May 31, 2006

thinking inside the box

It is not often that politicians are candid about their motivations and intentions. Yet there it was with John Conyers writing recently in the Washington Post regarding the potential for impeachment proceedings should the reigns of power change hands in the next election:

It was House Republicans who took power in 1995 with immediate plans to undermine President Bill Clinton by any means necessary, and they did so in the most autocratic, partisan and destructive ways imaginable. If there is any lesson from those "revolutionaries," it is that partisan vendettas ultimately provoke a public backlash and are never viewed as legitimate.


It was close to complete candor, but let me translate this into plain English for you: “We would impeach the guy faster than a Congresscritter accepts a bribe, but we are afraid of losing our seats from voter backlash”.

Honest yes, but utterly contemptible.

Conyers himself described the charges of malfeasance against the administration as, “grave, serious, well known, and based on reliable media reports and the accounts of former administration officials.” He then goes on to describe the problems of proof, exacerbated by administration stone-walling, that prevent a conclusive determination on the presence of impeachable conduct.

Back in 1974, that was called obstruction of justice.

I can not seem to find the public outrage over obstruction of justice being tolerated by Congress under the explicit rationale that there might be a political backlash. I’m sure the outrage is lying around here somewhere—probably hiding under a pile of weapons of mass destruction.

It will not surprise my readers that I think that 43 crossed the line of impeachability long ago. If you are one of those poor souls who think the Democrats or Republicans will save us, however, it should shock you to learn that impeachment is no longer even an option. Where ever you may come down on the issues, this should torque you. Time after time politics trumps the rule of law yet there is no rage against the political machine.

And it is a political machine: the spirit of Tammany Hall is alive and well. Alive like some twisted vision of Mary Shelly crafted from the head of an elephant and ass of a donkey.

I wish Shelly were alive today to animate the American voters with a bolt of reality.

Whatever my wishes for a great awakening, the American voters continue their oblivious ways and seem poised to reactively return the Ass to the head of our political institutions. If you have been paying attention for the last several decades, you can go ahead and write the speeches now. The GOP urging us to stay the course with ads conjuring phantoms of terroristic demons that only they can be trusted to protect us against. While the Democrats will be urging a return to honest leadership and demonizing those who would send our children to war and poison our Earth to purposely make their lives miserable if they survive.

After all the fine speeches, the Democrats will win. This is the American way after a scandal such as is the current administration. And that of course means for the first time we will be saying “Madame President”.

The sad thing is that many of the hordes of people voting for Hilary will be doing so in a sincere effort to return our government to some semblance of respectability. It is sadder still that we have had a presidential administration so thoroughly obnoxious and incompetent that it makes Hilary look good in comparison. To borrow a phrase from a friend of mine, it is bone crushingly depressing that our choices will be limited to the candidates of Two-party Hall.

Not that I believe Two-party Hall exists as a simple hierarchical power structure. There is no Boss Tweed running the operation. No David Rockefeller behind the curtain. But the mutual self-interests of the power blocks within Two-party Hall operate to protect the family with almost as much loyalty as the machines of old.

Perhaps this is what they meant by “family values”.

Ruminate for a while on the reality of that which lies ahead as We the People turn away from a “culture of corruption” is the likelihood of returning the Clinton family to the White House. Consider their return to power in a world where lying to the American people, insider corporate dealing, unrepentant torture of prisoners, and obstruction of justice are charges too weak to justify impeachment proceedings. The rule of law has become of joke and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

But this joke is no laughing matter. We consistently let politicians off the hook as long as they stoically maintain their walls of plausible deniability. It is hard to laugh at the reelection of the President in the face of the horrible revelations from Abu Ghraib because people are willing to give him a pass on knowing the facts. We failed to remove his predecessor for lying under oath because the economy is good and the majority of Americans did not want to rock that boat. The litany of imperial tendencies could go on ad nauseum.

The problem with failing to take care that we remain a nation of laws is much larger than the political maneuvering of the current election cycle. James Madison articulated it well in the Federalist Papers when he wrote:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.


Does an executive branch that claims unilateral rights to take us to war, make decisions on searches without judicial assent, and abrogate ratified treaties sound like tyranny to anyone besides me? Do the rumblings about executive privilege make any of you queasy?

What we're dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.

Unfortunately, developing an understanding of the legal implications in the broader populace is probably impossible at this point. Historically, Americans have relied on its opposition leaders to at least point out Constitutional abuses and corrupt practices, but where are the senior statesmen calling Conyers on the carpet for his outrage?

Obviously, these “statesmen” are busy protecting their own position and pecuniary interest rather than seeing to the long term health and viability of These United States. Ultimately, politicians who share the guilt for the destruction of our legal institutions can not be expected to hold their peers accountable. Only an awakening of the power of We the People can change our course and avert destruction.

I think if I were a betting man, I would bet with the power elite that lazy Americans will continue to take it all in stride, so long as their Tivo and porn surfing are not interfered with. However improbable significant social backlash may be our political elite would do well to heed a proverb that I recently heard: "At the end of the game the king and the pawn go back in the same box."

King or Pawn, thinking about one’s future in a box would be a very good thing right now.

279 Comments:

Blogger Common Good said...

I'm not up for another impeachment after watching the Starr witch hunts. This nation knew exactly what they were getting with Bush in 2004... and doesn't deserve to get out of this until 2008.

On another subject, I'm curious what everyone thinks about the Justice Department searching the Louisiana Congress critter's office. I can't decide. On the one hand, it's pretty scary to think of any president playing politics {not that this case was... dude did have $90 grand in the frig} by turning the Justice Department on another branch. On the other hand, a congress critter shouldn't be able to consider their office a safe haven for anything they want. Bottom line I guess is the search has to be possible... but defining those boundaries seems a bit tricky.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Madame President

There’s nothing like testing my gag reflex on a political topic. Thanks.

Prof. Ricardo

6:12 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

My gag reflex has been tested over and over for quite some time. They say misery loves company, so let me extend an enthusiastic welcome to my world!

12:06 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Unlike you and the other people who see things through politically colored glasses, I think whether you are tired of impeachment or not is utterly irrelevant. The only question now, as eight years ago is whether the law was broken.

All this squishy non-sense about feelings and politics is the entire problem. Sure, what the GOP did was wrong. But don't use that to justify the actions of the Dems today. It is all wrong and I don't give a flying turd who is tired or not.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Curm... that would be fecal colored glasses. (Prof... I loved that one).

The only question now, as eight years ago is whether the law was broken.

Huh? ... you were talking about impeachment right? Obviously your question above is not the only question when it comes to impeachment. What a quick-draw-impeacher the Curm is. We {the people} get punished during impeachments. It will always be a threshold question on whether the costs of impeachment to {we the people} is worth it. Your valid response here is "there is also a cost to avoiding impeachment"... which is of course correct in some circumstances {that rule of law thing}. Clinton... with a couple of years left in office wasn't even close to worth it. Shrub comes a lot closer... but even here he is in that last stretch towards Crawford. I won't back you on a call to impeach Shrub... and politics have nothing to do with it. Jeeze... just when I thought you were finally seeing a bit of grey and pracital reality-based utilitarian ways... you snap back into black and white dude. I guess it was too much to hope for. :)

What about the Congress critter office search? Surely the Curm has an opinion on that one.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Curm,

McCain giving speeches at Falwell U... Hillary still a Iraq hawk. Sad... but then why would a greed-based society deserve better? Our politicians stink... but they look pretty good stood up next to their constituents. Want better leaders... find better voters.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

My, my CG. That post is the best evidence in existence that all of efforts to educate the world are a miserable failure.

You said, ”We {the people} get punished during impeachments.” You pretty much anticipated my response, but are off as to degree.

There is no worse punishment for We The People than a government that is not made of laws. Your utilitarian approach on this one is bordering on obscene.

Yeah, impeaching Clinton would have been painful. But perhaps we could have avoided some of the worst excesses of the present administration. Impeaching Shrub would be painful, but how much more painful will our continued descent into the abyss of tyranny be?

The sad truth is your analysis is exactly what most people do and exactly a key ill in our society. Pain avoidance is what we are all about now.

The truth is that keeping our Liberty was never calculated to be an easy proposition. I for one think that short term ease for long term tyranny is a very poor bargain.

One the Congressional Office search…I really do not want to get deep into that one. The short version is that Congressmen are citizens subject to all the laws just like you are I. As long as the search was pursuant to a valid search warrant, there is no Constitutional problem. Legal searches like that are an appropriate check on legislative power since the other two branches have to concur in order for the search to occur.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Was there a judge involved? It was the executive branch's Justice Department. Did they go to a judge and if so... what's the process. My guess is they could go judge shopping pretty easily.

You live in a society where over 50% of the voters gave Shrub a second term... and you are worried about a bit of tyranny. :)

I think I will be for Gore in 2008. He seems to have been right about a lot of things that Shrub was dead wrong on. The only three people left who think global warming is a hoax is Shrub, Inhoffe and Prof.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Though I’m no masochist, its time for Professor to take his lumps. I need a clear conscience so I want the full arm of the law to come down on me. Although a citizen since birth (you have to go back at least 170 years to find an immigrant ancestor of mine) I am willing to humble myself and take the “punishment” that our staunch defender against terrorism has reserved for illegal aliens. Yep, I will throw myself on the sword of just punishment that illegal aliens will receive for their international trespass. Can you imagine? They must, and I’m not kidding here, have to pay 3 years of taxes for the last 5+ years income. I humbly request that I too must pay 3 years of taxes for the last 5+ years income. I’ll even let the government choose the highest and most painful levels of tax that I have paid. Then I want the balance of the taxes I’ve paid in over the years refunded immediately. I’ll take it in any denomination, thank you. Direct deposit is welcome too. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll take that 1 free forgiven felony (forged and stolen identification) in the form of a gift certificate to be redeemed at my option.

It is tough being treated with the iron fist of Bush. I know I’ll have your compassion as I walk this low road, for no wrong doing of my own, but merely to show my solidarity and compassion for my fellow man.

After this horrific trial, I was thinking about vacationing, I mean fasting, in Guantanamo where I would be forced to eat meals prepared to not offend my ethnicity or religious convictions, so as to preserve my life and have no casualties of our protesting. I’m feeling very Italian this week. I wonder how their veal Parmesan is. I hope they use fresh tomatoes. Those poor tortured souls.

Of course, all the fun and frolic will come to a cease when Al-bortion Gore-bachev or Hillary RODHAM-Clinton becomes president in ‘08. At that time we will need to clean up real & perceived world problems. It is only through the self-flagellation of regulation and taxation that we can truly live with ourselves in the theater of political correctness and socialism. Ah! To perform for those who hate you. The Christians in Rome never had it so good.

Good article Tony. I too am disenfranchised. However, Jesse Jackson has ruined that word for me. Politicians have a habit of doing that.

Prof. Ricardo

9:23 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Check this out for a sad reality:

We {Curm bloggers} don't matter on this globe.... and yet Bush does. It doesn't matter how much wiser Curm is than our president... Bush is impacting our world and Curm isn't. Follow the money.... the rest is just background noise and illusions.

US Meritocracy? Not unless you equate merit with $.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Well, you doth protest a bit much. I know you didn't just land on this rock. My take, as is yours from the tenor of your blog, its going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
I long for the days when secret trysts with easy interns were the worst things going on in the White House.

Next time, work in some Elton John:

He was born a pauper to a pawn on
a Christmas day
When the New York Times said God is dead
And the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today.

Levon likes his money.

Guy.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy,

I long for the days when secret trysts with easy interns were the worst things going on in the White House.

Would you take another pardongate? Not just 47, but say 11 million?

Prof. Ricardo

10:49 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

I hear your lament. Isn't it a sad thing when one yearns for the days when Presidents were only proven guilty of sexual discrimination and perjury.

You share my lament, but you aver that I protest too much. I think you are reacting to my tone more than my content. Explain to me where I am wrong.

BTW, I love the Elton John. That was stinking funny.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: “The only three people left who think global warming is a hoax is Shrub, Inhoffe and Prof.

You religious blokes are all alike.
Al Gore's hellfire and damnation

Prof. Ricardo

9:26 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Pawaaa... that was the most creative defense against ignoring global warming that I've seen yet. I guess the FDA banning certain drugs or speed limit signs on the highway would also be imposing religion. Pawaaaaaaa!!!!! You really need to lay off that WorldNetDaily. What a crock. Prof... please tell me you aren't one of those guys who wears his ideology on the back bumper of his car. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that reminded me of why the GOP can manipulate the RR at will by bringing back the golden oldies (Marriage constitution amendment to be debated again this week in the Senate): "God listens to knee mail". Terrorism, Bird flu, global warming, Iraq war, US debt as far as the eye can see, wealth gap and gutting of the middle class, and what's on the GOP driven agenda over the next several weeks? 1) Gay marriage 2) Estate taxes of billionaires. If Tony wonders why the moneyed elite can use Shrub as a puppet to sell tyranny... all he has to do is see what the public is willing to buy. Tony's big deal is the failure of the public to see the devestation of the two party system. I wonder exactly what type of system would be good enough to overcome a population living in these times that puts Gay marriage and billionaire estate taxes up front as a priority?

Tony... ban Prof if he posts another WorldNetDaily link. And to think... I taught him how to post links. Actually... don't ban him. That would only leave around 3 of us.

Tony, if tyranny is really a risk, it would be because these guys decide it's in their interest. Shrub would be the puppet for tyranny... insignificant really. So far they haven't required tyranny to keep thier game in tact. They have sold conservatism by putting pretty faces on it {poster child being Reagan}. Granted, after the idiot Shrub's run, even the lemmings are taking note. The New Deal was satan to the wealth horders, it took many decades to try and put it back in a box. I think the puppet masters made a couple of tragic mistakes, however. First, they seem blind to the idea of throwing enough crumbs down to the peons. The peons don't need much, but when you soak up riches by sending manufacturing elsewhere, you might want to take note of the numbers of peons being left out in the cold. Second... SHRUB. What can one say... how could they know their puppet will come to the conclusion along the way that he got to the White House on individual merit. Maybe he really does believe God wanted him to be there. That's scary as hell, because it looks like that means he also believes he is helping to facilitate the end of days.

Curm won't matter unless he ever has significant $. Now that is bone-crushingly depressing. I don't understand those Elton John lyrics. I heard that song the other day and meant to go look up the lyrics.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Still don't get the lyrics....

Levon lyrics

6:00 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: “Pawaaa... that was the most creative defense against ignoring global warming that I've seen yet.

Nice rant. You may want to lay off that second cup of coffee so late in the day though.

Gore’s book Earth in the Balance - Ecology and the Human Spirit is a very religious book. Here is a non-WorldNetDaily site that you can read quotes from the book. Being a disciple of global warming, your blind faith may prevent you from identifying or accepting the religious concepts Gore uses to describe his ecological salvation.

I realize that any website that I reference is suspect purely because it identifies your religion for what it is, but alas, you can’t make the horse drink the water.

Prof. Ricardo

8:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Calling me religious is like me calling you open minded. :)

I agree with Guy.... we have been on this rock long enough to figure this out.

US Cashtocracy...

3:08 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I really can't believe no one came to Tony's defense and claimed "he mattered". :)

4:24 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You are failing to give credit to the posters here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon. They did not defend me because they are wise enough to understand the truth of the statement.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Touche'!

9:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Have you noticed gay marriage seems to only threaten our civilization on even number years?

The ultimate RR "cold sweat" nightmare: A gay Spanish US anthem singing atheist illegal alien who becomes part of a majority US citizen base that supports the inheritance tax, universal healthcare, gay rights and seperation of church and state (i.e. pluralism and equal rights).

8:25 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common, Have YOU noticed that....

...it is the homosexuals that are trying to change that which has been the norm for thousands of years?

...there is a difference between the “RR” and the political RINO’s that seek their vote (on even years)?

...that bastions of socialism that already exist and have all that you hold dear (pluralism, universal healthcare, atheist based government) do not attract immigration to their land of Utopia, when we are having waves of unchecked “immigrants” year after year migrating to this intolerant, bigoted, non-plural, non-socialized medicine, (I can’t say non-taxed - you got me here.) U.S. of A.?

P.R.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Living in a free society is very inconvenient at times. There are lots of things that I find objectionable on a scale of irritating to repulsive.

The thing about Liberty is that in areas of fundamental liberty, my view on right or wrong doesn’t count in a legal way. That the majority of Americans thinks X is wrong is the absolute LEAST compelling argument in the arena of human rights. These are the same arguments used to suppress freedom every time it comes up.

I’d go on, but I’d get pretty redundant with what I have written in the past. The bottom line is that we need to decide whether we mean it when we say we want our Freedom. In my view, people only want others to be free to be like themselves. This myopia affects people of every political persuasion.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,

Although many things are objectionable to me on a moral basis, I am quite permissive on a governmental level. What Common may not be aware of is that I am quite willing to allow any state that chooses to do so allow perversion, abortion, socialism like universal healthcare, welfare, and minimum wages and all that. What I do not like, and I think destroys our freedom, is the federalization of these concepts.

When our 13 colonies became states, the federal government played a small role in the daily lives of individuals. It seems funny to me that there were enough people in each state back then to determine their individual states direction, maybe a few hundred thousand in each state, but today, the country supposedly would be torn apart by allowing each state to set policy for education, universal healthcare and the like, with tens of millions per state. They want it even across all states.

I see each state as being its own nation and the uniting of 50 nations as the United States. That way if you didn’t like something about one state you could move to another state. When you force the whole United States to go this way or that, you destroy freedom and adopt the centralized planning and control techniques of the nations we detest (which happens primarily for their centralized control and its consequences).

At each step of the way when the liberals ideals are incorporated they fail. When they fail, the liberal says that it was not incorporated on a large enough scale. Be it gun control or healthcare, if you did it locally, there excuse for why it didn’t work is it should have been done on the state level, then the federal level, then the international level.

I say tens of millions on the state level are plenty for a sustainable governed entity. Let the Texans determine whether they will permit homosexual marriage and Vermont decide theirs. That is not closed minded, but open minded and quite liberal (in the original since of the word) minded. Let the different states go about education in their own way. If it turns out brilliant scholars and entrepreneurs are coming out of such-and-such a state, you might want to move their and take advantage of it. Other states would move in the direction of those education methods that are drawing the praise. Education for all will benefit.

Federalize it and equalize it and everybody is stuck with the same thing. No child left behind or whatever cockamamy new cliche comes out of the next “education president’s” mouth will guarantee continued educational mediocrity and rankings of our science and math students with struggling third world countries. Apparently that is what Mr. Good and his comrades desire.

My vision for America is not that it is Lilly white and Puritan fresh, but that government would be responsive to those it was supposedly representing. With our current evolved Federal government, that is so difficult that some people will abstain from voting and create Disenfranchised blogs to discuss the matter. I want a responsive government that may even take positions that I don’t agree with. Now how closed minded is that? And darned if my ideal doesn’t mirror the Constitutional representative government our forefathers created.

Prof. Ricardo

9:20 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

I hate to break it to you but Federalism is deader than Jimmy Hoffa and its bones harder yet to find. In my view, it is less than certain that sticking to Federalism would’ve yielded a better result. Just because what we have is a bad situation doesn’t mean that it would’ve been better. I really don’t know on that one.

But it seems to me the greater calamity is the other provisions of the constitution which we have chose to ignore altogether. Which brings me to a question for you:

Are you in favor of returning Human Rights (for which Constitutional Rights are a misnamed proxy) to the states? In other words going back to the original law where the Constitution only limited the behavior of the Federal Government and did not speak to the actions of the individual states?

I ask this because of the whole marriage thing. For your version to work, we would have to repeal portions of the 14th Amendment. In the mean-time, Equal Protection is a Federal issue whether you agree with the law or not.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

The thing about Liberty is that in areas of fundamental liberty, my view on right or wrong doesn’t count in a legal way.

This is the fundamental core of the gay rights debate:

Is homosexuality part of our human condition, and therefore entitled to ALL human rights, or a deviant behavior that can be excluded from human rights?

If homosexuals are included in basic human rights, are marriage-related rights (child custody, hospital visitation, inheritance, ect.) fundamental rights? Are marriage-related rights 2nd-tier rights... i.e. something short of human rights where we do get to pick and choose who gets them.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I have a similar question to Tony's which was:

"Are you in favor of returning Human Rights (for which Constitutional Rights are a misnamed proxy) to the states? "

When you speak of a State's right to choose, you need to further define that for us. I assume you don't believe free speech rights are the perogative of the state. However, it's obvious that you do believe marriage should be in the domain of the state. This obviously means we need a vocabulary to define tiered rights (at minimum 2-tier.... human rights and maybe non-human legal rights?". I have persued that with Tony several times, and never came away with any way to define what the 2nd-tier rights were. At the end of the day, you have to be able to LIST what is hands off for the states. If you can't list them, then you can't have a n-tiered rights legal system (well you can, but then every action is a trip to the Supreme Court).

I agree with the potential of using states as test labs to bubble up best of breed solutions. However, I don't think that has anything to do with Federal common good. That's one of the biggest problems I have with conservative thought. There appears to be total blindness to the the reality that any person's economic success in our country is married to the environment (government, infrastructure, etc) that success happens in. I heard Bill Gates dad on TV last night defending the inheritance tax, and he put it well as anyone I have heard so far.

Bill Gates Sr: "Take that very successful brilliant US entrepeneur that worked hard and became wealthy in the US... and put him/her in Guana."

Conservatives see nothing but personal-only achievement, as if they created wealth in a vacuum. Before one even addresses the issue of whether universal healthcare is a state perogative (i.e. what type of right), you have to recognize we are a national economy (actually global)...i.e. we are intertwined across states. Economies have to compete with equal laws and equal rules. If Texas manufacturers produce widget X without having to provide health insurance to employees, than Oklahoma must do the same (i.e. not provide health insuracne). [I'm not for employers being involved in health care, but that's another post] However, this all proves the falicy of your Federalism argument.... the fact that Texas forced Oklahoma's capitialism hands has NOTHING TO DO with our right as a society to define common good for our population. Common good has to be ACROSS state by definition. It's fair enough to argue about what should be included in commmon good, but your argument becomes rather weak when you say dividing that definition among states makes any sense at all.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

What do you take this to mean in the 14th amendment?

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Alright. Sorry to post and not check back. Here we go: I do not question the substance but I think context is very important. The purpose of the song quote is that we seem to be born in a day when moral relativism and reactionary religiousity pass off as legitimate political debate. In context, the adage "Follow the Money" has become not only a truism but a creed that once followed, the 24 hour news cycle has already passed it by. The truth of the Conyers quote is not the lack of politcal courage or dereliction of constitutional duty, all appropriate as gauge of the political winds throughout our history, BUT THAT THERE IS NO MONEY IN THE WITCH HUNT. It only works as a fundraising tool. To that end, it has been "focused grouped" and found to be a money raising loser. That is a cynical curmudgeon view.

On the other hand, the right wing more than came out on droves to give money over a BJ. Democrats, are not so easily arroused. ; )

Your clarion call for moral, constitutional or legal outrage and the lack of it, is in my view a victim of the 24 hour news cycle and the raising of poltical debate to entertainment news. This is all for our entertainment and a substitute for any real action on any substantive issues. Rhetoric is the word(s) of the day, not action. (Of course, the main fallacy of this point is that the Iraq War is action and not simply rhetoric but I digress).

I am curious what will happen in another decade when the 24 hour news cycyle fails to excite or gain ad revenue. Will we have time to become outraged about deserving matters? I don't know.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony: “I hate to break it to you but Federalism is deader than Jimmy Hoffa and its bones harder yet to find.

And so is a political party that fairly represents you.

Are you in favor of returning Human Rights (for which Constitutional Rights are a misnamed proxy) to the states?

No. Human Rights are given by God. To give them to the state makes them privileges not rights. And yes, I knew what you meant. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Federal government was given powers, but not over human rights. Our founders did not grant, but acknowledged those rights. As you know the specific wording of the Bill of Rights did not grant OR PROHIBIT human rights, but acknowledged and reinforced for the citizens comfort what was evident in the body of the Constitution. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law...” The first amendment did not restrict Congress ability. The founders believed that since we were a Constitutional Republic and our governments powers were granted and enumerated in the body of the Constitutional text, that since there was no provision to limit speech and establish religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof, only delusional con-men could read that into it. But others argued, though that may be true, given the nature of man to expand governments powers, reassuring us in the Bill of Rights was agreed upon.

In other words going back to the original law where the Constitution only limited the behavior of the Federal Government and did not speak to the actions of the individual states?

The first amendment states “Congress.” Of course, if marriage can be redefined to be two cowboys on Brokeback Mtn., who knows what “Congress” means anymore. It could be your local daycare. Words have to have meanings for this all to not be in vain.

I ask this because of the whole marriage thing. For your version to work, we would have to repeal portions of the 14th Amendment.

Possibly. Or reworded. Had we not gone silly, a whole lot of amendments might have not been necessary and a few others might have been implemented.

Prof. Ricardo

2:36 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,

There are so many items to correct from your post that I shall address it properly when I retire.

Your foundational errors of suppositions and presuppositions render any response to state vs federal a mere exercise in typing skills.

However, this all proves the falicy of your Federalism argument.... the fact that Texas forced Oklahoma's capitialism hands has NOTHING TO DO with our right as a society to define common good for our population.

Defining a populations “common good” is an exercise for social scholars who can’t make a go of it in the system of “captitialism”(sic). No human has the right to impose on another human some artificial demographic standard of “good” achievement. “Good” achievement is its own reward. “Good” imposed upon people will destroy the will to achieve. I know that went over your head, but I typed it slow just for you. :-D

Common good has to be ACROSS state by definition.

How about across countries? Planets? Galaxies? Why can’t it be across 37 families in Tyler Texas? How dare you try and impose some made up level of health, wealth, and entertainment on somebody in the hills of Arkansas or downtown NY. Shear arrogance. BTW, do we get to have a “living” common good where we get to define common good as not across states? And what if several of the states that came on board this last century didn’t become states...should we invade those territories and force our “common good” on them?

It's fair enough to argue about what should be included in common good, but your argument becomes rather weak when you say dividing that definition among states makes any sense at all.

Expanding an undefinable standard over multiple states that is the basis for massive taxation for wealth transfers and social engineering and MY argument is weak? Explain how 23 million people in Texas defining their "common good" hurts ANYONE in the other 49 states. This is going to be good. :-)

Prof. Ricardo

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Prof.

"I see each state as being its own nation and the uniting of 50 nations as the United States"

See Articles of Confederation, 1781; contra Constitution of the United States of America, 1783.

I think I will not take the bait in the gay marriage issue. It is like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. An interesting but ultimately an absurd debate. I think it is all grist for the mill and has been "focus grouped" as a money maker. That's why it appears as an issue in even years.

Finally, I predict the world will not end if gays are allowed to formalize their relationships that they are already consumating.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous guy said...

pardone -

contra Constitution of the United States of America, 1787.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I will comment on "common good" later, but first I'm really interested in how we LIST rights/privileges the State should have a say in, and human rights that they should not. I'm not arguing with you on this point... it's a question about the domain of Federalism. I will repeat my example of your belief as I understand it: 1) free speech is a human right the state (or Federal government) can't touch {although I suspect a state can expand them if there is such a thing} 2) marriage-related rights/privileges SHOULD be defined by the state.

Are you going through the bill of rights in the Constitution for "state touchable list", or some other definition.

I know I have persued this with Tony, and I remember him having a real problem with the idea of a "list of human rights".... i.e. everything is a human right that is not taken away. Well, that definition is fine, but you still need to indentify "what a State can take away or define, and what it can not". Not sure how you make that call without a list?

4:11 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Guy,

Finally, I predict the world will not end if gays are allowed to formalize their relationships that they are already consummating.

Jon Stewart was debating Bill Bennett on gay marriage the other day. Jon asked if those 50% divorcees shoot straight into gay sex. :)

4:13 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common: ... but first I'm really interested in how we LIST rights/privileges the State should have a say in, and human rights that they should not.

You should have the right to nearly anything that does not materially negatively affect those around you. As my late father-in-law said: “your right to swing your arm ends at my nose.” We should not look for the depths to which others, through government, may plunge into our business. Only when we find areas that are to no ones individual benefit or ability, but are for the benefit of society, do we seek a corporate solution, and only when the majority agree, should we embark on these governmental solutions.

Your belief as I understand it: 1) free speech is a human right the state (or Federal government) can't touch...

Yes, except where it materially injures another, like in the case of slander.

2) marriage-related rights/privileges SHOULD be defined by the state.

Sort of. The state interferes with us on the basis of marriage. To me marriage is between my spouse, me, and my God. I don’t need to be licensed by the state. It is not the final authority over my covenant with my wife.

Marriage was created by God. I realize that carries more weight with me than you. In my worldview marriage “by definition” cannot mean anything but the union of one man and one woman. I could give you the Bible references, but...

Given that the foundation of society are healthy families, to recognize unhealthy forms of families (multiple spouses, incest, bestiality, same-sex) as equivalents is self destruction of a society. Let the Netherlands stand as an example, and yes, it started with the acceptance of homosexuality as an equal standing with traditional marriage.

Are you going through the bill of rights in the Constitution for "state touchable list", or some other definition.

The Constitution lists what a government should do. A touchable list implies a liberated entity that is not constrained by its governing document. Think dictator here.

Prof. Ricardo

5:04 PM  
Anonymous guy said...

pardone -

contra Constitution of the United States of America, 1787.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy,

I’ve read the Articles of Confederation and done a study on it as well as many foundational documents and writings.

The War of Northern Aggression was an example of the understanding that our country had about states vs federal. Though slavery was the catalyst, states rights and autonomy were being challenged. The South felt that it was reasonable to succeed, given the aggression of the Northern states. Let me know what of my statement I need to retract, prove, or clarify.

Prior to the War of Northern Aggression, some Union states threatened to succeed. What does that say about their view on state autonomy 150 years ago? Enjoy your weekend.

Prof. Ricardo

5:19 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Correction: Not succeed. Secede.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I don't think you really put a definition to when you can do your federalism thing, and when you can't. Tony has never been able to be clear on this either... so it's obviously not an easy concept. You said:

The Constitution lists what a government should do.

Huh? I thought the Constitution consisted of 1) defining the structure of our government {part Scalia calls the real Constitutional law} and 2) rights. Which part lists what the government should do?

A touchable list implies a liberated entity that is not constrained by its governing document. Think dictator here.

Huh again? You agreed the federal government and the state could not alter "free speech"... with the exception of being limited by not damaging others. You really didn't answer why you thought marriage-related rights (inheritance, hospitial visitation, etc.) WAS a state definable right/privilege {you went off into a discussion about the personal nature of marriage to yourself}. I'm still waiting for an explanation/definition of what you throw into the state perogative bucket. The reason I use list {and that lights Tony up also} is if you can't say what IS or IS NOT a fundamental human right not subject to redefinition by the state, than how in the hell can you say what is or is not a state perogrative?

10:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

You should answer my 12:00 PM post.

Let met try and answer one of your questions.

Expanding an undefinable standard over multiple states that is the basis for massive taxation for wealth transfers and social engineering and MY argument is weak? Explain how 23 million people in Texas defining their "common good" hurts ANYONE in the other 49 states. This is going to be good. :-)

You of course realize when I talk of common good, I talk in terms of federal tax based common good. In other words, common good falls into the same category as paying for the military .... no state option to bow out of the federal tax and taxes pooled across all the entire citizen base (differences per income class but not per state). Like I said... fair enough argument to say universal health care should be in that common good or not. It's also a fair argument to say that you could do something on a state level IF we didn't define it into Federal common good. You (conservatives) seem to detest the idea that we are all in this together... and imo, set up personal blinders to the point you actually believe all of your personal and wealth accomplishments are achieved in some sort of personal space or universe {talk about thinking the world revolves around your head :)} It's all nonsense... my paraphrasing of Bill Gates Sr go right to the heart of the matter. Nobody in the US accomplishes anything in a vacuum. I guess if we all took daily trips across the Canadian border, and gathered our harvest, and then brought it home each day... you could almost say your individual gains were divorced of our society. But even then, you traveled on US infrastructure to get there... and came home to a collective rule of law which protected the great Canadian gatherer. You see increased state defined rights as increased freedom. I see it as increased undeserved self-entitlement failing to honor that common partner (government/society). It reminds me of a kid taking credit for his class project... knowing full well dad stayed up with him all night to finish it. Dad bought the material, provided the home, etc. We are all proud of the kid, but a well rounded lesson instills a proper amount of acknowledgement by the kid of dad's partnering.

The government and our society is not a parent, but it is a partner in all of our success. You have to wrap yourself in one hell of a lot of autonomy illusion to not see that. Our entire economic system of individual achievement is coupled with a bit of collectivism... it will always be so. If you want to carve out Texas as a nation free from federal collective requirements, then you also need to isolate yourself from any federal services. Terrorism... the Houston oil industry and the ports... on you baby. Never mind the rest of the country is also dependent on that Houston port... it's your right to control this for the US because it's in Texas. The Texas southern border you care so deeply about... on you and other border states. Bird flu... you and your state and your a$$ are on your own. If you define yourself as an autonomous island for the purposes of individual income, then you must live on that island for everything else (terrorism, FDA, SEC, FBI, CIA, even the military). You might perish and take everyone with you... but by god you can say... "I was not in this with anyone else".

btw... saying Universal health care would turn us into a nation of slackers is like saying "if we cured cancer, we would all have it so easy we would become slackers". This place should remain puritan-tough-enough for the Prof... even with families being protected from financial ruin. A majority finally voting to pool health catastropies via federal taxes is anything but defining "good" for others... it's just common good/sense.

10:54 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I must say, this has been a day of record enjoyability in posting on the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon. Not that my opionion really matters, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

In an effort to stay focused, I'll return to my question for Prof...to wit, do you think that Human Rights should be a state issue. I see your jocularity and raise you the issue I was trying to state. In other words, without the 14th Amendment, the States were free to abridge our human rights however they saw fit. In theory, though certainly not in practice, the 14th Amendment extended the constraints on the Federal Government to the States. Prior to that, Constitutional restraints ONLY applied to the Federales.

So, if you want to couch the gay marriage discussion in terms of state's rights, you have to deal with the equal protection issue. I'm not asking for what the law is: that is very clear. And we are of like mind on the basic concept that marriage is a sacrament ordained by God. So, is it proper for the government, be it federal or state to sanction or authorize the institution of marriage?

Only in an effort to clarify, let me restate, there are three primary Consitutional issues I see here: 1) Federalism, 2) Equal Protecton, and 3) Free Excercize of religion.

I do not mean to be ambiguous...my post entitled "shouting down the world" makes my own view pretty clear. But I'm really interested in how you would view the Federalism argument as shaking out ... how should it be structured? No 14th Amendment?

CG,

Privilges and immunities is a complex topic but essential I accept the majority view that the 14th Amendment imposes the Constitutional Constrains on Government action in areas of fundamental liberties on the States. I can clariy further if necessary.

Guy,

What a horrid shame we have been out of touch all these years. Superficially at least it sounds like we are on the same philosophical page on a lot of things. Maybe there was something in the Whitewater?

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

If you begin witht he premise that marriage is a sacrament ordained by God. The it becomes a seperation of church and state issue also. While I am free to have my union sanctioned in a church the state also has a right tot recognize that union and confer benefits on it as it sees fit. But the sacrament and my civil union are two seperate things. Once this is recognized, then it becomes an issue whether the state will recognize a gay civil union and confer upon it the same benefits as a man and a woman. It si free to discriminate if these folks are not members of a protected class. Oncec it is decided gays are members of a protected class then the state is not free discriminate. That squares the question and in my mind the result is skewed by whether you beleive being gay is a choice or some sort of genetic design.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Privilges and immunities is a complex topic but essential I accept the majority view that the 14th Amendment imposes the Constitutional Constrains on Government action in areas of fundamental liberties on the States. I can clariy further if necessary.

Yes... I knew you believe that and that is what I believe. However, I think I am asking you and Prof a different question (one I have asked you before). Do we have a 2-tier rights / privileges system... or 1-tier? If "free speech" is a human right, but inheritance rights are not... then we have 2-tier or n-tier. If all rights and privileges fall under Equal protection, then that seems to be another matter... and I start to even question the state's rights to have differences as simple as different driver license ages.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good:
P.R.: The Constitution lists what a government should do.

C.G.: Huh? I thought the Constitution consisted of 1) defining the structure of our government {part Scalia calls the real Constitutional law} and 2) rights. Which part lists what the government should do?


Article 1, section 8-10; Article 2, section 2; Article 3, section 2; Article 4, Section 3b; and Article 5 all explain what our government can or should do.

One of the key differences between our Constitution and those of other countries is other countries listed the rights of the people and gave government full dominion over everything else. Ours listed what government could do and gave liberty to the people for everything else. It is not surprising that you have superimposed the erroneous concept of other countries governmental forms on the U.S. The failure of our education system, the spewing of politicians, and the ignorance and blindness of the media hardly clarify the issue. In fact, I would be astounded if you actually grasp this subject. If you actually knew the history and content of the Constitution, some of the beliefs you hold would hardly continue to make sense. Read the original documents. Go to www.Constitution.org, click on founding documents and immerse yourself in as many founding documents as you can. A good start would be the Magna Carta. Attack the documents with the premise that everybody including me are liars and you have to discover for yourself what the truth is. I am not perfect and am willing to change and adjust my understanding in light of revealed truth.

Prof. Ricardo

9:43 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I'm pretty sure I know what our Constitution is about by this point, but I appreciate your concern. I was responding to your phrase "the constitution says what the government can do". I guess you were just referring to the limits of government, and I was quibbling with how you said it. Of course the definition of "what a government can do" comes in two major sections of the Constitution (government structure AND rights). I get the impression you tend to dwell on the rights part. Interesting enough, most of the Supreme Court Justices seem to think the section on the structure of government is actually more important than the "rights" section everyone else dwells on. Both are important, but what Breyer refers to "providing a citizen's active democratic participation in their government... i.e. a check on power" is paramount. Scalia refers to this part as the Real Constitutional law... but I assume he is still for human rights. :)


I guess you are just going to keep dodging the question on how you determine what's a right/privilege within the state's prerogative, and what is off limits. You seem to have agreed our listed rights (Bill of Rights) are off limits to states.... but I get the impression that's the end of the limit for you. Other amendments beyond that seem to have no impact on your state prerogative boundary. If so, I think I will just let your intention of ignoring amendments stand on it's own, and we need not discuss this further. You just can't make any headway with an amendment ignorerer (is that a word?). Actually... my google toolbar spell checker says ignorerer is not a word, but it describes you so well in this case I'm leaving it.

btw...

In fact, I would be astounded if you actually grasp this subject.

:)

6:48 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Apparently this is one of those Mars and Venus things. Will pick up the argument at a later date. I am starting to bald on both sides of my head from your latest response.

Unastoundedly yours,
Prof. Ricardo

8:55 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I wish I could give simple answers to your questions. The law as it has come to us is just to amenable to being boiled down as you are asking.

Here is a very short article that will give you some idea why P&I is not often discussed. Now I’m in the camp that believe the Supreme Court got it wrong…and there are a lot of folks that feel that way.

But the topic you are interested in is called the doctrine of incorporation. Here is a longer article that has a good summary of substantive due process. Pay special attention to the last paragraph headed Incorporation.

In short, no, I do not think you can take our case law to mean that there are two tiers of human rights under our laws, though as Guy pointed out, there are varying protections based on whether and individual is a member of a protected class. His statement of the law is correct as far as it goes. I advocate plowing some new legal ground based on Equal Protection and P&I that does not rely on protected classes.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,

I finally found the name of the tax vs revenue curve. It is the Laffer curve.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Do you get the impression I'm hitting a nerve with Prof's Federalism core belief system. It's rare where he resorts to intelligence-challenging rather than spelling out what he means. :)

I will read your links and Prof's Laugher curve. The state rights prerogative thing may be complicated... but no matter how complicated, you can't be an honest proponent of more Federalism without being able to define (say) in English what's in the State's domain. In Prof's case, it looks like I can make a "State's fundamental rights hands-off list" by going through the first 10 amendments... and everything else is fair game. I'm not sure why Prof doesn't have the balls to just say this... he has never struck me as ball-less before. :)

9:26 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Well... I did a bit of reading, starting with your links. A couple of observations:

1) In 2006, Incorporation doesn't appear to be settled law. I have to go with Hugo Black on this one... there should be no such thing as a State being able to treat the Bill of Rights differently than the Federal government. A State should be able to expand rights, but NEVER restrict them.
2) It looks like the Supreme Court uses "Due Process" rather than the 14th amendment because they are "equal". I'm no legal scholar, but I would make the 14th amendment as clear as we needed, and go with that. It's utter nonsense in 2006 to be arguing over WHICH Bill of Rights a State could override.
3) We can safely say Prof is not a "Substantive Due Process" guy, and most likely not in favor of Incorporation.
4) I still find it bizare that I can list the rights/privileges (speech, marriage-related rights, driver licenses)... and still not be able to say in English why a) they are all equal rights with no prerogative of the State to alter ... i.e. we can't have states having different driver license ages, and we certainly can't have States mucking around with core human rights like inheritance OR b) A state can do whatever it wants to.

Maybe it's just me, but if two different states can make different rules about something, that something isn't a RIGHT... it's something else.

This was most excellent: Madison on the Bill of Rights

1:32 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony: “(T)o wit, do you think that Human Rights should be a state issue.

Yes. Actually both. Any level that has the right to take rights away should, I suppose, be required to recognize human rights.

...without the 14th Amendment, the States were free to abridge our human rights however they saw fit.

Yes. Now the Federal government can do it and everybody is held hostage. Right now you can slaughter the unborn in 50 states. In my fantasy world each state would decided the issue and you could slaughter the unborn in those states that decided to do so and not in others. Its really rather simple.

So, is it proper for the government, be it federal or state to sanction or authorize the institution of marriage?

I’m not settled on the issue. With government interfering at all levels AND with different treatment of marrieds in benefits, tax, or other responsibilities, and that required and forced upon the private sector, then it is paramount that a decent respect of the institution to be in place over the level of government that is forcing its will. If the taxation of the people, and requirements and so forth were all conducted on the state level, that’s where the defining and sanctioning of marriage should occur, at least as far as government goes. So then if you are a church in Vermont and they pass a law saying marriage can be between any thing from a ding to a bat, then that church may be required to hire individuals with multiple wives or whatever. They could by choice move to another state that was a respecter of traditional marriage. Ditto people and businesses. A net loss in population by those states condoning abhorrent behavior may have an effect on their sanctioning of it. Ditto for those who protect traditional institutions and decency. A net influx, people live in their perceived place of dignity, all are happy.

Since the relative prosperity, protection, and blessings of America are shared among the 50 states, a move from one state to another is minor all things considered. However, there are no equivalent alternatives when abhorrent behavior is sanctioned by the federal government. All options for moving to a foreign land are less desirable because they have already accepted homosexual and other deviant lifestyles and many of the socialist “benefits” that C.G. has so eloquently bid for these many months and years.

We are sinking to the levels of the best alternative countries that are available. These countries are excellent options for those wishing to wallow in socialism and deviant sexual sin. Yet even they don’t like what those countries have become. They want the benefits of capitalism, a republican form of government, and a society of people who govern their personal behavior with the “benefits” of socialism and rampant deviant sex. They want to infuse the characteristics of one onto the other. They want to make a cat bark like a dog.

Having 50 independent states under the protection of a federal government is an excellent option we need to revisit.

"But I'm really interested in how you would view the Federalism argument as shaking out ... how should it be structured? No 14th Amendment?"

We have so much Federal government that even I can’t picture how it would look in 2006 were it to be of Constitutionally limited size. However, What if.....

What if individuals were taxed (income, sales, etc.) at the state level and state governments had to file tax return to the federal government and were taxed for the now greatly reduced federal beauracracy and services? The state governments would have to get their act together and have a good accounting of their numbers.

I don’t think they would be, but various neighboring states may be quite different in laws and regulations. In many ways they are now. Our state’s visitors bureau could have CD’s, DVD’s, or paper manuals explaining what out-of-staters need to know about our state.

However the anti-traditional marriage types know our lack of alternatives if they screw us on a national basis, and therefore it is their only hope of becoming entrenched, if not accepted.

Ask for specifics. I’m making it up as I go.

Prof. Ricardo

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Prof. - Huh? I realize that I am new to posting here but really, what the hell is that? It seems libertarian in its tone arguing for state's rights and but then it turns on its collective head to impose a morals and decency clause across the board enforced on a state by state basis.

The abhorrent behavior you speak of is not sanctioned by any government but is unregulated behavior that it has been determined that the state's interest, to the extent it has any, does not trump the individual's privacy rights.

You decry socialism in one breath and long for a theocracy in the next. You seem puritanical and would turn the arm of the state to regulate behavior that you and other like you find abhorrent and offensive.

Is your world filled with activist judges seeking to undermine you and your family? If so, get a grip. You are not the center of the universe.

In the 1970's, conservatives had a cry against liberals to "Love America or Leave it." It would seem that the tables are turned.

Really, can't you see the inherent contradictions in your post? "Free Markets, Closed Society" that should be your motto. or:

"A cop in every bedroom." or:

"I'm from the State Capital and I'm here to help or intrude in your personal life which ever is necessary."

Believe it or not, I had a lot more strident rhetoric to post but I will stop here.

P.S. I am a rebel without a cause enjoying benefits of capitalism, a republican form of government, and a society of people who govern their personal behavior with the “benefits” of socialism and rampant deviant sex. Long Live non-conformity and rock-n-roll!!

BTW, could you define more specifically, "rampant deviant sex." It gets me a little hot when you say it. ;)

Tony, if I have reduced the discourse to just coarse, then I apologize. To the extent I have walked into the wrong room, I will intrude no more. Nothing gets under my skin more than moralists pointing fingers and throwing stones.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Now that is a US internal migration I would grab some popcorn for. We just think we are a polarized nation now. Just wait until the red states are 100% red and the blue states are 100% blue. That would make a great movie. My $ would be on the rednecks when the second civil war broke out.

50 different Bill of Rights... this is going to get interesting. Good old fashioned marital fun in my state could be a death sentence in yours. I think one might learn to pay close attention to that State Bill of Rights Kiosk on entry... particularly the marital orifices and birth control. I will have to live in a state where choking the chicken is a legal fundamental right. I will not negotitate on that one.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Guy,

Tony, if I have reduced the discourse to just coarse, then I apologize.

That's funny. We like coarse here... or at least coarse-lite. This is a weird stop on the Internet... we all seem to like each other here (all 5 of us). Prof lives in Texas... there is a problem with the water supply there.

Prof... you realize we would need a name change from The United States. Maybe something like The Geographically Close States.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy said...
...but then it turns on its collective head to impose a morals and decency clause across the board enforced on a state by state basis.

1. I’m advocating let the states determine their level of decency and not “across the board.”
2. Only in as much as Federal law intrudes on us do we need to define the terms and morality that it affects.

You seem puritanical and would turn the arm of the state to regulate behavior that you and other like you find abhorrent and offensive.

Regulate the behavior, no. Nor change the definition of marriage.

Believe it or not, I had a lot more strident rhetoric to post but I will stop here.

You’ve impressed me adequately so far. No need to continue.

BTW, could you define more specifically, "rampant deviant sex." It gets me a little hot when you say it. ;)

I like to leave my readers begging for more...

C.G.
50 different Bill of Rights... this is going to get interesting.

Disregarding Guy’s request for a definition, you may want to bone up on the Bill of Rights that already exist starting with The Virginia Declaration of Rights. Oh darn, I’m sorry. This states rights thing was all supposed to be my silly idea. Ignore the link, it’ll only confuse those enraptured with their own opinions.

Prof. Ricardo

4:10 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G. said...
Prof... you realize we would need a name change from The United States. Maybe something like The Geographically Close States.

Actually, the name The United States at least admits there are borders and at least different names. The current population has yet to find a problem that could not be better dealt with through more centralization and a greater depth of bureaucracy. You’re in much company, which ought to give you warm fuzzies. As such, you need to be aware of Guy.... :-)

Prof. Ricardo

4:18 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

First, you are very welcome here. Pretty much things are no holds barred in this forum. I practice what I preach and encourage utter freedom in posting here. You haven’t even approached the levels of vitriol that have happened here in the past.

Keep in mind too, that everybody here is friends on one level or another for the most part. That fact seems to add to rancor however, and not reduce it. What can I say but that this is the kind of friendship I seem to attract.

Frankly, I will take coarse over stupid any day of the week.


Prof,

I will respond to you a little more fully, but one thing you said deserves more focused comment: “We are sinking to the levels of the best alternative countries that are available.”

Here is where you and I have the greatest common ground. I do not personally care for how our society is changing. While we have had many changes that are for the good, with those changes we have brought along a lot of junk. I share your concern.

That said, I believe in a free society. This includes the freedom to destroy ourselves as individuals and as a corporate body. America is not worth preserving because we have such great citizens but rather because of its ideals that until somewhere around 1969 or so we had been actively working toward achieving. We have ventured from that historical path and that is the disaster that we should all decry.

From a Christian perspective, what I prefer is the level playing field. An equal chance for all worldviews to compete in the arena of ideas. I believe our beliefs will win because of their truth and superiority as long as we compete on the merits rather than attempting a political triumph.

I do not think telling gay couples that they can not marry gains us one thing as a society. On the other hand, the fact that my church does not sanction same-sex unions does gain us a great deal. That is the moral stand that matters.

Truly I do think that we are confronting the utter destruction of American society. It is morphing into something alien and ugly right before our very eyes. To me it is clear that the only way to save it is to embrace freedom rather than turn further from it.

Or to say it a different way, God was the first libertarian when he gave us free choice. Jesus did not come to reject, but to accept flawed people. He did not pick and choose and hung out with those with flaws of a most serious nature. Jesus confronts us with a choice not a legal system. I choose to embrace his plan and not that of the radical right.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

If you didn't read the Madison link, you should. I was aware that there was great debate about having a Bill of Rights or not... but it's pretty interesting to read Madison's words at the time. Some of their initial debates are debates that will go on forever. That Madison was a bright boy... but he talked funny. :)

4:44 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

America is not worth preserving because we have such great citizens

No kidding. The 2004 election proved that.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Allright then. I am enjoying the debate but if I am consistent on anything it will be that context is important. What I mean is the world is not ending.

What I decry is rhetoric both right and left. (I acknowledge the ability to let it fly also). "Utter destruction of American Society?" Please. This is what I am talking about when I say you protest too much.

Where is the Faith in Man? Where is the optimism that are founders had that men are good and government is bad? We have it backwards now.

Slave Trading; Trust Busting and Progressivism; The Great Depression and the New Deal; WWII and the fight against tryanny. Our history is littered with people who felt we were on the edge of destruction and yet we have survived. Despite the long odds.

I will acknowledge that we are a young country and 200 plus years is hardly a sign of longevity in the great march of history but on the edge of utter destruction? Not even a close one.

Let's debate, Let's engage in the marketplace of ideas but the extreme hyperbole is a cancer. (Yeah, I recognize that that is hyperbole). I agree with Jon Stewart when he appeared on Crossfire and told the hosts that they were what is wrong with America.

What happened to the days when Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neal could debate in public and share a drink in private? I think the right and left would just as soon run over each other in the parking lot at the end of the day.

My complaint is where is the optimism? It doesn't seem like morning in america anymore but the end of a very long day and we are all a bit cranky.

Rights? Rights are for the optimistic who see opportunity and want the government to stay out of the way. Laws? Law are for those who seek to curb and regulate behavior because of the weakness inherent in men. Liberty is the uneasy middle ground that recognizes these two qualities in mankind.

Sorry about the soap box but context is important.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

To my list of times where some said we were on the verge of destruction I add: Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights Struggle; Integration of Public Schools. All these things were viewed in their time as signs that the end was near. Evidence of moral decay. To fight these things Jim Crow Laws were passed; miscegenation statutes were passed. Twisted activist judges (in today's parlance) proffered the Dred Scott Decision.

Again, it's the 24 hour news cycle in this media drenched age that makes you think the world is coming to an end.

From what I read, we are the most church going western country in the world. Why don't we take confidence from this? Instead, we are told the end is coming and God's Judgment is at hand. From these portents you can read nothing, for "I come as a thief in the night."

The religious right flexes it's collective muscle and delivers an election to the president. Does it make them feel better? No. They just feel betrayed because they look for purity in politics. There is none. Did they just land on this rock? I think not. Politics is compromise. Politics without compromise is tyranny of the majority or just tyranny.

I'll take all bets against the utter destruction of american society, whatever the times. I'll take all bets for the end of the world on any day. It's a sucker's bet.

I require more cynicism and disdain from a bunch of a crusty, ill-tempered, old men. Utter Destruction. Puhleeze. You've been to too many superman movies and missed or forgotten the message. Mankind is good though imperfect.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy: "Utter destruction of American Society?" Please.

If I may be so bold as to speak for another, I believe what Tony was saying is not that America would be a smoldering ash heap of humanity wailing as in the throes of Hell itself, but that the America the pilgrimage of humanity has sought and dreamt of will disappear and the same sad spectacle of humanity that exists on hundreds of other countries would now exist here.

Take the concept of private property. In 1774 the phrase was written Life, Liberty, and Property. Thomas Jefferson rewrote it to say Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Back then people knew what that meant. They knew the nature of governments to confiscate property. To find out that governments are confiscating property through eminent domain today merely to change from one business or residence to another business, or entertainment facility (Texas Motor Speedway being a recent nearby example) purely for the tax benefits or tourism boost is thievery and our founding fathers would take up arms without hesitation. Today, its page 1 of the newspaper, but it is happening. Tomorrow, its page 17 of section B, under local farmer finds cow patties. That general downward trend is not the destruction of humanity, but the destruction of the American Dream. Not in and of itself, but coupled with a thousand other drifts from what, I would assume Tony would agree with me, a desirable American Dream to just another squalor of humanity. Sure, we get to keep the Eagle as our national bird, but the Bible calls that kind of hollowness a white washed tomb. My $.02.

Prof. Ricardo

8:08 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Politics is compromise.

Not according to our departing Tom DeLay.

Prof... you need a little more "we" in your diet.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

Prof pretty much nailed my view, but let me be more expansive.

In my view the utter destruction of America is almost complete. It is the America of ideals of which I speak, not the political entity which is the United States of America.

I for one have no doubt whatsoever that America will continue to exist as an entity for a very long time. After all, we have accumulated wealth such as the world has ever known or concieved before the 20th Century. We have used that wealth to strengthen our defenses and continue to build financial capital. America is an incredible economic collosus that will not fall precipitously in our lifetimes.

But the ideals have already slipped into a coma and we are waiting on the politicians to pull the plug.

Here is why there is nearly no hope for the Shining City on the Hill: we are stupid. We collectively operate as if Democrats and Republicans really care about their consitutents. We willingly acquiesce in the media constructed artificial two party axis largely because we have lost our critical thinking skills.

This inability to think critically has led to the systematic gutting of our constitutional protections. I'd love to hear someone such as yourself who is more knowledgable than I explain how the Constitution really does matter any more. From where I sit, the executive branch does what it damn well pleases and even the opposition in Congress rubber stamps outlandish things for political expediency. I know there are still real legal fetters, but they mean less and less with each passing year.

I'm thinking especially of the attrocious and shameful behavior of the Congress with specific regard to the Clinton Impeachment, the War Powers Act and the Patriot Act. There are other lesser examples, but these stand out.

Americans have ceased holding their political elite accountable in an intellectually rigorous way. Most of what passes for news these days is really meta-news. We are treated to article after article about the political aspect of so-and-so taking such-and-such position and very little about the merits of such-and-such position. Form has completely triumphed over substance and therein lies the rub.

I sincerely do think I stand outside the media drenching. I listen to very little news and am very selective in what I consume. The hysteria of the right and left are tiring and unproductive. I don't think America is ending because of anything that has happened in the headlines in the last thrity years: it is coming to an end because of what has happened in our hearts and minds.

We have ceased to be communal such as when you and I were young. How often does a neighbor know their own neighbor much less help them these days? We are isolated and cut off from each other and this makes it easier for politicians to exploit us based on our personal self-interest. On top of being isolated, we are stupid...too stupid to see the lines of bull shit that passes these days for national debate.

While I do decry our moral condition, our laws and political policy have zero causal relationship to that in my view. It is our poor moral condition that has lead to our deteriorating legal and poltical institutions. Perhaps that is a bit circular, but in my view the chicken did come before the egg. Viewing our condition through strickly a Christian Eschatological perspective is vain as you correctly point out an I totally agree. I have no clue whether God's will is for us to be the Shinning City on the Hill or the Beast and anyone who claims they do is probably smoking some sacramental peyote or high on some prozac induced neurotransmitter overload.

You ennumerated a nice list of things that have incorrectly been heralded as the portent of doom for America: Slave Trading, Trust Busting, Progressivism, The Great Depression and the New Deal, WWII and the fight against tryanny, Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights Struggle, Integration of Public Schools. This is an interesting list worth some analysis. Unfortunately it is late and I will have to substitute less analysis than that for which it is worthy.

Slave Trading, Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights (and school integration) as the end of America share the common thread of being the clarion call of the small minded and bigoted amoung us. I am not someone who suggests that allowing gay civil unions (or porn or the national endowment for the arts funding Robert Maplethorpe) will lead to our destruction. What I do suggest is that our whole brain-numbed approach to the "debate" is evidence of a slide toward destruction. There will always be bigots unfortunately.

The Great Depression and WWII present a different class of challenges. Those threats were real physical threats to our existence. I do not think that the contemporaries of those events were being espcially hyperbolic to suggest that either of those threatened our existence because they clearly did. The doomsayers were wrong but those were risky times and cirumstances. I don't think those are comparable to the doom which I forecast.

Trust Busting, Progressivism and the New Deal are closer to the mark but still miss. Those were political programs that were cast as portents of doom largely for political reasons. These bit of history are the ones most like the broad general doom-casting that goes on presently. Still, none of these are like the evidence I identify as pointing to our impending demise.

Here is a wrap up. We are doomed bacause 1) we are willingly stupid, 2) this stupidty causes us to cherish form over substance in the political arena, and 3) the only value we seem to rally around is the value of the dollar.

Sorry to rant on for so long. I've said most of this before and probably it bores the long-timers here. But your "extreme hyperbole" accusation got me going.

Me protest too much? You have no idea...I'm just getting warmed up.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I agree with the stupid and greed part. I don't agree that was ever any different. Our fate has always been about working around those two truths. Which I guess is your real point... we aren't overcoming anymore. That said... if you can tell us how we overcome this conservative virus that soaks reason out of our nation... I'm all ears.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G. Prof... you need a little more "we" in your diet.

Since I was born, it has been my daily habit of not taking on “we”, but eliminating it. I realize that there are many around me who are full of "we", but their golden hue has not presuaded me thus far. If this is the banner you have thus chosen, to speak out for the "we" individuals in our midst, dribble on. And may your pool contain much "we". :)

P.R.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I have told you the cure to the problem and almost nobody here except Prof seems to agree: education. I just see no hope for improvement unless we make sweeping improvements to our education system and do so quickly. Otherwise, we are destined to be just another rich powerful empire slowly broken on the rocks of its own avarice.

I’d be happy to return to the topic of education but it always is greeted with silence. And that is the root of the problem: nobody gives a damn.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

I just we'd on myself.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

So will those better educated Wal-mart employees recognize any "society obligations" or will they be well eduated me-centric soul saving profit centers?

12:25 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

...or will they be well eduated me-centric soul saving profit centers?

Maybe if they were a little more “me-centric” they wouldn’t have to be victim-centric, welfare-centric, and low self-esteem-centric. Don’t worry, for your statist dreams there will still be victims. Jesus said “the poor you will have with you always.” That should make you feel better. :)

P.R.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,

Anchor babies, the 14th amendment, and the United States v. Wong Kim Ark case in 1898. What is your take on this?

P.R.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have been faithfully reading the Curmudgeon's essays and the responses for many many months. I'm just hoping you all get back to the original thread (if that's the correct terminology) of this post.
In any case: IMO there isn't much chance of the President being held to account. There are obviously sufficient cowards of both party's, in both houses of congress, to assure his safe exit. From the history I have studied, it seems lots of pain has to be experienced before citizens get their heads out of the sand. There's little doubt in my mind that this country is headed for big financial trouble. Not only because Bush has borrowed, legislated and spent us into debt, but also too many Americans spend, borrow and have no savings. Big pain is coming.

G-Ma

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

If I am going over plowed ground, I apologize but I am enjoying the debate and will work my way back to the original thread.

But in the interest of full disclosure, I think you should know that I am contrarian in nature, for better or worse, trained in the way of legal argument and prideful of being a despised trial lawyer. My educational and professional profile can be found at www.brewsterlaw.com.

I specialize in Plaintiff's trial work and complex litigation of all sorts but especially enjoy civil rights cases involving constitutional matters. I have argued before the Tenth Circuit on behalf of the wrongfully accused, the wrongfully convicted and victims of excessive force by law enforcement in wrongful death matters.

I enjoy representing the little guy against powerful interests and do not like to lose. I am either your hero or represent all that is wrong with America depending on where you stand.

I do not say these things to be boastful but to put in context my views and how they are shaped. Constitutional issues are not academic debate for me but represent interpretation of a living document that has been controversial ever since activist judges decided Marbury v. Madison.

With that said, I will get back to the thread in the next post.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Doom and Education.

I agree with CG, stupidy and greed have always been problems in this country. That is why when the founders originally wrote "all men" they meant free white landholders. They also recongized the uneducated masses.

Certainly, education has great merit but but we all can't have liberal art educations. How many business majors does the world need? How many lawyers for that matter?

But I am curious, what is the American Dream? And aren't more people achieving it than ever? (Yeah, I recognize the heavy debt burden and overleveraged middle class.)

I will engage in the debate but the pessimism is so pervasive here. Where is the optimism? This is my contrarian nature. For every kid you can't point out to me who doesn't get a good education and I can point out two others who are getting a great education in the public school system.

It can't always be give me liberty or give me death. Even the founding fathers got tired of being lectured by the firey Sam Adams after a while.

We are at the end of the First American Century. Have we been coasting? Yes. Resting on our laurels? Yes. Acting unitlaterally as if we are big spoiled child who doesn't understand why nobody gets us? Of course. Chipping away at hard fought freedoms for the illusion of security? Most definitely.

But the giant sleeps. This is still the country that started a revolution over "taxation without representation" and dressed up like indians and threw tea into a harbor to protest. What a quaint idea and a fable that is still taught in every elementary school. This is a powerful founding mythology that once pricked will not easily die down. And one that is readily grasped by all levels of education.

Doom? I can't even hear the footsteps yet.

BTW - I hope we all realize that the NSA computers are collecting and crunching this electronic data as we type. When the revolution comes, they may knock on your door first.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy, “Constitutional issues are not academic debate for me but represent interpretation of a living document that has been controversial ever since activist judges decided Marbury v. Madison.

Just curious. What other legal documents/contracts do you know of that are “living?”

But I am curious, what is the American Dream?

Actually, I thought Tony and I covered that, but apparently not. Our perspective, of course, is to peer from the year 2006 over a multitude of governmental intrusions and to have never known a life where government didn’t know our income, control our level of risk at work, or tax our labor and property. Depending on your worldview, what ever is harmful to my “American dream” may be a fulfillment of yours.

The original American dream was the ability to work unencumbered by government and actually receive the fruit of your own two hands. To worship and not be told what God or method to worship. To speak out against threats and possess the means to keep your household secure. This has lured peoples for hundreds of years. That is the American dream that is slipping as we introduce more government control over our lives, our transactions, more monitoring of our incomes and travels, and so forth. But if you are the sort that welcomes the security and oversight of the government in all of your daily life and you don’t see the trend toward greater government and larger portions of your wealth being used for the Common Good and, therefore, less available for you to direct towards your own security and felicity, then this is indeed a great day and a fulfillment of your American dream
P.R.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Prof, you are one frustrated accountant. Jeffersonian agrarian democracy went out with the cotton gin.

Let me be clear, I do not welcome more government intrusion for the sake of security. I don't ask simple questions to be obtuse but to draw you out.

Who is keeping you from worshipping your God? Who is keeping you from being as wildly successful as you want to be? Who is keeping you from speaking out? Who is keeping you form defending your home? Did Texas pass a firearms ban while I wasn't paying attention?

I don't know you but I know Tony. A highly educated white male as am I. We are kings in a land full of opportunity and you act as though you are a peasant in a land of fences and sharecropping. Luddites attack!!

The revolution was not over taxation but taxation without representation. You cannot be opposed to tax but only the details of how much and what is taxed (income or spending).

I certainly decry ever increasing taxes and a growing federal goverrnment. I decry the slow encroachment of our liberty for the sake of security. I like the idea of small government.

Get off the net, cut up your credit cards and pay cash for everything. I am not saying I disgree with everything you guys or Tony is saying. Far from it or I wouldn't keep wandering back but you guys need to open up a window in this chat room and let some fresh air in. It's stuffy.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Guy,

Man, I hope you hang around. Tony is a lifetime friend of mine, and late in the game I have taken an interest in his interests (history, law.... but not so much his civil liberties the sky is falling). I'm an IT guy who has read a few books :).... most recently, Scalia's and Breyer's books on Constiutional Interpretation. I would have loved to study law... not sure about practicing it. That said, I would most definitely have shared your passion for defending the little guy... sure doesn't look like the big guy needs much defending in eat-your-own-kill-laissez-faire of today.

Anyway... I found myself a real Breyer fan, and not so much a Scalia fan {although I really enjoy listening to him... I find him entertaining}. My take after reading Breyer, was that our Constitution contains both detailed defintion parts (structure of government) and broad sweeping intentions and ideas (rights). I have no idea how someone like Prof (and Tony for that matter) looks at the broad sweeping intentions part of the Constitution and views that as a static black and white contract rather than a "living" document.

It may be a bit of a sidetrack on this blog, but I would be interested in your views on the concept of a "living" Constitution. Besides... the Prof just challenged you on this.... so there are at least 2 of the 5 of us who are interested. :) Maybe there are more than 5 out there with lurkers like G-MA.

Hope you stick around. Our buddy Tony could use some help crawling out of the US-is-ending-gutter, and I can't help much because I'm pretty much a gutter dweller also.... although for different reasons.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Well, I hate to tell you but that Farah piece is fundamentally flawed, though I’m sure his simplistic argument will have a lot of appeal to his audience.

While the United States indeed kept English common law, where it spoke to the law, the Constitution superseded the common law. I haven’t read the entire opinion, but the holding of the court was that the US could not deny citizenship to someone born in the United States. The language quoted by Farah is dicta…excerpted from a portion of the opinion that was restating the common law rule for the purposes of analysis. Dicta does not, and manifestly should not have the force of law.

I can find the full opinion and read it for absolute certainty, but I am pretty sure that Farah is full of it on this one. He said himself, “Now I'm no lawyer…”.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

G-Ma,

Well, welcome back. I'm glad there is something of profit here for you.

As much as I abhor the debt, I'm not sure that will be our undoing, though as you say it may well inflict great pain.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

Plowing old ground is fine by me. The big topics deserve re-examination.

First let me say that I applaud what you have done professionally. If I had chose the route you did, perhaps I would still be a lawyer today. I’d love to do civil rights law. Ah, maybe someday.

I for one do not accept the “living document” concept…or at least as it is commonly described. I’m not a textualist either…I think there is sound room for jurisprudential maneuver. That said, I think the Supreme Court has strayed way too far from the text and done so unnecessarily for the most part. We can have that debate some day though CG wants your dissertation on the subject sooner rather than later.

On education, there is education and then there is education. When we speak of such things I always think of my “uneducated” Grandparents. Their 8th grade educations left them far better equipped to deal with policy issues and to think critically about them than does the education most people receive today. But taking your 2 to 1 numbers for the purposes of argument, I find the possibility of 33% of our population being unable to function to be a really huge and serious problem. OK, I’m going to quibble with your numbers too. If you look at functional literacy rates there are large swaths of this country where the number is less than 50%.

And are you sure you don’t live in a good educational bubble of some kind? I spent three years on the East Coast and let me tell you, the situation out there is really bleak. Here in Dallas, you can’t imagine the state of the Dallas school district. Sure, out in Plano and Coppell, things are peachy. Other burbs range from good to horrid (such as Irving).

Seems like someone who prides themselves on being for the little guy would be with me on this one. It is the poor that are getting royally screwed on education.

Perhaps I’m a bit Sam Adams-ish at times. But then, I really do not see enough concern in this nation over the fundamental changes that are happening around us. I agree that human faults have always been with us, but we have leaned on our institutions to save us from ourselves. That is what the whole system of laws is about. When that system is attacked and the various checks and balances removed or weakened, we are in great peril.

All of that said, I often have to remind people here that I am personally not as depressed and negative as I may come across here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon-mostly because I have a lot of confidence in my family’s own ability to weather the death of America Idealism. While I see a complete social collapse and civil unrest to be a possibility, I do not view it as a probability. I think the sleeping giant can awaken again but I am concerned that it might not. I think somebody needs to shake the giant from its slumber though because the trend is not a good one.

When the NSA knocks on my door, you will be my one phone call.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Hi Guy!

Re: My unanswered question....
Let me quote from my notebook on America, The First 350 Years, by J. Seven Wilkins:
—QUOTE---
How should the Constitution be interpreted? We should interpret the Constitution like we interpret any other historical document - by the original intention of the authors. Chauncey Burr comments:

"It is the rule laid down by Blackstone, that the intention of the parties to a compact is the key to its meaning. The terms and language must be referred to the time of its enactment, and must be taken as understood by those who so employed them, and not according to any subsequent definition. Thus the Constitution of the United States must be explained as those who made and framed it intended. Their INTENTION IS THE LAW." (op. cit., p.211)

When this rule is cast aside, the liberties which the Constitution was intended to preserve will be lost. Again, Chauncey Burr, .
"Such were the rules by the Constitution was interpreted by the Supreme Court undeviatingly from the foundation of the government to 1863. Since this last date a change has come over the spirit of the judiciary which is in violation of all the past rules of interpretation, and indeed of judicial proceedings among all enlightened nations. The doctrine has been boldly proclaimed, by leading journals, that laws and compacts are to be construed so as to be in harmony with the 'will of the people,' and judges have, in too many instances, succumbed to this monstrous delusion...It indeed amounts to the overthrow of all fixed and regular governments, and leaves the passions and fancies of an hour the only guarantees of liberty." (Ibid., p. 212)

Because of this view of constitutional interpretation, we have become a nation of men (ruled by the opinions of Supreme Court justices and other radical minorities) rather than a nation of laws.
—End of Quote—
So, let me repeat.

Just curious. What other legal documents/contracts do you know of that are “living?”

Would you include your mortgage agreement “living?”, your employment contract?, Wills? DNRs?

Your jolly, frustrated accountant,
Prof. Ricardo

11:03 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.

Wow... another laywer on Tony's blog. That has to be past some acceptable quota.

It’s nearly up to their percentage of the population. :-D

BTW, thanks for tainting the water on the "living" Constitution issue. I was wanting to see his reaction sans your filter. Were you unsure he could handle it alone? :-)

P.R.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I'm pretty sure my rants never muddy the water. In order to muddy, you have to get past being ignored. :) Besides, I wanted to be on record when he told you something similar. I read two books on this stuff.... I'm an expert now. Pawaaaaaa!!!!!!

3:35 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof... look what I did for your muddy waters. :) If anyone should know how hard it is for me to suppress my opinions, you should. But for you... :)

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

I can see the tough thing here is keeping up the response to the various challenges.

Prof,

What other legal documents/contracts do I know of that are “living?” I would have to agree with Chauncey Burr on this one, they all are. "It is the rule laid down by Blackstone, that the intention of the parties to a compact is the key to its meaning."

Wow, talk about leaving enough room for interpretation to drive a truck through. The intention of the parties or in this case gentlemen who have been dead for over 200+ years? Hey, I like Scalia. In my opinion he is neither liberal or conservative cause you never know what intent of the founders he will seize upon to support the result he desires. Having said that I do not like some of the results oriented decisions he has reached.

No disrespect but I think the argument over interpretation of the constitution is a false choice and a fiction. We are always interpreting all documents based upon either our current understanding or what we perceive to be past understanding. Either way it still involves divining intent given your point of view.

If you are to strictly interpret, what right the judiciary (and Scalia) have to decide what is and isn't constitutional? The power isn't expressed in the Constitution but only an inferred power.

"The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the constitution.

Could it be the intention of those who gave this power, to say that in using it the constitution should not be looked into? That a case arising under the constitution should be decided without examining the instrument under which it arises?

This is too extravagant to be maintained." Marbury v. Madison.

No citations for this authority or interpretation. Justice Marshall merely supposes that to beleive otherwise is ludicrous. I am not saying I disagree but so we have gone on the past 200+ years. Marshall today would be run out of town for his judicial activism.

No, I do not equate, nor does any other serious consitutional scholar, the constitution with any other common legal document similar to the examples you provide. If it were so, I would apply the rule of parole evidence and deny any extrinsic evidence of intent to explain the terms of the contract. Having thus found, the document must then live or die by the words within the four corners of the document and our common understanding of the terms. All evidence of the parties intent is excluded from the analysis. (Of course, if the document is found not to be clear and unambigous, then parole evidence may be allowed. You gotta love the law. Always a black letter rule with a clear exception.)

I think the best example of the textual problem is the ever evolving definition of people under the constitution. They certainly did not mean "people" in the sense we mean it today. There were several classes of "people" who did not have rights and did not enjoy the privileges and immunities of citizenship. Did we only in time come to understand that they really meant women and blacks or did we begin to expand the definition as we began to interpret the document?

Hey, given the brevity of the document I think that it is a mona lisa masterpiece. What the hell are they smiling about? The devil was in the details and to the extent you include too many, the chances of each colonial legislature adopting the document drop drmatically. I beleive the intent was to make it vague on purpose so they could get passed by the people. Sorry, I mean State Legislative Bodies. No democracy, it's a republic. The words are always subject to interpretation (intentionally).

Having said that I do believe "certain truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Oh yeah, these words never appear in the US Constitution. Oops.

Prof. Maybe this is what you are looking for: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

I am sure that I have failed to satisfactorily answer your question. I may take another stab at it later. I have to go get some fresh air.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

All kidding aside, Man, I love that language in the Declaration of Independance. Gives me chills.

Stupid Movie - National Treasure but the character is right, nobody talks like that anymore.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Tony: You're right, I am on your side of improvement needed to the education. It is far from perfect or even acceptable. I do live in an education bubble and my kids go to the same schools you and yours went to. We did not stray far from home.

One improvement regarding interpretation on the supreme court to me would be to put real people on the bench. I have e-mailed you an article from the Atlantic which makes some very interesting points. If you know Prof's and CG's e-mail feel free to forward it. The title "Remote Control - The Supreme Court's greatest failing is not ideological bias—it's the justices' increasingly tenuous grasp of how the real world works" The Atlantic, Sept. 2005

The article argues that whether they are appointed from the right or the left, the justices increasingly have very little real world experience but seem to be self generating. In the resume' of each justice you hear the same things over and over. He served as a clerk to Justice XXXX for XX years. Sometimes you have to go outside the company to make a great hire. The supreme court is in my opinion a very incestous body.

CG when I read the books on constitutional interpreation by the justices (and I admit that I have only read excerpts) I don't get it. I can tell you I have never seen any of their books cited in a brief.

Textual, non-textual, living document or ouija board they are all intepreting the document. Anyone who says they aren't is lying.

Finally, Prof - I am still worried about who is attacking you and the many questions I asked.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Yep... you were right. Guy can handle himself just fine. :)

less taint...more filling

7:59 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Make your point about a "living" Constitution with the "living".

Now that's brilliant. :)

8:02 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy,
Finally, Prof - I am still worried about who is attacking you and the many questions I asked.

I assume you mean...

Who is keeping you from worshipping your God?

I don’t recall claiming that I could not worship my God.

Who is keeping you from being as wildly successful as you want to be?

Mostly me I suppose. However, that 40-50% that I “contribute” to government has stifled my potential.

Who is keeping you from speaking out?

Once again, I don’t recall making that claim.

Who is keeping you form defending your home?

Actually I have quite the arsenal. Every time Clinton drug out poor Brady and signed a gun control bill, I went out and bought a new gun to celebrate. I bought ammo too. However, the left uses incrementalism. Think frogs, heat, water, and all that. They didn’t ban fireamrs, just some firearms. They didn’t ban ammo, just some ammo. They didn’t ban magazines, just some magazines. They didn’t ban gun purchases, they just made them subject to background checks and a waiting period. Maybe we can implement waiting periods for free speech, then I can ask you “Who is keeping you from speaking?” The threat to take away my right to defend my home existed before the first law was passed that affected it. The threat to take away your free speech has existed since man has governed man. That’s why you put in safe guards. To dismiss the progress of the individuals that have stated their goal is to take away my right to own a gun is willful denial.

Did Texas pass a firearms ban while I wasn't paying attention?

When my father was a child, he put his .22 rifle over the handle bars of his bike and rode down the neighborhood street to somebody’s house on a farm. He stop and ask if he could hunt squirrels. Even though they didn’t know him they’d say yes and tell him where the hunting was good on their property. When I was a kid in high school, must boys with pickups had a gun rack and a rifle or shotgun in the rack and parking in the school parking lot. Today, a young man is kicked out of school because he helped somebody move into an apartment and a kitchen knife - not the chef kind with a sharp edge, but your basic cut-your-broccoli variety - was in the trunk of his car. An 8 year old is suspended from school for cutting out a piece of paper “L” shaped like a pistol and aiming it at someone. I’m no social engineer with a doctorate, but I see a trend here. Yes, we don’t rope cows in my yard either, but there is a difference that is leaning more towards suspicion of citizenry having weapons than of only having an armed government.

Prof. Ricardo

12:10 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

We are of the same mind on Scalia. An incredibly smart man but once he has an objective in mind, he doesn’t work as hard as others to hide his result oriented methodology. He is a much better dissenter than majority opinion writer.

Your words on the parole evidence rule are right on target. Legislation is a different animal than a contract.

I think the whole constitutional construction “debate” is undone by the same two-endpoint false duality that permeates our politics. The Constitution is not a living document. It is a document for living people that must be construed in light of facts. It isn’t a rigid unbending comprehensive that must be amended for the slightest extension. It is a framework from which our body of law hangs.

Neither extreme is intellectually honest. The founder’s intent may only be imperfectly discerned. The document can not mean only what the government says it means, or the document is without value. Marbury is a classic early data point for test the four corners principal in the context of constitutional law: it doesn’t work. But just because you have to go beyond the four corners, it does not mean that the words can be interpreted in whatever fashion is convenient for the day either.

Sorry you find the air here so stifling. Think about the poor souls such as myself who come here and find the air fresher.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

I really enjoyed the Atlantic article. Thanks for that. And I did forward it to CG and Prof as well.

I like the suggestion of a limited tenure, but in my view there is no substantial improvement to be expected unless we by some miracle take the politics out of if. The whole nomination process has become nearly irrational it is so political. A very sad state of affairs I have to say.

While we are at it, we need tenure on CongressCritters as well.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Well said my friend. Well said.

It isn’t so much that we have presently lost our freedoms it is that the legal constraints on government have been watered down.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

CG taint for posterity...

Prof,

Hopefully Guy will respond to your inquiry. I'm going to restate some opinons/observations I said before on the "living constitution" debate.

I don't think many serious minded folks would be for ignoring the intentions of the Constitution... which of course is a false argument. None of the Supreme Court judges are for... or think they are... ignoring the intentions of the Constitution. There are Supreme Court Justices, however, that would find your mortgage contract analogy to be only applicable to PARTS of the Constitution. The Constitution consists of both 1) clearly defined sections (your mortage analogy) AND 2) broad sweeping statements of intentions.

For example... we all know what "Two thirds of" means... no debate really needed among justices. Also very unlikely this clear definition found in the Constitution would run up against a competing interest/right (maybe that happens more than I think). However, the following is a different proposition (In Breyer's, CGs... but not in Scalia's and I don't think Tony's).

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

That's not exact contract {mortgage} language. Our Constitution, like all Constitutions, include both types of languages. Scalia doesn't recognize a difference as far as his Judicial interpretation, Breyer does. Breyer would tell you one of the most important parts of the Constitution is guaranteeing a citizen the right of active participation (I think he called it Active Liberty) in their government. In Breyer's opinion, you can be every bit the "Activist judge" by sticking to some strict contructionist scheme, and ignoring the "Active Liberty" intention of the document.

Prof, the short version IMO is your analogy you start with is flawed... our Constitution is not a Mortgage contract. There is no black and white intention that falls out from many of the broad statements of intentions found in the document. Is cruel and unusual the same in 2006? We have better ways to execute people than hanging now. Excessive bail certainly has a different amount now. "Living" to me, means adapting to current times. In this example, "living" would not give any Justice the right to violate the Constitution by requiring "excessive bail" in today's terms {although even here, you can see the ton of judgement involved}. Think of all the exceptions that we have in our rights (can't yell fire in a crowded theatre, can't smoke illegal weed even if that's your proclaimed religion {that's for Tony}, etc).

Prof... you can try all day to make our Constitution a Mortgage contract... but it will never be so. IMO, it was every bit as much activism to view $ the equivalent of free speech. They directly violated the idea we all have an equal right to "Active Liberty... equal voice in our democracy"... and said up the ground rules where $1 = 1 vote.

Guy... a bit of warning. DO NOT discuss the public school system with Tony. At a minimum, go back and read some of the previous threads. Jeeze!!!!! Wow... another laywer on Tony's blog. That has to be past some acceptable quota. Looks like you must be between $7 million dollar verdicts at the moment. :)

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Tony:

I agree with your post. The air is not too stifling here but I just hate to see such pessimism even when it is warranted. That's my nature. I see and hear tragedy everyday in my line of work and as a defense I have developed a fairly black sense of humor and the ability to whistle in the dark.

I must admit that your optimistic remark, "I have a lot of confidence in my family’s own ability to weather the death of America Idealism" brought a wry smile to my face.

If there is to be change, in my view there has to be some optimism that it can and will happen. "Deep roots are not touched by the frost." (Sorry about the Elton John and Tolkien quotes but I find it much more accessible than other long dead poets and philosophers. I'm sure it's my public education.)

8:58 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony, et al,

Although the words seemed to have damned Farah, I’ll admit it to, I’m no lawyer...

It is not that we can discern “original intent” with perfection so that we can explain better what the synapses running around in the Founders heads better than they were able to communicate to their peers. It's just that “Oh we don’t know what they thought.....So what’s the international community think?” is a sad substitute. Its funny how the Supreme Justice’s oath to defend the Constitution is sacrificed for the desire to entertain foreign law principles.

As a layperson too stupid to walk erect, I thought a contract was an agreement. (Stop me when I stray...)

That agreement may be oral, written, or implied. It is supposed to represent what the parties to the contract intended it to mean. To discern what is in a contract or governing document, I think reasonable people could go to the notes, discussions, committee reports, and prior decisions to discern “intent.” I am totally convinced that this is an imperfect science. But the evolution of rights that never existed within the document and the evolution of government authority that was never authorized could not have been derived from looking at original intent, but from thinking happy thoughts and claiming some loose definition of terms, or equally mischievous, ignoring the document entirely, and this has severely hampered the Constitutions teeth. All political parties share in this travesty, as well as a pathetic public education on the matter these last many years. Heck, we here can’t even agree that the intent of the parties to the governing document have value.

If a “living” document “means adapting to current times” like Common says, In this current time people have spoken and said “we want marriage to be lawfully recognized as between one man and one woman.” Yet, activist federal judges have struck it down at every turn. Given that marriage has always been between one man and one woman, and that it is the current desire via 20 state elections, am I the only person on this planet that sees the “living document” as an excuse for judicial tyranny?

Maybe it is I that needs the education, to compromise the concepts of intent, to accept click-your-heels-and-make-a-wish Constitutional interpretation that effectively negates the need for a Constitutional convention. I’m too tired to argue about it further. My little sand castle can not stand against the incoming wave of Its-my-turn-now political thought. The American Dream is fading and it is my job to record what it was for my descendants. In no way do I want them to sulk, but to enjoy to the fullest the remnants of the best nation currently on the planet. But I want them to never forget, what they never knew, and what some here will never get.

Prof. Ricardo

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Tony:

The politics of the appointment process are outrageous. Who would want a job that you had to go through that? And who would want the people who have the kind of backgrounds that can navigate that? If I get nominated, I'll have to reject just on the basis of the incoherent ramblings I have scribed in this forum.

That's probably why law clerks work so well. They get locked up in a vacumm; publish very little in the way of their own opinions and are trotted out once they reach the appropriate age.

A natural progression as a judge may be from U.S. District Court to the Appellate Level and then on the the highest court. With your level of competence being judged by the quality of your mind and the opinions that flow from it. No, that makes too much sense. For the highest court, we want a blank slate. I am always suprised that all of the candidates are so willing to lie when asked if they have any opinions about current hot legal issues. Abortion being the most asked. My dry cleaner and Starbucks Barrista have opnions on abortion and I am supposed to believe that these highly educated and partisan individuals don't have one? In the words of Justice Marshall, "This is too extravagant to be maintained."

Do we really want someone who hasn't formed an opinion by the age of 40 sitting on the highest court in the land? Seems absurd to me but I'm crazy like that.

Which brings us back to the theater of the absurd of your original post. It's not suprising but to say the least very dissapointing.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Guy,

"The article argues that whether they are appointed from the right or the left, the justices increasingly have very little real world experience but seem to be self generating. In the resume' of each justice you hear the same things over and over. He served as a clerk to Justice XXXX for XX years. Sometimes you have to go outside the company to make a great hire. The supreme court is in my opinion a very incestous body."

I will read the article... it just showed up in email, but I have actually thought about that and I'm not sure I agree with that. I actually followed the Roberts confirmation, and I came away thinking this is one of those rare positions that require that type of intellectual. It would seem to me a "good, smart person from outside the traditional Justice grooming path".... i.e. Harriet Myers IS NOT sufficient. You have either spent a lifetime studying Constiutional law... or you have not. It sure seems like a lousy place for on-the-job-training to me. This opinion goes against my traditional thinking... because in almost all cases, I would believe diversity is a plus. The kind of diversity I think would be a plus on the Supreme Court would be also selecting folks froma Academia... i.e. the outstanding College professor who has devoted their life to Constitutional law. Of course, I also think we would get better presidents from this route then we get now... but that's another post.

"CG when I read the books on constitutional interpreation by the justices (and I admit that I have only read excerpts) I don't get it. I can tell you I have never seen any of their books cited in a brief."

Maybe you can be more specific on I don't get it. I'm an IT guy who just happened to get interested in Constitutional Interpretation {driven by the fact I was tired of the RR rants on Judicial Activism}. I wanted to be able to answer for myself what I thought Judicial activism really was... and I had the good fortune to have Tony available for mentoring. You should see some of our email exchanges.... he can be quite cruel to grasshopper. OK... grasshopper can be quite cruel to mentor also. :) For my purposes, both Scalia's and Breyer's books were perfect. Breyer presented his ideas about "Active Liberty" which IMO, is directly relevent to the discussion of Judicial activism. If there is any value in discussing Judicial activism, it has to be a discussion beyond "that judge decided something against what I wanted". To me, that get down to the interpretation process... and how each Justice sets up his boundaries {In your's and Tony's terms... how each Justice defines their methodology for going beyond the four corners}. I found both Scalia's and Breyer's intellectual process to defining their personal past-the-four-corners strikezone facisnating. You are going to have Supreme Court Justices with different methodologies... that's a given. There would be two tests to apply to a Supreme Court Justice 1) their chosen methodology 2) how well did they stick to their own strikezone over the years. Personally, I would want a court filled with Breyer's and not Scalia's. I would find Scalia's argument compelling if the US Constitution was in fact, the Mortgate contract Prof suggests. But it's not... and I find Scalia's methodolgy to be a form of activism in itself (ironic). Interestly enough... Scalia points out in his own book that he is not a "Strict Contructionist". That's another reason I persued this after listening to the Roberts confirmation.... the terminology. To me, the absolute best part of Scalia's book was the rebuttals by others that made up the back half of the book. I find such intellectual debate fascinating... and come away convinced that the law has a ton of GREY in it {which is what I believed in the first place}. What can I say about Breyer and his book... he had me at "Active Liberty". He pretty much dressed down the "originalists" and the RR choir of "judicial activism".

10:55 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

If a “living” document “means adapting to current times” like Common says, In this current time people have spoken and said “we want marriage to be lawfully recognized as between one man and one woman.”

Well, I did qualify what I meant by that. I probably would not have viewed "hanging" as cruel and unusual in 1787, but would in 2006 because we have "less cruel" options. I would view it judicial activism to outlaw capital punishment without an amendment. I by no means suggest adapting to the "will of the people"... I'm pretty fond of that guarding against the tyranny of the majority {which Tony speaks to so well}. We have a mechanism for that... they are called Constitutional amendments. I have said I am one that thinks we should have had MORE, not less constitutional amendments along the way as we adapted to current times.

I think your last post was a good one, and I always see your point. The problem is we are talking about "judgements" when we say .... "they violated the constitution".... or "they have now set a slippery slope towards the destruction of our constitution". That's possible, of course... but I don't see it with decision like "you can protect your home at night with a double barrel pump action 12 gauge shotgun, but not with a machine gun". I wouldn't care if you blew away the night stalker in the middle of the night with a machine gun, but it seems like a reasonable stance that we should do everything we can to take machine guns off the street. I have no doubt this is an incremental achievement by some with a larger goal...but my guess in the vast majority are like me on the issue (just trying to make reasonable judgements). Should banning machine guns from the homeowner require a constitutional amendment? Maybe... like I said, I'm for more, and not less. Guy may have been right as far as passing the Constitution originally... it required an obvious lack of detail. I'm not sure that should have applied going forward. I don't think the valid advice of "change your constitution with caution" means "you should have very few amendments".

I think the entire question of "what should require a constitutional amendment" is a very interesting one. I think it would get at the heart of the matter of your concerns... "the government violating the contract found in Constitution".

Great discussion.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Regarding the article:

Should we be concerned? After all, the Supreme Court is supposed to sit above politics and apart from popular whims. But when a large majority of the Court's justices have never cross-examined a lying cop or a slippery CEO, never faced a jury, never slogged through the swamps of the modern discovery process, something has gone wrong. As the Court has lost touch with the real-world ramifications of its decisions, our judicial system has clearly suffered.

The bold-ed sentence above seems very valid. I would think we would pick Justices that are experts on the Constitution AND can think outside the four corners (Breyer), rather than opt for experts in facets of life who have to pick up the Constitution OTJ. ???

I was reminded how much the RR's requirement to turn abortion into a criminal matter has devastated the nomination process. I would be for the 18 year limit on SC Justices. There were obvious sound reasons given {Federalist Papers} for lifetime appointments... but I do think a term limit would lower the stakes. I would find it comforting to know that anything Bush was a part of would be limited to a 18 year shelf life.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

CG:

I will collect my thoughts and try to give you a more complete answer although I think you have hit it on the head. For most people who decry judicial activism, they know it when they see it. And when they see it is in an opinion or decision that they disagree with that has broader implications for social policy.

I will admit, I don't think about judicial activism very much as a practicing attorney. To me, judges all come with their own predilections and supporting constituency that they are always playing to. I am not saying that they are wrong in their decisions when I disagree with them but that I try and understand the context in which the decision is rendered.

Having said that, I am for a few more real people on the bench. My problem is that while we all argue constitutional issues in the abstract, sometimes a little real world common sense would help. Hell, let’s get a reformed drunk who went to night law school up there. We may not all agree with his decisions but we will all understand them. I'm starting to think Harriet Myers might have been a good choice. ;) I did not like her politics but I guarantee her opinions would have been simple and clear. Especially after they were proof read by Cheney. Further, I wouldn't expect that she would need a book to explain her methodology. "That just ain't right."

Given all of the bright minds on the bench today, it has become harder to understand what they are saying. I am not the only one saying this and I will try to find an article explaining this point of view. But the number of decisions reached in a plurality or in a majority where many of the justices all write separately concurring has grown over the past several years.

As an attorney trying use the doctrine stare decisis to anticipate where the court will go, such written musings by all of the justices don’t help. What am I supposed to do with that?

I could go for some clear judicial writing by Justice Marshall these days. No one really seems to argue or disagree with him when he says, "This is too extravagant to be maintained." We all just nod our heads and agree with this common wisdom which is the linch pin for all of the judicial activisim we have today. (If you believe it exists!) :0

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

One more thing . . .

When we think about how old some of these guys are, I am reminded of a comdeian in the 1980's talking about how old Reagan was in his second term. The line went something like this all though I can tell it better . . .

Reagan, What is he almost 78 years old now and he has his finger on THE BUTTON! My grandpa is 73 and we won't let him operate the remote control to the TV!

I found it funny and hitting a little close to home with a seed of truth.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Text of al-Zarqawi Safe-House Document
Jun 15 8:58 AM US/Eastern
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/06/15/D8I8LJBG0.html

By The Associated Press
Text of a document discovered in terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's hideout. The document was provided in English by Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie:
___
The situation and conditions of the resistance in Iraq have reached a point that requires a review of the events and of the work being done inside Iraq. Such a study is needed in order to show the best means to accomplish the required goals, especially that the forces of the National Guard have succeeded in forming an enormous shield protecting the American forces and have reduced substantially the losses that were solely suffered by the American forces. This is in addition to the role, played by the Shi'a (the leadership and masses) by supporting the occupation, working to defeat the resistance and by informing on its elements.

As an overall picture, time has been an element in affecting negatively the forces of the occupying countries, due to the losses they sustain economically in human lives, which are increasing with time. However, here in Iraq, time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance for the following reasons:

. . . . cont'd in link above . . . .

4:19 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Hell, let’s get a reformed drunk who went to night law school up there.

I know a someone who went to TU Law school at night, finished in the top 5%, and then became a home-brewer. Is that close enough?

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Good enough for me!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I'm afraid that they would get ahold of my Disenfranchised Curmudgeon rants and the nomination process would be hell. But thanks for thinking of me. I do like to wear black and pontificate.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

That was interesting. Thanks for the link.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Regarding the US Constitution amendment threshold question:

The Supreme Court just ruled 5-4 that evidence obtained from a search where the authorities failed to announce themselves {before bashing the door down} could still be used in a trial. This was a reversal. Scalia wrote the majority opinion basically weighing the benefits of keeping the law as it was, and the cost of not being able to use evidence. Breyer wrote a lengthy disent stating that "announcing before entry" was every bit a basic part of the law as... {I think he used examples like being read your rights}.

Question: Wouldn't this be a perfect example where a Constitutional Amendment should be required to change the law. On this one, I happen to believe the law should have been changed. I just don't think something this major should happen without an amendment. I think the "activist judge" charges have the most merit in the "process", and not necessarily with the actual "results".

8:22 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Then again... that throws these types of decisions back in with those idiots in Congress. No easy answer. I definitely have more trust in our democracy with the SC Justices than those idiot Congress lemmings.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

How many of you curmudgeon's beleive that the al-Zarqawi Safe-House Document is real? It smacks of disinformation to me.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Off Topic:

"With the stroke of a pen, President Bush has established the largest ocean wildlife reserve in the world, centered along a string of islands, reefs, and atolls that stretch 1,400 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands."

I guarantee there is no oil under that reef.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Guy,

Two 500 pound bombs and Zarqawi glamor shots and a hard drive intact. Don't worry, the lemmings will buy it.

Which brings us back to Tony's original post:

It is not often that politicians are candid about their motivations and intentions.

I actually think Tony is wrong about the above. I don't think they hide a thing anymore. Consider the GOP talking points and how well orchestrated.... they all get the think tank/PR firm talking points and march out like Penguins.

- Cut and Run
- We will stand down when they stand up

They don't hide a thing anymore.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

continued....

- Bush admin staged audiences
- marketing backdrop in every speech
- fake Turkey's with Bush Thanksgiving appearance in Baghdad
- inheritance tax -> death tax
- Mission Accomplished
- Visiting a tiny sliver of a green zone in part of Iraq is visiting a thriving democracy {as one comedian said, that's like visiting Olive Garden and saying you went to Italy}
- Trickle down
- Cutting taxes raises government revenue
- Against Iraq war, then you are against fighting terrorism

Shining city filtered through a focus group I guess.

Guy... yep, no oil. A head-fake for the lemmings and the 2006 elections. Worse environmental president in history, and thinks he can look otherwise with some Pacific ocean aquarium. Crawford can't possibly come soon enough... even the lemmings are starting to get it.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy said...
How many of you curmudgeon's beleive that the al-Zarqawi Safe-House Document is real? It smacks of disinformation to me.

I do. Why?
1. It seems logical in its topical layout, agreeing with what we already suspected and giving logical responses to it.
2. The first #5 item states “By creating a big division among the ranks of the resistance” is in congruence with the fact that it was inside information that we used to kill al-Zarqawi.
3. The information gained has allowed us to carry out 452 raids and kill 104 insurgents using information retrieved from the site.
4. The method used to deliver the “disinformation” was too costly (ie, al-Queda leader and half a dozen lives lost).
5. Because it shows the current method is working and that the extended “time” that we have been there has worked to the US & Iraqs advantage, to save face it is necessary for the Democrats (authors of Cut and Run ©) to discredit it.
6. I would think our government is thinking seriously about a military response to Iran and this paper taints that by saying that al-Queda would give us disinformation about Iran's level threat.
7. Because Common Good thinks it is... :-)

Guy, Let us know why you think it is a fraud.

Prof. Ricardo

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Prof:

You have caught a lawyer asking a question that is vague and subject to different interpretations. I do not believe it to be disinformation from al-Queda but from the Iraqi and US Government. To the extent you are pulling my chain by interpeting my question the other way, you got me.

Why do I beleive it to be a fraud?
(1) It reads like a memo from an insider Enron accountant listing all the problems within the organization and what needs to be done. This is complete speculation on my part, but I don't picture al-Queda compiling such a self-critical document. Were they going on a management retreat next week to work on their skills? It sounds way to corporate and frankly, american-mba 'ish.

(2) If you were attemtping to convince ordinary Iraqi's to stand up and quit supporting terrorists, you couldn't have come up with a better memo explaining why the terrorists are attacking Iraqis and different factions to drive a wedge. I am not saying this isn't happening, of course it is, but to put it all down in a memo is too extravagant to be maintained.

(3) All the stuff about Iran. To me this is bonus info used to try and get the Iranians to stop helping the resistance by showiong that the interest of the resistance is to get Iran and the US in a shooting war. I guarantee, even in light of all the hot rhetoric, the Iranians are not interested in provoking us to the point of invasion and open war.

Hey, I am stuck here in an office in Tulsa, OK. What do I really know? I seen to many movies obviously.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Also, the movies "I seen" are dumbing me down. Tony, you were right about the public education system.

Note to Self: Must Preview Messages more often.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

First, I totally think it is possible for a thumb drive to survive the bombing. I accidentally sent mine through the washer and dryer a couple of months ago and it seems to work even better now. I do not doubt for a second that useful information may have been culled therefrom.

That said, I too thought it did not sound right. When I read it, my first reaction was that it was a weird translation. In retrospect, I would say that the disinformation is not unlikely.

I think it is hard to come to firm conclusions. Lets say it was not a phony. Just because it was on his thumb drive would not mean much. Perhaps it was a draft of something from someone not so important. Maybe it was a working document. It is likely that the various terrorist organizations are engaging in disinformation of their own…perhaps there a complication here that those outside the internal power struggles have no clue about.

Without the context of a lot more knowledge than any of us has, it is hard to pin down any of this stuff.

If I were betting, I’d bet on a creative translation that was spun through the translater’s interpretation and then released for disinformation purposes.

I’m stuck in an office in Dallas, so what do I know? :-D

9:04 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

The administration that has incompetently played every card in the deck, often releasing sought after documents to clear Bush of whatever infraction, only after the media had turned to something else, only to drag the bad media coverage back into the spotlight. THAT’s the administration you want me to believe has ingeniously orchestrated a disinformation campaign? Wow! Surely Common is in agreement with me that we think he couldn’t pull that over if it was an XL hoodie.

Prof. Ricardo

10:13 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Consider the audience they are selling to.

We are fighting them there instead of fighting them here.

You don't need much pig lipstick for folks who think starting the Iraq war altered Mr. Terrorist US travel plans.

I just don't have as much respect for 500 lb bombs as I used to. :)

12:07 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Re:500# bomb ineffectiveness.

From what I understand the same bombs had an effect on Uday and Qusay that pig lipstick couldn't fix.

Using a daisy cutter on al-Zarqawi may have had negative public relations effect because of unintended collateral damage. Sure would be neat to see the video though.

Prof. Ricardo

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Prof, I would agree that it is difficult to believe that an administration that has been so stunningly incompetent so far would be able to pull this off. Must be an Israeli or British Operation.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Obviously Congress critters giving themselves yearly raises isn't tied to inflation, CEO 1000 times average worker pay, minimum wage or their personal approval ratings.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Looks like this thread is dead. :)

Tony challenges our two party system, and rightfully so.... but it occurs to me that is more a result of this nation's nature, rather than some imagine collapsed of values or voter education in recent times. I believe two parties were born in the first place because America is split (and always has been) between 1) a wealthy majority who feel no obligation to anyone other than themselves, and 2) the rest of us. The rest is just background noises... bridging the definition of freedom with property and tax rates, the RR being played against their own economic interests, or even the true heartfelt libertarian beliefs not motivated by greed (Prof). It's all background noise... it's all an illusion which hides what's really going on. A significant percentage of our population believe they are under no obligation {other than voluntary} to the plight of other's in THEIR society. This has been dressed up as trickle down, the sacred definition of FREEDOM, punishing the successful to help the less successful, etc. The two party system exists because a large percentage of our population believes we have ZERO obligation to each other... in fact we boast and use that as our definition of FREEDOM. It's not our two party system that's broke... it's US.

Looks like the verdict is in. John Jay and Madison got their wish... and Adam Smith's observations were spot on. Benjamin Franklin's pro-middling people democracy was never a serious contender. We were started as a country to protect wealth... and it remains our highest ideal for some to this day.

James Madison.... who believed power should be in the hands of "the wealth of the nation....of more capable set of men."

John Jay.... "Those who own the country ought to govern it."

Adam Smith...."civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor."

Our two party system isn't' the problem. The problem is the part of the population that equates freedom and liberty with ZERO collective obligation to other's in their society. This was true in 1787, and it's true in 2006.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common,

As you see it,

(1) What is the source of our obligation to the plight of others?
(2) What is the scope of our obligation to the plight of others? (Ie, non-economic plight?)
(3) Who gets to define plight?
(4) If society says that there is no plight, then does that mean there is no plight, or is society wrong? If so, by what objective standard?
(5) If the average salary is say $40,000 and a plight individual is only making $12,000, is it our obligation to bring him up to the average (40k) or some figure between the two?

Thanks,
Prof. Ricardo

1:40 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

(1) What is the source of our obligation to the plight of others?

Living in the same society.

(2) What is the scope of our obligation to the plight of others? (IE, non-economic plight?)

Common good defined via representative democracy and collected via pooled federal tax.

(3) Who gets to define plight?

We the people.

(4) If society says that there is no plight, then does that mean there is no plight, or is society wrong?

Society is wrong. Plight has always been with us, and always will. The measure of a society is how it deals with the least among us, not how many $ millionaire's we create.

If so, by what objective standard?

See #3.

(5) If the average salary is say $40,000 and a plight individual is only making $12,000, is it our obligation to bring him up to the average (40k) or some figure between the two?

We the people can define fairness as we choose within the limits of our economic system. The answer to this type of question is not fixed or an absolute truth {absolute objective standard}, but rather a society's constant definition of fairness measured against current economic realities. We can help many more of our needy in 2006 then we could have in 1787, therefore we should. It's a constant moving scale... i.e. progressive. I think we start with universal health care, quality education, increased minimum wage and non-starving for the $12,000 a year family first. When GDP allows it in 2050... we will raise them to $40,000... and create deadbeats out of each and every one. :)

4:42 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

In all seriousness, if we stay on the path of this bifurcated economic system, I could see the day where one half of the society provides a stipend to the poor half. Tony and I discussed that years ago.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common,

Your answer to:
(1) "Living in the same society."

Says who? Why should that position be given weight over any other position? By what authority?

(2) "Common good defined via representative democracy and collected via pooled federal tax."

So it is economical only. Check.

(3) Who gets to define plight?
"We the people."


Check.

(4) If society (we the people) says that there is no plight, then does that mean there is no plight, or is society (we the people) wrong?

"Society is wrong."


So there is a standard, a decider, that can judge “we the people.” So “we the people” don’t decide, they just act like the decide as long as they agree with______ which is the real standard for deciding what plight is and how to deal with it. So, what is _______ ?

"Plight has always been with us, and always will. The measure of a society is how it deals with the least among us, not how many $ millionaire's we create."

I do not disagree with this statement. However, it is highly unlikely that the plighted will improve on their own in a society that is stagnant in producing people with wealth.

If so, by what objective standard?

"See #3."


Not if they are wrong (judged by) some other standard.

(5) "We the people can define fairness as we choose within the limits of our economic system."

Unless “(s)ociety is wrong.” Whoever decides if society decided rightly or wrongly is he who defines fairness.

Prof. Ricardo

12:06 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Hey Common Good, did you see that Steven Colbert clip at the White House Correspondence dinner?

Jeez... that one even shocked me...

Prof, Tony, you should try and watch that... "...to the Ambassador of China, we welcome you tonight, without your great country, our Happy Meals wouldn't be possible."

Hey Professor, what's Rush Limbaugh and those other irrelevent old white guys on their way out saying about the ONE Campaign now? Yahoo the internet company got involved, it's much more streamlined now- it's amazing the see the public/ private sectors merging together... it's such an efficient, positive idea... what a great investment Americans are trying to make in the poorest country in the world.

11:16 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good, they even have a ONE Campaign toolbar to help you participate more regularly....

Got to spread the word, it's the least I can do...

11:17 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Hey... Yoshi is back. Yep... saw Colbert at the White House Correspondence dinner. I actually watched the whole thing live because I knew he was going to be there. Man... he was brutal. I would normally say that he went out of bounds for the setting, but I don't think so for this president. What's a little non-PC humor weighed against the consequences of this administrations Iraq decision? I think the best part of Colbert's show on Comedy Central is when he does the bit on "Today's word". He speaks pure GOP spin while at the same time having what he really thinks written out on the screen... brilliant sarcasm. He also does a great job with his sarcastic interviews of his guests at the end of the show. I have to throw both Stewart and Colbert in that rare group of high IQ comedians which I would include George Carlin and Bill Mahre.

I'm not keeping up with the ONE Campaign, but heard the other day that Bill Gates has dedicated half of his wealth to his charitable enterprises. Wow... that almost may have been worth putting up with all of those crashing Windows PCs all of those years. :) I'm hoping Gate's moving to his charitable enterprises full-time in 2007 ramps up his good work. Never underestimate the effect a wife can have on a guy. :)

12:55 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Double Wow!!!!

5:34 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Yea, I saw Buffet too.

I guess they read that part about getting through the eye of a needle. Now if only Professor would start understanding that part...

Steven Colbert and John Stewart have been spawned out of the conservative radio talking heads- Rush Limbaugh, etc.

There is no way to combat those idiots except to just make a complete joke out of them, which thank Jesus Christ almighty someone finally is....

"Mock the Devil, And He Shall Flee!"

(I think it was Thomas Aquinas who said that... not sure though.)

7:32 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

Good to see you again my friend.

Normally, I do not consider anything anything affiliated with the White House (especially the press corps) to be worth any of my time whatsoever. But hey, I’ll try to be open minded. Its possible that I might not puke over it.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Man is so easily corruptible . That is why it is harder to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to get into heaven. However, God is not against with blessing people with wealth.

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for hi friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. ... And the lord blessed the latter days of Job more than the beginning, and he had 14,000 sheep, and 6,000 camels, and 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys., Job 42:10,12

Since man is so easily corruptible, that is why giving him control over his fellow man, and his fellow man’s pocket book, is an easy way to corrupt the politician and have all kinds of mischief take place. Thus the need for the rule of law and minimal government. There is very little difference between your rich man that you despise and the politician who controls the rich man's money for his own purposes, except it is easier for a politician to spend money that cost him nothing and he has nothing to lose by making a bad decisions. Notice there is no restitution by politicians.

Re: Thomas quote

But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”, Jude 9.

Prof. Ricardo

8:56 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

You know... as awesome as it is to see to rich guys "get it" when it comes to philanthropy... but even their wealth is nothing compared to a US federal based tax philanthropy.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Man if fully capable of corruption without the government:

Monopolies, Child Labor, 80 hour work weeks, exploitation of labor, only those with the gold have a voice in defining the workplace, Enron.... we also have history to prove this.

Better government with a bit of capitalism fettering is the only answer. Grey.... somewhere in there. Yeah, that makes representative democracy a lot of work. But like The Decider has proved... resolute and wrong ain't so great.

Prof and Yoshi:

Bill Gates ($40 billion) + Buffet ($40 billion) = $80 billion DIVIDED BY ($300 million citizens - $100 million kids and deadbeats = 200 million) = $400 per citizen.

Someone check my math. :)

10:31 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Prof, don't get me wrong, I don't despise rich people. In fact, I was just complimenting them (Buffet and Gates). I love rich people in fact, and I want to be one.

I think those two individuals are ironic proof that "all things ARE possible with God."

I understand wealth has to be created. You can't get blood from turnips. I am probably more indocrinated than anyone here in that respect. But it's a good indoctrination, and it has clauses.

The Bible says to give a 10 percent tithe. And as a country that's so obsessed with merging church and state again, we don't do that. (But we are getting better....so stay tuned!)

Buffet and Gates, two private individuals, are not stupid. They are INVESTING in the world's future. They aren't giving "aid", they are investing. Capital has to be invested before returns can be seen. These guys aren't out there to deposit money into rich dictators swiss accounts, and they are getting returns.

I think what I was saying, is that the implication from you (and people like Rush Limbaugh or Micheal Savage- two guys still bitter that they never got the cheerleader in high school)- is that INVESTMENT (my new word for "aid") is a waste of money that is stolen by undemocratic blah, blah, blah. Yet here are the two most successful capitalists in the world, and yet, they disagree. They don't see the "old Africa." They see the "new Africa- the final economic frontier." And therefore, maybe you should rethink your notions on the idea yourself, and join the good guys- the real heroes on the planet.

I mean, Jesus said "know a treee by its fruit," and that's truth.

So Gates, Buffet, have fruit. Thus, they are good trees.
Political radio mouths with no credentials except that they like to talk a lot, well Professor, don't let them influence you into cynicism about the ONE Campaign...

Prof? What do you think about Pastor Rich Warren, the "Purpose Driven Life" guy? I don't know much about him, but he's already got some credibility with me. I think I'll pick up his book. I'm sure Rush though smugly mocks him.... maybe not directly, but he mocks his causes...

Did you know since these debts were cancelled, 15 million children are in school for the first time? 15 million... that's an investment in the future. The dividends on that will be uncountable (figuratively). And that's something Americans can really be proud of I think. It's the first thing in my generation to be proud of...

11:24 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

Buffet and Gates, two private individuals, are not stupid. They are INVESTING in the world's future. They aren't giving "aid", they are investing.

I’m not always clear in my responses. My mother always said I would argue with a fence post. I guess that’s why blogs interest me.

My main point is that we should not equate helping the poor, or other great goals, with government programs. The beauty of the Buffet and Gates philanthropy is that it was not coerced. It was totally voluntary. It would be so easy to hoard it but they are seeing that money for the sake of money will not have a lasting impact for the future the way their foundations can.

As wonderful and big as their numbers are, the millions donated by the little guy dwarf it. But a lot of people think philanthropy is purely in the government’s domain. And as you know the more money you pass through the governments hands, the more corrupt the politicians become and the greater the inefficiency of the money being delivered.

With the Gates foundation, they probably won’t let go of the money without knowing precisely where and how the money will be spent.

the implication from you ... is that INVESTMENT (my new word for "aid") is a waste of money that is stolen by undemocratic blah, blah, blah.

My deal is, you see how beautiful it looks when it is voluntary? That is a great characteristic that we should applaud and imitate. Some help the African needy, some adopt crack babies, others give discarded items to AmVets, some money to the Heart Association, etc. We all see a need. We can all do something, a million different ways. What God lays on you heart, spreading the gospel, helping the poor, visiting the aged in retirement centers (my kids are doing a play in a retirement home this afternoon), we can all see a need either in our own neighborhood or across the world. A case in hand is a family from my church where the young father died of liver cancer. Many dozens came together to help out this family. Meals for six twice a day were brought to the hospital for family members. A different man each night from our church stayed in his hospital room each night from 7p-9a every night for the 5 weeks he was in the hospital. While I was not helping Africa, I & many others were helping a brother in need. There is a need for all kinds of help the world over. It’s obvious your calling is Africa and similar situations. Our family has multiple ministries that we participate in that will never hit the news like Bill Gates billions - and it shouldn’t. We didn’t do it to be recognized. But when my government chooses to take a larger portion out of my annual income, I have less to do those ministries that God has called me to do, so that some politician can do his “ministries” the he feels called to do, which may be as ungodly as the devil himself, like abortion.

“...Professor, don't let them influence you into cynicism about the ONE Campaign...

I am not against the help, only using the inappropriate method. There are things government should do. Philanthropy is not one of them. It is morally abhorrent to take one man’s property to give to another man purely to right some perceived injustice of the recipient, not the fault of the taxed individual.

Prof. Ricardo

1:35 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

My deal is, you see how beautiful it looks when it is voluntary?

I actually had an opposite reaction after just watching the Live comments by the Gate's and Buffet on CNBC. My first reaction was how wonderful these three folks are... and they are. Buffet just said he didn't believe in dynastic wealth, was for the inheritance tax {asked the simple question "what folks are you going to get that $30 billion a year from instead}. I'm not sure how Bill feels about the inheritance tax, but not to hard to follow Bill's old man's opinion on it (he wrote a book on it). But then I had my second thought... which goes to your claim that "this is so beautiful". No Prof... it is not. These three are beautiful, but what is standing behind the curtain IS DEFINITELY NOT. Restricting, limiting, filtering what is possible to address the real world of devastation around us is anything but beautiful. If I restrict the results by saying everything has to be federal, then that is ugly. It's even more ugly to limit the results to your voluntary only stance. Jeeze Prof... look around. We ain't getting it done. Please don't tell me we would be dealing with the immorality just fine if we all just got more of our taxes back. There isn't anyone here that will buy that nonsense. What's standing behind the beauty of these three individuals is some sad ugly Americanized restriction on philanthropy results by forcing it through some misguided non-government-volunteer-only governor. You are willing to accept a measure of beauty based process... a god approved process I gather. Process means nothing to me regarding dealing with the starvation, devastation and inequities on this planet. I don't have the luxury of believing some god spelled out a process-only acceptable form of human compassion regardless of results. Nobody is stopping the free will volunteer enterprises of the world to deal with these issues. Looked around a bit Prof? How do you think you private only guys have done. As much as I respect neighbors and communities chipping in voluntarily to help (church based or otherwise), I make the challenge that it is of very little consequence other than personal conscience's... i.e. ain't worth jack in the global scheme. Ironically, at the end of the day, if enough of us in this sad little democracy of greed ever switch the pendulum to federally based charity... that will be voluntary charity. The definition of "voluntary" is not restricted to non-government... that's just a process ideology that has proved itself a miserable failure for the existence of this globe. Together... through collective reason... the majority of citizen wills can correct this grievous error.

The private sector always has first choice. It takes this process's {please don't call that liberty} failure to even put federally funded philanthropy on the table. 200+ years has been long enough... get out of the way and quit selling the failed process (religious-based, liberty-based, or any other-based excuse for failure of results).

Yoshi... young man, you fight for the type of religion I believe in... that would be the religion of results rather than some process ideology.

Prof... I seriously have a fond spot in my heart for you, but you matter little to me compared to the masses of suffering on this planet. Don't take that personal, because I matter very little to myself against the same scale. We teach our kids that collectivism is a synonym for Satan. We do humanity a great disservice... and I'm sad to say, any religious belief should not give someone solace that process is the holy grail.

The backdrop to the Gate's and Buffet was anything but beautiful... and that backdrop is a non-existent collective society soul. I sure hope those married to the religion of rules and process have it right... because it would be a bit disappointing to find out Jesus was actually serious about those Gospels. As Colbert says... "maybe this country should act on what Jesus said rather than what others say he said". I'm still looking for the part in the gospels where Jesus condemns federal tax philanthropy, and condemns inheritance tax.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

OK... now that none of us have convince the others of a single thing :), let me change topics.

My questions/opinions have to do with Iraq and the supposed goal of worldwide Caliphate.

Questions:

1) Who thinks if we bolted from Iraq quickly {defined as by end of year}, Al Qaeda has a chance to take over Iraq?
2) Who thinks if we bolted from Iraq quickly, a Civil war is likely?
3) Is our current presence any deterrent to civil war? Is there already a civil war going on, but our presence keeps it from getting bigger? Our presence has nothing to do with whether or not a Iraq civil war occurs or not?
4) What's the odds of a middle east Caliphate, or global Caliphate?

I've been thinking about #4 the most. The prez, congress critters and talking heads tell us this is a real threat. Really... I don't think I'm buying.

First, let's just say Al Qaeda actually took over Iraq. {I think that laughable, although I think the low-grade civil war is already going on}. What would be the reaction of the neighbors. We know for sure we would no longer have any trouble staging our military in Saudi Arabia. Those oil barons would look over and say "holy sh*t"... America we love you. What about Iran. Some power Mullah's run that place now. I can't exactly see them going... hey OBL... it's all yours now. Pleaseeeeee!!!!. A Caliphate certainly had no chance without us going over thier to give Al Qaeda the fight they prayed for. Even with our plunder... they will be limited to blowing up people. They never had a chance to take over countries... we are such lemmings.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

Prof? What do you think about Pastor Rich Warren, the "Purpose Driven Life" guy?... I'm sure Rush though smugly mocks him.... maybe not directly, but he mocks his causes...

To use a metaphor you might like, Rush is a tough nut to crack. He doesn’t comment on religious issues like you would think. He’s quite evasive when callers make some Bible or Christian comment and he redirects it to political issues - probably not to step on anyone’s religious toes.

This blog may not be the right forum for me to comment on Pastor Rick Warren, but I’ll give you a synopsis.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback is another highly successful proponent of the Church Growth Movement (CGM). Schueller(sp?) was before him. They had them in the late 1800's and all the way back to the first century. In my opinion, they compromise the mission of the “Church” with dilution of content, both in preaching, praising, and maturity of members.

He has many great ideas, but he is a salesman. If reading him and participating in the Purpose Drive Life will bring you closer to God and your “purpose” in life, do not let me be the Grinch that stole that from you. But his use of watered down paraphrases of the Bible drives me nuts. The Message Bible is so far removed from a translation that it is embarrassing to see it used in a service.

If you want further info, email me.

Prof. Ricardo

2:47 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Everybody, including preachers.... are selling something.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

I went to Vegas to do some work for my favorite charity and I return and you guys have really gone off on a tangent.

Prof and Yoshi: I guess I am excited to see such worthy ideals for humanities sake but the older I get the more "British" my attitude becomes. And by that I mean, British in the sense of "Imperial British." They colonized Africa and India for their own economic purposes and really didn't care if the local population got any "democratization." But they did open these people up to liberal educations. India in the end seemed to get it (Ghandi was a British educated attorney) and not much is left of imperial Britain in Africa.

I have always thought our greatest export is our culture. Give them iPods and Gameboys and the hearts and minds of their youth will eventually follow.

In that sense, the Muslims get it and (it pains me to say this) I agree with Rumsfield we are in a culture war. It will be hot and cold for many years to come but our culture is so insidious that you cannot keep us or our ideas out. The Chinese are finding this out everyday.

Worldwide Caliphate? Never happen. These folks still represent warring tribes and religious factions. You can only have a worldwide caliphate when you can control information. You can't do this anymore. For $50 bucks in any country in the world you can buy a satellite dish and point it to the sky. The western world is yours 24/7. Why such violence now? We are in the last throws before the Islamic world realizes that they can no longer control their people and what info gets in their brains.

They will choose to use our technology to combat our culture with their own programming. Unfortunately, once you give them al-jazeera they can also get MTV and HBO. I read an interesting article on that this is happening right now on a large scale in Egypt.

Will this cause the war to end next year? No. But over the long haul, we will have the minds of their youth and they will all be consumers. You will know we won, when the Riyadh Disneyland opens in 2020.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: “Jeeze Prof... look around. We ain't getting it done. Please don't tell me we would be dealing with the immorality just fine if we all just got more of our taxes back. There isn't anyone here that will buy that nonsense.

George Benard Shaw once said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” I feel like you and I are that way. We both speak English, but I can not decipher your code.

We ain’t getting it done.”, “Looked around a bit Prof? How do you think you private only guys have done.”, “...of very little consequence other than personal conscience's... i.e. ain't worth jack in the global scheme...”, “that's just a process ideology that has proved itself a miserable failure for the existence of this globe.

It sounds like you are saying that (1) all that has been done so far has been private, and (2) if it had worked there wouldn’t be poor, hunger, AIDS, bad officiating at basketball games, and any other atrocity that is bothering you.

#2 - If everyone started with a million dollars today (forget the economic effect of hyper inflation caused by such a feat), in one year some people would be broke, some wives would still be beaten, some children would still be abandon, some people will still get AIDS through promiscuity, some people would still die of cancer, some dictators would still slaughter their citizens, some droughts and floods will still happen, some hurricanes and tsunamis would still kill, maim and destroy property. Jesus said, “the poor you will have with you always.” That was not a wish, but a fact. There will always be people in need. To say look around me as though if personal philanthropy had worked, Utopia would have been achieved, does not show a depth of wisdom I know you are capable of. Please rethink this as a “proof” of the failure of personal philanthropy.

#1 - Collectivist societies the world over have implemented countless programs, aids, projects, safety nets - choose your term. The correlation of increased collectivism to increased poverty and unhappiness is so readily apparent to even the willfully obtuse, its seems particularly strange that being electrocuted your answer is to turn up the juice. More of what causes poverty rarely rids the poverty. Increasing collectivism in this country could only be expected to duplicate the failures it has reaped in other countries.

Since we have what could safely be called a mature welfare state, from the New Deal forward increasing in size and scope in an exponential fashion, it is funny that you now look at the results and say, “lookie how volunteerism failed us.” Did you happen to overlook a few trillion dollars worth of collectivist effort when assessing the current pulse of need?

Take your paper and rewrite it with both eyes open and then turn it in at the end of class and maybe you’ll get a good grade and a lollipop to boot.

Prof... I seriously have a fond spot in my heart for you...

Oh...garshh. I like you too.

Prof. Ricardo

5:52 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I didn't feel well today, and nothing I wrote should be graded or held against me. :)

6:42 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Rush isn't a tough nut to crack... he's just a guy who builds a shield of delusion around himself...

let him have a guest on like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or Jeffrey Sachs, or anyone that's capable of carrying on an extended conversation...

actually though, Rush wouldn't even be keep someone like Gates' attention...

that's what my problem is with the guy... he's poorly informed and then tries to play the expert, and dumb people eat it up as gospel. For example, when he puts up a post with that opportunist nobody economist from Kenya, he declares that's the end all be all of the debate...

I'll respond to the rest later, I'm super busy.... by the way, never get sushi from Whole Foods, it's terrible.

8:08 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

The problem you speak of Professor regarding taxing people is actually the mirror reverse of the way I see it.

I see it as those folks who don't want to "chip in," as FREELOADERS on a public good.

Why should I have to build a highway that those cheap bastards get to drive on it? Why should I have to pay for defense when some hippies who want to buy weed "opt out" of their taxes? Why should I have to use 1% to help deal with humanitarian emergencies, when little blond shallow girl gets to blow it on Britney Spears albums.

Don't give me the freedom line. We're in this together, and we all have to paddle just like everyone else does. No free riders for the cheapskates.... let them move the the desert island if they want, but otherwise... they are part of this society. There are costs, and there are benefits... otherwise, as I said, the desert island is waiting, but they'll have to pull their own weight there too...

Private individuals certainly get more accountability, but that's just an excuse... accountability can be had in government as well... or let someone get fired...

8:19 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Wait, I have to add one thing... and this is very important....

Prof... consider this... the ONE Campaign is already made up of over 2.5 million Americans, everyone from your favorite quarterback Tom Brady to the teenager that lives above me to the soccer mom I know in Austin... these people GIVE their permission to use their tax money in this way. How much MORE DEMOCRATIC can YOU POSSIBLY GET?

It's ordinary Americans, participating in DEMOCRACY, telling THEIR/ our REPRESENTATIVES in the government (the ones that REPRESENT them/ us by the way- don't forget that), that WE, as a PEOPLE, stand together, UNITED, and we want an additional 1% of our budget, which is about 25 billion dollars, to fulfill the PROMISE our government made last summer. That's democracy...

I know you don't like the ends to justify the means, but when there is mass suffering, and we COULD do something, but we don't respond, well, maybe I understand why you are so cynical... it's no secret a liar doesn't believe anyone else....

Just something to think about...

I'm right on, aren't I C.G.?

2:53 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Prof... maybe I understand why you are so cynical... it's no secret a liar doesn't believe anyone else....

Maybe you can tell me what you meant by this.

P.R.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yes Yoshi, you are right. Prof is wrong on this one. We have to convince the Prof's they are wrong... and nobody should have the option to opt out of the paddling. I fail to see much difference in not allowing the neighbor to mistreat his kids, or allowing the same neighbor to have zero responsibility towards poverty at home or around the globe. That is a pathetic definition and use of liberty.

I see it as those folks who don't want to "chip in," as FREELOADERS on a public good.

I don't think that could be said any better.

Prof... I'm back. Get out the grade book. :)

9:16 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"I fail to see much difference in not allowing the neighbor to mistreat his kids, or allowing the same neighbor to have zero responsibility towards poverty.."

Well get this C.G., I fail to see the difference between stopping the Holocaust in Germany or the Genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s and letting millions of children die each year from things like a mosquito bite.

Prof, the comment didn't mean you were a liar by any means. It's just a saying, and I think it means that we see in other people what we see in ourselves- thus, a liar would think that everyone is a liar just like him (though he's wrong). I've actually known a few compulsive liars and that's generally true. They suspect everyone is trying to lie to them.

I think what I mean in relationship to you is that if you are so indifferent to massive global emergencies, that kind of displays a little about your personality... and so, maybe it explains why you seem to be cynical instead of an idealist... -I know, it almost doesn't make sense to me either...

It's funny you brought up the part about arguing with fence posts. It reminded me I used to argue with everyone about abortion in high school... I went to a private school, and man, looking back, I probably should've kept my mouth shut... but when I learned some of my favorite teachers were "pro-choice," I went on for ages about it, trying to "prove" to them they were wrong... oh well, another time...

9:34 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Hmmmm. Where to begin…where?

First, Prof and CG are having the old argument and I guess I should mark out my position. Or at least do so in brief. It puzzles me why things are always discussed in the extremes. It goes something like this:

CG: “We need to address this problem with a government program.”

Prof: “That is socialism and it has been tried and failed. Quit stealing my money.”

CG: “The GOPers are heartless laissez-faire pigs.”

Not that I do not enjoy the debate, but it puzzles me. I do not understand why there is so seldom a middle ground here or in national debate. It seems blindingly obvious to me that full tilt socialism is an abject failure. It might be how we wish things worked, but mankind is not up to the task. It is equally clear that full tilt market based economics is very unfair to a large number of people. Interestingly, last night on Charlie Rose, I heard Gates and Buffet making this exact point.

I agree with Prof in that much of what passes for egalitarian programs are illegal grabs of theoretically constitutionally protected rights by the majority. That said, I do not necessarily believe we should not have those programs either. I am arguing here against the legal basis of our current law.

In other words, while I agree with CG up to a point that shared needs should be publicly supported, I do not believe a majority vote is (or should be) constitutionally adequate to deprive Prof of his life, liberty or property. I think our current idiotic majority rule mentality has a number of defects including a few the left does not consider. That defect being that anything that can be enacted by 51% can be undone thereby too. Far better in my view to determine what our true shared needs are and put them on a solid constitutional footing

In other words, we need to be serious and mature about such things and not do the two-party tango. This left-right dichotomy just reduces intelligent people to arguing extremist positions that ultimately do very little good.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Guy,

I sort of agree with your point on iPods and Gameboys, but I think you are missing the key ingredient: accession to wealth.

I really do not see that it is our culture per se that overwhelms other cultures; I think it is the material wealth that brings the culture along with it. Capitalism was big in Japan before Disney. What we have is not so much a culture war as an economic disparity.

You are correct when you say, “These folks still represent warring tribes and religious factions”, but they are only able to get traction because of the poverty of the people they are nominal advocates for. To step up to another level of conflict, the wars in Europe only began to decline once the shared economic success became a reality.

This is at the center of the problem I have had with “nation building” in the Middle East from the start of the neo-con vision. You can’t drop the concepts of separation of church and state on Islam and have it work because of its practical (or moral) superiority. The whole notion does not compute. But, you encourage market principals and let them work it out for themselves and all things are possible because as you suggest, after they are fed, the iPod desires will drive greater egalitarianism internally and better behavior in the international community.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Guy said...

Right on point Tony. I left a very important factor out of my equation. These young men need jobs. Without the ability to generate an income you cannot participate. (Or if not jobs, at least distribution of royalty checks to one and all).

With regard to democracies, I was arguing with a colleague the other day that prior to the Declaration of Independence, there was a traditon of formal representative democracy in America that went back at least a hundred and fifty years and an intellectual discussion of the nature of liberty that had gone on at least hundred years before that. It reached, in my opinion, it fullest discussion in John Locke and bore fruit in the Declaration of Independence.

Yet, we presume to show up to shake and bake a democracy in under two years. Not going to happen.

Having interceded in Iraq, we are going to be there for the longhaul to (1) protect the oil; (2) stay close to Iran and (3) wait for the Iraqis to stand up.

I am going to opt out of the socialism vs. volunteerism debate for now.

10:24 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good, get this...

Rush Limbaugh was detained for having an illegal prescription of Viagra.

Now, what does he need that for? Is he married? Er, maybe it's for a friend...

Want to hear the other point of the story? He was on his way back from the Dominican Republic. I think it's safe to assume he was using the Viagra...

I guess most likely he was injecting some money into the underground sex industry there... maybe he slept with Natalie Holoway there... I hear it's big bucks to get a white American girl...

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about how all those repressive, usu. self-righteous religious types have the sexual deviancies...? Well, add some more evidence to that theory....

10:58 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I am obviously not (or ever have) argued the extreme of full-tilt socialism. I happen to believe collecting federal taxes for common good is something different than the government owning business... strange I know.

Prof HAS obviously argued the extreme position. :)

I couldn't have been clearer over all of these posts that I am for MORE, not less, Constitutional amendments. You often bring up the dreaded 51% majority rule argument, but any passing of a Constitutional amendment will require a threshold also (granted a higher one, but a threshold). That threshold could also toggle back, and eliminate the amendment. I believe that "federal tax can be collected for common good x,y and z in x% of GDP...yada yada yada" should be a constitutional amendment... but it would be based on a majority (if not a simple majority).

I listened to the Gate's and Buffet live announcement of Buffet's donation. What a couple of capitalist heretics... Buffet is for the inheritance tax, progressive taxation, and against dynastic wealth. As you pointed out, they recognize fairness doesn't just shoot out of laissez-faire. I actually thought Neil Cavuto on FoxNews was going to cry when he heard the two richest guys on the planet talk like they did. Many belief systems need reinforcement of others... how painful it must have been to hear the top two from their team basically tell them the team's belief system is wrong and greedy.

Jobs... exactly. There hasn't been a government invented yet that will pacify a population without jobs. {well maybe Saudi for a while... they seemed to pay off their population successfully for a while}.

btw... the GOP is heartless laissez-faire pigs.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Prediction:

The terrorism thing will last long enough and be bad enough to find the neocon chest-pounding to be inadequate. Future adminstrations and Congress {although the idiots are discussing flag burning so who knows what they will figure out} will come to the conclusion fighting global poverty is not charity, but self-interest and self-preservation. I also predict that the terrorism threat will redefine, if not eliminate, the current ideas of federalism. The Scalia crowd and the Federalist society will have to continue to make the case why each state should be allowed to spend our tax dollars as they see fit, rather than some standard across states that makes sense. Federalism, freeloader liberty, and the RR are obstacles to your goals. The anti-government crowd will find themselves under extreme pressure going forward. The sad thing is, if we ever get passed all of this anti-government sentiment, we may finally have to figure out how to elect a better one.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

It's so obvious we need both nation sponsored and private sponsored philanthropy, it's amazing it even still needs to be debated. I remember during the Tsunami that Bush Sr. felt obligated to say at almost every press encounter that private funds were also being collected. You could tell it hurt him {and fellow conservatives} to the core that something could happen that required Federal funds. Not only did it require federal funds, it required military ships. I'm not sure how many private philanthropy ships we have, but I'm going to guess it wouldn't match our military. It was also just as obvious that private NGO's on the ground were essential. Each doing what they did best... not an either-or.

It was just as obvious during Katrina. Events can happen (whether terrorist or nature) that is beyond the capabilities of a state. This also rocked the federalists to their core... you could see it with every press interview Michael Chertoff gave. He desperately wanted to say "this should not be a function of small government America"... but he couldn't. The idea that our federal government had no responsibility in this type of event would not have been accepted by the public. Disasters are where ideology gets tested. If the ideology can't pass the smell test during disasters, then it's probably flawed.

Just think if we used all of the time arguing over whether or not charity had to be volunteer only instead on devising the most efficient public-private hybrids. From where I stand, we look pretty stupid considering it's 2006.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi: “...you are so indifferent to massive global emergencies, that kind of displays a little about your personality...

Actually, I’m not indifferent at all. You perceive that because I protest the METHOD of collecting and distributing the aid.

My daughter just told me this week that she wants to be a missionary, to go out and help others and spread the Gospel. That is quite the commitment to want to travel to and live among peoples, meeting their needs, winning their respect, and sharing the Living water that will satisfy for more than a day. Does such a desire in my offspring evidence an indifference to massive global emergencies?

What I have against the method you choose is:
(1) - There is no authority in the Constitution to do it.
(2) - It is immoral to do bad to do good.
....(a) taxing for public works are necessary and benefit all (highways).
....(b) taxing to reallocate wealth is arrogant elitism.
....(c) private wealth are not public works.
(3) - It is inefficient.
....(a) it has people spending other peoples money (no incentive to economize).
....(b) it is money spent on other people (no incentive to get exact need).
....(c) it has horrible administrative losses.
....(d) it is more prone to corruption than private charities.
....(e) it is at the mercy of political whim, posturing, & compromise.
(4) - It’s unaccountable.
....(a) no way to define poverty.
....(b) no way to define success if it is working.
....(c) no provision to cut funding if it is unsuccessful.
....(d) in fact, a failure only creates a greater need for the method itself, thus ensuring a continuation of the jobs created by it. The old 'survival becomes the overriding goal of all programs created.'
....(e) failure demands greater funding of the failing program.
(5) - History bears out my account. Your account, though noble, though compassionate, though hopeful, goes against experience.

Can I Yoshi, after having read countless news articles, after studying the history of man, knowing his temptations and fallen bent, studying economic theory and what provides man incentive and disincentive in support of all the forgoing, Can I knowing all of this accept a poorer stewardship of our common generosity? What if I feel the need is not for poverty but global warming? Why worry about AIDS if everybody is burned to a crisp? Isn’t that the greater need? Who are YOU to say I’m wrong? And what about snail darters, Kangaroo rats, baby seals, and spotted owls? Are you going to callously turn your face from these needs? How about teenage pregnancy in this country? Childhood obesity? Cancer? What about......?

Yoshi there are tens of thousands of causes to champion. All of them important to somebody. Each will receive the economic attention people are willing to give it. Before income taxes in the 1800's people established libraries, universities, hospitals, help for the poor, unwed mothers, and sponsored underprivileged children’s school tuition. It was all done before a single politician lifted a single finger. They don’t tell you about it on the news or the school textbooks and so the public is utterly clueless. They think, if the government doesn’t do this, it wont get done, thus ignoring actual history in our own country. It is the lack of knowledge about our history that drives people to make incorrect assumptions about the future.

If you choose to send $25 billion more to these causes via government, you have taken money out of other’s pockets that they now do not have to go to worthy goals they have so that yours, or who ever was strong enough politically to get his championed, will be funded. How elitist. How selfish. How arrogant for anyone to say, “ I feel so strong about this cause, that not only will I send my money, but I demand that everybody else contribute to my cause regardless of what causes others may be led to champion.”

Indifferent? Hardly.

Prof. Ricardo

1:41 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"History bears out my account. Your account, though noble, though compassionate, though hopeful, goes against experience."

-Not really, there are too many successes to list... starting with the Marshall Plan, ending Smallpox, etc. Global government efforts that succeeded. China and India are succeeding unbelievably, reducing their poverty in just years...so it can be done...I'm studying for a test today, otherwise I'd start a long, long list. We put a man on the moon Professor. We can, literally, pretty much do ANYTHING. So I don't buy it.

Already today on account of foreign aid, Uganda has had tremendous success fighting AIDS, for example. Almost a million people are receiving anti-retrovirals, and 15 million people are in school. That's a success, I hate to break it to you. And it's also measurable. As an accountant, you should know better than anyone that everything is auditable. And there are incentives actually. Because unless everything is accounted for in a transparent way, grants and "aid" is cut off. That is an incentive to behave correctly.

As far as permission from the constitution, yada, yada, yada, it is a public good. If millions of Americans demand it... it's legit... period. It's not a "bad" to make a "good." That just sounds really, really stupid. Letting millions of people die when we have the means to stop it, that's just stupid. Period.

What you are thinking about, regarding history, is that brief moment of history you grew up in, where we paid gangsters to be our friends against the Soviet Union... and now we say the money was stolen or wasted. Yea, duh, that was the intention...

That's what the anamoly is here.

As for all the "pet" causes in the world, this isn't a cause, it's an emergency. And yea, it's arguably the biggest one.... and I agree, the global warming is as important.... and should also be dealt with... it's not an either/ or situation... those two, along with the war on terror- which is related to global poverty anyway, are pretty much the biggest issues out there today... everything else is just minor by comparison...

Good for your daughter... looks like the apple does fall far from the tree after all... you know, going abroad de-socializes a person (I know from experience). She'll be changed more than she changes anyone else... and that's a good thing....

2:19 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

You are a history buff... list us some successful government funded efforts.

Marshal Plan....

??

3:33 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good- order this, it's an easy, enjoyable read....

The End of Poverty

4:20 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I’m actually more in the Prof camp when it comes to identifying successful government social largess. I just don’t see it. At one time I would’ve put social security in that camp, but that has run amok too.

This is different from saying I do not think it is possible to have successful government social programs. Different too from saying that I do not desire such a thing. As you have pointed out ad nauseum, we need agreement first on what the goals are. We have a mechanism for reaching well defined agreement on what the government should be doing in a free society: its called the Constitutional Amendment process.

You see, the half-assed approach of addressing such things through majority-rule is what leads to ineffective solutions that are subject to the whims of the next election cycle. The liberals in America are just as stupid as the Conservatives on this point. The voters sadly just don’t get it.

Which brings us back to education. But that is a truth you and nobody else seems too interested in hearing.

Hey, I just thought of a highly successful government program in the 20th Century. It lead to economic prosperity and better conditions for all but a relative few unlucky souls: the Second World War. Maybe that was the model Shrub was actually using when he invaded Iraq.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I think the problem is fixed!

7:23 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I guess the only problem with war as an economic booster is the debt incurred to mount such an operation. The economy as a whole rises out of the ashes, but the Govt. surely goes in the hole. Which I believe on a smaller scale we are witnessing right now.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi: “Already today on account of foreign aid, Uganda has had tremendous success fighting AIDS, for example.

Here is a comparison of Zimbabwe and Botswana. I’m sure they wont post this to the ONE Campaign site.

As far as permission from the constitution, yada, yada, yada, it is a public good. If millions of Americans demand it... it's legit... period.

A pure democracy...which goes against your previous post stressing our Representatives. If the Constitution is of no effect, then the rule of law, the protections of the Constitution, and any difference between us and a banana republic is pure window dressing. You know better than to throw out a reckless comment like that. . . . . don’t you?

It's not a "bad" to make a "good." That just sounds really, really stupid.

The ends justify the means. Reminds me of a Monty Python movie where the surgeons came to a guy’s house to collect his liver since he had signed a donors card. He said he thought the collection would happen after he died. The need for the liver existed. The means was to take from another living soul. If the means is bad, you can not use it to do good. Hitler was purifying the Aryan race. With such a noble goal, how bad can the means be?

Letting millions of people die when we have the means to stop it, that's just stupid. Period.

And employing failed socialist methods that have proven to exacerbate the problem is smart?

What you are thinking about, regarding history, is that brief moment of history you grew up in, where we paid gangsters to be our friends against the Soviet Union... and now we say the money was stolen or wasted. Yea, duh, that was the intention...

My study of history goes back thousands of years to current day world events. I’m always learning, always seeking. The best I have been able to ascertain from multiple sources over the past couple of decades does not differ from the Walter Williams commentary I quoted above.

As for all the "pet" causes in the world, this isn't a cause, it's an emergency.

According to somebody’s opinion. And tree sitters think theirs is the most pressing issue as well. You can’t stand as emperor of humanity and command all humans, “Thus saith Yoshi...” It is important to you and other people. You people need to pool your efforts and go and change the world. Allow others to pool their efforts and their money, and in their own way go and do the same.

Prof. Ricardo

8:39 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

According to "somebody’s opinion" that an entire continent dying is a just a cause.

Professor, you might need to talk to your pastor about that one. I think you've seriously got a SPIRITUAL problem... you talk about arrogance, I talk about irony and arrogance... you are arrogant (or naive) to even claim yourself as a "Christian." You truly remind me of the Pharisees.... I just hope you ultimately get the grace you would deny to others...

those "socialist" methods you are talking about are b.s.- the biggest capitalists in the world are proposing these ideas... .Zero point seven percent of income is HARDLY socialism... and the Bible says to give 9.3 percent more, so there you go... that Commie God of ours commanded to do a lot more than I'm suggesting... I think you must not really know what socialism is... saying less than 1 percent is socialism is like saying 7-Eleven is a 5 star Italian restaurant b/c you can get a microwave ravioli there...

Everyone and their dog knows about Zimbabwe, no one is talking about helping them directly, and Botswana, despite its success, does need foreign help fighting HIV, because not every one can do it on our own Professor. In fact, none of us can. In fact, Zimbabwe's example shows that the governments there can be accountable...

9:28 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Tony,

what about the WHO eradicating smallpox? And nearly Polio. And Malaria over most of the planet (Africa withstanding b/c they've got a ecological environment which makes that just a little more difficult.)

Those government initiatives save a lot of money in the long run....

I was talking to an Indian guy about India up until it started making reforms.... but then he was telling me that all that "socialism" is why India is where it is today... they've got the educations they needed to basically make our software and tutor us in math labs.... so the "socialism" was kind of a pre-requisite of growth. I couldn't argue with him there....

9:32 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Postus Interruptus... bummer.

I guess people can still pee in their American flag bathing suits in the deep end of the swimming pool. That has to relieve the pressure. :) I expect the GOP to follow with the sodomy amendment and the Janice Jackson exposed tit amendment.

Prof... slippery slope between world poverty and tree huggers. Really? I thought Yoshi's point on Public Good is it's already allowed under the Constitution. Is your position that our current Constitution as written outlaws collecting Federal taxes for public good? I would be interested in the two lawyers opinion on that one also.

A couple of other questions for the lawyers. According to some, the NYTimes violated the law by publishing classified information.

1) Who is in charge of classifying information. Is that the sole domain of the president?

2) Can the NYTimes publish classified information under any circumstances? If so, what circumstances?

9:42 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Do you disagree with my premise that the global needs require US federal tax funding? Can we call ourselves a moral nation with volunteer-only-private-only aid?

9:44 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Some might think I meant to say Janet Jackson's tit. That would be wrong. Janice's tits were larger and more magnificent. :)

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

CG, “Is your position that our current Constitution as written outlaws collecting Federal taxes for public good?

Apparently public good includes everything. As an all inclusive term that covers what men may want to do with other’s money, the answer would be no. I would be curious what you would not include as “public good” that no one else would label as such. I think it is in the public good to have a Christian nation and folks not burn in hell. However, that “public good” is not for me to fund with others money. For me to force Common Good to use his money (via the Fed.) would be arrogant and selfish of me to do so, and thievery to boot.

Am I consistent?

Yoshi, “I just hope you ultimately get the grace you would deny to others...

Yoshi, God bless you, but you have a mental block. I hope 10 Trillion dollars flow to Africa. Can you top that? Having the federal bureaucrats and UN child abusers skim 50% off the top, and the funds flow into tyrant’s hands does not seem like good stewardship of those monies. You act as though my Christianity hinges on embracing redistribution of wealth rather than the blood of Christ. Socialism is not a percentage of funds allocated to a specific program, but a type of government that does not respect private property rights.

QUESTION: If a government has a noble goal, say eradicating poverty and world hunger, does it have the RIGHT to take as much money - say 90% of the citizens wealth - to accomplish that goal? I didn’t ask if it was a good idea. I ask, does it have the RIGHT? And you say......

Prof. Ricardo

10:17 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Don't forget I lived in Prague, we learned all about redistribution of wealth, and how they went broke doing it. It's a pyramid scheme basically (Don't confuse me with C.G. in this respect.)

Hey... not nice. :)

I wish I could find that author's quote... something like "all societies have wealth redistribution... either voluntarily along the way or violently in the end".

If anyone wants to cite a successful society from history that had no form of wealth redistribution... now would be the time to point it out.

12:05 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Actually Common Good, I was watching the documentary "Commanding Heights" last night, and several people, including Bill Clinton, but specifically, Hernado de Soto (he wrote "the Mystery of Capital), were saying just that. For the Professor's info, de Soto is a Capitalist that advocates private property rights in developing world so that they can have collateral for capital loans. They have private property by the way, they just don't have organized legal systems of titles to show the creditors. It's another one of those pre-reqs. I'm talking about.

There may not be a Moscow anymore. But if too many people do not see the benefits of global capitalism, if they can turn on the TV and see us in America and Europe smugly living it up, indifferent to their suffering, well, they will turn to a new ideology. Simply put, we have to give EVERYONE a stake in this game, or they will find a new game to play.

And that Professor, is when they will be taking that 90% you are talking about.

If we don't act, we'll have more 9/11s, a possible collapse of the global economic system we have, along with it our wealth we take for granted, and honestly, I'd feel like I (we) deserved it. I always tell my selfish friend, "the greedy man loses everything."

12:21 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Apparently public good includes everything. As an all inclusive term that covers what men may want to do with other’s money, the answer would be no. I would be curious what you would not include as “public good” that no one else would label as such. I think it is in the public good to have a Christian nation and folks not burn in hell. However, that “public good” is not for me to fund with others money. For me to force Common Good to use his money (via the Fed.) would be arrogant and selfish of me to do so, and thievery to boot.

Am I consistent?


You are always consistent... that is a fact. :) However, I would say your analogy doesn't really hold up here. We have a separation of church and state, but not a separation of citizen and public good. Almost everyone agrees that the separation of church and state means no government interference with one's religion {unless of course you include things like pot smoking as part of your religion}. That obviously means government can't promote one religion over another, or by definition, you are interfering with other religions. The Bush administration tried to frame giving money to church groups for non-proselytizing purposes as equal opportunity, but we don't define churches as EQUAL in our society. We give them a special tax status, so they are not equal. If churches and religious organization ever did become equal under the law, then one could make a logical argument that federal money going to an equal-opportunity church fund for non-proselytizing purposes amounted to the same thing as giving federal money to NGOs. The idea of federally funded proselytizing {once Churches lost the tax free status} being on the public good table {decided by representative government} made me think a bit. My first reaction {and pretty much typed out} was that we don't have to do religion together... but we do have to do the things I consider Common Good together. However, I have long held that Public Good can be anything our representative democracy decides it to be. If a scheme could be devised that provided funds to religious organizations without sponsoring a particular one over another (i.e. Christianity over yada yada yada), then you may very well have a logical argument. I'm convinced the United States would never define that as Common Good... but whether it logically is include as a Common Good/Public Good candidate is another question. I'm pretty sure Universal Healthcare will sell and Universal proselytizing will not... but then I didn't think we could possibly elect THE DECIDER the second time.

Bottom line... drop the special tax treatment of churches and religious entities, and we can talk further. :)

12:40 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I saw something on the Daily Show that made me think of you. They were talking about the NYTimes reporting on the Bank data classified program.

If you really love FREEDOM, you will set it free. If it was yours, it will come back to you.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

When I see as much greed and ignorance in our society... I actually have similar questions "Do we deserve it". I actually think the bigger problem is ignorance, rather than greed. It's not like I think 90% of the populations thoughts center around getting as much as they can for themselves... and screw everyone else. I think it's more a matter of living in a bubble of existence... i.e. most don't devote a nano-second to the plight of others on the globe. Life's hard, even in the land of plenty... too much to absorb just in daily lives and family struggles. It's hard to strap on the additional pain and agony of what goes on beyond the US bubble. But at the end of the day... this hell on earth is going on. How did we arrive in 2006 with such wealth sharing the globe with such poverty. If one of the core answers is we made it to this level by ignoring the rest of the globe's hunger and disease, then you have to ask your question "do we deserve it". If our excuse is "it has to be voluntary" or "we will wreck our capitialism if we give more than 1/10th of 1 % GDP"... then "do we deserve it".

Bubbles can't last for ever. You can't have just one rich neighborhood without the surrounding neighborhoods picking those alternative games. I think the neocons have it all wrong. They are playing traditional US arrogance to protect the bubble... and keep our entitled oil flowing. I would give us better odds with Friedman's green and Gate's war on poverty and education. We should have put the entier Iraq $1 trillion into Africa instead.

1:03 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

The bubble, that's what I meant earlier when I said Prof. probably lived on "island America," as opposed to many of the next generation who have the new global, integrated persepective...

yea, many of us are just ignorant, a function of lack of education, traveling, and experience.

By the way Common Good, you should regurly call your Reps. about keeping our financial promises about development... it really does make a difference for you to hound them... if you don't, who will?

1:13 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Sorry Professor we've all ganged up on you.... I feel mean... (but we only do it because we care so much about you! We hate to lose you to the Dark Side of the force.)

1:14 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

I think maybe you were a bit harsh on ole Prof. He takes things well I must say which is a good attribute for hanging around here. After all, the nicest poster here is a Lawyer…pretty rough stuff. He may lose that though if he hangs here much.

Well, I never meant to suggest that there were zero government social programs that were successful. More along the lines of the vast majority of them not working out so well.

Seems to me the most successful of the public endeavors of governments generally are infrastructure funding. The best examples of course are roads. Look at Germany and the boom created by the autobahns and the US and the vast rewards of the Interstate Highway System (a greater achievement on the part of Eisenhower than any of his others including during the war). Public Health I believe is another area. By Public Health I’m referring specifically to things like disease eradication and control.

I think the common denominator for success is clear well defined goals and objective criteria to test the results by. These attributes do not eliminate waste, but they certainly limit it.

I’m not for writing blank checks and creating open-ended entitlements except in narrow cases where there is broad enough support for a Constitutional Amendment. We should seek to implement market based solutions wherever possible. When the market fails us, then we should seek to implement solutions that bring as much market based incentives to bear as possible. Large publicly ran programs should be avoided if possible. Unfortunately, it is simply not reasonable to avoid the government running some things.

So, what I mean is that I am closer to Prof in terms of guiding principals but I do not follow him in his desire to strangle the government to death. Still, I used to be a looneytarian, so I find more substance to his ideas than perhaps you do.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: “drop the special tax treatment of churches and religious entities, and we can talk further.

Not that you wanted to go down this rabbit trail, but....

There are many non-profit organizations and a religious organization is only one type. Non-Profits can be Churches, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals & medical research organizations, and private foundations. The church of Satan and Wiccan organizations can also be non-profit. It would be difficult to argue that Christianity is getting some benefit that other non-religious entities are not getting.

Additionally, contributions to a church are not really income. It is a voluntary gift. Some churches or religions may require some percentage, but then membership is voluntary and the obligation is usually to the deity and not for any “service” performed. The pooled gifts of the congregation are then used to pay expenses and fund ministries. There is no stockholder or other owner that is reaping some income. What ever the preacher or other employees receive is either on a W2 or a 1099 as self employment income.

I assume you are aware that gifts to you are not taxable to you. Under current tax law somebody can give you up to $12,000/year without a gift tax return. If that amount is exceeded then the giver files the gift tax return, not the recipient.

P.R.

1:37 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"Look at Germany and the boom created by the autobahns and the US and the vast rewards of the Interstate Highway System (a greater achievement on the part of Eisenhower than any of his others including during the war)."

Tony, exactly. Did you know that sub-Saharan Africa has less roads than Poland? In case you haven't a map, Africa is a lot bigger than Poland. And most of it is landlocked, and have unnavigatable rivers, unless you want to get a ship over rapids. Impossible to get stuff to markets that way.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

It would be difficult to argue that Christianity is getting some benefit that other non-religious entities are not getting.

You have to be kidding me. Falwell and Robertson are big business USA. A large part of the RR seems to be a network of churches and members with political activities along with religion. Let's avoid the rabbit hole and just agree if you and I got to the point where we agreed that religion wasn't treated as a special faction with special tax consequences... then we could put federal taxes on the public good table for debate.

I'm the one guy who tried to agree with you on something today {I'm sensitive to that too mean thing... although it's laughable that the Lawyers are nice}. Let's just leave it as we might agree on something, and Prof may convince me of something. It's all I got. :)

Yoshi, in my defense, I'm only for pyramid schemes that soak the rich. :) That should be in all of our economic interests here with the probable exception of Guy. Like Tony says... majority should rule.

Yoshi, I have no stolen your Public Good Freeloader phrase. You should have copyrighted it. That is just as slick as the GOP "Cut and Run", "Death Tax", "Stand down when they stand up", "Fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here". It speaks for itself that I can name all of those GOP quotes. We need to create a T-Shirt like the GhostBuster shirt but with Public Good Freeloader on it. Granted... only 20% will get it... but half of that 20% would love it. :)

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

CG,

I try to stay out of a thread and 10 posts later, someone takes a pot shot at me. ;)

As a newcomer, I think I must retract some earlier complaints about the pervasive pessimism in this group and thank Tony for e-mailing me enough to draw me in. You guys are entertaining to say the least and you are engaging in a vigorous idealistic debate that I haven't had since Western Political Thought II. I will have to retrieve my notes and see if my views have changed.

Having said that, I think that the debate lacks in that in takes too idealistic view from both sides. The world is neither good or bad. It is what it is and it has always been that way. That's not to say that we shouldn't try and change the human condition. Death and taxes seem to be the only certainty and continued human suffering.

Prof, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" and get on with life. I believe that Bill and Warren exist under the same tax code that you have complained so vociferously about.

Jesus and God, if all knowing and powerful, certainly have the ability to relieve all human suffering but choose not to. To me, that says something about the human condition. And when I step back and look at this speck of dust in the universe that we live on, it seems even more amazing that we are here at all.

There will be no enlightened Star Trekian Utopia in the 3rd millennium where all human suffering is eradicated and somehow we give up the pursuit of material wealth. As long as that is true, and it will always be so, some will be better than other, either through skill or fortuity, at wealth accumulation.

I say it again, we are kings in a rich land of opportunity by virtue of winning the uterus lottery.

What the poor and thirdworlders need are buses to get the hell out of the desert but then we are back to the immigration problem. (It will be interesting to note how many of the poor black New Orleans residents actually come back after leaving that hell hole. The Katrina Diaspora will have very intersting social consequences.)

"Public Good Freeloader" "Cut and Run", "Death Tax", "Stand down when they stand up" Its all just grist for the mill.

Despite 60 Billion in assets, I predict little will change. How's that for pessimism?

I think I hit as many bases and cultural references as anybody else. Done.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Guy said...

BTW - I do recognize that New Orleans residents are American citizens and not thirdworlders. But I was on a roll.

5:16 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Guy... this is my first comment to you... congrats!!!!

"Despite 60 Billion in assets, I predict little will change. How's that for pessimism?"

It's great for pessimism, and pretty subjective. I mean, as far as planets and stars and galaxies and time goes, not much will change.

But individual lives, millions of them, will change. Maybe you'll never notice the difference, but all the same, it'll be there.

How's that for optimism. Common Good, feel free to use my phase anytime.

6:32 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I meant, C.G., feel free to use my PHRASE. (Although you can also use my phase too, if you want.)

7:42 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Guy,

Trust me, that wasn't a shot at you. If that one rattled you {and I know it didn't), you will need thicker skin here. I haven't met to many thin-skinned lawyers. I'm the one here without any manners. Yoshi can push it also, but he is young. :) The rest of us surely have some grey on the head... and well earned.

Jesus and God, if all knowing and powerful, certainly have the ability to relieve all human suffering but choose not to. To me, that says something about the human condition.

Or does it say something about the odds of the existence of a caring god? I guess depending on your conclusion to that, and a realistic observation about the odds that reason can overcome human nature... you just might develop a bit of pessimism. My version of the circle of life. I champion reason only for entertainment value... and the fact I despise a planet where extreme wealth shares a globe with extreme poverty. Whether it was created, intended, part of a master plan... or pure random chance... I'm not a fan. Our family line ends here... no CG posterity... so that is further proof I'm either really interested in the future bottom dwellers... OR I'm just so bored I like arguing on a message board. btw... arguing with Prof is like arguing with a woman. You might actually win the argument\debate... but it will never be registered that way. {Now that is an example of a real shot}

Yoshi... glad you are back. We need a token young guy around here. In fairness, I should have at least one more Democrat around. That said, Prof would send the average Democrat off to commit suicide. :) Public Good Freeloader is better than grist. I will use it often in my future socialist rants. I already used on a rich oil baron buddy who believe oil barons here should be pretty much like Saudi {poor people line up in tents to ask the oil barons for their needs}. Using your phrase on a rich oil baron buddy was PRICELESS. Oh yeah... the other thing that lit him up was when I suggested even the US government could beat the $50 spread per barrel that they are hosing the public with. :)))) Guy, that's another example of a shot... and a bit of rudeness I suppose.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

That said, Prof would send the average Democrat off to commit suicide.

Nah. It doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t stop them from voting.

P.R.

8:37 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This Product Red

Check this out Tony, Common Good, Prof...

this is the private sector..

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and TB was not getting funded properly by governments....

...so these companies, and more are on the way, are chipping in on the good fight. American Express is probably the big boy on the block, followed by GAP and Motorola. So when you use your FedEx card and get deeper into debt, you are also contributing to this Global Fund 1% of your purchase. That adds up. And the Gap, well in addition to donating part of the proceeds, they are making the shirts in Africa. That's capitalism with a human face... it's in the U.K. now but it's on its way here... I'm getting the red card myself...

Of couse, someone should put them in contact with the Professor. He would let them have his historical knowledge so that they would realize all that money will be simply going to African despots' swiss bank accounts and U.N. child abusers.

Anyway, as you were saying Tony, private initiatives perform better. But this is a private money going into a public sector program. So how efficient will that be?

For Questions about the Global Fund

9:32 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Anyway, as you were saying Tony, private initiatives perform better.

Maybe it's a matter of scale, complexity and redundancy.

Scale - the scale of the poverty and disease require federal funding

Complexity - the complexity of the problems require the efficiency and creativity of the private sector

Redundancy - The natural result of unfettered capitalism is monopoly. Today in Iraq, you can be sure we have many critical needs being covered by one company... Haliburton. It's just plain dumb to have critical needs {whether that be a stupid war in Iraq or a noble war against poverty} single threaded through one private enterprise. Enforced redundancy requires Government.

Not either or... never has been.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Guy, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's...

When you followed up that quote with this one, “Jesus and God, if all knowing and powerful, certainly have the ability to relieve all human suffering but choose not to.”, In order to more efficiently respond to you, it is necessary for me to know your religious convictions. May I have a summary?

Prof. Ricardo

8:23 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Religious convictions? Prof, Guy is NOT a prosecutor you know.

Yoshi, another thing I have not said and certainly intended not to imply is the idea that private philanthropy will be automagically efficient. I’ve worked at some highly commercially successful companies that virtually define inefficiency. That said, the least efficient organization I have ever worked for was the FAA…and that isn’t even close.

My simplistic point being that whether you fund things publicly or privately, the pooch can still get screwed.

One of the things I’ve mentioned in the past that we only talked about a bit is something related to Yoshi’s observation about Gap manufacturing in Africa. I’ve never understood why we have given Africa so little attention over the years. Seems to me it is a continent begging for development dollars. Strategic planning coupling US government investment and private development could be a great win-win for the US and Africa. I think Gap manufacturing there is just fantastic news.

We should press hard to become a key benefactor in Africa for both humanitarian reasons and long term economic development of the United States. Granted, things are not so simple. As has been stated by many of us, you can’t just drop our economic and political model on people and have it automatically work. But if you start by creating some agricultural infrastructure and export oriented manufacturing facilities, the full bellies and better lives will work their own miracles.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Jeeze... you would think a lawyer (and now there are two) that found folks willing to hang with them would answer the occasional {ok, daily} question regarding the law. Don't you guys like to show off your brains... that's what I've alway heard.

Let's try again:

According to some, the NYTimes violated the law by publishing classified information.

1) Who is in charge of classifying information. Is that the sole domain of the president?

2) Can the NYTimes publish classified information under any circumstances? If so, what circumstances?


btw... If Guy bites on Prof's "religious convictions" bait, does that mean we have another three days coming on frickin WORLDVIEWS. Oh my GOD!!!!

9:16 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I have to back up what Tony said about sitting in private enterprise after private enterprise that were anything but efficient. Tony and I both sat at Telex when it was making a ton of profit in spite of laughable internal systems and procedures. When a company has enough profit margins it can hide a ton of inefficiencies. The difference of course is it eventually caught up with Telex, and with government programs they are just likely to get more funds ... i.e. you never find out how bad it is under the covers. I fail to understand to this day why government has to be this way. I don't understand why, in 2006, we still don't audit our country's military complex expenses. {maybe because some people would go to jail}.

Bottom line... I like Tony buy the fact that in the aggregate, there is very little doubt that the private sector is more efficient then the government. But don't kid yourself... there is a ton of insane waste in the average corporation also.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I'm going to see the Al Gore movie today. 12:40, AMC Southroads 20, Tulsa. My treat for anyone that shows up. Yoshi, swing by and grab Prof. :) I will be the one wearing the Public Good Freeloader Buster shirt. :)

9:51 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

...another three days coming on frickin WORLDVIEWS. Oh my GOD!!!!

Now your claiming He’s your God. Make up your mind. :-)

Prof. Ricardo

9:52 AM  

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