Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
Article. I. Section. 1. of the U.S. Constitution states that:
"All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."
A picture of a bloated organization only adds to the confusion. I have therefore created a simple outline of the House and Senate Organization based on what is posted at https://www.congress.gov and https://www.senate.gov. My comments on the Congress follows these outlines:
Speaker of the House
President Pro Tempore
As Otto von Bismarck once said, "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." Politics has often been defined as "the art of compromise". This is especially true when it comes to the legislative process. Wheeling and dealing, in both public and behind closed doors, has been the staple of the legislative process since time immemorial. To expect otherwise is not to accept the nature of politics. This, however, does not mean that we have to accept the end results of all the wheeling and dealing. The end results of that wheeling and dealing should be transparent to all the people of the United States. The only exception may be when issues of national security and war are involved. Even in these cases, every effort should be made to be transparent by removing the details that would compromise the national security or any war efforts but would reveal the broad outlines of what the government is doing.
I, therefore, believe it is important that we identify all parties who are involved in the creation or modification of new legislation. Those people and organizations who assisted in the development of legislation should be identified as part of the legislation. Those people and organizations should then be called to publicly testify as to their involvement and reasoning for the legislation. Only then can Americans judge the proprietary and appropriateness of the legislation.
As Admiral Hyman G. Rickover (the father of the modern nuclear submarine forces) once said:
“Responsibility is a unique concept... You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you... If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.”
Today's legislatures seem to want to avoid being responsible for their deeds and words in order to enhance their prospects of reelection. The delegation of the responsibility of creating laws, rules and regulations are often placed on others such as special commissions, blue ribbon panels, and bureaucratic regulators. However, the legislators are responsible for all laws, rules, and regulations that are created. The committees and subcommittees of Congress should be the special commissions, blue ribbon panels, and bureaucratic regulators, and all laws should be done within the committees and subcommittees of Congress. Any bureaucratic regulations that are created within the Executive Branch should not be implemented without approval from Congress after the regulations have been proposed. This makes the regulation the will of the people as expressed through Congress. Open testimony from all sources that assisted in the creation of the law or regulations should be required, and the law or regulation should not be finalized until members of Congress vote for the law or regulation. This will force Congressman to be on record as to their support or opposition to the laws and regulations that have been proposed and enacted. This will allow the people of the United States to become more fully informed as to where their representatives stand on the issues, so that they may more wisely make decisions on who they elect.
Regular order is the rules and procedures in which an organized body operates under. This is especially important in the legislative process, as it protects the rights and prerogatives of the minority but allows the majority to proceed where appropriate. Changing the rules and procedures during the legislative process is like changing the rules of poker during a poker game. Chaos and confusion would reign, and one side gains an unfair advantage that negates the rights and prerogatives of the other side. The rules and procedures of a legislative body should be established at the beginning of the legislative session, and not changed until the start of a new legislative session. Changing mid-stream is destructive to the democratic process. Sometimes changes necessary, but it should only be done through the regular process of establishing the rules and procedures at the start of the legislative process. It should only be done by a supermajority vote of the legislators (3/5 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate), to ensure the rights and prerogatives of the minority.
Calls for bipartisanship often ring throughout the land. The question is what the people calling for bipartisanship really means. Generally, the person calling for bipartisanship is asking those in opposition to their goal or policy to abandon their stance and adopt the caller of bipartisanships position. This is not bipartisanship but surrender. Bipartisanship can be achieved on many issues in regard to the details of how a particular law or policy is to be achieved. But on a core issue regarding the policy, both parties must stand for their core principles, and one party succeed by convincing a majority of the elected representatives that their policy is the correct one for the American people.
Sometimes bipartisanship and compromise are not a good thing. This can be evidenced by the actions of the Continental Congress in the creation of our nation through declaring independence from the British Crown and Parliament. The members of the Continental Congress attempted bipartisanship and compromise with the British Crown and Parliament to resolve their differences. When it became evident that both parties (the Americans and the British) could not resolve their differences than the Americans abandoned bipartisanship and compromise and declared independence. They stood by their core principles of the rights, liberties, and freedoms that they espoused, and a new country was created based on these core principles.
During the founding of our country bipartisanship was most evident during the Constitutional Convention. There was much disagreement and debate on the details of the Constitution, but there was bipartisan agreement that a constitution was required for the good of the American people. They were bipartisan in their desire to create a constitution, and bipartisan on the details of the implementation of a constitution. Yet in doing so they had to ignore a core issue dividing the members of the convention in order to achieve bipartisanship and compromise. The issue of slavery was so divisive that in order to achieve bipartisanship they put the issue off for a new generation to resolve. This of course, eventually, led to a civil war to resolve this issue. Being bipartisan and compromising can often lead to very serious consequences. These consequences should be examined, and possibly resolved before true bipartisanship is achieved. When the majority of the representatives are in agreement as to the general policy then bipartisanship in the details of the policy can be obtained. Without agreement on the general policy, bipartisanship is not possible, and all parties will continue to debate the wisdom of the policy.
This is most illuminative in modern times in the debate on abortion. The conservative position is that human life begins at the moment of conception and that abortion is the taking of a human life. The moderate position is that human life begins sometime during the gestation of the zygote/embryo/fetus and that before it becomes human abortion is moral, but after it becomes human abortion is immoral. The liberal position is that the zygote/embryo/fetus is not human until it is born. So, what is the bipartisan position amongst these three groups? Each group holds a sincere belief in the correctness of their position, and their position should be the law of the land. For one party to abandon their sincerely held belief in their position is not bipartisanship but surrender. Each party should be advocating for their sincerely held belief and attempting to implement their position by convincing a majority of the elected representatives to adopt their position through the force of law. Bipartisanship is not possible in this type of situation. One party or another has too triumphant. There is nothing wrong with standing for your sincerely held belief and attempting to convince others that your belief is the correct one.
Some would say:
"He who fights and runs away may live to fight another day."
However, fleeing from a fight about core principles most often severely reduces your chances of winning the fight on another day. Once you stray down the path of compromising your core principles it is much more difficult to veer onto the correct path. A more appropriate saying would be
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Or as Martin Luther said in defending his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", which came to be known as The Ninety-Five Theses, in opposition to the Catholic Church position:
I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.
Comity (A state or atmosphere of harmony or mutual civility and respect) is sorely lacking in today's political process. The well of the House and the Senate has often been utilized for our elected representatives to express themselves on a variety of topics and issues. While doing so they are legally protected from charges of slander and libel. This should be so as it is necessary to have a free and open discussion of topics and issues in regard to the welfare of the people of the United States. Lately, however, many of these remarks have degenerated into charges of sexism, intolerant, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, and bigotry. Comity has been disregarded in order to gain political advantage. This poison’s the atmosphere of the legislative process makes it more difficult for legislators to work together and makes it harder to achieve legislation that is of benefit to all Americans. This needs to end in order to achieve a more peaceful and just society.
We have also seen an increase in the slandering of political opponents or executive nominees. Allegations of sexual impropriety, financial irregularities, associations with other people or organizations, etc. have been utilized to demonize, denigrate, or disparage a nominee as outlined in my other observation “Demonize, Denigrate, Disparage (The Three D's)”. This is usually done for political purposes and not to determine the qualification or fitness of a political opponent or the nominee to serve. These allegations should not be taken lightly but should also not be made public without credible, verifiable, or substantiated evidence of wrongdoing. To do otherwise is to slander a political opponent or nominee, slander in which the political opponent or nominee stands to lose their reputation, employment, wealth, and even family and friends based on false allegations. To do so otherwise will discourage qualified persons from running for office, or nominees from accepting a nomination, or discourage qualified persons from serving in the government. All of this causes serious harm to the proper functioning of government and our society.
Rules of comity need to be developed and enforced for all comments that occur in the well of the House and the Senate. Remarks that include charges of sexism, intolerant, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, and bigotry should be forbidden. Anyone who engages in these remarks should be censured and perhaps their right to make remarks in the well of the House and the Senate should be suspended for an appropriate period of time as a result of violating rules of comity. In severe cases, if the person who is making these remarks is in a position of leadership they should be removed from their leadership position, as this is not the behavior expected of leaders of a free and just people. The most recent infamous example of this is the remarks of former Senate majority leader Harry Reid in regard to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. Sen. Reed stood in the well of the Senate and charged Mitt Romney with not paying his income taxes based on "vague" and "nebulous" comments he had heard from unidentified sources. He was protected from charges of slander and libel being lodged by Mitt Romney by the rules of the Senate. But this is what he had indeed done, slander and libel. Without any basis for his charges, he should have been removed from his leadership position, as this is not acceptable behavior for the leader of a free and just people.
Of course, creating and enforcing rules of comity will be
difficult to accomplish. But being difficult to accomplish is
not an excuse not to try to accomplish it. After all, the most
important things to be done are often the most difficult things
The USA Patriot Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act, the DREAM Act, Employee Free Choice Act, the Right to Work,
the Food Safety Modernization Act, etc., etc., etc. all of which
give us this "feel good" sense of "whatever it is, it's for our
own good, and it promotes safety and security for America." The
names given to proposed and passed bills in Congress are more
often than not misleading, and we must beware of how politicians
spin circumstances and designations to promote their agendas.
These misnomer bills end up being more intrusive and invasive
into the lives of the people, resulting in more loss of freedom
and liberty. They often involve more rules and regulations upon
the American people, which usually results in more government
debt, higher expenses for consumer products and services, and as
a result lower living standard for most Americans. All citizens
of the United States should beware these misnomers, as they are
often used to mislead and confuse the public on an issue or
Article III. Section. 1. of the U.S. Constitution states that:
"The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."
As such Congress has created the following structure for the United States Court System:
Each branch of the Government; Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, take an oath of fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, and each branch needs to uphold the Constitution as it sees fit. As each branch is co-equal to each other, all three branches have the duty and responsibility to enforce the Constitution. No one branch is supreme in their duty or responsibility to enforce the Constitution. The Supreme Court is only supreme within the Judicial branch. The Supreme Court does have the responsibility to determine if the Legislature or Executive branch is exceeding its authority under the Constitution. Still, it has no authority to create policy or regulations (this is often expressed as the ability to negate a law or piece of the law, but not to create law, rules, or regulations). In modern United States history, the U.S. Supreme Court has played a larger role in society than it traditionally has. Many have looked to the courts to achieve social change, and I believe that this is injurious to the Constitutional separation of powers.
The Supreme Court is composed of human beings and, as such, often makes mistakes in its rulings. Some of the most divisive issues have been because of the Supreme Court rulings (i.e., Slaves as Property - Dread Scott v. Sanford, Separate but Equal - Plessy v. Ferguson, Abortion Rights - Roe v. Wade, Eminent Domain - Kelo v. City of New London, Same-Sex Marriage - Obergefell v. Hodges, etc.). In my opinion, these rulings were outside the scope of the Constitution or were decide incorrectly. The Legislative and Executive branches have a duty and responsibility to correct the mistakes of the Judicial branch through the appropriate legislative and executive processes. To not do so is to elevate the Supreme Court above the Legislative and Executive branches, which is destructive to the Constitutional checks and balances within the branches of Government. An excellent and very readable overview of this subject is the book "The Constitution: An Introduction by Michael Stokes Paulsen and Luke Paulsen" and I would highly recommend your reading this book.
As stated previously, the Judiciary needs to be independent of those that create the laws (the legislature) and those that enforce the laws (the executive). The Judiciary should be under no influence by the legislature or the executive to assure that the laws are justly applied for all. The only constriction on the Judiciary is that they operate within the bounds of the law and the Constitution and that they equally and justly apply the law. The Judiciary also needs to be cognizant that they do not encroach on the prerogatives of the legislature to create laws and the executive to enforce the law, except to determine if the law is constitutional. They are the primary facilitators for "Justice and The Rule of Law in America", which is their primary responsibility.
It is an unfortunate fact that in today's judicial system, judges often go beyond the scope of their responsibilities. When a judge issues a ruling utilizing convoluted reasoning or stretching the law in which it was never intended to do, they are corrupting the Constitutional and democratic process. A judge is responsible for making sure that the law is equally applied to all who come before them. Their holdings, rulings, and decisions should be based primarily on the law as it is written, or the intentions of the lawgivers as expressed during the legislative process. Laws are created to assure a civil society. If a law, or judicial rulings and decisions, is convoluted or distorted, it cannot be followed by the members of the society. The best example of a straightforward law is the United States Constitution. Anyone who has received a basic education in reading, writing, arithmetic, and reasoning can read and understand the United States Constitution. So, it should be with any law or judicial ruling or decision.
If a judge issues a ruling or decision that is convoluted or distorted, they have stepped outside the bounds of their duties. These types of rulings and decisions are often done to achieve a positive social good (referred to as judicial activism). However, achieving a positive social good is the prerogative of the legislature, elected by the people to achieve this social good. This is best explained by Claude Frederic Bastiat's essay, "The Law". Claude Frederic Bastiat was a French economist and political philosopher of the mid-19th century. Even though his examples are of that time, they are perfectly understandable by anyone in today's world. I would encourage all to read this essay, and if I could, I would make it required reading for all high school students. When a judge engages in judicial activism, they are no longer being a judge but are becoming lords. Lords are inherently undemocratic and arbitrary, and it should be remembered that if a judge can do something for you, they can also do something against you. We should also be reminded of the words of Alexander Hamilton:
"Liberty can have nothing to
fear' from judges who apply the law, but liberty 'has
everything to fear' if judges try to legislate"
- Alexander Hamilton
Unfortunately, the history of the Judiciary in the last half-century has been one of judges trying to legislate through judicial activism. Under many guises, the latest being social justice, judges have issued rulings that go beyond the scope of their responsibilities. Recently, they have also issued many more nationwide injunctions that have been overturned by Appellate Courts or the Supreme Court. Nationwide injunctions that limit or countermand the Executive Branch in the performance of its duties. Sometimes these nationwide injunctions are necessary when the President or Congress acts beyond their Constitutional limits. Many times, however, the nationwide injunctions are more about policy disagreements rather than constitutional limits. This judicial activism has become so pervasive that the Courts are where activists are attempting to enact social changes, rather than through legislative actions. If judges can become agents of change, then the appointment and confirmation of judges have political repercussions. This, therefore, is why the appointment and confirmation of judges have become politized and partisan.
Judges need to remain within the Four Corners of the Law and the Constitution, and only rule on the words and meaning of the law and the Constitution. They need to leave policy differences, or social changes, to the prerogative of Congress and the Executive branches where it rightfully belongs. To do otherwise is for the Judge to become a legislator, which makes them "Lords, Not Judges".
The question then remains as to how best to rein in judges who exceed their constitutional duties and responsibilities. One method that has been suggested is that of impeachment. Impeachment is a draconian measure, fraught with political intrigue, and difficult to accomplish. Impeachment for Judges has a history of only being utilized for egregious personal behavior, and not for flagrant judicial rulings. Impeachment should only be used as a last resort to remove a judge, and only when there are flagrant violations of the Constitution or the Law by a judge. Term Limits for Judges have also been suggested. However, term limits allow a judge to remain in office after flagrant judicial rulings and thus allow them to continue to issue flagrant judicial rulings. Therefore, term limits are only a partial solution to the problem of judges who exceed their constitutional duties and responsibilities. Another method would be the legislative nullification of court orders and rulings. Again, this has ramifications as to the rule of law and order in a just society. It should not be done lightly, and only done with the consideration of possible unintended consequences and the actual consequences of this nullification act. Others have suggested that we wait until a judge retires and assure that their replacement would have more fidelity to the constitutional restrictions of judges. This method is often time-consuming and imprecise and allows for the continuation of an unconstitutional order or ruling to be in effect until something is done to change the order. It also allows the Judge to continue to make unconstitutional orders or rulings.
I believe a restructuring of the court system in the United States would assist in determining the best course of action in the case of judicial activism. The United States Courts of Appeals (or Circuit Courts) are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system. There are 11 Circuit Courts, plus two additional circuit courts allocated to the District of Columbia and United States District Court for the District of Wyoming. A court of appeals decides appeals from the district courts within its federal judicial circuit, and in some instances from other designated federal courts and administrative agencies. The United States Courts of Appeals are considered among the most powerful and influential courts in the United States. Because of their ability to set a legal precedent in regions that cover millions of Americans, the United States Courts of Appeals have a strong policy influence on U.S. law. Moreover, because the U.S. Supreme Court chooses to review less than 1% of the more than 10,000 cases filed with it annually, the United States Courts of Appeals serve as the final arbiter on most federal cases. The current Circuit Courts established in the United States are:
Currently, the circuit courts are unbalanced in the population numbers of the residents within the circuit court. There should be a rebalancing of the geographic boundaries of the Circuit Courts to reflect a more even population distribution (or perhaps current historical caseloads). I believe that we should have ten Circuit Courts plus one Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. I also believe that there should be one Supreme Court judge who is responsible for one circuit court and the district courts therein, and the Chief Justice of the United States is responsible for the District of Columbia Circuit Court. This would mean the appointment of two additional Supreme Court justices. In order to minimize the political ramifications of these appointments, they should occur after a federal election for President of the United States, following the swearing-in of the new President and their nominations for these two additional Justices, and to take effect the end of the current Supreme Court calendar. This would hopefully remove any political objections to adding to the Supreme Court and make it an issue during the presidential election process so the people would have a say, through the next President elected, of who should be nominated to these two additional Supreme Court judgeships.
The Supreme Court judge responsible for a Circuit and District Court would be charged with preparing an annual report of the activities of the Circuit and District Courts and the judges therein during the Supreme Courts' summer recess. They would report on such things as the caseloads, the dispositions, the appeals, and the overriding of judicial decisions by the Circuit and Supreme Court of judicial decisions. This information would then be utilized by the Congress of the United States as part of its federal oversight responsibilities. It could also be used as the basis for the possible removal of a judge, if that Judge has been excessively overruled, or acted outside the boundaries of their judicial responsibilities.
As to the removal of a Judge that has been found to exceed their authority under the Constitution, some have suggested (and has been the case in the past) that you can only remove a Judge through Impeachment for High Crimes and Misdemeanors. However, Article III, Section. 1. Of the Constitution states:
"The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."
It does not mention Impeachment or High Crimes and Misdemeanors, but only Good Behavior. If we define Good Behavior to include their sworn duty to uphold and protect the Constitution and Laws of the United States, and a Judges has been found by their rulings that they have exceeded their judicial authority, and therefore not upholding the Constitution or Laws, then they should be removed in the same manner in which they were appointed – by the Senate voting to remove them.
The removal of a judge is fraught with potential Constitutional, legal, political, and partisan ramifications. It should, therefore, be very difficult to remove a judge. A Constitutional amendment may be required[i], and a law needs to be passed that defines "good Behaviour "of a Judge or Justice. New Senate rules should be established and promulgated for removals that would act as a check on the Senate to assure that they do not abuse this power. The authority to nominate Judges is delegated to the President of the United States in the Constitution, with the approval of the Senate by a majority vote. I would suggest that the President submits to the Senate the name of, and reasons for, the removal of a judge, based upon the Supreme Court Justice annual reports of a determination that a judge has often, excessively, or fallaciously exceeded their authority, duties, or responsibility to uphold the Constitution and interpret the Laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee would then review the case, and upon a 3/5 vote of approval in Committee for removal, the Judiciary Committee submits the Judge for removal to the full Senate. Upon a 2/3 vote of approval by the full Senate, the Judge will be removed posthaste from office.
I believe that a combination of term limits and removal of judges would assure that we have Judges, and not Lords.
In addition, the United States Government has several Independent establishments that are created by Congress to address concerns that go beyond the scope of ordinary legislation. These agencies are responsible for keeping the government and economy running smoothly.
Independent agencies of the United States federal government are those agencies that exist outside of the federal executive departments (those headed by a cabinet secretary) and the executive office of the president. In a narrower sense, the term may also be used to describe agencies that, while constitutionally part of the executive branch, are independent of presidential control, usually because of the president's power to dismiss the agency head or a member is limited.
Established through separate statutes passed by the Congress, each respective statutory grant of authority defines the goals the agency must work towards, as well as what substantive areas, if any, over which it may have the power of rulemaking. These agency rules (or regulations), when in force, have the power of federal law.
Independent agencies can be distinguished from the federal executive departments and other executive agencies by their structural and functional characteristics. Congress can also designate certain agencies explicitly as "independent" in the governing statute, but the functional differences have more legal significance.
While most executive agencies have a single director, administrator, or secretary appointed by the President of the United States, independent agencies (in the narrower sense of being outside presidential control) almost always have a commission, board, or similar collegial body consisting of five to seven members who share power over the agency (this is why many independent agencies include the word "Commission" or "Board" in their name.) The president appoints the commissioners or board members, subject to Senate confirmation, but they often serve terms that are staggered and longer than a four-year presidential term, meaning that most presidents will not have the opportunity to appoint all the commissioners of a given independent agency. The president can normally designate which commissioner will serve as the chairperson. Normally there are statutory provisions limiting the president's authority to remove commissioners, typically for incapacity, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or other good cause. In addition, most independent agencies have a statutory requirement of bipartisan membership on the commission, so the president cannot simply fill vacancies with members of his own political party.
This structure, while making the agencies independent, also makes them unaccountable to the Legislative and Executive branches of government, and in effect not accountable to the will of the people.
In reality, the high turnover rate among these commissioners or board members means that most presidents have the opportunity to fill enough vacancies to constitute a voting majority on each independent agency commission within the first two years of the first term as president. In some famous instances, presidents have found the independent agencies more loyal and in lockstep with the president's wishes and policy objectives than some dissenters among the executive agency political appointments. Presidential attempts to remove independent agency officials have generated most of the important Supreme Court legal opinions in this area. Presidents normally do have the authority to remove heads of independent agencies, but they must meet the statutory requirements for removal, such as demonstrating that the individual has committed malfeasance. In contrast, the president can remove regular executive agency heads at will.
If the independent agency exercises any executive powers like enforcement, and most of them do, Congress cannot participate in the regular removal process of commissioners. Constitutionally, Congress can only participate directly in impeachment proceedings. Congress can, however, pass statutes limiting the circumstances under which the president can remove commissioners of independent agencies. Members of Congress cannot serve as commissioners on independent agencies that have executive powers, nor can Congress itself appoint the commissioners – the Appointments Clause of the Constitution vests that power in the president. The Senate does participate, however, in appointments through "Advice and Consent", which occurs through confirmation hearings and votes on the president's nominees.
As I have noted before each branch of the government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) take an oath of fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, and each branch needs to uphold the Constitution as it sees fit. As each branch is co-equal to each other, all three branches have the duty to enforce the Constitution. No one branch is supreme in the duty to enforce the Constitution, with all being equal to each other to uphold the Constitution. This is accomplished by the checks and balances between the branches of government that is enshrined in our Constitution. This is done to assure the freedoms and liberties of Americans.
These check and balances are most often seen in the interplay between the Legislative and Executive branches. There is often a tug-of-war between these two branches to determine what powers each other has. My personal opinion is that the Legislative branch has been too deferential to the Executive branch, and the Legislative branch should assert its powers more often and forcibly. But there is this tug-of-war between these two branches, and this is healthy for our body politic.
However, the checks and balances between the Legislative and Executive branches, and the Judicial branch, is often nebulous. This is so because the Constitution is nebulous on the checks and balances between the Judicial branch and the other branches. This has led to conflicts in the past, but with the rise of Judicial activism and intervention in social issues in the 20th and 21st century these conflicts have had greater consequences. The question is how can establish checks and balances with the Judicial branch when they overreach their Constitutional obligations and duties.
The first means that we could utilize to establish more checks and balances with the Judicial branch is as I have previously suggested of removing Judges from office based on “Good Behavior”.
There is one other area of major concern that needs to be addressed – What should the response be if a lower court (District and Circuit) that issues a stay on laws, regulations, or executive orders that directly impact National Security that seem to usurp the Constitutional prerogatives of the Legislative or Executive branches of government? In the past, we have gone through the normal judicial processes of adjudicating these issues, with many being resolved by the Supreme Court. But this process is often time-consuming and can endanger the national security which could result in the loss of life, limb, and property of the residents of the United States.
In this case I would suggest the President, or the House Majority Leader, or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (or perhaps two-thirds of the before mentioned persons) have the right to directly appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, and the US Supreme Court must promptly adjudicate and rule on the appeal. Until the US Supreme Court makes its ruling the decision of the lower court is stayed. I believe that this right of direct appeal to the US Supreme Court would be Constitutional by the passage of a law passed by Congress and signed by the President.
What was the meaning of the American Revolution? Why was it so important to the development of civilization? How can we assure its continuing impact and importance to American society?
This article will attempt to succinctly answer these questions by examining the most important documents regarding our founding. The three documents that are crucial to The Meaning of the American Revolution are; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Gettysburg Address.
I have excerpted and bolded those parts of these documents that are the central pieces of The Meaning of the American Revolution as follows;
In Congress, July 4, 1776
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 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. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
President Abraham Lincoln - November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Prior to The Declaration of Independence, governments believed that they ruled the people, and the people were subservient to the government. Kings were anointed to head the government, supported by Aristocracies, Ministries, and Bureaucrats to impose their will upon the people. This imposition was accomplished by the judiciary, or by military force or constables, or religious fear. To oppose the king was to oppose God. Society was hierarchically organized with the king at the top, followed by the aristocracy and the religious leaders, with the people being at the bottom. It was more important to whom you were born rather than your abilities. The English Reformation and the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18thcenturies we're challenging these ideas, but they were not replacing these ideas. And so it was until the American Revolution shattered these ideas. With the American Revolution government was no longer top-down from the rulers to the ruled, but the people reigned over the government and those who administered the government. Indeed, the world has been turned upside down. The key sentences from the Declaration of Independence that changed all of this were:
We hold these 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
After the United States had achieved its independence it needed to create a form of government that establish these ideals. The ideals of a government under the rule of the people and that preserved and protected the Freedoms and Liberties of its people. After the Articles of Confederation failed to meet the needs of the people a Constitutional Convention was assembled to create a government of these ideals. The Constitution of the United States was the result, and the key phrase of this document is the first seven words of the Constitution.
We the People of the United States, declared that the government was “We the People”, not a government of any State, King, Aristocracies, Ministries or Bureaucrats. All power was vested by “We the People”. Society was restructured to accomplish this goal. No longer where birthrights, kings, aristocracy, or bureaucrats needed to form a government. The people established the government and ruled over the government through their elected representatives. To accomplish this a meritocracy evolved that replaced an aristocracy.
And yet the Constitution of the United States was imperfect as it had the seeds of its destruction buried within it. The stain of slavery, which was antithetical to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence were still present in society. Until the stain was removed it would not be possible to fully implement the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence. However, many Americans recognized that this was true and set about to eliminate slavery. It prospered for many decades but the people who recognized this Injustice did not give up their desire to eliminate slavery. As the anti-slavery movement grew it eventually resulted in the American Civil War. A civil war whose main purpose was to eliminate this injustice, antithetical to its ideal and that was tearing apart the country. But this country put itself together again after it eliminated the stain of slavery.
It was President Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, that summarized the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and summed up what the goals of the Civil War should be:
“a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
“that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
And so, the ideals of the American Revolution were now in place with the abolition of slavery. We are still imperfect and striving to obtain the full ideals of the Declaration of Independence. This is how it should be as no government is perfect, but the people should strive to improve the government. Much remains to be done to fully achieve the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, but most of the American people recognize this and are willing to change government to achieve these ideals.
No other country has been founded on these ideals or pursued them in its governance. But in the change to obtain these ideals we must not give up, restrict, or modify any of the ideals we have already achieved. To do so we would no longer be a people dedicated to Liberty and Freedom.
The main impact of the American Revolution was to place government under the rule of the people and to establish Freedom and Liberty as the basis for a just government. But what is the meaning of Freedom and Liberty, and how can we assure its continuance?
The right to liberty and the right to be free is a human right. In law, it is any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (including rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law).
One should distinguish between the terms "Freedom" and "Liberty." Speaking generally, Freedom usually means to be free from something, whereas Liberty usually means to be free to do something, although both refer to the quality or state of being free. Freedom generally means you are free from despotic oppression, whether it be by a government, an aristocracy, a theocracy, or an individual or group. Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petitioning Government, or to Bear Arms, etc. refers to the release from despotic restraints. Liberty on the other gives you the right to choose a course of action. How to spend your money, what job or occupation you wish to pursue, where you live, who you associate with, what education you undertake, who to marry, or any personal decision you make is liberty. Freedom is not to be used in the sense of our being free to do anything we want. All laws can be viewed as a restriction on freedom and liberty, and such restrictions are proper in any well-regulated society. But they are only proper to prevent one person’s freedom and liberty from infringing on another person’s freedom or liberty. It is this balance between each person’s Freedom and Liberty that defines the state of a Free society.
“I believe that every individual is naturally
entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of
his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other
- Abraham Lincoln on Liberty
“Freedom is the right to question and change the
established way of doing things. It is the continuing
revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that
allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions. It is
the right to put forth an idea, scoffed at by the experts, and
watch it catch fire among the people. It is the right to dream
-- to follow your dream or stick to your conscience, even if
you're the only one in a sea of doubters. Freedom is the
recognition that no single person, no single authority or
government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every
individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us
put on this world has been put there for a reason and has
something to offer. “
- Ronald Reagan at a Moscow State University Address
Capitalism is required for Liberty and Freedom. Capitalism gives you the liberty of the “the pursuit of Happiness”, and the freedom to choose how you pursue happiness. Unfetter capitalism can lead to a restriction of Liberty and Freedom, but restricted Capitalism can also lead to restrictions on Liberty and Freedom. The balance on Capitalism should be that anything in capitalism that constricts Liberty and Freedom should not be allowed within Capitalism. If no such constrictions of Liberty and Freedom exist within capitalistic activities, then the capitalistic activity should be permitted. Capitalism gives you the ability to succeed on your own merits, but it does not guarantee your success. Your success is determined by your skills, abilities, and dedication to achieve success, and even then, you may not succeed. But this is not a problem of Capitalism but a problem in Life. Life holds no guarantees, but Liberty and Freedom in life provide the opportunity to succeed. As to those who would claim that this is “unfair” I would respond that in life there is neither fair or unfair. Life is what it is and must be dealt with as it is. The question is one of “just” or “unjust”. If the fruits of your labor and industry are obtained “justly” then it is “fair”. If it is obtained “unjustly” then it is “unfair”. Justly being defined as any actions that occur within the laws, regulations, and rules established by society to assure justice. If something is “unjust” than you have a legal recourse (i.e. a lawsuit) to assure that justice is enforced and to rectify an unjust action.
"You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No
matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a
king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and
live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as
an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same
- Abraham Lincoln
Democratic socialism, wealth redistribution, income inequality adjustment, tax the rich, occupy Wall Street, free education, free healthcare, etc. is all the same principle – socialism or "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." For to implement the above items requires that you take from one class of people (those that work and toil) and give to another class of people (those who do not work and toil). This would have to be accomplished through Government intervention (coercion through threats of fines and/or imprisonment). The government decides what and how much to take, and what and how much to give. This is not the same as taxes, as taxes are levied to support the necessary functions of the government for the good of all, not for the good of some. As such, in socialism, the government needs to limit your freedoms and liberties. Socialism restricts your liberties by deciding how much of your labor is yours and how much is to be given to others, thereby restricting your liberty to utilize your monies as you see fit. Socialism often restricts your freedoms by imposing its will upon you by despotic oppression. Therefore, with socialism, the government is the master of the people as it is the decider, and the people are the serfs of the government as they must obey the dictates of government. Or, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln Socialism is the same tyrannical principle.
The American Revolution was for the purpose of establishing Liberty and Freedom, and to make the people the Master of Government to assure that Liberty and Freedom are upheld. You cannot be a serf and a master, and as socialism makes you a serf the government is the master. As such socialism is antithetical to the ideals of the American Revolution.
The Founding Fathers recognized that a powerful government would always subsume more powers at the expense of the people’s freedoms and liberties. They, therefore, attempted to impose limitations on government power. The United States Constitution established three branches of government as a means of checks and balances to government powers, duties, and responsibilities. No branch is inferior or superior to another, and each has a duty and responsibility to assure that the other is performing their Constitutional responsibilities. This is done to check the powers of each branch, and to assure the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of the United States.
Without the Rule of Law, there can be no Justice. But the Rule of Law requires that several concepts and tenets be enforced for Justice to prosper. These concepts and tenets are “Etched in Stone”. They are:
For Justice to Prevail the justice system must be founded on several concepts. They are:
Due process will be followed to assure equal protection for both the victim and the accused, as well as all litigants in a lawsuit. Rules of procedure and evidence are to be established and followed by both the prosecutor and defense, as well as the litigants in a lawsuit. Without due process, there can be no fair and equitable justice, and therefore there is no justice.
Memory fades and becomes less accurate, confused, or forgotten over time for the accuser, the accused, the witnesses, and the litigants. Witnesses may become unavailable due to relocation or even death. Evidence may not be collectible or either accidentally or deliberately be destroyed as time goes by. The evidence may even decay or be lost over time. Without a speedy trial, justice will be perverted.
The presumption of innocence is the principle that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty. It was traditionally expressed by the Latin maxim ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies”). In the United States, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the presumption of innocence, the legal burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which must collect and present compelling evidence to the trier of fact. The trier of fact (a judge or a jury) is thus restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony presented in court. The prosecution must, in most cases prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused must be acquitted.
Trial by an impartial jury who only considers the evidence presented is essential to assure justice. Nothing but the evidence presented by due process should be deliberated. The defendant has the right to remain silent and nothing is to be inferred by their silence. The defendant has the right to confront the accuser and to cross-examine the accuser and the witnesses. The defendant has the right to examine the evidence against them, refute the evidence, and to submit evidence in their favor.
The burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is upon the prosecutor in a criminal case, and upon the plaintiff with a preponderance of the evidence in a civil case. The defendant need not prove their innocence, as they are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. Nobody may be required to prove a negative (prove you didn't do or say something) as it is impossible to prove a negative, and the burden of proof is always upon the person or persons making an assertion.
The defendant has no burden to speak or present a case, and nothing is to be inferred by their not speaking or not presenting a case. The burden of proof is upon the prosecutor or plaintiff, not the defendant.
For Justice to Prevail the philosophy of the justice system must have several tenets. They are:
The Judiciary needs to be independent of those that create the laws (the legislature) and those that enforce the laws (the executive). The judiciary should be under no influence by the legislature or the executive to assure that the laws are justly applied for all. No one person or persons can influence the judiciary except through the concepts described above. The only constriction on the judiciary is that they operate within the bounds of the law and justly apply the law.
Probable cause requires that no warrants are to be issued or criminal charged filed without a probable cause. Probable caused based on credible, verifiable, and substantiated evidence of wrongdoing. This also means that in the United States we do not start and investigation of a person, but only start an investigation of a possible crime when there is probable cause. Only when a person may be involved in a possible crime, and only with probable cause of the persons involvement, do we begin an investigation of a person. To do so otherwise would allow for "Witch Hunts" to occur. Without probable cause the accused stands to lose their reputation, employment, wealth, and even family and friends based on false allegations. These items should not be lightly taken from anyone without probable cause of wrongdoing. To do so otherwise would cause serious harm to an individual and the Liberties and Freedoms of all.
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be
partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in
righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”
- Leviticus 19:15 ESV
Equality under the Law has been recognized since Biblical time as necessary to achieve Justice. And without Justice, there can be no Freedom or Liberty. All must be treated as equals under the law. This means that within the jurisdiction of the law all must be treated equally. It does not mean that each jurisdiction must apply the same laws as another jurisdiction (i.e. a traffic violation within a jurisdiction must be applied equally within the jurisdiction, but another jurisdiction traffic law cannot be applied to any other jurisdiction).
When you place an adjective in front of the word “justice” you no longer have true justice- you have favoritism. Adjectives such as social justice, environmental justice, workers justice, gender justice, tax-payer justice, and voter justice, to name a few, require one party be favored over another. Favoritism destroys the concept of “Equal Justice Under Law” and erodes Liberty and Freedom to the point where it is a meaningless concept. Within the judicial process, all must be treated as equals.
A clause in the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution that prohibits states from denying “equal protection of the laws” to any person within its jurisdiction. Equal Protection does not specify that all people have to be treated equally under all circumstances. For instance, states may require people to pass a vision as a condition of receiving a driver’s license. However, states cannot deny a person a driver’s license because of their race, gender, or other minority considerations. This clause also states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process and that no state can enforce laws that hinder the liberties and freedoms of its citizens.
The Equal Protection and Equal Justice Under Law doctrine is to assure that when a citizen is involved in any civil or legal action they are equally treated by the judicial system within the laws of the Federal, State, or Local province, and that all parties involved in the judicial action be treated equally under the law. It also means that all persons be treated equally by the bureaucracy of the executive branch of government. It further means that justice is blind – no person or persons is treated any differently within the judicial system based on external factors (such as unequal treatment based on race, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, disability, military service, political affiliation, or other civil rights protected status). It does not mean that all States must abide by other States laws.
A nation that will not enforce its laws has no claim to the
respect and allegiance of its people.
- Ambrose Bierce
People have the human right to pursue justice for those who have done an injustice against them. However, people cede this right to pursue justice to society to assure that justice is required and that the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined through a fair adjudication process. This right is also ceded to society to assure the proper and just punishment of those who have been found guilty of committing an injustice against others. Therefore, justice must be pursued by society when injustices occur. No one can commit an injustice and expect to not face charges because of a lack of effort to pursue them. If society is not assuring that justice is enforced then the people have the right to alter society to assure justice, or to reclaim this right unto themselves.
Pardons and commutations are generally done to correct an injustice in the legal process or for the forgiveness for an individual based on their rehabilitation. They are not to be issued to groups of people or to allow evasions of a law. To issue a Pardon or Commutation for reasons other than stated above is to deprive the victim of an injustice their right to justice for an injustice perpetrated against themselves. Any President or Governor who issues a pardon or commutation for any other reason should be subject to Impeachment and Removal from office for abuse of power reasons.
Pardons and commutations are both types of “executive clemency.” A commutation is when the president or governor cuts short the sentence of an individual who is currently incarcerated in some form. Essentially, a commutation says: “You’ve served enough time for the crime that you’ve committed, I’m going to take away the rest of your sentence.” This does not mean that the person whose sentence is commuted is innocent. The person’s conviction stays on their record, and they’re still subject to certain restrictions known as “civil disabilities”–for example, a felon whose sentence is commuted is still unable to vote in some places, own a gun, or sit on certain kinds of juries. In contrast, a pardon is given after a person has already served their time, or passed away. According to the Department of Justice, it is given in “recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence.” A pardon does restore the civil disabilities that apply to convicted criminals. Like a commutation, a pardon doesn’t automatically take the person’s crime off their record. A released offender cannot apply for a pardon until at least five years have passed since their release. Pardons can also be granted somewhat preemptively, as President Gerald Ford did when he pardoned President Richard Nixon, which prevents charges from being filed or leads to the dismissal of charges already levied. Pardons and commutations are by far the most well-known and frequently used forms of executive clemency. There are, however, other types that the president can exercise. One is called a “remission” and relieves the individual of the financial penalties associated with their conviction. Sometimes a remission is given as part of a commutation. Additionally, there’s a “respite,” which is sort of a pause in a sentence, usually given to inmates who are sick.
Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Full Faith and Credit Clause,” requires each state to recognize the laws, judicial decisions, and public records of the other states. This section helps to ensure that judicial decisions made in one jurisdiction will be recognized and honored in every other jurisdiction. One purpose for this is that it prevents someone from moving to another jurisdiction to avoid a court judgment, or to file a new lawsuit in an attempt to obtain a more favorable outcome on a matter that has already been decided.
The Full Faith and Credit Clause does not require a state to substitute another state’s law or policy for its own, which means it does not have to honor something that is specifically against its own law. The issue of licensure is an example of this limitation. For example, someone who has a driver’s license in Arkansas may legally drive during a visit to Missouri. If they move to Missouri, however, they will be required to obtain a driver’s license in their new home state. This holds true for hunting licenses, firearm licenses, and marriage licenses (although rarely done as each State extends a courtesy to other States in regard to marriage licenses) to name a few. Licensed professionals are another example of each state being allowed to maintain and honor only their own legislation. Doctors, pharmacists, contractors, attorneys, and other professionals who want to practice in multiple states must obtain a separate license in each state.
Contacts are a basis for a civil society. Whenever a legal contract is freely entered into by two parties, whether they be an individual, a group, a business, or an organization they need to be enforceable by law, and may not be unilaterally abrogated by one party or an outside party. Contracts assume the equitable exchange of something between the two parties. Equitable meaning both side agree as to what is to be exchanged. The exchange can be but is not limited to, products, services, labor, property, or monies. Disputes between the parties to a contract can only be resolved by a fair and impartial judicial process. Without the surety of a contract, the liberties and the freedoms of the parties has been violated and society breaks down, and Liberty and Freedom will come to an end.
To assure Justice for All you must dedicate yourself to the Rule of Law. Not only the Rule of Law for yourself but Rule of Law for all. To do otherwise means there will be no Justice for anyone.
Human rights are inviolate and reside within the individual. No government, society, institution, organization, or persons(s) may violate the human rights of an individual and be considered legitimate. One of the greatest statements on human rights comes from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Yet today, there is a misunderstanding of what Human Right actually means. People often confuse Human Rights with a list of entitlements that should be provided for them. Human rights are not entitlements to be provided for but reside within an individual due to their humanity. There is no human right for someone or some entity to provide you with food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, an education, an income, etc... But there is a human right for you to pursue these things for your happiness. A government or society may decide to provide these entitlements to its citizens, but not for the purposes of human rights but for the purposes of the betterment of society. Your human rights have not been violated if these items are not provided for you. If someone or some entity attempts to interfere or stop you from pursuing these things, then they are violating your human rights.
The right to liberty and the right to be free is a human right. In law, it is any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (including rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law).
One should distinguish between the terms "Freedom" and "Liberty." Speaking generally, Freedom usually means to be free from something, whereas Liberty usually means to be free to do something, although both refer to the quality or state of being free. Freedom generally means you are free from despotic oppression, whether it be by a government, an aristocracy, a theocracy, or an individual or group. Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, Petitioning Government, or to Bear Arms, etc. refers to the release from despotic restraints. Liberty on the other gives you the right to choose a course of action. How to spend your money, what job or occupation you wish to pursue, where you live, who you associate with, what education you undertake, who to marry, or any personal decision you make is liberty. Freedom is not to be used in the sense of our being free to do anything we want. All laws can be viewed as a restriction on freedom and liberty, and such restrictions are proper in any well-regulated society. But they are only proper to prevent one person’s freedom and liberty from infringing on another person’s freedom or liberty. It is this balance between each person’s Freedom and Liberty that defines the state of a Free society.
“I believe that every
individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with
himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way
interferes with any other men's rights.”
- Abraham Lincoln on Liberty
“Freedom is the right to
question and change the established way of doing things. It is
the continuing revolution of the marketplace. It is the
understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and
seek solutions. It is the right to put forth an idea, scoffed
at by the experts, and watch it catch fire among the people.
It is the right to dream -- to follow your dream or stick to
your conscience, even if you're the only one in a sea of
doubters. Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no
single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth,
but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that
every one of us put on this world has been put there for a
reason and has something to offer. “
- Ronald Reagan at a Moscow State University Address
In addition, we have The Four Freedoms that were goals articulated by the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. In an address known as The Four Freedoms Speech (technically the 1941 State of The Union Address), he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people "Everywhere In The World" ought to enjoy*:
The speech delivered by President Roosevelt incorporated the following text, known as the "Four Freedoms":
"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, excerpted from the State of the Union Address to the Congress, January 6, 1941
The exact definition of what the Four Freedom entails is, and will ever be, up to debate - as it should be. An expansive definition could possibly infringe on the freedoms and liberties of some Americans, whereas a constrictive definition could result in the possible suffering of some Americans. We should always keep this in mind when we debate these freedoms, and try to reach a balanced approach to implementing these Four Freedoms. Some of the issues to be considered within the Four Freedoms are:
All of this must be carefully considered to determine the boundaries of the Four Freedoms. In my opinion, the boundaries of the Four Freedoms must be set wide to preserve freedom and liberty, but not so wide that they would trample others freedoms and liberties.
Given the above, I believe that it is possible to examine the human history of the past 2000 years using these criteria to determine which societies, governments, institutions, and religious beliefs have been the greatest violators of Human Rights. Prior to 2000 years ago practically all forms of government and societies were violators of human rights, and need not be dissected, but only remembered.
The worst violators of human rights in history in the last 2000 years in order are:
Much has been said about the Congress, Executive, and Judicial branches of Government protecting their rights, privileges, and the integrity of their branch of government. However, it must be remembered that upon entering office all members must take the following oath:
"I Do Solemnly Swear (Or Affirm) That I Will Support And Defend The Constitution Of The United States Against All Enemies, Foreign And Domestic; That I Will Bear True Faith And Allegiance To The Same; That I Take This Obligation Freely, Without Any Mental Reservation Or Purpose Of Evasion; And That I Will Well And Faithfully Discharge The Duties Of The Office On Which I Am About To Enter: So Help Me God."
Therefore, the primary responsibility of every office holder is to the Constitution of the United States. They must first be faithful and assure fidelity to the Constitution of the United States and subjugate all other duties and responsibilities to their oath to the Constitution of the United States. To do otherwise would warrant their removal from their office.
The 9th and 10th amendment to the United States Constitution states:
These amendments are one of the most underrated and underutilized amendments to the Constitution, but also one of the most important. The 9th Amendment assures us that if a right is not enumerated in the Constitution that the right is retained by the people and not that that the right doesn’t exist. This reminds us that rights do not originate in the Constitution, but from the people. The people always retain their rights and delegate responsibility to the government to protect their rights. The government may not abrogate a person’s rights, only enforce and protect them. The 10th Amendment reminds us that any government power not delegated to the Federal Government in The Constitution is a power delegated to the States or to the people. It also currently recognizes that a State can prohibit the exercise of federal power if the States or People prohibits it. This was enacted to restrict the activities of the federal government to only those items enumerated in the Constitution. Our founding fathers were very concerned that the federal government would attempt to overreach and insert itself into affairs that it had no authority to do so. They knew it was very important for the protection of liberty and freedom that the federal government should be limited to those activities stated in the Constitution. This is true whether it is the Congressional, the Executive, or the Judiciary branches are exercising power.
If any branch of the federal government exceeds the powers enumerated in the Constitution it is an assault on the liberties and freedoms of the States or the People. Let us look at the so-called "general welfare" clause: Article I, Sec. 8, clause 1, U.S. Constitution, says:
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States…"
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
As seen from the above list from the United States Constitution there are 18 specifically enumerated powers which are delegated to Congress. If you will spend some time and effort to carefully read through the entire Constitution, and highlighting the powers delegated to Congress, you will find several other delegated powers (depending on how you count) that are delegated to Congress for the Country at large. This is what is meant when it is said that ours is a Constitution of enumerated powers!
Many argue that there should be a very broad interpretation of the meaning of general welfare clause. But to broad an interpretation of the general welfare clause leads to an observed result best expressed by Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass", by Lewis Carroll:
'When I use a word,' Humpty
Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I
choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
The question is then whether the federal government is to be the master or the states or the people are to be the master. As James Madison (one of the primary drafters of the Constitution) wrote in a letter:
"If Congress can employ money
indefinitely to the general welfare,
and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare,
they may take the care of religion into their own hands;
they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish
and pay them out of their public treasury;
they may take into their own hands the education of children,
establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union;
they may assume the provision of the poor;
they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads;
in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation
down to the most minute object of police,
would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power
of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for,
it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature
of the limited Government established by the people of America."
If the federal government wishes to do something outside of the enumerated powers in the Constitution it must first obtain permission from the States or the people to do so. This permission is requested through a clause in the federal law, that with the agreement of the State or the People within the state, through the normal legislative process of the State, the Federal government may take action in the State. By doing this the States are agreeing to permit the federal government to take a specific action not enumerated by the Constitution, within their State. Many would argue that this process would be inefficient and time-consuming. However, our Constitution was not established to make government efficient or speedy, but it was established to preserve and protect the liberties and freedoms of the people.
The checks and balances of the Constitution have often prevented the encroachment of federal power upon the rights of the states and the people throughout our history. However, if all three branches cooperate in the extension of federal power into the States or to the people's rights is very difficult to prohibit these actions. However, the States and the people must resist the encroachment of the federal government on their rights. To do otherwise is cede our liberties and freedoms to the federal government.
A nation that will not enforce
its laws has no claim to the respect and allegiance of its
- Ambrose Bierce
“You shall do no injustice in
court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the
great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
- Leviticus 19:15 ESV
People have the human right to pursue justice for those who have done an injustice against them. However, people cede this right to pursue justice to society to assure that justice is required and that the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined through a fair adjudication process. This right is also ceded to society to assure the proper and just punishment of those who have been found guilty of committing an injustice against others. If society is not assuring that justice is enforced the people have the right to alter society to assure justice, or to reclaim this right unto themselves.
Where there is no justice you invite anarchy. If the people believe that they cannot obtain justice for those that have committed an injustice they will eventually take justice into their own hands. They would do this through their own individual acts or through vigilantism. Either way, this would result in an injustice to the accused, which would be a violation of their human rights. But no justice for the victim is also a human rights violation of the victim. Therefore, it is critically important that justice is equally enforced for all and that all laws be equally enforced.
Elections are important, and elections are final. When the people have spoken through elections no group of people can overturn an election result. Mob rule is not to be tolerated, and the taking over of legislative houses, executive offices, or judicial courts should never be permitted. Nor the recall or impeachment of elected officials because of policy disagreements should be permitted. Recalls should only be utilized for gross misconduct, gross incompetence or corruption, and not for policy disagreements. The best statement of this principle was given by Abraham Lincoln shortly after his first inauguration when the Civil War was starting. The appropriate excerpt is as follows:
Message to Congress in Special Session
July 4, 1861
Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it, our people have already settled---the successful establishing, and the successful administering of it. One still remains---its successful maintenance against a formidable [internal] attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world, that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion---that ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, decided, there can be no successful appeal, back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by a war---teaching all, the folly of being the beginners of a war.
Whenever a mob attempts to intimidate elected representatives
through threats, acts of violence, threats of violence, or
physical obstructions preventing them from their duly elected
duties, the mob members must be apprehended, prosecuted, and
sentenced to the fullest extent of the law, or civil society
will cease to function. This includes candidates for elected
office as well, as the perpetrators of mob actions against
candidates are attempting to thwart the democratic election
process, as well as the free speech rights of the candidates and
their supporters. Peaceful demonstrations are to be allowed as
this is the free speech rights of the demonstrators, but in no
instance can the demonstrators free speech rights impinge on
candidates or their supporter’s free speech rights.
Remember - the answer to free speech that you disagree with is the free speech of what you believe, not shutting down anyone’s else's free speech rights.
The mode of appointment of
the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only
part of the system . . . which has escaped without severe
censure. . . . I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not
to affirm that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at
- Alexander Hamilton
And many of the other Founding Fathers agreed. The Founding Fathers knew from their studies of history that direct democratic governments often collapse upon themselves in a short period of time. This was often the case because the minority was often repressed by the majority, and the repressed minority often rose in revolt. They were also concerned that mob passions could replace careful consideration in public policy matters. They also knew that the large population centers could overwhelm the smaller areas of the country in a popular vote and that the smaller areas would have no significant say in the election of the President. They also wanted each State to have a role in the election of the President. They, therefore, created a Republic that was democratically elected as a check on this problem, and the election of the President through the Electoral College was the means that they chose to implement this check.
This has resulted in the case of a President being elected that had more Electoral votes than popular votes, most notably in 2000 (Bush vs. Gore) and 2016 (Trump vs. Clinton). The 2016 election has resulted in much gnashing of teeth and complaints that it was not a truly democratic election. But it is not supposed to be a truly democratic election, but a republic election, which it was. Mrs. Clinton received about 3 million more popular votes than Mr. Trump, but it should be noted that most of these votes came from the States of California and New York. States that Mr. Trump did not even campaign in as he knew he had no chance of winning their electoral votes (a republic election). If he has campaigned in these states, and other states that went heavily for Mrs. Clinton (a democratic election), perhaps the popular vote discrepancy would not have been so wide (and maybe negated).
If we had a democratic election in 2016 a large part of the country would not have had a significant say in the election of the President. The Presidential candidates would have concentrated their campaigns in the larger metropolitan areas, ignoring many parts of the country. This can be seen in the following maps that show the 2016 election results vs the population density of the United States:
2016 Results by County (Red – Trump, Blue – Clinton):
2016 Results by Population Density (Grey– Trump, Blue – Clinton):
As can be seen from these maps Mrs. Clintons’ voters were concentrated in the larger metropolitan area, while Mr. Trumps’ voters were in the non-metropolitan regions. A democratic election would have split the country in two by population density, and by less populated states vs. more populated states, something that the Founding Fathers were very fearful of as detrimental to a republic. The last time we had such a split in our history it led to the Civil War over slavery.
It should also be noted that the rules of the election were firmly established before the election. Mr. Trump organized his campaign around winning the electoral votes, while Mrs. Clinton seemed to be concentrating her campaign around the larger metropolitan regions. Therefore Mr. Trump won the election by playing to the rules of the election, while Mrs. Clinton assumed she had already won states that Mr. Trump was contesting, and she therefore lost.
An analogy would be baseball’s World Series. The winner of the World Series is the first team to win four of seven games, not the team that scored more runs over a seven-game series. In the 2016 World Series Chicago won the title over Cleveland 4 games to 3. However, Cleveland scored more runs (28) than Chicago (26). Could Cleveland make a case that they were the champions because they scored more runs? No – the rules of the World Series are that the first team that wins 4 games is the Champion. The rules of the Electoral College state the candidate who wins a least 270 electoral votes is the winner of the Presidential race. Mr. Trump did this, and therefore he was the winner.
Recently, several States have passed "The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC)" an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide is elected president, and it would come into effect only when it would guarantee that outcome. As of March 2019, it has been adopted by twelve states and the District of Columbia. Together, they have 181 electoral votes, which is 33.6% of the Electoral College and 67.0% of the 270 votes needed to give the compact legal force. An example from the 2016 Presidential election illustrates how this works. In the 2016 Presidential election Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote nationwide, while in Texas Mr. Trump won the popular vote statewide. If the NPVIC was in effect in Texas the Electoral Votes of Texas would have went to Mrs. Clinton despite the will of the Texas voters in choosing Mr. Trump. In my opinion this results in the disenfranchisement of the voters in Texas who choose Mr. Trump. There are also some issues as to NPVIC's Constitutionality, as well as its implementation in regards to voter eligibility, voter fraud, and vote recounts (nationwide or statewide?). I also believe that this is an attempt to thwart the purpose of the Electoral College in assuring a stable Republic and to mitigate majority rule at the expense of the minority interests or rights. In all, I believe that not only would NPVIC be unconstitutional but that it is an attempt to thwart the Founding Fathers intent to establish a stable republic that protects the small states from encroachments of the larger states.
I would also note that I personally favor a more Democratic republic election – within the electoral college. At present, most states award all their electoral vote to the winner of the state (winner-take-all ). As each state has 2 electoral votes (representing the Senators of the state), and a variable number of electors (representing the congressional districts within the state). I would have the winner of the state garner the 2 electoral votes of the senators, and the winner of a congressional district garner the electoral vote of that congressional district. I believe that this would make for a more Democratic republic election but preserve the Founding Fathers concerns about a direct democratic election of the President.
If this had happened in the 2016 Presidential Election the
results would have been as follows:
As can be seen from the above chart the results of the Presidential election would have had Mr. Trump having slightly less Electoral votes but a sufficient number of Electoral votes to become President of the United States. However, the voters in the Electoral districts would have had their will reflected in the Electoral College which promotes the Democratic republic nature of our Constitution. It is for this reason that I would change the winner-take-all to my suggested Electoral College voting. I would finally note:
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander. However, that word can also refer to the process of gerrymandering (which has a negative connotation).
In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a party, gerrymandering may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group, such as in U.S. federal voting district boundaries that produce a majority of constituent’s representative of African-American or other racial minorities, known as "majority-minority districts". Gerrymandering can also be used to protect incumbents, and lead to “Safe” districts.
As long as we have elected politicians and political parties jockeying for power we will have gerrymandering. To think otherwise is to ignore human nature (and you all know how I despise ignoring human nature). The question is not can we avoid gerrymandering, but how can we do it as fairly as possible. We should be able to agree on acceptable gerrymandering practices such as socioeconomic, local and county boundaries, etc., but in no case, should gerrymandering be used that would result in a violation of our constitutional or civil rights (race, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, disability, military service, political affiliation, or other protected status).
The rules of gerrymandering should be openly debated, discussed, and established, then enforced as to achieve a more representative government. It should be clearly established as to the ways you may not gerrymander. I have used the word “fairly” which we all know can have a different meaning based on your perspective. We need to use the word “fairly” as is what is best for the body politic (a Herculean task). This may be an impossible dream, and tilting at windmills, but there should be an attempt to do this in the best interest of all American citizens.
The Constitution of the United States is very explicit about impeaching elected and appointed officials of the United States government. It states:
"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
"The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."
"The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law."
This is not a power to be used lightly, but it is a power that should be utilized. All elected officials and appointed officials take an oath upon entering their office to preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. If an elected or appointed official violates their oath then impeachment is a justifiable action. As to the nature of the charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, it covers allegations of misconduct peculiar to officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, and refusal to obey a lawful order. Offenses by officials also include ordinary crimes, but perhaps with different standards of proof and punishment than for non-officials, on the grounds that more is expected of officials by their oaths of office. As can be seen from this definition a high crime and misdemeanor has nothing to do with the crime, but everything to do with the individual who committed the crime. Therefore, any high official who commits any crime is potentially admitting a high crime, as there is no such thing as a low crime.
It should be remembered that impeachment is a political process, not a legal process. It is used to determine whether an elected or appointed official has violated his oath of office. If such violations occur then the person committing the violations is not fit to be a leader of a free and just people. It is entirely appropriate that if someone violates their oath of office they should be removed from that office. It should not be used if it is a disagreement as to the implementation of a law. But rather if the accused is operating outside of the law and the Constitution.
Impeachment should be utilized for all elected and appointed officials, including but not limited to, members of Congress, the President, and Vice President and appointed members of the executive branch, and Supreme Court justices. To not do so is an assault on the freedoms and liberties of the people.
Given the above observations, an example of the utilization of the impeachment process is in the impeachment of President Clinton. This impeachment was handled improperly by the House of Representatives, as the House concentrated on the legal aspects of the impeachment, and barely recognize the political aspects. By concentrating on the legal aspects of President Clinton's actions it allowed for the discussion of the legal minutia of the case against him and did not focus instead on the societal implications of President Clinton's actions. President Clinton twice took the oath of office to preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court ruled that a civil action in which President Clinton was the defendant could proceed during his term of office. Whether you agree with the Supreme Court's ruling, it did so rule and had to be faithfully executed by all persons involved in the case. When President Clinton used his powers of office in an attempt to pervert the legal process with false depositions and testimony, the concealment of evidence by government employees, and other abuses of power he acted in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. It does not matter as to the nature of the offense, nor the reason for the actions, but that he abused his office to achieve his goals. Not only did he violate his oath of office to ensure that all laws were faithfully executed, but he defied the Supreme Court order to allow the court case to proceed in a normal an orderly fashion. It is for these reasons that President Clinton should have been impeached and potentially removed from office. His action of violating his Oath of Office and a Supreme Court ruling exhibited his disregard for both his Oath of Office and the Supreme Court, a co-equal branch of government. It is for that reason that he could have been judged as to not be fit to be the leader of a free and just people.
The Constitution reserves the right of states to be preeminent in all matters in which the Constitution does not enumerate that power to the federal government, as stated in the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people".
No federal law, presidential executive order, or federal court order that is not enumerated in the Constitution is constitutional. Therefore, any such federal law, presidential executive order, or federal court order is invalid and void by the action of this States or to the People reserving this right to themselves under the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution. When the federal government infringes upon the rights, liberties, and freedoms of the States or to the People, it is just and proper for the States or to the People to resist and abrogate such federal actions. This is my opinion on how to preserve the liberties and freedoms of the States or to the People.
Our founding fathers were very concerned about the federal government overreaching their powers. This is the reason we have an enumerated Constitution, in which the powers of the federal government are limited. There was great debate about this issue at the Constitutional convention, which some wanted to put into the Constitution the power of the states to limit the federal government. It was felt that this would not be advisable to do so in an explicit manner, but by dividing the government into three branches (judicial, executive, legislative) they thought that each branch would be a check on the other branches that would effectively limit federal powers. Even after the Constitution was implemented some states were still very concerned about an overreaching federal government. This was true, especially in the area of slavery. At times, some of the States thought about, and actually started to write, state legislation that would limit or overrule a federal law or court order. This process was referred to as "Nullification". Thankfully the people in the federal government were able to reach an accommodation of those in the State government on these issues, and nullification was never implemented.
The founding fathers had assumed that this would always be the case, as the elected and appointed officials swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. There was some concern that if all three branches of the federal government acted in concert that they would extend the power of the federal government into those areas reserved for the States or to the People. This held true for over 100 years but slowly started to change in the 20th century and has accelerated into the 21st century. We now have the situation where the federal government inserts itself into areas that were not expected by the founding fathers. I, therefore, believe that in order to limit the federal government to its enumerated powers we must re-raise the issue of nullification. If we continue on the same course that we have been on for the last 100 years, and the federal government continues to encroach upon the rights of the States or to the People we must take state legislative actions to rein in the federal government. Nullification should only be utilized when the federal government has exceeded its authority. It cannot be utilized by the States or to the People when they disagree about a federal action that the federal government has the constitutional right to implement.
I would propose that the legislatures of the States adopt the following notification declaration when the federal government encroaches upon their rights. This is not done to voice my opinion on the desirability of a particular issue, but only my opinion on how to preserve the liberties and freedoms of the States or to the People, and to limit the federal government to its enumerated responsibilities. When the federal government infringes upon the rights, liberties, and freedoms of the States or to the People it is just and proper for the States or to the People to resist and abrogate such federal actions.
Declaration on [Insert Issue]
The 10th amendment to the Constitution reserves the right of states to be preeminent in all matters in which the Constitution does not enumerate that power to the federal government.
There has never been a human right for [Insert Issue], the only human right is for [Insert Issue].
The Constitution of the United States does not enumerate any power to the federal government regarding [Insert Issue].
No federal law, presidential executive order, or federal court order regarding [Insert Issue] is constitutional in this [Insert State Name]. Therefore, any such federal law, presidential executive order, or federal court order is ineffective and void in [Insert State Name], by the action of this State reserving this right to themselves under the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution.
No State elected, appointed official or employee shall pay any heed to any federal law, presidential executive order, or federal court order regarding [Insert Issue]. Any such elected, appointed official or employee who attempts to implement a federal law, presidential executive order, or federal court order is an abrogation of their official duties. Any such persons who do shall be removed from their office or employment, and any such documentation or certificate issued by those persons regarding [Insert Issue] shall be null and void in this State. No State Court may review or rule on this declaration, as this is the prerogative of the State Legislature to issue this declaration.
Laboratories of democracy is a phrase popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann to describe how a "state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." Brandeis was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.
This concept explains how within the federal framework, there exists a system of state autonomy where state and local governments act as social “laboratories,” where laws and policies are created and tested at the state level of the democratic system, in a manner similar (in theory, at least) to the scientific method.
The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that “all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to [from] the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This is a basis for the "laboratories of democracy" concept, because the Tenth Amendment assigns most day-to-day governance responsibilities, including general "police power", to the state and local governments. Because there are 50 semi-autonomous states, different policies can be enacted and tested at the state level without directly affecting the entire country. As a result, a diverse patchwork of state-level government practices is created
It is for this reason that all social changes and radical modifications to the law should be first performed at a state level. This allows the other states to see the results, both positive and negative, of a state's actions. The other states can then determine if the social change or radical modification is to be adopted within their state, with changes to make the law better derived from the observation of the original state who implemented this change. Any national approach to social change or radical modifications would be foolhardy, as my article "The Law of Unintended Consequences" explains, will surely impose itself.
It should always be kept in mind that these experiments cannot abrogate the Human, Constitutional, or Civil rights of the people, but must always be enacted within these rights.
It is extremely difficult to get things done in government due to the inertia and impediments built into government. Doing things the way they have always been done (inertia) is part of human nature. It allows us to know and expect what will happen when we undertake any actions. In government, this can be a good thing as it helps protect our freedoms and liberties, as well as providing equal protection and equal justice under the law. But it can also be a bad thing if it prevents us from doing what is required to achieve an agreed upon law or regulation. If the agreed-upon law or regulation does not violate our Human or Constitutional Rights inertia is not a legitimate reason to not doing something. Impediments are important to protect our freedoms and liberties, as well as providing equal treatment under the law, but are not important, and indeed are is counterproductive, if it is utilized to protect politicians, political parties, or special interest groups prerogatives.
In today’s governing Inertia and Impediments are a de-facto standard. Everybody wants something done, as long as it does not impact their prerogatives or their inertia. But getting something done always impacts the inertia and prerogatives of some people. We need to recognize this, accept it, and build into the law or regulation the means to overcome Inertia and Impediments. Failure to do so results in the triumph of Inertia and Impediments, and the inability to get things done.
This is an area where Executive Actions or Orders are legitimate. If the Executive Actions or Orders are crafted to implement the law or regulation, within the intent of the law or regulation, and not as a means of circumventing the law or regulation, the Executive Actions or Orders are an acceptable means of overcoming Inertia and Impediments.
Latin for "to stand by a decision," the doctrine that a trial court is bound by appellate court decisions (precedents) on a legal question which is raised in the lower court. Reliance on such precedents is required of trial courts until such time as an appellate court changes the rule, for the trial court cannot ignore the precedent (even when the trial judge believes it is "bad law").
It should be noted that this doctrine is only appropriate within the judicial system. Judges and judicial decisions must keep this in mind whenever there is a ruling by the judiciary. It does not mean that a judge can determine that a law is unconstitutional. Indeed, if a judge so decides the law is unconstitutional it should be abrogated, to preserve the liberties and freedoms of the people. The ultimate arbiter of the unconstitutionality of a law is a course that of the Supreme Court. This also constrains a judge from interpreting a law to suit their own opinion of the advisability of the law.
This doctrine has no standing when applied to legislative actions. Of course, the legislatures should consider the impact of changing the long-standing law. However, they should not feel constrained to keep, revoke, or change a law utilizing this doctrine. To do so would limit their responsibility to revoke, make or modify law as they feel appropriate and constitutional.
The United States has the worst tax system of any country PERIOD! It is so complex and convoluted that it is impossible for anybody to fully understand it. Because of this, it is extremely difficult to be in full compliance with our tax laws and rules. In addition, it is filled with so many loopholes and special interest exemptions that it is unfair. It also allows for a large number of citizens to be exempt from taxes. For this reason, I have a special topic on “Taxes” in the “Political Issues” section of these observations.
One other note on taxes is “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CORPORATE TAX!” While a corporation pays taxes, they do so by increasing the price of the goods or services sold to cover the taxes, or by reducing their overhead by cutting labor or capital. Reducing labor or capital results in less employment or reduced purchases by the corporation (which results in negative impacts on the companies and/or persons who supply these purchases). Therefore, corporate taxes are an indirect tax on the consumer of the goods or services the corporation provides. Whenever a politician advocates increased corporate taxes they are in effect calling for higher prices or less employment for individuals. It can be succinctly stated that all taxes are ultimately borne by the individual, either directly or indirectly.
Also known as Business Privileges in taxes or regulations, but by any other name, I'm against it. If a corporation or business wishes to do something they should pay for it. It is not up to the taxpayers to fund what is for the benefit of a business or corporation.
I'm against it. The federal government should not be in the business of giving money to any entity. The federal government should be in the business of providing timely and accurate information to allow individuals and individual organizations to make wise decisions as to how to utilize their money. If the individual or individual organization makes a wise decision they will reap the benefits of this decision. If they make a poor decision then they will suffer the consequences of their poor decision. The federal taxpayer should have no burden in either a wise or poor decisions by an individual or individual organization.
Many who would support subsidies would retort that it is for the “General Welfare” and “Common Good” of the American people. To this, I would respond that subsidies are rarely “General” and usually not “Common”. Subsidies are targeted to specific entities, which utilized the monies received for specific purposes. As such they are not “General”, and since they help only a targeted small number of people they are not “Common”. Subsidies also assume that the government can wisely choose the entities that are worthy versus the entities that are not worthy of receiving subsidies. Government is not capable of wisely choosing worthiness, and it usually ends up using a political basis for the choice. This also has the effect of utilizing taxpayers’ monies to support what the government deems worthy or politically opportune. It should not be for the government to make this choice, but for the individual to decide the worthiness or opportuneness, and if they wish to contribute their own monies for the worthy or opportune effort.
As the Federal Government has limited and enumerated powers, and I see nothing in the U.S. Constitution or Amendments that allows for Corporate Welfare or Subsidies, they should not be permitted.
Public employees deserve a decent wage, salary, benefits, and working conditions. Public employee unions are a good means of obtaining this. However, the taxpayers deserve to have the cost of public employees being reasonable. If the public employee unions were only concerned about wages, salary, benefits, and working conditions then there would be no problem. However public employee unions have become involved in the political arena, not just in the employment arena. Public employee unions have endorsed candidates, contribute monies to the candidates, and provide support for political candidates’ election activities. A politician negotiating on behalf of the taxpayers is also concerned about their election and reelection, and a politician going into negotiations with a public employee union knows that the public employee union can significantly increase or decrease their chances of reelection. This often causes the politician to concede greater wages, salary, benefits, and working conditions to the public employee union in an attempt to increase their reelection possibilities. This is unfair to the taxpayers, as they bear the burden of the increased cost of public employees.
The only means that I can think of bringing back a balance between the needs of the public employees and the burdens of the taxpayers is for public employee unions to be banned from involvement in the political arena. Public employee unions should not be allowed to endorse candidates, contribute monies to the candidates, or provide support for political candidates’ election activities in a direct manner. The public employee unions could recommend to their membership (only) that a political candidate or party support a public employee union’s position, and recommend that the members provide personal financial and volunteer assistance to the candidate or party, but the public employee unions could not provide direct financial or direct organizational support for a candidate or party. The public employee unions could establish a Political Action Committee (PAC) to accomplish these goals, which they would recommend that their members support, but no public employee union’s dues or organization support of the PAC could come directly from the public employee union. And under no circumstances could a public employee union member be working for a candidate or party while performing their duties within the public employee union, or their duties as a public employee.
As to the argument that this would be a violation of their First Amendment rights, the individuals who are members of the public employee union can exercise their First Amendment rights on an individual basis. If the unions would not abide by this restriction, or the courts find it unconstitutional, I would have no difficulty in abolishing public employee unions for the good of all Americans.
Given the overly legislated and regulated society that we live in it is only natural that individuals and organizations would lobby for special privileges or exemptions. To deny this is to deny human nature, and in today's society lobbying is a fact of life. My concern is not lobbying, but the back door and behind the scenes lobbying that occurs in government. This back door and behind the scenes lobbying is antithetical to the democratic process. I would, rather than restrict lobbying, make it visible to the light of all. After all, sunshine is the best disinfectant process. I would, therefore, require that all individuals and organizations who have lobbied for particular legislation or regulations be identified as contributors to the legislation or regulation. These contributors could then be examined in open testimony before congressional committees. This would allow the American people to determine the wisdom of the proposed legislation or regulation. I also believe my observations on “Taxes” would help reduce the amount of lobbying.
Much has been said on the pros and cons of restricting the terms of office held by elected officials. I need not reiterate these arguments, as much more knowledgeable and experienced people have done this better than I could. I will, however, give my opinion. Given the current state of politics in the United States, I believe that term limits are necessary. We have for over two hundred years been without term limits. This had led to career politicians that are more interested in retaining office than in solving the issues facing America. And this has led to gridlock and obstructionism in our legislative process.
However, I have a slightly different approach to term limits then has been discussed. I would have successive term limits. I would support a constitutional amendment that would limit a member of the House of Representatives from holding office for more than seven successive terms of two years (a total of 14 years). I would limit a member of the Senate from holding office for more than three successive terms of six years (a total of 18 years). After those limits have been met the elected official would have to stand down and not run for reelection until they have been out of the office for two years, or they could run for election for a different office. They could then run for election for the same office after having been out of that office for two years. I believe that this would alleviate the cronyism and coziness of special interest groups influencing government actions.
I would also extend these term limits to judges as outlined in my “Constitutional Amendments” observation that follows.
Political polling has become ubiquitous and nefarious in today’s society.
Ubiquitous because no matter how inane, vacuous, unimportant, or insignificant the poll maybe there are people and organizations that will poll the subject. And there will be a hubbub over the results. This is not much of a concern of mine, as people and groups are free to do whatever they choose with their time and monies, and I am free to ignore these polls.
Nefarious, however, is a big concern of mine. It is well established that the wording of the questions, the order in which they are asked, and the number and form of alternative answers offered can influence the results of polls. Coverage bias is another source of error involving the use of samples that are not representative of the population due to the polling methodology. Self-selection bias arises in any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample with non-probability sampling. Polls also have the potential for inaccuracy in non-response bias or response bias, and a host of other problems. Entire books have been written on the problems of political polling. For these reasons, a poll can be conducted with nefarious intentions and inaccurate results. I will not go into any of these problems but instead focus on two major nefarious issues that are my pet peeves; polling the ignorant, and the proper utilization of polls.
Most political polling is done with a representative sample of the population. As such this sample only captures the sentiments and feelings of those sampled, as very rarely are the people that are being sampled have a knowledge of the subject that is being polled. Therefore, when a pollster asks what I person thinks they are actually getting what a person feels. When reviewing political polls you should keep this in mind, for as a Chinese proverb as stated:
“A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion”
Which brings us to the proper utilization of polls. As I have stated in my observations “Think vs. Feel - or - Emotions are Easy, Thinking is Hard” and “With Facts, Intelligence, and Reasoning”, feelings are a poor method of crafting public policy decisions. Or as Warren Buffett has said:
poll is no substitute for thought."
- Warren Buffett
Many people are trying to utilize political polling to shape public policy decisions. But making good public policy decisions requires more than public opinion. Or as a famous Greek philosopher has stated:
"Just as it would be madness
to settle on medical treatment for the body of a person by
taking an opinion poll of the neighbors, so it is irrational
to prescribe for the body politic by polling the opinions of
the people at large."
However public sentiment is very important in the crafting of public policy. To craft public policy which goes against the sentiment of the public is not wise, as it will not often be supported by the public, as has been noted:
“In this age, in this
country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing
can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds
public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or
pronounces judicial decisions.”?
- Abraham Lincoln
Politicians should utilize public polling to guide them in how to best explain their reasoning for the public policy, and as a means to change public sentiment. As Ronald Reagan has been quoted as saying:
"I utilize polls to determine how much convincing I need to do".
Any politician who utilizes political polling to determine public policy is doing a disservice to our country, as stated in the following two quotes about the utilization of political polling:
"I did not enter the labor
Party forty-seven years ago to have our manifesto written by
Dr. Mori, Dr. Gallup and Mr. Harris."
- Tony Benn
"If you are guided by opinion
polls, you are not practicing leadership -- you are
- Margaret Thatcher
Political polling can often be completely wrong. The best example of this is the 2016 Presidential election. Prior to the election political pollsters and pundits informed us that there was no way the Donald Trump could win the election. In one case a pollster informed us that Hillary Clinton had a 98 percent chance of winning the general election. Most (if not all) pollsters said that there was no chance that Donald Trump could win the necessary 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. But an election is the only accurate poll worth considering. Despite these pollsters and pundits, Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States (by a wide margin in the electoral votes). And despite these inaccurate polls the pollsters are continuing to report on the opinions of the American people regarding Donald Trump’s popularity and policy positions. Until pollsters can correct their mistakes (which is improbable as Donald Trump’s supporter tend to not participate in polls) you should be highly dubious of what pollsters and pundits are saying about Donald Trump, as well as being dubious about all poll results.
Whenever political polling is being utilized you should “Beware the Poll Results”, and “Beware the Poll Utilizers”.
Given the actions of Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government in the 21st century, I would suggest the following Constitutional Amendments be passed by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures, with the constitutional convention having limited authority to approve or disapprove these amendments.
Article. V. of the U.S. Constitution states that:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
If Congress cannot agree to these amendments, then the states must call a convention to consider these proposed amendments.
The following observations are about political discourse in today’s society and my opinion of them.
Most political debate today is not to provide illumination on an issue, but to obtain a visceral reaction (i.e. Light versus Heat). Illumination requires thought and sufficient time to explain the issue. In today’s world, we want everything done quickly, and do not wish to spend the time or effort necessary to provide illumination on an issue. A visceral reaction can be accomplished with very little effort or time. This is mostly true in television discussion involving a point and counter-point panel discussion. Due to the constraints of television advertising the discussion is often limited to a short segment (usually seven minutes), before going onto another subject or issue. Illumination cannot be done in a few minutes, but a visceral reaction can be invoked in a few seconds. When television does interview a single person they often jump from issue to issue within the time segment, thus not providing much illumination on an individual issue. This is not good for the body politic as it is difficult to understand or reach a consensus on an issue without illumination.
You must always remember the aphorism “First do no harm” when developing laws, regulations, or public policy. Taken literally or as an absolute “First do no harm” will lead you to take no actions, as all actions can produce harm (see my article on “The Law of Unintended Consequences”). Instead, you should always ask what is the good to be obtained, then what is the harm that you may do, and then does the good outweigh the harm? You should also ask what can be done to mitigate the harms that may result. It is only after you ask and answer these questions that you should proceed with the political discourse and policy decision.
Many (if not most) of today's political debate is about feelings. But feelings do not make for good policy. Facts, intelligence, and reasoning should be utilized to create policy, with feelings being used as a supplement to thinking. The difference is that feelings are emotionally based, while thinking is reason based. But emotions are easy, while thinking is hard. Always remember that the only good way to create public policy is by an open and honest discussion of the issues based on facts, intelligence and reasoning (reasoned based). All sides of an issue should be heard and debated to assure that the best public policy is implemented. To do so otherwise often creates more problems than it solves. Doing so also reduces “The Law of Unintended Consequences”, as discussed in another observation of mine.
"Facts are stubborn things; and
whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates
of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and
- from John Adams, 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770
"Every man has a right to his
own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts”
is credited to American financier Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965), who said it in 1946.
“Each of us is entitled to his
own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
- James R. Schlesinger, United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975
“Everyone is entitled to his own
opinion, but not his own facts.”
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), United States Senator from New York from 1976 to 2000
Facts should be utilized with intellectual reasoning to determine the truth. To do otherwise would abrogate the truth, and lead you to misjudgments. To allow emotions into your facts and reasoning will also lead to a falsehood.
You must, however, obtain all the facts before you apply intelligence and reasoning. This requires that you listen and read all sides of an issue, not just the side you agree with. You need to winnow out the facts to determine their applicability, their importance, and their usefulness to your reasoning. You must also weigh the facts in their importance, and give more credence to the more important facts in your reasoning. Intelligent reasoning then requires that you apply formal and informal logic, logical fallacies, and cognitive biases to the remaining facts, as I have discussed in my observation "Reasoning". At the end of this process, and not before, you can claim your decision is based on facts, intelligence, and reasoning.
In today’s society, it often seems that there is a religious fervor to the issues that are contentious. One side or the other makes up its mind on the issues and will cling to their opinion even in the presence of countervailing information. You must always be open to the possibility that your opinion may be incorrect based on the new or additional information. When this happens, you must be willing to modify your opinion based on this new or additional information. When I obtain new or additional information impacting an opinion of mine I thoroughly investigate this new or additional information, think and reason about what I have learned, and modify my opinion accordingly.
Or as Ben Franking has stated:
For having lived long, I have
experienced many instances of being obliged by better
information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions
even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but
found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I
grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay
more respect to the judgment of others.
- Benjamin Franklin
Doubt a little of your own
- Benjamin Franklin
What defines a libertarian, conservative, moderate/centrist, liberal/progressive, or socialist. As there are no objective criteria for this, and each person has a subjective opinion of their position on this scale. You also have the pejoratives of far-right, left-winger, wishy-washy, flip-flopper, Communist, Fascist, Nazi, etc... Pejoratives should be avoided, as they are an attempt to disrepute someone (refer to my observation "Libertarian, Conservative, Centrist, Liberal/Progressive, Or A Socialist" for more pejoratives). The definition of what defines the political philosophy of these various groups is the subject of another observation of mine. This observation is that each person has a different opinion of where they are, or others are, on this scale. They may be correct, but they may also be incorrect, and since this is a subjective opinion there may be no correct or incorrect opinion. The important point is since these opinions are subjective you should be wary of accepting any label of someone unless it is a self-induced label (which could also be inaccurate). Also, some people have multiple positions on this scale based on the issue or policy. In this case, it is difficult to label (or pigeonhole) a person. Many people also assume that their opinions are the opinions of the majority. This often occurs when they have had little contact or exposure with persons with whom they may differ. When they fall into this trap it is easier to misrepresent where another's position is in regard to their position. They may also think that their opinion is the mainstream opinion, and other opinions to the left or right of theirs are conservative or liberal (or more likely a pejorative is employed). You should never accept anyone’s label of another and should make up your own mind based on what the person has actually said or done. Also, be cognizant that your opinion of your own position on this scale may not be the opinion of others as they evaluate your position on this scale. So, don't be surprised if someone labels your opinion other than what you would label your opinion.
Dialog and Debate in today's political environment has degenerate into the employment of tactics, tactics that do not provide illumination but instead generate heat. This is done to generate political points for electioneering purposes rather than an examination of the issue to reach an understanding. These tactics include:
Political opponents in today's society often utilize the dialog and debate methodology of Demonize, Denigrate, and Disparage when discussing issues, policies, and personages. A short definition of these terms, followed by a perspective on their utilization is as follows:
Progressives and Leftists are mostly guilty of utilizing The Three D’s, as their goal appears to be acquiescence or silence from their opponents. They also use this technique to get a Conservative to defend themselves against the pejorative rather than stating their opinion. Therefore, there cannot be an honest and reasonable dialog and debate on the issues. In my years of observing how Progressives and Leftists behave in public discourse, I have come to some general observations on how they conduct themselves. These observations are:
When a Conservative and Progressives or Leftists disagree the conservative believes the Progressives or Leftists is wrong. However, Progressives and Leftists often believes that the conservative has undesirable or negative qualities. The Progressives or Leftists then attempts to argue against a Conservative position by utilizing the following Three D's tactics:
The Progressives or Leftists often utilize these as arguments rather than utilizing intellectual reasoning. This is very bad for the body politick as it cannot lead to understanding, and possible compromise, to achieve a reasonable solution to public policy. Indeed, it often leads to bitter partisanship as the Progressives or Leftists opponent feels oppressed, and the Progressives or Leftists feel righteous. The Progressives or Leftists will then demand bi-partisanship, and since they are righteous, and their opponent is not, the Progressives or Leftists policy should be adopted.
I have also noticed that the attitudes of most Progressives and Leftists are that they are sanctimonious, self- righteous, morally superior, and arrogant. As they believe that they are always correct for you to disagree with them is to make you immoral or evil. Any and all pejoratives and derogatory names may be utilized to describe their opponents. These pejoratives and derogatory names are often accompanied by harangues or screeds. And by these terms I mean:
Some of the pejoratives and derogatory names that have been utilized to describe their opponents are; Sexist, misogynist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, bigoted, nazis, fascists, dictator, ignorant, stupid, moron, hater, or many of the other terms on the Wikipedia Category: Pejorative terms for people.
Progressives or Leftists also believe that they have the right to shout down or shut down the free speech rights of their opponents. How often have you heard Progressives or Leftists say “I will not tolerate the intolerant”? This is an attempt to shut down the free speech rights of their opponents and excludes their opinions from being heard. This leads to an uncivil society that I have discussed in my article “A Civil Society”.I have also noticed that recently the Three D's techniques are starting to be utilized by conservatives. They should be ashamed of this, and all sides should stop utilizing this technique forthwith.
When having a debate or dialog you should always keep in mind the following 10 Commandments from Relatively Interesting :
The only acceptable method of political discourse is disagreement - to be of different opinions. While you are in disagreement you should be cognizant that people of good character can and often disagree with each other. The method of their disagreement is very important to achieve civil discourse. There are two ways you can disagree with someone; by criticizing their opinions or beliefs or critiquing their opinions or beliefs.
Most people and most commentators have forgotten the difference between Criticism and Critique. This has led to the hyper-partisanship in today’s society. In a civil society critiquing a viewpoint or policy position should be encouraged. This will often allow for a fuller consideration of the issues, and perhaps a better viewpoint or policy position without invoking hyper-partisanship. We can expect that partisanship will often occur, as people of good character can and often disagree with each other. Criticizing a viewpoint or policy position will often lead to hostility, rancor, and enmity, which results in the breakdown of civil discourse and hyper-partisanship. It is fine to criticize someone for their bad or destructive behavior, but it is best to critique them for their opinions or words. We would all do better if we remember to critique someone, rather than criticize someone.
The person asserting something has the responsibility of proving their assertion is correct. The person disputing the assertion has no responsibility to prove the other person’s assertion is incorrect. Too often, in today’s political debates, one side or the other makes an assertion without justifying their assertion. Indeed, they often imply or retort that the other side must prove them wrong. Assertions also contain Presumptions; Assumptions; Incorrect Facts; Incomplete Facts; Missing Facts; Irrelevant Facts; Faulty Reasoning; Logical Fallacies; Cognitive Biases; and the Unintended Consequences problems that may be inherent in the assertion. The deconstruction of an assertion to determine the validity of the assertion may take considerable time and effort. Unless an assertion is not disputable it should be questioned to determine if it contains any of these problems. Generally, the assertion of facts is indisputable. However, the meaning of these facts is often disputable. Therefore, when someone makes an assertion about the meaning of the facts you need to carefully examine the assertion to determine its validity.
In science, law, philosophy, theology, and many other areas of human interactions, it is the responsibility of the person asserting something to prove that their assertion is correct. Otherwise, we could end up with the following absurd situation:
Someone could assert that Martians eat garbage and urinate gasoline. If they did not have to prove their assertion, but someone had to disprove their assertion, then the following would be necessary to disprove the assertion. The person disproving the assertion would have to prove there is no such thing as Martians, or if there were Martians prove that they did not eat garbage, and if there were Martians that ate garbage they would have to prove that they did not urinate gasoline.
Obviously, it is not possible to prove or disprove these things. Therefore, the person who asserts something bears the burden of proving that their assertion is correct.
As Christopher Hitchens once said, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." Therefore, if there is no evidence for an assertion then the assertion can be simply dismissed. You should, therefore, challenge a person who asserts something to prove their assertion. Otherwise, you get into the situation that "if you cannot prove that they are wrong then they must be right", which is obviously a fallacious statement.
When the message is troubling a common counterpoint is to attack the messenger. This is done in the hope that the message will not be talked about. Of course, the messenger must be considered. After all, the messenger may have a bias or agenda that taints the message. It is also incumbent upon the messenger to supply evidence that the message is correct. After you consider the messengers’ character and the evidence supplied to determine if the message may be correct, you need to consider the message as well as the messenger. Even if the messenger is lacking in some aspect if the message is supported by evidence the message must be considered. Even if you do not particularly care for the messenger or disagree with their politics or policies if there is evidence to support the message you must consider the message. To demonize, denigrate, or disparage the messenger to avoid consideration of the message is not acceptable if the message has supporting evidence.
As any reader of my website knows I am a big fan of Dennis
Prager. I believe he has much knowledge and wisdom to impart.
S.I.X.H.I.R.B. is Dennis Prager's acronym for the debate-ending
names conservatives are called by liberals. If you disagree with
the Left, you are one, multiple, or all of the following;
“S.I.X.H.I.R.B.” – Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic,
Islamophobic, Racist, Bigoted.
S.I.X.H.I.R.B. is one of the methods a liberal/progressive often utilizes when debating a conservative. This is often done for two reasons; an attempt to intimidate the conservative into silence or to try to get the audience to not pay heed to what the conservative is saying. It is also utilized when a liberal/progressive fails to make an intelligent and reasonable response to what a conservative has said and they resort to calling the conservative a S.I.X.H.I.R.B to distract from their failure.
Except in an extreme far-right personage, these adjectives are not usually accurate, nor are they provable to a reasonable person. The liberal/progressive simply believes that if you disagree with their policies or position you must be a S.I.X.H.I.R.B. This comes from the liberal/progressive attitude of their own moral superiority and that they have the only moral and correct policies and positions. To disagree with a liberal/progressive is proof enough for them that you must be a S.I.X.H.I.R.B. To disagree with a liberal/progressive does not make you a S.I.X.H.I.R.B., it only means that you differ with their policy or position.
Therefore, whenever I listen to a debate or discussion, and one person attacks the messenger or calls another a S.I.X.H.I.R.B., I become very wary. I am also disturbed as this is an attempt to stifle discussion and debate and prevent the exchange of reasonable and intelligent discussion or debate on policies and positions. It also makes me reevaluate the person, and the policy and position, of the person who attacks the messenger or evoked a S.I.X.H.I.R.B. charge. I would suggest that you do the same.
I have observed that in modern political discourse (and probably a historical political discourse) one-party will establish their position, then assert the position of the other party at the extreme opposite of their position. This is a despicable and wholly inappropriate manner to debate political issues. It is unacceptable because there are many different positions between the two extremes. These different positions need to be reasoned about and discussed to determine if they provide a more acceptable solution to the policy issue. It is despicable because you are putting words and thoughts into another's mouth and head, and then often severely criticizing them for the words and thoughts you put into their mouth and head. It is your responsibility only to speak your own thoughts and reasoning, or to quote the words of another person. After both sides have laid out their reasoning and conclusions then it is fair to critique the others reasoning or conclusions, based on what they have stated, not what you have stated for them.
Too often in today’s political debates or discussions someone will ask a question of another and the answer to the question is to ignore the question and start iterating a talking point. Talking points that do not answer the question, but simply state the policy or position of the answerer. Sometimes the talking points are an answer to the question the answerer wanted to be asked, but not answering the question that was asked.
Other times the answerer will respond by asking the questioner a question rather than answering the question. This is not really an answer but a deflection to not answer the question. The answerer should not get to ask a question until they answer the questioners’ question. After all, if the answerer is going to ignore the questioner's question then the questioner can ignore the answerer's question.
These techniques are done in order to not answer a question, usually because the answer to the question would expose a weakness or illogic in the answerers’ policy or position. I find that these techniques are extremely frustrating as they do not illuminate the policy or position, but obfuscate the policy or position.
Therefore, whenever I listen to a debate or discussion where these techniques are utilized I become very wary. I am also disturbed as this is an attempt to preclude the exchange of reasonable and intelligent discussion or debate on policies and positions. It also makes me reevaluate the person, and the policy and position, of the person who evoked these techniques. I would suggest that you do the same.
Many who argue a political issue resort to Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors. This tactic is the activity of obscuring people's understanding, leaving them baffled or bewildered and susceptible to accepting their conclusions. It is most often done by inserting oblique facts, nonsequiturs, exceptions to the rule, and the perfect vs. the practical. You must always go the core issue and examine its meaning.
An example of this is the 18th-century debate on slavery. Many arguments were made for and against slavery, but the core issue was very simple. If you believe in the human right of a person to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness, then no person can deprive another person of these human rights. Therefore, no person can own another person as this violates the human right of the slave. If you argue that a person, because of external factors is not, or not quite, human then you are arguing against the principles of the Declaration of Independence. You are also arguing that if someone subjugated you they could then declare that you are not, or not quite, human and you could be deprived of your Human Rights. Therefore, the debate should have been concluded and slavery should be abolished. At that point, you could discuss the practical means of abolishing slavery and then implement the agreed upon actions.
When engaging in a debate blow away the Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors and get to the core issue. Determine the facts and truths of the issue, then debate the actions to be taken.
Putting words into someone’s mouth, then criticizing the words you put into their mouth is another argumentative technique too often utilized in today’s political discussions and debates. This technique is to rephrase or restate what someone has said in the most negative connotation possible or to add negative statements into another’s mouth. The person who put the words into another’s mouth then goes on to criticize the words they put into someone’s mouth. This is a dishonest and despicable tactic and wholly inappropriate manner to debate political issues as it is often done to disparage, denigrate, or demonize someone in the hope that the audience will not pay attention to what the other person actually said. It is your responsibility to only speak your own thoughts and reasoning or to quote the words of another person. After both sides have laid out their reasoning and conclusions then it is fair to critique the others reasoning or conclusions, based on what they have stated, not what you have stated for them.
Torturous and Convoluted Reasoning is another tactic used by those who engage in political debates. It is most often done to confuse the audience into accepting a conclusion that does not follow the facts or logic. It often contains many hidden assumptions that when they are exposed reveal the faultiness of the argument. When examining the argument, you should keep in mind a variation of Occam's Razor - “The simplest explanation, that fits all the known facts, is most often the correct explanation”. Be suspicious when someone presents Torturous and Convoluted Reasoning to convince you of their conclusion. Examine the premises of the argument, seek out the hidden assumptions, assure that the logic of the argument contains no logical fallacies or cognitive biases before you accept the conclusions (as explained in my Observation on “Reasoning”). If you do this, you have a much greater chance of reaching the truth. A Torturous and Convoluted Logic argument may end up being true, but I would not bet on it.
Euphemism - An inoffensive or indirect expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive or too harsh abound in today’s politically correct speech. But euphemisms can be very dangerous when utilized in regard to national security and social policy. In order to solve a problem, you need to recognize that you have a problem, clearly define the problem, and then clearly state the solution. Euphemisms do not contribute to clarity and indeed are often utilized to obscure the problem. Euphemisms are often utilized when identifying groups of people in order not to offend members of the groups, or to be deceptive as to the parties who are part of the problem or who are the victims of the problem. Euphemisms are often a means to doublespeak - language that pretends to communicate but actually does not. Disingenuousness - not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness - is often the result when euphemisms and doublespeak are utilized.
When euphemisms are utilized in national security situations, we cannot clearly address the problems and solutions to terrorism and international aggression. When it comes to violence perpetrators and victims need to be clearly defined to identify the source and targets of the violence. Euphemisms, doublespeak, and disingenuousness do not solve any problems, and they contribute to the problem or allow the problem to fester. Anyone who utilizes euphemisms, doublespeak, or is disingenuousness needs to be ignored in order to solve a problem.
The current format for Presidential Debates is not conducive to
illumination. Besides the journalistic bias (see my observation
on “Journalism”) many of the questions are intended to provoke a
visceral reaction. I would suggest we return to the format
of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Three debates would be
scheduled; one on Foreign Policy, one on Domestic Policy, and
one on any other issues. Each candidate would prepare ten
question they want to ask the other candidate on the debate
topic. The first candidate would get two minutes to ask the
question, the other candidate would get five minutes to respond
to the question, and the questioner would get three minutes to
rebut the answer. The other candidate would then get to ask
their question utilizing the same constrictions. This would go
back and forth until all ten questions from each candidate would
be debated. The moderator would only be responsible for assuring
the candidates stay within their time constrictions. I believe
that this format would provide a better forum for each candidate
to express themselves, and bring out the issues that they
believe are important for the American people to understand. The
questions the candidate asks would also illuminate the character
and integrity of the candidate. This also puts the debates into
the hands of the candidates - where it belongs.
Oh what a tangled web we
When first we practise to deceive!
- Sir Walter Scott
Knowing what is important, what is unimportant, and what is misleading when reviewing studies or statistics is crucial to discovering the truth. To repeat my comments on “Studies Show” and “Statistics Show” in my observation on “Phrases”:
Studies can show anything. For every study that shows something, there is another's study that shows the opposite. This is because every study has an inherent bias of the person or persons conducting the study, or the person organization that commissioned the study. A very good person conducting the study recognizes their biases and compensates for them, to ensure that the study is as accurate as possible. Having been the recipient of many studies (and the author of a few) I can attest to this fact. Therefore, you should be very wary when a person says "studies show". You should always look into a study to determine who the authors are, who commissioned the study and to examine the study for any inherent biases.
Everything that I said in "studies shows" also apply in statistics show. However, statistic show requires more elaboration, as it deals with the rigorous mathematical science of statistics. Statistics is a science that requires very rigorous education and experience to get it right. The methodology of gathering data, processing the data, and analyzing the data is very intricate. Interpreting the results of the data accurately requires that you understand this methodology, and how it was applied to the statistics being interpreted. If you are not familiar with the science of statistics, and you did not carefully examine the statistics and how they were developed, you can often be led astray. Also, many statistics are published with a policy goal in mind, and therefore should be suspect. As a famous wag once said, "Figures can lie, and liars can figure". So be careful when someone presents you with statistics. Be wary of both the statistics and the statistician.
Some additional comments on this subject are as follows:
Studies and statistics often claim to be scientific and rigorous. However, most of them are not as scientific or as rigorous as we may believe. Most studies are based on statistics, and most statistics become studies. But most studies based on statistics have issues with correlation, sampling, and confidence level, not to mention risk factors and probabilities, along with a host of other issues. The best book I have read that explains these issues is “Studies Show: A Popular Guide to Understanding Scientific Studies" By John H. Fennick.
One of the major issues with statistics that you should be aware of, especially when a politician starts quoting statistics to support their policy position, is the problem of Correlation vs. Causality. Correlation is when two or more statistics are compared and they seem to be in sync, especially when they are graphed. A Causality occurs when two or more statistics are related, and a change in one or more of the statistic affects the other(s) statistic. But as statisticians are trained “Correlation does not imply Causation” as exemplified in the following statistical graph:
Both statistics correlate, but neither has any causation on each other. These examples are extreme, but most Correlation vs. Causality issues are much subtler. Whenever you are presented with a statistic you should carefully consider the Correlation vs. Causality issue that it may contain.
For more on this subject refer to the Economics section of my “Further Readings”.
Benjamin Disraeli once famously said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
However, there are actually four kinds of lies: mistakes, lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Mistakes are when you have said something that you believe to be true, but later discover it was untrue. After the discovery of your mistake, you have a moral responsibility to correct the record with those who you had misinformed.
Lies make the world go around. They are told to protect the feeling of others or to prevent embarrassment to ourselves. They should only be told if no harm comes from them. Otherwise, they will become Dammed Lies.
Dammed Lies are told to gain an advantage for ourselves or to demonize, denigrate, or disparage an opponent. They are despicable, and when discovered they the teller should be roundly condemned.
It has been said the "Figures Can Lie, and Liars Can Figure." Statistics are often utilized to justify a belief, but Statistics only provide a guide to what has happened, and what may happen. But they are open to interpretation, and this interpretation must be done with care, responsibility, and honesty (and often by highly statistically trained individuals) Probabilities are less open to interpretation and are usually wrong when the data being utilized is incorrect, or the algorithms being utilized are incorrect (Boolean logic or arithmetic operations are wrong). Therefore, one must always be careful and skeptical when utilizing statistics and probability to discuss an issue.
Finally, the other important issue with studies and statistics is knowing what you know, knowing what you don't know, and allowing for what you don't know that you don't know. A good analyst or statistician always points out what they can be certain of, of what they are uncertain of, and that they may be unaware of all the facts or circumstances that could potentially skew their results. A bad analyst or statistician will often obscure these factors in order to achieve the desired results.
A good, highly readable, understandable, and entertaining book about statistics is “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread From The Data” by Charles Wheelan. For those of my readers that are interested in obtaining more information on statistics, with minimal mathematics, I would recommend the book: The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data by David Spiegelhalter.
The following observations are a few examples that demonstrate how you must be careful when examining statistics.
An example of using figures and studies inappropriately is of the opposing posters that were circulated on the Internet a few years ago:
All of the statistics on both of these posters are true. But there are unreported statistics as well, and one side only gives the favorable or statistics, while the other side gives the unfavorable statistics. There is also the cherry-picking of statistics, and when to start and stop collecting statistics (in the above example the starting points were in the depths of an economic recession, and the endpoints were during an economic recovery). It is easy to believe the statistics that support your worldview, and easy to discount the statistics the contravene your worldview. But for an accurate worldview, you must consider all of the statistics (both pro and con) before forming or changing your worldview. A more complete picture of the facts on the above posters is as follows:
Even the above chart does not reveal the whole truth. The above poster shows different blocks of statistics but doesn’t show the interrelationships between the blocks, nor the impact of changes within the blocks that would affect the other blocks. You must always consider these interrelationships and effects to help you determine the true state of affairs.
Of course, you also need to statistically analyze these numbers as to their cause and effect, contributing factors, and government policy & regulation impacts. Even then you cannot get a complete or accurate representation of the truth, as there are too many constants and variables, interactions between the constants and variables, and perhaps insufficient time for the actual results to be measured. Again, one must always be careful and skeptical when utilizing statistics to discuss an issue.
Another example of utilizing statistics improperly is Calendar Time vs Labor Effort. While I was awaiting my security clearance at GE Aerospace it took almost seven months for me to receive my clearances. This was not because it took seven months to investigate my background, but it took six months to start the processing of my application. Once my application was started it only took about a week to perform the work to process the application. Therefore, the labor effort was one week, but the calendar time was seven months. The important statistic was the labor effort, while the calendar time was only an indication of the administrative backlog. If someone had only mentioned the calendar time you would have thought that this was an excessive amount of time to do the work. The labor time was the important fact to determine the work required to process an application.
One example of using only one statistic when two or more statistics are required to gain a fuller understanding of the actual situation. This is best shown in the example of employment within the United States. To better understand employment in the United States you need to know of the people who are without a job and looking for a job (The Unemployment Rate), and the people who are without a job and have given up looking for a job (The Underemployment Rate). Many people go back and forth between these categories, and you need to be aware of both rates to truly determine the employment rate within the United States. Very often the change in one rate influences a change in the other rate, and both rates are needed to determine employment within the United States. The following charts exemplify this:
As can be seen in the above chart the number of people who are not working in the United States can vary between 10 and 20 percent. And it is important that we know the total number of people without work so that we can provide them with the proper social services (mostly food and housing) while they have no work. Combining these and other factors you get the Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate. This rate shows what percentage of the U.S. Population is currently employed as follows:
As can be seen from this chart you can obtain a better perspective of employment within the United States. This chart, of course, can be analyzed with additional statistics, and be broken down into finer detail for a more comprehensive analysis. You must be careful in obtaining the proper statistics to determine your objective. This becomes more apparent in the next observation.
Another example of the misuse of statistics is documented in the “AA Efficacy Rates” of my “Addiction” observation. Reading this carefully will demonstrate how difficult it is to gather data, processing the data, and analyzing the data properly. This is also a good example of both “Studies Show” and “Statistics Show”, and how it is possible to reach an incorrect conclusion without broader and fuller analysis of studies or statistics.
Another example is a recent University of Iowa study of its students to determine What Men and Woman want in a life partner. They studied their students and gather statistics as to what their students wanted or didn’t want in in a partner. I have no doubt as to the veracity of this study, but I have serious doubts about the appropriateness of their conclusions. First the results of their study:
The first problem is that they polled their student body, a student body who has spent most of their life in an academic environment (K-12 & College). This study sample makes no allowance for non-academic experience in a normal social or work environment that we all know has a significant impact on our attitudes and values. Or as Mark Twain once said:
“When I was sixteen I thought that my father was the dumbest most ignorant man in the world. And when I turned twenty I was amazed how much he had learned in four short years.”
Therefore, this study was only appropriate for College students and has little bearing on what an adult may think after a few years in a normal environment.
The other problem with this study is that modern medical science knows that a human brain does not fully mature until sometime between the year's twenty-two and twenty-four. And the last part of the brain that develops is the center that makes judgments based on possible future consequences of your actions. That is why most young people behave in a wild and crazy manner – their brain has not developed sufficiently to control their actions. Therefore, this study is utilizing an immature brain as its sample group. Who knows what judgments may change after the brain is fully mature.
There is also the question of self-serving and bias answers. Did these students answer the questions the way they really think or the way they believed they should answer the question? Take the last category “Unimportant characteristics” as an example. The Chastity answer begs the question “Are the men answering this way to convince the woman that sexual promiscuity is acceptable?” and “Are woman answering this way to justify their own promiscuity?”. It would have been a much more meaningful statistic if it were broken down by students who were virgins, students with 1 to 3 sexual partners, students with 4-9 sexual partners, and students with ten or more sexual partners. Another criterion for the answer is that if one of the partners were much more promiscuous than the other would it make a difference. A breakdown of the sexuality of the students (heterosexual, homosexual male, homosexual female, bi-sexual, etc.) is also necessary. It should also be broken down by students that identify themselves by ideology (conservative, moderate, liberal, leftist), as well as religiosity (strongly religious, mildly religious, no religiosity, or atheistic). You could then judge the weight of this answer based on these backgrounds.
The “Similar political background” answer also needs to be broken down to students that identify themselves by ideology (conservative, moderate, liberal, leftist), as well as religiosity (strongly religious, mildly religious, no religiosity, or atheistic), and other possible categories.
The other categories also have the same types of questions as too self-serving and bias answers. Not having read the study (I couldn’t find the actual study, but I found the graphic being touted by special interest groups), I do not know if any of these items were broken down, and in which ways they were broken down (this is why a synopsis or simple graphic of a statistic is not a good basis for making a judgment).
To be truly useful this study also needs to have a follow-up of five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years after the original study was performed, with the original students who were studied. You could then study if they were married and/or divorced, had children, their socio-economic status, and other factors that may have changed their opinions. Such a study and follow-up would then be very useful to determine what men and woman really want.
Given the above, it can be seen that this study is only useful for people in a constricted environment (academics) with immature brains. It probably has little basis for a mature person with life experiences and a fully developed brain. As such it should only be utilized for analysis within its constricted study sample.
“Those who don't know history
are doomed to repeat it.”
― Edmund Burke
“Those who cannot remember the
past are condemned to repeat it."
― George Santayana
There are literally hundreds of quotes dealing with the importance of knowing history. By knowing history, you can learn from both the good and bad of what has happened, and hopefully make a wiser, better decision for the present or future. It is impossible for one person to know all of history, or even one period of history, or one historical personage. But a general knowledge of history is possible. You need to keep several things in mind when you examine a historic event or personage in order to discover the essential features or meaning of that historic event or personage.
History is often written by the victors, by the apologists, by personal perspectives, by persons who may have incomplete knowledge, and by persons who have their own ax to grind. If you are going to examine history you should seek out different perspectives to achieve a balanced view of what had occurred, and how to interpret the events. One or two books or documentaries are insufficient to gain a fuller perspective on these historical events. You may need to consult dozens of different sources to gain a more balanced perspective. This, of course, means that you will have to devote considerable time and effort to achieve this goal. I can assure you that the time and effort will be well worthwhile if you are interested in a historical subject or personage. Being a Franklinphile (a person interested in Benjamin Franklin's life and times) I have read dozens of books, articles, documentaries, and other sources to gain knowledge and insight into Benjamin Franklin's life and times. In each source, I have obtained new knowledge and perspectives on Benjamin Franklin, which has given me a better understanding and perspective of him.
Realize that history is a chain of interlocking events and that you may be unaware of previous events, or unknowledgeable about the previous event. A previous event often leads to the event that you are examining and directly or indirectly influences the event that you are examining. A historical event separated by time and distance could, and often does, have an impact on other historical events. An excellent example of this is an older PBS series "Connections" by James Burke that demonstrates this by examining technological advances throughout history, and how seemingly one advancement triggered another over time and distance. This effect is not limited to technology, but to all human activities throughout history.
Historical context is the political, social, cultural, and economic setting for a particular idea or event. To better understand something in history, you must look at its context--those things which surround it in time and place, and which give it its meaning. In this way, you can gain, among other things, a sense of how unique or ordinary an event or idea seems to be in comparison to other events and ideas.
Do not use our current morality and ethics as a basis of the judgment of what happened in a historical period or location, but only use it as a guidepost. Get to know what the moral and ethics of that period or location, so that you can judge the actions and events of the people of that period or location. You can then utilize our current morals and ethics for comparison to their morals and ethics, to reach a fuller understanding of the people or events that occurred. You will often discover hidden truths about history if you utilize this technique. A perfect example of this is the infamous counting of slaves in the census that the Founding Fathers specified in the U.S. Constitution. The issue was how the count slaves in a census that would be utilized in the distribution of Congressional representation. The infamous 3/5 rule was adopted not because they believed that a black person was only equal to 3/5 of a white person. Indeed, the Abolitionists did not want to count slaves at all to reduce the Anti-Abolitionists representation in Congress in the hopes of ending slavery. Whereas the Anti-Abolitionists wanted to count slaves as a whole person in order to gain more representation in Congress to preserve slavery. The infamous 3/5 rule was adopted as a compromise in order to establish a union, which was everybody's main concern. As can be seen in this example knowing the morals and ethics of the people involved in this decision give you a better insight into why they did what they did. This is also a good example of not knowing the morals and ethics of the people involved could lead you to the (incorrect) conclusion that the people of that time regard blacks as only 3/5 human, which was certainly not the case.
Never believe it when someone cites a historical person to justify a current event or policy. Circumstances are always different from the historical person’s time, and advancements in morality, ethics, law, philosophy, and the arts and sciences could, and possibly would, alter the opinion of a historical person if they were alive today. The words and deeds of a historical person should simply be utilized as a guidepost as to what they may have thought about today’s events. It is fine to utilize a historical person’s words and deeds as a starting point, but you should also apply your own knowledge and experience to reach a conclusion. This approach is very important when referencing the Founding Fathers, or Founding Brothers, as those historical personages were a very diverse and discordant group of individuals. They often disagreed with each other, and sometimes contradicted themselves (this was most true when you are discussing Thomas Jefferson). If your knowledge of the historical personage is nonexistent, scant, or limited, you will often reach the wrong conclusion as to the meaning of what they said or did. Do not accept anyone’s interpretation of a historical person’s opinion at face value. After all, the person presenting the historical person’s opinion may have their own personal perspectives, be a person who may have incomplete knowledge, and be a person that has their own ax to grind.
A good example of this is Winston Churchill in 1903 saying:
“I am an English Liberal. I hate the Tory (i.e. Conservative) Party, their men, their words and their methods.”
As a Liberal, Winston Churchill held high government office and, along with David Lloyd George, was regarded as one of the driving forces of Herbert Henry Asquith’s reforming administration. Was Liberalism his true political ideology? Or should we judge his position from his re-ratting in 1924, and his long association and later leadership of the Conservatives? To understand Churchill's true opinions, you need to understand the times in which he lived, the meaning of Liberal vs. Tory, vs. Conservative in his time, and the circumstances that shaped, molded, and changed his opinions throughout his life. Without this understanding, you will reach the wrong conclusion as to Churchill's ideology, and as to the meaning of the previous quote.
Given the above observations it is still important to examine the history, so that you may learn from both the good and bad, and hopefully make a wiser decision for the present or future, then that what was said or done in the past. Remember to utilize history as a guidepost, not as a determinative. Let us also remember the following wisdom:
“The farther back you can look,
the farther forward you are likely to see.”
- Winston Churchill
Having said this, I wish to examine the great turning points in American History - The Revolutionary War, The Jacksonian Revolution, The Civil War, The Industrial Revolution, The Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Present. A turning point is one in which society has a political, economic, or social change (and usually all three at once) that changes the character of a nation. These are ours.
The first turning point was, of course, the Revolutionary War. Prior to the troubles that initiated the Revolutionary war, the colonialists were proud to call themselves British citizens. They thought that the Monarchy and the Parliament of Britain where the greatest achievement in human governance. They were proud of the political rights that have been achieved in Britain. They were proud of their liberties and freedoms, and semi-independence from Britain, which they had achieved, mainly from the benign neglect that Britain had practiced. But after the French and Indian wars, Britain took a more active interest in its North American colonies. This active interest, the colonialist believed, was interfering with their liberties and freedoms. Unable to achieve a peaceful resolution to their concerns the colonialist rebelled. And this rebellion was unusual in human history in that the colonialist declare the rebellion and the reasons for in the "The Declaration of Independence". In the preamble, to the Declaration of Independence, they stated not only the moral right of a people to rebel but the human rights of all people within a government. They then listed the abuses of government power that were the reasons for a rebellion of a people against their government. This list of abuses encapsulated those items of which the government of a free people was not allowed to exercise. After the Revolutionary War, they had a minor rebellion against the "Articles of Confederation" that was the basis of the national government, and they established the "Constitution of the United States". This Constitution was established to define how a free people could retain their liberties and freedoms under a government constituted to ensure the human rights, freedoms, and liberties of its citizens. It was a positive Declaration of Independence from government involvement in an individual’s freedoms, done to ensure the human rights, freedoms, and liberties of all Americans. The combination of these two documents forms the basis of the American ideal. An ideal that was not perfectly implemented, but an ideal that was to consistently strive for. And the American nation became one nation under God, indivisible, with freedom and liberty for all.
With the election of Andrew Jackson as the 7th President of the United States in 1829, the background of the Presidents changed. Prior to President Andrew Jackson, our Presidents had been from the wealthy and gentry classes and a member of the Founding Fathers. President Andrew Jackson was the first common born self-made man to assume the Presidency, and he ushered in the era of populist elections for President. This also changed the focus of the Presidents from issues concerning the upper class to issues focused on the common man. Democracy of the common people had come to the office of the President.
The next great turning point in American history was the Civil War. A Civil War that was fought to determine whether the American ideal was for but a few, or but for all. As Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."
But the Civil War did more than just establish that the American ideal was for all, as it had other consequences. The Civil War established that we were a society of all the people. Prior to the Civil War many citizens thought that they were citizens of their State first, and citizens of their Nation second. After the Civil War Americans began to think of themselves as a citizen of the Nation first, and a citizen of a State second.
The Civil War also pitted the commercial interest of the North against the agricultural interests of the South and established the predominance of the commercial interests in our nation.
By the end of the 19th century, America was becoming more industrialized. At the beginning of the 20th century, we had become an industrial nation. And this change had a great impact on America. A large percentage of the population had moved from rural agriculture locations to cities and large towns. Many, if not most people, went from independent income generation to being wage earners dependent on their employers’ fortunes. As a result, Unions grew and became an important factor in the American economy. Living condition changed dramatically as people were crowded together as tenants in housing that they did not own. Family life also changed as extended families living together lessened and the nuclear family became the de facto living arrangement. The physical quality of life improved as a result of labor-saving devices replacing grueling manual labor for many daily activities. As people lived closer together the neighborhood, rather than the village or town, became the social center of people’s lives. Modern communications arose (the phonograph, the motion picture, the radio, national news, and magazines, etc.) which provided a shared social basis for all Americans.
Government and society morphed to adapt to these new environs. New laws and regulation were created, and government activities and services expanded. People wanted and demanded more government to assist them and check the excesses of capitalism. The era of big government had begun.
Prior to the Great Depression American society had made a significant change as previously discussed. We had transformed ourselves from an agrarian society to an industrial society with the resulting shift of population from rural to urban areas. We also changed the income foundation of the family to a wage earner basis. Prior to the Great Depression government had taken a more laissez-faire attitude towards involvement with the individual's freedoms and liberties, as well as in regulating commercial interests, and by today's standards, this involvement was not significant. With the coming of the Great Depression and its economic hardships upon the American people, the government became more activist. Government labor projects and welfare assistance grew to alleviate this economic hardship. This involvement impacted the American people’s freedoms and liberties, our social structure, as well as the economic foundation of the country. There was also a shift in the focus of government from a local-state basis to a federal basis. Whether these impacts were positive or negative is still being debated today, and we are still struggling with the bounds of government involvement in society and the balance of local, state, and federal powers. Many of today's debates on the issues revolve around these bounds and the rights and liberties of an individual regarding versus the rights and liberties of all individuals in our society. What can be said is that the era of big government had been established because of the changes that were a result of the Great Depression.
Prior to World War II, the United States was generally an isolationist nation. We had fought in the Spanish American War and World War I but after the hostilities ceased, we turned inward into our isolation. World War II turned us forever outwards into the international arena. Our military might during World War II, and our economic might after World War II, would not allow us to turn inward into isolation. We became the primary force for democracy and opposition to Communism and support of Human Rights across the world. Most of what we stood for after World War II was for the good of mankind, but some of it was not or so poorly implemented as to cause problems. The high point was the end to Communism, while the low point was the Vietnam War. Throughout this period robust debate was common as policy changes and course corrections were implemented. We had become, and still, are, the major player on the international scene.
The 1950s and 1960s saw a great change in American society – The Civil Rights Movement. For nearly a century after the Civil War American society was highly discriminatory, mostly against Blacks, Asians, Irish, Jews, and people of southern European descent. The aftershocks of World War II were Americans of all stripes fought and died next to each other, raised the awareness that “All men are created equal”. Quietly at first, then with more vocal unrest Americans began to realize that their society was discriminatory and that this discrimination was immoral. People of good will across the United States began to rise-up (and wise-up) to this unjust and immoral discrimination. Many Americans, at first, resisted this change. They began to change their opinions when fully confronted (mostly led by religious leaders) to the immorality of discrimination. Once Americans accepted the discriminatory nature of their society, they did what they have always done – they set about to change America for the better. Civil Rights laws were passed that ended discrimination in government, the workplace, commerce, and other aspects of American life. Today, all thoughtful Americans recognize that discrimination is morally wrong and that all Americans should only be judged by the content of their character and no other factors.
There is actually a fifth turning point in American history, and we are in that turning point right now. It is unlike the previous turning points, in that it is happening very quietly, and passing almost unnoticed by most Americans. As America is transforming itself from the industrial age to the information age this is having a significant impact on American society. In the information age, we are sharing, both voluntarily and involuntarily, personal information about ourselves. This information is being gathered by both governmental and nongovernmental entities and being utilized for purposes that may or may not be for the good of the individual and our freedoms and liberties. How we decide to allow this information to be utilized will have a significant impact on the future of American society. Our freedoms and liberties, and our interactions with the government will significantly change what information about ourselves is to be considered private and protected, or public and freely available to all. We as Americans need to wake up to this turning point and become involved in determining the future course of our society based on this turning point.
United States history was built on an ideal of “We hold these 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”, as well as “Freedom and Liberty for All” that have be enshrined in our Constitution as “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”. We have not always met that ideal, but we strived and continue to strive for that ideal. If we continue to strive for that ideal, and keeping in mind our Human and Constitutional Rights, we can continue to be a beacon of hope and inspiration “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.
I normally recommend shorter books but in the case of United States history, a shorter book often does not do justice to the subject. Therefore, I am recommending longer, but more through, books that provide a comprehensive, dispassionate, but a balanced approach to American history. These books will give you a full appreciation of American history prior to the 20th century. Given that the issues and controversies of 20th century American history are still hotly debated I have not found one book that discuss this period of American history in a dispassionate manner. Therefore, I will leave it up to you, the reader of this article, to discover books of this period of American history.
Finally, a book that encompasses all of American history that is:
“an in-depth portrait of a great people, from their fragile origins through their struggles for independence and nationhood, their heroic efforts and sacrifices to deal with the 'organic sin’ of slavery and the preservation of the Union to its explosive economic growth and emergence as a world power and its sole superpower. Johnson discusses such contemporary topics as the politics of racism, education, Vietnam, the power of the press, political correctness, the growth of litigation, and the rising influence of women. He sees Americans as a problem-solving people and the story of America as "essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, by courage and persistence... Looking back on its past, and forward to its future, the auguries are that it will not disappoint humanity."
It is an unfortunate fact that the intense partisanship of politics has spilled over to the justice system. By this, I mean the indictments and trials of politicians with whom the prosecutor politically differs. There is no doubt that some politicians are corrupt and behave unlawfully. Those politicians who do so should be prosecuted for their possible crimes.
However, due to the multiplicity, complexity, convolutedness, contradictions and often vagueness of laws, rules, and regulations it is possible to prosecute anyone, at any time, for anything that they may do. The higher your socio-economic status and/or your public profile the more likely you are to be involved in more aspects of commerce, and the more likely you may run afoul of these laws, rules, and regulations. This is one of the reasons that we have prosecutorial discretion.
Prosecutorial discretion refers to the fact that under American law, government prosecuting attorneys have very extensive powers. A prosecuting attorney has the power relating to deciding what and who is to be investigated, choosing whether or not to bring criminal charges, deciding the nature of charges, plea bargaining, and sentence recommendation.
Although the prosecutor’s power is very extensive there are policies and procedures to guide the prosecutor for the purposes of assuring equality under the law and that justice prevails. Once an indictment is lodged with the court, or an arrest occurs, a judge may also intervene and provide a check and balance on a prosecutor. In all cases the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty and that their civil liberties are upheld.
Law enforcement is also supposed to keep all investigatory and prosecutorial matters confidential until an indictment or arrest in order to preserve the integrity of the prosecution, as well as preventing possible harm to those persons involved in the investigation. Of course, in higher profile cases this confidentially often does not occur as we also have freedom of the press. But the investigative and prosecutorial team is required to maintain confidentiality. The prosecutorial purpose of an indictment or arrest is to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt so that justice may prevail.
However, in recent decades, we have seen a significant increase in indictments of political figures. There is no doubt that many of these political figures have violated the law (as who hasn’t due to the reasons explained in the 2nd paragraph of this article). But there seems to be many who are found not guilty at the end of their trial. And in many of these cases, we have seen the prosecutor be of one political party while the defendant is of the other political party, which raises suspicions of the political motivations of the prosecutor. These types of indictments often seem to come in an election year again raising suspicions of the political motivations of the prosecutor. Suspicions are not a basis to determine the guilt or innocents of the defendant nor the appropriateness of the indictment or the motivations of the prosecutor. However, there are serious consequences to all if the indictments are politically motivated. Consequences to the defendant and consequences to society.
As to the defendant they often incur serious negative economic consequences. It is very expensive to defend yourself, especially in the face of a prosecutor who often has much more monies to spend on the prosecution. Many defendants end up being impoverished or in debt because of the trial. The other issue is that their life may be ruined, as their political career may be shatter and their reputation in tatters. Even though the justice system requires that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty the court of public opinion has no such requirement. Many people assume that if you are indicted than if you are not guilty you are at least a crooked politician (which could possibly be the truth).
Raymond James "Ray" Donovan is an American businessman and former Secretary of Labor under President Reagan. Mr. Donovan, who was the first sitting Cabinet officer to be indicted, and seven other construction executives were charged with fraud. He and all of the other defendants were acquitted, after which Donovan was famously quoted as asking, "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?
Today, I would not only ask where do I go to get my reputation back but where do I go to get my finances back? A lifetime of savings and providing for your family, as well as your retirement funds, may disappear as a result of the political motivations of a prosecutor. As it is not possible to prove the motivations of the prosecutor there is very little legal recourse for the defendant to recover the monies spent on defending themselves.
This leads to the major societal issue of political prosecutions. What reasonable and intelligent person would enter politics if it could endanger both themselves and their families, on both financial and legal grounds, from a politically motivated prosecutor? Along with what I said in my observation of “Dialog & Debate”, "Attack the Messenger" and "Criticism vs Critique" we are provided disincentives for the best and brightest of society to enter the political arena. We are, therefore, curtailing political office holders to the politically passionate or careerist politicians. Some may enter politics as a sense of duty to serve their country, but I fear that those that do so are becoming less and less.
So, what can be done about this? I am afraid that there is not much legally that can be done. Our prosecutors are effectively shielded from lawsuits, and if you can file a lawsuit it will be expensive to pursue, and in the absence of provable malice of the prosecutor, it is even more difficult to win a lawsuit. The only effective recourse is to elect or appoint prosecutors of the highest moral and ethical character who will put aside politics when utilizing their prosecutorial discretion.
In today’s society, however, we often elect or appoint prosecutors based on their political affiliation and often passionate political affiliation. As there are no legal or political disincentives for political prosecutions I foresee more and more politically motivated prosecutions. I am reminded of the warning of President John Adams at the start of our constitutional republic:
“Because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion … our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We need to bring back more morality and religion, as well as much stronger ethics, into prosecutorial discretion.
Most journalism students today go into journalism to "change the world". However, it is not the job or responsibility of a journalist to change the world. Their job is to uncover the facts, consult with experts to determine the veracity of the facts, then report the facts to the public. If you wish to change the world you should become a politician, or become a commentator, or devote yourself to charitable efforts, or go into the Arts or Sciences, or - God Forbid - start a business that has a positive impact on society.
It is also the job of a journalist to seek out all sides of an issue and report their findings in a dispassionate manner. They need to be careful with their adjectives, modifiers, and qualifiers when reporting the facts that they have uncovered. Reasoned intelligence should be the basis of writing a story, and not just he said, she said, statements. For this reason, I would suggest that all journalism students should take an intensive course in Formal and Informal Logic, Logical Fallacies, and Cognitive Biases. It is amazing how using formal and informal logic and logical fallacies and cognitive biases can lead you to the truth of a matter. It would also be helpful if journalism students had a course in Philosophy, Micro and Macro Economics, Business 101, General Science and Technology, and History (the USA and World). Indeed, I would recommend that journalism students spend their first year of college NOT studying journalism but immerse themselves in these other areas of studies.
Bias in the media exists - but it has always existed and will continue to exist in the future. In America's past, there have been British vs. Colonialist, Constitution vs. Anti-Constitution, Federalism vs. States Rights, Agrarian vs Industrialist, Abolitionist vs. Anti-Abolitionist, North vs. South, Eastern Interests vs. Western Interests, Republican vs. Democrat, Conservatism vs. Liberalism, Pro-War vs. Anti-War, etc., etc. etc. reporting in journalism. You could always find journalism support of one thing, and journalism in support of the opposite thing. Both sides have had an equal opportunity to espouse their views in journalism. This is how it should be for the American people to hear both sides of an issue and make up their minds where they stand on an issue. Journalism of this type also helps with the checks and balances of our political system, as it provides an outlet for all sides to express their views on an issue so that a consensus can be reached. This is one of the major reasons the Founding Fathers made the first amendment the first amendment. It states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
But something began to happen in the late 20th century and continues today. The balance of journalism shifted in that most of the media began to be biased in one direction on many of the issues. There were fewer and fewer media outlets that were reporting the conservative positions, while a majority of media outlets were reporting the liberal positions. The conservative positions began to get less and fewer media representation and less media attention and coverage of their positions. Indeed, the conservative positions began to be covered in a negative light by the biased media. As a result, modern journalism is dying from these biases, and it is being killed by the journalist themselves.
Thus, today you can expect that if you are not in support of the media biased position the media will be hostile to your views and opinions. And what is even worse is that most of the media do not even recognize this bias. They believe that their biased position is so correct and so centrist (see my "Political Spectrum Perspective" observation), that they cannot fathom their own bias. But if you are not in support of the media biased position it has become very easy to recognize this bias. Thus, today, this is what is meant by the term "Media Bias"; the overwhelming support for one side of an issue, and the negative coverage of the opponents of the other side of an issue. The media does this with their adjectives, modifiers, and qualifiers when reporting the conservative position. It is also done by the lesser-reporting, or non-reporting, of the issues that may be harmful to the media bias position, as well as a lack of investigative reporting on those subjects that are damaging to the media bias position. Another method of media bias is reporting the process vs. the substance of a story. The biased media will focus their attention on either the process or the substance based on what is the most favorable to the media biased position, and/or downplay the process or substance if it is unfavorable to the media biased position. Therefore, if the process is favorable to the media biased position they will concentrate on the process and downplay the substance, or if the substance is favorable to the media biased position they will concentrate on the substance and downplay the process. They will also heavily report when both the process and substance if favorable to their media biased position, or barely mention or ignore a story if the process and substance are unfavorable to the media biased position.
Politicians and activist that espouse the media biased position on an issue can expect favorable media coverage, while politicians and activists who espouse the opposite of the media biased position on an issue can expect highly unfavorable media coverage, if not outright derision by the media. Another technique of media bias is the interview of an expert on the media biased position and the reaction of non-experts on the media opposed position. This technique puts the media biased position in a favorable light, while the media opposed position is put in an unfavorable light. The media should be interviewing experts on both sides of the issue so the viewers, listeners or readers can make an intelligent and informed opinion on the issue (this is most readily apparent in the gun control debate).
Another example of media bias is the questions they ask as I have commented upon in my Chirps “Assertions are the Question” and “When is a Question an Assertion?”. These Chirps point out the insidious ways that a question can be formulated in such a manner as to support their biases.
A perfect example of this was in the recent 1st Presidential debate between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. The first question was:
“We're calling this opening segment "Achieving Prosperity." And central to that is jobs. There are two economic realities in America today. There's been a record six straight years of job growth, and new census numbers show incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation. However, income inequality remains significant, and nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.”
While Mr. Holt’s statements were factual, it was also incomplete. While job growth had increased, it had not increased enough to keep pace with the number of Americans entering the job force. Also, while the unemployment rate (number of people unsuccessfully seeking employment) had gone down, the under-employment rate (number of people who had given up seeking employment) had risen, which contributed to the lowering of the unemployment rate. In addition, the income increases are disproportionate depending on your socio-economic factors and inflationary impacts, and the comment “record rate” is debatable, and income inequality is highly debatable. There is also the question of where this growth is occurring, i.e. lower income, middle income, or higher-income jobs. As such his question is highly open to interpretation. In this light, it can be seen Mr. Holt’s question had an inherent media bias (and an example of my observation “Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave”).
A more neutral question that would have been unbiased would be:
“We're calling this opening segment "Achieving Prosperity." And central to that is jobs and the economy. The economic realities in America today are on everybody’s mind. There have been both positive and negative indicators of our current economic state. I would ask each of you what you think about our current economic state, and what you would do to improve the economy for all Americans.”
Another example of this is when President Obama and Mitt Romney debated in 2012. During one of these debates CNN's Candy Crowley overstepped her bounds by playing fact-checker when she interjected to confirm President Obama's claim about the evolution of the administration's talking points about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Many were highly critical of Crowley for her decision to confirm President Obama's claim that he had described the attack in Benghazi as a terrorist attack the day after it occurred. While Obama referred broadly to "acts of terror" during a Rose Garden address, the administration didn't include terrorism in its talking points in the days afterward.
Rather than asking President Obama and Mitt Romney to comment on the events and the Administration's reactions to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, Candy Crowley exhibited partisanship to President Obama rather than being an objective journalist.
These examples are why the Presidential Debate format needs to be reformed as outlined in my observation “Presidential Debates”.
There is also the possibility of a false narrative entering the body politic because of journalistic misreporting. A perfect example of this is the “Hands up don’t shoot” utterance that supposedly occurred before a white police officer shot and killed a black suspect. It was so widely reported that this happened (despite caveats from many journalists) that it has become a false narrative, and a slogan of the Black Lives Matter movement. When it was discovered to be untrue many weeks later journalists reported it as such, but not nearly as widespread and prominent as the original misreporting. Thus, this false narrative is accepted as factual by many Americans and has poisoned the body politic. The result of this misreporting is that race relations in the United States have deteriorated, and the incidents of violence against police officers has dramatically increased. This is not the only example of misreporting that has occurred, and it seems to happen more and more because of the 24-hour news cycle, with reporters and editors attempt to get the story first rather than get the facts correct. Good reporting is not only about getting the story but getting the story correctly. A good reporter and editor will attempt to ascertain the veracity of the story before reporting the story. The veracity of the story seems to be less important than getting the story first in modern journalism. For a civil society to function justly the veracity of the story must be as important as the story itself, and journalists must rededicate themselves to the veracity of the story, as well as getting the story.
With the election of Donald Trump as President, we have seen a new stage of journalistic impropriety - the outright hostility to his administration, and the attempts to mischaracterize too discredit his administration. With the use of criminal leaks within his administration, to selective reporting, to misreporting the facts of his efforts, to overreporting the opposition to his administration, to not challenging statements of President Trump’s opponents, to the extensive utilization of unnamed sources, the press has become the major opposition to President Trump’s administration. I am all for a press that is wary and investigative of an administration, but I would be more supportive of the press if they had shown the same wariness and investigative news during the previous administration.
This can be readily seen by the coverage of President Trump’s first 100 days in office from the following chart. While President Trump has stirred controversy from his tweets, statements, and some of his actions, the intense negativity of the media is out of proportion to the reality of the situation. A major new study out of Harvard University has revealed the true extent of the mainstream media’s bias against Donald Trump. Academics at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzed coverage from Trump’s first 100 days in office across 10 major TV and print outlets (and it did not include other media outlets such as ABC, MSNBC, CNBC, other major newspaper and national magazines, as well as the nightly talk shows and comedy shows). They found that the tone of some outlets was negative in as many as 98% of reports, significantly more hostile than the first 100 days of the three previous administrations as follows:
This situation has only gotten worse as the administration of President Trump has proceeded. The Russian Election Collusion allegations and Muller investigation, and the Ukrainian President telephone call followed by the Impeachment of President Trump are all perfect examples of the death of journalism. The use of unattributed sources, innuendo and sometimes slander, almost exclusively anti-President Trump sources and interviews, and over the top negative depiction of President Trump and his administration and supporters by journalistic reporters and commentators has become destructive to the proper functioning of government and civil society. Indeed, it has bordered, if not passed, into sedition and subversion.
A brief definition of sedition and subversion is in order:
While the press is not organized in its opposition, it has exhibited a herd mentality to its opposition to President Trump. And a stampeding herd can be even more destructive than an organized herd. And by the very misuse of the press freedoms, we see the attempt to undermine the government and authority of President Trump.
This Media Bias has been a detriment to the body politic. The opponents to the media biased position no longer think that they can get a fair hearing of their position to a clear majority of Americans, and especially to voting Americans. Without this fair hearing, it has become much more difficult to run and win an election if you do not support the Media biased position, which unfairly tilts the balance of power in America, and leads to feelings of disenfranchisement by those opposed to the media biased position. It is also why many Americans are turning to alternative news sources such as Fox News, The Washington Times and the few remaining conservative newspapers, as well as conservative talk radio and conservative Internet websites. This also explains why the readership, listeners, and viewers of the Media Bias outlets has been in a steady decline for many years, while the alternative news sources readers, listeners, and viewers have increased. All journalist should remember that:
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”
Thus, all journalists should be very mindful of their responsibility to gather all the facts, check the veracity of the facts, and present all sides of a story objectively. As this has not been the case with modern journalism the 4th Estate has become the 5th Column for liberal-progressive ideology and policy, and the Democrat candidates who espouse these views. For more on this impact of media bias check out my observation "I'm As Mad As Hell, And I'm Not Going To Take This Anymore!" that follows as one of the consequences of Media Bias.
Therefore, Media Bias is so widespread today that it is widely recognized by the general public, and even journalists comment upon their lack of support by the general public. This is supported by all public polling, and even though I am not a believer in public polling, I can see this in how the public does not respond to journalism reporting. The media needs to reform itself to return to more objective reporting or it will indeed die. But I am not hopeful that this will occur and perhaps the media should die. If modern journalism does die, then perhaps it may be reborn from its ashes as in The Firebird of Slavic folklore.
So said Howard Beale in the movie “Network”. And there is a lot of “madness” in today’s body politic. In my opinion, there are two types of madness being exhibited in the body politic; Madness on the Left, and Madness on the Right.
Madness on the Left:
Whenever an issue or hot topic flares up into public view you often see “spontaneous” demonstrations that are in support of the lefts’ position. The aggrieved start marching in the street and shouting their grievances, and demanding that their policy position is implemented. They often want a rush to judgment that supports their position, and silence and acquiescence of those who oppose their position. And they want it done immediately. Reasoned discussion and intelligent review of their proposed solution are not in order, and they just want their solution implemented without questioning. They want to ignore the contravening facts, the unintended social consequences, and the economic impacts of their solution, it just needs to be done – now – in their opinion. This has led to incivility in their words and deeds and is, therefore, damaging to civil society.
I liken this reaction to that of a small child in a store that is attracted to some item. They often grab it, demand that they can keep it, and start crying or shouting when the adult tries to take it away from them. They are attempting to bully the adult into giving into them. And so too are those in the madness on the left trying to bully Americans into implementing their positions.
Madness on the Right:
Whenever a group of people believes that they are being intimidated into silence or bullied into acquiescence, or their positions are being Demonized, Denigrated, or Disparaged, or they are being disenfranchised, they become angry.
And this is what is happening to the proponents of conservative policy positions. Nobody likes to be called a Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Racist, or Bigoted person, especially when they know that this is not true. But this is often the case when a liberal argues with a conservative (see my “Both Sides Do It” discussion on my “Phrases” observation).
But conservatives do not engage in “spontaneous” demonstrations that are in support of their positions. They are often too busy in their occupations, families, churches or synagogues’, or communities, to take time out to engage in a demonstration. They may occasionally have a large march or rally to express their opinions, but these marches and rallies are generally peaceful, orderly, and low key; that is until recently. The right has started to become more like the left in their approach to demonstrations. This is because the conservative has advanced into the third stage of anger.
When a person becomes angry they often go through four stages:
Each stage invokes a different response. When you are annoyed you often simply mutter your annoyance to yourself. When you are frustrated you start expressing your frustration to others. When you become infuriated you start attending meetings, rallies, and demonstrations and vent your infuriation. When you become hostile you start attacking others positions and motivations and seek to Demonize, Denigrate, Disparage the opposition.
Many on the right are now in the third stage, “Infuriated”, and moving into the fourth stage of “Hostile”. And they are not only being infuriated and hostile to the left but are being infuriated and hostile to the leadership of the right, who they believe are not doing enough to counter the left.
Incivility is often the symptom of this infuriation and hostility. And we have seen more and more incivility in the last few years in American society, on both the left and the right. The name calling, the misleading or untruthful statements about another, the rude gestures, the shouting, the intolerance of other opinions, the intimidation and threats, the attempts to silence opposition or the acquiescence of the opposition, are all symptoms of this incivility.
I am reminded of the end of the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai’ when the camp doctor is observing the Japanese, British, and the American dead, and the destruction of the bridge and train, he started crying out “Madness, Madness, Madness” to describe the scene. If we don’t stop the madness on the left, and the right, I am afraid that we will be viewing the death and destruction of American civil society.
Both left and right should be ashamed of their madness, and both sides should stop the madness forthwith.
The following phrases are ones that when I hear them uttered tend to drive me crazy. This is mostly because they are utilized improperly, or utilize to cut off debate. I would, therefore, take to task, and asked the person uttering the phrase, to prove their assertion. The person asserting something has the responsibility of proving the assertion. The person disputing the assertion has no responsibility to prove the other person’s assertion incorrect. In science, law, philosophy, and theology, and many other areas of human interactions, it is the responsibility of the person making the assertion to prove that their assertion is correct. Otherwise, we could end up with the following absurd situation:
Someone could assert that Martians eat garbage and piss gasoline. If they did not have to prove their assertion, but someone had to disprove their assertion. The person disproving this assertion would have to prove there is no such thing as Martians, or if there were Martians they eat did not eat garbage, and if there were Martians that ate garbage that they did not urinate gasoline. Obviously, it is not possible to prove or disprove these things.
As Christopher Hitchens once said, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
You must always challenge a person who asserts something to prove their assertion correct. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of if you can't show their assertion is wrong then their assertion must be right, which is obviously an untrue statement.
This is one of the most misused phrases in the English language. This is because people use the first part of the phrase but had no idea about the other parts of the phrase. The entire phrase (in modern English language) is as follows:
A little learning is a dangerous
drink deep, or taste not the well of knowledge:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
As can be seen, the phrase has an entirely different meaning when it is quoted in its entirety. It is a warning that if you're going to become knowledgeable about something you should become as knowledgeable as possible. Otherwise, a little knowledge shall lead you astray.
Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is often a wise thing to do. However, when a politician or official has a long string of misrepresentations or deeds that demonstrate their true intentions you should stop giving them the benefit of the doubt, and judge them based on their previous words or deeds. To not do so is foolish and allows the politician or official to continue their misrepresentations or deeds. Politician or officials should be held to a higher standard as their words or deeds impact society. You should judge them on their words and deeds alone, and not what you believe are their thoughts, as you can never know what people are actually thinking (and you will often be wrong on what you think they are thinking).
Both Sides Do It (from my Observation on “Phrases”). Of course, both sides do it, in the human experience both sides do everything. That is the nature of humankind. Whenever there is an issue confronting our society the extremes of both sides of the issue will often use the same methodologies and techniques to attack the other side. So, therefore, the statement that both sides do it is irrelevant. The question is whether the mainstream and/or leadership of each side of the issue both do it and how much attention is paid to the extremes. In my experience, this is most obvious when dealing with Conservatism versus Progressivism or Leftism, Republican versus Democrat, left versus right, etc. What we should be asking is “are the mainstream and/or the leadership of each side are doing it?”. When you see one side or the other paying more heed, or engaging in extreme deeds or words, you need to weigh the balance. In weighing this balance, you need to not only make a determination of the number of words and misdeeds incidents, but also the tone of the deeds or words. If the balance is heavily tilted to one side than the phrase “Both Sides Do It” is not an equalizer, but an excuse to continue the extreme deeds or words by the one side engaged in these words or deeds.
When a Conservative argues a policy position a Liberal-Progressive will often raise an objection based on an unusual case. This is to say that if the policy position of a Conservatives cannot fit all cases the policy must be rejected as incomplete or wrong. It is never pointed out that a Liberal-Progressive policy position often does not cover all cases as well. That is because no policy position can cover all cases. In human endeavors or actions, it is not possible for a law or policy to cover all things a person might do (remember my locution: Perfection is reserved for God, humans should strive to do their best). All policy positions (both Conservative and Liberal-Progressive) are inherently imperfect or incomplete, but that is an insufficient reason for rejecting them. You must weigh the pros and cons, and the deficiencies and the benefits of a policy position to determine if the policy is good or bad. Do not let the perfect interfere with the implementation of a good policy position that is arrived with intelligence, experience, knowledge, and reasoning.
The call of changed rings throughout the land. New ideas, new laws, new regulations to solve the issues confronting us. However, you must remember that change and new are not synonymous with good.
The French Revolution brought about major change as well as the Reign of Terror. Likewise, the Russian Revolution brought major change as well as human rights violations, and suffering and death to millions for many decades. Likewise, the Chinese Cultural Revolution brought about the same results as the Russian Revolution. South American in the 20th century is a good example of change having little or no impact. Despite all the changes of governments in South America in the last hundred years the plight of its peoples remains.
Change in the United States has had good, bad, and indifferent impacts. The Civil War and the Civil Rights movement are examples of good change. Arguably, the Great Society has had many bad impacts on American society, while the New Deal has had good, bad, and indifferent changes to American Society.
Much of this call for change is based on the good intentions of the people calling for change. However, you should always remember that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. It is much better to have good results rather than good intentions. Good intentions often lead to bad results when you do not carefully and fully examine the means and the methods to achieve the results intended. To do so otherwise is to court disaster.
The lessons of history are that change can be good, bad, or indifferent. New governments, new ideas, new laws, and new regulations may help, but they may make things worse, and they most often make life more difficult for those that are directly affected (both citizen and bureaucrat) by the new, as well as they're often having a negative economic impact on society as a whole. Whenever you are dealing with change and/or new proclamations you should always remember my observation "The Law of Unintended Consequences". Carefully review the change and/or new to determine what impact it has, listen to the opinions of knowledgeable and experienced people as to what the intended consequences are, and what they believe the unintended consequences will be. But always remember that there are things that we know that we know, there are things that we know we don't know, and there are things that we don't know that we don't know. It is the things that we don't know that we don't know that often is the killer when a change or new becomes involved. You should also keep in mind that "the devil is in the details". Do not be misled by misnomers or generalizations about a policy, law, or regulation. You must carefully evaluate the details of what is being proposed, to determine the full impact of what is being proposed.
A Liberal-Progressive or Conservative often claim that the other is using a code word or phrase. Usually, the code word or phrase is the most negative connotation of the word or phrase possible. The Liberal-Progressive or Conservative then proceeds to Demonize, Denigrate, and Disparage (refer to my “Dialog & Debate” observation) the other based on this negative connotation. This is done to attempt to intimidate into silence, or put on the defensive, the opposition. It is also done to intimidate a listener through guilt into not paying attention to the opposition. They are attempting to win their argument, not through reason or intellect, and indeed, they do not answer the opposition argument, but they only rail against the code word or phrase. Code words or phrases are an important means of communicating complex ideas in shorthand. They should be utilized in a neutral context, and not in a positive or negative context, as a means of communication to facilitate the discussion. To do otherwise is to turn a discussion into an argument, and do not illuminate the issue, but to heat up the issue.
Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. But there is no such thing as crony capitalism, there are only crony politicians. Without crony politicians, there would be no favoritism to businesses. So, the real problem is not crony capitalists, but crony politicians. So, whenever anyone mentions crony capitalism remember that it is crony politicians that allow this to happen.
Anyone who says "economists agree" has no idea of what they are talking about when it comes to economics. This is because economics is at this point a "soft science". If you had read my observation of "On The Nature Of Scientific Inquiry" you know that every theory has built into it predictability and falsifiability. The predictability and falsifiability of economic theory are rather low. One of the main reasons for this is that economics has an immense number of variables, constants, and interactions between the constants and variables that make it very difficult to get it right. Also, the science of economics is rather new having first been started, in a scientifically rigorous manner, in the early 20th century. Economists agree, and economists disagree, about everything. For every economic theory, there is an opposing theory. When two theories on the same scientific phenomena disagree with each other you don't have a theory, you have a hypothesis. And further research based on experimentation and observation is necessary to determine which hypothesis is correct. Therefore, the phrase "economist agrees" is simply not true.
When discussing the importance of a crime you should be utilizing the term felony, misdemeanor or infraction to differentiate the severity of the crime. An excellent discussion of the difference between this definition is from Paul Bergman, UCLA Law School Professor:
In every state, crimes are put into distinct categories. The categories are usually "felony," "misdemeanor," and "infraction." Decisions on crime classification are made by state legislators; the determination focuses on the seriousness of the crime. This article looks at the differences among these crime classifications, moving from least serious (infractions) to most (felonies). To learn more about how specific crimes are defined, check out Nolo's Crimes In-Depth section.
Infractions (sometimes called violations) are petty offenses that are typically punishable by fines, but not jail time. Because infractions cannot result in a jail sentence or even probation, defendants charged with infractions do not have a right to a jury trial. A defendant who has been charged with an infraction can hire an attorney, but the government doesn't have a constitutional duty to appoint one. Often, prosecutors don't appear on behalf of the government in cases involving infractions. Traffic offenses are the most common form of infraction. (Note that some states consider certain kinds of infractions like traffic tickets to be civil, rather than criminal, offenses.)
Infraction Example. Ginger receives a speeding ticket. After Ginger and the officer who issued the ticket testify, the judge concludes that Ginger was speeding. Ginger's punishment is limited to a fine and the addition of a point to her driving record. (Learn more in How do points against my license affect me?)
Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that carry up to a year in jail in most states. Punishment for misdemeanors can also include payment of a fine, probation, community service, and restitution. (For more on the potential punishment, see Sentencing.) Defendants charged with misdemeanors are often entitled to a jury trial. Indigent defendants charged with misdemeanors are usually entitled to legal representation at government expense. Some states subdivide misdemeanors by class or degree or define more serious misdemeanor offenses as "gross misdemeanors." These classifications determine the severity of punishment.
Misdemeanor Example. Dave is convicted of simple assault. The offense carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and maximum jail time of six months. It's a misdemeanor. (For example, see Cal. Penal Code 241.)
Felonies are the most serious type of criminal offense. Felonies often involve serious physical harm (or threat of harm) to victims, but they also include offenses like white collar crimes and fraud schemes. Offenses that otherwise are misdemeanors can be elevated to felonies for second-time offenders. A felony conviction, like a misdemeanor conviction, may not result in time behind bars. But felonies carry potential imprisonment that ranges from time in prison (a year is often the low end) to life in prison without parole or even death. As with misdemeanors, states may also subdivide felonies by class or degree.
Felony Example 1. Randy is convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon even though the bottle that he threw at another patron in a tavern missed its intended target. Even though he failed to injure the intended victim, his behavior was intended to (and did) create a risk of serious physical injury.
Felony Example 2. Leora had two prior shoplifting convictions before being arrested for yet another shoplifting offense. State law allows prosecutors to charge shoplifting as a felony if the merchandise was worth a certain amount and the defendant has two or more prior shoplifting convictions. The prosecutor charges Leora with felony shoplifting. (See Miss. Code. Ann. 97-23-93.)
To get more information on felonies and misdemeanors, including state-specific laws, see Classification of Crimes: Felonies & Misdemeanors.
"Wobblers": Felony or Misdemeanor
A "wobbler" is an offense that may be prosecuted as a felony or as a misdemeanor. An offense that was prosecuted as a felony may also be downgraded to a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing. This occurs when statutes authorize judges to punish offenders as either misdemeanants or felony offenders.
"Wobbler" Example. Randy is convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. State law provides that the offense is punishable by up to one year in jail or up to five years in prison. The judge sentences Randy to four months in jail, three years of probation, and 200 hours of community service. The sentence makes the conviction a misdemeanor.
As Ben Franklin once said during the debate at the Constitutional Convention:
"I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise."
It is not hypocrisy if you change your mind based on better information or fuller consideration on an issue. It is hypocrisy when you change your mind based on trying to attain an advantage or political goal. Hypocrisy is a charge that should only be utilized by someone when they are flip-flopping their position to gain an advantage, rather than changing their position based on better information or fuller consideration. It is incumbent upon the politician who changes their position to explain the better information or fuller consideration on an issue that has led them to a change in their position, to assure that it is a true change and not hypocrisy.
How often have we heard, during a political or social discussion, that a person is innocent until proven guilty? Of course, in a legal sense, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and this is a very important legal doctrine for justice to prevail. Once a person enters the judicial environment all persons must assume that the person is innocent until proven guilty, and behave accordingly. But in a political or social discussion, this doctrine could lead to undesirable consequences. We would never be able to make a judgment on a person’s words or deeds that could guide us to the truth of the matter. It is perfectly acceptable, in a political or social sense, to believe that a person is guilty (and not necessarily of a crime) to make a judgment of that persons moral or ethical character. You should always, however, be cognizant that you may not have all the facts, or that you could be wrong in your judgment. You should also be willing to give the person the benefit of a reasonable doubt and not rush to a conclusion. You should also be willing to change your mind based on new information or a fuller consideration of the facts.
“It is what it is” is often used as an excuse not to do anything. To use this phrase in this manner is to say, “oh well, I guess there's nothing that I can do about it". This phrase should be used to describe the nature of reality, not your interactions with reality. Therefore, "it is what it is" should be utilized to describe the facts of the world, and not how you interact with these facts. For instance, to say that the earth is a planet that revolves around the sun is to say it is what it is. How you deal with this fact, such as the changing of the seasons, is not what it is but how you adjust your behavior and actions to deal with the changing of the seasons. In using this phrase to describe human interactions these human interactions vary, can and do change, and can be altered, all to the free will that we possess. In the field of human relationships, it is not what it is, it is what you allow it to be, or what you make it too be.
Anyone who utters this phrase is either ignorant of the meeting of high crimes or attempting to obfuscate what is occurring. The definition of a high crime and misdemeanors is as follows:
The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct peculiar to officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, and refusal to obey a lawful order. Offenses by officials also include ordinary crimes, but perhaps with different standards of proof and punishment than for non-officials, on the grounds that more is expected of officials by their oaths of office.
As can be seen from this definition a high crime and misdemeanor has nothing to do with the crime, but everything to do with the individual who committed the crime. Therefore, any high official who commits any crime is potentially committing a high crime, as there is no such thing as a low crime for high officials.
When discussing the importance of a crime you should be utilizing the term felony, misdemeanor or infraction as in my observation on this topic.
When I was growing up liberals proudly call themselves liberal. They were liberal on social policy, economic policy, and governmental policy. Sometime in the 1990's liberals stop proclaiming themselves Liberal and started proclaiming themselves Progressive. I suspect this was because liberalism had come into some disrepute because of the negative impacts of their social, economic, and government objectives were called into question. However, I had never heard a good explanation of what the differences in social, economic or governmental policies were between a Liberal or a Progressive. It seemed they were just renaming themselves to avoid the negative impacts of their social, economic, and government objectives. In doing so they are trying to obfuscate themselves so that the American people are not quite sure what they stand for. You should be very wary of anybody who tries to obfuscate, as they generally are trying to cover up their real intentions. Until I hear a good explanation of the differences between a Liberal and Progressive I will continue to refer to them as Liberal-Progressives.
To Know - To be cognizant or aware of a fact or a specific piece of information; possess knowledge or information about.
To Believe - To accept as true; take to be true
In today's political discourse many people say they "know" something when in actuality they "believe" something. To know something is to have empirical evidence (usually based on observations or scholarly studies) that can be reviewed by all to reach an intellectual reasoned conclusion. To believe something is to accept conclusions based upon in your opinion of what you "know".
For instance, it is impossible to know that God exists, but very possible to believe that God exists. However, just because you "believe" something to be true does not mean that you "know" something is true. An example of this is that for many centuries’ people "knew" the world was flat, and if you sailed too far to the west you would fall off the Earth. We now "know" the earth is a sphere and you cannot fall off it. The correct utilization of knowing versus believing in the previous example is for many centuries people "believed" the world was flat, but now we "know" the world is a sphere.
It is important when discussing issues and policies that you carefully separate out what you "know" versus what you "believe". Otherwise, you are not having an intellectual discourse, but are generally having an argument, in which both sides are talking past each other. Many people mistake a conclusion on what they "know" or "believe" without discussing the reasoning which led to the conclusion. It is impossible to have an intellectual discourse about a conclusion without discussing the intellectual reasons for the conclusion. Therefore, when having an intellectual discussion, you must insist on discussing the facts and reasoning, as well as the conclusions, in order to have a sensible discussion.
It should also be noted that it is impossible to "know" what is in the hearts and minds of individuals or groups of individuals. You may "believe" what is in the hearts and minds of these individuals or groups based on what they say or do, but you cannot "know" what their true thoughts and feelings are. In this case, you are interpreting their words and deeds to reach a conclusion as to their thoughts and feelings. But there are usually many ways of interpreting someone's thoughts and feelings, and you will be more often incorrect then correct in your interpretation. As the Shadow has stated, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" You can also say, “Who knows what good or evil lurks in the hearts of people?".
Originally, this term was used to describe boorish men who felt the need to "correct" what a woman said, even on topics that the man didn't know anything about. However, the term quickly degenerated into a get-out-of-jail-free card used by angry women when a man dares to point out even the most blatant error. It has also degenerated into non-male – female issues and is now most often used as a dismissive, where one person attempts to silence the argument of another person without a discussion of the merits of one person’s reasoning. For this reason, you should be very wary of anyone proclaiming that someone is "splaining".
This phrase drives me bananas. If diversity was the basis of strength then we would probably all be living under the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire had the most diverse citizens of any empire in the world. It, however, collapsed. In the 20th century, the most diverse nation was the USSR. And it to collapsed. Therefore, diversity does not equate to the strength of a society. The strongest societies in history where the ones that encouraged the most freedom and liberty of its citizens. As such the United States is the strongest country in the world because it encourages freedom and liberty amongst its citizens. Our strength is in our Liberties and Freedoms, and to pursue happiness, regardless of gender, race, national origin, religion, age, marital status, or disability. Our diversity encourages us to examine our society in different lights, and this may assist us in enhancing our freedoms and liberties, and that strengthens us. However, promoting freedom and liberty promotes strength. Therefore,
Our Liberties and Freedoms Is Our Strength.
It is often been said that a political gaffe is when a politician says something they mean rather than saying what is politically acceptable. The politician who has committed a political gaffe often claims that they have been quoted out of context. It is rare that they have been quoted out of context, but rather has been caught telling the truth of what they believe. If you listen to the entire statement, in context, you will often discover that it was not out of context, but rather they have said exactly what they meant. You should, therefore, review the entire context and take it for its face value, and make your judgment on what they have said accordingly.
What is a reasonable doubt? Everybody reasons differently, based on their knowledge, abilities, and life experiences. So how can we determine reasonable doubt? Reasonable doubt can be achieved if you gather as much knowledge as possible, apply formal and informal logic to the facts, and utilize your life experiences to fill in the gaps as to what you expect a rational person to do under the circumstances. You must also when in the case of multiple possibilities, give the person or persons the most benign interpretation of their words or deeds until proven otherwise. Only then may you determine reasonable doubt (but you could be wrong!).
What does the rule of law mean? How is it implemented in our Constitutional government? How does it work? All of these are important questions that determine our freedoms and liberties.
Article I of the US Constitution define the rules of the Legislative branch, Article II of the US Constitution define the rules of the Executive branch, and Article III of the US Constitution defines the rules of the Judicial branch. Each branch must conduct their business within the rules specified in these Articles. And no branch is permitted to violate these rules or encroach upon the other branches prerogatives. To do so is to violate the Rule of Law.
The rule of law also means that we are a nation of rules and not rulers. Everybody must play by the same rules (and laws) or nobodies freedoms or liberties is safe. To not abide by the Rule of Law is an assault on our constitution and our freedoms and liberties.
And we should all want the Rule of Law as we want the Rule of Games that we play. Whether it is chess, checkers, poker, bridge, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, etc., we need rules to properly play the game and give all a fair chance to compete and win or lose. And the rules cannot be arbitrarily changed during the course of the game but must be established before the game is started. When the rules need to be changed they are done so before the game starts and/or during the course of the game with the consent of the majority (but not always unanimous) of those playing the game. So it should be with the Rule of Law. To not do so leads to chaos within our society.
Anybody who is familiar with science knows that science never proves anything. It asserts that based on all the available observations and evidence that it believes something is true. However, if additional observations and evidence refute what has previously been believed to be correct then you must modify or replace what you believe is true. Even if most scientists believe something is true, they are often mistaken. The history of science shows that in many, if not most cases, that what scientists thought to be true, turns out not to be true. This is often called the advancement of science. A good scientist is often continually trying to prove or disprove what they believe to be true because they know this is good for science. Even when a majority of scientists believe something is true, there is often an active minority that believes it to be untrue. This minority is very important to science and the advancement of science, as it helps clarify the subject and leads to the advancement of science. And this minority opinion can lead to a change in the majority opinion when additional observations and experiments show the majority opinion is incorrect. For a more fuller explanation of science please refer to my observant “On The Nature Of Scientific Inquiry”.
Everything that I said in "studies shows" (below) also apply in statistics show. However, statistic show requires more elaboration, as it deals with the rigorous mathematical science of statistics. Statistics is a science that requires very rigorous education and experience to get it right. The methodology of gathering data, processing the data, and analyzing the data is very intricate. Interpreting the results of the data accurately requires that you understand this methodology, and how it was applied to the statistics being interpreted. If you are not familiar with the science of statistics, and you did not carefully examine the statistics and how they were developed, you can often be led astray. Also, many statistics are published with a policy goal in mind, and therefore should be suspect. As a famous wag once said, "figures can lie, and liars can figure". So be careful when someone presents you with statistics. Be wary of both the statistics and the presenter. For a more fuller explanation of statistics please refer to my observation “Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave”.
Studies can show anything. For every study that shows something, there is another's study that shows the opposite. This is because every study has an inherent bias of the person or persons conducting the study, or the person organization that commissioned the study. A very good person conducting the study recognizes their biases and compensates for them, to ensure that the study is as accurate as possible. Having been the recipient of many studies (and the author of a few white papers) I can attest to this fact. Therefore, you should be very wary when a person says "studies show". You should always look into a study to determine who the authors are, who commissioned the study and to examine the study for any inherent biases. For a more fuller explanation of statistics please refer to my observation “Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave”.
When two or more people are discussing an issue the question is often raised "So what is your solution?" Not everybody is knowledgeable nor experienced enough in order to provide a cognizant solution. This, however, does not mean they have insufficient knowledge or experience to critique the issue. Critiquing an issue is important to determine the scope of an issue. Once you have determined the scope of the issue then it is incumbent upon you to find a person or persons who are knowledgeable and experienced enough to provide a solution. Someone who's critiquing an issue should not be dismissed because they cannot provide a solution to the issue. Hopefully, the critic will be wise enough to admit they don't have a solution. A critic who is willing to admit that they don't have a solution is probably a wise person who should be paid attention to. A critic who is unwilling to admit they don't have a solution or provides an inadequate solution, is probably not a wise person and you should be very careful paying attention to them.
Social Justice as a public policy may be acceptable - as long as it can be non-discriminatory. The question for legislators is how this can be achieved within the constraints of the Constitution. But Social Justice or any other adjective put before the word “Justice” within the Judicial system is a perversion of justice. Within the Judicial system, there must be “Equal Justice for All” or there can be no justice, and Justice must always be blind to all but the merits of the case and the application of the law. Treating people or persons unequally within the Judicial system means favoritism or un-favoritism for some, not based on the merits of their case or the law. Unequal treatment within the Judicial system was one of the major reasons that the Colonist declared independence from Britain and we became the United States. I fear that if we start seeing Social Justice within the Judicial system we are sowing the seeds of a future revolution. We must assure “Equal Justice for All” and a that “Justice is Blind” to maintain the integrity of our Judicial system.
This phrase is often used by liberal progressives to describe a law, policy, or regulation that has been implemented that they are in agreement with. They use this phrase to attempt to cut off all debate as if the law, policy or regulation is now set in stone. It should be remembered that when a ship has sailed it does not always reach its desired port. Sometimes it has to return to port, sometimes it has to divert to another port, sometimes there is a navigation error and it ends up in the wrong port, and other times it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. All laws, policies, and regulations are not set in stone but are subject to review by the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the United States government. All laws, policies, and regulations should always be under review to assure they are meeting their goals in a timely and efficient manner. They also said be subject to review as to the wisdom of the law, policy or regulations. If they are found wanting in any of these areas they should be subject to changes or elimination of the laws, policies or regulations (some ships should be scrapped, and some ships should be repaired). The only thing set in stone is the United States Constitution and its Amendments.
History is about what has occurred, current events are about what is occurring, and the future is mostly unpredictable. Imagine if Karl Marx had never been born. Communism may never have been invented, although various other forms of socialism would probably have arisen, and the history of the 20th century may have been quite different. Also, imagine that Adolf Hitler had died in the trenches of World War I. Extreme nationalism may have arisen in Germany but Nazism may not have taken hold in Germany. Again, the history of the 20th century may have been quite different. Those that say the wrong side of history is not accounting for free will. People can and do make a difference, the decisions of individuals can and do make a difference on what can happen. A people or society can and do make deliberate decisions on what course they wish to take. These deliberate decisions will change the course of history. If we had not invaded Iraq and disposed of Saddam Hussein things would have been very different in the Middle East than they are now. Again, imagine if the recent Supreme Court's decision on homosexual marriage had been different. The future course of our society would have been different from the present course. Therefore, it is not possible to say that something is on the wrong side of history, as the future course of society can be altered by the decisions of the people and the government. Those who say you are on the wrong side of history are attempting to stifle debate on an issue so that they can mold what is going to happen. This is often used as a tactic to silence the opponents of their policy. In a civil discourse it is not acceptable to try to silence your opponents, but rather you should reason with your opponents based upon an intellectual critique of their policy positions.
Who isn’t in favor of transparency. If you cannot stand the exposure of what you are doing then perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it. Most people would claim that this is just common sense. But transparency can be a double-edged sword. There are two different types of transparency; governmental transparency and personal transparency. Overall, governmental transparency is a good thing, while personal transparency can be either a good or bad thing.
Governmental transparency helps the people understand why, what and how the government is doing and helps ferret out waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption. But not all governmental activities can be transparent. Those that cannot be transparent are Intelligence activities, many State and Defense Department activities, and other issues of National Security, as well as the personal tax returns filed with the IRS. For those sensitive governmental activities that cannot be transparent, we need to depend on the oversight committees with Congress to assure the proper and legal operations of the non- transparent government activities.
Personal transparency is a Constitutional right to privacy and freedom of association. It is for you to decide how transparent you wish to be in your private, social, professional, and political activities. It is no business of the government what you do personally if you are not violating Human Rights or committing criminal activities. To insist otherwise invites intimidation and/or suppression of these legal activities. A perfect example from U.S. history is when the Civil Rights movement was crusading for equal rights in the southern states. The State of Alabama tried to force the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NCAAP) to disclose its membership list. This was done with the intent of those opposing equal rights to physically intimidate those crusading for equal rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this forced disclosure was a violation of Constitutional Rights, and the membership list was never disclosed. At the beginning of the American Revolution, many of our Founding Fathers and their supporters needed anonymity from British authorities and their supporters to espouse their opinion and gain support for their revolutionary aims. Today, if you espouse or support a policy position the left disagrees with you could find yourself out of employment, your reputation smeared, you and your family personally harassed at your personal residence or in public places, or suffer a boycott of your business or services. This is bullying for the express purpose of silencing your free speech rights, and it should never be tolerated. You have the right to anonymity when conducting legal activities, and no person, group, or government entity can force you to give up this right.
Therefore, I am in full support of Governmental Transparency, but I am totally opposed to Personal Transparency unless the individual wishes transparency.
How often have you heard the phrase "well what I wouldn't do" after someone asks somebody for their thoughts on "what they would do". Responding to a positive (what they would do) with a negative (what they wouldn't do) is not a good response. It is often utilized as a way to avoid stating what their position is and deflecting attention from their position. Telling someone what you wouldn't do is like proclaiming motherhood, apple pie, and the flag. Everyone is for it, and no one can determine exactly what it means. You should be cautious of anybody who utilizes this technique, as they are often trying to not be honest with you. If you can determine what they would do it is also important to determine the details of how they would implement it. Remember, generalities are a good way to get the big picture, but the devil is in the details. Beware of the devil!
The following are my pet peeves about current American society. They differ from phrases as they are an attitude that many Americans demonstrate.
One of the methods that a liberal-progressive utilizes in debating an opponent is in assuming the worst connotation of what their opponent has said (usually using torturous logic to justify the connotation). This is done to denigrate and disparage the opponent in order to restrict or silence their free speech rights. This often puts words into their opponents’ mouth that were never intended, in order to demonize them. They then often criticize the person based on the words that they put into their mouth, not the words that were actually spoken. You may have noticed that this technique utilizes the Three D's to achieve its goals. For civil discourse, it is always better to assume the best connotation until shown to be the worst connotation of the additional words or actions by the speaker in question.
As I mention in my observation on “Journalism” the Black Lives Matter movement was based on the false narrative of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”. It is generally true that anything that results from misbegotten means usually ends up badly (The Fruits of the Poisonous Vine). And so, this is true for the Black Lives Matter movement. The goal of assuring proper police conduct is a laudable one and should be supported by all Americans. The means that the Black Live Matter movement attempts to achieve this goal are not, however, the proper means.
Violent and destructive protests, physical confrontations with police, agitating others to ignore, fight or flight during police actions, and intimidation of police to inaction are not acceptable and are destructive to the body politic. Changing police conduct is better done through legislation, lawsuits, through oversight by appropriate government agencies, and better education of police as to their proper role, responsibility, and conduct during their official duties. It is also necessary to apply proper disciplinary measures (up to and including dismissal and criminal prosecutions) for flagrant police misconduct. We also need to ensure transparency so that there is no coverup of police misconduct, and to assure that justice is prevailing.
There should also be no rushing to judgment as to alleged police misconduct. Rushing to judgment almost always leads to the incorrect conclusions and improper responses. Remember that lynch mobs rush to judgment, while juries dispense justice. And always remember that in American society:
“All Lives Matter”
Equal pay for equal work is a noble ideal, but as always, the devil is in the details. In this case, the devil is what constitutes equal work. For instance, take the following example of the details.
Let’s say you have a bricklaying small business with two bricklayer employees. One of them lays 1000 bricks a day while the other lays 800 bricks a day. Should they both be paid the same? (Quantity)
Again, you have two bricklayers both of which lay 1000 bricks a day. But one of the bricklayers does a better job than the other bricklayer. Should they both be paid the same? (Quality)
Again, both bricklayers are equal in all respects, but one of them can be a stone mason if the need should arise. Should they both be paid the same? (Versatility)
Again, both bricklayers are equal in all respects, but one of them is ambitious and is learning to be a stone mason and specialty bricklayer, while the other just wants to lay bricks. Should they both be paid the same? (Potentiality)
Again, both bricklayers are equal in all respects, but one of them has been employed with you for five years, while the other has been employed by you for one year. Should they both be paid the same? (Loyalty)
Again, both bricklayers are equal in all respects, but one bricklayer indicates that they ambitious to become something other than a bricklayer in their future, while the other bricklayer seems content to remain a bricklayer. Should one be considered a short-term employee and the other be considered a long-term employee, and should they both be paid the same? (Futures)
Finally, both bricklayers are equal in all respects, but one bricklayer is a young man and the other bricklayer is a young woman. The young man is expected to be an employee for many years, while the young woman is expected to become a mother, take time off for childbearing, childbirth, and early child raising, and may not return to your employment. Should one be considered a short-term employee and the other be considered a long-term employee, and should they both be paid the same? (Futures)
Now let’s assume that it is not a bricklaying business but a small accounting business with a dozen employees. Do the same criteria of Quantity, Quality, Versatility, Potentiality, Loyalty, and Futures apply to your accounting business employees? In reality, it is a combination of all of these criteria that set the pay scale for your employees.
To categorize your pay scale simply between male and female does not do justice to the interrelationships between all the criteria utilized to determine how you pay your employees. Circumstances matter when reviewing pay between men and women, and it is not often possible to know the circumstances when doing a statistical analysis of pay between men and women.
Equal pay for work of equal value is more often utilized by employers when setting the wages for their employees. And value is more subjective than objective and therefore more difficult to quantify for statistical analysis. There have been many studies that attempt to quantify value. While these studies accuracies have points of dispute, they have shown that the wage gap between various groups (male-female, white-black, married-unmarried, educations levels, etc.) are not what they appear to be and in some cases are opposite what the general public perceptions. Therefore, you should be wary of the devil and always be careful with the details when dealing with income disparities claims. It may be helpful to review my Perspective on Statistics and Public Polling article for more information on how to be careful with studies, statistics, and polling.
The example of my wife and daughter is an illuminating story. My wife was an assistant vice president at a bank in which she had important responsibilities which she carried out and a high-quality manner. When she became pregnant she took the last month of her pregnancy off as well as the first six weeks of our daughters’ life. She then went back to work my mother-in-law took care of our daughter for the first two years. When this became too difficult for my mother-in-law to accomplish we placed our daughter in daycare. After two years in daycare, my wife decided that she wanted to spend more quality time with our daughter and she took a leave of absence for six months, which became much longer due to her father and mother’s ill health. The bank went out of business before my wife could return, but there was a period of about two years in which the bank did not have her services. This absence would surely have impacted her salary in the future. This absence would also have skewed the pay scale if you had simply categorized pay simply based on a male-female criterion. This detail would surely not have been incorporated in any statistical analysis that utilized only job title male-female categorization.
“Experts should be on tap, not on top”
The advance of knowledge has led to some important changes in the field of knowledge acquisition. Most importantly to become an expert on a subject has narrowed the subject matter being studied for your expertise. As a result, experts in a particular field of knowledge rarely have knowledge of other fields, even other fields that may overlap with their area of expertise. Indeed, experts within a particular field very often disagree with each other. This is most often true for the soft knowledge (Politics, Sociology, Economics, Psychology, etc.) vs. the hard knowledge (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)) sciences. Experts also have their own presumptions and biases that they may not even be aware of. And experts often pontificate on areas outside of their expertise (beware of an expert that strays from their expertise – as they are most often wrong). This often leads to not obtaining a full picture of the subject matter, and perhaps leading to an incomplete or incorrect understanding of the subject matter
Then there is the issue of wisdom. Experts may have the knowledge of the subject matter, but do they have the wisdom to apply that knowledge? And wisdom often comes from factors outside the experts’ subject matter. You must also keep in mind human nature, and that any change you may be contemplating must factor human nature and the impact of human nature on the change.
When establishing public policy this can lead to fateful results. Experts rarely understand the economic or social consequences of their recommendations, and economist rarely understands the feasibility or social consequences of their recommendations. As a result, the wrong or incomplete public policy is often adopted. You should always beware the experts (especially the soft knowledge experts). And you should always keep in mind my observation “Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave” when consulting experts.
There are many other issues regarding this phenomenon. The best book I could recommend that examines these issues is “Intellectuals and Society” by Thomas Sowell.
I have spoken extensively in another observation about “Gun Control”. This pet peeve is about Gun Free Zones. Have you noticed that most of the mass shooting in the last few decades have occurred in Gun Free Zones? Gun Free Zones attract the mentally ill person who would commit a mass murder and wants to murder as many people as possible, without those people having the ability to stop the mass murderer (makes you wonder how crazy they really are if they think about avoiding places where people can’t fire back). Gun Free Zones are a perfect example of my observation of “Feeling Good vs. Doing Good”. Every person has the human right to protect themselves, their family, and their neighbors from being assaulted or murdered. Gun free zones restrict this right, as well as your Constitutional right to “Keep and Bear Arms”. To those people who desired gun free zones, I would say you should rethink your position and start doing good, rather than feeling good. And I would also say:
The Intellectual Yet Idiot (IYI)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“IYI is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid-twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in many countries, the government’s role is ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and rarely seen outside specialized outlets, social media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many opening for the IYI. Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is erudite.
The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools, and PhDs as these are needed in the club.”
From the opening of this fine article.
The Intellectual Yet Idiot (IYI) is the best explanation I have heard that explains the current crop of Academics and Journalist in the last 50 years. These people often intensely study things, but rarely do they do anything. The IYI academic pedigree is often a K-12 education, followed by undergraduate college, followed by post-graduate studies, followed by a teaching or research position, and never having to earn a salary by working in the real world. The journalist path is K-12 education, followed by a Journalist college degree, with perhaps some postgraduate studies, then a reporter’s position and perhaps eventually a commentator position. The journalist talks to people (mostly the IYI, but sometimes a business leader), but they never actually do anything in the real world but interview, research, and write. The IYI academics are full of theories and opinions based on these studies, but rarely do they attempt to implement their theories or opinions in the real world, and when they do it is often without any Skin In The Game (SIG). They utilize other people’s monies and efforts to achieve their goals, and if it fails they can walk away without any consequences to themselves. Even after a failure, they continue to espouse their views, often making excuses for why it didn’t work in the real world. They continued to be called upon by other academics and journalist to espouse their opinions, even though they have no track record of effort or success. The journalist may think they know something about which they have interviewed, researched and written about, but the real world rarely conforms to their opinions, as the real world is often more complex and nuanced then they have studied or researched. Beware the IYI, as they are often wrong and will lead you astray.
Skin In The Game (SIG)
Skin in the game (SIG) is a term coined by renowned investor Warren Buffett referring to a situation in which high-ranking insiders use their own money to buy stock in the company they are running.
The idea behind creating this situation is to ensure that corporations are managed by like-minded individuals who share a stake in the company. Executives can talk all they want, but the best vote of confidence is putting one's own money on the line just like outside investors!
This article can be read at: Skin in the Game ~ Life Lessons from Warren Buffett
It’s amazing how our perspective changes when we have, as Warren Buffett coined, “skin in the game.” Without it, there is no value or commitment and without value and commitment, there is no sense of urgency. To make decisions and get results, you need to have skin in the game and that sense of urgency to take action and reach that goal. Financial skin in the game is effective because something tangible, like your pocketbook, is attached to it, as well as personal skin in the game that shows a true emotional investment. A combination of both, though, is necessary.
Something given to us for free has very little value than something we have to work hard for or pay to get. There has to be something that is on the line. It doesn’t have to be life-threatening or extreme, but if you have nothing to lose, then what do you have to gain? Some would say, “everything,” but I would argue “nothing.” If you aren’t willing to risk the good for the great, then what are you willing to risk? What does that opportunity cost? Time? Money? When you take a risk and put your skin in the game, now you’re attached and have more of an incentive to see things through until the end.
Risk taking is essential to success. Taking risks forces you to be more confident, believe in yourself and grow. When you play it safe, you don’t step out of your comfort zone and in turn become complacent and never reach that next level. But, when you truly make yourself uncomfortable, dance with your fears, and fail forward, you realize your true potential and that there is no going back. Whatever it is, make that commitment to propel yourself forward and take action. Put your skin in the game.
The above commentary is also the reasons that academics and journalist (IYI) are often poor prognosticators, as they have no Skin in the game. When your monies and efforts are at stake reality takes a firmer hold on you. When you have Skin in the game you must account for all the variables (human interactions and human responses, bureaucracy, laws & regulations, employees, customers and clients, contractors and sub-contractors, unions, lawsuits, banking & insurance, etc. etc. etc. - to name but a few). Until you have Skin in the game you cannot fully comprehend the actual monies and efforts it takes to succeed. There is also the human cost of having your Skin in the game, as the following poster recognizes:
So, until you have had Skin the game you cannot fully comprehend the depth of the effort required to succeed. Whenever you read, see, or hear an academic or journalist prognosticator you should ask if they have ever had their Skin in the Game, and weigh that into your own opinion.
Interruptions, talking-over, talking too long, i.e. dominating the debate or dialog, is a technique utilized far too often to shut out or silence an opposing viewpoint as I have discussed tangentially in other observations. This is unlikely to change in modern politics but you should not allow yourself to be victimized by this technique. Before you make up your mind you should try to discern to actual positions of both sides. You should also be aware of False Dichotomies (straw-man arguments) and Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors generated by one side or the other. All of these techniques that are utilized are pet peeves of mine.
However, the one pet peeve of mine not previously mentioned is Jumping to Conclusion Too Soon. How often have we found ourselves when listening or viewing a debate or commentary, or reading an article or opinion piece, find ourselves agreeing or disagreeing with what we have seen, heard, or read before the person espousing the viewpoint has completed their statement? Far too often I would guesstimate. We need to give ourselves the opportunity to fully understand what the person is saying or writing by allowing them to finish before we jump to conclusions. It would also behoove us to think about or reflect on what they have said or written before we start to agree or disagree. Who knows, perhaps we will learn something or modify our opinion if we did this.
A real life example of this is my own writings. I have a good friend that I often ask to review and comment on some of my articles. Often, he will start his commentary in the middle of his readings. When this happens I (not so) gently suggest that he finish reading before he comments. He has often discovered that his comments are addressed later in the article. After he finishes reading the entire article we then have an intelligent and constructive discussion on the article.
Therefore, I would suggest that you not jump to a conclusion before you have given yourself the opportunity to understand what is being said or written. I would also suggest that you look askance at others who jump to conclusions too soon.
I recently overheard a public conversation in which one person was complaining to another that her small township Local Tax Authority was only open 12 hours a week, except for a few occasions when it was open 16 hours a week. And as they had discovered that the Treasurer was being paid $60,000 per year, they thought that this was wasteful spending for the township, so there must be some shenanigans going on in the township, and possible nepotism (even though the Treasure is an elected official). As this was an overheard conversation I decided to bite my tongue and not say anything to these people. Instead, I will say it here.
Not being familiar with the operation of a local tax authority I cannot say definitively what may go on behind the scenes, but I can make some intelligent speculations. The treasure has to assure that all tax records are accurate and up-to-date. While there are computer systems to assist with this duty I can attest from my own computer experience that database entry, validation, and maintenance takes human effort and time to properly achieve. Given that there are several thousand tax parcels of personal properties in the township, as well as taxable business properties, and local taxes not property related, I would expect that several hours a week are required to accomplish this task. The treasure also has to prepare accurate and up-to-date reports to the taxing authorities (Township and School Board) on a regular basis, then present these reports at the Township and School Board meetings. The treasurer also must prepare regular, accurate, and up-to-date reports to the County, State, and Federal regulatory agencies for review. I'm sure that all of this takes some time on their part. The treasure also has to interact with the spending agencies of the township (in this case Administration, Finance. Police, Public Works, Code Enforcement, Fire Marshal, Emergency Management, and Sewer) to keep track of their records of spending, as well as interact with the bank(s) where the monies are deposited and withdrawn. The treasure also has to be involved in all taxing disputes and the time needed to resolve the dispute. If a dispute goes beyond administrative proceedings into the legal arena the Treasure must interact with the township lawyers and testify at court proceedings. And the Treasure is in legal jeopardy if they don't perform all these duties properly and in accordance with County, State, and Federal laws and regulations. They could face severe jail time and large fines if found guilty of not performing their duties properly, as well as the legal fees to defend themselves. Given all the above I would be surprised if the Treasure worked any less than forty hours a week, and I suspect that they regularly work more than forty hours a week.
This is not an excuse for bureaucrats and bureaucratic efforts. There is waste, fraud, and abuse in all bureaucratic efforts, and much can be done to make their efforts more efficient and cost-effective. But until you understand what is occurring behind the scenes it is difficult to identify this waste, fraud, and abuse and the cause of it. Just remember that waste, fraud, and abuse are part of the very nature of government bureaucracy, and it always has been, and always will be, due to the very nature of government and bureaucracy.
A few more illuminations are the example of the U.S. Air Forces' $120 toilet seat for an aircraft. Many, many years ago it was discovered that the U.S. Air Force had purchased some toilet seats for an airframe fleet at a cost of $120 per seat. As the cost of a toilet seat at the local hardware store was about $5 there were charges of waste, fraud, or abuse in this procurement. What most people didn't know, and was not widely reported was the reason the toilet seat was so expensive. Space aboard an airframe is very important, and the toilet stall and toilet were smaller than what was commercially available. Additionally, it is very important that wastewater not spill over the toilet bowl during flushing, normal and excessive turbulence, and maneuvering of the airplane. Therefore, the toilet seat had to be modified and fitted to meet all these requirements. And that is why the toilet seats cost as much as it did.
Another story, related to me by a person who was involved in it, was the aircraft engine toolkit. Back in the 1950's GE Aircraft Engines Division was contracted to modify one of their engines to meet the requirements of a classified aircraft. This division had the knowledge and experience to do so, and they proceeded to do so. Near the end of the contract, they realized that the contract had made no provision for the creation of a toolkit that the ground crew could utilize to make in the field repairs to the engine. They suggested to the government contracting officer to modify the contract to have GE provide a toolkit for this purpose. The contracting officer when back to the government agency to do so and the government agency ordered 100 toolkits, to contain various tools that met specified requirements. When GE received the contract extension and analyzed it they realized that all the tools but one could be purchased at a regular hardware store. The one tool was a claw hammer. The specified requirement was different from a commercial claw hammer by a few ounces, a small difference in the length of the claw, and the gap between the claws. GE went back to the government contracting office and suggested that they modify the specification so that they could purchase the claw hammer at the hardware store. The government contracting officer, being a consummate bureaucrat, refused to do so stating that if that is what the government agency requires that is what they are going to get. Therefore, GE was required to set up a manufacturing process to produce a claw hammer that met the specification. The claw hammer was designed to meet the specification, molds were produced, and manufacturing line was created, and 100 claw hammers were produced, at a cost of about $300 per hammer as the overhead of the previous activities had to be accounted for in the cost. As this was a classified project the cost of the hammers, or anything else about the project, was never revealed to the public. But you can imagine the hue and cry across the land of waste, fraud, and abuse if this had been revealed. As an aside GE also suggested that 150 hammers be produced, as you could expect that loss or damage would occur during the lifetime of the toolkit. The government contracting officer refused this request stating that if 100 claw hammers are what the government agency required then that is what they are going to get. Of course, several years later GE was requested to provide additional toolkits due to loss and damage. However, as this was a classified project, at the end of the initial toolkit production GE was required to disassemble and destroy the mold and manufacturing equipment that produced the claw hammer. Therefore, GE was again required to again set up a manufacturing process to produce a claw hammer that met the specification, at a cost of $300 per hammer. A major point is that GE was trying to do the right thing, and reduce the costs, by having the government change the specification. It was a single government bureaucrat that threw a monkey hammer (no pun intended) into this process that caused waste, fraud, or abuse.
So, when you hear of waste, fraud, or abuse in government or government contracts be very wary of who was responsible for the waste, fraud, or abuse, and try to obtain the facts of why this happened. If you are ignorant of all the facts of what is going on behind the scene in the public view you will most assuredly jump to an incorrect conclusion. You should not jump to conclusions, and instead get all the facts, before you reach a conclusion.
Rarely will a politician think about or discuss the Life Cycle Costs of a law or regulation (see my observation on “Life Cycle (A.K.A. End-To-End or Total Cost of Operation (TCO))” that discusses this issue in regard to economics). Many of the same factors that go into the Life Cycle costs in a business also go into the Life Cycle costs of government. The main difference is that in government the main Life Cycle costs are in labor, while in business the main Life Cycle costs are in materials. And in a business, the result of the Life Cycle costs is in the price of the product, while in government the result of the Life Cycle costs is in increased taxes.
All laws and regulations have a TCO costs, as well as an economic or social impact. Politicians prefer to discuss the economic or social impacts, rather than the costs to taxpayers in implementing the law or regulation. The economic or social impacts make for both good and bad politics, as well as votes for or against a politician. The TCO costs hardly register a blip on the political scene. But government programs do cost money to operate and are largely responsible for the growth of government bureaucracy.
So, when a new or changed law or regulation is being proposed you should be very concerned about how much it is going to cost in increased taxes, and how much the government will grow as a result of this new or changed law or regulation. Because a new or changed law or regulation always results in a larger and more expensive government.
You should also be concerned if the Life Cycle cost will end
i.e. the end of a government program (a very rare occurrence in
government), otherwise, the Life Cycle cost is ongoing and
usually increases over time. This also results in a more
expansive and more expensive government in the future.
Micro-aggressions is just a word for someone’s feelings being hurt. Well, I'm sorry if your feelings are hurt, but I am not responsible for your feelings. Besides, get used to it, as the rest of your life your feelings are going to be hurt. The real issue is how you deal with your hurt feelings. If the intent of the perpetrator was to hurt your feelings then you should stand up for yourself and correct the perpetrator. If the perpetrator made an innocent comment, not intended to hurt your feelings, then a private friendly conversation may be in order. Under no circumstance should an angry confrontation ensue. Remember, anger begets anger and often does not resolve the issue. It is unfortunate that in today’s society that the charge of micro-aggressions is intended to silence the perpetrator for politically correct purposes.
The USA Patriot Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, The American Health Care Act, the DREAM Act, Employee Free Choice Act, the Right To Work, the Food Safety Modernization Act, etc., etc., etc. all of which give us this "feel good" sense of "whatever it is, it's for our own good and it promotes safety and security for America." The names given to proposed and passed bills in Congress are more often than not misleading, and we must beware of how politicians spin circumstances and designations to promote their agendas. These misnomer bills end up being more intrusive and invasive into the lives of the people, resulting in more loss of freedom and liberty. They often involve more rules and regulations upon the American people, which usually results in more government debt, higher expenses for consumer products and services, and as a result lower living standards for most Americans.
National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism, is the ideology and practice associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party and Nazi Germany. Usually characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and antisemitism, Nazism developed out of the influences of Pan-Germanism, the Völkisch German nationalist movement and the anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged during the Weimar Republic after German defeat in World War I. Nazism subscribed to theories of racial hierarchy and Social Darwinism, identifying Germans as part of what Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race. It aimed to overcome social divisions and create a homogeneous society, unified on the basis of "racial purity" (Volksgemeinschaft). The Nazis aimed to unite all Germans living in the historically German territory, as well as gain additional lands for German expansion under the doctrine of Lebensraum while excluding those deemed either to be community aliens or belonging to an "inferior" race. The term "National Socialism" arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of "socialism", as an alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism. Nazism rejected the Marxist concept of class struggle, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism, and sought to convince all parts of a new German society to subordinate their personal interests to the "common good" and to accept the priority of political interests in economic organization.
Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before it spread to other European countries. It is best expressed by quotes of its leading proponent, Benito Mussolini:
Today it is common to categorize Nazism and Fascism as a right-wing ideology. But as can be seen from the above definition Nazism and Fascism were based on socialistic premises, which is not right-wing but indeed left-wing. The differences between Communism and Nazism/Fascism where primarily internationalism vs. nationalism. Indeed, the bitter animosity between Communism and Nazism/Fascism was primarily the difference between the internationalism and nationalist orientation. The Communist slogan "Workers of the world unite" is counterpoised to Nazism/Fascism ideology of "Workers of Germany/Italy unite". The political, social, and economic policy differences between Communism and Nazism/Fascism were a matter of scope and depth.
Thus, it can be seen that Nazism/Fascism ideology is left-wing - not right-wing. To see it any other way is to purposely disregard history and the facts. And as with my other observations on "Condemned To Repeat It" and "Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors" thus can be very dangerous to the body politic.
It is an unfortunate consequence of our political disunion that we have experienced an increase of one-party rule in many our Localities and States. It is often factored into electioneering, in that a Republican or Democrat has no chance of winning an election because of their party label. So, for decades a locality or State has been ruled by one party. This upsets the checks and balances in our society and often leads to waste, fraud, and abuse of government, as well as the political corruption of the one party. There are also unfortunate economic consequences of one-party rule. As one party believes in a more activist government, more spending on social programs, and an increase of taxes to support these activities, it has caused economic stagnation and crippling debt on that locality or State. Add in the increased spending of wages and benefits for public sector employees and unions (as noted in the “Public Employee Unions" topic in "Government Of The People, By The People, And For The People" observation), and you have the real possibility of the locality or State facing economic collapse.
The perfect example of this is the States of California and Illinois, which have severe economic problems that may require intervention by the Federal government (God Forbid). You also have cities like Detroit and Baltimore, to name just a few, who require bailouts and assistance from both the State and Federal governments (God Forbid). I say, “God Forbid” in that if these Localities and States did receive a bailout there is no pressure for them to reform themselves, and they would continue on their destructive course unless the State or Federal Government forced reforms on them. This reform is highly unlikely given the political pressure the politicians would face to not intervene in local issues. There is also the injustice of having the taxpayers of other States or Localities fund these bailouts, as they did not create the problem, but they are being forced to fix the problem with their tax monies. After all, these taxpayers had no elected representation in the State or Locality that is being bailed out and therefore were not responsible for the creation of these problems. And as we all know that one of our founding ideals is “No taxation without representation”, if a bailout occurred they would incur taxation without representation.
If you examine carefully those Localities and States that are facing these economic problems you will discover one common tie that binds them. They are Localities and States that have had decades of one-party rule, and this one party has been the Liberal/Progressive Democrats, who is the party of activist government, more spending on social programs, and an increase of taxes to support these activities.
As in my “Obfuscation, Smoke, and Mirrors” observation, one of the tactics of Liberals- Progressives is confusion. And one of the ways they try to confuse an issue is the perversion of the English language. They will take a word or phrase that is innocuous and utilize it instead of the proper non-innocuous word or phrase (as Mary Poppins said “A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down”). And they will continue to do this, again and again, hoping to replace the proper non-innocuous word or phrase with the innocuous word or phrase. A perfect example of this is investing and contributing. When a person, group of people or a business invest in something they are voluntarily spending their own money, time, or energy on something, especially for some benefit or purpose to themselves. When a person, group of people or a business contribute to something they are voluntarily providing their own money, time, or energy towards some cause they consider beneficial, without expecting anything in return. The key word and phrase here are “voluntarily” and “their own”. They decide they want to do this, and they utilize their own resources to do it.
When a Liberal-Progressive utilizes the words investing and contributing they often mean utilizing other people’s resources. And when they are talking about the government investing and contributing they really mean the government spending and taxing. And this spending and taxing will not be voluntary, as it is in investing and contributing, but it will be imposed by the government. So, when you hear a Liberal-Progressive say they are going to provide more investment and ask for more contributions, they are saying they want to spend and tax more.
Contributing by the Government
Means the Government Intends to
Tax and Spend More.
Beware the Liberal-Progressive perversion of the English language, because it usually means they are trying to impose something on you and make you pay for it.
Too often in today’s excessive legal activism, we utilize the judicial system (Prosecutors and Courts) to coerce an individual, organization, or company into actions or behavior that they would not otherwise do, even if their current actions or behavior is clearly legal. The threat of legal action, the time and expense of defending your actions or behavior, and the damaging of your reputation, make it easier to acquiesce than to challenge the legal action. It can often be ruinously expensive to defend your actions and behavior, and even after you successfully defend yourself your reputation is often damaged beyond repair ("Which office do I go to get my reputation back?" – Raymond J. Donovan).
This is most nefarious when a prosecutor lodges criminal proceedings against an individual, organization, or company, not because of clear violations of the law, but for political purposes to appease an outraged public or special interest group. The rush to judgment, and political outcry against an individual, organization, or company, is often more damming and damaging than the alleged crime. We also hear politicians making legal charges against their opponent that often bear little relationship to the actual criminal code, just to score political points and damage the reputation of their opponents. You should always beware of a politician who uses legal terms to aggress an opponent.
And all of this has a damaging effect on society in the social, economic, political, and judicial arena. Whenever you observe a hue and cry over some actions a prosecutor or politician has alleged you must be careful to judge whether it is based on actual legal misdeeds, or for political or social activism purposes. You should also try to determine if:
"That's not a prosecution,
that's a persecution"
- Mark Dawson
As I noted in my "With Facts, Intelligence, and Reasoning" observation you should also utilize facts, intelligence, and reasoning when analyzing political advertising and sloganeering. But facts, intelligence, and reasoning are sorely lacking or non-existent in political advertising and sloganeering. "Slander and libel" from my observation "Government Of The People, By The People, And For The People, are the norm in today's political advertising and sloganeering. Both side definitely do it and do it regularly and constantly. And they are generally allowed to do it as political advertising and sloganeering is protected speech under the Constitution. This does not make it moral or ethical, and it certainly is not helpful to the political process or the body politic. As noted in my "Shame and Hypocrisy" observation, shame and hypocrisy should always be applied to political advertising and sloganeering, as well as to other facets of political life.
But politics is politics, and slander and libel have always been, and will always be, part of politics. But while the politicians may engage in it, you should not pay any attention to it, or allow it to influence your vote. Don't be part of a mob, or mob groupthink, that political advertising and sloganeering is attempting to create. Use facts, intelligence, and reasoning to determine who you will vote for, and vote intelligently. If you are going to allow political advertising and sloganeering to influence your vote I would suggest that you don't vote, as you will be doing a disservice to yourself and your country.
I have one word for Politically Correct thought and speech:
Politically Correct thought and speech abrogate our freedoms and liberties. Politically Correct thought and speech restricts our Right to Free Speech, Free Associations, and Freedom to Keep and Bear Arms. It perverts Justice and restricts open and honest dialog on the issues confronting us. I would rather hurt someone’s feelings then accept the restrictions of Politically Correct thought and speech. However, I am mindful that in dealing with others that we should all be respectful and polite to each other. Instead of Politically Correct thought and speech let's substitute:
Respectful and Polite Thought and Speech.
Sometimes a word or phrase is misinterpreted or distorted to suit a politically correct outcome. This is a perversion of the English language and is often counter-productive to a civil society. An example of this is the term “Indian Giver”. The politically correct would have you believe that this is an aspersion on the American Indian or their culture. This is not the case with the phrase “Indian Giver”, as it is actually an aspersion on the white man and the white man’s culture. This phrase reflects negatively on the white man, as it refers to the white man giving something to an Indian when it was convenient, and then taking it away from the Indian when it was inconvenient. Would it not be better if we utilized this term to remind us that giving and taking based on convenience or inconvenience is wrong and as a reminder of the injustice of the treatment of the American Indian by the white man?
It is unfortunate that in many places within the United States (mostly on college campuses) there are safe zones being set up where people can exercise their free speech rights, and anywhere else their free speech rights are restricted. The First Amendment to the United States says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As such I believe the proper free speech zone is:
As such there needs to be an enforceable policy regarding free speech on college campuses that includes the following precepts:
Remember - the answer to free speech that you disagree with is the free speech of what you believe, not shutting down anyone’s else's free speech rights. I also believe that it is unconstitutional for a public arena, especially one support by public funding, to restrict free speech. As colleges often receive extensive public funding, and colleges should be dedicated to the free expression of ideas and thoughts, it is especially pernicious that they have free speech zones. I would, therefore, support the withholding of public funding for colleges that restrict free speech rights on their campuses. Of course, a private institution or entity, that does not receive public funding, may restrict free speech on its own property.
Academic Tenure use to mean the freedom to pursue rigorous academic scholarship regardless of recognized opinion, political pressure, or accepted belief. However, tenure in today’s colleges and universities often means the ability for a professor to say anything offensive, usually without any academic scholarship, and often unrelated to the facts or the truth. As such Tenure is being utilized to reward Politically Correct speech by a professor, and this is contributing to the downward slide of intellectual vigor and civil manners. Tenure needs to be constricted to the research professors whose research advances human knowledge, and to education professors who are leaders in their field that are providing a quality, efficient and effective education for their students. Tenure also needs to be revoked for any professor who has demonstrated a lack of rigorous academic scholarship in their research, teaching, writing, speeches, and pronouncements. This revocation should not be done by the other tenured professors at their college or university, as they often form a protective cocoon for their fellow tenured professors in order to protect themselves from future actions that may be undertaken against themselves. A new process must be created to determine eligibility for tenure, as well as revocation of tenure if appropriate. The creation of a new process to revoke tenure should be developed that assures a tenured professor of equal treatment and due process in the revocation of tenure.
When the Democratic Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson the party stood for decentralized government, agrarian concerns, and slaveholders rights. The Republican Party at its founding was for Federalism, Trade Restrictions, and slavery emancipation. The parties of today often have the opposite positions of when they were founded. Political parties and their principles can and do change over time. Having lived through most of the end of the 20th century I can personally attest that there have been major changes on political issues by both the Democratic and Republican parties. If you think not you should take the time to read “Kennedy's Inaugural Address” in my “Letters and Speeches” Observation. After reading his inaugural address ask yourself the following question “Would that speech be given by a modern-day Democrat or a modern-day Republican?” If you are being honest with yourself the answer is apparent. You should be cognizant of this, and not base your opinions on the past positions of a political party, but only where they currently stand.
A remark that is expressed in a casual or understated way is a throwaway line. How often have we found ourselves watching a discussion or debate (and usually an argument) and mumble or shout that a throwaway line is incorrect, incomplete, unverifiable, or the proponents are making an assumption or assertion that is debatable? These items often go unchallenged as they are usually a sentence or two followed by many more sentences, and they slip by or some other topic takes priority. However, it is important that they are challenged because if you argue from a false premise you will reach a false conclusion.
Many of these throwaway lines are a result of the problems I discussed in my observation “Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave” and I will not reiterate this topic here. However, these throwaway lines can often be categorized as follows.
Often someone will slip a fact or two that is incorrect or debatable, and then proceed as if it were true. It is often a statement of fact that is not factually supportable. They often assert something that is not true or demonstrably false. This can also come in the form of an assertion (see below). In law, this is known as “Facts Not in Evidence”. For instance, someone may state that something is credible, verifiable, and substantiated but if challenged as to how it is credible, verifiable, and substantiated they could easily be shown to be utilizing incorrect reasoning. If these throwaway facts are not challenged they will skew the results in favor of the person making them. More specifics on how this can be done is covered in more detail in my observation ‘Lies, Dammed Lies, and Statistics” and “Studies Show”. Whenever you are watching a discussion or debate you should always keep in mind my “Truism”:
Just because you "believe"
something to be true does not mean that you "know" something
is true, and just because someone says it is true doesn’t make
- Mark Dawson
This can also happen if the person making the assertion is not fully knowledgeable or unknowledgeable on the subject matter. Therefore, also keep in mind my “Truism”:
Obtaining advice from a person
who is neither knowledgeable nor experienced in that
particular subject is obtaining worthless advice (i.e. don't
ask an opinion of someone who does not know what they're
- Mark Dawson
The incorrect utilization of statistics is a very common means of inserting an incorrect or debatable throwaway line. Whenever statistics are utilized you should be skeptical of them for the reasons I have outlined in my observation “Statistics Show”.
Hidden assumptions or assertions are the most insidious type of throwaway line. They are often hidden in that the person making them approaches the subject as if their opinion or policy prescription is correct and undebatable. The result is that a person casting a contrary opinion is viewed as making false or unsustainable statements, and usually with connotations that the contrary person has a hidden, negative, agenda. This often leads the discussion or debate to devolve into “Demonize, Denigrate, Disparage (The Three D's)” as discussed in my observation on this subject. It also leads the discussion or debate on one side or the other demanding that the other side prove them false. But proving a negative is not an acceptable recourse. The person asserting something has the responsibility of proving the assertion. The person disputing the assertion has no responsibility to prove the other person’s assertion incorrect. In science, law, philosophy, and theology, and many other areas of human interactions, it is the responsibility of the person making the assertion to prove that their assertion is correct.
Common sense is not so common, or not so sensible, and common sense can lead you astray. What most people mean by “Common Sense” is common knowledge and sensible responses. But common knowledge may not be so common amongst many people, or sensible responses may differ among reasonable people, as I have covered in my observation “Common Sense”
Common Sense also has the problems of circular reasoning, social influences, uncommon sense, and various other sociological problems, as well as Logical Fallacies & Cognitive Biases. A very good book that explains these problems, and the problems of utilizing common sense, is “Everything Is Obvious – How Common Sense Fails Us” by Duncan J. Watts.
Therefore, be wary when someone utilizes common sense as a throwaway line.
Liberals (AKA Progressives) like to claim that our Constitution as a Living, Breathing Document. By this, they mean that they can interpret it in the manner they want, and change the meaning of words to suit their ends.
Much like Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:
“When I use a word,’ Humpty
Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I
choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
To this, I respond how would you like to play any game in which the rules are living and breathing so that in the middle of the game you or another player can change the rules to give yourself or them an advantage? The Constitution is a rule book in how we organize our society. The Constitution is a living breathing document in that it lives through the process of amending, based upon the will of the people and/or the states, and this change should only be through the Constitutional Amendment process. Until that happens we should all be playing with the same rulebook (i.e. The Constitution). It's breathing in that it has ambiguity built in so that each generation can interpret it as their needs arise (but it should only do so within the bounds of what the founder's purpose was in creating that ambiguity). However, under no circumstances should it be interpreted in such a way as to infringe upon the liberties and freedoms of the American people. Fidelity to the Constitution, as it is intended, is the only way we can assure Peace and Justice in our society.
Torturous logic and reasoning the bend the Constitution to suit your goals is not acceptable. The Constitution was written for the Government of the People, By the People, and For the People, and should be understandable by the people. Anything else takes the Constitution away from the people and degrades society.
A brief description of the major groups in American political life is as follows.
When I began writing this observation I did what I always do before writing - research the topic on the Internet. In doing so for the observation I ran across a web page that I thought presented a fair and balanced overview of the policy differences between conservatives and liberals. It was so good that I did not think I could improve or expand upon its observations. I have therefore included this article, unedited and in its entirety, for your review.
I have included two articles about the differences between the Left and Right, and Conservatives vs. Liberal Beliefs. The first, by Dennis Prager, is pithy, while the second by Student News Daily has a fuller explanation. I believe that both articles are right on target.
Source of Human Rights
Right: the Creator
Left: basically good (Therefore, society is primarily responsible for evil.)
Right: not basically good (Therefore, the individual is primarily responsible for evil.)
Primary Role of the State
Left: increase and protect equality
Right: increase and protect liberty
Left: as large as possible
Right: as small as possible
Left: any loving unit of people
Right: a married father and mother, and children
Left: race, gender and class
Right: liberty, In God We Trust and e Pluribus Unum
Good and Evil
Left: relative to individual and/or society
Right: based on universal absolutes
Left: rich and poor; strong and weak
Right: good and evil
Ideal Primary Identity of an
Left: world citizen
Right: American citizen
How to Make a Good Society
Left: abolish inequality
Right: develop each citizen's moral character
View of America
Left: profoundly morally flawed; inferior to any number of European countries
Right: greatest force for good among nations in world history
Left: a social construct
Right: male and female
Most Important Trait to
Cultivate in a Child
Worth of the Human Fetus
Left: determined by the mother
Right: determined by society rooted in Judeo-Christian values
Primary Source of Crime
Left: poverty, racism and other societal flaws
Right: the criminal's malfunctioning conscience
Place of God and Religion in
Left: secular government and secular society
Right: secular government and religious society
Left: chauvinistic doctrine
Right: historical reality
Greatest Threat to the World
Left: environmental catastrophe (currently global warming)
Right: evil (currently radical Islamist violence)
Left: world governed by the United Nations, and no single country is dominant
Right: world in which America is the single strongest entity
Primary Reason for Lack of
Peace in Middle East
Left: Israeli settlements in the West Bank
Right: Palestinian, Arab and Muslim denial of Jewish state's right to exist
Purpose of Art
Left: challenge status quo and bourgeois sensibilities
Right: produce works of beauty and profundity to elevate the individual and society
Left: ideally universally abolished, except for use by police, the armed forces and registered sportsmen
Right: ideally widely owned by responsible individuals for self-protection and the protection of others
Left: intrinsically significant
Right: intrinsically insignificant
Racial, Ethnic and Gender
Diversity at Universities
Left: most important
Right: far less important than ideological diversity
Black America's Primary
Right: lack of fathers
Left: entirely subjective; there is no greatest playwright
Left: not the answer
Right: sometimes the only answer
Left: wrong, except when directed at the political
Right: wrong, except when directed at evil
Left: all equal
Right: some are better than others
America's Founding Fathers
Left: rich white male slave owners
Right: great men who founded the greatest society
Purpose of Judges
Left: pursue social justice
Right: pursue justice
Left: a relic of the past
Right: indispensable for national survival
View of Illegal Immigrants
Left: welcomed guests
Right: illegal immigrants
Left: intrinsically valuable
Right: made for man
Compiled by the Editors. Copyright 2005 (revised 2010) StudentNewsDaily.com.
We all want the same things in life. We want freedom; we want the chance for prosperity; we want as few people suffering as possible; we want healthy children; we want to have crime-free streets. The argument is how to achieve them…
Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.
Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense. Believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.
NOTE: The terms “left” and
“right” define opposite ends of the political spectrum. In the
United States, liberals are referred to as the left or
left-wing and conservatives are referred to as the right or
right-wing. On the U.S. political map, blue represents the
Democratic Party (which generally upholds liberal principles)
and red represents the Republican party (which generally
upholds conservative principles).
a woman has the right to decide what happens with her body. A fetus is not a human life, so it does not have separate individual rights. The government should provide taxpayer-funded abortions for women who cannot afford them. The decision to have an abortion is a personal choice of a woman regarding her own body and the government must protect this right. Women have the right to affordable, safe and legal abortions, including partial birth abortion.
human life begins at conception. Abortion is the murder of a human being. An unborn baby, as a living human being, has separate rights from those of the mother. Oppose taxpayer-funded abortion. Taxpayer dollars should not be used for the government to provide abortions. Support legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions, called the “partial birth abortion* ban”(*partial birth abortion: the killing of an unborn baby of at least 20 weeks by pulling it out of the birth canal with forceps, but leaving the head inside. An incision is made in the back of the baby’s neck and the brain tissue is suctioned out. The head is then removed from the uterus.)
due to prevalent racism in the past, minorities were deprived of the same education and employment opportunities as whites. The government must work to make up for that. America is still a racist society, therefore a federal affirmative action law is necessary. Due to unequal opportunity, minorities still lag behind whites in all statistical measurements of success.
individuals should be admitted to schools and hired for jobs based on their ability. It is unfair to use race as a factor in the selection process. Reverse-discrimination is not a solution for racism. Some individuals in society are racist, but American society as a whole is not. Preferential treatment of certain races through affirmative action is wrong.
the death penalty should be abolished. It is inhumane and is ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. Imprisonment is the appropriate punishment for murder. Every execution risks killing an innocent person.
the death penalty is a punishment that fits the crime of murder; it is neither ‘cruel’ nor ‘unusual.’ executing a murderer is the appropriate punishment for taking an innocent life.
a market system in which government regulates the economy is best. Government must protect citizens from the greed of big business. Unlike the private sector, the government is motivated by public interest. Government regulation in all areas of the economy is needed to level the playing field.
the free market system, competitive capitalism, and private enterprise create the greatest opportunity and the highest standard of living for all. Free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs and higher standards of living than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.
public schools are the best way to educate students. Vouchers take money away from public schools. Government should focus additional funds on existing public schools, raising teacher salaries and reducing class size.
school vouchers create competition and therefore encourage schools to improve performance. Vouchers will give all parents the right to choose good schools for their children, not just those who can afford private schools.
support the use of embryonic stem cells for research. It is necessary (and ethical) for the government to fund embryonic stem cell research, which will assist scientists in finding treatments and cures for diseases. An embryo is not a human. The tiny blastocyst (embryos used in embryonic stem cell research) has no human features. Experimenting on embryos/embryonic stem cells is not murder. Embryonic stem cells have the potential to cure chronic and degenerative diseases which current medicine has been unable to effectively treat. Embryonic stem cells have been shown to be effective in treating heart damage in mice.
support the use of adult and umbilical cord stem cells only for research. It is morally and ethically wrong for the government to fund embryonic stem cell research. Human life begins at conception. The extraction of stem cells from an embryo requires its destruction. In other words, it requires that a human life be killed. Adult stem cells have already been used to treat spinal cord injuries, leukemia, and even Parkinson’s disease. Adult stem cells are derived from umbilical cords, placentas, amniotic fluid, various tissues and organ systems like skin and the liver, and even fat obtained from liposuction. Embryonic stem cells have not been successfully used to help cure disease.
oil is a depleting resource. Other sources of energy must be explored. The government must produce a national plan for all energy resources and subsidize (partially pay for) alternative energy research and production. Support increased exploration of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. Support government control of gas and electric industries.
oil, gas and coal are all good sources of energy and are abundant in the U.S. oil drilling should be increased both on land at sea. Increased domestic production creates lower prices and less dependence on other countries for oil. Support increased production of nuclear energy. Wind and solar sources will never provide plentiful, affordable sources of power. Support private ownership of gas and electric industries.
euthanasia should be legalized. A person has a right to die with dignity, by his own choice. A terminally ill person should have the right to choose to end pain and suffering. It is wrong for the government to take away the means for a terminally ill person to hasten his death. It is wrong to force a person to go through so much pain and suffering. Legalizing euthanasia would not lead to doctor-assisted suicides of non-critical patients. Permitting euthanasia would reduce health care costs, which would then make funds available for those who could truly benefit from medical care.
neither euthanasia nor physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. It is immoral and unethical to deliberately end the life of a terminally ill person (euthanasia), or enable another person to end their own life (assisted suicide). The goal should be compassionate care and easing the suffering of terminally ill people. Legalizing euthanasia could lead to doctor-assisted suicides of non-critical patients. If euthanasia were legalized, insurance companies could pressure doctors to withhold life-saving treatment for dying patients. Many religions prohibit suicide and euthanasia. These practices devalue human life.
global warming is caused by an increased production of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas). The U.S. is a major contributor to global warming because it produces 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide. Proposed laws to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. are urgently needed and should be enacted immediately to save the planet. Many reputable scientists support this theory.
change in global temperature is natural over long periods of time. Science has not shown that humans can affect permanent change to the earth’s temperature. Proposed laws to reduce carbon emissions will do nothing to help the environment and will cause significant price increases for all. Many reputable scientists support this theory.
the second amendment does not give citizens the right to keep and bear arms, but only allows for the state to keep a militia (national guard). Individuals do not need guns for protection; it is the role of local and federal government to protect the people through law enforcement agencies and the military. Additional gun control laws are necessary to stop gun violence and limit the ability of criminals to obtain guns. More guns mean more violence.
the second amendment gives citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Individuals have the right to defend themselves. There are too many gun control laws – additional laws will not lower gun crime rates. What is needed is enforcement of current laws. Gun control laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining guns. More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens mean less crime.
Full text of the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
support free or low-cost government controlled health care. There are millions of Americans who can’t afford health care and are deprived of this basic right. Every American has a right to affordable health care. The government should provide equal health care benefits for all, regardless of their ability to pay.
support competitive, free market health care system. All Americans have access to health care. The debate is about who should pay for it. Free and low-cost government-run programs (socialized medicine) result in higher costs and everyone receiving the same poor-quality health care. Health care should remain privatized. The problem of uninsured individuals should be addressed and solved within the free market healthcare system – the government should not control healthcare
airport security – passenger profiling is wrong, period. Selection of passengers for extra security screening should be random. Using other criteria (such as ethnicity) is discriminatory and offensive to Arabs and Muslims, who are generally innocent and law-abiding. Terrorists don’t fit a profile.
“…Arabs, Muslims and south Asians are no more likely than whites to be terrorists.” (American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU)
Asked on 60 minutes if a 70-year-old white woman from Yero Beach should receive the same level of scrutiny as a Muslim from Jersey City, President Obama’s transportation secretary Norman Mineta said, “basically, I would hope so.”
airport security – choosing passengers randomly for extra security searches is not effective. Rather, profiling and intelligence data should be used to single out passengers for extra screening. Those who do not meet the criteria for suspicion should not be subjected to intense screening. The terrorists currently posing a threat to the U.S. are primarily Islamic/Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 38. Our resources should be focused on this group. Profiling is good logical police work.
“if people are offended (by profiling), that’s unfortunate, but I don’t think we can afford to take the risk that terrorism brings to us. They’ve wasted masses of resources on far too many people doing things that really don’t have a big payoff in terms of security.” – Northwestern University aviation expert, A. Gellman.
support legal immigration. Support amnesty for those who enter the U.S. illegally (undocumented immigrants). Also believe that undocumented immigrants have a right to:
— all educational and health benefits that citizens receive (financial aid, welfare, social security and medicaid), regardless of legal status.
— the same rights as American citizens. It is unfair to arrest millions of undocumented immigrants.
support legal immigration only. Oppose amnesty for those who enter the U.S. illegally (illegal immigrants). Those who break the law by entering the U.S. illegally do not have the same rights as those who obey the law and enter legally. The borders should be secured before addressing the problem of the illegal immigrants currently in the country. The federal government should secure the borders and enforce current immigration law.
government has the right to use eminent domain (seizure of private property by the government–with compensation to the owner) to accomplish a public end.
respect ownership and private property rights. Eminent domain (seizure of private property by the government–with compensation to the owner) in most cases is wrong. Eminent domain should not be used for private development.
support the separation of church and state. The bill of rights implies a separation of church and state. Religious expression has no place in government. The two should be completely separate. Government should not support religious expression in any way. All reference to god in public and government spaces should be removed (e.g., the ten commandments should not be displayed in federal buildings). Religious expression has no place in government.
the phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the constitution. The first amendment to the constitution states “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” this prevents the government from establishing a national church/denomination. However, it does not prohibit God from being acknowledged in schools and government buildings. Symbols of Christian heritage should not be removed from public and government spaces (eg., the ten commandments should continue to be displayed in federal buildings). Government should not interfere with religion and religious freedom.
marriage is the union of people who love each other. It should be legal for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, to ensure equal rights for all. Support same-sex marriage. Opposed to the creation of a constitutional amendment establishing marriage as the union of one man and one woman. All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the right to marry. Prohibiting same-sex citizens from marrying denies them their civil rights. [opinions vary on whether this issue is equal to civil rights for African Americans.]
marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Oppose same-sex marriage.
Support defense of marriage act (DOMA), passed in 1996, which affirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.
Requiring citizens to sanction same-sex relationships violates moral and religious beliefs of millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others, who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
the social security system should be protected at all costs. Reduction in future benefits is not a reasonable option. [opinions vary on the extent of the current system’s financial stability.] Social security provides a safety net for the nation’s poor and needy. Changing the system would cause a reduction in benefits and many people would suffer as a result.
the social security system is in serious financial trouble. Major changes to the current system are urgently needed. In its current state, the social security system is not financially sustainable. It will collapse if nothing is done to address the problems. Many will suffer as a result. Social security must be made more efficient through privatization and/or allowing individuals to manage their own savings.
higher taxes (primarily for the wealthy) and a larger government are necessary to address inequity/injustice in society (government should help the poor and needy using tax dollars from the rich). Support a large government to provide for the needs of the people and create equality. Taxes enable the government to create jobs and provide welfare programs for those in need. Government programs are a caring way to provide for the poor and needy in society.
lower taxes and a smaller government with limited power will improve the standard of living for all. Support lower taxes and a smaller government. Lower taxes create more incentive for people to work, save, invest, and engage in entrepreneurial endeavors. Money is best spent by those who earn it, not the government. Government programs encourage people to become dependent and lazy, rather than encouraging work and independence.
the UN promotes peace and human rights. The United States has a moral and a legal obligation to support the United Nations (UN). The U.S. should not act as a sovereign nation, but as one member of a world community. The U.S. should submit national interests to the greater good of the global community (as defined by the UN). The U.S. should defer to the UN in military/peacekeeping matters. The United Nations charter gives the United Nations security council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. U.S. troops should submit to UN command.
the UN has repeatedly failed in its essential mission to promote world peace and human rights. The wars, genocide and human rights abuses taking place in many human rights council member states (and the UN’s failure to stop them) prove this point. History shows that the united states, not the UN, is the global force for spreading freedom, prosperity, tolerance and peace. The U.S. should never subvert its national interests to those of the UN. The U.S. should never place troops under UN control. U.S. military should always wear the U.S. military uniform, not that of UN peacekeepers. [opinions vary on whether the U.S. should withdraw from the UN.]
global warming, not terrorism, poses the greatest threat to the U.S., according to democrats in congress. Terrorism is a result of arrogant U.S. foreign policy. Good diplomacy is the best way to deal with terrorism. Relying on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism. Captured terrorists should be handled by law enforcement and tried in civilian courts.
terrorism poses one of the greatest threats to the U.S. the world toward which the militant Islamist strive cannot peacefully co-exist with the western world. In the last decade, Militant Islamists have repeatedly attacked Americans and American interests here and abroad. Terrorists must be stopped and destroyed. The use of intelligence-gathering and military force are the best ways to defeat terrorism around the world. Captured terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants and tried in military courts.
support welfare, including long-term welfare. Welfare is a safety net which provides for the needs of the poor. Welfare is necessary to bring fairness to American economic life. It is a device for protecting the poor.
oppose long-term welfare. Opportunities should be provided to make it possible for those in need to become self-reliant. It is far more compassionate and effective to encourage people to become self-reliant, rather than allowing them to remain dependent on the government for provisions.
Compiled by the editors. Copyright 2005, (revised 2010) studentnewsdaily.com.
The following are the dozen most people I believe have been destructive to the fidelity of the Constitution and the rule of law in the 21st century. By their actions or inactions, duplicitous, deception, and defiance to the principles of the Constitution they have brought much more harm than good to the people of the United States.