Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 24, 2014, 12:56:23 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
81229 Posts in 2243 Topics by 1046 Members
Latest Member: MikeT
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 28 29 [30] 31 32 ... 43
1451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Planned bombing at US Capitol on: February 17, 2012, 08:49:48 PM
http://thehill.com/homenews/news/211447-authorities-foil-planned-suicide-bombing-attack-on-capitol-building
1452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 08:48:33 PM
Well, let's see: why stop with monogamy?  Um, because we can.  You gents don't seem to get that marriage laws, like any other laws, can be changed.  There are places where a 14 year old can be married.  Cousins can be married.  We might look askance at that, but it can be done.  And when those people ARE married, their marriage is recognized in other states.  Why should a marriage legally recognized in one state not be recognized in another?  You guys keep asking hypotheticals.  Should a marriage of cousins in a state that legally allows this marriage NOT be recognized in another state?  What about a person who is too young in the state where I reside?  Can my "sophisticated" state legally prevent those legally recognized marriages?  Oh, sorry fifteen year old.  Hey... what about a marriage that took place in a whole different country?  Those probably aren't real either. 

It USED to be that marriages only were legal if you were free.  Slaves couldn't marry.  It USED to be the case that we defined marriage as only between members of the same race.  Blacks and whites couldn't marry.  The divorce rate since these changes has sky rocketed.  Do you blame interracial marriage for this? 

Also, it pretty much pisses me off when you insinuate that those who disagree with you don't value marriage.  Gays value marriage.  That's WHY THEY WANT TO GET MARRIED.  Oh, and I am married.  Happily.  So tell me how, because I disagree with you, I don't respect the institution of marriage.
1453  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Winter Camp 2012 on: February 17, 2012, 07:34:02 PM
Safe travels and a high level of learning to all attendees!  I am sorry to be missing this.
1454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: February 17, 2012, 09:25:23 AM
Crafty says “That is the conventional wisdom, but there is that pesky language about Congress being able to restrict the jurisdiction of the courts-- Newt Gingrich made some interesting points a few weeks ago about federal courts exceeding the bounds of their powers. Perhaps Big Dog could weigh in here?” 

This is largely correct.  Article III gives the USSC original jurisdiction is some areas, but most of the cases that the Court hears each year are appellate.  The Supreme Court has said that Congress cannot alter original jurisdiction (see Marbury).  Congress has, and no doubt will again, alter the Court’s appeallate jurisdiction.  It is important to note that these alterations can be either because the Court requests it OR because Congress feels as though it should be done.  Also, it is difficult to alter the jurisdiction, like many other policy changes.  For example, the conservative led push to remove flag burning cases from the Court’s jurisdiction, largely in the 1980’s and early 1990’s on the heals of Texas v. Johnson, did not work.



Doug says “But gay people are not the same in the context of family structure, procreation, child rearing. Gay people are God's creatures, citizens, Americans - they live among us, work hard, serve our country, pay taxes and vote in our society. They are entitled to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and equal protection under the law. That does not mean they are entitled to special accommodations - such as the changing the meanings of our words or our accepted institutions…. A bond between a mother and a son or a father and a daughter is special. A bond with a close grandparent can be special, or between siblings Teo unmarried siblings might decide to look after each other for the rest of thier life..That's great. It's not better or worse than marriage, but it is something different than marriage.”

This was the point at which I decided I wanted to chime in on this topic.  Doug, with all due respect (and, as always, I mean this literally, not in the snarky tone it is often used), much of this argument strikes me as silly.  First of all, much of the language of your point here is similar to the reasons given by whites in the South for decades if not longer.  “Changing the meanings of our accepted institutions”… like education?  Travel?  Medical care?  Jim Crow was an institution, and it needed to be changed.  Moreover, in some areas of civil rights, such as handicapped, special accommodations are exactly what they are entitled to.  Ramps, tutors, Braille books, sound emitting cross walk signals?  Gay rights, like race and handicapped, are civil rights questions.  When you make arguments like the ones you made, I think you run head first into an area with serious legal and moral implications. 

Moreover, you singling out the bonds of mother and son, and father and daughter is silly… and to me, a father with only male offspring, pretty frustrating.  I think I know what you meant, but the idea somehow that fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters don’t/can’t/shouldn’t (here is where I am not sure I understand the point of the argument) have a strong, or special, relationship is pretty crappy.





Crafty says “1) Is gay marriage constitutionally compelled bu the US consitution? I would submit that the answer clearly is not. Is gay marriage compelled by a given state constitution? I cannot say with certainty, though I confess to a strong suspicion that liberal judicial imperialist courts will say yes even when not so.

2) If no, then is gay marriage a good idea? I say no AND that this is a matter for the democratic process.”

Gay marriage does NOT have to be compelled by the Constitution for it to be accepted by the Constitution.  There are many, many examples of this in American political institutions.  Moreover, as I know you know, the 9th Amendment leaves open the possibility that there are other, unenumerated rights.  Privacy, of course, is one that has been recognized.  I know, from prior discussions with you (Crafty), that you acknowledge the right to privacy.  As JDN states, there could be an argument made that gay marriage could be allowed, based on privacy precedent.  But, there could be, at least in theory, a stand alone right found in the 9th.  As for “liberal judicial imperialist courts,” there are certainly conservative activist jurists.  Moreover, there is a line of legal theorists, realist/positivist who argue that law is not law until judges lend their interpretation to it.  There are many legislative acts that are passed and the intention/meaning is murky, which lends some weight to the argument. 




Crafty says, related to Loving and Lawrence and the present issue of homosexual marriage “Relevant but distinguishable.”

Of course it is distinguishable.  But then, theoretically, all cases that follow anything could be said to be distinguishable.  No two cases have exactly the same fact pattern.  It is the job of the jurist to find the “right” fact pattern, in an effort to find the “right” precedent.  This is a hard job.  To give you a sense of the difficulty, there are cases in which both a majority and dissent will use the same case. 

Crafty says “…marriage by definition is between a man and a woman.”

OK.  But, only sort of.  I have MANY relationships with many women.  Only of those is my wife.  So, defining marriage as between a man and a women is shade overbroad, don’t you think?  However, definitions change.  Many words have different meanings.  Some words have contradictory meanings.  It not be all that hard to make a legal definition of marriage which incorporates implications of love, respect and monogamy but allows for marriage between two people of the same gender. 
1455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: February 15, 2012, 06:51:26 AM
To what extent does intelligence, from the IC, impact presidential decision making?

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/03/intelligence
1456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOF factbook on: February 15, 2012, 06:37:48 AM
http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/socom/factbook-2012.pdf 
1457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel attack would be complex on: February 14, 2012, 06:33:00 PM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-02-13/israel-iran-attack/53083160/1

Some of the difficulties of an Israeli attack on the Iran nuke complexes.
1458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Judges as Umpires on: February 14, 2012, 11:53:09 AM
One jurists view of the comparison:

https://law.hofstra.edu/pdf/Academics/Journals/LawReview/lrv_issues_v35n04_i03.pdf
1459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syrian residents say they're bracing for full-blown war on: February 14, 2012, 07:59:28 AM
http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/14/world/meast/syria-unrest/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
1460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Entitlements and how to go after them on: February 14, 2012, 07:10:01 AM
Why is it hard for conservatives to cut entitlements?  It may be because it isn't in their own self interest:

http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/02/13/the-narcotic-of-government-dependency/#more-15104

That’s Rick Santorum talking about the American welfare state. But who, really, is hooked—and how does that matter politically?

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a long, meaty article on the distribution of federal benefits. One of the more striking points, drawing on work by political scientist Dean Lacy, is that government benefits constitute a larger share of total income in “red” states than in “blue” states. (The Times article includes a lovely set of interactive maps detailing the geographical distribution of benefits from a variety of specific programs such as Medicare and unemployment compensation; here is the 2009 map of total benefits.)




A friend asks, “Is this true at the individual level? It isn’t, right?”

I imagine that the answer to that question depends a lot on what gets counted as government benefits (tax credits? grants and contracts?) and whether we are talking about gross benefits, benefits minus taxes, or benefits as a share of total income. As Monkey Cagers know (see here, here, and here), political scientist Suzanne Mettler’s book, The Submerged State, includes some excellent analysis of the tenuous relationship between objective and subjective dependency on the federal government.

In a review (forthcoming in Democracy) of political journalist Thomas Edsall’s new book, The Age of Austerity, I raise the question of how Republican policy-makers bent on budget-cutting will come to grips with the actual distribution of government spending:
 

In a perceptive recent essay in New York magazine, heterodox Republican David Frum sketched a political landscape much like the one portrayed by Edsall. “We have entered an era in which politics increasingly revolves around the ugly question of who will bear how much pain,” Frum wrote. “Conservative constituencies already see themselves as aggrieved victims of American government: They are the people who pay the taxes even as their ‘earned’ benefits are siphoned off to provide welfare for the undeserving.”

However, Frum went on to pinpoint the fundamental contradiction in this conservative worldview. “The reality,” he wrote, is that “the big winners in the American fiscal system are the rich, the old, the rural, and veterans—typically conservative constituencies.” Squeezing the programs conservatives hate won’t bring in much revenue, so balancing the budget would require chopping into programs most conservatives support—including defense, Medicare, Social Security, and middle-class tax breaks.

In Chain Reaction, Edsall recognized that “the anti-tax, anti-government view of the electorate … was directed at programs serving heavily minority and poor populations,” while spending on education, health, Social Security, crime control, and environmental protection “retained unstinting, and in some cases growing, majority support.” That remains true 20 years later; even most conservatives oppose cuts in most major government programs, and they do so even when they are reminded of the perils of deficit spending.

Unfortunately for Republicans—and for Edsall’s analysis of the politics of austerity—“programs serving heavily minority and poor populations” are not where the money is. According to the Census Bureau’s Consolidated Federal Funds Report, less than 8 percent of federal spending in 2010 was for unemployment benefits, food stamps, housing assistance, student aid, and the earned-income tax credit. Almost half was for salaries and wages, grants, and procurement; most of the rest consisted of Social Security and Medicare payments. Large-scale reductions in government spending would require significant cuts in big-ticket programs that mostly benefit the middle class. The political challenge facing budget-cutting Republicans is exacerbated by the fact that beneficiaries of government spending are disproportionately concentrated in red states. Federal expenditures made up almost 30 percent of total personal income in the 29 states that voted for John McCain, a significantly higher dependency level than in the states that voted for Barack Obama.

“The rank and file of the GOP,” Frum concluded, are “caught between their interests and their ideology.” This clash of interests and ideology is left largely unexplored in Edsall’s analysis. While he acknowledges that “substantial numbers of Republican voters have no appetite for cuts in the two programs that virtually every economist and budget analyst says must be chopped down to size: Medicare and Social Security,” he never really comes to grips with the question of how Republican politicians will finesse that fact. It is one thing to carp about the futility and injustice of government programs in the abstract, but something else to deprive voters of their concrete benefits.




1461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / did the OSG mislead the USSC??? on: February 13, 2012, 05:31:46 PM
This could jeopardize the Solicitor General's hallowed position as the "10th justice."


http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/02/significant-feud-over-an-sg-brief/
1462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Breyer wuz robbed... on: February 13, 2012, 05:26:35 PM
with a machete.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/13/justice-breyer-robbed-at-west-indies-vacation-home/
1463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mitt the Ripper on: February 13, 2012, 08:14:39 AM


Colbert keeps it real.
1464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bull in the China shop on: February 13, 2012, 06:57:07 AM
"Last month, as Barack Obama's administration began to prepare for Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to Washington, someone close to the U.S. vice president leaked that Joe Biden would "take over" China policy. The leaker made the case that Biden had a good rapport with Xi, thus priming the U.S. vice president to add the China mandate to his portfolio. According to a number of administration sources, however, this leak was nothing more than an instance of a Washington-style power play -- or score settling. But the episode does demonstrate how important the China relationship has become in the Washington power game, how the portfolio is troublingly up for grabs, and how wildly elbows swing (or pivot) to take control of it."

Continued at:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/10/bull_in_the_china_shop?page=full
1465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will on appeasement on: February 10, 2012, 01:16:46 PM
Will's take on Obama v. Romney re: Middle East, in particular Iraq and Taliban.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/s_780643.html

Through 11 presidential elections, beginning with the Democrats' nomination of George McGovern in 1972, Republicans have enjoyed a presumption of superiority regarding national security. This year, however, events and their rhetoric are dissipating their advantage.

Hours after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, political factionalism and sectarian violence intensified. Many Republicans say Barack Obama's withdrawal jeopardized what was achieved there. But if it cannot survive a sunrise without fraying, how much of an achievement was it?

With America in the second decade of its longest war, the probable Republican nominee is promising to extend it indefinitely. Mitt Romney opposes negotiations with the Taliban while they "are killing our soldiers." Which means: No negotiations until the war ends, when there will be nothing about which to negotiate. "We don't," he says, "negotiate from a position of weakness as we are pulling our troops out." That would mean stopping the drawdown of U.S. forces -- except Romney would not negotiate even from a position of strength: "We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban." How could that be achieved in a second decade of war? What would establish "defeat"? Details to come, perhaps.

The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world's total military spending -- more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade?

Do Republicans think it is premature to withdraw up to 7,000 troops from Europe two decades after the Soviet Union's death? About 73,000 will remain, most of them in prosperous, pacific Germany. Why?

Since 2001, the U.S. has waged war in three nations, and some Republicans appear ready to add Iran and Syria. GOP critics say Obama's proposed defense cuts will limit America's ability to engage in troop-intensive nation-building. Most Americans probably say: Good.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the Army should contract from 570,000 soldiers to 490,000 in a decade. Romney says the military should have 100,000 more troops. Romney may be right, but he should connect that judgment to specific assessments of threats and ambitions.

Romney says that if he is elected Iran will not get a nuclear weapon and if Obama is re-elected it will. He also says Obama "has made it very clear that he's not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from" its nuclear ambitions. Romney may, however, be premature in assuming the futility of new sanctions the Obama administration is orchestrating, and Panetta says Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is "a redline for us" and if "we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it." What, then, is the difference between Romney and Obama regarding Iran?

Osama bin Laden and many other "high-value targets" are dead, the drone war is being waged more vigorously than ever and Guantanamo is still open, so Republicans can hardly say Obama has implemented dangerous discontinuities regarding counterterrorism. Obama says that even with his proposed cuts, the defense budget would increase at about the rate of inflation through the next decade. Republicans who think America is being endangered by "appeasement" and military parsimony have worked that pedal on their organ quite enough.



1466  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Relentless pursuit on: February 10, 2012, 08:15:35 AM
This guy most certainly walks the walk.  A warrior for damn sure....

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1194725/index.htm
1467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 10, 2012, 08:11:36 AM
Actually I did catch the original jurisdication faux pas, but figured WTF-- after all she's a wise Latina  rolleyes

I don't think there is a thread anywhere on this forum I enjoy as much as this one. 
1468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: February 09, 2012, 08:00:23 PM
I knew you guys would love it!!!!

And here I was thinking that the USSC wouldn't have original jurisdiction over the case, so the fact that she was ruling on the facts was teaching kids poorly about the cases the Court hears.  But then, I am a dork.  
1469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Justice on Sesame Street on: February 09, 2012, 06:53:18 AM
... for real.

1470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hybrid Threat on: February 08, 2012, 01:36:15 PM
"The hybrid threat of crime, terrorism and insurgency is presently understudied as a matter of policy, strategy, and doctrine. As a small step towards remedying this conceptual deficit, and exploring those ideas in the particular context of Mexico, the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) together with the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership co-convened a symposium in Washington D.C. on October 20, 2011. What follows is a compilation of those proceedings. The forum began with keynote remarks offered by General Barry R. McCaffrey, former Commander of the United States Southern Command, and former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Following the transcript of General McCaffrey's presentation, we have inserted a policy paper designed to introduce the issues that resonated throughout the course of the forum. The remainder of the monograph gives full voice to those issues by way of transcripts of the event's two panel discussions. The first panel addressed strategy and doctrine, existing and yet required, that will be necessary to tackle our 'hybrid threat.' The second panel focuses on Mexico as a case study for those requirements."

https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=698178
1471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fast? Furious? on: February 08, 2012, 01:34:03 PM
Hearing docs on Fast and Furious.


http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1573%3A2-2-2012-qfast-a-furious-management-failures-at-the-department-of-justiceq&catid=12&Itemid=20
1472  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 07, 2012, 08:09:52 PM
I am thankful to hear of good things coming from Guro Crafty and Guide Dog.

I am grateful for an afternoon well spent with some dedicated scholar warriors and for the possibility of good things to come for the country ... and for a personal endeavor. 
1473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / We the People loses appeal on: February 06, 2012, 08:37:57 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/us/we-the-people-loses-appeal-with-people-around-the-world.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print

February 6, 2012
 

‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World
 
By ADAM LIPTAK
 

WASHINGTON — The Constitution has seen better days.

Sure, it is the nation’s founding document and sacred text. And it is the oldest written national constitution still in force anywhere in the world. But its influence is waning.

In 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, Time magazine calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

A quarter-century later, the picture looks very different. “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

The study, to be published in June in The New York University Law Review, bristles with data. Its authors coded and analyzed the provisions of 729 constitutions adopted by 188 countries from 1946 to 2006, and they considered 237 variables regarding various rights and ways to enforce them.

“Among the world’s democracies,” Professors Law and Versteeg concluded, “constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall. Over the 1960s and 1970s, democratic constitutions as a whole became more similar to the U.S. Constitution, only to reverse course in the 1980s and 1990s.”

“The turn of the twenty-first century, however, saw the beginning of a steep plunge that continues through the most recent years for which we have data, to the point that the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.”

There are lots of possible reasons. The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.

In an interview, Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. “Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1,” he said.

In a television interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in “Our Undemocratic Constitution,” “the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.” (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)

Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years. By odd coincidence, Thomas Jefferson, in a 1789 letter to James Madison, once said that every constitution “naturally expires at the end of 19 years” because “the earth belongs always to the living generation.” These days, the overlap between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and those most popular around the world is spotty.

Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion. But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.

It has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Its brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)

The Constitution’s waning global stature is consistent with the diminished influence of the Supreme Court, which “is losing the central role it once had among courts in modern democracies,” Aharon Barak, then the president of the Supreme Court of Israel, wrote in The Harvard Law Review in 2002.

Many foreign judges say they have become less likely to cite decisions of the United States Supreme Court, in part because of what they consider its parochialism.

“America is in danger, I think, of becoming something of a legal backwater,” Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia said in a 2001 interview. He said that he looked instead to India, South Africa and New Zealand.

Mr. Barak, for his part, identified a new constitutional superpower: “Canadian law,” he wrote, “serves as a source of inspiration for many countries around the world.” The new study also suggests that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, adopted in 1982, may now be more influential than its American counterpart.

The Canadian Charter is both more expansive and less absolute. It guarantees equal rights for women and disabled people, allows affirmative action and requires that those arrested be informed of their rights. On the other hand, it balances those rights against “such reasonable limits” as “can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

There are, of course, limits to empirical research based on coding and counting, and there is more to a constitution than its words, as Justice Antonin Scalia told the Senate Judiciary Committee in October. “Every banana republic in the world has a bill of rights,” he said.

“The bill of rights of the former evil empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was much better than ours,” he said, adding: “We guarantee freedom of speech and of the press. Big deal. They guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of street demonstrations and protests, and anyone who is caught trying to suppress criticism of the government will be called to account. Whoa, that is wonderful stuff!”

“Of course,” Justice Scalia continued, “it’s just words on paper, what our framers would have called a ‘parchment guarantee.’ ”



1474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / impending cyber attack? on: February 02, 2012, 08:52:17 PM
http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/us/2012/02/02/warnings-about-cyber-war.cnn
1475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A different view on: February 02, 2012, 04:59:18 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/georgia-birther-hearing-obama_n_1236719.html
1476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: February 02, 2012, 09:09:26 AM
"Olson is a major heavyweight attorney, regularly arguing major cases in front of the Supreme Court. ...

Mr. Olson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and a former solicitor general of the United States, represents Koch Industries."

Neither of these descriptions do him justice.

http://www.gibsondunn.com/lawyers/tolson

Additionally, his wife, Barbara, was on the plane that was hijacked and hit the Pentagon on 9/11.  He is also a damn nice guy. 
1477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Earmarks on: February 01, 2012, 02:10:47 PM
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_88/Earmark-Fight-up-Again-in-Senate-212007-1.html?ET=rollcall:e12047:80133681a:&st=email&pos=eam

Earmark opponents may have scored some successes in recent years, but several Senators said they remain wary of permanently giving up the right to direct spending and would rather focus on other business.

"I think we need to talk about that," National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. "I am not sure we need it, but I am open to it."

He continued, "I wish we would focus on what the American people are most concerned about rather than some of these other issues that have their importance but are tangential to the main issues we ought to be focused on."

"I think we ought to [instead] be looking at other ways to ... address people's concerns about jobs and the debt," Cornyn said.

The Senate could vote this week on a proposal by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to make the current moratorium on earmarks permanent. They've offered the measure as an amendment to legislation banning insider trading by lawmakers and their staff.

"Earmarks exist precisely to circumvent ... [Congressional] scrutiny," Toomey said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

He said that while many earmarks are worthy of being funded, "There is an opportunity for corruption. A process like that is badly flawed and should be remedied."

The amendment would also create a point of order to strike earmarks from bills, and it would take two-thirds majority to override that point of order.

On the floor Tuesday, McCaskill said she wants to "stop the process in its entirety" rather than going after individual earmarks.

"I am proud of the fact that we have a moratorium," she said. "But there are a lot of Members of this body that want to go back to the old ways."

Still, earmark supporters said that the issue is purely political.

"It's just stupid, it's childish, it's demagoguery," Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. "There is not a lot of courage in our conference [on the issue.] They all know better. They all know by banning earmarks ... they are just giving the authority to the president. But they are afraid of it because people don't understand the issue out there."

Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said they would stand up to support their right to earmark if the amendment was brought to the Senate floor.

But it's unclear whether the amendment will get a vote.

"I hope we get a vote, but I am not optimistic," McCaskill said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday would not say whether he would permit a vote on the proposal and gave a firm defense of earmarking.

"We'll see in a day or two how many are really interested in improving this bill, having amendments that are germane or relevant, and we'll take a look at it in a day or two," Reid said.

He added that he opposes an earmark ban. "We have an obligation as Members of Congress to fulfill our Constitutional duty. One of those duties is to make sure that we do Congressionally directed spending. I object and do not believe that all these decisions should be made at the White House," Reid said.

"I've done earmarks all my career, and I'm happy I've done earmarks my entire career," Reid continued. "They've helped my state and they helped different projects around the country. And I repeat, I will not stand by and be driven down this path that is one that I think is taking us away from what the Founding Fathers wanted: three separate but equal branches of government."

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who backs a ban, said he doubts that it will pass even if it does come up for a vote.

"I am a co-sponsor of it," Burr said. "It's probably not going to pass. I think there is a lot of opposition to cutting off the gravy train on both sides of the aisle."

Earmarks make up less than 1 percent of overall federal spending.

Still, opponents of earmarks scored a victory after House Republicans won the majority in 2010 and voted soon after to adhere to a two-year moratorium, which expires at the end of this year.

The House's move forced Senate Democratic and Republican leaders' hands. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been reluctant to curtail earmarks on Constitutional grounds. But Republicans agreed to a moratorium in November 2010, followed by Democrats in February 2011.

Some supporters of the moratorium, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), even noted at the time that it was only supposed to be a temporary hiatus from the practice.

Earmarks also were tainted by relatively recent scandals. Last September, lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, who headed the now-defunct lobby shop PMA Group, pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally funneling more than $386,000 in corporate campaign contributions to lawmakers, including appropriators, during a nearly six-year period.

Despite earmark opponents' successes in forcing leaders to accept a moratorium, the issue has had less success on the Senate floor.

In November 2010, the Senate voted 56-39 against an earmark ban McCaskill and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sought to attach to a food safety bill.
HumbertoSanchez@cqrollcall.com | @hsanchez128


   
1478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 01, 2012, 02:07:26 PM

Dick Morris: How Mitt Romney suckered Gingrich in Florida
By Dick Morris - 01/31/12 06:32 PM ET

For students of American politics, following the way the Romney campaign played Newt Gingrich in Florida is a lesson to learn and to keep. Romney’s people must have realized that Newt does best when he is positive. His bold ideas, clear vision, revolutionary insights and extraordinary perspectives resonate with voters and win him millions of supporters.

Romney, less compelling but more consistent, doesn’t need stellar debate performances or bold vision to win. The case for the former Massachusetts governor is more circumstantial: He can reach out to independents by virtue of his past apostasies on healthcare and abortion. He looks, talks and acts like a president. His record of job creation is exemplary.

 But Newt needs the bold sally, the breathtaking moment of rhetorical clarity, to prevail.

So Romney’s people set out to mire Newt in negatives so he couldn’t and wouldn’t get out the positive message he needed to project to prevail. They tormented him with negative ads in Iowa. While the ads were generally accurate — the allegation about backing China’s forced-abortion policy aside — they presented only one side of the story and were stinging in their impact. Without funds, Gingrich couldn’t answer the negative ads. He fumed but watched, in impotence, as his vote share fell away.

In Spanish bullfights, the picadors torment the bull by sticking darts into his shoulders. Enraged, bleeding, frustrated and in pain, he lowers his head, snorts, paws the ground and charges straight at the matador, oblivious to the sword awaiting him behind the red cape. That’s about what Romney did to Gingrich in the January primaries.

Enter Sheldon Adelson, a Vegas billionaire who loves Newt. His affection runs so deep that he gave Gingrich the funds to destroy himself. With Adelson’s reported contribution of $5 million-plus, Newt had the weapons to fight back with his own negative ads. In a rage, he put them on TV and devoted his time in the debates to throwing accusations. RomneyCare. Abortion. Gay rights. The taxes Romney paid and the ones he advocated. Massachusetts moderate. No, make that Massachusetts liberal. They tripped off his tongue and his super-PAC put them on the air. Sheldon paid the bill. But Newt paid the price.
1479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Heavy Lifting in Congress on: February 01, 2012, 05:52:59 AM
Here is a discussion of some of the more influential congressional aides.  Interesting look at the people how get work done on the Hill.

http://www.rollcall.com/features/30hillaidestoknow.html
1480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: January 29, 2012, 05:16:23 PM
That was part of the research I was referencing.
1481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: January 27, 2012, 02:55:08 PM
Two quick things: There is a major difference between measuring what you know and having an indication of how you think and learn.  ETS won't replace that important portion of the college degree.  And, as technology and information increases seemingly exponentially, thinking and learning will be more important than knowing. 

There is spurious research put out by any organization who produces research, whether the higher education "industry," media, think tanks or corporations.  Cherry picking examples of this spurious research to indicate the weakness of the "industry" is spurious itself.  I don't hate capitalism because tobacco industry scientists "proved" for years that smoking and cancer had no link. 
1482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Liberal arts education lends an edge in down economy on: January 26, 2012, 08:26:01 AM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2012-01-24/liberal-arts-education-graduates/52779652/1

Recent college graduates who as seniors scored highest on a standardized test to measure how well they think, reason and write — skills most associated with a liberal arts education — were far more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest, says the survey, released Wednesday by the Social Science Research Council, an independent organization.

It found that students who had mastered the ability to think critically, reason analytically and write effectively by their senior year were:

•Three times less likely to be unemployed than those who hadn't (3.1% vs. 9.6%).
•Half as likely to be living with their parents (18% vs. 35%).

•Far less likely to have amassed credit card debt (37% vs. 51%).

Grades and other factors influence a student's chances of success, too. Graduates of colleges with tougher admissions standards tended to have fewer debts and were less likely to live with their parents, the study found.

A report this month by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which studies the labor-market value of college degrees, found that recent graduates with a bachelor's degree in architecture had the highest average jobless rate (13.9%, vs. 8.9% for all recent college graduates). Education and health care majors had some of the lowest jobless rates.

The findings released Wednesday "show something new and different," says lead author Richard Arum, a New York University professor. "Students would do well to appreciate the extent to which their development of general skills, not just majors and institution attended, is related to successful adult transitions."

The study is based on surveys of 925 graduates who as college seniors had taken the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that aims to measure student learning. In addition to showing greater success financially, high-scorers were more likely to read the news and discuss politics and be living with or married to a romantic partner they met in college.

Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, an association that encourages its member schools to assess student learning, says findings suggest that the Collegiate Learning Assessment is "a pretty good measure of how people are going to do in life."

Arum also cautions that the study doesn't speak to whether high-scoring graduates picked up their skills while in college. It follows up on research last year showing that 36% of college graduates showed few or no gains in learning between their freshman and senior years.

"While their outcomes are not a product solely of their college experience … it's important for colleges to figure out a way to be more effective," he says.


1483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: January 25, 2012, 11:54:13 AM
The safe analogy is covered in the EFF amicus. 
1484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: January 25, 2012, 06:50:45 AM
Three preliminary things:
1.  This type of issue occurs increasingly, as technology increases.  The courts have decided wiretapping, cell phone, GPS (this week, of course).  Cases involving the TSA body scanners and other related devices will be taken to court in the future, I suspect.
2.  I have a bias toward civil liberties, so understand that as you read below.
3.  I have a busy morning, so this will be incomplete. 

One strategy issue: If I were her attorney, I wouldn't stop at the 5th Amendment self incrimination clause.  For example, the demand that Fricosu turn over an unencrypted computer, possibly, might be construed as an unreasonable search.  The FBI already literally had its hands on the device.  Its inability to decode it would seem to be an indictment on them. 

I like the EFF brief.  It recognizes the use of computers for a variety of jobs.  It notes the legitimate use of encryption, whether for business or for privacy concerns.

Moreover, the 5th protections begin immediately (see Miranda rights for evidence).  Speech, and as a likely extension written testimony (including the typing of a password) would seem to be a version of "witness." 

The long and short of it is that I find the EFF amicus brief to be compelling. 
1485  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Evolution of police cars on: January 24, 2012, 05:43:08 PM
Evolution of police cars:

http://editorial.autos.msn.com/the-evolution-of-the-police-car?icid=autos_2123#1
1486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Recess appointment reactions on: January 24, 2012, 04:03:27 PM
http://www.rollcall.com/news/senate_gop_forming_response_to_white_house_recess_picks-211742-1.html?ET=rollcall:e11972:80133681a:&st=email&pos=epm

Recess appointmet reactions by the Republicans in the Senate.  
1487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOTU other fun on: January 24, 2012, 12:08:12 PM
Or, if you'd rather drink to forget: http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2012/01/state-of-the-union-drinking-game-have-multiple-colors-of-drinks-on-hand.html
1488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOTU Bingo!!! on: January 24, 2012, 11:59:42 AM
Americans for Tax Reform have a bingo game set up for tonight. 

http://www.atr.org/atr-presents-obama-state-union-bingo-a6695
1489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP MCs fear Newt on: January 24, 2012, 09:53:02 AM
Many Republicans in Congress fear Newt's electabilty.... and the impact he could have down ticket. 

http://www.rollcall.com/news/congressional_republicans_fear_newt_gingrich_standard_-211732-1.html?ET=rollcall:e11964:80133681a:&st=email&pos=eam

1490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / recusal questions on: January 24, 2012, 09:45:32 AM
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_83/-211696-1.html?ET=rollcall:e11964:80133681a:&st=email&pos=eam

Court’s Recusal Issue Still Unsettled

    * By Jessica Brady
    * Roll Call Staff
    * Jan. 24, 2012, Midnight

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Conservatives have called for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from the case considering the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

    * 
    * imagePrint
    * imageEmail
    * imageReprints
    *
          o
          o
          o
      Text size

The Supreme Court might have blocked a conservative activist from participating in oral arguments against the health care law, but stakeholders maintain it's not a setback in their larger push for Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself during deliberations this spring.

The high court rejected Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman's request to participate in oral arguments, although his amicus brief maintaining that Kagan should not participate in the case still stands.

Klayman, a conservative dynamo who also founded Judicial Watch, said Monday's decision "is not a setback." Ed Whelan, another conservative legal scholar, called the announcement "insignificant" to the broader dispute over whether Kagan should recuse herself.

Conservatives have pushed for Kagan to step aside when the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the health care reform law this spring. The newest justice on the court served as President Barack Obama's solicitor general while the law was being crafted in Congress in 2009 and 2010, and conservative legal observers maintain Kagan's role in the executive branch during that time prevents her from considering the law fairly in court.

Supreme Court justices decide on their own whether to recuse themselves in cases when their impartiality might be in question, and advocates of all political stripes gripe that the lack of protocol in deciding when to step back is a problem. Scrutiny over the issue has only grown in the months since it was announced the Supreme Court would take up the health care law, a highly political issue that will come before the court just as the 2012 campaign season is in full swing.

Klayman said Monday's decision suggests the high court is avoiding the thorny issue of conflicts of interest and whether justices should step aside in pending cases in which they might have a vested interest.

"Apparently, the Supreme Court thinks it will be embarrassed if it, in effect, allows the American people to speak and wants to quietly sweep the issue of its own ethics and respect for the law under the table," Klayman said in a release.

But Klayman vowed to press on, noting in an interview that he spoke with House Judiciary Committee staff about holding a hearing on the matter and calling for Chief Justice John Roberts and Kagan to testify. Roberts has maintained that justices should not recuse themselves from hearing cases unless absolutely necessary, and in a year-end report in December, he said, "I have complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine when recusal is warranted."

The conservative Klayman is not the only one who has taken issue with that stance. Congressional Democrats have maintained for months that Justice Clarence Thomas should step aside from participating in deliberations of the health care reform law because of his wife's tenure at the Heritage Foundation.

The conservative organization was an ardent opponent of the measure while it was working its way through Congress, and Democrats say Thomas will therefore not be an impartial arbiter of the case when the law's constitutionality is considered.

A group of 20 House Democrats led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) called on the Judicial Conference of the United States, the governing body for federal courts, to look into what they said were Thomas' ethical violations last year. The lawmakers charged that Thomas did not report his wife's income from the Heritage Foundation. The Judicial Conference has not responded.

A spokeswoman for House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, "We have been very active with trying to get information from DOJ regarding what role Justice Kagan may have played in discussions regarding Obamacare while she was solicitor general."

Smith's Senate counterpart, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has also looked into the matter and held a high-profile hearing last year on the issue of recusal featuring Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia.

Despite the efforts from legal observers and Members, the Supreme Court is not expected to bow to the political pressure. While Kagan abstained from Monday's decision on Freedom Watch's request, it's not considered to be a hint that she will likewise sit back when the health care law comes before the court.

"Whether it's the Congress or the courts of the executive branch, the American people don't feel like they have a voice," Klayman complained.
1491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Warrantless GPS search is unconstitutional on: January 23, 2012, 01:20:50 PM
... in a 9-0 (merits) decision.  There is a spilt as to the why.  And interesting voting partners.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf
1492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: January 19, 2012, 09:53:07 PM
Not exactly words, but the punctuation marks discussed in this article are interesting:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/13-punctuation-marks-that-you-never-knew-existed
1493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 1% majored in...? on: January 19, 2012, 02:38:11 PM
Turns out political science, a liberal arts degree, doesn't do too damn bad.


http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/what-the-top-1-of-earners-majored-in/

What the Top 1% of Earners Majored In
By ROBERT GEBELOFF and SHAILA DEWAN
12:21 p.m. | Updated Added a fuller list of majors at the bottom of the post.

We got an interesting question from an academic adviser at a Texas university: could we tell what the top 1 percent of earners majored in?

The writer, sly dog, was probably trying to make a point, because he wrote from a biology department, and it turns out that biology majors make up nearly 7 percent of college graduates who live in households in the top 1 percent.

According to the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey, the majors that give you the best chance of reaching the 1 percent are pre-med, economics, biochemistry, zoology and, yes, biology, in that order.


The 1 Percent
Looking at the top of the economic strata.
Below is a chart showing the majors most likely to get into the 1 percent (excluding majors held by fewer than 50,000 people in 2010 census data). The third column shows the percentage of degree holders with that major who make it into the 1 percent. The fourth column shows the percent of the 1 percent (among college grads) that hold that major. In other words, more than one in 10 people with a pre-med degree make it into the 1 percent, and about 1 in 100 of the 1 percenters with degrees majored in pre-med.

Of course, choice of major is not the only way to increase your chances of reaching the 1 percent, if that is your goal. There is also the sector you choose.

A separate analysis of census data on occupations showed that one in eight lawyers, for example, are in the 1 percent — unless they work for a Wall Street firm, when their chances increase to one in three. Among chief executives, fewer than one in five rank among the 1 percent, but their chances increase if the company produces medical supplies (one in four) or drugs (two in five). Hollywood writers? One in nine are 1 percenters. Television or radio writers? One in 14. Newspaper writers and editors? One in 62.

Undergraduate Degree Total % Who Are 1 Percenters Share of All 1 Percenters
Health and Medical Preparatory Programs 142,345 11.8% 0.9%
Economics 1,237,863 8.2% 5.4%
Biochemical Sciences 193,769 7.2% 0.7%
Zoology 159,935 6.9% 0.6%
Biology 1,864,666 6.7% 6.6%
International Relations 146,781 6.7% 0.5%
Political Science and Government 1,427,224 6.2% 4.7%
Physiology 98,181 6.0% 0.3%
Art History and Criticism 137,357 5.9% 0.4%
Chemistry 780,783 5.7% 2.4%
Molecular Biology 64,951 5.6% 0.2%
Area, Ethnic and Civilization Studies 184,906 5.2% 0.5%
Finance 1,071,812 4.8% 2.7%
History 1,351,368 4.7% 3.3%
Business Economics 108,146 4.6% 0.3%
Miscellaneous Psychology 61,257 4.3% 0.1%
Philosophy and Religious Studies 448,095 4.3% 1.0%
Microbiology 147,954 4.2% 0.3%
Chemical Engineering 347,959 4.1% 0.8%
Physics 346,455 4.1% 0.7%
Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration 334,016 3.9% 0.7%
Accounting 2,296,601 3.9% 4.7%
Mathematics 840,137 3.9% 1.7%
English Language and Literature 1,938,988 3.8% 3.8%
Miscellaneous Biology 52,895 3.7% 0.1%
1494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Perry is gone on: January 19, 2012, 09:00:24 AM
Word is that Rick Perry is dropping his presidential bid.
1495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama = HST??? on: January 19, 2012, 07:53:17 AM
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_81/with_help_from_foes_obama_off_the_mat_truman_strategy-211582-1.html?ET=rollcall:e11914:80133681a:&st=email&pos=epa

With Help From Foes, Obama Is off the Mat

    * By Morton M. Kondracke
    * Roll Call Executive Editor
    * Jan. 19, 2012, Midnight

    * 
    * imagePrint
    * imageEmail
    * imageReprints
    *
          o
          o
          o
      Text size

Related Content

    * Give 'Em Hell, Barry?
    * Can Truman Strategy Work for Obama in 2012?

President Barack Obama is far from winning re-election, but his “Truman strategy” — plus some mild improvement in economic conditions — seems to have improved his prospects. And Republicans are helping.

The strategy, of course, is to portray himself, much as President Harry Truman did in 1948, as the defender of the middle class and Republicans as obstructionists bent on defending the privileged rich.

Polls suggest he is hitting two political bull’s-eyes — disdain for Congressional Republicans and a belief that rich people ought to pay more taxes.

GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s estimate that he pays only a 15 percent rate on his millions of dollars in income — plus his rivals’ denunciations of him as a “vulture capitalist” — can only help Obama.

And so will replays of the GOP TV debate in which not one presidential candidate was willing to accept a deficit reduction formula of $10 in spending cuts for $1 in revenue increases.

Truman famously came from behind to win in 1948 running against a “do-nothing Republican Congress” and as the Washington Post poll showed Monday — tracking all others on the subject — Congress’ standing with the public is at an all-time low.

Obama does not always distinguish between the Democratic Senate and the Republican House in condemning Congressional inaction.

However, every poll, including the Post’s, shows that disapproval of Congressional Republicans is greater than of Democrats — 75 percent to 62 percent, according to the Post.

Similarly, a Pew poll last month showed that voters blamed Republicans more than Democrats for failures to achieve results by a 17-point margin.

By 53 percent to 33 percent, Pew found, voters think the GOP is “more extreme in its positions,” while by 51 percent to 25 percent, they believe Democrats are more willing to work with the other side.

Obama’s own polls began to show some upturn in mid-December, about two weeks after Obama traveled to Osawatomie, Kan., to identify with President Theodore Roosevelt’s progressivism and to assail Republicans for refusing “to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay the same tax rate as they did when Bill Clinton was president.”

The Washington Post/ABC poll showed that by 44 percent to 40 percent, voters believed he was better at handling the economy than Republicans in Congress; by 44 percent to 41 percent, at creating jobs; by 50 percent to 35 percent, at protecting the middle class; and even by 46 percent to 41 percent, in handling taxes. He’d been running behind in most of those categories until then.

Polls have pretty consistently shown that large majorities believe “the rich should pay more taxes” — by 68 percent to 28 percent in an October Time magazine survey.

Obama has experienced an upturn in his overall approval ratings since the lows of last fall. He was down to 38 percent in the Gallup daily tracking poll in October. He’s now up to 46 percent.

Generally speaking, presidents with approval ratings below 50 percent are in danger. President George H.W. Bush had 46 percent at this stage of his presidency and went down to defeat.

On the other hand, President Clinton also was at 46 percent in January 1996 and won re-election.

At the moment, Obama is running about even with Romney in national polls — but significantly behind his own 2008 performance among key demographic groups.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Obama with a statistically insignificant lead of 46.5 percent to 45.3 percent over Romney.

The latest Washington Post/ABC poll gives Romney a 2-point lead, reversing a 3-point Obama lead in December. CNN shows Obama with a 2-point lead.

A much-discussed paper by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the liberal Center for American Progress indicated that demographic changes in key battleground states — chiefly growth in young voters and Latinos — would tilt the 2012 playing field toward Obama.

There’s no question that Obama should profit among Latinos from Romney’s hard-line immigration views — topped by his close alignment with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who wrote model legislation that served as the basis for measures passed into law in Arizona and Alabama that cracked down on illegal immigrants.

Still, the latest Gallup poll shows Obama’s approval rating among Latinos is only 56 percent, down from 67 percent in 2008 exit polls.

Obama won 55 percent of support among women in 2008, but he’s currently at 48 percent. Among whites, he’s down from 43 percent to 36 percent. Among voters aged 18-29, he’s down from 66 percent to 53 percent.

Obama got just 45 percent support among seniors in 2008; he’s now down to 40 percent approval. And, crucially, among independent voters, he’s dropped from 52 percent to 42 percent.

Independent voters clearly are dismayed that Obama has failed to fulfill his major campaign promise: to unite “red” and “blue” America to get the country’s problems solved.

According to the Washington Post poll, 52 percent of voters say Obama has accomplished either “not much” (25 percent) or “little or nothing” (27 percent), while 47 percent say he’s accomplished “a great deal” (12 percent) or “a good amount” (35 percent).

Of those who think he’s accomplished little or nothing — presumably, mainly independents and Republicans — Obama gets the blame by a whopping 56 percent to 18 percent.

Obama is trying to convince the electorate that he saved America from plunging into a second Great Depression and is succeeding in triggering a recovery, albeit a slow one.

Improving unemployment numbers will help. Any renewed downturn — even if it’s the result of trouble in Europe — will hurt.

Obama will have the advantage of being able to husband his vast campaign resources if Romney’s opponents, especially former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), do not soon drop out of the race.

Romney seeks every opportunity to direct fire at Obama for trying to turn America into a “European welfare state,” but his opponents are equipping Obama with ammunition as they dwell on dealings by his former firm, Bain Capital.

The Democratic Party has also been assiduously adopting Romney’s GOP rivals’ argument that he’s a serial flip-flopper, and last week, former investment banker William D. Cohan unleashed a devastating critique that combined attack lines on Romney.

Cohan, author of two books on the misdeeds of Wall Street, charged that, under Romney, Bain made huge profits by offering high initial bids to buy firms at auction and eliminating competitors and then found ways to drastically reduce the offer during final negotiations.

“This win-at-any-cost approach makes me wonder how a President Romney would negotiate with Congress, or with China, or with anyone else — and what a promise, pledge or endorsement from him would actually mean,” Cohan wrote.

Even though Obama has run up the national debt and expanded government significantly, he is wrapping himself in distinctly American — not European — trappings, echoing Truman and Teddy Roosevelt.

And he’s got the money and the podium to paint Romney as a practitioner of the Wall Street practices that he says led to the Great Recession.

It’s going to be a brawl. I wouldn’t predict an outcome, but Obama has gotten off the mat.
1496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Democrats receive more Bain Capital dollars than Republicans on: January 19, 2012, 07:51:35 AM
http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/205025-dems-receive-more-bain-dollars-than-gop
1497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: January 18, 2012, 10:35:07 PM
Thank you for a thoughtful reply.  And, while I am opposed to SOPA, I do agree with this: "much/most of the opposition comes from folks who simply wish to keep stealing and that piracy is not a real problem."

1498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SOPA infographic on: January 18, 2012, 09:42:02 PM
Moving to this thread:


http://americancensorship.org/infographic.html

A serious question, Guro: Is there a chance that if SOPA were passed, could www.dogbrothers.com be blacked given the number of links and quotes, etc. posted on the forum from other web sites?  Based on my understanding of the law, the critics (at least) seem to think this type of issue is a possibility. 
1499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SOPA infographic on: January 18, 2012, 08:54:56 PM
http://americancensorship.org/infographic.html

A serious question, Guro: Is there a chance that if SOPA were passed, could www.dogbrothers.com be blacked given the number of links and quotes, etc. posted on the forum from other web sites?  Based on my understanding of the law, the critics (at least) seem to think this type of issue is a possibility. 
1500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Why should we read? on: January 17, 2012, 04:01:24 PM
http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/so-why-read-anymore/?print=1



So Why Read Anymore?

Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On January 16, 2012 @ 9:51 am In Uncategorized | 149 Comments

Is Reading Good Books Over?

There is great “truth and beauty” in Homer’s Iliad [1], but I would not try to make his sale on such platitudes. Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [2] remains a classic. But I confess it can be hard to get through. Conrad’s Victory [3] or Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil [4], if authored by writer X this year, would be trashed on Amazon.

So what are the reasons, in this age of the iPhone, Xbox, and PlayStation — or Fox News blondes and HBO — to sit down and read old stuff for an hour or two each week?

Here are a few reasons other than the usual defense of the “classics,” the “canon,” and the glories of “Western civilization.”

Mental Exercise

The mind is a muscle. Without exercise, it reverts to mush. Watching most TV or using the normal electronic gadgetry does not tax us much — indeed that is by design the very purpose: to eliminate effort, worry, unease, and afterthought. None of us thinks back a year ago to a great video game session. Few off-hand can recall the Super Bowl winner of 2001. I remember the scenes in a Shane [5]or Casablanca [6], but not many others in the other thousand of movies that I have watched.

By nature, our ways of expression and even thinking always fossilize and are withering away with age and monotony — a process accelerated by the modern electronic age and the neglect of replenishment through reading. The actual vocabulary of our present youth seems to me reduced to about 1,000 words or so. “Like,” “whatever,” “you know,” “cool,” and other pop culture fillers now substitute for entire phrases, a sort of modern porcine grunting. The Greeks used particles to accentuate vocabulary and guide syntax; we used them instead of vocabulary. Our syntax, both written and oral, is reverting to “Spot is a dog”: noun, verb, predicate — period. How did incomprehensible slang, spiced with vulgarity, become an object of emulation? I used to listen to farmers without college degrees speak wonderful English; now to listen to a member of Congress almost requires a translator.

Reading alone enriches our vocabulary; it teaches us that good writing requires a sense of melody as well as a command of grammar. Soon those well-read become the well-spoken.

A Master of Words

Think for a minute: why did the Right often ignore the contradictions of Christopher Hitchens [7], and the Left mostly give up most of its anger at him? He was not necessarily a classically beautiful stylist, and could be needlessly cruel. He wrote no great history, no great novel, no great single essay that we can instantly recall in the manner of an Orwell or Chesterton. But Mr. Hitchens surely was a rare and gifted writer, polemicist, and savant. To read 800 words was to learn something new in passing. Even in his most ridiculous rant, a nugget of wisdom could be uncovered. A reference to an obscure Eastern European politician might appear side-by-side a line from Wordsworth — and would make a better illustration of his argument than just showcasing his erudition. He mastered the odd, even perverse turn of phrase, the ability to juxtapose the colloquialism next to Latinate pomposity, or to write a ridiculous 10-line long sentence, stuffed with semi-cola, dashes, cola, and commas, followed by a two-word noun-verb sentence that a five-year old could produce. In short, Hitchens was a voracious consumer of texts, and the result was that he achieved what the Roman student of rhetoric, Quintilian, once called variatio, the ability to mix up words and sentences and not bore. He could hold, even shock, the reader or listener from sentence to sentence, moment to moment.

But We Are So Much More to the Point

But you object that at least our current economy of expression cuts out wasted words and clauses, a sort of slimmed-down, electronic communication? Perhaps, but it also turns almost everything into instant bland hot cereal, as if we should gulp down oatmeal at every meal and survive well enough without the bother of salad, main course, and dessert. Each day our vocabulary shrinks, our thought patterns stagnate — if they are not renewed through fresh literature or intelligent conversation. Unfortunately these days, those who read are few and silent; those who don’t, numerous and heard. In this drought, Dante’s Inferno [8] and William Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico [9] provide needed storms of new words, complex syntax, and fresh ideas.

Humility

Technology has deluded the modern West. We equate widespread knowledge of how to use an iPad with collective wisdom. Because a rare, brilliantly inventive mind from Caltech or MIT can craft a device undreamed of in the age of Einstein, we assume that we all warrant a share in his genius, as if our generation has trumped Einstein’s. We deserve no such kudos — unless animals at the zoo that find delight in their rote enjoyment of their hoops and bars can be credited with the architect’s sophisticated zoological design.

Pumps Are Not Water

Technological progress is no guarantee of collective wisdom — other than an acknowledgement that there is a brilliant scientific elite that we foster and don’t kill off in exchange for the good stuff that they give us. Our California public schools rate about 48th or 49th these days in nationwide testing, while most of the state seems to have their heads permanently transfixed to iPhones. Do we believe then that the population is smarter because we know “apps” or because there is an Apple or Google headquarters full of engineers living in the cocoon of Silicon Valley?

There is an arrogance of an age that comes with access to always better stuff. New technology prompts an assumption that there are always better things to come. Not true. Life was far better in Rome in AD 25 than in AD 425. Would you like to buy a house in Detroit today or in 1940? Me? I would rather drive down the central section of 101 in 1970 than tomorrow. Regress — material, intellectual, and moral — can be as common as progress, if each new generation proves a poor custodian of the laws, behavior, knowledge, and learning inherited from those now gone.

We Are Not Alone

No one in my town ripped out copper wire from the street lights in 1963 as they commonly do now; my grandfather contended with swarms of vine-hoppers and spider mites, not, as I do, with thieves who destroy pumps to scavenge conduit wire. I know that this will not be a problem in 2080 — either because such crime that threatens society must cease, or society as we know it will cease. Can we see these as symptoms, as something also beyond our present anguish, as challenges shared by Athenians, Romans, and Byzantines? We can — if we have some guide that turns the nonsense of today into the sense of the ages.

Not a poet in America today could match Virgil. Few, if any, of us historians could write with the flair and judgment of a Tacitus. But how would we know that — or care — if we did not read?

Without some awareness that ideas are old and somewhat finite, and that we are young and ignorant, we assume that each new adventure must be novel because we alone — right now! — are experiencing it. If Barack Obama would read Procopius [10], he would learn the wages of his huge inefficient bureaucracy. Jerry Brown, the self-described Jesuit sage, should return to his St. Jerome [11], because the latter’s descriptions of an eroding Rome could just as well describe a drive down California’s 99. (Before a crumbling society can borrow billions for a high-speed rail to nowhere it might better bring out the dusty maps and charts of a dead generation of engineers that once bequeathed to us plans about how to finish a three-lane freeway without cross traffic.)

Ourselves and Our Archetypes

Reading literature endows us not just with a model of expression and thought, but also with a body of ideas — and the names, facts, and dates that we can draw on to elucidate them. When I used to follow the career of the brilliantly destructive Bill Clinton, he seemed to be Alcibiades reborn — and thus was surely bound to share the same fate of those with enormous talent who are consumed by their own huge and unrepressed appetites.

Richard Nixon jumped out of the pages Sophocles, another gifted Oedipus whose innate and unaddressed flaws were waiting dormant — for just the right occasion to explode him, for Nemesis to take him from the King of Thebes to itinerant blind beggar.

Obama? He came on the scene as arrogant and self-righteous as young Pentheus or Hippolytus and he is now learning firsthand the effects of his Euripidean smugness on others. Nothing that we experience has not happened before; the truly ignorant miss that, hypnotized by sophisticated technology into believing that human nature has been reinvented in their own image.

Transcendence

We all wish to live beyond the confines of our pathetic flesh and the limitations of the material world. I am here not just talking of religion, but rather of how shared ideas and learning trump age, race, class, gender, all the supposed barriers that only government alone can trample down.

At Fresno I used to teach works like Xenophon’s Hellenica or Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound in advanced Greek classes, usually to about 10 students. Some were 60 years old and retired. Some were physically disabled and rolled in on wheel chairs. Some were Mexican-American; some women; some Asian. Often an epileptic retiree, who took every Greek course offered, would have a seizure in class. Most were poor or of middle means; but I recall there were one or two millionaires as well.

The Point of Such “Diversity”?

There was no diversity.

When they translated or sounded off about Prometheus’s pontifications or nearly wept at poor Theramenes (who perhaps deserved his fate for his triangulation) being dragged off to his death, all “difference” disappeared. What we had in common vastly outweighed our class, gender, and racial distinctions. Thucydides could belong to an immigrant from Oaxaca as much as it did to me — or even more so.

It was almost as if the mind lived without a body or perhaps despite it. In his treatise on old age and again in the Pro Archia, Cicero made the argument that learning gives us a common bond. (omnes arts quae ad humanities pertinent habent quoddam commune vinclum et quasi cognatione quadam inter se continentur.)

Old? Hardly

Literature and history become bulwarks from the cruel assaults of old age. I used to hike in the Attic hills with a group led by the septuagenarian, the legendary classical Greek scholar and topographer Eugene Vanderpool. He was to the eye almost decrepit — with few teeth (from the effects of malnourishment after internment in a German prisoner of war camp during the Nazi occupation of Athens) and recovering from a stroke. He reminded me of David’s 18th-century painting of an elderly Belisarius asking for alms outside the Hippodrome.

But as we hiked each Saturday he quietly pointed out the pass where Mardonius retreated back to Boeotia in spring 479 B.C. before being obliterated with his Persians at the subsequent battle of Plataea. “Hanson,” he once whispered, “did you realize you just stepped on the Attic Orchid; can I tell you a little about this vanishing flower that you crushed?” Someone kicked up a clay loom weight. He smiled shyly at it, and in muffled voice muttered, “Hmmm, about 400 B.C.; there must be a classical farmhouse about here somewhere.” We walked right by blank rocks; he asked, “Did anyone see back there that horos inscription? It was a boundary marker, Hellenistic I imagine.”

Ageless Man

When we got to the mountains overlooking the coast, he would rattle off the various armadas — Persian to nineteenth-century European — that had once docked below us. At 24, I felt like he was Napoleon addressing the Grand Army before the Pyramids. The result was that Mr. Vanderpool magically turned into 20-something like the rest of us, as if material existence were a bothersome afterthought. Our initial shock at his withered body vanished. He became almost an Apollo. I expected him to show up back at Athens at a Saturday night midnight disco bash to discourse on the Bee Gees as he had on the origins of ostracism.

Certificates of What?

We don’t need more technocrats who fool us that their Ivy League law degrees are synonymous with wisdom. They can be, but now are more likely not much more than tickets that allow an Eric Holder or Timothy Geithner into the first-class seating. I am not calling for us to be academics or scholastics with our noses in books or our heads up our posteriors; but to match physicality and pragmatism with occasional abstraction and reflection from the voices of the past — just a little, now and then, to remind us that Twitter or Facebook speed up communication, but can slow down thought.

Literature and history belong to us all. The recollection of ideas and thoughts can turn drudgery into something at least a little better. I once read Les Miserables and the memoirs of U.S. Grant simultaneously each night, and by day sprayed pre-emergent herbicide (in those pre-green days, per acre: ½ pound of Simazine, ½ pound of Karmex, washed down with spreader and some Parquat) all day long. Gradually the leaks, the toxicity, and the monotony of one sprayed row after another vanished. My head had gone underground into 1832 Paris and then came out again to the tricky siege of Vicksburg. That trance could mean the herbicide might once or twice miss the berm (and we would not recommend that 757 pilots dip into their Tolstoy during autopilot sessions), but for a time I was no longer cold and wet.

Links in the Chain

Somehow we must convince this new wired generation that speaking and writing well are not just the DSL lines of modern civilization, but also the keys to self-mastery, a sort of code that one takes on — in addition to others, moral and legal — to uphold standards of culture itself, to keep the work and ideas alive of our long gone betters for one more generation — as if to say, “I did my part according to my time and station.”Nothing more, nothing less.
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage by Shutterstock.com [12].)

Article printed from Works and Days: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/so-why-read-anymore/

URLs in this post:

[1] Iliad: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140275363/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0140275363

[2] The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140437649/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0140437649

[3] Victory: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004QZ9URY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pajamasmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004QZ9URY

[4] Growth of the Soil: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486476006/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0486476006

[5] Shane : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0792163710/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0792163710

[6] Casablanca: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VWNIAY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002VWNIAY

[7] the contradictions of Christopher Hitchens: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/286976/goodbye-mr-hitchens-victor-davis-hanson

[8] Inferno: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1463532229/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1463532229

[9] History of the Conquest of Mexico: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0217254462/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=pjmedia-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0217254462

[10] Procopius: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procopius

[11] St. Jerome: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Jerome

[12] Shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com
Pages: 1 ... 28 29 [30] 31 32 ... 43
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!