Third Party & Independents Archives

Runaway American Brainwashing

You may not want to know this. Americans have been successfully brainwashed to fear exactly what their revered Constitution gives them the right to have. Those smart Framers of the Constitution decided that we needed exactly what the establishment, pro-status quo elitists who run our plutocracy do NOT want us to have. There is even a well funded semi-secret group organized to prevent what we the people have a right to.

Has the brainwashing worked? You bet it has. In the absence of public furor, for over 200 years Congress has not done what Article V of the Constitution says it “shall” do. Congress has never issued a call for an Article V convention of state delegates to consider constitutional amendments, in response to two-thirds of state legislatures asking for one. That numeric requirement – the only specified requirement in Article V – has been satisfied, with 50 states submitting over 500 requests. Such a convention operating under authority of the Constitution would be a fourth, impermanent branch of the federal system, not beholding to the three permanent branches. Such independence has been cartooned into a frightening monster.

There is no uncertainty about what the Framers thought the nation needed. They wrote in crystal clear language a two-step process for amending the Constitution. First, craft proposals for possible amendments. Either Congress can do it or an Article V convention of state delegates can. Second, ratify proposed amendments by three-quarters of the states, either through their legislatures or state conventions, as Congress chooses. The Framers believed that Americans, acting through large numbers of state legislators, deserved a way to circumvent the excessive power of Congress or its refusal or inability to satisfy sovereign citizens – their bosses. No role was given to the federal judiciary and executive branch in amending the Constitution.

An Article V convention is a clear threat to the political, social and economic establishment exerting self-serving influence on Congress. It can put into public debate ideas for amending the Constitution that threaten established political forces, both liberal and conservative. Acting independently, it can courageously propose amendments without interference from status quo defenders.

So, not surprisingly, many persons and groups holding power oppose an Article V convention. How have they brainwashed Americans to fear such a convention? They fostered the image of a “runaway convention” – something to fear on a par with fears of a physical attack on the nation by foreign enemies or terrorists. How could something placed into our Constitution to thwart an ineffective federal government be turned on its head to become such a feared threat?

Clever people grasped onto a historical fact and extrapolated it into a phantasy nightmare. In fact, the nation’s first and only constitutional convention was a runaway. Rather than do what had been planned for it – namely to modify the Articles of Confederation that first tied the states together – the state delegates constructed what we have for over two hundred years worshipped: the U.S. Constitution. Those rascal Framers created a strong federal government that not everyone at the time wanted. The anti-status quo guys won.

Backstage power brokers have never wanted another convention that might change the political system they expertly corrupt and control. They made people believe that a convention could destroy their cherished, constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. Or, equally bad, strange amendments would overturn the structure of our federal government and throw the nation into chaos and destroy our lauded political and governmental stability.

Is there any supporting evidence for fearing an Article V convention? No. To the contrary, there are solid reasons for demanding it.

First, there have been many state constitutional conventions and a huge number of amendments to state constitutions. Look around. Our states and their governments have not been ruined. Conventions were not hijacked and turned into weapons. And the first national constitution convention was hugely successful, even if it was a runaway, telling us that the good is the enemy of the better.

Second, the requirement that three-quarters of the states must ratify any specific amendments produced by an Article V convention provides a safety net. This is such a high hurdle that it is crazy to believe that truly awful amendments could ever become permanent changes to our Constitution. Anyway, when an amendment not worthy of retaining has happened, it was fixed through another amendment.

Third, the nation’s first Article V convention would be so unique and of such historical significance that in our modern age of media and Internet communication there would be a solar-bright light on all its activities, from the election of state delegates to their debates and final amendment proposals. In fact, this temporary fourth branch of our federal system would be under more public scrutiny and less susceptible to corruption than our present, permanent branches of government.

Fourth, we should reject the indirect way of changing our constitution, namely through interpretations and judgments by those few non-elected, political appointees that serve on the Supreme Court. Plus, as President George W. Bush has demonstrated, a runaway CEO of our nation along with an ineffective Congress can take big bites out of our constitutional rights and protections and suffer no consequences.

Fifth, while it is true that we have had considerable political and governmental stability, we have paid a heavy price for it: namely a permanent culture of corruption, lying and deception that have danced around our constitutional protections and riddled American democracy with hypocrisy. Too much stability has turned our democracy into a plutocracy and a convention could consider remedies.

Sixth, the majority of Americans are independents, not loyal Democrats or Republicans, and only an Article V convention offers a truly independent route to addressing intransigent root problems that the political system under two-party control has allowed to fester.

Seventh, the congressional experience with proposing amendments has shown that though many may be considered, few survive. Over 11,000 have been considered by Congress, but only 33 reached the ratification phase, and only 27 were ratified – very few in the last 100 years. [The last amendment was finally ratified in 1992 – 203 years after it was first proposed by Congress!] Why should we think that a convention would agree on a huge number of amendments? With all America watching, delegates that know their states would focus on a few critical amendments likely to be ratified.

Lastly, what about that semi-secret group that was created to block attempts to amend our Constitution? Few know about The Constitution Project (www.constitutionproject.org), “that urges restraint in the constitutional amendment process.” It was formed in 1997 to “oppose the facile rewriting of the U.S. Constitution.” They fear “unthinking tinkering with fundamental rights and liberties” – actually, amendments on social and fiscal issues from conservatives. It has been funded by The Century Fund, a liberal group. The nearly 70 members in the constitutional amendments initiative are true status quo elites. Many were members of Congress or presidential appointees. They produced guidelines for evaluating possible amendments that, as discussed in “The Second Constitutional Convention” by Richard Labunski, were formulated to defeat attempts to amend the Constitution.

On the political right, the John Birch Society has consistently pushed the Big Runaway Lie and said the “prospect [of a convention] is ominous.” “We do not believe that, under today’s mentality and morality, the nation can handle that much sovereignty in one place.” To support their position, they cite elites: Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said “there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey.” Liberal Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg said “one of the most serious problems Article V poses is a runaway convention. There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. …delegates could put a runaway convention in the hands of single-issue groups whose self-interest may be contrary to our national well-being.” Ardent right-wingers admire what a joint congressional resolution said in 1935: "The government of the United States is not a concession to the people from some one higher up. It is the creation and the creature of the people themselves, as absolute sovereigns." Yet, they do NOT trust we the people to exercise our sovereignty and be smart enough to make a convention work in the public interest!

There are, luckily, pro-convention advocates. Listen to the wise words of Judge Thomas Brennan, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and Dean Emeritus and President of Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan: “There is no danger of a runaway convention. That phrase, ‘runaway convention’, and all the accompanying horror stories about repealing the Bill of Rights are utterly without substance. They are myths, harmful to democracy, invented by those who are afraid to let the people exercise their historic and God-given right to self government.” Amen.

Despite the truth, opponents to an Article V convention have successfully framed the issue in the public consciousness. A highly negative status quo bias belief has been cemented into many minds – but not everyone. Even when confronted with pro-convention information, brainwashed people fall victim to the pain of cognitive dissonance. The truth is blocked out to minimize discomfort. They stay fixated with the implanted Big Runaway Lie that a convention will harm the nation. For those that let in objective reality, angry dissent must fuel demand for one.

Where do we go from here? If respect for our Constitution and our sovereign selves prevails, pro-convention patriots must work extra hard to move the nation towards an Article V convention. The first battle is to get a convention. The second challenging battle is to prevent a convention from being abused and co-opted by the power elites that would be out for blood after failing to prevent a convention. A high level of public support is critically needed to win both battles. To win the first battle, the smart strategy is not to let people become sidetracked about specific possible amendments. Those who have fostered the Big Runaway Lie will surely posit some terrible possible amendments – ones that would immediately frighten and alienate huge numbers of Americans. Public fear is their weapon.

Back to reality: What we now have, along with runaway public distrust of government, is runaway political disengagement as evidenced by low voter turnout, runaway disgust with both the Republican and Democratic Parties, runaway economic inequality, runaway corruption of government by corporate and other special interests, and runaway mainstream media dysfunction – a corporate press more than a free press. The only thing Americans should fear is more of the same.

Can people purge their brainwashing? Only if they confront the false status quo bias belief and acknowledge that power elites did it to maintain a system they manipulate. To be against a convention is to stay a victim. Let the truth set you free. Do not fear the second American constitutional convention. Embrace it. Do not worry about a convention being hijacked. Instead, stay focused on this ugly truth: America has already been hijacked by corporate and other special interests on the left and right, along with their sycophant corrupt politicians. Stay vigilant! Because power elites will use every dirty trick imaginable to instill fear about a convention and then to undermine it, should they lose the first battle.

Come work for an Article V convention to reboot American democracy and provide a transfusion into the body politic through a heavy dose of transparent direct democracy. Help the USA remain committed to the rule of law. Compel Congress to respect what is clearly stated in the Constitution, and the meaning of “shall.”

The Supreme Court decides whether laws passed by Congress are or are not constitutional. But it refuses to tell Congress and the nation that Congress’ refusal to call an Article V convention is unconstitutional. What happened to checks and balances? Maybe Supreme Court Justices have also been brainwashed, or like members of Congress don’t want to risk losing their power.

The bitter truth is that literally every individual, group and institution now holding real power opposes a second national constitutional convention. Does that make the quest for a convention futile? Only if one gives up on the supermajority of Americans that should, for their own sake and the sake of future generations, want a convention. Elitists have much to lose. Everyone else has much to gain.

The fight for American democracy is not over. Our Founders fought British oppression and now we must fight congressional oppression. Can nonviolent collective action produce an Article V convention? Only if each of us says “yes!” And then help spread an idea virus to reach a tipping point among we the people: Millions of Americans must tell state legislatures and congressional delegations they demand a convention. Tools may include citizen state petitions on the Internet and thousands of community meetings arranged through meetup.com. Such activities and a convention itself would provide what many believe the Framers intended to create: a deliberative democracy.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Constitution, esteemed political scientist James MacGregor Burns, warned that “major changes will not be made until there is a severe crisis – at which time we might open the floodgates to reckless constitutional change.” Instead, he advised taking thoughtful action now. “We must all become framers,” he advised.

To keep working on the goal of forming “a more perfect Union,’ and as a political necessity and a moral obligation, we OUGHT to have a second national constitutional convention – which means we the people CAN have one. Simply put, an Article V convention is all about “power to the people.” Either you believe in it or you don’t. The people who created our nation and Constitution believed in it. They gave us Article V. Our elected MISrepresentatives in Congress and their masters don’t believe in it. They won’t willingly give us a convention. We have a runaway Congress. That’s what’s frightening. And that’s why we must fight for a convention.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at January 16, 2007 1:25 PM
Comments
Comment #203534

Isn’t this just a reprint of your previous article?

Do you have anything else to say?

Posted by: LawnBoy at January 16, 2007 2:02 PM
Comment #203544

Even though you have written about this before, it bears deep consideration. We could reframe the questions without corporate hype of which there is too, too much.

With 500 failures to get a convention, maybe the People should just convene one and get on with it while the Congress stares and listens in shocked awe.

I keep bringing up the fact that the Preamble is the only piece of the Constitution to measure laws against. The convention can reinforce that. After all, summary justice is not establishing (real) justice.

The common defence is not a standing army beholden to a few who want to remake the world and squander our taxes for empire. I could go on but that is how the arguments need to begin.

Posted by: Carol at January 16, 2007 2:53 PM
Comment #203550

Ignorant people are ripe for brain-washing.

In a voting nation, an educated electorate is paramount, and the voters’ education is on the way (the smart way, or the hard, painful way). Already, some unavoidable consequences are in the pipeline; especially for future generations (the truly innocent who don’t even yet have a choice or a vote).

Government is irresponsible, corrupt, and growing ever larger to nightmare proportions, but voters keep rewarding incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them (rewarding them with re-election rates of 90% or higher).

When will it end?

When will things improve?

Only when the status quo becomes too painful.

Unfortunately, in this current era of selfishness and laziness, too many Americans want to be taken care of from cradle to grave. Everyone has their pet project (e.g. stem cell, bridges to nowhere, sewer renovations, prescription drugs, healthcare, etc.).

The consequences are on the way, as our irresponsible, FOR-SALE Congress will continue to ignore the nation’s most pressing problems, and voters will continue to reward them for it … until the inevitable consequences become too painful, which may not be too many years away, as a myriad of problems are now growing simultaneously, possibly into a perfect storm (debt, borrowing, spending, war, terrorism, open borders and ports, illegal immigration, a nation swimming in debt, excessive money-printing, constitutional violations, eminent domain abuse, perversion of the laws to do the very things there were supposed to prevent, etc., etc., etc.).

Posted by: d.a.n at January 16, 2007 3:15 PM
Comment #203551


Joel: Perhaps if you provided a list of amendments that you think should be discussed and possibly passed by a Contitional convention, we could have a better understanding of why a convention is necessary.

I agree that in many ways, the American people have been brainwashed about a lot of things, but about a Constitutional convention? Most Americans don’t even know there is such a mechanism. That is not because of brainwashing, it is a failure of education. Government should be a required course for every student every year that they are in school from K thru 12 and beyond.

Posted by: jlw at January 16, 2007 3:16 PM
Comment #203554

jlw,
You’re right.
Education is the key.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 16, 2007 3:26 PM
Comment #203563

I am trying to stay away from advocating specific amendments to maintain credibility as an advocate for a convention. There are many possible amendments that are not related to social issues and, therefore, are less likely to stir up a lot of emotional positions - for or against. For example: making Election Day a national holiday, requiring same day registration for all federal elections, allowing a citizen not born in the U.S. to become president, requiring a federal balanced budget, giving the president a line item veto on spending, creating four-year terms for president/vp, senators and representatives and eliminating mid-term elections, replacing the Electoral College with the popular vote, and many more.

As to the comment that this article is just more of the same, only two paragraphs are more or less were in the previous article; while most is entirely new information and deeper analysis. I strongly believe that if major political/government reform is of interest to you, then only a convention is likely to make it happen. People will be status quo oriented or activist dissidents and for the latter more information about the Article V convention “right” is critically important.

The many comments to my previous article motivated me to go deeper into the issue to better convince people that a convention is in the interest of all Americans that are not now members of the power-elite class.

Posted by: Joel S. Hirschhorn at January 16, 2007 4:26 PM
Comment #203564

BRAINWASHED!!!!!
YOUR ALL BRAINWASHED!!!!!

No, not really.
I know I’m not convinced by words like that. They essentially say “People should automatically agree with me because otherwise they are just folks who prefer to be controlled like robots by others. I know people might feel that way, especially when frustrated by outcomes they don’t like, but such a point of view has more than a couple problem with it.

First, the point may not have been adequately explained to them. People are imperfect communicators, They also only know so much, not because they’re stupid, or they’re sheep, but because they are only human.

Second, people know this is true, but also have a degree of knowledge that they are confident in. So, people who have not seen the weight of the evidence turn against what they think they know tend to be complacent about what they think is true. It doesn’t necessarily help somebody to convince them if they do not regard their target with respect.

Third, folks can and will be wrong, even when they believe something strongly.

I do not believe that the requisite number of convention calls has occured. If that is the case, whether Congress should call one is a moot point.

You can call people names, allege that they’re simply too scared, or you can realize that with good reasons, people don’t change the fundamentals of government in this country all that quickly.

What makes a convention a pause-worthy event is that in such a convention, the political fashion of the day could become the guiding principle of our government from that time out. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a profound thing to occur, and sometimes such things can have fearful consequences.

Yet if it is asked for in a timely fashion that expresses the immediate, not cumulative will of the people, then it is what is called for.

I just don’t think the standards have been met, and I don’t agree with the author’s use of a cumulative number, since the obvious intent of the founders, as with any vote, was to catch a good picture of the people’s will at any one point in time. If it takes seven years to capture that… Well, in that time the Senate and the House have changed parties. Why should we allow a vote that important to be stretched indefinitely, when the point is to only do this when a supermajority of the states wish for this to take place? As I argued before, we should give just enough time for all the legislatures to have time to hold their sessions and put the convention to the vote. Any longer, and we complicate things by introducing the factor of these legislatures changing hands.

This is especially important given the recent change, since a good number of states that might have called for a convention now will have been handed to a different party by the people. The point in keeping the vote short is to make sure that the convention represents the actual will of the people at the time the calls go out. Anything less, and we will be doing a re-write of the constitution with half-hearted public support and/or interest, which is no way to approach such changes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2007 4:35 PM
Comment #203566

Joel-
I don’t like it. We already have a mechanism for Amendments available to us. The only reason to call a convention is because there is some central issue that must be amended around. Without that being there, you don’t have something real to hang the convention on. It becomes a grab bag of people’s special interest amendments, something they could have handled with less extraordinary means.

The reason to call a convention is to reengineer the government. That was the point of the original convention. Unless the people see some overwhelming reason to begin and carry out this reengineering, then trying to get it called is foolish.

People may be happy with the reforms that come without such drastic measures. If they are, this will not be necessary. If more is necessary, there are amendments that can be passed. If more than that is necessary, we go to the convention. As I said before, this is not a shortcut. Call a convention, and there will be debate, and the debate itself could have profound consequences for America’s stability.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2007 4:44 PM
Comment #203577

Stephen — If you really believe Congress has done the best job possible when it comes to lawmaking and government reforms, then fine, stick with supporting the status quo. If you really believe that Congress is not corrupted by all kinds of special interests and is truly serving the public interest, fine, stick with the status quo. As to the facts: yes, there is a record and truly over 500 state applications for a convention from 50 states have been submitted to congress. Interestingly, congress has chosen never to create an open, transparent system of keeping tabs on those applications. That tells me they really do not want any competition when it comes to proposing constitutional amendments. As to your belief that only applications from a certain, narrow time period can be counted: that is NOT what the constitution itself says — period. I put that fact about the ratification of the 27th amendment — about it taking over 200 years — to accumulate enough state votes in favor of it to point out that important precedent. If you truly believe (and if congress truly believes) that only convention applications from a specified period can be counted, then you and congress should want to propose an amendment that amplifies on Article V. Isn’t it interesting that congress in all these years has never tried to amend Article V to give congress the powers it has implicitly grabbed??????

Posted by: Joel S. Hirschhorn at January 16, 2007 6:04 PM
Comment #203579

What I wonder is whether there have ever been enough requests for a convention on a particular topic. If 50% of the states request a convention 10 times, that’d be 250 requests, but it would never been enough to spark any particular convention.

Are there any specific amendments that had enough support to warrant a convention but were denied?

Posted by: LawnBoy at January 16, 2007 6:31 PM
Comment #203618

Joel-
This congress has not had time to fully demonstrate it’s capacity for either mischief or reform. As for it corruption? I think the jury is out on that as well, but I do think we have some improvements.

You say there are are over 500 applications. I know this. But those are over the life of the country. It should be quite obvious that this was not their intention, that they expected such a vote to mirror the way the constitution was designed to be ratified.

In that case, then a limited timeframe is applicable, and the purpose is clearly to get a supermajority of the states involved at any one time, in order to repeat the constitutional convention.

As for the strange case of the 27th Amendment, that is for ratification of an amendment, not for the calling of the convention. The precedent for the ratification of the Constitution of the United States was less than one year after the Constitutional convention finalized it: From September 17th 1787 to June 21st of 1788 the following year, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify.

If the founding fathers did not wait years to ratify the constitution, why should we accept such a long cumulative wait for the calling of the convention? They didn’t even have the advantage of telecommunications or modern travel, yet they got right on it. Apparently, it was important to the Founding Fathers that the survey of the national opinion on this subject would be done promptly and comprehensively.

Why should the calling of a Convention be drawn out where the approval of the constitution was not? The obvious purpose for waiting until two-thirds of the states had called for the convention together is to make sure that they are doing this together, that this is a genuine call from a supermajority of states for the convention. To allow a drawn out vote would invite the constitutional crisis of a convention called not by the will of most of the people the people, but in the technicality of aimless accumulation.

Which do you think is the more likely scenario here: that the Founding Fathers wrote this in so that when two thirds of the states decided at once to change the constitution wholesale (the point of a convention) they could, or that they wanted such things to happen any time the number of state calls over time reached an arbitrary fraction of the total states?

I believe the Founding Fathers wrote this in to give an alternative to complete political anarchy, not to indulge the interests of those who just have a bunch of pet amendments they’re frustrated with trying to get through Congress. The complete rewriting of the constitution is a last resort we are nowhere near needing.

I am not a fan of the status quo. I want change. I’m not at the point yet, though, where I think a radical rewrite of the constitution is necessary to enable that change.

You obviously think differently. Until enough people agree with you and tell their legislatures to make that call, though, it’s not going to happen. You should be thankful for that, given all the constitutional monkeying in the past that you would have objected to.

The point of Democracy, ultimately, is not to let small vocal groups like ours, to take the rest of the country on a ride without the consent of the majority.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2007 9:41 PM
Comment #203624

Stephen Daugherty,

There ARE far too many Americans that are:

  • (a) brainwashed

  • (b) ignorant

… because of laziness and selfishness.

That’s the era we live in.
It’s not always that way, but it runs in cycles.

Why is it that nobody is calling this current generation the “Great Generation” ?

Because it obviously isn’t.

The “Great Generation” was not pathetically dependent on a bloated, corrupt, wasteful, and increasingly oppressive government. They didn’t have the pathetic sense of entitlement we see today, where people want to be cared for, from cradle-to-grave, by the government.

The “Great Generation” was not swimming in massive debt.

The “Great Generation” didn’t start unnecessary wars. They finished them.

And, after WWII, they almost paid off the debt from that war.

We (this generation) is not the “Great Generation”.

And the younger generations aren’t either.
In fact, they are less educated, and become more uneducated every year.

And if none of that is proof enough, just look at our corrupt, bought-and-paid-for, FOR SALE, irresponsible Congress.

Congress is a reflection of us, since we keep rewarding them be repeatedly re-electing them.

Congress is too corrupt and irresponsible, as evidenced by the nation’s serious problems, growing in number and severity.

And, irresponsible politicians (and other cheaters) tap into the voters’ laziness by convincing voters to blindly pull the party-lever (i.e. straight-ticket), by seducing them into the circular, divisive, distracting, controlling, time-wasting, partisan warfare, and fooling them into rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them.

In a voting nation, an educated electorate is paramount, and the voters’ eduction is on the way. Unfortunately, it looks like they’ll have to learn the hard way (again).

A convention ain’t gonna cut it.

The only motivation that voters will finally understand is pain, and voters are doing exactly that; ensuring the painful consequences of their own making; pain and misery is a good educator.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 16, 2007 10:00 PM
Comment #203646

I don’t think it brainwashing as much a a lack of teaching the Constitution and our rights under it. When I was in school I had to pass a test on the Constitution in order to graduate high school. Even then they really didn’t explain our right all that well. This hasn’t been required for at least 30 years. If folks don’t know what their Constitution says then how can they know what rights they have?
Our politicians and their willing allies the media sure ain’t gonna tell the public about their rights. Specially the bunch up there in Dc right now. Both parties included.
And the courts rewriting the Constitution to suite their political views ain’t helping matters either.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 17, 2007 12:09 AM
Comment #203678

In Wikipedia’s article about this means of amendment, they say

Congress has never responded by calling a convention because those applications requested amendments on different subjects. This Congressional inaction has contributed to impression that the applications from two-thirds of the state legislatures must petition for the same amendment(s) although the federal courts have never ruled on this “precedent,” which has been quietly established through Congressional unresponsiveness. A court case, saying that it is illegal for Congress to avoid calling a convention, was rejected by the Supreme Court.

The article goes on to list the four times that the number of states has gotten close to the required number for a particular issue, but it was always not enough.

It really seems as if the original post is based on anger over a flawed premise. Congress hasn’t had an obligation yet to invoke a Constitutional convention. No rights have been abridged; no brainwashing is in effect.

Posted by: LawnBoy at January 17, 2007 9:11 AM
Comment #203679

dan-
Democrats did not win back Congress by calling people brainwashed and ignorant. Instead, we exposed where reality and what these people were saying diverged. We used facts and stories, instead of just flinging a bunch of pre-made conclusions at people expecting them to agree.

I have a little theory on the nature of communication: There are smooth ideas out there, and prickly. The difference is the degree to which ideas adhere to people’s attention, and the reasons for that adherence.

We are not just trying to reproduce an opinion, but bring that person to the same conclusion. You can hit somebody with a car, or you can open the door and let them. All too many people try to run others over with their opinion, backing over them to tell them how dumb or brainwashed they are for rejecting them.

It is all too slow and torturous in my opinion, to try and force my conclusions on people. Now, when you write, you all too often employ these encapsulated ideas, these preset conclusions, instead of discussing the rather less abstract character of events elsewhere.

This is a significant problem in many political movements, for two reasons:

1) Using real stories and real evidence to illustrate a point makes the ideas more prickly, gives people’s attention, memory, and other faculties something concrete to process, rather than bombard them with well-known and quickly skimmed talking points.

Politicians and Pundits, faced with complex situations, often default into talking points mode, and over time, they can forget than even they had to learn.

2) It keeps the ideas in feedback with reality- observation and experiment, you could say, testing theories. We can be wrong, much as we hate to admit it. Politics, with its strong feelings can even lead us to be spectacularly wrong. Keeping our high-flown interpretations in touch with reality is crucial.

So what’s the reality here? The reality is, the Founding Fathers did not waste time. Between the time of the Annapolis Convention, which is what called for the more famous Philadelphia Convention, only a year passed. It was less than a year before the constitution was ratified. Nowhere do we find the constitutional framers taking their sweet time, even in a time without even the rudiments of modern telecommunication and motorized travel. More astonishingly, which I didn’t even know, the State Legislatures, known in that time to meet much more infrequently than ours, still managed to call themselves into session to ratify the constitution in nine months.

If they did it that way, with all the inconveniences it caused them, then the precedent is for the time frame to be rather compressed, not long and drawn out. Both the call and the ratification took place more or less in the space of a single year each.

By that standard, then, the cumulative theory makes no sense. That is the reality that must be the touchstone for any call for a convention. You can call people brainwashed and ignorant, but history shows that on constitutional matters, the Framers did not wait around.

That demonstrates that they did not intend the constitutional convention calls to be a long and drawn out process. Speed was part of what they expected from such a vote, and for good reason: the time wasted getting things together, even in those more deliberate times would dampen the momentum and muddy the waters of the convention’s legitimacy.

Speed means decisiveness. The high threshold for state calls was meant to make this a decisive call, something representing the immediate will of the people. This wasn’t mean to be the half-hearted result of the accumulation of calls. This was meant to be something people were determined in their calls for.

By taking this approach, the Founding Fathers must have been hoping that this would set a critical threshold of public support for the changes, so those changes would have that authority behind them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 17, 2007 9:18 AM
Comment #203695

Joel,

Whether people have been brainwashed or not seems irrelevant to me. What difference does it make if some interest group doesn’t want it? If the stipulations of Article V are met by the Legislatures of two thirds of the States calling for a convention, then the bottom line is, it should happen. If it doesn’t happen then the states need to sue in federal court. You mention the SCOTUS not wanting to get involved. Was there an actual case brought before the SCOTUS? If so, what was the case, and what were the reasons for the SCOTUS deciding against a convention? The devil is usually in the details.

Posted by: JayJay at January 17, 2007 11:13 AM
Comment #203700

Besides, shouldn’t we be more worried about getting the the three branches of government to do their jobs to protect and enforce the Constitution as is? What good are more amendments when the government refuses to enforce the ones we already have?

Posted by: JayJay at January 17, 2007 11:59 AM
Comment #203702
Ron Brown wrote: I don’t think it is brainwashing as much a lack of teaching the Constitution and our rights under it. When I was in school I had to pass a test on the Constitution in order to graduate high school… . If folks don’t know what their Constitution says, then how can they know what rights they have?
Ron Brown, Good question. All they have to do is google “constitution” or visit their library. Unfortunately, in this era, too few care enough to do so. They prefer to remain in ignorance. If you polled any group of Americans, you’d be appalled at how little they know about their own Constitution or a wide range of things.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Democrats did not win back Congress by calling people brainwashed and ignorant. Instead, we exposed where reality and what these people were saying diverged. We used facts and stories, instead of just flinging a bunch of pre-made conclusions at people expecting them to agree.
Of course not.

They won their temporary majority by tapping into the voters laziness and ignorance, by brainwashing them to pull the party lever (rather than actually knowing something about who they are actually voting for), by fueling the clever, circular, divisive, distracting partisan warfare, a lot of dirty money, by fooling voters that the Republicans were more corrupt (which is really merely a result of being the IN PARTY; both parties merely take turns), and by fooling the voters into continually rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

Do-Nothing Congress is still:

  • the same teams (merely taking turns being the IN PARTY and OUT PARTY)

  • the same players (90% were re-elected)

  • the same old game

Of course, some believe this new 110th Congress is somehow different and wonderful, and will fix a lot of things, but the track-record of the last 30+ years doesn’t warrant much optimism.

And Nancy Pelosi (this week) trying to omit Samoa for the minimum wage (because she represents StarKist who opposes the minimum wage) doesn’t warrant much optimism. Sounds like more of the same old dishonest, FOR-SALE Congress to me. Nancy Pelosi didn’t reverse that decision until she was caught trying to make that little omission.

Congress is still FOR-SALE, corrupt, and dysfunctional, and ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: We can be wrong, much as we hate to admit it. Politics, with its strong feelings can even lead us to be spectacularly wrong. Keeping our high-flown interpretations in touch with reality is crucial.

I agree completely. And reality is that this 110th Congress is still far, far too corrupt and FOR-SALE, because it still consists of 90% of the same incumbents, and because ignorant voter keep rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

Of course, some people, due to partisan motivations will strongly disagree, but a mere shift of power in Congress (between the two party duopoly) is not the balance of power that is needed.

Only the voters can truly balance the power and bring about a more responsible Congress, and that won’t ever happen by rewarding crooked politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

But that will require education, and the voters education is on the way.
Will it be the smart way or the hard way?
Continually rewarding corrupt, irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them will guarantee the hard way. Pain is a good teacher.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: Instead, we exposed where reality and what these people were saying diverged. We used facts and stories, instead of just flinging a bunch of pre-made conclusions at people expecting them to agree.
Ha ha ! There’s no partisan bias in that sentence. : ) Dems don’t fling pre-made conclusions? Dems don’t expect people to agree with them? That’s reality? The partisan bias of those statements are the farthest thing from reality. The reality is that both parties merely take turns being irresponsible, and voters keep rewarding them for it by repeatedly re-electing them, because the voters have not yet received their education, which is on the way.

Yesterday on CNN, Jack Cafferty asked for E-Mails about Congress’ new plan to increase the staff of the Ethics Panel. The joke of course is that appears to be the solution for everything, in our government, as it grows and grows ever larger to nightmare proportions. Anyway, a viwer’s E-Mail said the problem is the voters fault too; so much corruption in Congress is because voters keep re-electing crooked incumbents (e.g. William Jefferson comes to mind).

Unfortunately, I was once one of the brainwashed and used to pull the party lever.
Therefore, I understand the problem well.
To say that too many voters are ignorant and brainwashed is simply a fact.
There’s no sense in sugar-coating it.
Voters will either think about it, discard it completely; refuse to remove the their partisan blinders, or don’t care one way or the other.

But it is high time that people stop complaining about Congress and understand that Congress is merely a reflection of the voters that keep empowering and rewarding those very same irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

Stephen Daugherty wrote: We can be wrong, much as we hate to admit it.

One thing is for certain.
It makes no sense at all to continually complain about corruption in government, but continually reward those very same irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

That’s reality, and the sooner voters understand it, the better.

While voters will get their education eventually, sooner would be better, and that requires education, or we will learn the hard way. Already, some unavoidable, painful consequences are on the way, and lazily wallowing in the circular, divisive, distracting, destructive, time-wasting partisan warfare is not the solution.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 17, 2007 12:16 PM
Comment #203721

I guess you can count me among the brainwashed. I am not, however, a pinko commie fag.

By tying this article to the John Birch Society, you make clear the intent. Perhaps it is just coincidence that this article appears a few days after MLK day. JBS staunchly opposed the civil rights movement as a communist plot.

Lawnboy points out some factual distortions in your post.

Maybe I’m a brainwashed moron, but I wasn’t born yesterday.

Posted by: gergle at January 17, 2007 1:50 PM
Comment #203728
Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote: Back to reality: What we now have, along with runaway public distrust of government, is runaway political disengagement as evidenced by low voter turnout, runaway disgust with both the Republican and Democratic Parties, runaway economic inequality, runaway corruption of government by corporate and other special interests, and runaway mainstream media dysfunction – a corporate press more than a free press. The only thing Americans should fear is more of the same.
Sadly, but very true!
Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote: Can people purge their brainwashing? Only if they confront the false status quo bias belief and acknowledge that power elites did it to maintain a system they manipulate.
Joel S. Hirschhorn, There is another method, right under our very own noses, which contains the peaceful force that is required to make government more responsible. And, that method is not continually rewarding corruption by repeatedly re-electing corrupt politicians.

Joel S. Hirschhorn,
Could you please elaborate on how a convention would provide the necessary force required to make government responsible, and increase education, transparency, and accountability?

Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote: To be against a convention is to stay a victim.
I’m for anything that will make government more responsible.

However, government is a direct reflection of those that elect that government. Our Do-Nothing Congress is corrupt because voters reward them for it, by repeatedly re-electing them. For example, consider Rep. Jefferson Williams, caught red-handed with bribe money … yet the voters still re-electing him.

Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote: Let the truth set you free. Do not fear the second American constitutional convention.
No, there’s nothing to fear. It just doesn’t seem to have the peaceful force to change anything. And that force can only come from the voters by voting out irresponsible incumbent politicians.
Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote: Embrace it [Article V Convention]. Do not worry about a convention being hijacked. Instead, stay focused on this ugly truth: America has already been hijacked by corporate and other special interests on the left and right, along with their sycophant corrupt politicians. Stay vigilant! Because power elites will use every dirty trick imaginable to instill fear about a convention and then to undermine it, should they lose the first battle.
OK. However, in a voting nation, an educated electorate is the only hope of learning lessons sooner than later. So voter education is needed to, and is possibly more important. Also, there still exists an easier method of reform, right under our very own noses, that has the peaceful force necessary to make government more responsible.

The real problem is one that permeates the majority of Americans, so it’s difficult to see how any reforms will ever be possible until one of the following occurs:

  • (1) Some significant event (war, another Great Depression, etc.) becomes a catalyst for change. Pain and misery motivates voters to insist on change, and that won’t happen by rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them. Pain and misery is a good teacher. The voters will get their education one way or another. It is a cycle. However, there’s no guarantee that the nation will survive either. Many nations have disappeared when they finally grew so corrupt, decadent, and dysfunctional.

  • (2) Congress reforms itself (not likely; not without an incentive which most likely, based on history, can only be provided by the citizens of the nation, which may occur peacefully (simply don’t re-elect them), or not so peacefully (e.g. revolution, civil unrest, another civil war, another revolution, etc.).

  • (3) An Article V Convention? (doesn’t seem likely, since a majority of voters can’t even manage to vote, or study who they vote for and let others do their thinking for them by pulling the party-lever).

  • Responsibility = Power + Conscience + Education + Transparency + Accountability
  • Corruption = Power - Conscience - Education - Transparency - Accountability

Voters have the one simple, responsible mechanism, right under their very own noses, that voters were supposed to be using all along to peacefully force government to be Transparent, Responsible and Accountable too !

  • Stop Repeat Offenders.
  • Don’t Re-Elect Them !
gergle wrote: I guess you can count me among the brainwashed.
gergle, I admit to being brainwashed for a long time (a party-lever pulling, straight-ticket voting Republican for 28 years). Not that the Republican party is better or worse than any other party. But the effectiveness of the powerfully distracting, circular, distracting, divisive, destructive, and time-wasting partisan warfare can not be under-estimated. It is extremely effective at fooling voters into pulling the party-lever, fooling voters into wallowing in the partisan warfare, and blindly supporting the party, and demonizing the other parties … dividing Americans, pitting voters against each other, while voters reward politicians for it by repeatedly re-electing them. It’s all about controling others, and the sad fact is, too many voter (many smart people otherwise) fall for it.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 17, 2007 2:51 PM
    Comment #203734

    Dan-
    Just how far are either of you going to get on arguments that show such little faith in people.

    I think one of the most powerful political forces in recent times, and not for the better, has been voter cynicism.

    Pundits have wasted no time in marketing the whole political cynicism thing to death. It’s the constant refrain, the constant excuse for not voting, not caring.

    Why reinforce that kind of bullshit?

    Only when the people become convinced that they have power will they use it, much less use it properly. You won’t get anywhere towards your goal by telling people they’re pathetic drones.

    I think people are well aware of the problems of excessive partisanship. I think they have some motivation to participate. All they need are two things: they need to be made aware of the real problems they’re dealing with, and they need the confidence to believe that they can do something about it.

    You say we won by cynically brainwashing people to pull a lever. I say we won because we cared about the same things many Americans did, and because we gave them what looked like a way out. We can keep that up, and by doing so, simultaneously benefit our political aspirations. That’s the deal, and the deal as it should be: governmend does good for the people, government gets reelected. incumbency becomes a reward for positive actions taken on behalf of the people. The key is to maintain a relationship of feedback. To your credit, you speak of such.

    But you drown it in cynicism. To me, cynicism is the flipside of the coin called naivete. It’s the irrational lack of confidence in a system. Cynicism breeds passiveness, acceptance of the corrupt order. Without hope for something better, people will lose the will to fight for it.

    Vigilance is the price of liberty. If the watchers don’t care, they won’t stand guard on values they already see as debased.

    The point is not to break America’s spirit, but to revive it, and I see nothing in rhetoric that treats the vast majority of Americans as brainwashed dupes that raises the spirits.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 17, 2007 3:14 PM
    Comment #203735

    d.a.n.,

    I don’t disagree that the partisan circus is distracting, but I was only being sarcastic. Insulting Americans will not win or influence many friends.

    Prior to reaching voting age, I was pro Nixon, and voted for Ford. I then voted for Carter. I did not vote for Clinton. I voted for Perot. I haven’t voted once for an elected President. I guess I am contrarian , by nature. I think Reagan, Clinton, and Bush, Jr. were and are inveterate liars and “show presidents”

    I don’t have an answer, except education and continued diligence. I agree with you that we over support incumbents.

    My only point really was that this post was fatuous and dishonest.

    Posted by: gergle at January 17, 2007 3:18 PM
    Comment #203740
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: d.a.n , Just how far are either of you going to get on arguments that show such little faith in people.
    I think one of the most powerful political forces in recent times, and not for the better, has been voter cynicism. Pundits have wasted no time in marketing the whole political cynicism thing to death. It’s the constant refrain, the constant excuse for not voting, not caring. Why reinforce that kind of bullshit?

    Those statements are so hypocritical and partisan motivated, it’s hilarious.

    First of all, stating facts is not cynicism.

    So, Stephen, why this 180 degree turn-about of late ?
    You never seemed to mind any cynical sounding statements about Republicans.

    If only you realized how obviously partisan such statements are.

    So, it’s OK to demonize Republicans, but now that the majority of the 110th Congress are Democrats, things are different, eh?

    Well, it isn’t.

    So, your new crusade is against cynisism now that the majority of the 110th Congress is Democrats?

    Ha !
    Sorry, but it is so partisan motivated.
    But, I understand the problem well, having been very partisan too at one time.

    Well, it’s time people start seeing how destructive and distracting all that partisan warfare is.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: Only when the people become convinced that they have power will they use it, much less use it properly. You won’t get anywhere towards your goal by telling people they’re pathetic drones.
    Not true. It makes some people think. And that’s a good thing, when what they are being told is true.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: I think people are well aware of the problems of excessive partisanship.
    Obviously not.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: I think they have some motivation to participate. All they need are two things: they need to be made aware of the real problems they’re dealing with, and they need the confidence to believe that they can do something about it.
    True. That is why so many watchdog and anti-incumbent organizations are popping up everywhere. They don’t need to fuel the cynicism. The corrupt politicians are doing a fine job of it themselves.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: You say we won by cynically brainwashing people to pull a lever.
    Absolutely. That’s part of it. Especially those that pull the party-lever without even knowing who they are voting for. Well, hopefully, there will be even less of it by 2008. Also, the Dems didn’t win merely because everyone voted for Dems. Repubs lost a lot of votes, that went to Independents and Third Parties from voters that still didn’t vote for Dems. So, in a sense, the Independents and Third Party voters decided the election.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: I say we won because we cared about the same things many Americans did, and because we gave them what looked like a way out.
    Think so, eh ? So, how about Nancy Pelosi trying to omit Samoa for the minimum wage? How about Rep. Jefferson Williams? Seems to me that Congress is still as corrupt and irresponsible as ever. I thought you said the Dems would kick the crooks to the curb? Yeah, and I’ve got some beach-front property for sale in Arizona.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: We can keep that up,
    Keep what up? What Nancy Pelosi tried to do (ignore the minimum wage for Samoa)?
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: … and by doing so, simultaneously benefit our political aspirations. That’s the deal, and the deal as it should be: governmend does good for the people, government gets reelected. incumbency becomes a reward for positive actions taken on behalf of the people.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: The key is to maintain a relationship of feedback. To your credit, you speak of such.
    Yes, feedback is education, and an educated electorate is important in a voting nation.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: But you drown it in cynicism. To me, cynicism is the flipside of the coin called naivete.
    Nonsense. If it is true, it isn’t cynicism. Besides, it didn’t seem to bother you when it was against the Republicans. Besides, the truth is the truth and sugar-coating it won’t help anyone. Dancing around the truth or trying to package it a certain way won’t help. There is no easy way to tell voters that they are culpable. Voters can not keep placing all blame on politicians when those same voters keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them. Voters need to hear the truth.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: It’s the irrational lack of confidence in a system.
    Nonsense, becasuse I am very confident that enough voters will figure it out eventually.

    Will it be the smart way, or the hard way?

    Will it be soon enough?
    Time may be running out.
    So, there’s no time to sugar-coat it.

    The voters will get their education.
    Some of it is already in the pipe-line.
    Some of the painful consequences are already inevitable.
    The first signs will probably be the damage to the economy.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: Cynicism breeds passiveness, acceptance of the corrupt order.
    True, but telling the truth is not cynicism. Knowing the voters will get it right some day is not cynicism. Trying to help promote eduction is not cynicism.

    It is mere partisan motivations that now want to portray it as cynicism.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: The point is not to break America’s spirit, but to revive it, and I see nothing in rhetoric that treats the vast majority of Americans as brainwashed dupes that raises the spirits.

    If the truth hurts, it’s tough.
    And it is true.
    Again, such concern now seems to be partisan motivated, now that the Dems are the IN-PARTY.

    When the Repubs were the IN-PARTY, many, including yourself, were saying all sorts of cynical sounding things about Republcians. It’s funny, now that Dems are the IN-PARTY, any criticism, not matter how factual, is labled as cynicism.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 17, 2007 3:56 PM
    Comment #203743
    Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote: Back to reality: What we now have, along with runaway public distrust of government, is runaway political disengagement as evidenced by low voter turnout, runaway disgust with both the Republican and Democratic Parties, runaway economic inequality, runaway corruption of government by corporate and other special interests, and runaway mainstream media dysfunction – a corporate press more than a free press. The only thing Americans should fear is more of the same.
    That’s why the anti-incumbent sentiment will grow larger by 2008. Many voters are beginning to see that they (the voters themselves) are part of the problem, and rewarding incumbents by repeatedly re-electing them is the farthest thing from the solution.

    The ranks of the third party and independents are growing.

    Many voters are getting so sick-and-tired of the “Democrats” and/or “Republicans” did this or that, while our problems are allowed to grow in number and severity.

    But, the galvanizing event will most likely be damage to the economy, caused by massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.

    gergle wrote: d.a.n., … Insulting Americans will not win or influence many friends.
    Many say that. However, when Americans blame politicians only, they are being hypocrites, because it is the voters they keep rewarding incumbents by repeatedly re-electing them (such as Rep. Jefferson Williams). Congress is a reflection of the voters.

    Some voters will refuse to believe it.
    Some voters don’t care.
    Some voters will think about it.

    But there’s no easy way to sugar-coat it.

    The ignorance and wallowing in the partisan warfare by too many voters is the problem.

    That’s not really name calling, such as calling voters a bunch of morons, or idiots, etc.

    There’s a difference.

    Saying too many voters are ignorant and wallow in the partisan warfare is constructive criticism; not cynicism, or mere name calling.

    Also, I’ll be the first to admit to being one of them at one time (for a long time), and hopefully can help others avoid that same mistake.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 17, 2007 4:20 PM
    Comment #203764

    Dan-
    If the truth hurts…

    Hmm. First, you have convince people its the truth. If you haven’t, they can just deny you. Telling people the truth doesn’t hurt them until they change their outlook.

    The truth is that you change people’s outlooks easier through the judicious use of fact, logic, and familiarity with the subject than you can with “the truth” about their behavior.

    I could waste my breath calling people names because they believe in cumulative periods for conventions, or I could point out the facts about how the last one went over. Pointing out the facts saves me breath.

    I also like for people to enjoy what they read. There is something to be said for elegance of form and message, for not making the perusal of the argument a mechanical affair that leaves people drained.

    If your point is to energize and inspire, you must be conscious of what is relevant, what you can most easily leave out, and what in the language, in terms of rhythm, sentence structure, and word choice can lend your passion to another person. Logic is a part of good eloquence, because meaning builds passion, and logic builds meaning. Not merely yours, but now, theirs.

    It doesn’t matter what we pundits feel, it matters what we can bring people to feel. We don’t power movements by ourselves. What the Democrats did better than the Republicans is get people to believe that the other side’s exploits were doing harm to the country. The failure of the Republicanss rests much in their over dependence on partisan bullying, on bashing people in the name of the cause.

    The Democrats came into that campaign with the facts on their side, and with the eloquence to encapsulate in our arguments what it was the Republicans dared not admit about what they were doing wrong. There is more to this past election than the Republicans losing, something deeper than just the revival of the Democratic Party.

    To put it simply, people stopped being as uncritical in their thinking about the Republican party, as they were before. The Democrats already, long ago reached their threshold of distrust with their representatives. We don’t have the kind of unalloyed trust in their representatives as they once had.

    You can talk about the Samoan minimum wage issue, but guess what: it’s been taken care of. It wasn’t rationalized, it wasn’t excused by pundits, it was corrected. Where Reid had a problem with the language on earmark reform, he quickly backed down, and they passed the measure with few changes. There’s bound to be bumps in the road. We hear about these things, and Democrats are willing to put on the pressure.

    Seeing the responsiveness of the Democratic congress to these issues is refreshing. I hope they keep up the good job. But if they don’t, the Democrats of this country will not sit still for long. Like any good businesspeople, politicians do themselves good by knowing what people want. What people want now is government that works for them, which doesn’t throw a dozen excuses their way as to why they’re not doing what they’re supposed to.

    They don’t want abstract movements. They want results, and that’s frankly what the system was built for. No one approach can encapsulate all that has to be done in order to make a nation work, to make it great.

    Hell, that’s why people like you and me weren’t set up to be the wise people calling the shots. We know enough or understand enough to make every decision wisely. Democracy allows us to pool, with minimal interference, the talents and intellectual resources of the people.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 17, 2007 8:19 PM
    Comment #203797

    The problem with our current constitution is that it was established as a republic, not a democracy. To the extent that congress passes laws beneficial only to the rich, and detrimental to working class people, it has not served the country well. I agree with Joel’s comment that power brokers have established over the years a “political system they expertly corrupt and control”. If we want a democracy we must submit changes at a constitutional convention which explicitly require all laws to be in the interest of all citizens, not just in the interest of the rich and famous. The current congress will not do this of it’s own accord.

    Posted by: Richard Backus at January 18, 2007 2:07 AM
    Comment #203830
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , If the truth hurts … Hmm. First, you have convince people its the truth. If you haven’t, they can just deny you.
    True. Also, its important to realize that some are incapable or unlikely to see the truth. You can see it here every day. Far too many are blinded by partisan motivations.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The truth is that you change people’s outlooks easier through the judicious use of fact, logic, and familiarity with the subject than you can with “the truth” about their behavior.
    It is effective both ways … with facts and logic about both the subject and behavior. Afterall, it’s all about our behavior. Again, voters that just want to complain about crooked politicians need to also recognize that they are also to blame if they are one of those that are rewarding those same crooked politicians by repeatedly re-electing them. There’s no good way to sugar coat it. It doesn’t do any good to try and blame it all on politicians or the OTHER party. The truth is the best policy, with supporting facts and evidence, which is abundant. The facts and logic is not the biggest hurdle. The biggest hurdle is exactly as Joel S. Hirschhorm said it is: overcoming the brainwashing.

    That is not name-calling or cynicism.
    It is constructive criticism.
    It is the truth.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I could waste my breath calling people names because they believe in cumulative periods for conventions, or I could point out the facts about how the last one went over. Pointing out the facts saves me breath.
    Perhaps. Perhaps not. Logic doesn’t work on everyone. Some are too brainwashed. Again, that is not name-calling, but a mere fact. Brainwashing is when people believe what they want, despite the overwhelming evidence and facts to the contrary.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I also like for people to enjoy what they read. There is something to be said for elegance of form and message, for not making the perusal of the argument a mechanical affair that leaves people drained.
    That’s somewhat true. Now, if that is a bit of sarcasm pointed at me, why are you frequently compelled to read and comment on my posts?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If your point is to energize and inspire, you must be conscious of what is relevant, what you can most easily leave out, and what in the language, in terms of rhythm, sentence structure, and word choice can lend your passion to another person. Logic is a part of good eloquence, because meaning builds passion, and logic builds meaning. Not merely yours, but now, theirs.
    Logic is important. So is the truth. One is unlikely without the other. Brainwashing gets in the way. These days, the circular, distracting partisan warfare is the favorite tool of irresponsible politicians and blind party loyalists that are all too happy to wallow in it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: What the Democrats did better than the Republicans is get people to believe that the other side’s exploits were doing harm to the country. The failure of the Republicanss rests much in their over dependence on partisan bullying, on bashing people in the name of the cause. The Democrats came into that campaign with the facts on their side, and with the eloquence to encapsulate in our arguments what it was the Republicans dared not admit about what they were doing wrong. There is more to this past election than the Republicans losing, something deeper than just the revival of the Democratic Party.
    I disagree. Dems and Repubs are about equally corrupt. The Dems are still ignoring the nation’s most important issues. The first 100 hours is a farce. Just the way the run the first 100 hours clock is a farce. But blind party loyalty rationalizes it as “a few bumps in the road”. Do-Nothing Congress is still:
    • the same teams (merely taking turns being the IN PARTY and OUT PARTY)
    • the same players (90% were re-elected)
    • the same old game
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You can talk about the Samoan minimum wage issue, but guess what: it’s been taken care of. It wasn’t rationalized, it wasn’t excused by pundits, it was corrected.
    More rationalizations and excuses.

    Want more truth, facts, and evidence?
    Dems plan to propose a forfeiture of pension for certain crimes.
    Read the fine print.
    Murder is not on the list.
    There are only five felonies that apply, and they aren’t retroactive either.
    Oh … and how about Rep. Jefferson Williams ?
    It appears nothing much has really changed.
    Hopefully, more voters will catch on to it by 2008.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Seeing the responsiveness of the Democratic congress to these issues is refreshing. I hope they keep up the good job.
    Nothing partisan about that statement, eh? Nevermind that Do-Nothing Congress is still ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But if they don’t, the Democrats of this country will not sit still for long.
    Especially not the growing number of independent and third party voters, who actually decide elections.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Like any good businesspeople, politicians do themselves good by knowing what people want. What people want now is government that works for them, which doesn’t throw a dozen excuses their way as to why they’re not doing what they’re supposed to.
    Well, there’s one problem with that over-simplication. Blind party loyalty and brainwashing gets in the way. Too many voters believe Congress is corrupt, but keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them. That’s because of brainwashing. One thing that can overcome that brainwashing is pain and misery. And that is exactly where we are headed. That is exactly why voters will eventually get their education, one way or another. The system, in that sense, is self-correcting. Unfortunately, there is a huge time lag. Also, future generations can and will be damaged by the selfishness and irresponsibility of the generations before them.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Democracy allows us to pool, with minimal interference, the talents and intellectual resources of the people.
    Well, if only it was that simple. The system is self-correcting (sort of), but it is not invulnerable. What we have now is a severely bloated, corrupt, wasteful, and increasingly oppressive government. That can’t last, because of the painful consequences that are one the way now.

    Stephen Daugherty,
    I sense your optimism that the Democrats are going to suddenly make things better, but you are likely to be disappointed. I was also a loyal party supporter at one time (for 28 years), but decades of observing the facts and evidence (at great length) reveals little difference between the two main party duopoly. When this new 100th Congress still fails to deliver, people will realize it, or continue to blindly cling to THEIR party, allowing the duopoly to grow ever more bloated and corrupt.

    Richard Backus wrtote: To the extent that congress passes laws beneficial only to the rich, and detrimental to working class people, it has not served the country well.
    Absolutely. Congress is FOR-SALE, which is one of the most obvious symptoms of our corrupt, dysfunctional government.
    Richard Backus wrtote: I agree with Joel’s comment that power brokers have established over the years a “political system they expertly corrupt and control”.
    Absolutely. Of course, the incumbent politicians and their blind party loyalists would disagree. However, the evidence is staggering. Still, too many voters ignore that evidence, because of the brainwashing. Partisan warfare is a very powerful tool to perpetuate the brainwashing. It is VERY effective at distracting and dividing voters, by pitting them against each other, rather than focusing on the irresponsible politicians that are manipulating and controlling them.

    The effectiveness of the partisan warfare should not be underestimated.
    The evidence of it’s effectiveness can be seen here daily.
    The blind partisan loyalties are rampant here.
    The blind party loyalists blame the OTHER party for everything, and rationalize the faults of THEIR own party, and are unable to see how they are being manipulated.
    This is why politicians love and fuel the partisan warfare.
    It is the best thing since sliced bread.

    For the party loyalists …
    Do you think the partisan warfare is the real war we should be fighting?
    Do you ever get the feeling that YOUR party has priorities other than the welfare of the nation?
    Do you ever get tired of trying to make your value system fit YOUR party’s agenda?
    Do you ever get the feeling that this petty partisan warfare, resulting in 90% re-election rates, is actually programming (rewarding) Congress to grow ever more irresponsible and corrupt?
    Do you ever get the feeling that rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them makes no sense?
    Do you ever get tired of sheepishly saying “my party isn’t perfect, but it’s better than the OTHER party”?
    Do you ever get tired of trying to convince yourself of that?
    Do you ever get the feeling you may be helping the problem grow worse?
    Do you ever get the feeling that you have been seduced into a circular pattern of behavior that distracts from real issues, and everything else has taken a back seat to merely making sure that YOUR party retains and/or gains more seats in Congress ? Afterall, we’ve done that over and over. What did it get us? Just more irresponsibility and more corruption, as evidenced by the nation’s pressing problems growing in number and severity.

    So, where is the voters’ outrage?
    This last election should have seen far, far more irresponsible incumbents ousted.
    Instead, voters keep rewarding them by repeated re-electing them (such as Rep. Jeffereson Williams).
    Voters simply choose to let the two party duopoly continue enjoying a 90% re-election rate, and their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies. It is sad how many lives are wasted due to the irresponsibility and unaccountability of the gang of over two million in the bloated Executive branch (that is neither seen nor heard as it throttles our freedoms and prosperity), and the relatively smaller group of 535 bumbling and stumbling politicians in Congress and their over-bloated hundreds of thousands employees.

    But, we voters keep re-electing them ! ? !

    Richard Backus wrtote: If we want a democracy we must submit changes at a constitutional convention which explicitly require all laws to be in the interest of all citizens, not just in the interest of the rich and famous. The current congress will not do this of it’s own accord.

    Yes, Congress will NOT reform itself, until voters stop rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them.
    Or, until some other serious event causes the voters to snap out of their brainwashing.

    Unfortunately, that is what voters do because they have been tricked into wallowing in the partisan warfare, where gaining seats for THEIR party is all that is important, guaranteeing incumbent politicians a 90% re-election rate, rewarding them for being irresponsible, programming politicians to grow ever more corrupt and irresponsible.

    A convention is good, if it can be done, and if it leads to more education.

    However, there is a much easier way.
    It’s been right there, all along, right under our very own noses.
    Simply stop rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.
    That requires education.
    If the convention leads to more education, then that is great.
    Voters will get that education, eventually, one way or another.
    The problem is, will they get it soon enough?
    Already, there will be painful consequences for last 30+ years of so much fiscal and moral irresponsibility.
    With it will come our lessons.
    We will become educated, overcome the brainwashing, or we will suffer.
    Take your pick.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 18, 2007 11:38 AM
    Comment #203839
    Brainwashing is when people believe what they want, despite the overwhelming evidence and facts to the contrary.

    No, that’s called stubborn. You folks really are misusing the word brainwashing.

    Posted by: womanmarine at January 18, 2007 12:38 PM
    Comment #203844

    Richard Backus-
    Direct Democracy only works when most people know each other. Otherwise the limits of sociological reach require people to organize into factions in order to get things done.

    That is the truth that the Framers confronted. So, they constructed a government that would force factions to compete and interact with each other, forcing compromise and preventing political extremism from taking too much of a hold on things.

    I believe that we should be vigilant about those who represent us, especially those we share factional identity with. If we don’t pay attention, if we allow cynicism, our partisan inclinations, or just naivete to blind us to what they are doing, then we will end up with them doing what you say.

    As for explicitly requiring all laws to be in the interests of the citizens? It’s a good sentiment, one I share in fact, but as a subject for a constitutional amendment, it’s vague and open to all kinds of interpretation. Heck, in the Republican scheme of things, helping the rich was in the national interest.

    No congress does the people’s will of their own accord, strictly speaking. Only when their employers (the people) make their wishes and objections clear, and the consequences for failing to deal with them equally so, does congress do the people’s business. We don’t need an amendment for that, we need vigilance and a sense of civic duty. The time has come for the pendulum to swing back from the indulgence of individual self interest, back towards a sense of greater society.

    Dan-
    To one extent or another, we’re all incapable of seeing the full truth. No exceptions.

    All too often, when people talk about sugar-coating the truth, they’re speaking about the truth from their own point of view, which is not the full truth either.

    Truth, in my experience, is something that’s better sought than regarded as one’s own. Partisanship can lead us to the latter error, and that has to be watched out for.

    The thing to understand, though, is that not everybody’s interests are truly the same. The difficult thing about Democracy is that there are good reasons for people to disagree, good reason that are amplified that the very fact of the factionalizing this brings on. We can hope that we can work past our differences, make the right compromises to serve the interests of the individuals and the community as a whole, but being human, the problem of faction is inevitable.

    Using the word brainwashed requires that you jump to the conclusion that people don’t have legitimate or self-intiated reasons for their loyalties. It’s a insult to those who have a reason to join a certain group or party that doesn’t begin and end with blind conformity. It’s one thing not to sugarcoat what you say, another to simply assume that people lack the strength of character to be wise enough to take your position.

    Whatever you can say is the truth, you haven’t reached, and no one can fully grasp it. The world is just so complex and so diverse a place, with so much of the same in society, that it beggars our imagination.

    That is the necessity of Democracy: instead of trying to plot a wise course with the governance of the few, we do so with the many. Parallel processing is why the human brain can do so much better in certain elementary tasks than any computer chip. It is why Democracy works better than monarchy or totalitarian rule.

    Like I tell Richard, though, above a certain unit of people (about 150, according to the book The Tipping Point, social structures must organize to operate well. Our Republican is a compromise between faction and general interest, direct democracy and coherent leadership.

    Now you say brainwashing is why people believe what they want, despite everything. No. That’s not it. You got to get deeper than that. First, logic itself is not a guarantor of truth. It’s merely a structure of thinking. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, there is a profound emotional component to rational thought, and that is the crucial reason I take the approach I do.

    First, if I cause them to raise their emotional defenses, I will find it difficult to get people to agree, because they will fall back to their own logic when confronted as such. If I succeed, though, in providing good evidence for my views, I can get them to change what they feel, because what they feel depends on how they think, as much as how they think depends on how they feel. It’s a feedback loop.

    People will tend to act from what they feel, and what they feel will tend to start from what they have learned and what they understand. If we want people to change their behavior, we must first change what they believe.

    As for reading your posts?
    It’s like looking for your place in a book where you don’t have a bookmark. You skip past all the stuff you know you’ve been through to get to the new stuff. I’ve seen the charts and everything literally hundred of times. I know the basics of the argument. Why re-read it?

    I’ve already made my analysis of it long before. I want to deal with what’s germane to the situation at hand. Your arguments are too abstract, too distant. Also repeat it regardless of context, which leads some like me to believe that you just have a preconceived notion of what’s going on, rather than an active awareness.

    You can say “Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt”, but I can come back and say that they’re making efforts at reform, which currently Republicans are blocking! You can say that We’re ignoring the most important issues, but I can say we’re dealing with the Iraq war, and putting out legislation on wages, ethics and earmark reform, medicare, among others.

    You can say this that and the other is a farce, but its one thing to say that, it’s another thing to get the readers to think that themselves

    I can cite profound changes in the attitudes and the statements of Republicans, in Bush’s public policy, forced by the fact that he has to deal with a new gameplan here. I can also say that in two years, even more incumbents will find themselves out of a job, because many are saying that the catastrophe for the Republicans is still on going. With people like Mitch McConnell holding up Ethics Reform, there will undoubtedly be more blood in the water as this goes on.

    On the subject of the forfeiture law, I’m not sure that murder isn’t actually on that list already. I’m not a lawyer, so I couldn’t say for sure, but I doubt that such a grievous crime wouldn’t trigger than.

    As for retroactiveness, I don’t believe that criminal law is allowed by the constitution to be retroactive.

    As for Jefferson Williams? I don’t like that he’s re-elected, but he’s not on Ways and Means anymore. The Republicans kept DeLay as speaker even after he was indicted.

    The open question is whether you believe any change is possible through the two main parties. You chastise me for being partisan. Well, I am a self-described liberal and Democrat. So I’m a partisan by definition. This is a perjorative term for you, and I guess I can’t do anything about your preconceived notions of what it means to consider yourself part of a party.

    The thing is, I decided to be a Democrat. When I feel that decision is no longer a wise one, I will decide to take another direction. I hate being compromised, and I hate having to take what I see as unsupportable positions.

    You said some time ago that you were once a Republican. So was I. But our responses were different. To me, the important thing is knowing and making things known. Accountability is as important as personnel. People have survival instincts, and those who are corrupt and who are prone to corruption are no different. If they sense they can’t get away with something, they’ll hesitate to take such routes.

    The key is to change expectations, to not tolerate misbehavior. However, to not tolerate these kinds of behavior, we have to know of it. Moreover, we should not be so passive as to wait for the pain and suffering to happen.

    The time has come to short circuit all that. Voters need to be educated by people eloquently revealing the dark and dirty secrets of those in charge. What we need is not a movement, but a change in place, a transformation of how we interact with Congress and the the executive branch.

    In my experience, in all the years of talking about bloated government, Republicans and those who lean to the right have failed to do anything about it. They’ve in fact made it worse.

    If you hope for nothing, you work for nothing. Why try to make government work if you don’t want it to? It takes time and energy to make things work, and those are not things people devote to doomed affairs.

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch: if we want good government, we got to work for it. What happens between elections is just as important as what happens in them.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 18, 2007 1:29 PM
    Comment #203860

  • d.a.n wrote:
    Brainwashing is when people believe what they want, despite the overwhelming evidence and facts to the contrary.

  • womanmarine wrote:
    No, that’s called stubborn. You folks really are misusing the word brainwashing.

    That’s not quite accurate.
    I see your point, but the statement is accurate for brainwashing or stubborness.

    Both involve a clinging to a belief, but for a different reasons.

    Stubborness is one reason (a defense mechanism) and not necessarily related to brainwashing.
    Stubborness can often be overcome more easily with logic and facts.

    Brainwashing is another reason for clinging to a belief, in which programming has occurred.
    The two are reasons different, but the end result is the same (i.e. clinging to a belief).

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Using the word brainwashed requires that you jump to the conclusion that people don’t have legitimate or self-intiated reasons for their loyalties.
    Precisely. It is what it is. No sense in sugar-coating it. Joel S. Hirschhorn hit the nail on the head.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , It’s a insult to those who have a reason to join a certain group or party that doesn’t begin and end with blind conformity.
    Stephen, I’m not knocking belonging to a party.

    You’re trying to twist things around.

    I’m knocking blind-party loyalty and blindly pulling the party-lever without really knowing who they’re voting for; without really doing their own research; and blindly rewarding irresponsible politicians (such as Rep. William Jefferson) by repeatedly re-electing them, merely because that’s the candidate of THEIR party.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s one thing not to sugarcoat what you say, another to simply assume that people lack the strength of character to be wise enough to take your position.
    Stephen, How can anyone support rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them? The reason for the absolute certainty in my position is because it is right on many levels. No one can give any good reasons for rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them. Yet, many people do just that. I’ve done it. It’s a result of ignorance, brainwashing, and politicians’ favorite control mechanism: partisan warfare. Partisan warfare is part of the brainwashing. It is a powerfully effective control mechanism, and people will continue to succumb to it as long as they remain ignorant about it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Now you say brainwashing is why people believe what they want, despite everything. No. That’s not it. You got to get deeper than that. First, logic itself is not a guarantor of truth. It’s merely a structure of thinking. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, there is a profound emotional component to rational thought, and that is the crucial reason I take the approach I do.
    Gobbledygook. Again, no one supports rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them? But that is what they do? It’s not as complicated as some want to portray it. Saying “it’s not that simple” or “it’s deeper than that” is a common tactic. The problem is as Joel S. Hirschhorn says. It’s about brainwashing. It’s about control. It’s about tapping into peoples’ ignorance and laziness to control them. It will only end when it becomes too painful.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: First, if I cause them to raise their emotional defenses, I will find it difficult to get people to agree …
    Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes, that’s what is needed. Sometimes, that is the only thing that works, no matter how painful it is.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: People will tend to act from what they feel, and what they feel will tend to start from what they have learned and what they understand. If we want people to change their behavior, we must first change what they believe.
    Exactly. That requires education. And voters will get the education, eventually, one way or another. The only question is: (a) will it be the smart way? (b) or the hard, painful way?

    Only education has a hope of learing sooner than later.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’ve already made my analysis of it long before.
    You think you have, but you haven’t, since it changes and grows daily.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Your arguments are too abstract, too distant.
    Have you ever looked at your own ?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You can say “Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt”
    Because it is true. The evidence is massive. Of course, it varies slightly, depending on which is the current “IN PARTY” or “OUT PARTY”. But, for the most part, it is true. See for yourself. What they say may differ. What they do doesn’t differ much.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: … but I can come back and say that they’re making efforts at reform, which currently Republicans are blocking!
    Of course you can. How typical. It’s the blame game, eh?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You can say that We’re ignoring the most important issues, but I can say we’re dealing with the Iraq war, and putting out legislation on wages, ethics and earmark reform, medicare, among others.
    All for show. And Nancy Pelosi tried to omit Samoa until caught red-handed. And William Jefferson is still in office. And the ethics reform solution is to hire more people for the ethics panels? And the forfeiture of pensions only includes 5 felonies? And the most important issues are still being ignored by the Do-Nothing Congress.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You can say this that and the other is a farce, but its one thing to say that, it’s another thing to get the readers to think that themselves
    Don’t worry, it’s working. It’s education, which they’ll get one way or another, eventually.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I can cite profound changes in the attitudes and the statements of Republicans, in Bush’s public policy, forced by the fact that he has to deal with a new gameplan here. I can also say that in two years, even more incumbents will find themselves out of a job, because many are saying that the catastrophe for the Republicans is still on going. With people like Mitch McConnell holding up Ethics Reform, there will undoubtedly be more blood in the water as this goes on.
    Why? Didn’t you say the Dems were gonna fix everything, or get kicked to the curb?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: On the subject of the forfeiture law, I’m not sure that murder isn’t actually on that list already.
    It isn’t. The Congress isn’t serious about real reform. They are passing some weak measures just to make it look like they are doing something.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’m not a lawyer, so I couldn’t say for sure, but I doubt that such a grievous crime wouldn’t trigger than.
    It wouldn’t. Also, they often plea bargain down to a misdemeanor, or get a pardon. It has more loop holes than the IRS tax code.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for Jefferson Williams? I don’t like that he’s re-elected, but he’s not on Ways and Means anymore. The Republicans kept DeLay as speaker even after he was indicted.
    Oh, so two wrongs make a right? Can’t resist it eh (“Well the Republicans do it too”)?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The open question is whether you believe any change is possible through the two main parties.
    Yes. Parties aren’t the root of the problem.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You chastise me for being partisan.
    Not you personally. Only the partisan motivated statements. : ) Only when it is blind partisan loyalty, the blame game, or fueling the partisan warfare.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Well, I am a self-described liberal and Democrat.
    Fine. I never said there was anything wrong with that.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: So I’m a partisan by definition. This is a perjorative term for you, and I guess I can’t do anything about your preconceived notions of what it means to consider yourself part of a party.
    Again, it’s not a problem, unless it is blind party loyalty, or fueling the partisan warfare.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The thing is, I decided to be a Democrat. When I feel that decision is no longer a wise one, I will decide to take another direction. I hate being compromised, and I hate having to take what I see as unsupportable positions.
    That’s a good reason to not take unsupportable positions.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: To me, the important thing is knowing and making things known. Accountability is as important as personnel. People have survival instincts, and those who are corrupt and who are prone to corruption are no different. If they sense they can’t get away with something, they’ll hesitate to take such routes. … The key is to change expectations, to not tolerate misbehavior. However, to not tolerate these kinds of behavior, we have to know of it. Moreover, we should not be so passive as to wait for the pain and suffering to happen.
    Now we’re getting somewhere. That’s what a growing number of watch-dog organizations and political action committees, and my one-simple-idea are all about.
    • Responsibility = Power + Conscience + Education + Transparency + Accountability
    • Corruption = Power - Conscience - Education - Transparency - Accountability
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The time has come to short circuit all that. Voters need to be educated by people eloquently revealing the dark and dirty secrets of those in charge. What we need is not a movement, but a change in place, a transformation of how we interact with Congress and the the executive branch.
    ABSOLUTELY ! That’s what I do contantly, without regard for party. That’s what my myriad of web-pages are about. And it is working, and it is a result of many different approaches. It isn’t as one-dimensional as you think.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: In my experience, in all the years of talking about bloated government, Republicans and those who lean to the right have failed to do anything about it. They’ve in fact made it worse.
    Stephen, Stephen, You were doing so well, up until that last sentence. Don’t you know Democrats hald the majority for most of the time (about 70 years) prior to the Republicans last 12 years as the “IN PARTY”. The Democrats have had ample opportunities to do plenty. But, that sad partisan warfare and finger-pointing is so typical of those blinded by partisan loyalties.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Why try to make government work if you don’t want it to? It takes time and energy to make things work, and those are not things people devote to doomed affairs.
    Precisely. That is why education, as you say yourself, is so important.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: There’s no such thing as a free lunch: if we want good government, we got to work for it. What happens between elections is just as important as what happens in them.
    Absolutely. But, if this new congress still ignores the nation’s most pressing problems, the pain of the consequences will grow the ranks of the unhappy, and there will be more incumbents voted out of Congress in 2008, and a growing number of people and organizations will see to it.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 18, 2007 3:25 PM
    Comment #203871

    Joel,

    “And the younger generations aren’t either.
    In fact, they are less educated, and become more uneducated every year.”

    First and foremost that is a direct verbal attack and is against Watch Blog’s Rules For Participation.

    Uneducated!?!?!?!

    I am a 24-year-old college student. Who is active in student and state government. My first bill proposal just became an actual bill in the House and Senate in the same week and is being fast tracked by having a hearing prior to being placed in a hopper.

    my bill

    I will be obtaining my PhD in political science and right now there are 13 others in this office who are just as, if not more so, capable and educated.

    The number of people between 25-29 obtaining degrees has been on a steady rise for half a century.

    So… if you are going to step up to make a slanderous statement that can be described as nothing less than age discrimination, you would be well advised to have some kind of supporting facts to that argument.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 18, 2007 4:35 PM
    Comment #203872

    Joel,

    That prior post was directed to dan.

    D.a.n.,

    That prior post was directed to you.

    =)

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 18, 2007 4:41 PM
    Comment #203874
    Bryan AJ Kennedy wrote: First and foremost that is a direct verbal attack and is against Watch Blog’s Rules For Participation.
    Nonsense.

    You completely misinterpreted what I wrote.

    No insult was intended toward the younger generations, even if I was praising the “Great Generation”.

    On the contrary. The point of the statement is to point out the failings of our public education systems, and affordability of college, and our problems in being competitive in a global economy.

    Are you denying serious problems exist in the American education systems?

    My statement may have been badly worded, but my point, and I believe others had no trouble understanding it the way it was intended, is that there is a serious problem of our failing public education and the astronomical cost of higher education.

    We are falling behind in the education compared to many nations (many that are also much poorer).

    Public education in the U.S. has problems, and there is ample proof of that.

    The U.S. is not doing a very good job of educating its young people. Many highschool students aren’t prepared for college. And the U.S. is falling behind in math and science.

    There is ample proof of it.

    The graph you provided a link to only includes a very small age-range (between 25 and 29) and it is only for students that obtained some college (not necessarily degrees).

    Also, more young people are coming out of college with massive debt. Some are questioning whether it was worth it.

    I believe others understood my statement as it was intended, but you, for some reason, choose to feel insulted instead.

    Congratulations on the BILL.
    It sounds like a good thing.
    I recall all too well the high cost of books and materials. The problem is worse now. It’s a racket, to be sure. There’s no reason why those books and materials should be so expensive. It’s gouging. Yet, another reason for astronomical costs for college.

    Education Problems in America 1
    Education Problems in America 2
    Education Problems in America 3

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 18, 2007 5:20 PM
    Comment #203877

    Dan-
    When I said using the word brainwashed requires that you jump to a conclusion, you’re not sugarcoating things, you’re imposing a conclusion on something you are unlikely to have any knowledge of substance on.

    Brainwashing is a very particular practice, an intense indoctrination. Most of us do not learn our politics that way. We learn it from our parents, we learn it from our friends.

    In short, we learn it from those who provide us our comfort in life. It is comfort with such beliefs that’s likely the more powerful conforming force in our lives. Most Americans are not put through re-education camps.

    Only when you can make a person comfortable with breaking free of what they believed, only when you can give that person the required explanations others would have of them, can you overcome most people’s comfort with a political sensibility.

    You say you’re not knocking my belonging to a party, but anytime I express the natural wish to see my party reform itself and the country, and for my party to succeed, you’re ready to accuse me of being partisan in the more perjorative sense of the term.

    I don’t think Jefferson was re-elected by people who thought he was a crook. I think he was re-elected by folks who were convinced that he was being set up. If you study the situation, you’ll see that some of the people in his district believed exactly that. Do I approve of this, do most Democrats? No. Matter of fact is, he was once on the powerful Ways and Means committee. He isn’t any longer. Nobody’s defending him beyond his home territory. He’s an embarrassment. However, folks did re-elect him, so he’s there.

    Stephen, How can anyone support rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them?

    What in my long history on this site leads you to believe I have any love for corruption, incompetence, or any other dysfunction of government? I just don’t think you’ve got the solution to that, beside what is really a vague sentiment.

    Not everybody who takes a partisan position feels themselves obligated to defend it at all costs. It’s not an either or. A survey which I showed to you a while back showed that people often voted straight party tickets despite identification as independents.

    As for what you called Gobbledygook, I call it neuroscience. Go read Antonio Damassio’s Descarte’s Error. Go Read V.S. Ramachandran’s work. This is how people actually think. It enters into approach, and approach enters into success.

    Yes, it’s not that simple. Which means you need to look at the nuances of what people say, what people think, look at the nuances of the situation. Yes, its deeper than it looks. There are some fundamental needs at play here, that people share across party lines. If you want to get beyond partisanship, you have to get beyond a dualistic sense of people and the world, most especially between you and your opponents.

    The problem is Americans have more than enough people out there who think they’re robots to be programmed, buttons to be pushed. The Republicans excelled at that. The problem became, ultimately, is that when they pushed people into a situation where they actually had to think for themselves, the charm of these ready-made formulas and beliefs wore away rather quickly.

    You can set up fancy equations and charts and whatever, but what counts is meaning, and there’s more of it out there than can ever be reduced to spreadsheets and numbers.

    I try and respect that by not trying to reduce a human factors rich environment to laws and rules, as if I could set the world straight myself.

    When I pointed out that in all their years of complaining about government, they’ve made it worse, I was making a point that should be obvious from the state of government nowadays. Is our government more functional now than it was twelve years ago? No, it’s not. Is it better since Reagan took office? Generally, no.

    It’s not a partisan point, but a practical one.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 18, 2007 6:00 PM
    Comment #203883
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , When I said using the word brainwashed requires that you jump to a conclusion, you’re not sugarcoating things, you’re imposing a conclusion on something you are unlikely to have any knowledge of substance on.
    In far too many cases (not all), it is the accurate conclusion.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Brainwashing is a very particular practice, an intense indoctrination.
    Not true.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Most of us do not learn our politics that way. We learn it from our parents, we learn it from our friends.
    True. That’s where the brainwashing often begins.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You say you’re not knocking my belonging to a party, but anytime I express the natural wish to see my party reform itself and the country, and for my party to succeed, you’re ready to accuse me of being partisan in the more perjorative sense of the term.
    False. Got any proof of that? It’s not party affiliation that is being pointed out. It’s the blind partisan loyalty, blaming the OTHER party, and fueling the partisan warfare. It’s also the extremely unrealistic assertion that this new 110th Congress is now less corrupt, when 90% of incumbents were re-elected. It’s going to take a lot more than voting out 10% of Congress before they get the message. What Congress is doing now with this first 100 hours is just fluff for show, and Congress is still ignoring the most important problems facing the nation.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I don’t think Jefferson was re-elected by people who thought he was a crook. I think he was re-elected by folks who were convinced that he was being set up.
    Now, that is what you can call blind party loyalty
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Do I approve of this, do most Democrats? No. Matter of fact is, he was once on the powerful Ways and Means committee.
    That’s not good enough. Unfortunately, they are able to drag these things out for years and decades, and are rarely ever held accountable, and still collect their cu$hy pensions (or perhaps, even get a presidential pardon; like the 546 criminals pardoned by Clinton; 140 pardons on his last day in office).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: He isn’t any longer. Nobody’s defending him beyond his home territory. He’s an embarrassment. However, folks did re-elect him, so he’s there.
    Not a big enough embarrassment, obviously.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The problem is Americans have more than enough people out there who think they’re robots to be programmed, buttons to be pushed. The Republicans excelled at that.
    That statement just confirmed what this entire thread was all about.

    It’s about control and manipulation of others.
    Partisan warfare is a very powerful mechanism used to do that.
    This web-site is filled with thousands of comments to prove it.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I try and respect that by not trying to reduce a human factors rich environment to laws and rules, as if I could set the world straight myself.
    There are laws of nature that follow specific rules. Many are accurately described in mathamatical equations. Likewise, there are definite characteristics of human nature that follow specific rules. And it is these basic human traits that are overlooked or ignored that breed corruption, dysfunction, and chaos. An understanding of these basic human traits is important. There’s no one approach that works for everyone. Stating some of these things in a mathematical style can be helpful for some. For example:
    • Responsibility = Power + Conscience + Education + Transparency + Accountability
    • Corruption = Power - Conscience - Education - Transparency - Accountability

    Looks simple, and it is, yet it is so elusive, because too many in government and voters fail to understand it and/or heed it, which is why we have rampant corruption and government that is FOR-SALE.

    Most voters polled believe Congress is corrupt, but they keep rewarding those politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.
    How much sense does that make ?
    Why do voters do that?
    Because of ignorance and greed.
    Some voters vote their own wallet only.
    They are easily bribed with their own tax dollars.
    Some voters vote along party lines only, and often don’t even know who they voted for.
    The two party duopoly taps into that laziness and brainwashing with the straight-ticket party-lever.
    Too few voters research who they vote for.
    For a myriad of reasons, which can all be boiled down to laziness and greed, too many voters keep complaining about corrupt government, but keep re-electing them.
    What those voters don’t realize is that they are hurting themselves most.
    There will be consequences eventually.
    The innocent future generations may have to suffer too for so much corruption.

    Unfortunately, many here believe the problem is the Repubs, or Dems.
    Unfortunately, many here believe the problem is the politicians, but forget it is the voters that keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them.
    The voters will never get educated (sooner rather than later) by always blaming the OTHER party, or by fueling and wallowing in the destructive partisan warfare.

    The main point though is that brainwashing exists and is a big part of the problem.
    The circular, divisive, distraction partisan warfare is part of it.
    It is a very powerful and effective control mechanism.
    Politicians love it because it lets them retain their cu$hy, coveted seats of abused power, because it distracts the voters, divides and pits voters against each other, so that a majority can never exist to vote them out, and even tricks voters into returning election after election to reward them for all of it by repeatedly re-electing them.

    Hell of a deal, eh?

    That’s the simple truth of it.
    Of course, many won’t admit it.
    It’s a hard thing to admit (i.e. being brainwashed, tricked, and manipulated).

    Joel S. Hirschhorn is correct.
    Education is needed.
    And we’ll get it one way or another.
    Some lessons will already be unavoidable.
    The U.S. is not invincible.
    There will eventually be massive consequencesfor so much fiscal and moral irresponsibility.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 18, 2007 6:59 PM
    Comment #203899
    “Stephen Daugherty wrote: Seeing the responsiveness of the Democratic congress to these issues is refreshing. I hope they keep up the good job.”

    Nothing partisan about that statement, eh? Nevermind that Do-Nothing Congress is still ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems.

    “Nothing Partisan about that statement, eh?”

    Oh, right, you’re not trying to call me on being irrationally partisan. Just when I disagree with you!

    As for Brainwashing, the word’s connotations were not born in the informal and formal education we all receive as children and as members of our social groups. The word’s associations, as explained in this article are with prisoner of war camps and cults. It’s a term used to describe something evil. Most people don’t consider their family and friends evil. Do you?

    My way of engaging people is to bring facts into play they may not know, which provide substantive rebuttal to their ingrained assumptions. And I mean real facts, not merely conclusions and opinions that I’ve assigned the status of fact to.

    I don’t think you harbor any hope for the new congress. I don’t think you’re prepared to move past preconceived ideals. If my congress over the next two years performs pathetically, I’ll admit it was do nothing. But I won’t accuse it of being a do-nothing congress before it’s had the chance to do anything! I’ll give them a chance. I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect results because as a partisan, my goal is to have my party succeed on the merits, because I believe that is in the best interests of both the country and the party. Republicans should think the same way.

    Jefferson was re-elected, but race had more to do with that than partisan politics. His final opponent, if I recall, was a Democrat, too. And yes, people did re-elect them, and yes, it’s probably not good for them, but it’s their decision! The national party did everything it could to throw him under the bus. You can make like it’s some kind of conspiracy that he’s there, but really, it’s just local politics. Do you think the leadership wanted him to be there, so that Republicans and people like you could wave him around? Do you think most Democrats cheer his return? Honestly. He’s a liability, but the people of his district were the ones to decide. What should we do, stuff the ballot box?

    A word on Pardons: if you need one, you’re a criminal. That’s the definition. And yes, the presidents have that power, and yes, the pardon people close to them. But it’s in the constitution, and it isn’t always given to the undeserving.

    A word on chaos: I hate to break it to you, but this country is an exercise in controlled chaos. the equations are a stylistic representation of things that can’t be quantified. I don’t find your equations helpful. They seem like a gimmick, a way to try and dress up what people really don’t need to be educated about. They know what conscience is, what transparency and accountability are. These people do not need to be led around by the hand. You’re writing to adults in such a didactic way as to imply that they aren’t worthy of the respect adults are given.

    You can say governments for sale. You’re not the first person to say that. It’s a description, not an explanation.

    My explanation is this: politics is not people’s first priority in life, and unless folks are screwing up in office, they’re usually thankful for that. Yes, people do need to keep up with such things, but most people don’t have the time or inclination to do research on their own. That’s the helpful thing about blogs and other sites like it. People want to know what’s of interest.

    Me? I think my generation wants to move things in a more selfless, more meaningful direction. They don’t want to be the second edition of the Baby Boomers, but something more akin to the wartime generation.

    I think my party won in no small part because the Republicans rehashed the partisanship of Vietnam instead of the fellowship of WWII. The last thing most people think of with WWII, the war of our grandfathers is partisan bickering. FDR and his opponent buried the hatchet and went to war side by side.

    Americans want a return to the days after 9/11 where things like party didn’t matter so much. They want a second chance to be united.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 18, 2007 9:09 PM
    Comment #203912
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Seeing the responsiveness of the Democratic congress to these issues is refreshing. I hope they keep up the good job. - - - - Oh, right, you’re not trying to call me on being irrationally partisan. Just when I disagree with you!
    Right. What good job are you talking about? Trying to ignore Samoa? Rep. Jefferson Williams?

    Want me to continue?

    I’ve seen nothing yet to get excited about.
    The most serious problems are still being ignored.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I don’t think you harbor any hope for the new congress.
    Not like you. Not this 110th Congress. Why should I? They are still ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems.

    Want to talk about gimmicks?
    This “first 100 hours” is a gimmick, since it still ignores the nation’s most pressing problems, tried to ignore Samoa, and ignores the likes of Rep. Jefferson Williams.

    Just wait until they get to some pork-barrel and graft. It’s coming. Did you think they would suddenly stop? The Dems actually have a much worse record when it comes to pork-barrel and waste. Just visit cagw.org to see for yourself.

    So you still don’t see it as brainwashing?

    It is, and partisan warfare is a wonderful mechanism for it.

    Joel S. Hirschhorn has it right.
    It’s about brainwashing, control, and manipulation, and partisan warfare is their favorite mechanism.

    Stephan Daugherty wrote: A word on chaos: I hate to break it to you, but this country is an exercise in controlled chaos.
    How insightful. That’s a terrible thing to have to break to someone.

    So your admitting things aren’t wonderful?

    Remember that a few years from now (Nov-2008) when you’re trying to paint a rosy picture like some Repubs were doing as we approached the elections. The “IN PARTY” always wants to portray things as rosy and wonderful. Wait and see. You’ll see it is true.

    Stephan Daugherty wrote: the equations are a stylistic representation of things that can’t be quantified.
    Nonsense. Maybe you don’t find them useful, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful to someone else.

    Unfortunately, too few voters understand brainwashing.
    Too few see the continual bickering between Dems and Repubs, and shake their heads, because they realize that little (if anything) can be accomplished when so many voters are so fond of wallowing in the petty partisan warfare.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Me? I think my generation wants to move things in a more selfless, more meaningful direction. They don’t want to be the second edition of the Baby Boomers, but something more akin to the wartime generation.
    Think so? That’s questionable. A lot of people that age (in their twenties) don’t even bother to vote, so it’s gonna be hard to choose a “more meaningful direction” without voting. Posted by: d.a.n at January 18, 2007 10:41 PM
    Comment #203923

    brain·wash·ing (brān’wŏsh’ĭng, -wô’shĭng) pronunciation
    n.

    1. Intensive, forcible indoctrination, usually political or religious, aimed at destroying a person’s basic convictions and attitudes and replacing them with an alternative set of fixed beliefs.
    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

    Posted by: womanmarine at January 19, 2007 12:35 AM
    Comment #203925

    Dan-
    Samoa’s been fixed, and Jefferson Williams is a pariah, deprived of his formerly powerful position. I grow tired of you pointing out flaws that have been taken care of, especially ones that are partisan talking points from the other side. All congresses will make mistakes; the best ones fix them. This one is fixing them, rather than getting bitchy about it and blaming the media for finding them.

    This congress has only been sworn in for a few days now. We’re not even out of their first month. They’re busy staffing and getting organized. They’re starting with a few key initiatives, including passing legislation that implements some of the 9/11 commissions recommendations.

    This congress has already decided to eliminate all earmarks until reform is passed. Such a bill is currently pending, requiring such earmarks to be recorded in their maker’s name, among other things. And no, the Democrats weren’t perfect in this either. Harry Reid tried to water things down a little bit, but other Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to push an amendment that he later accepted.

    I consider this last election a fresh start. From this point forward, they know what we want. They also know that Both Democrats and Republican bloggers will be watching, along with the MSM. Am I expecting miracles? No, rather than perfection, I’m looking for correction, for an ongoing process of recovery from the Congress’s former debased state under the Republicans. You will see progress on many fronts, if you are willing to be patient, and give credit where it is due. If you won’t wait, if you will keep on dismissing all reports of Democrats being a do-something congress, then you will have your conclusion at the price of your credibility.

    If they go wrong, I will be one of the first to smack them around.

    And yes, I still don’t see it as brainwashing. How can you be so critical of partisan rhetoric, yet so easily employ such provocative language for the sake of your political views?

    I could try telling people they’re brainwashed. There might even be certain cases where I think it’s true. But it’s a highly subjective label to slap on someone, and it’s a losing argument. Perhaps you could argue a significant portion of the public is brainwashed, but then you have to actually talk to individuals whose history you know nothing about. You’re left either employing what amounts to a partisan slam at best, or at worst, insult a person whose political opinions were earned, self-realized rather than taught.

    One of the things I try not to do is argue with people about their character. Their actions, yes. They themselves? I have to get pretty agitated to do that. Why don’t I do it? Because it’s always a losing argument, unless you’ve made the better argument first, in which case it’s usually the smarter just to let the character attack drop.

    You can’t tell people that they’re the bad guys, not without some eloquence.

    As for this country being an exercise in controlled chaos? That all depends on whether you’re talking anarchy or simply the messy results of a free nation. You claim that your equations and charts and rules can bring about order, but order in this country is the product of uncontrolled opinionation and belief. America’s popular opinions are not mandated by its government. I’m talking Chaos Theory brand of Chaos, not evil and impurity chaos.

    The real world is a complex place, and people are complex, and the real structure of both people and societies are not euclidean grids of conformity, even when we’re dealing with rather traditional societies.

    This is what I mean by equations not being useful models. We can do our best to try and reduce the world to simplified, reductive rules, but when you do things that way, you inevitably end up overwhelmed. It’s the reason HACCP systems work better than comprehensive sampling and testing on a side of beef- you set up conditions to prevent contamination and spread of disease from the get go. When I worked in a cafeteria up at school, we either kept things like chili or cheese in the refrigerator below 40 degrees, or on heat above 140. Instead of going blind on checklists, we could ask ourselves a few questions, and come up with suitable approaches and results without going bonkers on things.

    The point is to integrate what we think with what we do. It’s alright to abstract certain things, so long as the intention is to highlight something real from it. Good examples are worth their weight in gold.

    I think the voters, especially my generation, can handle the task. I don’t pine for some golden age, I point to them and say what Anthony Hopkins said in The Edge: What one man can do, another man can do. There is nothing present in the 1940’s society that we don’t also have. All we need is the right attitude, and the right respect for practical realities.

    I have no patience with the notion that one generation cannot be as great as the other. What I recognize, though, is that every generation has strengths and weaknesses, and that properly motivated, my generation can make this country proud. I am not going to let myself get discouraged because it doesn’t happen magically. Being a worthy successor to the Greatest generation will take hard work, and just sitting around and being cynical doesn’t strike me as such. I write in this blog in no small part because I intend my generation to be a great one, and found just sitting around with all this knowledge about what was going on was too passive a response to the potentially catastrophic policies of this president’s war and his domestic affairs. I write now because I want to part of moving things in the right direction.

    It is insulting to be told I’m brainwashed, to be told that I am simply some passive victim of a conspiracy to maintain power. I seek after the truth, which I know that I am not in full possession of, and relate what I can find, because I do not wish to be a passive victim, deaf, dumb, and blind to what’s important.

    I do this as a Democrat, whether you like it or not, whether you think I can do it this way or not. My purpose here is decidedly not to be submissive. In my opinion, the proper people to run this party are the voters who elect Democrats. Let the politicians think they are in control. We’re the people who decide whether they stick around.

    But one thing I will not do is make a bunch of idle threats as to kicking people out. That only weakens the strength of the threat. That’s why I don’t go for wholesale replacement It takes the meaning out of things. to be so indiscriminate.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 19, 2007 1:21 AM
    Comment #203967

    womanmarine,
    Thanks for the definition of brainwashing.
    Number 2 applies to what Joel S. Hirschhorn is talking about.

    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

    You are correct in pointing out the difference between “brainwashing” and “brainwashed” (i.e. the process of rainwashing and the result of which is being brainwashed; i.e. clinging to a belief).

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , Samoa’s been fixed, and Jefferson Williams is a pariah, deprived of his formerly powerful position.
    Sorry, but I still don’t see much difference, and there’s the issue of the ethics panels, and the biggest issue is that Congress is still ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I grow tired of you pointing out flaws that have been taken care of, especially ones that are partisan talking points from the other side.
    See, you think I’m from the other side. Haven’t you noticed yet? I’m non-partisan, and recognize BOTH parties are pretty much the same. Perhaps your frustration is a little voice in the back of your mind that’s telling you it is true.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: All congresses will make mistakes; the best ones fix them. This one is fixing them, rather than getting bitchy about it and blaming the media for finding them.
    BOTH parties do it. History proves it. As for fixing things, it begs the question … why did they let them get broken to begin with, eh? And Do-Nothing Congress earned that reputation, and so far, it’s still a Do-Nothing Congress that isn’t really serious about addressing the nation’s most pressing problems, such as:
    • (01) War in Iraq
    • (02) Government Waste and Corruption
    • (03) Campaign Finance Reform
    • (04) Election Reform
    • (05) Energy Vulnerability
    • (06) $8.6 trillion National Debt, excessive money-printing
    • (07) Nation-Wide Debt
    • (08) Social Security
    • (09) Medicare
    • (10) Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
    • (11) The Federal Reserve (excessive money-printing)
    • (12) Dysfunctional and Corrupt Legal System
    • (13) Public Education
    • (14) Illegal Immigration
    • (15) Healthcare
    • (16) Tax Reform
    • (17) Property Taxes
    • (18) Eminent Domain Abuse

    Especially any of those things that reduce their power, opportunities for self-gain, and the security of their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: This congress has only been sworn in for a few days now. We’re not even out of their first month. They’re busy staffing and getting organized.
    … and going to football games, etc. Yeah, yeah … and the way they run that “first 100 hour clock”, it will be 2099 before it expires.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: They’re starting with a few key initiatives, including passing legislation that implements some of the 9/11 commissions recommendations.
    We’ll see. There’s a few good things in the 9/11 commission recommendations, but it’s a farce when our borders and ports are still wide open, and Dems (especially) are very unlikely to do anything about that problem. See, the problem is that the solutions and things that are so-called being “fixed” aren’t really being fixed … they are incomplete as usual (by design). They are mostly for show. Nancy Pelosi cherry-picked a few easy things, but Do-Nothing Congress still ignores a myriad of more important issues. That’s the truth of it, like it or not. Of course, the “IN PARTY” loyalists never like to hear that. But, it’s OK when their party is the “OUT PARTY”.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: This congress has already decided to eliminate all earmarks until reform is passed.
    We’ll see. Just wait. Dems are the worst when it comes to pork-barrel (see cagw.org for proof of it).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Such a bill is currently pending, requiring such earmarks to be recorded in their maker’s name, among other things.
    That won’t help much, because it still confuses the motivations for passing any bill.

    If Congress was serious about true reform, they would embrace ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL instead.
    But they won’t, because that makes too much sense, and would limit their opportunites for graft and self-gain.

    Don’t you ever wonder why these extremely simple solutions and simplifications are ignored?
    Because over-complication is what irresponsible politicians like.
    Over-complication makes things ripe for abuse and self-gain.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: And no, the Democrats weren’t perfect in this either. Harry Reid tried to water things down a little bit, but other Senate Democrats joined with Republicans to push an amendment that he later accepted.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I consider this last election a fresh start.
    Not likely. Not with 90% of the same incumbents still there.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: From this point forward, they [don’t you mean we?] know what we want. They also know that Both Democrats and Republican bloggers will be watching, along with the MSM.
    Not likely. Even if it were true, it is too little too late. Besides, Do-Nothing Congress is still ignoring the most pressing problems (see list above).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Am I expecting miracles? No, rather than perfection, I’m looking for correction, for an ongoing process of recovery from the Congress’s former debased state under the Republicans.
    More of the blame game. Nevermind that Dems had control for about 70 years prior to the Republicans 12 year run. Based on your logic, the Republicans failure is the Dems fault, because they had 70 years of the Dems damage to overcome, eh?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You will see progress on many fronts, if you are willing to be patient, and give credit where it is due.
    Not likely, since the 110th Congress still consists of 90% of the previous bunch. The voters have been too patient (or uncaring) already, which is part of the problem. I’ll give credit when I see Congress solve the truly pressing problems, instead of cherry-picking a few easy ones.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you won’t wait, if you will keep on dismissing all reports of Democrats being a do-something congress, then you will have your conclusion at the price of your credibility.
    We’ll see what the future holds, and then we will see about credibility. So far, the Congress is still ignoring the most important problems facing the nation, and cherry-picking a few easy ones only. And even for the ones they’ve passed so far, they tried to pull a fast one (i.e. Samoa, limited list of felonies for forfeiture of pension, running the “first 100 hour clock” in a ridiculous fashion, etc.).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: And yes, I still don’t see it as brainwashing. How can you be so critical of partisan rhetoric, yet so easily employ such provocative language for the sake of your political views?
    The partisan warfare is brainwashing. womanmarine provided the definition above.
    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.
    And the partisan warfare is powerfully effective at tapping into people’s laziness and ignorance; seducing them into the circular, distracting, divisive, destructive partisan warfare, and somehow convincing voters to reward them for fueling it by repeatedly re-electing them.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: How can you be so critical of partisan rhetoric, yet so easily employ such provocative language for the sake of your political views?
    It’s just the facts, and a prediction based on Congress’ decades long track-record. That’s how. Wait and see. Just study the history of Congress. Irrational optimism will most likely turn into disgust. That scenario repeats itself over and over, after every election. Been there, done that.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I could try telling people they’re brainwashed. There might even be certain cases where I think it’s true. But it’s a highly subjective label to slap on someone, and it’s a losing argument.
    It’s just the truth (in many cases). Of course, Joel S. Hirschhorn and others that agree with him aren’t making many friends that way, but it’s the truth, and it should be stated, even if it hurts. No sense in sugar-coating the truth. Instead, people should take a close look at the powerfully seductive, circular, distracting, destructive partisan warfare, a mechanism that politicians use to control others, and learn how to recognize it, reject it, and reject the politicians that fuel it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Perhaps you could argue a significant portion of the public is brainwashed, but then you have to actually talk to individuals whose history you know nothing about. You’re left either employing what amounts to a partisan slam at best, or at worst, insult a person whose political opinions were earned, self-realized rather than taught.
    No, I don’t think so. Those that understand the awful nature of powerfully seductive, circular, distracting, destructive, brainwashing, petty partisan warfare, they will agree. Only the blind party loyalists will reject the truth.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: One of the things I try not to do is argue with people about their character. Their actions, yes. They themselves? I have to get pretty agitated to do that. Why don’t I do it? Because it’s always a losing argument, unless you’ve made the better argument first, in which case it’s usually the smarter just to let the character attack drop.
    Agreed. But talking about brainwashing, partisan warfare, and the clever tactics and mechanisms to control others is not intended as a direct attack on peoples’ character. It is merely an unavoidable fact that needs to be discussed. It’s not name-calling. It is constructive criticism. Besides, many times, I myself have admitted to (at one time) falling for and wallowing in the petty partisan warfare, and know all too well about it’s powerful effectiveness. Therefore, it’s a good thing that Joel S. Hirschhorn, and others that agree with him, are trying to tell the truth about the powerfully effective control mechanisms (e.g. fueling the partisan warfare) that tap into the voters laziness and ignorance for the politicians’ own nefarious purposes. It may be unpleasant, but it needs to be discussed. There’s no easy way sugar-coat it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for this country being an exercise in controlled chaos? That all depends on whether you’re talking anarchy or simply the messy results of a free nation.
    Stephen, you said it was controlled chaos. Not me. And it isn’t just anarchy or the messy results of a free nation. It is a cycle of laziness, which breeds corruption, which leads to pain and misery, which leads to action to avoid pain, which leads to true reforms, which lasts for a while until the people slip back into lazy ways, and the cycle starts all over again. History shows this pattern over and over. Some nations don’t survive the cycle and disappear. The U.S. is not invincible. Education is the key to learning sooner than later. In a voting nation, an educated electorate is paramount. At any rate, the voters will get their education (as long as they can vote and get an accurate vote count).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You claim that your equations and charts and rules can bring about order,
    I never said that. Education is the key. Understanding is the key. Good try again though at trying to twist my words.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The real world is a complex place, and people are complex, and the real structure of both people and societies are not euclidean grids of conformity, even when we’re dealing with rather traditional societies.
    Gobbledygook.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: This is what I mean by equations not being useful models.
    Nonsense. Lots of things can and are expressed mathematically.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: When I worked in a cafeteria up at school, we either kept things like chili or cheese in the refrigerator below 40 degrees, or on heat above 140. Instead of going blind on checklists, we could ask ourselves a few questions, and come up with suitable approaches and results without going bonkers on things.
    OHhhh … well, there you have it. Experience in the cafeteria is all that is needed. Then why do airlines have take-off check-lists? Why does the space-shuttle have check-lists? Such a disdain for equations and check-lists is ridiculous.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The point is to integrate what we think with what we do. It’s alright to abstract certain things, so long as the intention is to highlight something real from it. Good examples are worth their weight in gold.
    And the simple equations I presented do highlight something real, and emphasize the basic building blocks for Repsonsibility. Education is the key. People won’t do logical things to avoid inevitable pain and misery when they don’t even understand that what they are doing will lead to pain and misery.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I think the voters, especially my generation, can handle the task.
    Maybe, but it doesn’t seem likely, when many people in their twenties don’t even bother to vote, and larger percentages are lacking in education (which isn’t all their own fault), and fewer percentages are seeking degrees that will make the nation more globally competitive. Just from my own observations, I think your generation, and some after it, are likely to see a continued decline (for several decades) of the U.S., the economy, the levels of education, etc. It’s hard to get optimistic about the next 10 to 30 years. Especially when you look at the massive debt being piled onto younger generations.

    Maybe your generation can turn it around. I hope so, but they are starting out with several huge disadvantages (not all their own fault). I worry for my son’s future (he’s 24). He has a college degree and so does his wife. But, their government is heaping massive debt onto them, and there is a potential generational storm brewing, as 77 million baby boomers try to force them to pay for their plundered Social Security and Medicare systems. It ain’t right. So, when I rail against corruption, waste, and fiscal irresponsibility (which exists), you should be happy that someone is trying help change that. I’m a member of Citizens Against Government Waste (cagw.org), and many organizations that are fighting for reforms. You should be happy that people are pushing for reforms and responsibility, rather than trying to defend any party that has already demonstrated it’s incompetence and dysfunction for many decades.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I don’t pine for some golden age, I point to them and say what Anthony Hopkins said in The Edge: What one man can do, another man can do. There is nothing present in the 1940’s society that we don’t also have. All we need is the right attitude, and the right respect for practical realities.
    Yes and No. What the Great Generation had is largely part of the cycle. Circumstances are largely responsible for their attitude. We are currently not in the best part of the cycle. We are currently in the end stages of selfishness, corruption, fiscal and moral irresponsibility, and some signs of oppression.

    This is what history shows us:

    The U.S. is at step [4] and/or [5] of it is 3rd cycle, and about to restart the cycle at step (1) …

    • ___(1) oppression, totalitarianism (e.g. abuse of eminent domain laws, unfair taxation, legal plunder, violation of the 1st Amendment, etc.)

    • ___(2) courage, responsibility, revolution and/or civil war

    • ___(3) liberty, abundance

    • ___(4) selfishness, complacency, fiscal irresponsibility

    • ___(5) apathy, dependency, fiscal and moral bankruptcy; return to step (1)

    How can we get back to [3] without revisiting a repeat of [1] and [2] ?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I have no patience with the notion that one generation cannot be as great as the other.
    It can, but not without sufficient education to avoid repeating history. History repeats itself over and over. If you ignore the possibility, you are doomed to repeat it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: What I recognize, though, is that every generation has strengths and weaknesses, and that properly motivated, my generation can make this country proud. I am not going to let myself get discouraged because it doesn’t happen magically. Being a worthy successor to the Greatest generation will take hard work, and just sitting around and being cynical doesn’t strike me as such.
    Not cynical. Enlightened. Ignoring history and basic traits of human nature will guarantee failure. Of course each generation varies, but some bad things repeat themselves, over and over. Only education can short-circuit that. That is what is called progress. It’s a slow, slow process of 2.000 steps forward and 1.999 steps backward. The only way to improve upon that is through education.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I write in this blog in no small part because I intend my generation to be a great one, and found just sitting around with all this knowledge about what was going on was too passive a response to the potentially catastrophic policies of this president’s war and his domestic affairs. I write now because I want to part of moving things in the right direction.
    And I applaud and commend you for doing it. I wish more people your age (for all ages, for that matter) would get more involved. That’s also why I do it, even though I’m age 49. You are wise to recognize the possibility of “potentially catastrophic” policies. The U.S. is not invincible.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It is insulting to be told I’m brainwashed,
    You shouldn’t be, unless it is true.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I seek after the truth, which I know that I am not in full possession of, and relate what I can find, because I do not wish to be a passive victim, deaf, dumb, and blind to what’s important.
    That’s good. More people like that would be great.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I do this as a Democrat, whether you like it or not, whether you think I can do it this way or not.
    You persistently choose to miss the point or are unable to distinguish the difference. One’s party affiliation is NOT the problem. Blind party loyalty, and fueling and wallowing in the petty partisan warfare is the problem. Brainwashing is accomplished with the powerfully effective, circular, divisive partisan warfare. It is one of the biggest problems in America. We can’t solve our most pressing problems for being trapped in a cycle of circular partisan warfare, which irresponsible politicians love to fuel, since it distracts from their own nefarious activities.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: My purpose here is decidedly not to be submissive. In my opinion, the proper people to run this party are the voters who elect Democrats.
    Of course you do. That’s partisan. That fails to recognize that Congress, as a whole, is irresponsible and dysfunctional, and still consists of 90% of the same bunch. Wait and see. We’ll revisit this topic. There is a huge probability that this 110th Congress will soon return to its corrupt ways. And why shouldn’t they, when voters keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Let the politicians think they are in control. We’re the people who decide whether they stick around.
    True. But brainwashing and partisan warfare is short-circuiting that (for now).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But one thing I will not do is make a bunch of idle threats as to kicking people out. That only weakens the strength of the threat.
    Really? You said they’ll be “kicked to the curb” if they don’t clean up their act. I hope you do kick ‘em out.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: That’s why I don’t go for wholesale replacement It takes the meaning out of things. to be so indiscriminate.
    Not true.

    Not when most are irresponsible and unaccountable.
    That’s why no one can name 10, 20, 50, 100, or even 268 (of 535 in Congress) that are responsible and accountable.

    Eventually, when the voters pain threshhold is reached, that’s exactly what they will do, because that is the one simple, common-sense, no-brainer, non-partisan, responsible thing the voters were supposed to be doing all along; always. That is, provided the voters don’t mess around and lose their right to vote, ability to get a fair election, and, obtain an accurate vote count. The U.S. is not invincible.

    We seem to be for many of the same things.
    Likewise with many voters.
    Unfortunately, Do-Nothing Congress can’t even accomplish the things we largely agree upon.
    And voters rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them doesn’t help.

    Congress, as whole, and the voters the repeatedly re-elect them is the problem.
    We are all culpable.
    The only innocent victims are the unborn and younger generations that will suffer the consequences of so much fiscal and moral irresponsibility.

    Neither party has the solution.
    Neither party is all that different.
    Both have started unnecessary wars.
    Both are irresponsible.
    The evidence of it is overwhelming.
    Voters will figure it out eventually, take off their partisan blinders, and stop wallowing in the circular, distracting, destructive partisan warfare (a powerfully effective brainwashing and control mechanism) when it becomes too painful … and it will.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 19, 2007 11:12 AM
    Comment #203978
    Number 2 applies to what Joel S. Hirschhorn is talking about.

    No, it doesn’t. You continually misuse the term and attempt to bend the actual meaning to fit your idea. It’s wrong.

    Posted by: womanmarine at January 19, 2007 12:09 PM
    Comment #203995
    d.a.n wrote: Number 2 applies to what Joel S. Hirschhorn is talking about.
    womanmarine wrote: No, it doesn’t. You continually misuse the term and attempt to bend the actual meaning to fit your idea. It’s wrong.

    Yes it does, because …

    womanmarine, You yourself wrote:

    Brainwashing:
    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

    That’s brainwashing, right?
    Now, parties advertise and campaign. Right?
    Also, organizations advertise, campaign, and spread propoganda.
    That sounds just like the definition above. Right?

    Now, …

    Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote:
    Americans have been successfully brainwashed to fear exactly what their revered Constitution gives them the right to have. Those smart Framers of the Constitution decided that we needed exactly what the establishment, pro-status quo elitists who run our plutocracy do NOT want us to have. There is even a well funded semi-secret group organized to prevent what we the people have a right to. Has the brainwashing worked? You bet it has. In the absence of public furor, for over 200 years Congress has not done what Article V of the Constitution says it “shall” do.

    Now, that is some group using a “concentrated means of persuasion”, and that falls directly under definition number 2 of brainwashing, since:

    Brainwashing:
    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

    So, it seems pretty clear to me.
    It is a form of brainwashing under the very definition that you, yourself, provided.
    Brainwashing is designed to make people believe and cling to an idea.
    So, where is that, as you say “wrong” ?
    Stubborness isn’t the only reason for clinging to a belief.

    The brainwashing of Americans, IMO, also includes the fueling of the partisan warfare, which is a VERY effective mechanism used to distract, divide, and pit voters against each other, while more substantive issues are ignored, and politicians are allowed to grow ever more corrupt, and make their cu$hy, coveted seats more secure.

    So, where exactly, if you can be very specific, did I or Joel S. Hirschhorm misuse the meaning of “brainwashing” (aside from the difference between brainwashed (the result) and the act (brainwashing))?

    Where exactly did I bend the meaning to fit my idea?

    Seriously, I don’t see what you’re talking about.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 19, 2007 2:06 PM
    Comment #203999

    Seriously, I’m not surprised.

    From Britanica:

    The techniques of brainwashing usually involve isolation from former associates and sources of information; an exacting regimen calling for absolute obedience and humility; strong social pressures and rewards for cooperation; physical and psychological punishments for noncooperation, including social ostracism and criticism, deprivation of food, sleep, and social contacts, bondage, and torture; and constant reinforcement. Its effects are sometimes reversed through deprogramming, which combines confrontation and intensive psychotherapy.

    The Science definition:

    Indoctrination that forces people to abandon their beliefs in favor of another set of beliefs. Usually associated with military and political interrogation and religious conversion, brainwashing attempts, through prolonged stress, to break down an individual’s physical and mental defenses.

    From the Medical Dictionary:

    Inducing a person to modify his or her beliefs, attitudes, or behavior by conditioning through various forms of pressure or torture.

    The most common definitions indicate pressure and/or torture. By taking the second definition from the dictionary and applying it to political advertising and news is just bending it to suit your desired use of the word for attention-getting value.

    You might be more right using propaganda than brainwashing. Brainwashing just doesn’t fit.

    There is even a well funded semi-secret group organized to prevent what we the people have a right to.

    What is this secret organization? Have I seen the “brainwashing” advertisements?

    If I do not believe like you and the original poster do, am I brainwashed? Or do I just have an informed opinion? Even an uninformed opinion is not necessarily from brainwashing.

    Get your attention some other way.

    Posted by: womanmarine at January 19, 2007 2:36 PM
    Comment #204007
    womanmarine wrote: Seriously, I’m not surprised.
    How typical. You cling to Number 1, and refuse to acknowledge the valid application to definition Number 2.

    The definitions from “Britanica” and “Science” changes nothing.
    Definition Number 2 is still valid.
    Torture is not the only form of brainwashing, based on Definition Number 2 that you provided yourself.

    womanmarine wrote: The most common definitions indicate pressure and/or torture.
    But not the only way, as you said yourself by providing Definition Number 2.
    womanmarine wrote: By taking the second definition from the dictionary and applying it to political advertising and news is just bending it to suit your desired use of the word for attention-getting value.
    Not true. It applies perfectly to Definition Number 2, which you were so kind to provide.
    womanmarine wrote: You might be more right using propaganda than brainwashing. Brainwashing just doesn’t fit.
    Wrong. It fits Definition 2 perfectly.
    womanmarine wrote: There is even a well funded semi-secret group organized to prevent what we the people have a right to. What is this secret organization? Have I seen the “brainwashing” advertisements?

    How can you say it doesn’t if you’re not sure?

    It doesn’t matter if that is true or not.
    The debate you picked is over the definition of “brainwashing”, and now you are refuting the very definition that you, yourself, were so kind to provide.

    It makes no sense at all to provide us with a definition of “brainwashing”, and then say Number 1 is correct, but Number 2 isn’t.
    But I believe that obvious non-sequitur does fall into that other word you referred to: “stubborness”

    womanmarine wrote: If I do not believe like you and the original poster do,
    Fine. What’s that got to do with the definition of brainwashed?
    womanmarine wrote: am I brainwashed?
    I don’t know. Are you?

    I don’t recall anyone saying you were brainwashed.
    Just confused about the definition of “brainwashed” perhaps.

    womanmarine wrote: Or do I just have an informed opinion?
    Well, perhaps about the definition of “brainwashing”.
    womanmarine wrote: Even an uninformed opinion is not necessarily from brainwashing.
    True. Nobody said it was. There are many reasons for the development and clinging to certain beliefs.

    But, to deny the existence of brainwashing and the powerfully effective mechanisms (such as fueling the distracting, divisive, destructive partisan warfare) is contrary to reality.

    womanmarine wrote: Get your attention some other way.
    womanmarine, Ever heard of the 1st Amendment? While you may disagree with Joel S. Hirschhorm, and the definition (despite the definition you provided) of “brainwashing”, we’re all entitled to write our opinions here. I may not agree with your opinion, but I’ll support your right to it. Telling people to go “get your attention some other way” simply reveals the weakness of your own argument.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 19, 2007 3:19 PM
    Comment #204028

    d.a.n.

    “Are you denying serious problems exist in the American education systems?”

    I believe their are serious problems with middle school through high school.I believe that students today learn more from ‘self education’ then from the public schools.

    I also believe the solution to this is to privatize the industry and instal couchers.It would cost us less tax money and would force schools to be up to par with the demands of the public.

    I do not think the younger generation is uneducated. I do think that they are being forced to become self reliant for their educations. While that is a serious problem, I believe it is making some of stronger.

    Us who are becoming stronger because of it will establish our generation as a ‘Great Generation”.

    We have been labeled generation x, the drug generation, and have been referenced as a failure of the system.

    I think we are the hope for the future. The unique individuality we have established puts us in a position above and beyond meger partisan squables and disputes of who is the better of two.

    I know we have what it takes to fix this nation and make it great again.

    When we step into office in another ten to fifteen years will solve the problems that have developed out of the uncalculated perceptions of a spoiled generation that has ran this country into the gutter over the last two decades.

    I do not see a hopeless future, I see a hopeless present.

    It will come out for the better…

    just as soon as we are old enough as deemed by the consitution.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 19, 2007 5:11 PM
    Comment #204037

    Bryan AJ Kennedy,

    Thank you for that thoughtful response.
    I’m on your side, and sorry for my bad choice of words, and really never meant that education problems was the fault of the younger generation, who are dependent on adults and others for that education.
    I’m a member of many organizations that are fighting government corruption, waste, graft, and oppression that are hurting our ability to adequately education our children.

    The United States is failing the coming generations by failing to provide the best possible education. U.S. students are not even in the top 10 in most subjects in worldwide skills and aptitude tests.

    I’m not sure that private eduacation is the solution, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. A couple of things that would help is:

  • (1) make the school year-round

  • (2) get rid of the top-heavy, do-nothing administration; there are too many administrators

  • (3) Implement computerized, interactive training and teaching (with audio and video, and various input mechanisms such as microphones, touchscreens, and the usual keyboard and mouse):

    • Interactive, computerized education can let students learn at their own speed.

    • Lessons can be created by the best teachers. Each lesson would test and retest to ensure the subject matter was fully grasped.

    • Graphics and video can provide more memorable examples than text on a page.

    • It could be a wide-open industry for computer game programmers. In fact, some lessons could become a game, or contest. Learning could be made to be much, much more fun and memorable. But it would also be cost effective, because one computer program could teach tens of millions of students.

    • Eliminates the need for textbooks (saving money). Instead, more information can be provided online, and accessible from public libraries also.

    • The role of teachers would change; more one-on-one counseling than standing in front of a class reading out of the book, putting everyone to sleep.

    • Biometrics (e.g. finger prints) could be used to discourage cheating.

  • (4) Physical Fitness should still be a priority. However, the sports department should be funded entirely by boosters and thus be, in no way, a drain on a School’s academic funds. For collecges, serious consideration should be given to athletic scholarships that include a monthly salary.
  • Unless the United States successfully faces the technological revolution with its own education revolution, a slide into second tier, third world status is not out of the question.

    Continuing advances in technology will NOT only put an ever increasing burden on the education systems, but the younger generation as well, because there is going to be more and more to learn just to function in society! Competing in a world economy is getting more competitive.

    Those are just some common-sense suggestions that could be implemented almost immediately. However, there will be forces that will oppose these changes (for nefarious reasons). Over-bloated public education administrators will fight it. Students won’t want to lose their 3 months off in the summer. Neither will many teachers. Some parents won’t like it either.

    One thing is certain, however: any nation that leads in the computerization of eduction will lead in every other field also.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 19, 2007 5:48 PM
    Comment #204046

    Dan-
    I don’t think you’re from the other side. I’m just pointing out that you have a tendency to accept right-wing talking points without verifying their authenticity first. We aren’t like the Republicans, keeping crooks in powerful positions. If you can’t see a difference there, then I don’t think you can see any difference. Democrats did not go out there as a party and claim that Jefferson was being railroaded by partisans. I see you’ve dropped Samoa, since, like I said, it’s been fixed.

    The first 100 hours are not an indication of all that the Democratic Congress is capable of, but rather what it’s capable of in just its first few days. You say it’s done nothing, I say you haven’t seen anything yet.

    Democrats know their asses are on the line. We know that what we do in the next few months will affect how our next few years and decades go. But if you expect us to answer all 18 of your points in only 100 hours, then you’re expecting too much. This is meant to be our start, and we’ve gotten off to a good one.

    As for football games? Good heavens man, even David called you on that.

    Well, I’ll answer the rest of your response when I get home.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 19, 2007 6:32 PM
    Comment #204048

    d.a.n.,

    No hard feelings retained.

    Stephen,

    The idea of being either democratic and opposing political corruption is no different than being republican and opposing politcal corruption.

    Mind you, the top-heavy government we have has been around since before the republican 12 year hold on congress… look it up.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 19, 2007 6:41 PM
    Comment #204061

    Bryan AJ Kennedy,
    Thanks!
    Yes, the government is very bloated and top-heavy (Dems and Repubs alike; party isn’t important when both are about equally corrupt).

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , I’m just pointing out that you have a tendency to accept right-wing talking points without verifying their authenticity first.
    Huh ? Got any proof of that?

    And the football game thing is just one of a myriad of things that exemplifies the arrogance of Congress. There’s really no real sense of urgency in this Congress, if it talks about a “first 100 hours” strategy on one hand, and then on the other, lacks the urgency to get right to it (because of a football game?).

    As for everything on the Congress To-Do-List, they may not be able to solve all of those problems, but they should start to address all of them ASAP, before it’s too late. And blaming Repubs for it ain’t gonna cut it, when both Dems and Repubs made and ignored most of those problems (together).

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 19, 2007 7:51 PM
    Comment #204079

    Bryan AJ Kennedy-

    I know the large government was there before, but at least Democrats had the ideological incentive to make it work. Some may think that big government is a bad thing, but I tell them that there is something worse than a big, expensive government: One that is all that and dysfunctional to boot.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 19, 2007 9:32 PM
    Comment #204086

    Great. Add to the list rationalizations for big, extremely, over-bloated government.
    Over-bloated to nightmare proportions.
    The partisan motivated rationalizations never end.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 19, 2007 10:04 PM
    Comment #204105

    dan-
    I believe in efficiency. I don’t know how you draw the conclusion that I would somehow enjoy a bloated bureaucracy.

    I believe government should be whatever size the American people are willing to support, and at that size, do whatever it does with the necessary funding and manpower to do it right.

    Being educated in the limits of economy, of course, that entails that government take care with what it expands into, and not waste time trying to control things that are better left to the people and the states.

    I believe in a Government that has its limits, That sticks to what it can do best. Yet on the same token, I have no problem with its moderate growth. I do have a problem with deficit spending, outside of a national emergency. And no, I don’t define emergency with George Bush’s kind of permanence, for a nation like ours can end up suffering if it decides not to pay for what have become regular expenses by current revenues.

    In short, my views are not the oversimplified villainy you seem intent on painting them as.

    I know the temptation to fight it as such, because it makes our moral decisons unconflicted, easy to make.

    Moral decisions should take more care than that. I’m willing to sacrifice government programs for the greater good. The Democrats announced they would freeze spending for the period covered by the Republicans neglected spending bills at the previous years levels. I applauded that, though it would cause quite a bit of trouble. I applauded them wiping the slate clean of earmarks until reform could be put in play.

    Why? Because I think the better we spend our money, the better the environment for making government work for the people. Government, to me, should not be more or less than what people are willing to pay for. Want to go the moon? Yes! But we should find some way to fund it, first, either by eliminating some other kind of spending, or by openly asking for a raise in taxes. I like the idea of pay as you go, because of the discipline it forces.

    I’m not in the business of rationalizing my politics. I like the policies I endorse to speak for themselves. I shouldn’t have to twist logic and hide facts to advocate for what I believe in. I like to be kept honest, kept moderated.

    Keep the villains for bedtime stories. The real issues in politics today require more than comic book notions of morality. I don’t see how your claims of brainwashing and do-nothing congresses and whatnot actually break people out of that cops and robbers mentality.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 20, 2007 12:24 AM
    Comment #204149

    More circular gobbledygook. Calling obvious and significant corruption, waste, pork-barrel, partisan warfare mere “cops and robbers mentality” and “oversimplified villainy” merely demonstrates how weak your arguments are.

    And the label “Do-Nothing Congress” is VERY well deserved, as evidenced by the corruption, massive waste, graft, and arrogance of Congress.

    Many irresponsible politicians love to fuel the petty partisan warfare.

    That definitely falls under the definition that womanmarine kindly provided:

    • (1) Intensive, forcible indoctrination, usually political or religious, aimed at destroying a person’s basic convictions and attitudes and replacing them with an alternative set of fixed beliefs.

    • (2) The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

    Ignoring the validity of the definition (Number (2)) above makes no sense.

    Perhaps partisan bias is part of the problem?

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 20, 2007 12:20 PM
    Comment #204226

    Dan-
    You say my arguments are circular. Well, a circular argument is one where the conclusion is a premise in the argument that’s supposed to add up to the conclusion.

    Well, let me see: you constantly say congress is bought and paid for, yet you don’t provide examples of this. You say congress is do nothing, but others can clearly cite what’s been done. Yet you insist upon it. Don’t you have evidence for that? You say 90% incumbency from the last congress means that any changes were meaningless. Again, evidence!

    It’s not necessarily that you’re wrong, you’ve just not provide a lot of evidence for the plentiful conclusions you come to. When I attacked earmarks a while back, I had the content of a 60 minutes program to aid my point that congress’s earmarks were killing our soldiers. I didn’t presuppose that my rhetoric alone could make my point.

    I was taught in the college logic course I took that the quality of an argument depends not merely on good logic (which makes the argument valid, by definition), but also on good facts, which make it sound. An argument can also be soundly evidenced, but be so flawed in its logic as to be a poor one. I think the most valuable lesson I learned there about logic is that logic is the skeleton of an Argument, and fact are its flesh.

    Sure, if I were everything you said, I’d be brainwashed, or a pretty bad person. But I know myself that I’m not what you say, that I believe different things. Therefore, I do not accept your critique of my liberalism, since you have failed to accept my stated beliefs at face value and critique those.

    Am I a partisan? I don’t think I’ve deceived anybody about this, I’ve quite openly stated my party affiliation. I’ve also, though, in the past related that in the course of my life, I’ve been a Republican as well. I’ve said an awful lot that distinguishes me from the stereotypical picture of the partisan democrat you hope to paint me as, but still you act like I’m no different.

    You seem intent on convicting the lot of us. The short length of time you’ve waited before pronouncing your verdict on the Democrats is one piece of evidence. A reasonable person would give more time to see the full course of Democratic policy in congress, to give them time to rev up the oversight and everything. Why? Because such short periods do not define a congress. It didn’t define the Republicans. They worked hard at first. It was the year or so afterwards that saw things really slide.

    Simple fact is, you’re more interested in personnel than results at this point. Why continue to harp on the percentage change over, why continue to tell me this is a do nothing congress.

    The Trouble is, independents on the right wing try to have their cake and eat it too, buying the propaganda slung against the Democrats, yet at the same time tell people they aren’t Republicans. They might as well be. If you can’t look past the partisan divide separating you and the Democrats, you leave yourself no choices to truly punish the other side.

    That’s part of why, despite their objectionable behavior, the old congress hung on so long, and was so successful in Gerrymandering the states to entrench their power. You always let the fear of the stereotypical Democrats scare you from chosing real life ones instead of the Republicans who played you off others. If you want to know what really kept them in power, it was the willing embrace of the fear of the left, at the expense of the ability to express a loss of patience with the right.

    The real problem here is the partisan sentiment that dare not speak its name: liberal bashing. Tell me how else you could justify a kneejerk dismissal of the new congress.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 20, 2007 10:13 PM
    Comment #204293
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n , … Well, let me see: you constantly say congress is bought and paid for, yet you don’t provide examples of this.

    Nonsense.

    What do you call THIS ?

    Feel free to disprove any of it (if you can).
    I want it to be factual, so if you find something false, please let me know.

    However, I find it absolutely amazing that anyone would question the corruption in Congress.
    I find it equally amazing that anyone thinks the (as you call it) “Today’s Democrats” suddenly turned over a new leaf.
    Time will tell, and strongly suspect that it is still:

    • the same teams (merely taking turns being the IN PARTY and OUT PARTY)

    • the same players (90% were re-elected)

    • the same old game

    • the same old results (the nation’s problems still go ignored)

    That web-page is only one of many dozens of my web-pages, and hundreds of pertinent links to articles, data, charts, diagrams, GAO data, data from Citizens Against Government Waste, and most recently, the following evidence of the same old corruption:

    • Nancy Pelosi trying to omit the minimum wage in Samoa

    • only 5 felonies for pension forfeitures, making it too easy to keep their cu$hy pensions;

    • growing government ever larger by hiring more people for the Ethics Panel (i.e. so who will watch the watchers?)

    • allowing bribery, graft, and pork-barrel to continue by refusing to make permanent and enforce the no-brainer, common-sense ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL (i.e. permanently eliminate earmarks, since they saw fit to refrain from allowing them during the first 100 hours)

    • pretending urgency (i.e. via “first 100 hours” clock), but read the fine-print; the clock runs very slow

    • Democrats still have a few major obstacles in their way; partly due to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, to [Rep.] William Jefferson [D-La.], including Reid’s contacts with associates of indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the fact that Rep. William Jefferson is still the target of an FBI sting. Dems should call for his resignation. And even after that, will Jefferson still get his cu$hy pension?

    • House Nancy Pelosi’s failed attempt to place two ethically challenged congress persons in chairmanship positions; one an un-indicted co-conspirator in the infamous Abscam congressional bribery scandal, and the other who was a former federal judge who was impeached for taking a bribe

    So, you see … there is ample supporting evidence.
    That’s only a tiny portion of the overwhelming evidence of the corruption of congress.
    I can’t do all the research for you. Some things you’ll have to research yourself.

    Funny. When ever I criticize Republican politicians and their corruption, you never minded it.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You say congress is do nothing, but others can clearly cite what’s been done.
    Right. Then why does Congress continue to ignore the nation’s most pressing problems, eh ?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Yet you insist upon it. Don’t you have evidence for that? You say 90% incumbency from the last congress means that any changes were meaningless. Again, evidence!
    Here’s just a tiny bit of evidence of how corrupt, do-nothing, and irresponsible congress is. There’s a good reason people call it the Do-Nothing Congress. Because it’s true. Because it still ignores the nation’s most pressing problems, and prefers to continue the blame game and fueling the petty partisan warfare.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s not necessarily that you’re wrong, you’ve just not provide a lot of evidence for the plentiful conclusions you come to.
    Nonsense. The evidence I’ve provided is overwhelming, and disputing the overwhelming magnitude of it doesn’t help your credibility.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I was taught in the college logic course … .
    Perhaps it would be a good idea to take that course again.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Sure, if I were everything you said, I’d be brainwashed, or a pretty bad person.
    I didn’t say you were brainwashed. I said your comments showed partisan bias, and you admit to being partisan. Blowing it out of proportion also doesn’t build credibility. As the discussion above shows, there are multiple reasons for people clinging to beliefs, and brainwashing is one of them.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But I know myself that I’m not what you say,
    What exactly did I say you were?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Therefore, I do not accept your critique of my liberalism, since you have failed to accept my stated beliefs at face value and critique those.
    Believe as you want, but we are here to debate, and it’s not all about you. Your comments are being critiqued, but so is the obvious partisan bias that permeates those comments.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Am I a partisan? I don’t think I’ve deceived anybody about this, I’ve quite openly stated my party affiliation.
    Like I just said … and you admit it, as if that somehow justifies that bias. The fact is, when the bias becomes too slanted, it can taint the credibility of one’s argument. There’s nothing wrong with belonging to a party, but believing that it is all that much better than the other is flawed, since BOTH have overwhelmingly proved otherwise.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’ve said an awful lot that distinguishes me from the stereotypical picture of the partisan democrat you hope to paint me as, but still you act like I’m no different.
    It’s not all about you, and you shouldn’t take it so serious. However, there are some bias showing in your comments, and others have commented on it too. I understand your loyalty and optimism in what you call “Today’s Democrats” as if they are vastly different than what you call the “last Democratic Majority”, but there isn’t any evidence yet to prove “Today’s Democrats” are any different. Already, as listed above, their own ethics problems dull the message, and shows that they are still ethically challenged, and the coming months and years are very likely to reveal more irresponsibility, and refusal to address the nation’s most pressing problems. I understand your loyalty and optimism, because I felt the same optimism during the Repubs “Contract With America”. But, as always, Congress (politicians of BOTH parties) failed to deliver.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You seem intent on convicting the lot of us.
    Nonsense. We’re not in court. We were discussing brainwashing, and it does exist. Partisan warfare is a powerfully effective mechanism that politicians use to divide voters, pit voters against each other (and citizens against illegal aliens, etc.), distract voters from the politicians’ own malfeasance and irresponsibility, and taps into the voters’ laziness by convincing them to pull the party-lever, and essentially reward the politicians by repeatedly re-electing them by fooling them into wanting to keep the OTHER party from losing seats, which results in a high (90%) re-election rate. Also, trying to refute the validity of the definition under definition Number 2 (above, and repeated below) makes no sense. Number 2 applies perfectly to partisan warfare and to what Joel S. Hirschhorn referred to.
    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The short length of time you’ve waited before pronouncing your verdict on the Democrats is one piece of evidence.
    Precisely, because in the short period of time, we have already witnessed the same old corruption … the following evidence of the same old corruption:
    • Nancy Pelosi trying to omit the minimum wage in Samoa
    • only 5 felonies for pension forfeitures, making it too easy to keep their cu$hy pensions;
    • growing government ever larger by hiring more people for the Ethics Panel (i.e. so who will watch the watchers?)
    • allowing bribery, graft, and pork-barrel to continue by refusing to make permanent and enforce the no-brainer, common-sense ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL (i.e. permanently eliminate earmarks, since they saw fit to refrain from allowing them during the first 100 hours)
    • pretending urgency (i.e. via “first 100 hours” clock), but read the fine-print; the clock runs very slow
    • Democrats still have a few major obstacles in their way; partly due to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, to [Rep.] William Jefferson [D-La.], including Reid’s contacts with associates of indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the fact that Rep. William Jefferson is still the target of an FBI sting. Dems should call for his resignation. And even after that, will Jefferson still get his cu$hy pension?
    • House Nancy Pelosi’s failed attempt to place two ethically challenged congress persons in chairmanship positions; one an un-indicted co-conspirator in the infamous Abscam congressional bribery scandal, and the other who was a former federal judge who was impeached for taking a bribe
    … not to mention the way they run that ridiculous “first 100 hour” clock (which appears to run extremely slow).


    Stephen Daugherty wrote:
    A reasonable person would give more time to see the full course of Democratic policy in congress, to give them time to rev up the oversight and everything.

    No. We’ve already seen plenty. Wait and see. You are likely to be very disappointed.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Why? Because such short periods do not define a congress. It didn’t define the Republicans. They worked hard at first. It was the year or so afterwards that saw things really slide.
    No. They have been out-of-control for over 30+ years, as evidenced by the nation’s serious problems growing in number and severity.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Simple fact is, you’re more interested in personnel than results at this point.
    Nonsense. The “simple fact is” rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them will never get good results and makes no sense.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Why continue to harp on the percentage change over, why continue to tell me this is a do nothing congress.
    That logic of that statement is so terribly flawed, I don’t know where to start. If Congress was irresponsible before, and 90% of the same incumbents still exist in Congress, what reason is there to believe it has suddenly improved much? Especially when it has already demonstrated in the “first 100 hours” that it is not serious about adequately addressing the nation’s most pressing problems, and has already (in that short time) proven that they are still very ethically challenged, as evidenced by the bulleted list above. And how about Nancy Pelosi’s failed attempt to place two ethically challenged congress persons in chairmanship positions; one an un-indicted co-conspirator in the infamous Abscam congressional bribery scandal, and the other who was a former federal judge who was impeached for taking a bribe?

    Are you sure you want more evidence?
    Afterall, the more I provide, the worse Congress will look. Just the facts. They are overwhelming.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The Trouble is, independents on the right wing try to have their cake and eat it too, buying the propaganda slung against the Democrats, yet at the same time tell people they aren’t Republicans. They might as well be. If you can’t look past the partisan divide separating you and the Democrats, you leave yourself no choices to truly punish the other side.
    More nonsense. I don’t take sides anymore. Haven’t you noticed? This blog is filled with instances of me pointing out corruption and irresponsibility of BOTH sides. How many times have I said there is little (or no) difference between the two? So, your statement “you can’t look past the partisan divide” is about as far from the truth as you can get (with regard to me).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: That’s part of why, despite their objectionable behavior, the old congress hung on so long, and was so successful in Gerrymandering the states to entrench their power.
    No. The old Congress and new Congress are not that different, and haven’t been for over 30+ years, as they have demonstrated by their actions, as we have all observed, as Congress grows increasingly irresponsible and arrogant and FOR-SALE.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You always let the fear of the stereotypical Democrats scare you from chosing real life ones instead of the Republicans who played you off others.
    You mean me, personally? I admit to falling for the partisan warfare at one time, but no more. In fact, it is my goal to help educate others to recognize and reject the powerfully effective, divisive, distracting, destructive partisan warfare.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you want to know what really kept them in power, it was the willing embrace of the fear of the left, at the expense of the ability to express a loss of patience with the right.
    It works both ways. Your statement indicates partisan bias again, if your statement is implying that it doesn’t work in both directions. The fear tactic is part of the same partisan warfare that both have used.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The real problem here is the partisan sentiment that dare not speak its name: liberal bashing.
    AHHhhhhh … so in your frustration to find a valid, meaningful argument, you finally resort to the accusation of “liberal bashing”. Sad, since you are unable to see that my criticisms of corruption and irresponsibility are of BOTH parties, and this blog is filled with the evidence of it. So your statement is the farthest thing from the truth.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Tell me how else you could justify a kneejerk dismissal of the new congress.
    It’s not kneejerk and this 110th Congress is proving it is not so different. That’s largely because 90% of the same incumbents are still there. And Congress has still failed to address any of the nation’s most pressing problems. And Congress has already been caught red-handed being ethically challenged (see bulleted list above). Congress is still FOR-SALE, and still refuses to adequately address real campaign finance reform. Congress still refuses to eliminate earmarks permanently (e.g. ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL). Nancy Pelosi already tried to pull a fast one by omitting the minimum-wage in Samo. Nancy Pelosi already tried to place two ethically challenged congress persons in chairmanship positions; one an un-indicted co-conspirator in the infamous Abscam congressional bribery scandal, and the other who was a former federal judge who was impeached for taking a bribe. Nancy Pelosi and others in Congress still refuse to kick Rep. William Jefferson to the curb. Congress is still refusing to pass meaningful reforms to forfiet pensions by limiting the crimes to a measely 5 felonies. One could go on an on. You demanded evidence, the evidence is overwhelming, and we’re likely to see much more of the same, proving that this 110th Congress isn’t much different. Wait and see. The IN-PARTY always abuses their power more. Voters forget that, and that is partly why the IN-PARTY and OUT-PARTY simply take turns being irresponsible. What part of that is false? Are you telling me Congress is now suddenly responsible? That’s quite a stretch. Posted by: d.a.n at January 21, 2007 1:06 PM
    Comment #204349

    You want my honest opinion? I don’t expect things to get instantly better. You know what else? I don’t get the point of being asked after less than a month to all of a sudden give up on the new Congress. You point to percentages, and say it will be no different. If you really knew the way things work, you would know that since the majority has changed, the leadership runs through a different party, and through different people, who are not at all keen on being portrayed as equivalent to their predecessors.

    Perhaps they’ll fail. It ain’t a fact yet. No predictions about the future can be called facts. They’re unverifiable until they happen.

    As for all your evidence, why don’t you save me the trouble and just make your cases here with stuff I haven’t heard? If you really know so much about what’s going on, you’ll be able to tell me a story about what’s happening. You’ll be able to fill in the details behind events. It’s like being a reporter. You find sources beyond just your own publications, and you report back with a concise digestion of all that detail into a useful narrative.

    If you want to persuade people, narrative does things better for you, because it concentrates and focuses the meaning.

    All these charts, all these things? I’m not big on them. I will check facts on such primary sources, but usually I look for somebody who knows something, and then I go through their claims and work out what they know.

    You can go blind on detail, and fail to see the forest for the trees. I want to find meaningful detail and find it fast. I don’t need all the remedial philosophy or civics that seem to crowd out the information and the narrative. I don’t need a lecture in what is good and wise. I need you to tell me, why I should change my beliefs. Telling me that I’m partisan, and playing games about that is just not good enough. In the game of politics, if you haven’t chosen a set of beliefs, you aren’t really involved.

    I’m sorry: I don’t see the problems with big government you do. I do see a problem in deficit spending. I do see a problem in Americans getting use to deficit spending to support a government they are unwilling to tax to support. I see hypocrisy in an attitudes that’s positively phobic about raising taxes, but which doesn’t have similar, corresponding reservations about raising spending. I think that’s hypocrisy. If you don’t have the power or the will to reduce spending, admit you have a problem and raise taxes.

    If people object to that, tell them that you will make cuts in programs to get their tax cuts. Anything else is just irresponsible bullshit. It’s an expensive form of denial. Revenues must match spending, or we get deficits. Let’s admit the parts of the system work together, and failing to deal with one party means failing to deal with it as a whole.

    I am sick of being told about big government. This is a country of 300,000,000 citizens, technologically advanced, with interstate trade a constant reality.

    I just think you need to at least give us enough of a chance to screw up in order to provide you with grist for the mill. Don’t be so early on the bandwagon.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 21, 2007 10:39 PM
    Comment #204390
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: … the leadership runs through a different party, and through different people, who are not at all keen on being portrayed as equivalent to their predecessors.
    No. Based on 30+ years track-record and events just since 07-Nov-2006, it appears to still be:
    • the same teams (merely taking turns being the IN PARTY and OUT PARTY)
    • the same players (90% were re-elected)
    • the same old game
    • the same old results (the nation’s problems still go ignored)
    The politicians don’t care, because they believe voters will still keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing 90% of them. Unfortunately, voters are likely to keep doing just that, until consequences of it become too painful. In a voting nation, an educated electorate is paramount, and the voters will get it one way or another.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Perhaps they’ll fail. It ain’t a fact yet. No predictions about the future can be called facts. They’re unverifiable until they happen.
    True, but there is 30+ years of track-record (not a minor thing to dismiss), AND this new 110th Congress has already demonstrated that they are still ethically challenged, because of the following … following evidence of the same old corruption:
    • Nancy Pelosi trying to omit the minimum wage in Samoa
    • only 5 felonies for pension forfeitures, making it too easy to keep their cu$hy pensions;
    • growing government ever larger by hiring more people for the Ethics Panel (i.e. so who will watch the watchers?)
    • allowing bribery, graft, and pork-barrel to continue by refusing to make permanent and enforce the no-brainer, common-sense ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL (i.e. permanently eliminate earmarks, since they saw fit to refrain from allowing them during the first 100 hours)
    • pretending urgency (i.e. via “first 100 hours” clock), but read the fine-print; the clock runs very slow
    • Democrats still have a few major obstacles in their way; partly due to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, to [Rep.] William Jefferson [D-La.], including Reid’s contacts with associates of indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the fact that Rep. William Jefferson is still the target of an FBI sting. Dems should call for his resignation. And even after that, will Jefferson still get his cu$hy pension?
    • House Nancy Pelosi’s failed attempt to place two ethically challenged congress persons in chairmanship positions; one an un-indicted co-conspirator in the infamous Abscam congressional bribery scandal, and the other who was a former federal judge who was impeached for taking a bribe
    … not to mention the way they run that ridiculous “first 100 hour” clock (which appears to run extremely slow).

    To deny all that can only be the result of blind partisan bias.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for all your evidence, why don’t you save me the trouble and just make your cases here with stuff I haven’t heard?
    Really? You read all THIS ? You claimed a lack of evidence, and when it is provided (along with the bulleted list above), you ignore it. Why? To deny all that can only be the result of blind partisan bias.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you really know so much about what’s going on, you’ll be able to tell me a story about what’s happening. You’ll be able to fill in the details behind events. It’s like being a reporter. You find sources beyond just your own publications, and you report back with a concise digestion of all that detail into a useful narrative… . If you want to persuade people, narrative does things better for you, because it concentrates and focuses the meaning.
    Circular gobbledygook. You mean like your “Tales From the Borderland”? All of which there were two reader comments? Yeah right. That’s really effective, eh?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: All these charts, all these things? I’m not big on them.
    Sure you are. Just not when it criticizes YOUR party.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I will check facts on such primary sources, but usually I look for somebody who knows something, and then I go through their claims and work out what they know.
    Right. You already admit to ignoring such things, so that statement is false. You don’t ever read it by your own admission.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You can go blind on detail, and fail to see the forest for the trees. I want to find meaningful detail and find it fast.
    More nonsense. You asked for evidence of corruption. I provided massive evidence of it, and you call it going “blind on detail”?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I don’t need all the remedial philosophy or civics that seem to crowd out the information and the narrative. I don’t need a lecture in what is good and wise. I need you to tell me, why I should change my beliefs.

    What do you think we’ve been doing?.
    If you still deny all the evidence (and it is massive), then it can only be the result of blind partisan bias. You don’t dispute (you even join in) corruption when people talked about Republicans. It’s only now that Dems have are the IN-PARTY that you are all defensive about any criticism of YOUR party. It’s extremely obvious. Others have commented on it too. In some cases, you were even calling one politician a Republican who was actually a Democrat.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Telling me that I’m partisan, and playing games about that is just not good enough.
    Your comments are obviously partisan biased. Mountains of evidence have been provided, which you ignore, which strengthens the argument that your comments are biased. It’s that simple. The more the evidence and recent events (see bulleted list above) are ignored, the more obvious it becomes.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: In the game of politics, if you haven’t chosen a set of beliefs, you aren’t really involved.
    Nonsense. Political beliefs are useless, and even problematic, if they are distorted by partisan bias. Choosing isn’t the half of it. You have to choose wisely. And not belonging to a party certainly does not mean “you aren’t really involved.” Tell that to all the independent, swing voters; the ones who actually decide elections. That comment sounds like a weak case to choose a party (preferrably the DEMs, eh?).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I’m sorry: I don’t see the problems with big government you do.
    That statement is contradicted by many of your other comments, since this blog is full of your comments about problems in government. However, when I review them, the comments appear to mostly be against Republicans, and seldom about Democrats.

    In fact, when someone criticizes Democrats, despite the over-whelming evidence, your comments are defensive and/or rationalizations. The partisan bais of the comments is all too obvious. The very fact that your comment above says “I don’t see the problems with big government you do”, now that Dems are the IN-PARTY, is suspiciously partisan motivated. That’s the first time I’ve heard ANYONE defending big government.

    That’s the problem with partisan bias.
    It forces one into positions that are ridiculously difficult to defend.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you don’t have the power or the will to reduce spending, admit you have a problem and raise taxes.
    That’s one of the most ridiculous, bass-ackwards thing I’ve ever read. How about getting the will to reduce spending? But you are recommending more taxation? That will only lead to even MORE spending? Surely, you have learned that by now ? Giving government MORE money is like giving liquor or an alcoholic.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If people object to that, tell them that you will make cuts in programs to get their tax cuts. Anything else is just irresponsible bullshit.
    But, I thought you wrote above that “I don’t see the problems with big government you do” ? This is what I mean by circular.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I am sick of being told about big government. This is a country of 300,000,000 citizens, technologically advanced, with interstate trade a constant reality.
    That’s a very strange statement. How can anyone not see the problems with big, over-bloated government? Is it because the Dems are now the IN-PARTY. Once again, it looks suspiciously like partisan bias. Especially when your comments in the past have railed against Republicans growing government larger. Your comments are contradictory.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I just think you need to at least give us enough of a chance to screw up in order to provide you with grist for the mill. Don’t be so early on the bandwagon.
    Ahhhh … more defensiveness and rationalizations. Many have already provided evidence (see bulleted list above) of a 110th Congress that is still ethically challenged. What more do you want? If you can’t see the growing evidence, refuse to read the evidence of a 110th Congress that is still ethically challenged, refuse to consider the 30+ years of track-record, and refuse to see the problems of big government (only now that DEMS are the IN-PARTY), then it can most liklely be attributed to a partisan bias.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I need you to tell me, why I should change my beliefs.
    All I can do is provide facts, supported by facts and data, which are overwhelming.

    Denying:

    • (a) the evidence of corruption in the Do-Nothing Congress (now that Dems are the IN-PARTY) by asking for the and then ignoring it (by your own admission),

    • (b) suddenly rationalizing the problems with big, over-bloated government by saying “I am sick of being told about big government”

    • (c) and saying taxes should raised because “If you don’t have the power or the will to reduce spending, admit you have a problem and raise taxes”

    • (d) railing against Repubs for corruption, and now rationalizing corruption of the Dems (not just the past, but since 07-NOV-2007) for the same old things, and demanding more time, and saying it is too early to tell

    • (e) ignoring the fact that Do-Nothing Congress is still ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems

    … all sounds suspiciously like partisan biased rationalizations for the actions of the party that is now the IN-PARTY.

    I used to do the same thing.
    I was hopeful about the “Contract with America”.
    I was hopeful about reforms in Congress.
    But decades of the same old corruption is hard to dismiss.
    It is all too clear now, after many decades of my own observations, and history, and understanding the inevitable consequences of insufficient Education, Transparency, and Accountability, which breeds Corruption, that it will ONLY change when the consequences of it all become too painful. That is a fact of human nature. 2.000 steps forward, and 1.999 steps backward. The first step is Education, which leads to the understanding of the importance of Transparency, which leads to Accountability, which leads to Responsibility, which reduces Corruption.

    So, we have to be careful about that partisan bias, because it leads people to take positions that are extremely difficult to defend, but it also allows us to be controlled, which is why irresponsible incumbent politicians love to fuel it.

    • It is extremely effective and seductive, because it taps into peoples’ laziness.

    • It tricks people into blind loyalty, so that they don’t have to think things through for themselves, so that they will blindly pull the party-lever (i.e. straight ticket).

    • It is extremely effective at distracting people from the malfeasance and irresponsibility of the politicians in control, by pitting voters against each other. They are doing the same thing by pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other.

    • It is extremely effective at dividing the voters so that a majority can rarely exist to recognize the manipulation and stop rewarding the politicians by repeated re-electing them.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2007 11:37 AM
    Comment #204407

    Dan-
    My problem with your argument is that you pretty well don’t address the role that shifting politics and changing membership would play. I’ve read about these time periods, and congress is nowhere near so monolithic as you suggest. In fact, one of the factors in the 1994 election that caused the shift was the retirement of many of the old guard in Congress.

    There’s been a demographic shift, a fairly obvious political shift to the right, the Reagan Revolution, the empowerment of the DLC (Clinton’s group) and it’s subsequent fall after Clinton’s departure. Now we have quite a profound political shift in the leadership back towards the left, going from the far right to center left.

    In short, There’s plenty of events that would cause me to question such a monolithic view of our congress. Your only argument, which you argue in circles, is that Congress remains the same.

    You talk about continuity between the parties. What continuity was there when this last congress was creating legislation without input from Democrats? What continuity was there when they were impeaching the President? It’s sloganeering to say its one team taking turns. Of course, you’re going to come back and insist on that point, but I doubt you’ll have any proof for me that the partisan divides were merely an illusion.

    You insist our problems have been ignored. Well, it’s easy to claim that at the beginning of the legislative session, before a Congress has the chance to even build a record. Hell, let me offer you one piece of evidence that this isn’t a congress like the Republicans: They held hearing, passed legislation, and did business in January.

    Oh, what an achievement! Why does it matter?

    Because this last congress didn’t start it’s session until February. And they were doing three day weeks. If you can’t recognize the more diligent work ethic of the Democrats from these plain facts alone, then you must not be paying close attention. If you’re not paying close attention to what’s happening, or worse, don’t think you have to pay close attention, I don’t see why I should accept your arguments.

    As for your allegations, they’re pretty weak:

    1)First, you haven’t given evidence putting Pelosi’s fingerprints on that exception, second, the offending legislation has been removed.

    2)Have you looked through the Federal law concerning pension forfeitures and confirmed that these forfeitures are the only ones in existence?

    3)Hiring more staff for the ethics panel is unethical, and a sign of corruption? That kind of absurd allegation speaks for itself.

    4)Legislation will be tagged to those who introduce such riders. Additionally, there are times where such measures are appropriate. People in congress just have to have some discipline and take some responsibility for their actions. Because the new legislation ensures that their names will be attached, they can now be held accountable.

    5)First of all, they convened in January. Second, 100 hrs is nothing compared to 100 days, which is the typical period given in elections where a new party or new President has come into office. It’s a fraction of the time, especially when you consider that for the old Congress, 100 days would have been practically the whole session.

    6)Reid’s supposed contacts with Abramoff miss a vital component of such accusations of corruption. When contributions were given to Reid, he voted the other way from what they wanted. Quid Pro Quo requires that a Quid be done for the Quo. Additionally, even the lobbyists around Abramoff themselves would tell you that virtually all their dealings were with Republicans.

    William Jefferson is off the committee he once held a prestigious position on. It’s not the same as brazenly keeping an indicted official like DeLay as House Majority leader. There isn’t a lot of love lost between him an Pelosi, since she lead the effort to get him demoted.

    7)Failed. First, let me clear something up: as much as Murtha’s been a conduit of federal funds to his district, a fact that lost him the position, he never accepted a bribe, which was part of the whole point of Abscam. He ended up cleared.

    Second, she failed. Steny Hoyer was the man they chose. Third, the person they eventually went to was Reyes, rather than Hastings or Harman, who had some significant problems.

    Third, I’ve got no illusion that these people will be a choir of angels. I do want improvements though, and we are getting them. Democratic Bloggers were actively covering the events, and making the same noise you were.

    This is what gets me: You think we blindly support the people in Washington. Look at what we actually write.

    I look mainly at what you write here. I tend to avoid the links because they tend to deliver me back to your site, and I want more points of view and sources than just you when you’re trying to prove the argument.

    As for your potshot at Tales from the Borderland? I’m glad you actually read it. If you actually read it, you’d know that I’m taking that business elsewhere. I’ve got few illusions. I’ve gotten some good responses from people on it, though. I just recognize that this is the wrong place for it.

    That, though, is not the narrative I’m looking for- that is, fictional. I’m looking for you to bring facts and incidents to attention here. Not on your site, here. I’m looking for you to drop these ridiculous defenses you’ve built up, and argue here, with sources exterior to your own site, on the issues. The sad thing is, your arguments from one thread to another are almost interchangeable. Everything circles back to incumbency and this whole “One Simple Idea” thing.

    I may have my themes that I hit upon, but I don’t claim that everything is about one thing. The world doesn’t reduce so cleanly down to simple principles.

    I’m not big on charts and and lists and whole mounds of gobbledygook because I would rather get to the pertinent information first, and look things up only if I have a clear idea of where to look and why. I’m looking for what’s meaningful to an issue. I don’t want to search through dozens of bills, reading through them all just to find one clause. I’ll first look through secondary sources and find out what the bill is, so I can just search that and get what I need.

    What I’m talking about is dealing with information efficiently, being able to work out the patterns, the meaningful information from that which isn’t relevant. Massive isn’t so important as meaningful.

    What I’m asking you to do, and what most readers would also want, is for you to present here what information you think is pertinent to the conclusion you’re trying to draw. You’re either dumping a whole bunch of information on us, or you’re giving us generalized, vague assertions. You’re expecting us to consider you an objective source, and digest all these lists of information you come up with, with little attribution to anybody in particular, and come up with your exact conclusion.

    You’re so intent on convincing people of this epic point of yours, that you forget most people understand things better at a smaller scale, and can bootstrap themselves up to the more epic conclusions without your help.

    I look for points of meaningful distinction. One such example is of Rumsfeld actually actively refusing to consider post-war plans. There’s a distinction between having bad post-war plans, and having none at all, as well as one between having none at all through sheer ignorance of the need, and having none at all for ideological reasons. Do I have to dump a whole bunch of information on people to prove Rumsfeld worse than incompetent, to prove that he’s actively unsuited for the job?

    No. The truth is, people have a ton of information at their disposal already, already saved to memory. They’ve seen the progress of the war. They may be lacking a few key details though, details that would bring everything else into focus. It’s far easier, and far quicker to bring those points up, than to drown that key fact in the middle of say, the record of all the other decisions and memos made that day.

    I’m a Democrat. That’s going to happen on occasion, you know: people developing firm points of view. You can either insult and berate these people for their temerity in coming to some firm conclusions, or you can recognize that folks aren’t simply going to roll over and be convinced with just any argument.

    Chosing what you believe is what politics is all about. The whole point of politics, the practical point at least, is negotiating between them. There will be no wholesale elimination of such beliefs. As for Bias? Bias is human. It’s a fact of life. Moreover, there are degrees of bias. One can be so wrapped up in one’s beliefs that they will listen to nothing else. Or, it could just be a tendency to favor one set of solutions over another.

    We all have a certain degree of bias. It’s pointless to wait forever for people to become completely open to all possibilities. Life, experience, and upbringing bring us to adhere to certain theories about the world around us. You can’t claim not to have a point of view yourself. Like everybody else, you have decided that to some degree that the world is like this, and not like that, and are thinking and acting accordingly. As I demonstrated some time ago, many who call themselves independent still adhere to party lines. Between what people say and what they really do, what people do speaks more clearly to what they believe.

    I really don’t see quite that much of a problem with a government of moderate size, what you would call a big government. I do see a problem with inefficiency and bloating. Sometimes they are the same, sometimes they are not. Sometimes, you can end up running an agency less efficiently because you’re trying to push a backlog of cases through a staff insufficient for the job. Not all efficiency is cheaper than inefficiency. Sometimes you have to pay more to get more.

    Your biases show clearly when you refuse to consider a rise in taxes as part of a sensible fiscal policy. Maybe you should consider that the big reason people don’t want government smaller is that deficit spending keeps it from hitting them in the pocket. If spending and revenue aren’t locked to one another, people will not estimate the need to reduce spending well at all, no more than people who rely on credit cards will estimate their means well when shopping.

    Feedback is crucial. taxation is feedback for spending. It’s what can prompt people to decide they don’t need all that government. And if they want it? Then they weigh the costs more wisely, knowing that they will sacrifice for what they’re getting.

    I want a government that people feel does what they need out of it. The Republicans, in trying to avoide political third rails have done a hatchet job with reducing government, such that agencies are called upon to do more with insufficient means.

    The phrase “big government” is such a vague, perjorative term. How big is too big? Who decides this? I can accept the premise that there is a size that is too big, but I don’t see anybody really giving a good argument as to what that size should be. Could government be smaller, and that be a good thing?

    Yes, providing that :
    A) It does what is asked of it by the majority of Americans;
    B)The smaller size lends efficiency to the realization of the first goal.

    If Americans still expect things of their government, and the reductions make it more unable to deliver on that, then smaller government is not good, at least not as formulated.

    Formulation, organization are important to this functional need. Better organization might enable smaller government. If, however, the problem is not organization, but a lack of funding and manpower (a problem that was chronic with the overwhelmed SEC), then smaller government is a fools errand; it’s already smaller than it should be in that case.

    The point is that size is not the only factor in good government, and the focus on that to the exception of everything else, in my view, is both foolish and even counterproductive.

    If you want to argue with me about the virtues and vices of a government of our size, by all means, lets. But lets also recognize that it is the people as a whole who decide what they want, and we don’t rule the world. Let’s deal with the reality of our current government first.

    Let’s also deal with the reality of revenues. That’s the point of Pay-Go: tying spending and taxes together. Irresponsibility will not go away because you simply allow people to be irresponsible with less revenues. If you hold these people accountable for what spending increases they impose, then covering our debts with more taxes will not encourage more spending. If you keep Pay-Go as the policy, they can’t spend more if they don’t take it from somewhere else.

    But hey, if you want permanent fiscal crisis, continue to be in denial. You’re all ready to talk about how bloated government is, but it seems like you’re unwilling to pay for it as long as that involves raising taxes.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 22, 2007 1:38 PM
    Comment #204429

    Government takes too much in taxes already (about 19% of GDP).
    Pay-Go is a good thing.
    But printing a lot of extra money is not.
    And we know how you want to tax (i.e. stick it to the wealthy with a graduated tax rate).

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for your potshot at Tales from the Borderland? I’m glad you actually read it.
    I didn’t read it. I started to, but couldn’t tell what it was about, recognized as you that “this is the wrong place for it.” and really have no idea what it’s about. As for pot shots, I merely offerred it as a counter to your stressing the need of a “story”, when only 2 comments doesn’t lend much credibility to that theory.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: … as much as Murtha’s been a conduit of federal funds to his district, a fact that lost him the position, he never accepted a bribe, which was part of the whole point of Abscam. He ended up cleared.

    Nonsense.
    Just because he wasn’t found guilty didn’t mean he didn’t do anything wrong.
    It’s on video tape.
    I have watched it.
    While John Murtha did not take the $50K bribe in his own hands, he said in his own words that he might “later”.
    That’s enough for me.
    Excerpts from the video show that John Murtha was offered $50K in cash, Murtha didn’t take it right away, but returned two minutes later with a bag man and John Murtha said that it is “OK for you to give me what’s in the drawer” [i.e. the $50K bribe].
    At any rate, John Murtha was abusing his position.
    That is NOT something done by a person who is not aware he’s trying to take a bribe. John Murtha has long maintained he only met with them (actually undercover agents) to pursue legitimate investment in his district. Yeah, right. I guess he was framed just like Rep. Jefferson Williams, eh?

    Also, John Mutha voted against a Democratic package of ethics reforms earlier in 2006.

    John Murtha’s pork-barrel:

    • $49,000 in the district of House Interior Appropriations subcommittee member Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, which organizes the annual Johnstown FolkFest music festival.

    • Murtha has one of the worst pork-barrel scores (15%) at Citizens Agasint Government Waste (cagw.org).

    But, if you like big, bloated, wasteful government, you should like John Murtha, eh?

    But, all these things that show politicians of BOTH parties are roughly, equally corrupt and irresponsible are all rationalized away or denied.

    Never mind that the Do-Nothing Congress is still ignoring the nation’s most important issues, while working on less important, feel-good, cherry-picked things.

    We will see.
    It’s already off to a very shaky start.
    The culture of corruption is still there.
    They aren’t serious about ethics reform.
    They won’t eliminate earmarks.
    They won’t tackle illegal immigration.
    They won’t address debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing.
    They won’t tackle the hard things for fear of failure, letting the difficult problems to grow in number and severity.
    They (most in Congress) went along with invading Iraq, and now offer no solutions.
    They continue to play the subtle blame game where compromise is running the nation into the dirt.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for your allegations, they’re pretty weak:

    Nonsense.
    You haven’t refuted anything. Instead:

    • you ask for our patience

    • make numerous rationalizations and excuses (i.e. no congress is perfect, it’s too early to tell, etc.)

    • dismiss unethical behavior in the IN PARTY

    • blame things on the OTHER party

    • deny the obvious (such as the validity of definition Number (2) of brainwashing)

    The painful consequences of it are on the way.
    Democrats may not hold onto their tiny majority for very long. Look closely at this graph. Since 1994, voters are about evenly torn between Dems and Repubs, and it’s quite likely because they no longer see much difference between the two.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2007 4:21 PM
    Comment #204434

    I haven’t yet found murder, but…
    This bill relates to the pensions of Congressmen, and revokes their pension for a number of offenses. I don’t think it includes murder because that’s not really a common problem for Senators or Representatives.

    As for murder and other felonies? Well, first a person must qualify to draw a pension (fifty years of age, twenty years service). Then, having qualified, one must terminate the victim and be terminated from one’s job after that threshold has been passed. Then one must serve the sentence, during which time, you’re not getting any money. Given the average life expectancy of 74-76 years, and that the sentence for first degree murder is 20 to life… Well, It’s highly unlikely for a murderer to qualify, much less enjoy the pension.

    I do believe you can already lose your pension for committing fraud or racketeering crimes on the job.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 22, 2007 4:47 PM
    Comment #204443

    1)How do you define what percentage of GDP is too much? Is that definition of yours commonly held?

    2)There is a such thing as true stories. We read them in the newspaper and in non-fiction books. I wasn’t suggesting that you write something like my story (which has a link to a page with all the chapters, for those who want to start from the beginning).

    3) According to Wikipedia:

    John Murtha (D-PA) was one of the Congressmen videotaped in an encounter with undercover FBI operatives.[6] Although never indicted or prosecuted, he was named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the scandal. As such, he testified against Frank Thompson (D-NJ) and John Murphy (D-NY), the two Congressmen mentioned as participants in the deal at the same meeting. A short clip from the videotape shows Murtha stating “I’m not interested… at this point” in direct response to an offer of $50,000 in cash.[7]

    While this statement has been a reference point for Murtha and others who proclaim his innocence, detractors point to the complete video, which offers a more ambiguous picture.[8] At issue are the indeterminacy of Murtha’s intentions along with the fact that he did not report the attempted bribe following the meeting, a violation of House Ethics Rules.

    In November 1980, the Justice Department announced that Murtha would not face prosecution for his part in the scandal. The U.S. Attorneys Office reasoned that Murtha’s intent was to obtain investment in his district. Full length viewing of the tape shows Murtha citing prospective investment opportunities that could return “500 or 1000” miners to work. In July 1981, the House Ethics Committee also chose not to file charges against Congressman Murtha, following a mostly party line vote. The resignation later that day of Republican E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., the panel’s special counsel, has been interpreted as an act of protest.[9]

    Fact was, he was cleared. Was he entirely innocent? No. But I get a different read on it, one that explains why he did not get convicted. While he definitely had knowledge that something funny was going on, that bribes could change hands, he never accepted the bribe. Where you claim that he showed up with a bagman who was going to take the money, you got it wrong. There were two other folks involved at that time who did accept bribes, and who Murtha would later testify against without any deal made for him. Murtha had basically walked a fine line. Do I respect him for that? No.

    One thing to note, though, and this goes back to what I said about story- I checked up on this from the wikipedia site, and having done so, found the more disturbing parts of the story, as well as the mitigating factors.

    The problem with your argument is that you’re assuming that I’m jumping to his defense, in fact insinuating that I think his behavior there is acceptable. Why? Did I say “No matter what he’s done, he’s alright with me, and it’s just a conservative conspiracy anyways?”

    No, confronted with the evidence, I accept it.

    However, all this is moot: His bid for the leadership FAILED, as did the Alcee Hastings nomination. The whole point of bringing up these things is to say that the Democratic congress is no less corrupt than the Republican. Such a claim is dependent on equally loathsome standards.

    It’s not surprising to see Congressmen like Murtha who misuse their office. There will be people like that regardless of what reforms are made. Even with rules in place, you always have the people who are smart enough or lucky enough to play the game and not get caught.

    Corruption is an endemic problem of government. It’s not, though, a problem with a constant level. Some ages are less corrupt than others. Given HR 14, and other bills, the failure of officials with spotty backgrounds to get high-profile assignments, and the backing down of leaders from questionable positions, I would say corruption is on the decline, rather than remaining constant.

    As for your allegations, they’re still weak. You haven’t told me how it’s unethical to beef up the staff for the ethics committee. I mean, shit, you could make an exception for adding personnel to government when their job is to keep it honest! Oversight doesn’t happen by magic.

    You also haven’t told me how an accusation of corruption is stronger for the fact that questionable provisions get struck down, and those who pose them are forced to backpedal.

    Nor have you related to me how a congress that

    a)convenes in January rather than February;

    b) starts its agenda in the first 100 hrs of legislation, rather than the first 100 days (what, do you expect them to legislate in their sleep? If a lawyer billed hours like that, he’d end up convicted of fraud.);

    c)returns to the five day week,

    can be said to be equally lazy to one that’s lazier than any congress in over fifty years.

    Doesn’t matter, does it, that this congress, historically distinct from the others in both leadership and composition, is nowhere near the same entity as the last one. If everything is the same, why are the lobbyists all of a sudden scrambling to hire Democrats, since the former GOP majority wouldn’t talk to Democrat Lobbyists? Where’s the K-Street project?

    It might be a pleasing fiction for a right-wing independent to look at things as all being the same, but they’re not. Democrats, while not perfect, do not have the same tolerance for the extension of free-market thinking into running government. They don’t hold, in general, to the notion that money is equivalent to speech. It’s not that we’re impervious to corruption, as Murtha and a number of his colleagues demonstrate, Democrats in general just have a lower threshold for becoming disgusted with officials. We don’t bother trying to rationalize a lot of this stuff.

    I don’t think seeing a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is a problem any longer, not with the extent to which the Republicans have pushed their luck and gone off the deep end. The Republicans are now scrambling to make up the difference, negotiating on stuff they once claimed they’d never budge on: Global Warming, Iraq, and the president’s power. It’s not the end. It should only be the beginning. Nothing guarantees that these things continue. All we Americans can do is keep up the pressure, and not let ourselves give up on reasonable government.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 22, 2007 5:53 PM
    Comment #204452

    The problem with the BILL HR14 is that it doesn’t include all serious crimes:

    The offenses described in this subparagraph are as follows:
    (i) An offense within the purview of section 201 (bribery of public officials and witnesses), 203 (compensation to Members of Congress, officers, and others in matters affecting the Government), 204 (practice in United States Court of Federal Claims or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by Members of Congress), 219 (officers and employees acting as agents of foreign principals), 286 (conspiracy to defraud the Government with respect to claims), 287 (false, fictitious or fraudulent claims), 371 (conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States), 597 (expenditures to influence voting), 599 (promise of appointment by candidate), 602 (solicitation of political contributions), 606 (intimidation to secure political contributions), 607 (place of solicitation), 641 (public money, property or records), 1001 (statements or entries generally), 1341 (frauds and swindles), 1343 (fraud by wire, radio, or television), 1503 (influencing or injuring officer or juror), 1951 (interference with commerce by threats or violence), 1952 (interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises), or 1962 (prohibited activities) of title 18 or section 7201 (attempt to evade or defeat tax) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
    (ii) Perjury committed under the statutes of the United States in falsely denying the commission of an act which constitutes an offense within the purview of a statute named by clause (i).
    (iii) Subornation of perjury committed in connection with the false denial of another individual as specified by clause (ii).

    Looks to be full of holes (by design).
    There are lots of bad crimes other than murder.
    Also, politicians have a way of getting off with only a misdemeanor or a pardon.
    The laws do NOT apply equally to politicians and the rest of us.
    And it should be retroactive.
    Besides, the BILL hasn’t passed yet, and it will be amazing if it ever does.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2007 6:41 PM
    Comment #204456
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Doesn’t matter, does it, that this congress, historically distinct from the others in both leadership and composition, is nowhere near the same entity as the last one.

    You continually fail to understand that the IN PARTY usually is more corrupt.
    That’s why Dems lost the majority after 1996.
    Give it time.
    The politicians of the two party duopoly just take turns being irresponsible, and the history and decades of evidence of it are overwhelming.

    And watch the corruption grow if the Dems get the executive branch too. That happened in Clinton’s term, and the rampant corruption by that IN PARTY is what gave rise to the Republican parties gains.

    They simply take turns being corrupt.
    Voters get fed up and vote for the other party.
    What the voters haven’t yet figured out is that they need to vote out large numbers in BOTH parties.

    That will get their attention.
    Until then, Congress will not reform itself.
    Congress is only making some lame attemps at reforms now only because they feel the pressure and expectations of the voters, but it won’t last.

    Regarding Murtha, I saw and heard him say he might accept the money “later”. Watch the video, if you haven’t seen it. As far as I’m concerned, he was planning on it “later”. Testimony by others say that he wanted another person to actually physically accept and hold the money for him. That’s enough for me. As far as I’m concerned, he was on the take, and had those agents not really been FBI, there’s no doubt Murtha would have finally gotten around to taking the money, since he even said (himself) that he might “later”. He was simply (and rightfully so) paranoid, but I say enough on the video.

    OK, so Congress is in session in January?
    Big deal.
    Much of it is just symbolic feel-good stuff, and the Senate hasn’t passed all of it yet.

    What good is it if they continue to ignore the nation’s most important issues ?

    They may be busy, but there are few real results yet?
    If the Repubs are so much worse, why do Dems only have a very tiny majority ?
    You’re kiddin’ yourself if you think the nation suddenly has a vast preference for Dems.

    It could be voters are figuring it out.
    The graph above lends some credence to that, since voters, for a decade, seem about equally torn between Dems and Repubs.

    The will eventually figure it out, as the pain of the consequences of their own negligence to hold politicians accountable grows.

    Congress is still full of irresponsible incumbent politicians of BOTH parties. Maybe a little less, but not much, since 90% of incumbents are still there, and the Dems only have a slight majority.

    It is still:

    • the same teams (merely taking turns being the IN PARTY and OUT PARTY)

    • the same players (90% were re-elected)

    • the same old game

    • the same old results (the nation’s problems still go ignored)

    Congress isn’t serious about ethics reform.
    Congress won’t eliminate earmarks.
    Congress won’t tackle illegal immigration.
    Congress won’t addressdebt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing.
    Congress won’t tackle the hard things for fear of failure, angering their big-money donors, and will continue to let the difficult problems to grow in number and severity.
    Congress (mostly) went along with invading Iraq, and now offer no solutions.
    Congress still continues to play the subtle blame game where compromise is running the nation into the dirt.

    So, it’s not a good idea to get your hopes up too high.
    History and what we’ve seen since 7-Nov-2006 don’t warrant it. Especially when all the BILLs in the House haven’t yet reached the Sentate.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2007 7:18 PM
    Comment #204472

    I know you desperately want to believe it is different now, but it is only a minor variation the occurs during the transition between the IN-PARTY and the OUT-PARTY.
    I’m fairly confident (based on the last 30+ years) of it.
    Wait and see.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote:All we Americans can do is keep up the pressure, and not let ourselves give up on reasonable government.

    Absolutely. Keep the pressure on Congress.
    That is wise advice!

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2007 8:44 PM
    Comment #204473

    Dan-
    If you look at the collection of codes and laws referenced in HR 14, They pretty much comprehensively cover any kind of misuse of the office. I don’t see where the holes are, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what parts of election law they could have missed.

    Looking at the selection, the obvious intent is to cover politically related felonies. Hell, if you look at the findings, that’s exactly what’s covered. You’re the one who keeps on telling people they should keep laws simple. One purpose per bill, right? The question here is how you define the purpose of a bill.

    Additionally, with retroactive application of the law, you run into the problem that The constitution prohibits it, both at the federal and state levels, and with good reason. How can anyone obey a law not yet written?

    Maybe you, with your knowledge of what the future holds, could make such a system work well, but the rest of us would be vulnerable to having some future law passed by a hostile political majority, criminalizing behavior we know to be legal now. In confronting corruption, we should not hand it new abuses to inflict on us.

    As for the rest of your assertions? You can say what Congress won’t do, but that does not mean they will follow suit as you suppose. As for tiny majorities?

    Well, first, the redistricting done by the Republicans is a part of that. What you should ask yourself is why the Republicans had a tiny majority. Looking at the points on the graph, we in fact have a slightly more substantial majority than the Republicans ever had. This we gained in spite of the fact that only a third of the Senate was up for grabs, and the House was supposedly locked up tight by a concerted effort on the Republican’s part, including redistricting and some of the most vicious campaigns in our country’s history.

    Yet despite that, we not only take the House back, but utterly reverse their majority and even exceed it. I’d say that if it weren’t for all the impediments in our way, in terms of the redistricting and other obstacles, the shift would have created an even bigger majority for us. As it is, in two years, another third of the senate is up for grabs, and if we keep up the good work, we could see substantial turnover there, too.

    But I’m not going to count my eggs before they’re hatched. 2000, 2002, and 2004 taught me and others a less on that. Twelve years in the wilderness have also instilled in many Democrats a desire not to lose this majority, not to squander it. I don’t think you quite grasp how different 6 years of Bush’s administration have made the Democratic party, at least at its base. I also think you underestimate, for entirely understandable reasons, the extent to which Americans have lost faith in the Republicans. It’s such now that the Republicans anticipate a worse meltdown should Iraq still be an issue in 2008.

    I don’t necessarily have my hopes up high, but I do have my aspirations a great deal higher than my hopes, which is why I want my party to do what it takes to earn the good favor of the American people, and not simply be timid graspers of power or reactionists who adopt their rival’s worse tendencies, like the Republicans did.

    Fact is, corruption follows power. Always has. Some resist it, some don’t. It’s like a cancer. The best solution is to get it early, and to be vigilant against its return.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 22, 2007 8:44 PM
    Comment #204484
    Hell, if you look at the findings, that’s exactly what’s covered.
    No. Not at all. All they had to do was include ALL felonies, instead of limiting it to a specific list. Otherwise, it is full of holes.

    BTW, they are already reducing that list to only five (5) things. Wait and see. I’ll be surprised if it ever gets passed in the House and Senate.

    Likewise with everything we’ve see thus far. Most of it has not yet passed the Senate, where the two-party duopoly is close in numbers. Good Luck. This is why I advocate to voters to start voting both of their irresponsible butts out of office.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Fact is, corruption follows power. Always has. Some resist it, some don’t. It’s like a cancer. The best solution is to get it early, and to be vigilant against its return.
    Now you’re makin’ sense. Now we’re on the same page. I’m more aware than most of the methods and mechanisms. Nip it in the bud, or suffer the consequences. Don’t ever overlook the human factor.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2007 9:11 PM
    Comment #204586
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n, … your arguments from one thread to another are almost interchangeable. Everything circles back to incumbency and this whole “One Simple Idea” thing.

    Yes, they do, because politicians will never enact real reforms as long as voters keep rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

    The inescapable fact is that many of our society’s problems are with irresponsible government, which is truly of the voters’ own making, by voters that continually reward those very same irresponsible incumbent politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

    I seldom post comments on topics that are NOT related to that fact. Those that are bothered most by it are usually the party loyalists of the “IN-PARTY”. Now that the “IN-PARTY” and “OUT-PARTY” have traded places, there is a very obvious shift in the people that are bothered most by that fact. While Repubs were the “IN-PARTY”, Repubs challenged it constantly. Now that the Dems are the “IN-PARTY”, they Dems challenge it constantly. Funny how that works. Especially since the message hasn’t changed.

    You don’t suppose it is rooted in blind partisan loyalty, eh?

    The many problems discussed here daily at this blog, and countless others, have the same common thread.

    That’s why the discussion often (almost always) leads to the same root problem: politicians and government are irresponsible, and voters keep rewarding them, empowering them, by repeatedly re-electing them.

    However, my site is far more than just that one idea. There are also many suggested solutions too. Common-sense, no-brainer, responsible solutions that many Americans agree upon, but politicians continually ignore (such as illegal immigration, campaign finance reform, election reform, taxation, eminent domain abuse, debt, spending, borrowing, excessive money printing, Gerrymandering, energy vulnerability, Social Security, Medicare, law enforcement, One-Purpose-Per-BILL, voting fraud, education, the human factor, government corruption, waste, corporate welfare, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, dysfunctional legal system, Iraq, the environment, alternative energy sources, partisan warfare, etc.).

    I’ve written literally about 4 million words here about many other things, but it is true that the root problem often boils down to the same thing; the same human trait. So your observation is partly true, and in no way will diminish more of the same in the future.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 23, 2007 10:13 AM
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