Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » From Outside In

From Outside In

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

While the two sides of the aisle cannot even agree on the root cause of gun violence in this country, the Europeans, hearing reports of yet another mass shooting in the US, scratch their heads and wonder what the hell is our problem.

The answer is that the devil, as they say, is in the details, and what the Europeans don’t hear about is a not so small detail called the National Rifle Association (NRA). Though it is neither a governmental institution, nor run by elected officials, yet, when it comes to the subject of firearms, the NRA has had more than 230 legislative victories in the past ten years on the state level alone, never mind federal. Why is that? Judging by the likes of Wayne LaPierre, they are neither intelligent, nor very persuasive in their arguments, which are often as outlandish as they are misleading or downright untrue. Is it that Mr. LaPierre is just so incredibly charming? Hardly. Even among his staunchest supporters, I doubt “charm” is the word that springs to their minds in connection with ol’ Wayne.

Money makes the world go 'round...

So what other reason is there? Well, let us answer that question with another. If the NRA were an organization with limited or no financial resources, would they have been able to push as many laws through as they have? Not bloody likely. So then, it must all come down to money. Lots and lots of money being funneled to where it can do the most good for the NRA’s cause. But wait a minute! Money being paid to buy legislation? Isn’t that what we call corruption when it happens somewhere else? No, you say, here it’s not corruption because it’s done legally. Aha, legally; do you mean because there just happen to be so many loopholes built into the laws that this money can flow unimpeded or questioned? Remind me, who was it who wrote those loopholes in the first place? Who added all those caveats here and there for manna to rain from “benefactors” such as the NRA or, say, Americans for Tax Reform, another “poor” organization, this time working to further the cause of the financially challenged!

Now, I admit, maybe it’s not exactly non-sequential, used bills, stuffed into briefcases, changing hands in secret locations, maybe cash goes through several permutations and transformations before it benefits its intended target but hey, doesn’t a rose by any other name, still smell as sweet? All expenses paid trips, campaign funding, a favor here, a discount there? They all had to start at some point as Jacksons, Grants and Franklins before being converted into something else, no? Ah, hang on! I seem to recall that this sort of thing is called, now, don’t tell me, it’ll come to me any minute, oh yes, money laundering! Well, well, no, you say? It’s not money laundering because the money used was not proceeds from an illegal enterprise? Oh, OK, then. How about we just call it something like, I don’t know, “cash disguising” or “currency dress-up”? Does that sound better?

We are most vociferous when pointing our self-righteous finger of indignation, shouting our claim for all to hear that it it our duty to teach our moral values to all those countries rampant with corruption; that it is our responsibility to stamp out money laundering by drug cartels and mobs, that we, as the most law-abiding nation in the world, must set an example; we must be the shinning beacon of light when it comes to honesty and integrity. Really?

Powered by

About A. J. Aston

  • Baronius

    Do you have a means of labelling outside money good or bad, other than your assessment of the cause it goes toward? I don’t see a reason that union advocacy or business advocacy, gun rights or gun control, any issue in the world and the other side of that issue, should be thought of differently. Or do you oppose any issues advocacy?

  • A. J. Aston

    Baronius, I’m not sure I understand your comment but, when I titled my post “From Outside In” what I meant was that people from other countries or even people like myself who are not inside Capitol Hill, look at what is going on in Washington and are baffled. The success of the NRA in pushing through legislation favorable to their cause cannot be explained any other way except that it was purchased. Having said that, I have nothing against advocacy. I have nothing against the AARP lobbying for the cause of the elderly or the AFL-CIO fighting for the rights of union workers. My objection is to advocacy which serves the agenda of a particular special interest group while, at the same time, is detrimental to the American public. The NRA cares nothing about gun violence, the slaughter of children, the senseless killing which goes on every minute of every day. What they do care about is promoting the gun ownership at any cost! That, in itself, would not be so objectionable IF they didn’t simultaneously block any legislation which would protect us from those guns. That the NRA is so oblivious to our welfare is bad enough; that our elected officials support their activities instead of voting with the wishes of those who elected them to office in the first place, is reprehensible.

  • Baronius

    “My objection is to advocacy which serves the agenda of a particular special interest group while, at the same time, is detrimental to the American public.”

    Millions of Americans see the AARP as detrimental to the country, making Social Security reform less likely than background check reform. Millions of Americans see the AFL-CIO as detrimental in their support of protectionist measures. Millions see the NRA as supporting the national interest. Don’t judge groups too hastily.

  • A. J. Aston

    We, as private citizens, are all entitled to our opinions. You may favor one group or their agenda, I may favor another. However, the responsibility of our elected officials is, first and foremost, to follow the will of the people who elected them. When over 80% of the public want expanded background checks, yet legislation to enact this does not go through, there is something very wrong with a system which allows this to happen.

  • Baronius

    Well, a lot depends on the poll. Some quick googling and I found two recent polls (AP and CBS) showing declining support for increased gun control. According to the AP poll, 49% thought that gun laws should be more strict (down from 58% in January), 38% that the laws should remain as is, and 10% that the laws should be less strict. It also looks like a lot of the polls showing support for background checks include support for the current background check laws, in other words, support for keeping the system as is. Also worth noting is that the Toomey/Manchin compromise had exceptions, and that no proposed law would have prevented the Sandy Hook shooter from obtaining guns.

  • Baronius

    I forgot to add: the Senate is supposed to be deliberative. It’s specifically designed to be more immune to spikes in public opinion.

  • Doug Hunter

    You see this alot. It takes only a relatively small, dedicated group to support something who are willing to spend money and vote in unison they can outinfluence a much larger group who opposes it but doesn’t react as strongly or cough up the cash.

    Personally, I’m glad the NRA and others are out their protecting my freedoms.

  • A. J. Aston

    There are a lot of polls out there and as many points of view as there are people voicing them. Our perceptions differ but what is indisputable is that people are dying. Regardless of whether we think guns kill people or people kill people, something has to be done and, arguably, no single legislation will solve the problem. There is no way to please all of the people all of the time, there is no single fix, but we have to start somewhere and using the argument that this or the other legislation would not have prevented this or the other massacre anyway, is to do nothing.

    We owe it to the families of victims to do something, even if it’s baby steps, to make a safer society for those of us still alive to enjoy it.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    A generous way to look at this is that members of Congress have a duty to balance the interests of their constituents with their oath to defend the Constitution. They can’t always align with public opinion, otherwise all kinds of crazy shit would be law.

    That said, the scope of what Manchin-Toomey would have done was well within SCOTUS’ interpretation of the 2nd Amendment in DC vs. Heller, so I think those who voted “nay” are going to struggle to explain specifically and coherently what it is that they were defending.

  • A. J. Aston

    Thank you Dr. Dreadful, for your comment and particularly the last line you wrote. Unfortunately, I suspect that many will not bother to explain themselves at all, at least not to the voting public. Their allegiances rest elsewhere and since they voted according to agenda, no explanations will be necessary.

    Doug, your remark that “Personally, I’m glad the NRA and others are out their protecting my freedoms.” made me wonder what “freedoms” you felt were being threatened by the expansion of background checks to include gun shows. How would that have curtailed any of your rights at all?

  • Baronius

    Your reasoning eludes me, AJ. You say that the NRA is bad because they’re spending money – but no, it’s ok to spend money, but they shouldn’t be doing it against the will of the people – but sure, the people don’t agree on anything, but something needs to be done. Why this particular thing? Shouldn’t we be trying to do something effective, rather than just trying to do something? Can you give me any reason to think that this would be a baby step in the right direction? Why do we owe it to the families of the victims to pass an ineffective or harmful law?

  • Doug Hunter

    #10

    Evidently the right to buy a gun at a gunshow without getting permission from my superiors the almighty government before I do so. Of course I have no record and don’t see the need to buy guns beyond the two I have for hunting, but I enjoy a free country. I believe in tons of freedoms, even those I never intend on using, it’s the principle.

  • A. J. Aston

    Baronius, if I concede to some of your arguments, it is because nothing is ever black or white. The validity of what you say doesn’t detract from the validity of my viewpoint.

    I don’t say that the NRA is bad because it’s spending money per se. What I reject is their determination to block any measure which would, even remotely, prevent the staggering amount of gun violence we have in this country. It is so easy to reject every proposal, arguing either that it won’t work, that it won’t prevent anything or that it will be ineffective. Extending background checks to include the sale if guns at shows is, to my mind, a very small step. It would not have stopped anyone from buying a gun, it just might have prevented some of those who shouldn’t own a gun from having a venue to purchase one. If it would have saved one life, is that wrong? Would you still consider it ineffective or better still, harmful?

    Doug – when you buy a gun at a store, you have to fill out a form. Why is buying a gun at a show any different? You fill out a form to get a driver’s license. Does that somehow curtail your freedom? For many years I lived in a country which was, at the time, communist. Believe me when I say that I appreciate the freedoms enjoyed here because I have life experience to contrast them with. I’m all for principle but would you have really lost something?

  • Baronius

    Well, I don’t think you’re being honest. You clearly believe that some things are black and white, or you wouldn’t have bothered to write an article about this topic. It’d be like me writing an article that ABC has the best soap operas. I don’t know if they have any, and it’d be a weird use of my time to take a stand on it.

    And your article was as much about the NRA spending money as it was about gun control. You accused people of being bought off. If you’re throwing around charges like that without meaning them, that’s pretty unfair.

    Actually, that’s what bothers me the most about it. You don’t defend this particular piece of legislation. Tell me, why is it worth voting for? Saying that something needs to be done doesn’t persuade me that your stand is based on what the legislation contains. If anything, it implies the opposite. Why do you think that this bill would have stopped anyone from buying a gun? Far more importantly, why do you think that the gun it would have stopped them from buying would be used in a crime? As far as I know, Adam Lanza’s mother bought her guns at a gun store. Wikipedia says that the Virginia Tech shooter and the Tucson shooter both passed background checks.

    It seems to me that if you’re going to recommend legislation, you should be able to provide a strong argument for it.

  • roger nowosielski

    Quite a serious charge, don’t you think?

  • pablo

    A.J.

    After reading your article here I meandered over to your blog. You have several articles there where you go to great lengths to invoke the US Constitution, as well as citing it as the supreme law of the land.

    You even go so far as to include this oath in one of your articles:
    ““I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

    I cannot help but wonder how this squares with the phrase “shall not be infringed” that is in the 2nd amendment. I can only assume that your interpretation of infringed is not to be found in any dictionary of the English language but one that you have made up. Either that or you do not endorse that which you have written so much about concerning the Constitution and you are a hypocrite.

  • A. J. Aston

    Baronius, I have an opinion on the subject of gun control and opinions, by definition, are subjective. An opinion starts with the “I think that….”, not “I know that….”. We all have opinions, based on more or less expertise. The bi-partisan amendment which proposed nothing more than extending background checks for gun show and internet sales of guns was voted down. That is fact. It is also a fact that none of the senators who voted against this amendment could offer, as Dr. Dreadful said in his comment, specific and coherent explanations as to what it was they were defending when they voted “no”.

    Why did these senators vote “no”? Perhaps it is time for you to answer some questions. What reason do you think they had? Why don’t we go from there. I’ve made my position clear as to what I think their reasons are and I don’t see that I have anywhere withdrawn from it.

    My defense of this legislation is as follows – if I was suddenly hell-bent on doing harm to others, for whatever reason and there was something in my background which would prevent a legitimate gun store from selling to me, where else would I go to get a gun? There are four places I can think of – the Internet, a gun show, someplace where I could buy a gun illegally or to friends or relatives who might have a gun to sell to me. In the last two instances, there would be a trace of my purchase. An Internet purchase would also leave behind my IP address and a credit card number but, then again, I could use some else’s computer and steal a credit card. By far, the best place for me to go is a gun show. I pay cash and no one is the wiser. The amendment would have made two of the four avenues much more difficult if not impossible, ergo my possibilities would have beeb cut down by 50%.

    For those who have nothing to hide, having their background checked takes nothing, but nothing away from them. Could the guns they buy today be used to commit murder tomorrow? Absolutely, but that was not the point of this legislation.

    Lastly, where, in my article, did I propose legislation?

  • A. J. Aston

    Pablo, in what way would your rights be “infringed” upon if you were asked, at a gun show, to complete the same type of form which a gun store would require from you? Moreover, the entire line of the 2nd Amendment you refer to reads as follows:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    In other words, the rights of people in a well regulated Militia, charged with defending the security of a free State, shall not be infringed, not the rights of anybody who feels like owning a gun. Since when Is “gun owner” another term for “member of a Militia”? Oh, and let’s not forget the words “WELL REGULATED”! What do you think that means??

  • pablo

    It means your reading skills are impaired.

  • yort

    I’ve seen no satisfying explanation for the rate of gun violence (and violence generally) in the US population…anywhere

  • A. J. Aston

    Pablo, I am willing to discuss the issue with you but there is a certain amount of civility required in exchanges such as these. If you cannot practice it, don’t bother making comments.

  • A. J. Aston

    Yort, I agree. It is precisely why those who look at the US from the outside, cannot comprehend not only why there is so much violence but why we do nothing about it. My article was my opinion on what the answer to that question is.

  • yort

    not to be argumentative but – haven’t you followed the money and pointed at corrupt politicians…and de-emphasized issues of personal responsibility begging the questions of the necessity desirability and probable efficacy of government intervention?

  • A. J. Aston

    Yort, when you speak of ‘personal responsibility’ whom are you referring to? The politicians or gun owners? Responsibility to society? I’m not clear on what you mean.

  • yort

    gun owners

  • A. J. Aston

    If every gun owner took personal responsibility for his (or her) actions, then you are right – there would be no reason for the government to do anything as there would be no problem. Unfortunately, the rate of gun violence in this country speaks to an overwhelming absence of personal responsibility. Hence the need for intervention.

  • yort

    so ‘power’ (for lack of a better descriptor) in some way sets up a situation of overwhelming absence of personal responsibility and then shedding crocodile tears looks to cure the problem by limiting the occasion for people taking responsibility

    “look – they’ve gone mad so we’d best control them more tightly”

    …not saying it’s a bad idea from somebody’s pov but it smells fishy

  • yort

    (btw – feel free to re-write anything you read of mine so that it makes sense…as in: “…not saying it’s a bad idea from everybody’s pov but it smells fishy” for example)

  • A. J. Aston

    Yort, on the one hand you say “I’ve seen no satisfying explanation for the rate of gun violence (and violence generally) in the US population…anywhere” and on the other you argue that “‘power’ (for lack of a better descriptor) in some way sets up a situation of overwhelming absence of personal responsibility”.

    From my pov, first came the misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment causing the proliferation of guns, then came the gun violence which, in turn, prompted calls for legislation to try to curb the violence or, as you put it, “look – they’ve gone mad so we’d best control them more tightly”.

    Which argument then, do your olfactory senses consider “fishy”?

  • yort

    I agree that proliferation for profit does provide a partial description of how power has driven the population mad

  • A. J. Aston

    It seems that profit has also driven our politicians to failure!

  • roger nowosielski

    Perhaps another question as well is in order.

    Irrespective of constitutional “guarantees,” responsible gun owners, for good reasons, distrust their government; and for many of them, it’s reason enough to arm themselves with guns.

    Would Aston be happier were the US government embarked on a thoroughgoing program of confiscating all weapons?

    Aren’t we heading in that general direction anyhow?

  • Clav

    Would Aston be happier were the US government embarked on a thoroughgoing program of confiscating all weapons?

    Which was, in fact, the first step the Nazis took on their march to the Holocaust.

  • Clav

    And I haven’t seen a response to Baronius’ very apt comparisons of the NRA to the AARP (Full disclosure — I am a member of that wretched organization), the AFL-CIO and any number of other organizations spending money received (sometimes involuntarily as is the case of trade unions) from their members, then spending it on lobbying efforts aimed to promote only their own narrow concerns with no regard whatever for what negative effects may redound on others as a result.

    The NRA is not unique in that regard; not even close to unique.

  • roger nowosielski

    Just for the record, Clav — I was coming from the perspective that the US, in spite of being a liberal, welfare state, is also becoming an increasingly militaristic, police state; and my comment was intended, after a fashion, to throw further light on troll’s (yort’s) puzzler. I very much doubt whether Baronius is coming from the same perspective. In fact, I’m more than certain that he does not.

  • Clav

    But A.J. is right; lobbying allows a lot of organizations at the expense of the rest of us.

    Lobbying should be made illegal. ALL lobbying, including that of charitable organizations defending the poor, political parties and so forth. Selective permitting of lobbying would be unfair and unamerican.

  • Clav

    First sentence of #36 s/b: But A.J. is right, lobbying allows a lot of organizations to achieve their goals at the expense of the rest of us.

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, why do ‘responsible gun owners’, using your terminology, distrust their government so much? What has the government ever done to earn that mistrust, vis a vis gun rights? The 2nd Amendment is still firmly in place, is it not? And how did you make the leap from expanding background checks to gun confiscation? We already have background checks in gun stores and these have been in place for a while. Confiscation didn’t follow, did it?

    Clav, the leap you made, going straight from a functioning democracy such as ours, to Nazis and the Holocaust! Seriously?

    It’s as if, once someone become a gun owner, they lose all sense of proportion and whatever common sense they may have had, is replaced by suspicion or worse, full-blown paranoia.

    It is exactly this system of government which allows groups such as the NRA to have as much influence on legislation as they currently do. If anyone should be paranoid, it’s those of us who are against the idea that guns should be owned by everyone, everywhere, that semi-automatic rifles with large capacity magazines are necessary for protection. The civilians living in Syria could make that argument, but us?

  • Clav

    I very much doubt whether Baronius is coming from the same perspective. In fact, I’m more than certain that he does not.

    Of course he isn’t. What has that to do with the validity of his point?

  • Clav

    Clav, the leap you made, going straight from a functioning democracy such as ours, to Nazis and the Holocaust! Seriously?

    No leap at all; simply a reference to an historical fact.

  • Clav

    Confiscation didn’t follow, did it?

    Not yet.

  • A. J. Aston

    Clav, your comment that all lobbying should be made illegal supports the assertion I made in my article. If you think about it, politicians already have to juggle between representing the wishes of their constituency and following their party line which aren’t always in accord. Throw in pressure (and lots of money, of course) from lobby groups and you end up with legislation bought by the highest bidder, voters be damned.

  • A. J. Aston

    Clav, to your comment #41 – as I said, gun owners have been expecting nothing but the worst from their government for years, despite the fact that none of their fears have ever come to pass. As for your comment #40 – the historical fact is that Germany, bankrupt and broken after WWI, was limping along, their government ineffectual. It allowed a little man from Austria to come in and, in short order, turn the place into a dictatorship. Everything followed after that so for the US to get from here to there, we would need some little man (or woman) with a scratchy voice and another “Mein Kampf” to take over first. See that happening anytime soon?

  • Clav

    Exactly, A.J.

    But what I fear is that if lobbying is ultimately banned, it will be selectively. The NRA would be banned, but not the AARP. Or the trade unions would be allowed to continue lobbying, but not the Association of Widget Manufacturers — you get the idea.

    The fact is that the proliferation of lobbyists of all stripes has resulted in the widespread corruption of our politicians and of the government.

  • roger nowosielski

    @39

    I wasn’t commenting on the validity of his argument; I was commenting on the validity of mine.

  • A. J. Aston

    Isn’t that exactly what I said in my article? We seem to have gone full circle!

  • Clav

    See that happening anytime soon?

    When it happens, it happens overnight. Do I think it could happen here? Would the progressives like to remake the US from the ground up to their idea of what it should be? Would the evangelists? Would either stop at anything to do so? Are they now?

  • roger nowosielski

    @38

    “Roger, why do ‘responsible gun owners’, using your terminology, distrust their government so much? What has the government ever done to earn that mistrust, vis a vis gun rights?”

    I wasn’t limiting my comment specifically to “gun rights,” check and see.

    However, since you brought it up — no, it hasn’t yet, and for a variety of reasons. Generally speaking, however, all our rights have been under assault for quite some time now, regardless of which party is in power.

    It’s not really the kind of argument I care to make, not in those lukewarm terms, that is; but since those are your terms (of the discussion) there it is.

  • roger nowosielski

    @47

    I’m glad you are “an equal opportunity employer.” That’s the ticket.

  • roger nowosielski

    However, all this is happening anyway, without any push and shove from anyone.

    The nature of the (stately) beast.

  • Clav

    No, A.J. though you made the point about the corruption engendered by lobbying it (and your whole article) was in the context of the NRA’s activities, not lobbying in general.

    I’m agreeing with your assessment of the NRA’s activities and pointing out that they are characteristic of the activities of the lobbying industry in general.

    I see the lobbying efforts of such organizations as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, both powerful lobbying organizations, as every bit as dangerous to the country and its foundations as anything the NRA could do. And, while I see many folks like you working against the NRA, people working against the Jews or the Catholics are not quite as numerous, which, if lobbying is ever banned, could mean that the Israeli lobby and the anti-abortion, anti-birth control lobbies might be allowed to continue.

  • A. J. Aston

    Clav, I used the NRA as an example in this article but if you look at my other post here called “The Absurdity on Capitol Hill”, you will read about the AIPAC. I consider any legislation which is fueled by a lobby group and contrary to the wishes or interests of the electorate, to be wrong and a form of corruption. Lately, it’s been the NRA. Tomorrow, who knows…..As for a dictatorship happening overnight? Hitler’s rise to power began in 1919. The Holocaust happened over 20 years later – hardly “overnight”.

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, your comment #48 confirms what I said in my comment #38. I have yet to hear concrete examples of the government’s malevolence. “Generally speaking, however, all our rights have been under assault for quite some time now, regardless of which party is in power.” Easy to say “generally speaking” but that’s hardly convincing.

  • Clav

    I have yet to hear concrete examples of the government’s malevolence.

    Try these:

    An American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed by a targeted drone attack in September 2011 in Yemen, without benefit of due process, without even a judicial review. al-Awlaki had strong ties to Al-Qaeda, which were used for justification by US authorities (including Obama), but they don’t obviate the stark fact that a US citizen was assassinated by the US government.

    As we speak, US citizens’ communications are being monitored by the government: Drones are flying over US territory, spying on Americans, and our telephone calls and activities on the internet are being closely monitored on an ongoing and indiscriminate basis, without need for the government to show probable cause or to obtain a warrant.

    The Patriot Act, initiated by that weasel, George Bush, has not been rescinded by the Obama administration; on the contrary, they’re using it on a daily basis to spy on Americans unconstitutionally.

    If those aren’t malevolent, nothing is.

    Sorry, A.J., but your government is no better than that of a third-rate Latin American dictator.

  • Clav

    Oh, and if he chose to, Roger could give you chapter and verse on every one of those “assaults on our rights.”

    Roger researches both his articles and his comments on these threads more than most, and it shows.

  • roger nowosielski

    Actually I don’t, Clav. I think it rather mundane because, right off the bat, that should be pretty apparent to most anyone, even A.J. if she’d care to reconsider.

    No need for research in this respect.

  • A. J. Aston

    The government must respond in some fashion to events which happen on U.S. soil. The Patriot act did not precede 9/11, it followed it. It is a sign of out times. No government gets it right every time, just as no parent makes the right decisions regarding it’s children every time. There is no country on this planet where one could not point out governmental failures. With such a vast population as ours, it is impossible to “please all of the people, all of the time.”

    My question to you in my comment # 38 remains unanswered: “What has the government ever done to earn that mistrust, vis a vis gun rights? ” Deferring to Roger is not an answer. If you can’t back something up, don’t say it.

    As for Anwar-al-Awlaki – do you honestly believe that he was targeted only because he had strong ties to Al-Qaeda, or have you considered that, perhaps, there was more to the story, details which were not released to the public? Not all information is for public consumption.

    I wrote an article which reflects my opinion on the subject of special interests groups, in this case the NRA and their influence on the actions of legislators. Perhaps we could stick to topic and prevent progression which could easily lead to arguments about such favorites as religion, abortion and immigration?

  • roger nowosielski

    But you can’t just “stick to topic,” A.J., if for no other reason that you disturbed the whole hornet’s nest. It’s all connected, not to mention the fact that your singling out the NRA issue can’t be adjudicated in isolation but only in the context of likewise, similar allowances, if only by virtue of some principle.

    As to the overall gist of your comment, concerning what the government must or must not do, I do find it rather puzzling.

    Are you suggesting, perhaps, that the government, simply because it’s “the government,” can do no wrong, that anything goes, that it’s excused therefore from accountability, the very same standard you didn’t hesitate to use when applied to this or that politician?

    Something just doesn’t compute here, A.J.?

  • A. J. Aston

    On the contrary. In fact, I said specifically that “no government gets it right every time, just as no parent makes the right decisions regarding it’s children every time. There is no country on this planet where one could not point out governmental failures.” Governments screw up because a government is not a machine; it is made up of people and people are not infallible. I never said that anything goes but I also don’t believe that one should throw out the baby with the bathwater. If the spark plugs in an engine don’t fire, you change the spark plugs, you don’t scrap the whole car.

    Is there room for improvement in our government? Definitely. Do I think that they whole system should be condemned? Definitely not. The only way I would step away from that position is if someone could show me a better functioning alternative. Like I said, it’s easy to point out failures, more difficult to offer remedies.

    Winston Churchill said it better than anyone.” It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

  • Clav

    I am not comfortable with the federal government of a constitutional republic ignoring the constitution when it suits them, and this government has started doing just that for a number of years now. Worse, the incidents are escalating.

    Whatever anyone says, the end does NOT justify the means.

    I don’t care what al-Awlaki was actually doing, that’s not the point. The United States government, on the orders of its president, killed him, a United States citizen, without observing his constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.

    The magnitude of that act is chilling, regardless of what al-Awlaki may or may not have been guilty.

    It was a hit, plain and simple, and it was illegal and unconstitutional.

    And it was committed by the federal government on the orders of the president.

  • A. J. Aston

    If what you say is true, when did the government start to “ignore” the Constitution? Was it after 9/11 or before?

    It might be a good exercise to try to imagine that you are the President. Terror attacks are on the rise in the US. Existing measures are failing to stop these attacks. What do you do? Would you say “I’m not going to infringe on the privacy rights of our citizens. I’m not going to monitor Internet traffic or phone conversations, I won’t spy on anyone.” OK, fair enough. So how do you gather intelligence to stop the terror attacks of tomorrow? Stop what happened in Boston? And before you tell me that Boston wasn’t stopped – no system is fail-safe. Even the quintessentially repressive North Korea has dissidents. So, what would you do? I’d be very curious to know.

  • cindy

    Throw in pressure (and lots of money, of course) from lobby groups and you end up with legislation bought by the highest bidder, voters be damned.

    I cannot think of a situation where voters are in control of anything. I wonder; are voters ever not damned?

  • roger nowosielski

    “So, what would you do? I’d be very curious to know.”

    You do precisely what’s being done in order to preserve the hegemony and rule: you institute a state of exception whereby all rights are suspended and then some.

    Once again, as much as you may hate the expression, insofar as the government is concerned, “anything goes.”

  • A. J. Aston

    Cindy, at the moment, it seems as if there is no example I can give you. Depending on how you voted in the last election, perhaps that was the last time?

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, all I asked you is what would you do, as President, if there was a social situation which needed remedy and current systems in place were not sufficient? Pick whatever situation you want. I just gave one theoretical example. Use your own. Name one of those instances where you feel the Constitution is being ignored and give an alternative solution to what was done. Be constructive instead of destructive. Since you feel this government is so inept, then perhaps you can do better. Specifics, Roger, not generalities, otherwise you’re just wasting time.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, nations where firearm ownership is deregulated (whether by law or by lack of enforcement) have higher murder rates and are less stable, whereas nations where firearm ownership is strictly regulated have lower murder rates and are more stable…

    …and deregulated firearm ownership does not – does not – provide any kind of protection against tyranny. While most tyrannies strive to limit or prevent firearm ownership by the masses, all the first-world nations (except for America) also strictly regulate firearm ownership…and none of them can be termed a tyranny. In other words, the pro-gun rhetoric has nothing to do with the real world.

    This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense. In the 1990’s the NRA and Wayne LaPierre supported background checks and only changed their minds when Obama took office. This isn’t a fight for or against the 2nd Amendment – it’s a political football used to divide the electorate in order to preserve political power. Adolphus A. Busch IV, heir the Busch family brewing fortune, said it best in his letter relinquishing his lifetime membership in the NRA:

    “”The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established. Your current strategic focus clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.

    It disturbs me greatly to see this rigid new direction of the NRA…Was it not the NRA position to support background checks when Mr. LaPierre himself stated in 1999 that NRA saw the checks as ‘reasonable’?

    I am simply unable to comprehend how assault weapons and large capacity magazines have a role in your vision. The NRA appears to have evolved into the lobby for gun and ammunition manufacturers instead of gun owners. … [I] must take this action based upon my personal feelings toward the distorted values I see emerging within the NRA.”

    He is precisely right.

    This isn’t the first time a high-profile individual has “resigned” a lifetime membership in the NRA and specifically named Wayne LaPierre as part of the problem. Here’s a letter from former President George H. W. Bush (who was a WWII veteran, remember):

    I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.

    I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

    However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

    You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list.

    President Obama needs to educate the American people by showing them the sheer hypocrisy of the NRA, and that all they are doing is playing a political game that is costing the American people thousands of murders each year.

  • John Lake

    I have decried the death of democracy in America before, and doubtlessly will again. It disgusts me to watch as politicians bow, scrape, and cower before the gun lobby.
    Is it just guns they are selling? I wonder what moneys wind up in the hands of the gun purveyors as a result of wars, police actions, interventions and such. Do the politicians not only let our children die at the command of the gun lobby, or are they also dictated to as we respond in Syria, or Egypt, or in Africa?

  • A. J. Aston

    John and Glenn, thank you for your comments.

    My article was about the principle of politicians using their votes to fulfill the agenda of a special interest group. In this case it was the NRA because they seem to wield such inordinate power over Capitol Hill. Publicly threatening retribution on any politician who does not vote their agenda shows how arrogant they have gotten and how prevalent the practice of, what is in essence, vote buying, is. The “A” rating from the NRA is nothing more than the key to getting financing which, unfortunately for the voting public, is never interest free.

    In the final analysis, I cannot help but think that the politicians who sell their vote to special interests groups should be judged far more harshly than the lobbies which did the buying. After all, the lobbies were doing their job and their loyalties were where they should be, something which cannot be said of many politicians today.

    As for gun ownership – there are two words in the 2nd Amendment which seem to be continuously overlooked, particularly by the NRA and that is “WELL-REGULATED” as in rules, as in controlled ownership and not a free-for-all.

  • A. J. Aston

    I should have added that I find the agendas of some of these groups reprehensible, particularly when they are clearly detrimental to the citizens of this country – see my article called “The Absurdity on Capitol Hill.”

  • yort

    As for gun ownership – there are two words in the 2nd Amendment which seem to be continuously overlooked, particularly by the NRA and that is “WELL-REGULATED” as in rules, as in controlled ownership and not a free-for-all.

    …I get your point but don’t see how taking constitutional language out of context is going to move the discussion forward

    SCOTUS has already come up with a majority decision on the question of regulation and its constitutionality (and the meaning of “well regulated” in context) – so such is not at issue at this time and mention of the 2nd by either side in the debate seems pretty bogus

  • A. J. Aston

    SCOTUS made a decision regarding gun ownership, however they did not make any decision on how far, geographically, this gun ownership applies. As Lyle Denniston of scotusblog.com wrote on April 15, 2013:

    “The Supreme Court, following a pattern that is now quite well established, chose again on Monday to remain on the sidelines as the national debate over gun ownership heats up in the political realm. Without comment, the Justices denied review of the latest attempt to test whether the Second Amendment right to have a gun extends beyond the home.”

    Gun ownership per-se has been reaffirmed. What has not been decided is whether that ownership extends beyond your front door. This has everything to do with the issue of regulation and no decision on that subject was made, majority or otherwise.

  • cindy

    AJ,

    So if I bet on ShowMeTheMoney instead of TheOldGrayMare and my horse wins, that affords me real power and choice in how the racetrack operates?

  • A. J. Aston

    If you give money to most or all of the jockeys to win or throw a race, then yes, you are, in fact, operating the racetrack. You may not be the owner of record but if you control race outcomes, is that not power and choice?

  • cindy

    AJ,

    Indeed, that is power and choice. My question is whether an average individual bettor/voter is ever able to influence racetrack/gov’t operations through ordinary means?

  • yort

    the judges mentioned hunting and “traditional uses” in their decision so I’m not clear what you mean by “extends beyond your front door”

    I haven’t read Denniston’s piece nor have I looked at the case he refers to in it

  • A. J. Aston

    One individual cannot but we, as a collective can. If there is enough of an outcry and if it is repeated and consistent, it will, eventually, influence government operations. If enough of us refuse to accept politicians who vote the agendas of special interest groups (in cases where those agendas are contrary to the will of the majority of voters) and do not re-elect these people back into office, we will not only take power away from these politicians, we will also be sending a message to future candidates that their job is to do our bidding, not the bidding of special interest groups.

  • cindy

    So, lobbies are the only problem? What about campaign financing?

  • yort

    it is recommended that one genuflect while re-reading #76

    outcry and vote…there’s the ticket – for more of the same

  • Doug Hunter

    I’m part of the collective and I disagree with you. Democracy is not a simple as 51% of the population telling the other 49% what to do. You have to get past the constitutional issue as well as overcome vocal minorities with money and power if you want to take away my rights without my consent. That’s the way it should be. ‘Progressives’ constantly handwring about the barrier to their authoritarianism… it’s that way for a reason. The founders and many fine generations since did not want a tyranny of the simple majority, they expected a higher bar.

    If you’re going to be my nanny and take away my gun rights despite my protest you’re going to have to fork over cash, you’re going to have to become a single issue voter in both the primary and general elections, and you’re going to have to accept the blowback. That’s the price of getting your way, I’m glad the bar is high.

  • A. J. Aston

    Cindy, lobbies are surely not the only problem but they are a major one.

    Customarily, candidates raise campaign capital through fund drives, donations and contributions from their supporters who, in return, expect that if the candidate wins, he will carry out the wishes of his supporters. Lobbies have the same imperatives. In return for financing, they expect the candidate to promote their agenda. The conflict arises when the agenda of the special interest group is contrary to the will of the majority of voters. Too often politicians, having gotten financial support from both sources, choose to side with the lobbies and that’s not acceptable. Our will, the will of the voters should be the politicians’ one and ONLY guide in deciding how to cast their vote on any given issue.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, democracy should be just that simple. In any group of people, on any given subject, there will rarely be 100% agreement so the decision on which way to go, has to rest with the majority as long as the wishes of the majority are in accordance with the law of the land. If they are not, then either the law has to be changed or cash should be “forked over” as you put it, but only to educate the majority on the error of their reasoning, not to force through legislation by buying votes. If you do not offer explanations for your actions, explanations based on law, you will be creating a disconnect between the voters and the government. The bigger the disconnect, the bigger the discontent and that can only lead to unrest.

  • Doug Hunter

    “democracy should be just that simple”

    Thankfully, our founders had a bit more insight and intellect than that. The limiting of direct democracy is intentional and a good thing.

  • Clav

    The bigger the disconnect, the bigger the discontent and that can only lead to unrest.

    Not surprisingly, the dissatisfaction with the president (and thus with the government) at present is the worst it’s been since Eisenhower, according to the Pew Research Center, but based on poll data from National Election Studies, Gallup, ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, and CNN Polls.

    The graph says it all.

  • Clav

    @# 82:

    An important point, Doug.

    The fact that we are a republic is often lost in discourse about the state of our union.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, ignoring your disparaging comment as to my insight and intellect, our founding fathers limited direct democracy by envisioning checks and balances being built into the law, not purchased on a case by case basis.

    Clav, I concede that, currently, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the government, but the percentage divisions vary according to issue. If this dissatisfaction ever reaches a point where the majority is consistently against the government, no matter the subject at hand, it will be time for a change.

  • cindy

    @80

    What about non-supporters, where does their “vote” show up?

  • A. J. Aston

    Cindy, isn’t a vote an expression of support? As for those who do not vote at all, well, if you don’t participate in the process, you have no basis to fault the result.

  • cindy

    So, if my opinion is that I do not want any of the candidates offered, then I am guilty of not participating and it is my own fault? Is that right?

  • Clav

    Cindy, a suggestion: in the past several elections, I have written in my own name for president. It sends a message; not voting doesn’t.

  • cindy

    AJ,

    So, I am being offered a choice of two candidates selected by those with wealth and power and you are saying that if I don’t participate in this “process” of picking one then I am not permitted to fault the result.

    Am I not allowed to reject the process?

  • A. J. Aston

    Yes and no. With two candidates, neither of whom you support, your choices are to vote for the “lesser of two evils” or not to vote at all. In either case, the results of the election will not be to your liking but, by not voting at all, you take yourself out of the process completely. By voting for one candidate, you have, at least, voted against the other.

  • cindy

    What if I oppose the whole system as one that offers false choices?

    If I do, do you think that my opinion matters? Do I get heard if I think the whole system is just full of shit and aimed at training people to vote for either LookOverThere or WhileWereScrewingYouFromBehind, whilst engaging in the same?

  • Clav

    How would you change it without violence, Cindy?

  • cindy

    Clav,

    Changing the system? I have no clue. I am only waiting to shuffle off this mortal coil. Until then, I will try to be as kind as I can, try to remember to attempt to change only the stuff I can (often limited to my underwear), hope for the wisdom to not get totally bent out of shape by what appalls me, and try to learn to bite my tongue until it is so short I have a lisp :-).

  • S.T.M

    Do what we did in Australia – increase background checks, have a cooling off period of a few weeks between buying a gun and picking it up, ban automatic and semi-auto assault-style weapons, and bring in strict controls on handguns.

    That happened in this country after a lunatic shot dead 35 people at Port Arthur, Tasmania, and wounded dozens of others and destryoed the lives of many, many more who were family and friends of the victims.

    Oh wait, some of those ideas were among those voted down by those pea-heart senators in the US more worried about being re-elected than actually doing something really useful as an elected representative, between the most recent mass shooting in the US, and the next one.

    All I can say is: We haven’t had a mass shooting here for over a decade since those measures were introduced.

    Yes, there have been shootings – but nothing on that scale.

    Might be something in that idea, then, do ya reckon?

  • S.T.M

    Oh, I hear some saying, but it’s our second amendment right!

    True.

    Other rights might trump some of that, though.

    Like the right to be a six-year-old and go to school without coming home in a box.

    Hey, and what’s the definition of “infringed” anyway??

    How did the constitution as originally written 200 years ago go from being a piece of paper written by a pack of power-mad old farts, to the holy grail and an instruction for living in the 21st century.

    Seriously, everyone needs an AK-47 with a folding bayonet in the hallway cupboard?

    What a joke.

  • S.T.M

    And seriously, America should forget any notion of its government/s being truly representative of the people’s wishes.

    It’s faux democracy (yes, Alice, and the rest of you hair-splitters, we know it’s a republic under a constitution, not a democracy in the ancient Greek sense of the word), dictated to by lobby groups and big business/big money.

    The average Joe Blow in the US has no real voice.

    And what’s frightening is that many Americans will argue with you until they’re blue in the face that they actually do, because that’s what freedom’s all about (getting lobby groups to get in the ear of elected officials to go against the best interests of a nation).

    No way Jose – freedom’s about the majority making common sense decisions that benefit everyone (or most), and where they don’t benefit everyone (or most), such decisions don’t get made.

    America remains an oligarchy, not the 21st century liberal democracy it purports to be.

    Got rid of that king 200 years ago, but it have been better to have kept him; you’d have more rights today through an elected parliament.

    It’s time for Americans to get revolting again.

  • A. J. Aston

    ST. M, I agree with absolutely everything you said except for the “pack of power-mad old farts”. They were not power mad at all, but rather very insightful men who tried to envision all the potential problems which could arise in this new system they were creating and then wrote in provisions to deal with those problems. They wrote the 2nd Amendment to ensure that the citizens of their new country had the right, by law, to defend their territory should an OUTSIDE force come in and threaten to take over. What they didn’t see coming and what is probably making them roll in their graves, is how far the misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment went, resulting in citizens arming themselves to the teeth and then using those arms against ONE ANOTHER! The whole world looks on and wonders how a seemingly ‘advanced’ country such as ours could be so devoid of common sense.

  • Doug Hunter

    “That happened in this country after a lunatic shot dead 35 people”

    Because of a few lunatics must we all live in an asylum? That’s the problem with freedom there is always a fringe ill equipped to handle it so we build our society to the lowest common denominator. Other people do dumb things I lose my freedoms, other people do dumb things I pay for it… many love that system and are happy to sacrifice their wealth (read time) and freedom so that we can have a padded, idiotproof world to live in, I’m just not one of them.

  • A. J. Aston

    ST. M., see my comment #81 which entirely agrees with you but which, as you see by subsequent comments was shot down, my thinking considered “simplistic” and devoid of “insight”, the easiest path to take when all else fails.
    Having said that, even if all laws were to be changed tomorrow, we still have over 370 MILLION weapons in private hands attached to heads which have the potential to go off the rails and go on a shooting rampage. Gun owners fear that if ANY new gun control measures are enacted, no matter how small, that we will be on “the slippery slope” towards confiscation. Perhaps, somewhere in the back of their minds, they realize that this, in fact, would be the most prudent thing to do. Many of them, at one time or another, have surely been tempted to use their guns in the heat of the moment, something that would never even occur to those of us who have neither the need nor the desire to own guns.

  • Doug Hunter

    “Perhaps, somewhere in the back of their minds, they realize that this, in fact, would be the most prudent thing to do.”

    No, but they correctly realize that people like you believe it is the most prudent thing to do and therefore see through the gambit.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Doug, how is your freedom reduced by having proper background checks?

    What is the balance between your freedom to own an assault weapon and my freedom to walk around without being afraid of being shot?

    It’s not like an assault rifle is even the best weapon for self defense anyway.

  • S.T.M

    True about the 2nd amendment AJ, but written over 200 years ago to cover a citizen militia (in broad terms) with a few hundred thousand muzzle loaders in case those pesky British came back.

    It had its purpose, but two centuries down the track, history has played a very nasty pean and thimble trick (I bet many of the founding fathers would be turning in their graves if they knew a few ambiguous and poorly written words on a piece of paper had turned the US into a giant, human shooting gallery).

    In the event, it was the US that turned those muzzle loaders on the British in the War of 1812, and in the fledgling republic’s first war of aggression, it actually got royally – no pun intended – reamed and had to seek a peace treaty.

    There were plenty in congress who thought they had a right to invade sovereign territory of another nation even as early in the republic’s history as 1812. That kind of attitude wasn’t new.

    I believe Americans have a rose-coloured view of the revolution.

    They weren’t fighting tyranny – most Americans lived very comfortably under a reasonably enlightened system of government for the time (Britain became a democracy in the late 1600s).

    No, it was about the wealthy cementing positions of power and influence in a way they couldn’t have done with other people of power and influence running the show from across the atlantic. Not to say they didn’t have a right to self-determination, regardless. Of course, they did.

    Always good to remember this in this debate: for a long time, only land owners or the wealthy or powerful could vote in the US. The average Joe didn’t get the vote until much later.

    And then it took until the 1960s for any good intent the founding fathers might have had to catch up with reality – when everyone finally got the vote.

    I am firmly of the view that when you are a rich and powerful person banging on about the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it’s always a good idea to tell the black folks working for nothing but a kick up the arse in the shed down the back about it, too. I still wonder why Jefferson is so revered.

    Sorry, AJ, truth is, I’ve had a good look at from all sides, and I don’t buy any of it.

    The declaration of independence and the subsequent pretexts for starting the war were a power grab – pure and simple – and the myth of a war for “liberty” of the ordinary man remains today.

    If that weren’t the case, Americans wouldn’t still be wringing their hands wondering what they have to do to get their elected representatives to listen to them. Capitol Hill in 2013 isn’t that much different to the Court of King George in the late 1700s. Really, in terms of good and fair governance, it’s not …

    For your own edification on this, have a look online for the writ of habeus corpus in the James Somersett case, heard in the court of King’s Bench, London, which led to the freeing of a slave bound for Virginia and thus set the legal precedent for the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire. Certainly, by the 1830s, slavery was outlawed completely by London across territories around the world. The British government was forced to pay a huge sum in compensation for the freedom of the slaves, especially in the West Indies (the Caribbean).

    The judge was quite prescient, hinting at the problems it might bring elswhere (in the Americas, we all think he meant), and explaining that no matter the result of his decision, he had to free the man.

    It’s no co-incidence that with that kind of anti-slavery groundswell happening across the big pond, the American revolution happened … just barely a couple of years later.

    I take the view that America is a nation founded on myth and forged in one of the greatest lies in history, and that Americans are today paying the price for that – and that it’s about time ALL Americans took back their right to decide how the country is run, rather than having a 200-year-old constitution that only pays lip service to it.

    Of course, while that is a view I and many others hold, many others will see it very differently – which is the beauty of true, modern, liberal democracy :)

    Of course, having access to elected representatives who aren’t totally self-seeking and who’ll do the right thing if pushed hard enough, helps, too.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, all your comments have revolved around your rights, your freedoms, you having to pay for the actions of others! What is it that you would “lose” if background checks were expanded to include gun show and internet sales? Does it ever occur to you to think about what others stand to lose or have already lost, like, say, their LIVES? Do you feel that your having all the rights you could possibly have, even those you will never avail yourself of, is more important than the life of a victim of a shooting rampage by some individual armed with a semi-automatic weapon? Where is your social conscience? It can’t always be me, me, me. As part of this society, you are very vociferous about what it owes you, but you say nothing about what you owe to it. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

  • A. J. Aston

    ST.M., my hat is off to you. Obviously, you are far better versed on the entire subject than I am. All I can say is that, bottom line, I am on the same side of the argument as you are. I am a naturalized American citizen, having started life as a British subject. For the last 20 years I lived in Switzerland and after returning to this country, I was shocked at the madness which has taken hold, fueled by the likes of Wayne LaPierre. All I can do is write about what I view as the “legalized” corruption of our politicians who sell their votes to special interest groups, too often to the detriment of the constituency they are supposed to represent.

  • Doug Hunter

    #102

    It’s reduced by having to have a background check. I defend lots of freedoms I never intend on using.

    Your freedom to walk around without being shot is already ensconced in law. Shooting you is a serious felony in every jurisdiction.

    Having young children around and occasionally imbibing means too much risk having any gun for protection for me. I live in a fairly safe area and don’t have material goods/friends/enemies/domestic violence of the type that make me a target anyway. I spend little time worrying about guns.

  • S.T.M

    I also love how American invasions of sovereign territory are about “spreading democracy”, while in comparisons I’ve seen with Britain, they were “colonialists”.

    Tell that to the Filipinos.

    The truth is, America comes from the process of thought that began across the Atlantic, and not all of it was enlightened.

    The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree, even if it mistakenly thinks it’s a nice shiny, rosy pinky-coloured apple (because that what’s it’s been told by all the mummy and daddy apples)and of course, far, far, better than that ordinary green one.

    I see these two countries as the modern-day equivalents of Rome and Byzantium; one a morally decayed once-great empire shorn of its power and wealth, the other a hugely wealthy but isolationist nation given to navel-gazing and which is slowly closing in on itself to the point where it will have nowhere else to go before except disappear up its own arse. I’ll leave it up to all the commentators to decide which is which, but whatever the case, like I say, it’s a case of apples and gravity here.

    In the world we are facing today, neither of those scenarios are good. And one’s already happened.

    Another American half-century wouldn’t be a bad thing, provided Americans can convince themselves that every citizen, not just those with money, power and influence, deserves a genuine voice.

    Then we’d be getting somewhere.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, no matter how many laws we have making shooting a felony, none of these will stop a bullet and it is little comfort to me to know that after I’m dead, my killer may be brought to justice! It seems you not only spend little time worrying about guns, you spend little time worrying about anything which doesn’t have to do with you, your rights, your life, your perceptions. No man is an island…..

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Doug, so you object to driving licences, medical degrees, zoning laws, anything that stops nuclear plants or chemical factories being built next door to you? Any kind of limitation to freedom?

    The fact that it is illegal to shoot people is no protection against it happening, so that argument doesn’t stand up. Laws like that are retrospective.

    Targets aren’t always chosen rationally, so I wouldn’t take too much comfort from that. Someone might decide to target you for different reasons that have nothing to do with your material situation.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    STM, it’s actually a good thing that the UK has lost its empire and I don’t think it is morally decayed.

  • S.T.M

    Come on Chris, they’re not in the constitution!!

    Or are they?

    What about that pesky 9th amendment that everyone chooses to ignore or about which bullshit interpretations are dreamt up, depending on what agenda you have.

    Yes, there is a bit in the constitution about some rights not enumerated but which might trump some others.

    I reckon there should be a 9th amendment movement in the US to challenge literal interpretations of the 2nd.

    Geez, wouldn’t that be a hoot?

  • S.T.M

    Chris, at the time it was losing its empire, it certainly was in a state of moral decay.

    How long did it take for Britain to become a meritocracy?

    And is it one yet?

    You forget I went to school there in the 60s, Chris.

    In fact, it took a Conservative Prime Minister to begin dismantly some of the more unsavoury aspects of the class system

    Just sayin …

    Look how long it took for rugby players defecting to rugby league to be allowed back playing rugby?

    Why do think that was? Wasn’t so much about the money, but about rugby league being for the great unwashed.

    I’m using one example in which you and I have a common interest, but that attitude prevails.

    That it no longer prevents success or aspiration among those not of the so-called upper classes doesn’t make it any the less reprehensible morally.

  • Doug Hunter

    “As part of this society, you are very vociferous about what it owes you, but you say nothing about what you owe to it.”

    Good point. I’ll answer that. Be a responsible citizen. I will never shoot/bomb/main/stab anyone save perhaps in some freak self defense situation. I will raise my children in a loving family environment to respect life and property of others, ensure they finish school, and hand them the tools to become the next generation of responsible, productive citizens as well. I will never require assistance from the government except in extreme cases… the same cases I support government intervention in for others. I will accept the responsibility for the choices I make and understand that my life is largely a reflection of those choices and encourage others to do the same. In short, if everyone was not a burden on society then society would not be burdened… very simple. I do my part and don’t worry about other people I can’t control (I don’t believe in controlling others save a limited exception for my children anyway).

    Another way to look at it is reciprocity: I don’t ask much of society at large beyond a few basics, I don’t expect society to ask much of me beyond the minimum either. Somewhat logical and internally consistent.

  • Doug Hunter

    #109

    Driving licenses seem reasonable, I think medical care could be expanded by relaxing medical licenses (think midwives, nurse clinics, etc) with a benefit to society. Houston Texas is one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the nation and does not have zoning. Potential lawsuits and expensive land keep certain industries away from residential property anyway. I believe if you own a property you should be able to build on it what you want so long as it’s not a storehouse for hazardous waste that threatens your neighbors. I think a combination of these factors along with deed restrictions mean zoning is largely a waste of resources and an unfair infringement of property rights… but that’s just me. City planners just love their jobs telling others what to do with their property.

    I tend not to worry too much about those things. Statistically, I have a much better chance of drowning in my bathtub than being killed by and assault rifle. I don’t fear my bathtub and tiptoe by it’s door every morning, nor do I protest others rights to own bathtubs and call for legislation banning them in favor of showers that don’t retain a drowning pool. Perhaps ignorance is bliss but I think it’s just the positive outlook I was born with.

  • S.T.M

    Doug ask: “Because of a few lunatics must we all live in an asylum?”

    No, Doug, we don’t live in an asylum. If I were to compare the two countries, I’d say America’s the mad house, not Oz.

    What happened here is simple stuff: After one too many mass shootings, the people of this country decided enough was enough and made their voices heard.

    We were lucky that we had elected representatives with enough courage to enact the legislation most of us wanted.

    Anything else would have been total bullshit, the same way it is in the US.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    STM, the 60s was so long ago it might as well have been a different planet!

    Doug, so you like some regulation it seems, just not background checks at gun fairs for assault rifles? Interesting…

  • Doug Hunter

    “I’d say America’s the mad house, not Oz.”

    Could be. At least half our natives aren’t dying by age 45 and we haven’t volunteered yet to pay among the highest electricity rates in the world (while shipping out gobs of coal with the other hand to China). Assault rifles may kill a handful of people in a country of 300 million, but high electricity rates effect every single man, woman, and child. You keep your own kind of nuttiness and I’ll take my chances. BTW, congratulations on convincing your betters to take away the rights of the minority in your country.

  • Doug Hunter

    #116

    I don’t see what’s so interesting. Cars kill about 40,000 people per year and fairly randomly, assault rifles historically around 50 people with somewhat less randomness. I have much less to fear from the latter and have fair confidence that vehicle licensing is not a precursor to vehicle seizure.

  • A. J. Aston

    #109
    I believe if you own a property you should be able to build on it what you want so long as it’s not a storehouse for hazardous waste that threatens your neighbors.

    What if you decide to build something which is not hazardous nor does it violate deed restrictions but which one or more of your neighbors consider a monstrosity? They will then surely argue that their rights (esthetic or otherwise) are being infringed upon by you. Who then resolves the problem? And what if one of those neighbors happens to be is someone who was never taught to resolve conflicts via verbal communication but who, like you, was adamant about his right to own a semi-automatic weapon with a large capacity magazine? It is not so far fetched to think that he might be very tempted to use his semi-automatic to “ventilate” your construction, or worse, your head.

    What I’m saying is that everybody has their own perception of what is right and wrong and, unless they are in some way prevented from using anything other than civilized means of resolving conflicts, they will, sooner or later, and if pushed far enough, go for the violent method. We get very angry and we get frustrated. Adding a lethal weapon into the mix too often causes the unthinkable to happen.

  • pablo

    A J comment 38:
    “Roger, why do ‘responsible gun owners’, using your terminology, distrust their government so much? What has the government ever done to earn that mistrust, vis a vis gun rights?”

    Government by its very nature is in a best case scenario a necessary evil, in its worst just plain evil. In either event it is something that should never be trusted by anyone, particularly in the area of the rights of the individual. This is rather ironic as according to the Declaration of Independence this, and this alone is what gives government its license; to secure these rights.

    As the current government of the USA is most certainly in violation of this defacto charter, in more ways than I can count, I suggest it has gone from a necessary evil to just plain evil.

    To put it bluntly government is nothing more than the licensing of coercion by a group of people with guns. Take away the coercion and you take away the government, this is a tool which they do not wish to share.

    Also enshrined in the Declaration of Independence are these words:

    “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”

    Is it really your position A.J. that the way to do this is through the ballot box? I being a distrustful sort, particularly when it comes to men licensed to coerce me with guns, make the assumption that under that worst case scenerio in the Declaration that it would be a bit late for the ballot box.

    And while I am on the subject of the ballot box, I would suggest to you that the very first and utmost responsibility that ANY government has that is accountable to the people is to provide for and prove that the individual’s vote counts. I suggest to you also that the current government has not done so, and is therefore in my mind illegitimate.

    A.J. the way I interpret what your saying about government is that it is benign, after all what has it ever done to incur the wrath of the gun lovers? Clavos answered that point rather succinctly, to which you offered little of substance in return, other than to say what is the government to do?

    All phones are tapped, all email is scraped,all chats on social media sites are saved and monitored. Soon there will be over 30,000 drones flying overhead, some of them armed. There are roadblocks 50 miles away from any border, where federal agents are demanding to know if you are a citizen. The FBI can issue a national security letter in lieu of a lawful warrant, to seize private papers, to be used against you in a court of law, and at the same time issue a gag order, supressing freedom of speech.

    And A.J. says what is the big problem? What are you all so concerned about? You can TRUST the government. I fucking think not A.J. Is that clear enough for you?

  • A. J. Aston

    Pablo, if you feel that any form of government is “a form of necessary evil”, then what is the solution? Anarchy?

    And, by the way, resorting to gutter language to make your point goes a long way to destroy your credibility!

  • Doug Hunter

    “What if you decide to build something which is not hazardous nor does it violate deed restrictions but which one or more of your neighbors consider a monstrosity?”

    High property values tend to prevent this type of thing from happening in the first place and the vast majority of people want to protect their investment like you do. The biggest “win” for zoning seems to be in limiting options for low income families… I wouldn’t exactly consider that a benefit to society. Low income people need apartments, duplexes, smaller homes, and even trailers if that’s all they can afford. Zoning seems a means primarily to prevent the above and herd them into designated zones where they can only interact with other poor influences, go to bad schools, and form gangs. Beyond that, it’s the price of freedom that some small percentage of people will use it in inciteful or tasteless ways… it’s a price I’m willing to pay. (I think I can refrain from shooting my neighbor in the face for picking a bad paint color, or not landscaping his lawn, or building a sod home in the back yard for his mother in law regardless of how I feel about it)

  • druxxx

    Great Comments

    I would like to go back to background checks.
    I think the question that needs to be asked is, What new law could prevent these mas killings.

    As Boston showed, you don’t need a gun.

    And is a background check really going to stop someone hell bent on killing inocent people.

    This is why gun owners are paranoid of confiscation.
    It is the logical step in gun regulators attempt to stop something they cannot possibly stop in a “free” society.

    The only way to stop a criminal from getting a gun is to try to get rid of all guns.

    You will call me crazy, but the only answer is to put more guns on the street in the hands of responsible people.
    People trained to use fire arms to stop crime on the spot.
    Police unfortunatly are usually reactionary. They arive after being called, after the crime started or took place.
    A gun in the right hands wouldn’t stop the crime, but could very likely make it much less severe.

  • S.T.M

    Doug (hilariously) writes: “In a country of 300 million, assault rifles may kill a handful of people but high electricity rates effect every single man, woman, and child.”

    You are f.ckin’ tragic mate. Seriously.

    So, you bizarrely think there’s some legitimate comparison between the mass-shooting deaths of schoolkids by firearm in the US … and high electricity rates in Australia??? Lol, if it wasn’t so serious.

    See what I mean about the mad house?

    You guys have totally lost the plot. If you ever had it.

    Yes, electricity rates here are very high, but if it seems like an impost to you in US dollar terms, it’s not so much to me. And people who struggle to pay their bills do get some help, here. Not enough, IMO, but some.

    Of course, I’d prefer they were lower, but hey, you can’t have everything.

    As for the “natives”, don’t know where you got that figure, but it’s bollocks.

    And it’s different depending on the state or city.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show something different on indigenous mortality: “The estimated completeness of identification of Indigenous people in death registrations has improved since the 1990s, mostly because of improvements in NSW and Qld, but there is still some doubt about the actual levels of identification.

    “As a result, the ABS notes that caution should be exercised in the interpretation of the estimates of Indigenous mortality, particularly estimates of trends over time … Between 1991 and 2010, there was a 33% reduction in the death rates for Indigenous people in WA, SA and the NT; there was also a significant closing of the gap in death rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people during this time period … In 2009, the ABS revised its estimates for expectation of life at birth for Indigenous people.

    “After adjustment for the underestimate of the number of deaths identified as Indigenous, the ABS estimated that Indigenous males born in 2005-2007 could expect to live to 67.2 years, 11.5 years less than the 78.7 years expected for non-Indigenous males. The expectation of life at birth of 72.9 years for Indigenous females in 2005-2007 was almost 10 years less than the expectation of 82.6 years for non-Indigenous females.”

    So, not quite how you paint it, although, even so, I’ll agree that that disparity is way too much. When people feel like they don’t have much hope, they’re already on the slippery slope to an early death.

    Of course, I don’t believe the figures I’m quoted about black mortality rates in the US, and I don’t believe for a moment that all those poor black kids ending up in morgues, jails and on the streets are REALLY stuck in cycles of poverty and despair from which they can’t escape.

    You know, ’cause they choose that, right??

    That’s just the liberals’ minority victim industry bleating again, isn’t it?

    Be interesting too in the context of this argument to find out what percentage of those poor black kids who don’t die or end up in jail by the time they’re 20 actually break out of that cycle of poverty, crime and welfare dependence.

    Wouldn’t be huge, I’d reckon, would it?

    Like I say, they weren’t included in the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” bit 200 years ago, so they’ve had a bit of catching up to do.

  • S.T.M

    Druxx: “You will call me crazy, but the only answer is to put more guns on the street in the hands of responsible people.”

    You’re right, Druxx, I think people might think that.

    “I know. Let’s reduce gun crime by introducing … more firearms.”

    Bingo. Why didn’t anyone else think of that.

    ‘Cause everyone knows the best way to kill a tapeworm is to feed it to death.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    druxx, the USA tried the armed civilians approach before; it’s better known as the wild west. Didn’t work then, won’t work now.

    All that will do is start an arms race as criminals get bigger guns and so on.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, I’m sure that you “can refrain from shooting my neighbor in the face for picking a bad paint color, or not landscaping his lawn, or building a sod home in the back yard for his mother in law regardless of how I feel about it)” That last example is funny, btw. You must be married! Anyway, not everyone has such self control but everyone does have a breaking point!

    High property values do nothing to prevent million dollar edifices to bad taste and ostentation from being built – zoning laws do, regulations which prevent the construction of, say, Disneyland-type castles, with turrets and drop portals, surrounded by alligator filled motes! If I have the money and I’ve always loved all thing medieval, why not live in Camelot? Now my neighbor, he may be into sic-fi so his house will look like something out of the Matrix, and so on.

    As for low income families – since when do they have the money to build their own homes? Their houses are often built by developers who, without zoning laws requiring at least the minimal of standards, could be tempted to build the cheapest crap for maximum profit. Land values do segregate the rich from the poor but that has nothing to do with zoning laws. Besides, poor neighborhoods of yesterday frequently become the “in” neighborhoods of today, low property values having attracted the upward mobile, driving prices up, zoning laws notwithstanding.

  • roger nowosielski

    @65, A. J. Aston Apr 20, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Roger, all I asked you is what would you do, as President, if there was a social situation which needed remedy and current systems in place were not sufficient? Pick whatever situation you want. I just gave one theoretical example. Use your own. Name one of those instances where you feel the Constitution is being ignored and give an alternative solution to what was done. Be constructive instead of destructive. Since you feel this government is so inept, then perhaps you can do better. Specifics, Roger, not generalities, otherwise you’re just wasting time.

    First off, A.J.,whose time am I wasting here, you didn’t say? If my reading of this comments space is correct, I believe there are at least a number of people here who don’t agree with you on all of your points. And second, do you mean for me to be as specific as, say, your opening statement in #81, that “democracy should be just that simple”?

    Actually forgive me, A.J., wrong choice of words, for you are being somewhat specific further down the line. The proper term is “simplistic,” though. Apart now from Doug Hunter’s rather cogent response (#82) you didn’t bother even to consider, have you ever stopped to think why, in spite of our no doubt best intentions, we haven’t yet been able to put your seemingly simplistic, excuse me, simple definition/idea into practice (not for any extended time, to say the least, and not since the concept’s inception, presumably some two thousand years back or so)? And is your explanation of this perennial failure limited to the same glib response that you’re offering now: a few rotten applies, excuse me, politicians, the presence of lobbying, etc.?

    You’ve got to separate two issues here, A.J.; first, your argument for stricter gun control; and second, your justification of stricter gun control in terms of political philosophy, in particular, the kind of political philosophy and constitutionalism as it is being practiced in the US.

    Many of us, no doubt, would agree with your first point on, say, moral or ethical grounds, so that’s one thing. But it’s another thing entirely when you try to anchor your idea of a solution in our political system, or justify it in terms of it, not only because you’re not a constitutional scholar (I doubt very few people on this thread are) but also, and more importantly, because it’s a broken political system, broken in more ways than one (and that’s going beyond, way beyond, the kind of problems you’re raising and the solutions you’re offering). Which sort of answer your earlier query as to what I would do if I were the president. Well, to answer you in my own kind of way, I would do my damnedest not to be caught in such a precarious situation, just as I would refuse to be sent to Iraq to defend American brand of democracy or become a cop on the streets of Detroit.

    In any case, A.J., unless you be ready to expand your POV and become less dogmatic about your defense of an obviously broken-down system, I can’t help but regard most your responses in the same manner as I would regard public service announcements by the White House Press Secretary, and believe you me, I don’t mean it as a compliment.

  • A. J. Aston

    Druxx, I have only one question – who would define what a constitutes a “responsible” person? Is it someone trained to use firearms? Someone who passes some sort of psychological test showing them to be level headed, “sane” and incapable of ever losing it?

    Who would make that determination? Oh, I know, don’t tell me – Wayne LaPierre! Didn’t he also suggest putting even more guns out there? Arming teachers so that little children, when they come to school, see their homeroom teacher, Mrs. Pruett, with a whacking big holster strapped to her waist? Have to accommodate those high capacity magazines, after all. Excellent idea! While we’re at it, let’s arm the parish priest, staffs of all shops at the mall, not neglecting our beloved Walmart – after all, churches and shopping malls are a favorite place for mass shootings.

    Then there is the local post office, you know, “going postal and all that”, oh, and McDonald’s followed closely by Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell…….and the beat goes on!

  • Dr Dreadful

    You will call me crazy, but the only answer is to put more guns on the street in the hands of responsible people.

    Yes, all right, if you insist.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, there are undoubtedly a great many problems with our system. I pointed out one – wealthy lobbies buying votes, in this case the NRA. It could have just as well been the AIPAC, the AARP or AFL-CIO. Makes no difference. So, dialing back, shouldn’t we be discussing, at least in part, the concept of what I consider “undue influence” of special interest groups on our politicians?

    No, I am not a political scholar but since when is participation in discussions confined to “specialists” on the subject? Besides, it’s my opinion which triggered the conversation.

    As for guns – I don’t like them, I don’t like the laws which allow such a proliferation of guns, I abhor the violence connected to guns. Having said that, in the context of my original article, guns are only a side point and the problems associated with them go far beyond the issue I raised in the first place!

  • A. J. Aston

    #130
    Dr. Dreadful, brilliant answer!

  • S.T.M

    I reckon AJ’s right on the money here. The guns are only a symptom of what’s wrong.

    One obvious and pretty damn serious symptom, though.

    ASlthough no worse than tax cuts and loopholes for corporations and the rich while everyone else pays the full freight.

    And is there something even more to this, perhaps.

    What is it about a considerable part of a very large nation that enjoys playing with long, cylindrical-shaped things??

    When these people begin lovingly stroking their long, cylindrical-shaped objects, as they frequently do, someone should always be there to shout: “Oi, get yer hand off it.”

    More seriously, people like AJ need to speak long and loud and to so without fear of retribution so that gutless politicians bending to the might and money of lobby groups eventually work out that it’s a government of the people, for the people, not a government of politicians living in fear of the rich and powerful.

  • A. J. Aston

    S.T.M., thank you! The conversation should come back on point – corruption, money laundering. Also, and as yet not discussed, the notion that we have an “obligation” to teach our “moral values” to the rest of the world, apparently viewing it as in need of being educated by us. What “moral values”?

    There are a great many plusses in this country – one of them being that we can have this discussion. In a communist country, for example, it could never take place. Under our democracy we have rights and privileges, however, it has long been painfully obvious that freedom and morality don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

  • Clav

    I take the view that America is a nation founded on myth and forged in one of the greatest lies in history, and that Americans are today paying the price for that – and that it’s about time ALL Americans took back their right to decide how the country is run, rather than having a 200-year-old constitution that only pays lip service to it.

    The only problem with that rather Utopian idea, Stan, is that, thanks to the awful mismanagement of American schools during the past 75 years or so, along with the abdication of responsibility for the schools by administrators and parents in favor of the heavily unionized teachers who cannot be fired, American children have been receiving very little worthwhile education for several generations and thus American voters are, for the most part, too ignorant and uneducated to accomplish what you suggest.

  • John Lake

    I just dropped in to take a look. “Our moral obligation to teach our moral values to the rest of the world. What moral values?”
    I don’t identify with religious values, just traditional ideas — the ends don’t justify the means — that sort of thing. I heartily agree that a nation that now favors marriage between men, “Till death do us part” has no business preaching anything to anyone.

  • Doug Hunter

    #131

    First, limiting ability of government to intervene in things and redistribute money limits the reasons why these lobbying groups seek to influence said politicians in the first place. Secondly, there is a reason these groups have the money in the first place… because people are willing to fork it over for their cause. It’s a measure of how important it is to them and I think that has its place in our system and is an improvement over direct democracy. People who care about an issue enough to donate money have their voice heard a bit louder than people that don’t care enough to do the same. People who are willing to become single issue voters (for example on immigration) get their way even when a majority opposes them if the majority is not willing to do the same. There is also an inertia (not enough, but some) against government getting involved on the whim of the majority. There are higher bars than a simple majority in some phases, a trigger lock if you will, before you can pull out the overwhelming power that is the government. It frustrates people but I think this is important. Knee jerk reactions led to the Patriot Act for example, it’s best if government is set up to move slowly IMO.

  • druxxx

    So bam,
    Background checks for all gun sales.

    No bad guy ever gets his hands on a gun again.
    Problem Solved.

    I think anything pertaining to gun control has to first deal with the fact that there will always be bad guys with guns.

    I would love to hear how any of you would get even half or 10% of guns out of the hands of people we would all agree should not have them.( And not violate the constitution)

    I like the idea of a citizenry that can help defend itself. I also think we need to put away people who misuse guns for a long long time or rid them from society entirely.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I would love to hear how any of you would get even half or 10% of guns out of the hands of people we would all agree should not have them.( And not violate the constitution)”

    Use the cigarette model. Put a high tax, say $1000-3000 per gun on all new guns sold in the US, require registration of all guns with stiff penalties attached. Start a buyback program with the most problematic models say Hi capacity handguns and specific assault rifles and as funding and time allows add more guns to the list. The free market will quickly drive up the price of weapons out of the realm of criminals, old weapons will go out of service and not be replaced. No one will have their gun taken away. Problem solved within a generation.

  • A. J. Aston

    #137
    “First, limiting ability of government to intervene in things and redistribute money limits the reasons why these lobbying groups seek to influence said politicians in the first place.”

    Sorry, but I completely fail to understand what you mean by that.

    “People who care about an issue enough to donate money have their voice heard a bit louder than people that don’t care enough to do the same.”

    It’s one thing to have their voices heard, another to buy legislation. By your reasoning, someone like Bill Gates who has vast resources, could, almost single-handedly, bring about significant change simply by paying for legislation to his liking, whether the majority likes it or not. If special interests groups want to influence matters, they should use their resources to sway voters, not buy politicians.

  • Doug Hunter

    After more though, you could scale the tax and use that to fund your buyback program. Lower taxes on hunting rifles (so you don’t completely kill your tax base) could be used to buyback assault rifles and handguns which would have much higher taxes applied upfront. If the cost rose too high where the buyback was ineffective you’ve already won. They would come off the streets for money in the private market.

  • A. J. Aston

    #139 – now here’s a good idea. You’re not not being facetious, are you? It’s difficult to tell.

    By the way, John, I happen to think that this country’s recognition that “equality for all” should include everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is a step in the right direction.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    drux –

    “The only answer is to put more guns on the street”

    That’s like saying the only answer to stop traffic accidents is to get rid of all the stop signs and speed limit signs.

    Drux, there’s quite a few nations on this planet where guns are either not regulated or that regulations are not at all enforced. What nations are those, and what do those nations have in common?

  • druxxx

    Don’t you think you would create a black market?
    Currenty guns are easy enough to get that you rarely hear about people killing others to get guns.
    They kill for drugs/turf.

    You are punishing the law abiding because others don’t follow the law.

  • A. J. Aston

    Druxx, as a “once in a blue moon” smoker (at the time), I was not happy with the new laws which so greatly limited where I could light up. I enjoyed having my cigarette after dinner in some nice restaurant or, occasionally smoking at my desk at work. As it is harmful not just to smokers but to those exposed to “second-hand” smoke, the powers that be decided to change the law. Using your reasoning, I could say that I was being effectively “punished” for all those people who smoked too much and got sick.

    The new laws did not lead to smoking cigarettes becoming illegal. It did not lead to the confiscation of all cigarettes, lighters, etc. What it did do, is reduce the number of smokers, reduce the number of people getting sick from smoking related illnesses, it led to a public more educated and aware of the harmful effects of tobacco.

    What Doug suggests might work in similar fashion where guns are concerned.

    Guns may not be harmful to those using them but gun owners are not immune to the harmful effects of “second hand” bullets.

  • Doug Hunter

    #144

    The old war on guns you say, a fair point. People aren’t quite as physically addicted to and desperate to get a gun as drugs. Not as easy to have a black market as you can’t make them in your basement or out in the woods but instead have to run old used guns in (new guns brought in illegally would be strictly prohibited and not subject to buyback). You’re going to have to spend some dinero to get rid of this problem but ultimately you will raise the price, dry up demand, and cause a reduction in gun population overall.

    “You are punishing the law abiding because others don’t follow the law.”

    Unfortunately, that’s how our whole society works… lowest common denominator. Some people like the punishment and feel that’s the price of living in polite society… that they must pay protection money so that the ‘problems’ don’t wind up in their bedroom at 2AM gun drawn ready to take their welfare check in person… best just give it to them upfront. I get it, perhaps I’m just too much of an idealist. Also, I wasn’t advocating that strategy just answering a question.

  • roger nowosielski

    @133

    You’re playing into A.J.’s hand, Stan, when you’re endorsing her solution, “stricter gun control measures,” without considering the rest of her argument, how she proposes to arrive at this solution given a thoroughly broken-down American political system.

    I’d be all with you, one hundred percent, if we limited this discussion to a thoroughgoing critique of the American gun culture, perhaps even of the American culture in general, so long, of course, that it goes without saying that that culture had infected our political system as well, infected it to the point of virtual ineffectiveness, virtual standoff, paralysis. You can’t really separate one from the other, and to argue that all we really need is to put greater pressure on our politicians “to do the right thing” completely misses the point. As I argued in the previous post, to blame the situation on the few bad, rotten apples (politicians) is simplistic, wishful kind of thinking, ignoring the fact that the underlying problems are deeply rooted and systemic.

    Perhaps being in the land of Oz you haven’t reached yet the point at which the complete disintegration of your political/socioeconomic system has become apparent, and in that respect you may be lucky, thus far. But you just wait and see until each and everyone of you will be dragged down to our own level. And when that happens, I expect you to change your tune.

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, if this government is ineffectual and the system has broken down, where does the fault lie? Who is responsible if not the politicians pushing the agendas of their party, cow-towing to the special interest groups which finance them, and furthering their own political ambitions? Are you blaming the culture for infecting the political system? Who makes up that culture?

  • John Lake

    By the way, John, I happen to think that this country’s recognition that “equality for all” should include everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, is a step in the right direction.
    My only objection is to the use of the word “marriage.”

  • A. J. Aston

    John, the definition of the word marriage, according to the thesaurus is: legal joining of two people; a union,
    but I won’t belabor the point. As long as they are afforded all the benefits and privileges, what the legal state is called, is secondary.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    One wonders if John also objects to the expressions “a marriage of ideas” and “a marriage of two minds”, neither of which requires the involvement of two different sexes.

    One also need not get too riled up by John’s natterings. Judging by many of his recent comments, he seems to fancy himself a satirist lately. Sadly, he’s not a very good one at all.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    drux –

    Don’t you think you would create a black market?

    Thing is, this isn’t like drugs or alcohol – this is something that (when used illegally) is used with the specific purpose to threaten or kill other people. Deregulating the sale of firearms only makes it easier for them to get firearms, which makes it easier for them to commit crimes.

    Look up violent gun-related crimes (aggravated assault, armed robbery, murder) by state, and you’ll see that the states that have the highest rates of these crimes are also the states that have the loosest gun laws. Furthermore, if strict gun control made a society less safe, then you’d be seeing a higher, rather than lower, violent crime rate in the other first-world nations.

    On the other hand, every single nation that has very loosely-regulated (or nonexistent) gun control laws has a high violent crime rate.

    So do you see the pattern? Among the states, the looser the gun laws, the higher the violent crime rate. Among the nations, the looser the gun laws, the higher the violent crime rate. Sorry, but “everybody carrying a gun” does not result in a polite society. The rhetoric simply doesn’t match the reality.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    John –

    I used to think as you do…until I realized that yes, people are born differently (hermaphrodites, conditions where a person carries the chromosomes of the opposite sex, etc.). They didn’t choose to be born that way – it’s just how they were born.

    That helped me to eventually realize that no, one’s sexual orientation is not a matter of choice.

    We all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to deny two consenting adults the right to call what their relationship ‘marriage’ just because their sexual orientation isn’t something you agree with…

    …well, sorry, but you need to recognize prejudice for what it is. It’s a bit of a journey to reach this understanding and you’re most of the way there and good on you for it.

    Remember, half of solving any problem is knowing what the problem really is in the first place.

  • S. T. M

    Geez, this thread has kicked along nicely. AJ must be stoked.

    Clav, you know my views on the disparate, piecemeal and anomolous nature of the US education system before tertiary level. A focus on geography and world history would be good places to start.

    Hope all’s good with you and yours, champ. Expect a call one of these days from sunny S.A.

  • John Lake

    Merriam-Webster, an Encyclopedia Britannica Company:
    (1)The state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.
    Legally and socially sanctioned union, usually between a man and a woman, that is regulated by laws, rules, customs, beliefs, and attitudes that prescribe the rights and duties of the partners and accords status to their offspring (if any). The universality of marriage is attributed to the many basic social and personal functions it performs, such as procreation, regulation of sexual behaviour, care of children and their education and socialization, regulation of lines of descent, division of labour between the sexes, economic production and consumption, and satisfaction of personal needs for social status, affection, and companionship.

    I believe I made the point but a few days ago that if the court is involved, then Webster becomes an all important witness.
    It is becoming clear that on most occasions Dreadful, and associate Contrarian find it hard to deal with actual thought. They prefer the wordy sophomoric banter that they dwell behind.
    Things change at an accelerated rate these days; gays in the military, same-sex marriage. History shows that civilizations that embrace these principles falter and die. We wonder why the Islamic extremists are intent on our destruction. We don’t see the forest for the trees.

  • John Lake

    There is one other point I might make this morning. I keep close watch over the number of “reads” produced by my various articles, articles which are political mostly, sometimes reviews, and generally read by about 200 visitors to the site on any given day. Some days, with a breaking story, and an attention grabbing headline, I receive as many as two thousand reads in a day, and five thousand over the course of a week. We might speculate seven to ten of these “reads” come from the “regulars” here, the rest, from the general public.
    It is the public which I aspire to reach, with an (unfulfilled sadly) aim of “making a difference.” I avoid grandiloquent bombastic approaches, striving to make an easy time of it for the reader. Nowadays, reading requires enough effort not to pointlessly aggravate. The new age of the internet and communication by computer with words may be coming to an end, as the Arab Spring becomes the bland and ongoing winter.

  • A. J. Aston

    “Nowadays, reading requires enough effort not to pointlessly aggravate. The new age of the internet and communication by computer with words may be coming to an end, as the Arab Spring becomes the bland and ongoing winter.”

    Now reading has become an effort?? Is there something different about the function or are you referring to subject matter? Also, other than Skype, one still communicates with words, even on the Internet as we are doing here. Or do you object to the word “words”? I don’t mind, we can call them “terms” or “expressions” as long as they still have the same meaning…

    “Things change at an accelerated rate these days; gays in the military, same-sex marriage. History shows that civilizations that embrace these principles falter and die.”

    Seriously?? Our civilization is on the way out because gays are allowed in polite society??

  • John Lake

    Readers of books were doing fine until ‘speed reading’ became popular. I suspect that those who read and comment here, and on social sites like Facebook, tend to skim through, considering what they will say, while missing details that writers provide.
    In a global sense, many societies are strict; women are veiled, and considered the property of men. Islamic followers take exception even to newspapers, newsreels (a thing of the past), and even the most family oriented of movies. We might consider a middle course, but in fact I prefer the freedom we now experience.
    Gay life is nothing new, but now it’s far more open. As parents present the gay alternative to their children, they complicate matters. Yes, gays should be accepted and welcome in polite society, as well as in ghettos and seedier areas.
    I made a point at one time here at BC that much of this sordid change could have been avoided had children not been exposed to the lovable Mr. Rogers, and his continuous changing of shoes. There may have been some humor along with the truth in that statement; that may be the sort of thing to which Dr. D. is alluding.

  • ever the optimist

    Clav #93 – maybe there’s a sentiment and an ethic somewhere in here that might help

  • John Lake

    Glenn Contrarian: I used to think as you do…until I realized that yes, people are born differently (hermaphrodites, conditions where a person carries the chromosomes of the opposite sex, etc.). They didn’t choose to be born that way – it’s just how they were born.
    Hermaphrodites and other unique individuals are a separate issue. I have compassion for their suffering and pain. I wish them happiness.
    As to homosexuals: Females have no alternative. By their nature, they must bond. Males however have a choice. Remember, some of us are ex-marines, and know that males can be very close without expressing their feeling sexually.
    Young boys as they reach maturity, reach out for closeness with females. They are curious, and throbbing. In some cases, a youthful male is unable to win the affection of a female. He may pursue this course for months or years, but if he is still frustrated, he may turn to the boys for sexual sharing. This is natural and normal. On turning to the other boys, his new identity is re-enforced with each escapade, until it becomes his primary outlet.
    I always amazed me that, however strongly a young man identifies with the gay culture, when a female enters the picture, friends are forgotten, and it’s every man for himself.

  • Doug Hunter

    “On the other hand, every single nation that has very loosely-regulated (or nonexistent) gun control laws has a high violent crime rate.”

    As is often the case, you see things backwards from how they really are. In states with high violent crime rates people feel the need for guns and press to keep them, where gun violence is rare and there is not a culture of guns already they later adopt gun controls as no one really wants/needs them. Same goes for your beloved welfare states. These things are largely adopted by rich countries who have long eliminated true poverty. In other words, the people change followed by the government. Violent countries cannot become nonviolent simply by passing gun laws. Countries racked with poverty cannot become Norway simply by passing the same welfare laws.

    The only way to run a welfare state (that won’t bankrupt the nation in short order) is to have a culture and population that doesn’t require much welfare in the first place, far as i can tell we don’t have that luxury.

  • A. J. Aston

    #160
    “As to homosexuals: Females have no alternative. By their nature, they must bond.”

    Excuse me but are you saying that I, as a female, have no choice but to be lesbian because I MUST bond?? News to me!

    “Males however have a choice. Remember, some of us are ex-marines, and know that males can be very close without expressing their feeling sexually.”

    Wonder why so many ex and current marines are such homophobes? Hmmm, I guess it’s all that being “very close”.

    “Young boys as they reach maturity, reach out for closeness with females.”

    All human beings, male or female, want closeness.

    “They are curious, and throbbing.”

    I’ll say!

    “In some cases, a youthful male is unable to win the affection of a female. He may pursue this course for months or years, but if he is still frustrated, he may turn to the boys for sexual sharing. This is natural and normal.”

    If it’s “natural and normal” then it is as “nature” intended. In other words, it’s how they were born! Any boy, no matter how rejected by girls, will not “turn” homosexual if he is not programmed by nature to be that way. He may experiment but if that is not how he was born, experimentation is where it ends.

    “On turning to the other boys, his new identity is re-enforced with each escapade, until it becomes his primary outlet.”

    Even if that is how the mechanism (pardon the expression) of becoming homosexual works, if he is not forcing the other boy into his “escapades”, they both obviously find that lifestyle preferable over heterosexuality.

    “I always amazed me that, however strongly a young man identifies with the gay culture, when a female enters the picture, friends are forgotten, and it’s every man for himself. ”

    That’s because a female can be an excellent disguise.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    John, I can’t tell if you are trying to wind people up or have just beamed in from the Stone Age. Either way, you’re not at all funny and your attitudes are really out of date.

  • John Lake

    I haven’t written anything particularly offensive. I merely present an alternative viewpoint. The notion that a person was “born this way” is currently popular, and absurd.

  • no way

    Absurd and irrelevant.

    There’s the issue of freedom to consider.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Why is it absurd to believe that people are born with particular genetic dispositions rather than your own rather odd theory?

  • John Lake

    Traditionally young boys experiment with sex with their friends. In the past it has gone unnoticed by their parents. Now with parents encouraging gay behavior, the boys maturation becomes cloudy and confusing.
    I don’t see any evidence for “genetic predisposition.” That seems more a concept that began in the streets, and was picked up by the entire gay society.

  • A. J. Aston

    #164
    “The notion that a person was “born this way” is currently popular, and absurd.”

    And you know for a fact that this is a “notion”, do you? Based on what? I’m sure there are a great many people out there, both gay and straight, who would love to know, once and for all!

  • John Lake

    Everyone has a predisposition to heterosexuality. Some for one reason or another become caught up in a less straight lifestyle. I have never read one word from a legitimate source that supports some kind of genetic predisposition. If you hear anything, you have my attention.

  • still no way

    Christopher

    What’s absurd is the idea that genetics will provide a complete explanation of homosexual behavior. But it really doesn’t matter why one rejects the straight and narrow, does it?

  • A. J. Aston

    “I have never read one word from a legitimate source that supports some kind of genetic predisposition.”

    Nor has their been any legitimate source refuting this “some kind of genetic predisposition” unless you count the Bible as a “scientific” source.

    Besides, as comment #165 pointed out, it’s an issue of freedom and of choice. Years ago, the same arguments you employ (and the same source) were used to argue that a black person and a white person cannot marry – sorry, form a “union”.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose
  • Dr Dreadful

    Folks, I’ve long since stopped taking John seriously and my advice to everyone is to follow suit. Whether he’s serious or just trolling, the effect is the same.

  • Dr Dreadful

    In states with high violent crime rates people feel the need for guns and press to keep them, where gun violence is rare and there is not a culture of guns already they later adopt gun controls as no one really wants/needs them.

    I don’t know if he’s got things backwards, Doug, so much as sideways or inside out. While your theory may hold for some other countries (e.g. Mexico, Colombia, South Africa), I don’t think the high level of gun ownership in the US is a product of the high level of violent crime in general and gun crime in particular. Both these phenomena have a lot more to do with the way guns are glorified in popular culture here.

    A few comments upthread, Chris pointed to the Wild West as an example of a society in which the free proliferation of guns resulted in a high level of violence. Although the “Wild” West wasn’t actually that wild and there was a good deal of gun control, it probably is, at least indirectly, the origin of today’s violent American society, thanks to the glamorization of the frontier and its people by eastern writers, and later Hollywood movie makers, catering to a public that craved excitement.

    Decades of this fantasy being reproduced again and again have led to a culture in which the gun is seen as the ultimate problem solver, not only by criminals but also by law-abiding people who believe that their ownership of one will protect them against crime.

  • A. J. Aston

    It used to be that cigarettes were “glorified” in the movies with such greats as Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart or Catherine Hepburn smoking on-screen, in sexy and glamorous close-ups. In a concerted effort to “deglamorize” cigarettes, Hollywood largely cut out “smoking” scenes from films. Smoking was no longer the thing to do, smokers now being portrayed, more often than not, as people lacking common sense, or downright stupid. It worked, by and large. I agree with Dr. Dreadful that guns and gun violence are too often portrayed on screen as a viable and even justifiable means to an end. If Hollywood gave guns the same treatment they gave cigarettes, it wouldl surely go a long way to end our love affair with guns.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    John –

    No, the Merriam-Webster dictionary is NOT some kind of witness against gay marriage. Why? Look at, say, “entanglement”.

    What is entanglement? Why, it’s the state of being tangled with something, right? But not so long ago, physicists discovered something we call “quantum entanglement”. Does the fact that we had never identified quantum entanglement before and it had never been part of our scientific lexicon mean that it shouldn’t exist? Of course not.

    Likewise, the fact that “marriage” used to only refer to heterosexuals doesn’t mean anything – the meanings of words change over time, and this change is seen in every language; indeed, the languages of the world are changing faster today than ever before.

    Oh, and one more thing – males (whether Marine or not) have no more and no less choice than women. Go talk to some gay men sometime and let them tell you their experiences…and a lot of them will tell you that they wished they were attracted to women, but simply aren’t – some of them couldn’t get it up even for a threesome with Uma Thurman and Angelina Jolie. Next time Jet Gardner visits this blog, talk to him about it – you’ll hear the same thing from him.

    And while you’re at it, since (I assume) you’re a former Marine, read Xenophon’s account of the ten thousand hoplites’ trek from Persia back to Greece…it’s an enlightening read, militarily and when it comes to the realities of sexual attraction. Were they somehow less manly than the Marines of today? I don’t think so.

  • John Lake

    Interesting segue from gay marriage to quantum entanglement in physics.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Did you really miss the point about evolution in language?

  • STM

    I notice that as soon as we got to John’s “quantum entaglement in physics”, the thread dies … with one last splutter from Glenn and yours truly.

    The old and dreaded quantum entaglement in physics has always been a guaranteed thread killer.

    You don’t need guns to bring criminals to heel in the US – just bore ‘em to death with a rave on quantum physics, then give ‘em three hours listening to Franco until their heads implode and they have no other recourse but to plead for mercy.

    Voila … problem solved.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    The convo didn’t die because of quantum entanglement, Stanno, it died because of a weird combination of encroaching senility and pretentiousness!

  • A. J. Aston

    The was the first article I wrote for Blogcritics and two things surprised me:
    1. The amount of reaction it generated
    2. That many of you who made comments seem to know each other. Since I’m sure my article was not the first one to raise the issue of special interest groups buying votes nor the subject of gun control, aren’t you familiar with each others’ opinions on the subject and, more importantly, aren’t you aware of each others’ intransigence?

  • A. J. Aston

    Another question:
    I posted an article on Blogcritics called “The Only One who Can Stop a Bad Man with a Cigarette is a Good Man with a Cigarette.” I then published it on my blog and on Facebook. Using the line made famous by Wayne LaPierre as the title, I then took his speech to CPAC and adapted it, in a satirical way (I think) to cigarette smoking.

    The article itself does not explain this and my question is: Was it not obvious from the title and then from the name I gave to myself in the article? The only comment made was by Dr. Dreadful and that one completely threw me. Did I miss something? Anyone?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Hi A.J.,

    Your article got a lot of reaction because politics is such a huge battleground at the moment. This is true of both the USA and many, many other countries right now.

    I think this is because we are living in a time of great change and, as always when great changes occur, there is a lot of disruption going on. It’s not for nothing that the Chinese expression “may you live in interesting times” is a curse!

    Not only are we living in a time of great development of new information, science and technology (I think the last statistic I read on it said over 99% of what we know is less than 100 years old [and that trend is in fact accelerating], which is a lot to take in!), but we are also looking at massive social upheaval and change.

    There are battles between ideas about centralised planning and control versus more devolved power and personal freedom and independence; the ongoing evolution of the whole faithism debate; and, of course, the debates about the role of corporations and special interest groups in our society and the very nature of the political system itself.

    All of these issues are also being impacted by current technological development and are going to be even more heavily impacted by the massive technological change and innovation that is bearing down upon us all. Interesting times, indeed!

    As to your second point, the comments space here has a life and dynamic that is to a certain point quite independent of the articles we publish.

    Many of the regular commenters have been involved with the site in that way for many years now. The comments debates reflect the larger issues mentioned above in quite an interesting way. Clearly the arguments/debates/battles on all these points have some considerable way to go yet and many of them will only be settled by the eventual deaths of the adherents of certain ideas.

  • Clav

    aren’t you aware of each others’ intransigence?

    Of course we are, A.J. In some cases we’ve “known” each other (at least on a virtual level) for as long as 9 or 10 years.

    That’s what makes it fun.

  • A. J. Aston

    I must say, I enjoyed the discussion to the point of neglecting much of what I had to do, being glued instead to my computer.
    I will be curious to hear comments about my other article – not the validity of it but rather to it’s, for lack of a better term, “recognizability”. The media made Wayne LaPierre’s line so famous, I didn’t think my post needed a preface. That Europeans didn’t “get it” is understandable, but here?

  • STM

    Lol. We do this for hours, weeks, days, months – sometimes even years.

    And then, when it’s all done and dusted, we all agree to disagree and go our merry ways. It’s better than arguing in the pub as there’s no risk of someone clobbering you.

    Some of it’s just a wind-up, too.

    For example, I don’t really hate the USA. I just love getting a bite here and there, especially from zing, who never came out of the woodwork on this, so the thing flows on. Claim, counter-claim, and counter-counter-claim, followed by counter-counter-counter claim.

    This IS democracy. Voices and views are heard, and writers know that people are paying attention to the author’s point of view.

    Sadly, it never results in anything actually changing or happening, but it’s great fun on a cold, rainy night when the only other thing that might happen is the dog dropping a barker’s egg in the lounge-room or the cat bringing me a “gift” of a dead rat. (Both of which happened during this extended discourse)

    Welcome to the loony bin AJ. Enjoy!

  • STM

    I think 186 comments probably indicates we love you already.

    Cheers

  • A. J. Aston

    STM – #187 – right back at you!

    As far as the USA goes – I’m on the fence. There are so many plusses but good God, they have a way of obliterating the positive with so much idiocy!! It boggles the mind how it is possible that people who have risen to such high places (read: politicians) can be so bloody stupid! For example – learning that, should I ever get raped, my body will reject the sperm of my rapist because I have some sort of “built-in” mechanism to do just that, left me speechless! Couldn’t stop laughing for the crying! Was tempted to take some cod liver oil to lubricate the cogs, just in case!

    At any rate, undoubtably will spar with you lot again as my views tend to be, let’s just say, at the “extreme” ends of the spectrum, hardly ever in the middle. Not for nothing have I been accused of being ‘opinionated” which I take as meaning “thinking about things”! Loony bin indeed!

  • Doug Hunter

    “my body will reject the sperm of my rapist because I have some sort of ‘built-in’ mechanism to do just that, left me speechless!”

    If you’re really interested in science, the link between stress and fertility has long been explored. I don’t find it shocking at all that someone took a nugget of truth (stress can make it more difficult to conceive) and extrapolated that to an unsupported theory that a high stress event like a rape could make it even more difficult to conceive. Fun to mock and make fun of, sure (as you and half the world certainly can attest), but not completely pulled from thin air. As many women have faced the nightmare of dealing with the unborn child of their rapist there is clear evidence that pregrancny is not prevented, but I wouldn’t be surprised if women were indeed less likely to conceive after a forcible rape.

  • Doug Hunter

    On the flip side, the stress from a rape may be too late to effect anything.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, you may be right. Stress is a big factor in pregnancy. That notwithstanding, we all here, we “private folk”, can roll out opinions, more or less crazy, extreme or controversial till the cows come home, however, once anyone is in PUBLIC office where every word they say can potentially be broadcast to all and sundry (thanks to the almighty Internet) it would behoove that person to think twice before opening their mouths, particularly on such sensitive subjects. I watched this man speak and the feminist in me got REALLY pissed off! Perhaps I should write an article about the negative correlation between (some, not all) male testicles and cerebral function…..?

  • Dr Dreadful

    I don’t find it shocking at all that someone took a nugget of truth (stress can make it more difficult to conceive) and extrapolated that to an unsupported theory that a high stress event like a rape could make it even more difficult to conceive.

    Doug, since there’s no way this hypothesis could ever ethically be tested, we do in fact need to file Mr Akin’s outpourings under L for Large Festering Puddle of Giraffe Diarrhea.

    I also suspect that very few women who have actually been raped found anything “fun” about the erstwhile Congressman from Missouri’s remarks, and may even have felt that they were the ones being mocked.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And A.J., there’s no accounting for what goes on in the comments space here. Some articles, or something somebody says in a comment on an article, can spark a lengthy, rambling debate about almost anything – not necessarily related to what the article was about in the first place either.

    There’s even one article which has become an online gathering place and a sort of support group for people with a common interest in a particular health topic. Its discussion thread, I believe, runs to some 7,000 comments and counting.

    Then there are the articles you’d expect would spark a raging debate and end up disappearing into cyber-oblivion with barely a murmur.

    This isn’t necessarily the end, though, because occasionally some long-forgotten column gets a random comment, perhaps years later, from someone who found it through a Google search, and that gets everyone started.

    You just never know, and that’s what makes this place such fun sometimes.

  • roger nowosielski

    @ 176 thru 180

    While Stan is right in a roundabout kind of way, Glenn is somewhat off.

    It’s incorrect to say that ” the fact that ‘marriage’ used to only refer to heterosexuals doesn’t mean anything.” If that were the case, there wouldn’t be any controversy concerning calling same-sex unions marriage, unless of course you’d be prepared to dismiss all those who disagree as raving lunatics. And the argument from the fact that language is always evolving is not the proper ground: of course it is evolving, but it is not evolving with total disregard of prior senses and meanings. And this is not an endorsement of John’s recent wackiness or mode of argumentation.

    Further, I think Christopher’s explanation re: AJ’s popularity could be tightened up. It’s not just because it’s the Politics section but in addition, because AJ has a knack for voicing politically-correct opinions. Nothing wrong with such opinions per se: it’s her idea that these “politically-correct” positions can be brought to fruition within the framework of a modern liberal state while it’s a broken-down system, while paying no heed to the underlying malaise by misdiagnosing its root causes (a few rotten apples, voters’ apathy, how things would be different if only the people would stand together and send their message to Washington, but I think you get the general idea), yes, that whole idea is all wrong and cockeyed. Again, not because we may or may not disagree with her politically-correct positions but because of the manner in which they’re derived and argued for.

    In short, AJ’s articles promote thoughtlessness, very few questions asked while there’s an abundance of solutions: and that’s as good a definition of thoughtlessness as I can think of, as well as a symptom of a dogmatic mind. Is there a difference between the two?

    In any case, AJ’s popularity is readily accountable by the presence of such resident liberals on this here site as Glenn Contrarian or Zingzing (Handyman, missing of late, comes to mind, too). That’s only to be expected. What I do find disturbing, however, is that such free thinkers as Dreadful, Christopher Rose and Stan the Man, fall for the ploy and fail to distinguish between the content of a proposition, however right-headed or morally upright it may be, and the manner of its derivation or justification. Critical minds ought to know better.

    Have we all come to a day and age when the White House Press Secretary public service announcements will quench our thirst to know because they’ll satisfy as an explanation?

  • roger nowosielski

    … accountable for by …

    Penultimate paragraph,line one

  • Clav

    “Penultimate??” Penultimate???

    What’s wrong with “next to last???”

    Don’t start getting all erudite and fancy on us, Roger, or it’ll be out behind the woodshed for you…:)

    Sheesh…

  • Dr Dreadful

    Rog, the “definition of marriage” line is just one of many arguments put forth by those opposed to letting same-sex couples wed, and they need to be responded to, which is what Glenn and A.J. were doing. I don’t think you can extrapolate intellectual bankruptcy from that.

    In any case, as I remarked earlier, I’ve ceased to take John seriously. He always has been rather muddled, both in his writing and his thinking, but lately he seems to fancy himself as a satirist, which would be fine if he wasn’t absolutely terrible at it.

    It’s all very well to decry the Glenns, zingzings and Dreadfuls of this world as kowtowing to a “broken-down system”, and it would be great if government didn’t have its sticky fingers in the marriage business at all. But unfortunately that system is what currently have, and if you want to further the rights of gay couples right now, as opposed to waiting for some unspecified post-revolutionary future, you need to work within it.

  • A. J. Aston

    “…..because AJ has a knack for voicing politically-correct opinions. Nothing wrong with such opinions per se: it’s her idea that these “politically-correct” positions can be brought to fruition within the framework of a modern liberal state while it’s a broken-down system, while paying no heed to the underlying malaise by misdiagnosing its root causes (a few rotten apples, voters’ apathy, how things would be different if only the people would stand together and send their message to Washington, but I think you get the general idea), yes, that whole idea is all wrong and cockeyed. Again, not because we may or may not disagree with her politically-correct positions but because of the manner in which they’re derived and argued for. ”

    Roger, if my article did not necessarily delve into the underlying causes of the particular malaise I pointed out, it is because, unlike you, I had no desire to ramble on (viz your sentence above) to the point where my whole message gets buried in an avalanche of words. Nothing happens in a vacuum but we all know that. No need to point out the obvious.

    “n short, AJ’s articles promote thoughtlessness, very few questions asked while there’s an abundance of solutions: and that’s as good a definition of thoughtlessness as I can think of, as well as a symptom of a dogmatic mind. Is there a difference between the two?”

    I ask very few questions while offering an abundance of solutions? You flatter me, sir (though I don’t recall doing anything of the sort, but still…) I may have speculated on the cause of the problem but have not mentioned any resolutions yet (watch this space!).

    As for “thoughtlessness” – you assume that what you have read is the sum total of my thoughts – and you know what they say about “assuming”…..

    I ventured over to some of your articles and got lost in a maze of verbiage, eventually emerging with only five words: “No i co wobec tego?’

  • Dr Dreadful

    “Penultimate??” Penultimate???

    What’s wrong with “next to last???”

    Nothing at all.

    It has fewer syllables, too.

    I feel quite the Orwell fit coming on. He was mad keen on sticking to plain Anglo-Saxon words too! :-)

  • Doug Hunter

    #192

    Good points. Certainly the statement was foolish and factually incorrect, but that’s not exactly uncommon. I won’t deny that I rarely understand the nuances of modern sensibilities. Myself, I’m happy when someone I oppose says something stupid, I can openly take joy in that I don’t have to feign indignation or insult. They used to call that thick skin, now I think it’s known as WASP male priviledge or some such.

  • A. J. Aston

    #192
    I should have specified that the negative correlation between male testicles and cerebral functions occurs most vividly when exposed to the rarified air on Capitol Hill….or maybe it’s something in the water supply. Then again, what would we do without the fodder that is all those blundering statements and opinions contrary to ours? If we all woke up one morning agreeing with each other on every single point, how boring would that be??

  • Dr Dreadful

    But the phenomenon is also to be observed in those on Capitol Hill who lack testicular appendages, A.J., so that correlation doesn’t hold. Perhaps it is the water.

  • A. J. Aston

    Good point. We don’t “expose” ourselves quite as often, yet can be just as asinine. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann must drink a hell of a lot of water……

  • Glenn Contrarian

    good grief.

    I clearly used the words “quantum entanglement” not to discuss physics, but to point out the evolution of language to show that as time goes on, the meanings of words change…

    and what happened?

    Welcome to the new “Godwin’s Law”: anyone who mentions the words ‘quantum entanglement’ – regardless of the context – automatically loses the argument due to BC’s own particular brand of rhetorical correctness.

    I suppose I should have pointed out the changes of the meanings of the words ‘faggot’ and ‘gay’ instead.

  • Dr Dreadful

    @ #203: In that case there must be something up with the water in Alaska, too, since Mrs Palin has never had a job in DC. (She did apply for one once, but the majority of the interview panel wasn’t too sure.)

    Perhaps the cities of Wasilla and Washington employ the services of the same utility company.

  • A. J. Aston

    Perhaps having ass-pirations to work in Washington was, in her case, sufficient . Or maybe it’s all them mooses…..

  • Dr Dreadful

    @ #204: You are aware, of course, Glenn, that the word quantum has now itself evolved from its original usage of a unit of measurement of the properties of subatomic particles to a word meaning “something you don’t understand but which will make me look immensely wise and clever if I use it in a sentence, particularly if I do so in combination with a number of other long and scientific-sounding words”. :-)

  • S.T.M

    Glenn: “Welcome to the new “Godwin’s Law”: anyone who mentions the words ‘quantum entanglement’ – regardless of the context – automatically loses the argument.”

    Mate, I predict that’s going to be the new buzz-phrase on BC.

    Excellent stuff.

  • S.T.M

    Sarah Palin?

    Wasn’t she the right-wing sheila who liked shootin’ mooses?

  • S.T.M

    Goodnight all, it’s now 3.30am. See, this is what happens on BC. You put a couple of posts up on a thread and half an hour’s gone just like that.

    See youse tomorrow.

  • roger nowosielski

    @197

    We both know full well, Dreadful, that a great many goods have come as a result of working within the confines of a liberal state, especially in the area of group- and identity politics; and that’s all to the good, and I wasn’t disputing any of that.

    It is rather AJ’s insistent contention that we could fix things with a few single brush strokes (like eliminating the rotten apples, overcoming apathy, or storming Washington, DC with our demands) that I regard as either naive or simplistic or both; and I’m rather dismayed that some of the more sophisticated interlocutors here have fallen for it.

    Nuff said.

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, I am overwhelmed by all the credit you are giving me for all those “single brush stroke” solutions I supposedly gave, particularly the one about storming Washington! Did I, perchance say how we would do the storming? How many of us? With guns or pitchforks?

    Once again – the basic observation I made is that special interest groups have the power to buy votes thereby swaying the outcome of legislation. My opinion was and is that this is essentially “legalized corruption”. It doesn’t matter which special interest group it is, the fact remains that money is funneled to politicians in return for their vote. Does this or does this not happen?

  • roger nowosielski

    You’re welcome, AJ. I always give credit when credit is due.

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, good to know. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

  • Dr Dreadful

    First one of you two to type “quantum entanglement” gets a cookie.

  • A. J. Aston

    Thanks Dr. D. but I’m on a diet!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Never fear. The cookie is made of spinach and shredded banknotes.

  • A. J. Aston

    My stomach only tolerates Franklins and up…..

  • Dr Dreadful

    Because of their high concentration of Vitamin C, presumably. :-)

  • A. J. Aston

    That and they keep my stomach from turning when I read articles like the one in the Opinionator blog of the New York Times regarding lobbyists.

    It ain’t gettin’ any better….

  • roger nowosielski

    You might want to look at the following. AJ, as well at the comments space here, for a more comprehensive account of where we’re at today.

    Of course it talks about K Street and a host of other problems you talked about, but as part of a larger context.

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, having read the article you linked to (thank you!) my first thought was that there seems to be no way out, “no alternative”. My second thought was to consider that before it does anything else, the US should undertake to update the Constitution, the foundation upon which practically all else stands, so that it can better serve the needs of our society as it functions today, in the modern world. A case not unlike that of the Catholic Church which still stubbornly adheres to tenets written thousands of years ago. On further consideration however, even were the decision made to re-vamp the Constitution, the last institution which should be trusted to do this is Congress who, among their many transgressions, habitually vote either in the interest of big business and/or their own asses and engage in insider trading, quickly repealing a law which might have prevented them from doing so. (SOPA).
    I don’t know what the answer is but certainly one of the questions to be asked is: why are Australian politicians able to put self-interest aside and enact legislation which serves the good of the people? What is it about the Australian model that seems to work, at least on some level? Is it their system or does it come down to the culture and mentality of the people? Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there…..

  • Dr Dreadful

    On further consideration however, even were the decision made to re-vamp the Constitution, the last institution which should be trusted to do this is Congress

    And it is because of this that the Framers provided another method of altering the Constitution, outlined in Article V of that document, namely the calling of a national convention.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), they forestalled the possibility of mob rule by making it as difficult as possible to do this. It requires a majority of the legislatures in at least two-thirds of the states, which of course means there’s never been one.

    We had a libertarian-leaning writer here at BC a few years back called Joel Hirschhorn, who was apparently congenitally incapable of putting pen to paper without calling for an Article V convention.

    He could start off writing about the mating habits of grizzly bears and within a few paragraphs he’d be decrying the state of the nation and pleading for a convention to fix it all.

    It never seemed to occur to him that most of the delegates to this mystical event would very probably be the same people who’d driven him to demand it in the first place.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doggone it, there goes my newest article about the legal status of the quantum entanglement of mating grizzly bears….

  • A. J. Aston

    “It never seemed to occur to him that most of the delegates to this mystical event would very probably be the same people who’d driven him to demand it in the first place.”

    Dr. D., therein lies the problem as the snake swallows it’s own tail! Changes in technology have created the two headed monster that is social/mass media. On the one hand, we know much more about what is going on in the world around us but, on the other, the exposure which this medium affords, has created a self-serving generation propelled, in the first place, by their own egos. This “me” generation unfortunately includes the same politicians who are supposed to serve “the greater good” but are incapable of doing so.

  • A. J. Aston

    Forgot to add that the question still stands: What made Australian politicians capable of doing that which American politicians find impossible to do? In other words, to do their job the way it was meant to be done???

  • Glenn Contrarian

    It might be because they’re working under the parliamentary system. Such allows several significant parties, whereas our own is ossified into two parties that have largely polarized into wholly conservative and almost-wholly liberal camps…and as a result, a politician of one stripe that agrees at all with the other party isn’t respected but vilified by his base.

  • roger nowosielski

    STM would be in a better position to answer this question, since he’s from the land of Oz. I suspect his answer would be that Australia, more than the US, is committed to the idea of social democracy, which, in turn, molds their politicians after a fashion.

    The Scandinavian countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, would be another place to look, for their commitment to the concept of social democracy is certainly much more pronounced than in the land of the free and … Welfare capitalism had its origins in Sweden, I believe, at the turn of the twentieth century, while we were still at the age of the robber barons and captains of industry, so they have a long-standing tradition on their side while we don’t.

    Ultimately, however, it’s not the question of “rotten apples” here and there, I’d argue, but of the system and its ethos. And our ethos/culture/mindset produces the kinds of politicians you deplore, not vice versa.

  • A. J. Aston

    In other words, ours is a government of black and white, unable to see nuance in the shades of grey in-between. Would the Constitution allow for a multi-party system? Article 5.5?

  • A. J. Aston

    Roger, it is not quite so clear cut as to which was was first, the chicken or the egg. Culture/ethos/mindset are, in part, cleaved by the system in which these exists. Viz the culture and mindset of generations of Poles living under communism. Though their system has changed, it will take another generation (at least) before their attitudes (and work ethic) align with their new reality.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Ultimately, however, it’s not the question of “rotten apples” here and there, I’d argue, but of the system and its ethos. And our ethos/culture/mindset produces the kinds of politicians you deplore, not vice versa.

    Perhaps. You might have a point.

    And I’d add that an aggravating factor is our national hubris for being ‘top dog’ on the planet, for with great status comes great national pride…and our ability to change, to adapt, to learn from the rest of the world is lessened. Why? Because we’re no. 1 – why should we have to learn from anybody else?

  • roger nowosielski

    @230

    I just have a general distrust as to the viability of “rotten apple” kind of explanations. It’s always been advanced to excuse the atrocities committed in the course of war, e.g., the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam era or the recent abuses by the military in Iraq. And it always serves the same purpose: to affix the blame on the few rotten apples rather than on the military culture. So yes, I always find those kind of explanations highly suspect, if only because they’re self-serving.

  • A. J. Aston

    Unfortunately, the problem is more pervasive than just “a few rotten apples” an expression which keeps being brought up but which was never used in the original premise. I would go so far as to say that, in Washington, it appears that “rotten apples” are the norm.

  • roger nowosielski

    Of course that’s so. That’s my point!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Another point about Australia is that it elects its representatives on the basis of proportional representation, which does three things: (a) guarantees smaller parties a voice in Parliament, (b) makes it difficult for any one party to gain an overall majority in said Parliament, and (c) thereby forces parties with differing ideologies to work together if they want to govern at all.

    That, and they have national elections every three years rather than every two, which is a short enough time to keep politicians on their toes but also long enough that they don’t feel they have to start campaigning for the next election the moment they’re sworn in.

  • A. J. Aston

    So it’s not “rotten apples”, just here and there anymore ? Your arguments have a way of shifting, depending on the point you are trying to make. We are probably more or less on the same page, the difference being that you object to looking at one issue as if it was an indication that one is doing that to the exclusion of the big picture.

  • S.T.M

    Plus compulsory voting in federal, state and local electiobs. Well, you don’t actually have to register a vote, as no one’s standing on the booth with you, but you do have to attend a polling place and get your name ticked off the roll.

    The penalty for not votiung is horrendous: $17.50 fine. Lol. And nothing if you have a half decent bullshit explanation.

    Despite this, most people don’t dodge making the3ir voice heard.

    That, I believe, is a factor in the difference, because politicians have to keep it real. There is no need to manufacture issues. Some do of course, but by and large that’s not the case.

  • A. J. Aston

    Where are the Aussies when you need them?

  • roger nowosielski

    @236

    If I understand you correctly, I think that’s right.

    Glad we got you back into the thick and thin, STM. There’s nothing better than hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

  • A. J. Aston

    Well then, a parliamentary system appears to be the solution. I’m not versed enough to know if such a system could exist here vis a vis the Constitution. Is it possible?

  • roger nowosielski

    I doubt that’s the whole story.

    Look at the recent Murdoch fiasco, e.g., and how the politicians and top law-enforcement people were implicated in the scandal, including some of the closest PM advisers. And England’s form of governance is the model of a parliamentary system.

  • A. J. Aston

    So then the problem is not the system but the people made by that system? In that case, one would have to not only switch over to a new model but staff it with all new people. Perhaps we can borrow a set of Aussies (not Brits) to train the new personnel until their training wheels can come off….

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    But Rog, isn’t the very fact that there are political scandals a healthy sign?

    Our elected representatives should have sweaty necks and tight sphincters, and let’s make sure we keep it that way.

  • roger nowosielski

    A parliamentary system, AJ, pertains only to the technical aspect of governance, nothing earthshaking or radically distinct from what obtains in both our Houses. Likewise with Constitution. We have it written while theirs is a matter of adherence to tradition and common law. (Of course, Magna Carta was a written document.) But all these differences aside, there’s very little that separates the Brits and the Americans insofar as the mindset is concerned (although granted, the idea of socialism is much more pronounced in England than it is in the US).

    The Scandinavian countries stand apart from all the rest. For one thing, they don’t carry the old baggage that had come part and parcel with capitalism, although they have definitely absorbed some of capitalism’s main points. They do serve, however, notwithstanding all of this, as a model of “social democracy,” not only ideologically speaking (as in Britain, for example) but in real life. That’s the kind of systemic difference I’m talking about, dealing not with a technicality of governance but with a whole new perspective.

  • roger nowosielski

    Of course it is.

    Which is to say … there’s still hope …

  • A. J. Aston

    Congress, in an unusually bi-partisan action, just voted to permit funds to be moved over within the FAA, reversing furloughs of air traffic controllers. Jamie Dupree wrote:

    “For months, Democrats have been warning of how automatic budget cuts would cost thousands of jobs and cause economic havoc, while Republicans have argued that federal agencies just need to prioritize their budgets more and cut elsewhere to save high profile programs.
    And so, instead of watching Republicans buckle under the pressure of long flight delays this week, it was Democrats who went – in just a few days – from ruling out any budget changes for the FAA to rushing a plan through the Senate before lawmakers left on a one week vacation.”

    Self-interest anyone??

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    We have it written while theirs is a matter of adherence to tradition and common law.

    I think you have, perhaps inadvertently, hit on something, Rog. The US Constitution has attained a biblical level of authority that I doubt the Founders ever intended it to have.

    In the UK, the lack of a written constitution, though it does not confer anarchy, allows for a certain flexibility and openmindedness to change – even fundamental change, as witness the current moves by the devolved Scottish government towards independence and the UK’s willingness to let Scots decide on the issue for themselves.

    Australia does, I believe, have a written constitution, but we are talking about Aussies here…

  • roger nowosielski

    It’s not my idea, Dreadful, so I can’t claim credit. But it is something that had stuck in mind in the course of the educational process.

  • A. J. Aston

    Before all else then, the first question would be how to move away from the Constitution just far enough to attain some modicum of flexibility. Of course, any attempt to make such a move would have to happen after we no longer have a President whose skin color is, for some, not white enough, or, thereafter, one whose gender is too fair, undermining the edifices supporting the hallowed halls of the old boys club. Soo, somewhere around 2024?

  • S.T.M

    Yes, we do have a written constitution but the framers decided not to include an American-style bill of rights, because all those rights were taken to exist. They still exist, and I think it was a good move. This is a very robust democracy. The people really do have a voice here, and will take on politicians trying to do stupid stuff. Generally, they win, too.

    Even today, there is no written part of our constitution guaranteeing free speech. However, the High Court has decreed that it is implied in the constitution, therefore it exists. Fabulous, and no pissing about.

    We don’t consider our laws the holy grail the way americans do, though. If something needs to change, it generally does.

    Sensibly, most people realise that laws are words written on a piece of paper, and while they might have been good a few hundred years back, that might not necessarily be the case today.

    However, change doesn’t always happen in this country without a huge public fight, but mostly it happens if needs to happen.

  • S.T.M

    That also applies to governments trying to take rights away where there is no case for them being taken away. There is generally a backlash from voters, so they tend to fizzle out.

    What I like about our parliamentary political system is that almost everyone is highly engaged in it … but the most powerful voice, unlike in the US, remains the people.

  • S.T.M

    Roger: Yeah, but what you are forgetting in regard to the British parliamentary system is that all that stuff was exposed publicly, people were named and shamed, and lost their jobs and many now face criminal charges.

    So that’s the object of the exercise, right? At some point, corruption – and there isn’t much in the UK – is exposed and dealt with publicly and by due process of law.

    Can’t get much more transparent than that.

    I’d have no question that British government and the institutions of law and governance in the Uk would uphold my natural and legal rights if I lived there.

    They haven’t been perfect, but their system of government is very transparent, among the fairest in the world, and we inherited it. I’m proud of that legacy, and to be one the inheritors of an amazing history.

    There is no doubt in my mind that future historians will see Britain in the same way historians of today see Rome – not for their conquests but for what they gave the world.

    No country in modern history has given more that is good to this world than Britain. That is a fact, despite some of the bad things have gone along with it.

    So did you guys inherit most of that stuff, even your laws and your constitution came from them – but the system of representative governance, only up up to a point. It’s the point that’s the problem in the US.

    I think Americans like to see themselves as the light on the hill; I know that Britain became a liberal democracy in the late 1600s, 100 years before the US.

    And the due process amendments in the US constitution came from laws introduced in England in the late 1300s. Yes, that far back.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    There is no doubt in my mind that future historians will see Britain in the same way historians of today see Rome – not for their conquests but for what they gave the world.

    I’ve thought the same for some time now.

  • Doug Hunter

    All the handwringing over how to get around that blasted constitution and use the government to mold society without limitation. I, for one, am glad it’s got built in resistance to populist whims. It’s nothing set in stone, with enough support you can change the constitution or interpret your way to whatever you want (I assume fairly soon they’ll magically read a right to gay marriage somewhere in there), but it does lay a limited groundwork of rights… not enough IMO but a good idea. I tend to see it the other way, that it was intended as a protection of the people from the government but has been eroded away over time as the population has been trained to lap at the government food bowl and roll over when asked… perhaps a more strict interpretation is in order.

  • S.T.M

    Doug: Sometimes Americans sound like a broken record on this issue. You guys think you are so very different, and that your constitution makes it thus. Come here, see how it works, and you’ll see that you’re not.

    Also, one of the framers of the US constitution had this to say at the time, and I’ll pareaphrase: We couldn’t possibly have got everything right, and we trust that Americans of future generations will change it as they see fit.

    That seems to be forgotten in every debate.

    For fuck’s sake, what’s wrong with you guys?? It’s not the holy grail. It’s just words on a piece of paper – written 200 years ago. The people are the best judge of what’s right and wrong, and if they have the power to do so (government of the people, for the people), can change things where needed.

    Problem in the US is that the people have no genuine voice when it comes to government.

    You might as well not vote. It means diddly squat, because the only thing that counts is power, money and influence.

    Your vote really doesn’t, because nothing changes.

    Which makes it an oligarchy.

  • A. J. Aston

    The arrogant belief of this country that is it the greatest in the world is a reflection of what it considers important – power and money. We big and we rich and we beat the crap out of you if you don’t do what we say. Problem is, our bark is somewhat scratchy of late and our bite only works when the denture adhesive holds….

    Continuing with the constructive – America needs then a parliamentary, multi-party system whose basis may lie in the Constitution but the umbilical cord is cut and wording altered to remove antiquated formulations which either lend themselves too easily to manipulation for the sake of an agenda or are entirely ignored when necessary.

    There needs to be a means by which special interest groups are kept from influence peddling directly to the politicians, taking their case instead to the public who then support their cause or not. Referendums are good for that but in a country this size, the logistical problems alone could slow legislation down to a crawl, if that. How are lobbyists kept at bay in Britain and Australia? Or are they?

  • Doug Hunter

    “Sometimes Americans sound like a broken record on this issue.”

    Perhaps that’s because the critiques sound like a broken record as well. Boo hoo hoo, my vote doesn’t count for anything (which roughly translated means: we big hearted wonderful people democrats won 51% of the vote and those evil republicans only won 47% we should be able to completely ignore them and do whatever we want… wahh) Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. In a country where your opinion counts for 1/300,000,000 do you really expect to get your way every time?

    Then there’s the bill of rights, the topic du jour. Wow, the government already imprisons a large share of the population, they can execute citizens with drones without imminent threat, they can read / monitor all forms of communication on a whim, they can hold you indefinitely without charges, they can take away your children for reasons such as being fat, and can take your home and give it to someone else if they think it will increase tax revenue…. I can definitely see our problem is too many rights, poor government with it’s hands tied can barely do anything… if only it’s power were unlimited by stupid words on a paper.

    Lastly, if you don’t like other people donating money to lobby their congressman then beat them at the game and fork over some of your hard earned cash for causes you support. If it works so well, use it don’t sit around navel gazing. People with skin in the game, productive citizens, and those with money have more to lose and an additional avenue for protection through lobbying is not all bad. I think at some points voting was restricted to landowners for the same reason, this is a nice compromise.

  • A. J. Aston

    Doug, in essence what you are saying “Money talks, shit walks”. Is that it? In your scenario, those who don’t have the money to contribute to causes they support, have no other avenue open to them to make their voice heard. Ah, what is the definition of democracy again? Oh, yes: “A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.” Whole population! Money is not mentioned anywhere unless you consider the term “eligible” as meaning “moneyed”!

  • Doug Hunter

    “have no other avenue open to them to make their voice heard.”

    Not true at all. You can still vote, the ultimate power. Immigration is an issue where this has become evident, a dedicated minority can get their way on an issue simply by being single issue voters and subjecting anyone in opposition to a harsh backlash. It only takes a few percentage points to sway an election in our two party setup so a small minority, if dedicated, can hold the system hostage. Our system takes not only raw opinion into account but the strength of that opinion measured by willingness to fund campaign cash or modulate your vote based on the issue into account.

  • Doug Hunter

    More plainly, if 40% of the population really wants something and will vote only on that issue for anyone who promises to get it for them while 60% of the population would rather not but it’s really not that big a deal and they won’t always switch their vote on this one issue, the 40% is going to win hands down every time. That’s not a straight democracy, but it’s what we have and I think it’s not all bad…. I consider it a weighted democracy… one that weighs resources and diligence in support of a cause as well as the raw vote total.

  • roger nowosielski

    @250

    The following comments might be of interest, Stan the Man:

    “pjm 04.25.13 at 9:14 pm
    @11, 14 17 etc.

    “I am always mystified by the tendency of American liberals to see Constitutional limits on change (enumerated freedoms in the Bill of Rights excepted) as a good thing. Why? The minorities they have always had a tendency to protect were privileged minorities (not for instance, um, racial minorities). The have always done more to hold back reform than the floodgates of reaction (indeed, much of their genesis in the political compromises needed to safeguard slavery). The only positive cast on them is that they are the sort of thing that might be useful when you can’t have democracy. Dan Lazare made the argument in Frozen Republic that many successful democracies do just fine with any Constitution at all (i.e. some set of formal limits on representative democracy) and though I am not sure about that as an absolute statement, I think the American experience gives him lots of ammunition.
    Finally, as the reaction myth, I just think a large part of the tendency to reaction in US society comes from the frustrations built into a frustratingly unresponsive ‘democracy.'” #21

    AND

    Mao Cheng Ji 04.26.13 at 7:35 am
    “A constitution may or may not hinder; Iranian does, Swiss does not. In the US, I think, it’s exactly the bill of rights that produces all the meaningless ridiculous sophistry.” #28

    It looks as though #28 is right down your alley, Stan. Further, apparently it’s not just “American liberals” who (as per #21) “see Constitutional limits on change . . . as a good thing.” As per our good Doug here, American conservatives are in the same boat.

    “Post-Democracy in Italy and Europe.”

  • A. J. Aston

    What confuses me is your term “single issue voter”. This country does not hold referendums on single issues. The issue of immigration was not put to a vote by the public. We have debates on the subject and public opinion is swayed one way or the other but, in the end, only our elected officials have the opportunity to vote on single issues when they come up for legislation.

    I might be for emigration reform, for gun control, for gay marriage and against sending troops to Syria. If there are two candidates I can vote for and neither one fits my parameters exactly, my only choice is to vote for the one who comes closest i.e. agrees with me on three our of the four issues or the two out of four I consider most important. Elections (when I can vote) don’t come down to a single topic. Yes, there are issues which dominate in the media but on the ballot, they are all equal.
    #260
    If we did have separate votes on each issue, you would be entirely right. That’s how referendums work in Switzerland and if one or the other didn’t go through, those who were for it but didn’t make the effort to vote had no leg to stand on. They were “selber schuld”. But here?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Interesting indeed, Rog. Mao makes a good point that the Bill of Rights is a two-edged sword. Americans have a tendency to see everything in black and white terms, and while the first ten amendments can serve to impress upon the more dogmatic of them that they can’t have their way just because it seems just and moral to them personally, it can also make them highly inflexible and unwilling to think.

  • roger nowosielski

    @261

    And then, there’s the following:

    “As for the challenges of integration, I suppose one could find lots of things to say about them, but being myself an economic immigrant (though a white-collar one) to Australia – a country where 26% of the population was born elsewhere, and 46% has at least one parent born elsewhere – I doubt that they fundamentally change the picture. Far from being patchworks of disaffected ethnic enclaves at war with each other, Australian cities routinely rank among the most desirable places to live in the world.” #93

    and

    “I believe for a spell Australia actually paid its immigrants. Or did I just dream that? Seems to me that’s how a lot of Lebanese people ended up there.” #95

    “Greece’s trap.”

  • roger nowosielski

    @263

    There was also a comment about Australian constitution that had stuck. I want to dig it up and post it if I can.

  • Dr Dreadful

    A.J., referendums are very common in the US, at state and local level anyway. They’re usually called “initiatives” or “measures”. Unfortunately, most states have got the mechanism all wrong. Basically, if you can get enough signatures together, it goes to a vote. This results in usually unnecessary, almost always fucking stupid and more often than not contradictory shit getting on the ballot.

    The way referendums work in most countries is that they’re reserved for issues deemed too fundamental and important to be delegated to elected representatives. My native UK has only ever held two*: in 1975 on whether to remain part of the European Community (Yes), and in 2011 on whether to change the voting system (No). And as such, it’s the government, not the people, that decides to put it to a popular vote.

    * Although there have been numerous regional referenda, usually concerning devolution. Scotland will hold one next year on the question of full independence.

  • A. J. Aston

    I know there are local initiatives like the one they had here recently which said (I paraphrase):

    To use tax revenues for funding of rehabilitation programs for returning war veterans AND for funding of local church activities!

    If I vote no, I disallow monies for helping veterans, something I would agree to. If I vote yes, my tax dollars go to church activities which I am very much against, (separation of Church and State) never mind that there was no elaboration on which church and what activities. If that idiot of a pastor, Terry Jones, were to organize a church rally to publicly burn the Koran, my tax dollars would pay for it!! I’m forced to make a choice between two issues which should NEVER have been lumped together. That’s local initiatives for you!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Jeez, I do hope that one was voted down…

  • A. J. Aston

    Actually, I never did find out. Wouldn’t be surprised if it went through. This is a church fearing, mother-lovin’, God and country type of area. Voted for Obama because of Medicare, grinding their dentures down to nothing all the while….

  • roger nowosielski

    AJ, Dreadful,

    Here’s another interesting perspective:

    “Henry,

    Have you read any of Luciano Canfora‘s stuff on democracy? Any opinion?

    I bring it up because, without disagreeing with you on the current moment, we might want to think more critically about what it’s being counterposed to. It’s interesting to think of “democracy” not as in some sense the normal structural condition of rich liberal states, not as a set of political institutions, but rather as something that happens in discrete moments of disruption and conflict.

    In Canfora’s vision, as I understand it, a closed elite is perfectly capable of reproducing itself within a political system organized around elections. It’s when non-elite people riot in the streets – literally or metaphorically – that they win concessions, which are then gradually eroded over years of routine politics.

    I think this is, at least, a useful alternative perspective – that there’s nothing especially unusual about the lack of democratic accountability through the formal political institutions of Europe, and that the variable that matters is the amount of pressure being exerted outside of routine politics. Certainly it seems that to the extent we’re seeing a turn away from austerity, it has little or nothing to do with preferences registered through the electoral system, but is all about the increasing threats of disruptive reactions outside of routine politics.” #12

    It also kinda explains why the referendums don’t seem to work in the US at least (perhaps it’s different in Europe): they’ve become part and parcel of “routine politics.”

  • Dr Dreadful

    @ #269:

    Aside from anything else it’s the expense to the taxpayer that makes that measure offensive. Should it have passed, any funds set aside for veterans and church activities would be more than wiped out by the cost of defending the inevitable legal challenges.

  • roger nowosielski

    The book is downloadable, btw, as a pdf file (see the bottom of the linked-to page).

  • S.T.M

    I’ve got a better idea Doug: put a very low limit on the amount any one organisation (or any of its affiliatd groups) can donate to an election campaign.

    You don’t get “skin in the game” if you’re an average Joe or Joanne in the US, because it’s lobbyists who dictate policy, not the people.

    You’re all living under a delusion.

    Your vote really doesn’t count.

    There’s a big song and dance about electing a president, but unless the party of the president also has the numbers in the house AND the senate, it means diddly.

    Just lip service to keep the dumb masses happy, or if not happy, angry enough not to be thinking about all the other shit in their lives.

    More often than not with presidents, they’re just lame ducks. Handy ones though, because they’ll be the ones remembered when nothing goes right. But why bother with one in the first place.

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks, it’s an oligarchy.

  • A. J. Aston

    Being the constructive type, I keep going back to trying to build a consensus on what system could work in the US. So far (and as I said before) I see a parliamentary system with several parties, the Constitution used only as a foundation, having as much influence in current politics as the Magna Carta has on what goes on in the British Parliament today. In this scenario, where would special interest groups fit in the scheme of things and how would their influence be “managed”?

    One ALMOST feels pity for politicians here who may have started out on their political careers full if ideals and a desire to work for the greater good. Having put in enormous effort, time and money (their own and from others), they get into office, ready to do the bidding of their constituency. It doesn’t take long before they are reminded that certain big chunks of money which got them elected are looking for something in return. No problem when a majority of those who voted for them want the same thing big money wants, but when these two diverge from one another, the politician is forced to make a choice – side with us, you stay where you are, side with the voters, your career is over. It smacks of entrapment! Stan, how is it done down under? You may have mentioned it before but, if so, it was many comments ago….

  • Doug Hunter

    “Your vote really doesn’t count.”

    That’s a dumb statement; a good sign of an intellectual void. Not saying I’ve never said something similiar off the cuff, but it’s simply factually incorrect and silly, even if popular. Someone is indeed delusional.

  • Dr Dreadful

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks

    In the case of the US it’s more that it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck from everyone else’s vantage point but Americans see a swan.

  • Doug Hunter

    #276

    Does Europe under the EU really need to judge anyone else? The other world powers are Russia, China, etc… don’t see a shining city on a hill there either. I guess we could hold up Australia or Canada as models, got the population of a decent size US state, both are strategically located near world powers and are big on natural resources, short on population, and nice buffers allowing them more flexibility on who gets in. (it does tend to make your vote seem more if it’s not diluted against hundreds of millions of others across a religiously, racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse nation)

  • Dr Dreadful

    Who said anything about judging anyone? Nothing wrong with ducks. It’s just that they’re ducks.

  • Doug Hunter

    Call my swan a duck one more time…

  • A. J. Aston

    Actually, it’s a swuck…..

  • Doug Hunter

    Swuck you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Maybe you should change your name to “Swuck Hunter”

  • A. J. Aston

    Ouch!

  • Dr Dreadful

    This “swuck” sounds as if it’s the product of monstrous genetic engineering experiments by ego-crazed atheist evolutionist scientists and is therefore clearly Against God. It is plain that ballot initiatives need to be introduced in every state to ban such research and eliminate these foul fowl.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    We’ve got roast swuck down on aisle 14, right next to the liger chops and wholphin filet….

  • A. J. Aston

    It’s on sale too, but only for special customers. The rest should go to to aisle 3 and ask for mule.