. And yes, of course, I am in fact right.

It seems like you of all people would understand the CongressCritter’s capacity for mass wrongness: the majority of them voted in favor of invading Iraq. Really, that was one of the worst points you have ever made here. Maybe I need to put up a Hall of Shame?

But hang with me here. You are fortunate that this is NOT above my paygrade.

First you need to understand that FISA is unconstitutional.

Now that I have dispatched that steaming pile of horse excrement to the intellectual nether regions, lets explore how all this might work or not work without a Constitutional Amendment.

One good thing about Warrants is that the Constitution is silent as to the details of what a warrant is. It seems to me that any process that affords due process of law can be considered. Unlike many civil libertarians, I have always supported the phone warrants which allow officers in the field to obtain warrant under exigent circumstances. That for me is a model of how we can mold a Constitutional process that will get the job done.

Warrants, according to black letter law, must be specific as to who is being searched, what is being searched for, when the search will be conducted and where the search will take place. In my view, the million citizens in your example is very specific-its just a large list. You aren’t searching just any citizen, you have a list of a million. Further, the search you are suggesting is much more narrow than the broad fishing trips that the creeps who run our country are so in love with. Not to mention, there has long been a “hot pursuit” exception to the need for warrants. Posit enough urgency here and all things are possible.

All that said, I think a Constitutional Amendment for these types of searches would be a very good thing. Why not make it clear rather than hanging on judicial interpretation even if it is well settled.

Now, your second example is clearly over the line of Constitutionality. “Just screen everything” is exactly what the 4th Amendment was created to prevent. Clearly, this would require a Constitutional Amendment. I think your positing that such an Amendment would necessarily be so specific as to not be able to adapt to different email techniques is rather silly. Maybe an example would help because I don’t think you would make two points that were that extraordinarily weak in the same post.

Lastly, the Patriot Act will never make sense. It is fascist, illegal, immoral, contemptible, against the force of reason, against the principals of nature, lacking in positive utility, abusive, insane, and only fit for totalitarian regimes of the most hideous sort.

I hope this clears a few things up.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Oh keeper of the Shameful Hall...

First you need to understand that FISA is unconstitutional.

Perhaps a bit more elaboration here... or your dedicated readers (all 3 of us) may have to write you off as a bit eccentric. {that should get me in the Curm Hall of Understatement}

It seems to me FISA was Congress providing their Constitutional right of writing the law.


I think your positing that such an Amendment would necessarily be so specific as to not be able to adapt to different email techniques is rather silly. Maybe an example would help because I don’t think you would make two points that were that extraordinarily weak in the same post.


Perhaps you would offer the required blanket amendment which would cover ALL electronic information hiding techniques that might be adopted by Al Qaeda. It would seem a bit more efficient to start with the admendment you think is possible then work through the list of examples, one by one.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony: “Lastly, the Patriot Act will never make sense. It is fascist, illegal, immoral, contemptible, against the force of reason, against the principals of nature, lacking in positive utility, abusive, insane, and only fit for totalitarian regimes of the most hideous sort.

But Tony, how do you really feel?

Point of no return is an excellent column by Thomas Sowell on the wiretapping issue.

C.G: "...the Curm Hall of Understatement"

U-Hall for short. :-)

P.R.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

U-Hall... I like it.

Sowell is doing exactly what this adminstration does... make up an argument the other side is not making.

With Iran advancing step by step toward nuclear weapons, while the Europeans wring their hands and the United Nations engages in leisurely discussion, this squeamishness about tapping terrorists' phone contacts in the United States is grotesque.

I been watching the debates on this. I haven't heard one Dem Congress critter say we shouldn't do everything the Shrub administration wants and more... he just has to do it under the law. Seems like a reasonable request... and if he refuses, we should start talking impeachment. Unlike lying about sex... this one actually is a high crime. I think our society pays a very high price for impeachments, so I'm hoping the administration doesn't hang itself out to dry on this one. Not for King George... but for us. If the Dems do win back the House, and if the prez sticks to his guns claiming what he is doing is legal... then the clamor for impeachment will be unstoppable. We all should hope that doesn't happen during these challenging times.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

But the Dem-Libs have been saying all along that the Constitution is a living document. You have said that we shouldn’t be bound by original intent ‘cause nobody can know that since the original signers are dead, and those who penned the Constitution couldn’t have known that people could talk on disposable cell phones about plotting bombs that could conceivable kill hundreds of thousands in one fell swoop. Maybe the Constitution doesn’t (or shouldn’t be construed to) protect known groups that: 1) consider us Satan, 2) have attacked us on numerous occasions killing thousands and have express religious doctrine commanding such violence, 3) have tried, are trying, and maybe have WMD, & 4) have expressed a desire to wipe us off the face of the planet along with all other non-members of the “religion of peace.?”

Could it be in trying to re-interpret the Constitution to mean abortion when free speech is referred to, to put a chick smoking pot in every household, or whatever, that we should also extend the view that certain individuals, WHO ARE KNOWN TO BE ENEMIES OF OUR COUNTRY, are suspicious enough and dangerous enough that their behavior must be monitored?

Echelon was implemented and expanded under Sex-liar to intercept transmissions of key words in all phone calls, faxes, etc. for national security reasons. Economics was considered by the cigar-man to be a national security issue. And the Dem-Libs who called foul for privacy concerns are?

There ain’t nobody here into Libertarian Nirvana like me. I cringe at the thought of Government having half the authority it currently has, or has usurped. However, The current wiretapping is done ONLY TO KNOWN Al Queda phone numbers or FROM KNOWN Al Queda phone numbers. I’m cool with that. We have 280,000,000 people in the US. We make multitudes of phone calls each day. Me....probably 20-40, clients and family, etc. Last year 1,700 phone calls were tapped by the federal government, state government, and local governments combined. We all like to think well of ourselves, but the government doesn’t know or care what I have to say over the phone. They want me to keep making bucks and paying for C.G.’s programs.

...and if he refuses, we should start talking impeachment.

Should we include the Dem-Libs who have been briefed every step of the way through this NSA tapping? When Houston, L.A., New York, D.C. & Chicago go nuclear one fine Tuesday morning while Hilary is President, should we impeach her too? Or will that be Bush’s fault ‘cause he didn’t do enough? If I remember the Dem-Libs argument: Bush knew 911 was coming and didn’t do enough to stop it, but over stepped his bounds anyway, but Hypnotized Dem-Libs to voting for the war, but erroneously continued with what he and the Dem-Libs decided on, but.....

When Jordanian-born Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, we ignored the big picture. Ditto oil embargos, ditto Iranian hostages, ditto 241 Marines killed in the barracks in Lebanon, ditto Achille Lauro, USS Stark, Pan Am over Lockerbie, ditto 1993 bombing of World Trade Center. The enemy has been very consistent. Except for Bush’s insane reference to the “religion of peace” (I understand diplomacy...), he seems to understand you can’t play political correctness with these folks. It was easy to ignore a few hundred people dying over years. But when 911 played our before our eyes and seared into us the organized Satanic hate that a lot of people have had for a long time, it was hard to ignore it. The media censored replaying of the images have helped dull the memory of it. Amazing.

I want government to be no bigger than the Constitution says it can be. But we’ve got to stop these bad boys no matter what. If you are known Al Queda, consider every phone call a bull horn to the world.

P.R.

7:49 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"When Jordanian-born Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, we ignored the big picture. Ditto oil embargos, ditto Iranian hostages, ditto 241 Marines killed in the barracks in Lebanon, ditto Achille Lauro, USS Stark, Pan Am over Lockerbie, ditto 1993 bombing of World Trade Center. The enemy has been very consistent."

Professor, while I'm not denying all these things happened, there are loose connections at best between these events. And though I'm just as annoyed as anyone about all the B.S. concerning the cartoons from Denmark, can you with a straight face pretend the U.S. is just a moral force for good that has never supported brutal murderous regimes, sold weapons, provided training to them, and even participated in gratuitous violence itself?

Did you read my post above after the Ann Coulter link?

Just want to be sure we all acknowledge our own planks in our eyes

12:06 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I'm not sure about the point of your last post... we are probably talking past each other. My take is I'm willing to let the government do much more than you... but not at the sole discression (and oversight) of the executive branch.

Which one provides the most protection:

Prof: (no domestic data mining, under 100% domain of the executive branch)

CG: (data mining, but only under FISA or New-FISA).

You are locked into the argument that one side is saying "do less surveillance". Maybe the ACLU or someone is saying that... but not the Democrat Senators or CG. We would be much safer from terrorist in a CG world than a civil libertarian world (prof and curm). Supposedly, you and Curm are willing to accept that because our government makes you two pee your pants. :)

Regarding Our living Constitution.

The term applies to judicial philosophy... i.e. what framework does a judge use to make a ruling. There are dozens of hype thrown around like strict contructionist (which Scalia says in his own words he is not, btw) Strict contructionism (or textual constructionism in Scalia's case) makes total sense for the top half of our constitution... the part defining the structure of our government. There are not to much interpretation required for the president has to be 35 years old and a US citizen. However, our constitution (like most constitutions) is made up of both detailed text, and broad statements of purpose (i.e. bill of rights). Reasonable judges could differ on reasonable searches, and they certainly would differ over time as technology changes (i.e. Living Constitution when it comes to the Bill of Rights). King George's Chief Justice Roberts covered this in his confirmation hearings. I think judicial activism on the Supreme Court occur when 1) a justice makes up things that don't appear in the structure of government part of our constitution OR 2) when some self-proclaimed strict contructionist decrees THEIR strict interpretation of what our Bill of Rights means, and fails to measure THEIR decrees against current society circumtances (i.e. failure to apply a living constitution standard to the Bill of Rights is ACTIVISM). For example, a strict contructionist decreeing the meaning before email, certainly couldn't allow email to be considered free speech without a constitutional amendment... just hard to tap dance around the hypocrisy.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Well, Heck-of-a-job Brownie swears in, even if our Attorney General does not. I had a change of heart about Brownie. Katrina was obviously a horrendous failure of Federal government, which doesn't bode well for responding to future terrorists attacks. What was hard to measure, is what percentage of that Federal government failure was caused by 1) Individuals (Brownie, King George, Chertoff) 2) Structure (DHS, FEMA) 3) Ideology (Destructive conservative belief that states should be the front lines for fighting their own terrorist or natural disaster events). My intitial impressions were that Brownie deserved a big share of that percentage, but I changed my mind after today's hearings. He definitely made some mistakes... frankly you just don't want small government types heading up required Federal emergency services. That said, he had a documented history of fighting against merging FEMA under DHS, and he did fine with previous disasters (Florida Hurricane). Bottom line, unless the planning includes immediate deployment of troops (National Guard if possible, Army if necessary)... FEMA and DHS leaders come to the fight unarmed. To me, this is yet another example where the country seems incapable of planning ahead of disasters... we can only react. We take marginal steps post-911 and post-Katrina... and will wait until future massive losses to take further marginal steps. I just don't think our government gets it. Of course, half of the country still preaches minimal government with no exception for disaster response. It's like if anyone has to admit Federalism really doesn't work well for Homeland security, they are afraid they would have to admit that is true also for social justice. Here was a couple of jewels from our government officials today... explaining DHS planning. Before Katrina, we didn't even have a quick response team to immediately go to the sight of the disaster to give immediate on-the-ground information (i.e. streaming video). Post Katrina... they now have A six man quick response team. Seriously... in a nation of our wealth we are betting the ranch and the response on ONE quick repsonse team. You can't make this stuff up... no redundancy, no failover, not even a second 6 man team for backup. One of the witnesses actually said that his boss (Chertoff) didn't know about the flooding until a day later... BECAUSE (you can't make this stuff up) someone had sent an email at 9:00 pm and 11:00pm to operational headquarters instead of making a phone call. HOLY SHIT I'M SCARED.

And the dance goes on....

3:06 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

I'm not sure about the point of your last post...

Its called a rant. If the cat had walked by and I had kicked it, I would have mentioned it as well. :)

3:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Its called a rant. If the cat had walked by and I had kicked it, I would have mentioned it as well. :)

LOL! No wonder you are so high-strung. Cats. Switch to dogs.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Someone making the illegal NSA surveillance public to our democracy... traitor, must be prosecuted.

President publicizing foiled terrorist plans from 4 years ago... in our national defense interests.

Pleasssssssse.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Cheney Hunts like he Governs

5:40 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

The VP that couldn't shoot straight

Cheney now finally has combat experience

Did you hear Cheney tortured the guy for 30 minutes before he shot him

Cheney shoots a lawyer and his poll numbers soar

..... :)

9:15 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Talk back to Cheney,
and he will shoot you too.

Cheney has the worse aim of anyone that's been in the oval office since Bill Clinton.

The lawyer is going to be ok... he had wads of cash in his hunting jacket that blocked the shot.

We finally found the WMD... it was Dick Cheney.

We have real Medicare issues... Cheney had to start somewhere.

When Cheney's standby ambulance showed up, they just loaded up Cheney by mistake out of habit.

--------------------------

Cheney the great white hunter,
he likes shooting birds,
Liberals can't understand,
Because they are all turds.

Cheney is macho,
a dominion type of guy,
He has all the power,
that money can buy.

Tax breaks for the wealthy,
that is their due,
A guaranteed aristocracy,
government of the few.

He is so powerful,
he can shoot a lawyer,
Make up a story,
and flip off Diane Sawyer.

Mere citizens can't touch him,
Criticism rolls right off his back,
If the heat is turned up,
he'll pick another country to attack.

He has his own network,
to help cover up for him,
That fair and balanced network,
what a gem.

So hail to Dick Cheney,
the VP that couldn't shoot straight,
Turns out that safe location,
is to protect the state.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

You Federalist types should get one of the following:

Buck never makes it to DC


Click on next picture with link below... some funny stuff. :)

Cheney

2:29 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

FoxNews audience

3:20 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,
To quote a James Bond title: For your eyes only.
---------
Saddam general: WMDs in Syria
Another former confidant of ex-dictator makes claim, also links Iraq to al-Qaida

Posted: February 15, 2006

A former general and friend of Saddam Hussein who defected but maintains close contact with Iraq claims the regime supported al-Qaida with intelligence, finances and munitions and believes weapons of mass destruction are hidden in Syria.

Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti, southern regional commander for Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia in the late 1980s, spoke with Ryan Mauro of WorldThreats.com.

Known as the "Butcher of Basra," al-Tikriti commanded units that dealt with chemical and biological weapons. He defected shortly before the Gulf War in 1991.

Last month, Saddam Hussein's No. 2 Air Force officer, Georges Sada, told the New York Sun Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were moved to Syria six weeks before the war started. Sada claimed two Iraqi Airways Boeing jets converted to cargo planes moved the weapons in a total of 56 flights. They attracted little attention, he said, because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in 2002....

7:18 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Although I probably support staying in Iraq more than anyone here, I have to take the WorldNet Daily stuff with a grain of salt.

It all just sounds to much like O.J. Simpson's defense team to me.... I think that simply the decision was made to invade Iraq and then we had to cherry-pick and manipulate to convince the ignorant American public it was necessary. I can't say I wouldn't have done it myself if I were in charge, so I'm not criticizing the President here.

But I do feel uncomfortable around the people who still try to keep the myth going.... it falls into those categories of people who say they "found Noah's Ark, but it's on top of this high mountain that they cannot get to." -Yea, I've heard that one too.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Save yourself some trouble. Iraq was a tragic mistake... even if they find WMD hidden away. Our C student prez has trapped us in a hell we can't get out of.

Yoshi: I can't say I wouldn't have done it myself if I were in charge, so I'm not criticizing the President here.

Then I would have been for a Yoshi impeachement.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Told you Cheney had his own network

GOP Network

This one is for Prof and Iraq

11:29 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Im a pathetic arguer. My first question should always be: Does that matter? and What does it mean if you are wrong?

You know Bush is not my pal. But it’s the Dem/Lib lying that particularly gets my goat.

Claim Bush stole the election. But that doesn’t pass close scrutiny.
Bush was AWOL. No he wasn’t. There is more documentation of his service than there was of my blogging or Kerry’s service.
There were no WMD’s. You said: “... even if they find WMD hidden away.” Slowly the evidence is leaking out that there were WMD, they just moved them into Syria. Audio tapes are now out that Saddam has been helpful to al Queda, and had WMDs. The Bush administration is horrific at molding public image and handling anything.

Clinton was a class act politician. Sure he was a liar and a philanderer, but heck, he could have sweet talked anybody (except Juanita Broaderick) to go under the covers. He had polls telling him how the public would react to anything. If I see that video again of him shaking his finger and saying “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” I’d believe him all over again.

Bush is different. Like Gerald Ford w/o the finesse. It takes eons for them to know what the shoeshine boy knows and that they ought to respond to it.

Before I dig up your past quotes on WMDs, are you saying that WND’s did matter but don’t matter now, have never mattered, or still matter and that you will send an apology to Bush when evidence is irrefutable that WND’s existed when the US was contemplating the invasion? I’m just trying to envision all that this new quote of yours means. :-)

C.G.: “Iraq was a tragic mistake...

We are in the midst of a thousand year war between brutal Mahammadism and “The West” which incorporates more than just the U.S. They want to dominate the world and we want to influence (democracy, fairness, our versions thereof) the world. Were we (the US) to abstain from interference in the world we might have been spared direct attacks of the sons of Ishmael. But there is a cost. The line was drawn before you and I were born. Boys will be boys (except the Brokeback kind) and country leaders will fight wars, people will die, hooha will hit the fan, and the Rangers still won’t make it to the world series. Some things we just can’t change.

Bush jacked around in the Mid-east, as did Clinton, as did Bush-41, As did Reagon, As did Carter, ..... You get the picture. The successor to Bush will do the same albeit with a different flavor, whoever she may be. :-)

Prof. Ricardo

1:53 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Dem/Libs, particularly Hillary, find it troubling that Cheney waited to get the word out that he shot his friend. His failure to capitalize on the moment by rushing to the media was “troubling.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but how long did it take Hillary to disclose the Rose law firm records she held? 2 years? Yep. No hypocrisy here.

Prof. Ricardo

3:34 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Of course the Clinton’s did not want any of the Barrett Report released, but managed to get 120 pages of the damning findings redacted.

If Hillary were smart, she’d shut up, dart her eyes, and fidget, like Saturday Night live’s Gilda Radner playing the abused child.

Prof. Ricardo

4:14 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof, Prof, Prof....

Before I dig up your past quotes on WMDs, are you saying that WND’s did matter but don’t matter now, have never mattered, or still matter and that you will send an apology to Bush when evidence is irrefutable that WND’s existed when the US was contemplating the invasion?

Never mattered... and there is a better chance that I'm going to win our $300 million lottery tonight than ever send an apology to King George.

I’m just trying to envision all that this new quote of yours means. :-)

Don't spend too much time on it... I'm insane.

FoxNews already has generals putting up maps with targets in Iran. Get your popcorn ready. It's compelling as hell to watch your own nation sign up for decades of bloody war. I bet Bush splits Kings at the Blackjack table.

Dem/Libs, particularly Hillary, find it troubling that Cheney waited to get the word out that he shot his friend.

I love the monkeys they have paraded out to say this was Cheney's private business. Really? Let's see... he flew down to shoot little birdies on Air Force Two, traveled with the secret service, a doctor, an ambulance on standby, yada yada yada. But you know what... if he keeps shooting Republicans I will let it slide. :)

Prof, you seem to have a fixation on Hillary... you should stick with Coulter.

So you still think Iraq was the right move... You have kids and I don't. We are making bets that will be played out beyond our two lives. It occurs to me, that on these types of matters, those with kids should have more of a vote about it in our democracy. You and Tony decide... Yoshi and I will just have to live with it... of course, Yoshi will have to live with it a lot longer.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

CG, CG, CG: “...there is a better chance that I'm going to win our $300 million lottery tonight than ever send an apology to King George.

Why am I not surprised?

Don't spend too much time on it... I'm insane.

You have no idea how hard I laughed. Thanks.

...generals putting up maps with targets in Iran....watch your own nation sign up for decades of bloody war.

It sucks. I wished both sides had behaved. If Saddam had not chummied up with al Quaida and had permitted inspections, he could be enjoying dictatorship and rape rooms. But nooooooo. My support is not for planting “Democracy.” Purely self defense. Hunt down al Quaida and kill them.

...monkeys....say this was Cheney's private business. Really? Let's see... ..Air Force Two, ...secret service, a doctor, an ambulance on standby, yada yada yada.

If that’s the case, then Ex.Pres.Zipper did some things on company time we want made public. On second thought....

Prof, you seem to have a fixation on Hillary... you should stick with Coulter.

She is positioning herself. [Don’t think Brokeback Mtn.]

So you still think Iraq was the right move...” Not particularly. Afghanistan yes, al Quaida yes. Iraq, like I said before, Saddam could’ve had it all.

You have kids and I don't.

I fear Iran and what is ahead of us. We’ll beat each other up to get the first Xbox360. They are avenging what they perceive is an eternity of occupation and injustice. 911 shook us, but we have become distracted again. However, when that bright flash goes off....you will never be distracted again.()


Prof. Ricardo

6:24 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Yoshi: I can't say I wouldn't have done it myself if I were in charge, so I'm not criticizing the President here.

Then I would have been for a Yoshi impeachement.

-Let me rephrase that... I think S. Hussein had to go... but I don't think we had to be in such a hurry... we could have quaruntined him another few years... kept the pressure on him... until the fruit was ripe to be picked from the tree.... but ultimately, he had to go...be in in 2003 or 2008....

6:41 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Just to be clear... the impeachable offense is hyping the nation into war, NOT the fact we went into Iraq.

But again... (and this is for Prof), I'm insane.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Prof, you seem to have a fixation on Hillary...

Signature Quotes: Politics: Hillary Clinton

And since you like the visual comedy....All The President's Women

P.R.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: “... the impeachable offense is hyping the nation into war, NOT the fact we went into Iraq.

Additionally, you’ll need to impeach or scrutinize for their words:

"Our challenge is much more pervasive than it would be if we were just facing one enemy in one place. [Instead there is] the Middle East, Iraq, North Korea, Iran. There's a relatively long list that we believe are linked to the al Qaeda network in the Philippines, in Indonesia and in Yemen and other places. That makes it very clear that this is a global network." -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, borrowing a page from President Bush's "axis of evil" speech, during a weekend address in Dix Hills, N.Y.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapon stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." -- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, Tom Lantos, Tom Harkin, Arlen Specter, Madeline Albright, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Wesley Clark,

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Tom Daschle, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt,

"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore, 2002

Bob Graham, Jim Jeffords, Ted Kennedy, John F. Kerry, Carl Levin, Patty Murray, Nancy Pelosi, Ex-Un Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, John Rockefeller, & Henry Waxman.

9:20 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Just to be clear... the impeachable offense is hyping the nation into war, NOT the fact we went into Iraq.

-We were hyped for WW1 and WW2 and the Spanish-American War and Gulf War 1, etc. etc.

Sometimes people need a little prodding...

10:00 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Get your popcorn ready. It's compelling as hell to watch your own nation sign up for decades of bloody war.

I don’t think signing up is necessary. It was going on before we were born. Bush & Co are just the current pilots. But don’t worry. We’ll have plenty to occupy our time here in the States.

P.R.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

WND just like TV preachers... they ask you for money

8:25 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

9:09 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

They don't hate us... they hate the Chicken

They see our "Freedom Fries", and raise us "Roses of the Prophet Mohammad"

Run away... run away.

Fundamentalists and Neocons to your own corners.

Humor (The Daily Show):

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan recently said: "we do not comment on ongoing investigations".

Was he talking about:

A) Cheney hunting accident
B) Katrina response
C) Abramoff scandal
D) Plame leak affair
E) NSA wiretaps
F) Abu Ghraib
G) Guantanamo Bay
H) Tom DeLay corruption
I) Oil Industry subsidies
J) NASA censorship
H) Politicalization of PBS
I) Halliburton no-bid contracts
J) Iraq WMD

Answer: D

10:02 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G. "WND just like TV preachers... they ask you for money"

You can read all present articles and all past articles free. Care to compare and contrast that with WSJ, NYT, & USA T’day?

It is real easy for you and Yoshi to put down WND.com and then go on as if your comment were gospel. They report topics that have to be dug and pulled out of the old liberal media. It wasn’t the top papers, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, or CBS that came to you with scandal after scandal of the Clinton admin. Chinagate, travelgate, filegate, zippergate, Souvinersgate, Whitewater, selling the Lincoln room, Giftgate, Artgate, Pardongate, Vandalgate, etc.

Were YOUR news buddies to the front with this information? Or did they “have to report” something once it exploded all over the internet?

With the Drudge Report and WND.com I see things damning to Dems & Republicans., straights & sodomites, for & against global warming, exposing Christians and pagans.

Laugh all you want. But the presence of the new media is having an affect on the old media.

P.R.

3:15 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:12 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I think I'll stick with the Economist magazine... it makes me feel like a stuck-up cosmopolitan elitist... as opposed to one of David Koresh's suicide cult-hippie followers...

really, I'm sure nothing is wrong with WorldNetDaily or Jack Van Impe or whatever... just take it all with a grain of salt and make sure you run it all through the B.S. filter....

4:14 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

...as opposed to one of David Koresh's suicide cult-hippie followers...

You say that as though that were a bad thing.

Just kidding. Remember, C.G. is insane. :-)

P.R.

6:12 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Yea, I have the impression Common Good never leaves his house... he even has Netflix so he doesn't have to go to the video store...

10:23 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I have the impression Common Good never leaves his house...

I don't like people, so it works out better that way.

WMD = We meant Democracy.

3:27 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Oh Prof?!!! Prof?!!!

C'mon out, c'mon out wherever you are!!!

Guess what I just learned?!!!!

Christianity is "a violent religion," just like Islam....

Check it out Common Good, here's some fuel for your fire...

Discuss:

Read them and weep, Lesbo Annie

10:35 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi, Yoshi, Yoshi,

Christianity is "a violent religion," just like Islam....

Oh really? And that article is evidence? With how much discernment do you read the news my dear Yoshi? May we dissect the article?

LAGOS, Nigeria - Christian mobs rampaged through a southern Nigerian city Tuesday, burning mosques and killing several people in an outbreak of anti-Muslim violence that followed deadly protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad over the weekend.

Isn’t it amazing that the AP can witness a child molester murderer or terrorist act, yet the perpetrator is always “alleged” to have done so and so. Yet, the AP has assigned ownership to this violence to “Christians” with the judgmental descriptive words “mobs” and “rampage.” The writer’s great evidence is? Well, no Christian group claimed the act. However, the writer says that the nation has Muslims and Christians, and therefor, if it is an attack on the Muslims (correctly identified in the title as Anti-Muslim) it must be the only other group around, “Christians.” How bigoted. So if you are not a Muslim, you’re a Christian, and if you’re not a Christian, by definition you’re a Muslim?

There has been a great backlash in Australia too. There are a lot of people including the non-religious who are about tired of Islamo-Facist cowards going on their rampages killing people.

If you read the article in an objective manner, you will see that they sympathize with the injured Muslim man, “There is blood all over him and I'm scared they'll come for him here. If he doesn't get urgent treatment he will die.” But no such emotionally charged words are used to describe the 18 people killed by the Islamo-Facist cowards.

When you go to the The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion website, they say:

Nigeria is by the grace of God a huge melting pot for the over one hundred and thirty million people coming from diverse backgrounds and happen to profess different religious beliefs and faiths. They have different orientations and they bring different talents and skills which, they employ for the common good of our fatherland.

It is therefore not right; nor is it reasonable or wise for anyone group to ever think of imposing its own ideology, faith or religion upon the entire nation.

In this context, we wish to commend those Moslem leaders who believe and are working for peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds.

We have reasons to believe that those who are calling for a jihad are not speaking for all Nigerian Moslems, since the call is emanating from a particular section of the country.

We must remind the nation that Christians have always been at the receiving end each time a call for jihad is made. In our short history, Christians are known to have been massacred, their property destroyed and their churches razed in Kafanchan, Zaria, Kaduna, Bauchi, Jos and Kano, several times.

At no point has the Church ever initiated any of these crises. Its not because of cowardice or lack of knowledge of what to do, but because our religion expects us to love our neighbours as ourselves and to be at peace with all people so much so that when we are smacked on the left cheek we turn the right cheek.


In the very next sentence they say:

But now we warn, let no one take this for granted any longer because, there is a limit to which you can push a people. Christians have been pushed to the wall in this country and we are making it clear that Christians have no other place to call their own except this same country, Nigeria.

We advise that if the people do not believe in the unity and common destiny of Nigeria, they can sponsor a bill in the National Assembly for a peaceful disintegration of Nigeria or argue their case at the on going CONFAB and let us part ways in peace rather than through bloodshed. ‘He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword…’

We call on Law enforcement Agents to carry out their Constitutional responsibility without fear or favour. They should arrest promptly and bring to justice those who make irresponsible calls for the destruction of our fatherland.

However, should the police fail in this regard, the Christian community in Nigeria will have no other option than to do whatever is deems necessary in every possible way to defend herself.


I am sure the Islamo-Facist cowards have their reasons for murdering peoples and destroying property. A comic strip. Could it be possible that in the course of having your churches burned, your people murdered, and ONCE AGAIN being the victim of Jihad, you might want to defend yourself? We don’t even know if the “mob” was Christian, but were it to be so, how much attack and bloodshed and being targeted for Jihad warrants some level of self defense or even retaliation?

Finally, IF this were Christians, and IF it was a “mob,” and IF they went on a “rampage”, and IF it were over something as STUPID STUPID STUPID as a comic strip, and thus unprovoked attacked innocent people, then THAT was a very UNChristian like characteristic. Jesus said of his real disciples “you will know them by their fruit.” People who do not evidence their faith, have no claim to it. Jesus said of some who will claim Christianity, “I never knew you.” Just because someone claims to be a Christian or do something for the Lord does not make it so.

Yoshi? Yoshi? You still there?

Prof. Ricardo

2:09 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I'm playing devil's advocate...

I know "christians" don't behave that way....

What I'm saying is that mob violence occurs in Christian groups, and also Muslim groups, but that doesn't mean either religion is "violent" because masses of their followers behave violently.

As I mentioned earlier, man seeks many excuses for his own moral failures... and a big one through history is to blame religion... or race... or nationalism...

3:20 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

You knew the admin was evil, but now if have to throw in insane

Yes we are...

3:51 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

The proof of the insanity was when Pres. Carter agreed with him. That kind of verification should not be taken lightly.

5:02 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

You guys are commies... against international commerce = communism.

It isn't like they are going to bring a bunch of Middle Easterners over to man the ports... it'll just be some Middle Eastern guys in high rise buildings across the world making financial decisions about the company...

6:01 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

But I know how you feel though... I remember when those Japanese took over 7-11 stores.....

6:25 PM  

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