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The Democratic Party is the Mental Illness Party

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Though the cliché is that the Democrats need some big ideas, that they “need to stand for something”, this is actually false. The Democratic Party clearly does stand for something: they stand for the meek notion that psychotherapy and social psychology ought to be the engines behind all public policies. Arthur Brooks even appeals to psychologists to diagnose Republicans as once humorless whiny children.

In a word, the Democratic Party has become the party of therapeutic intervention, whereas the Republican Party has become the party of moral and political philosophy. And in light of the Democratic Party’s recent history of political failure, if they genuinely want to change the course of American politics and maybe even win a few elections, they probably ought to reject the false gods of psychology, psychotherapy, and all other permutations of such un-testable ultra-soft sciences. Freud, after all, is dead, and DSM diagnoses by committee are absurd by any measure.

Certainly liberal democracies, in the Jeffersonian and Lockean sense, tend to be skeptical of fundamentalist religious doctrines, but liberal democracies nevertheless run contrary to the Democrats’ psychological and sociological notions of accidental sin. To sin, in a true liberal democracy, requires the intent to sin. Republicans sin, plenty. Democrats never do. To sin requires a lapse of reason and a sense of individual honor diminished. Not so for the Democratic Party. For Democrats sin is impossible, there is only mental illness and social despair.

America, however, is a liberal democracy, and Americans like to be honored for their freely chosen actions. We relish our ability to sin or not to sin, on purpose. We cherish our individual ability to change, even to revolt, if need be. We hold dear that our personal development of character is our individual responsibility and, more importantly, we take pride in our character so developed. We like the notion that we each must make ourselves into the people we will become. Americans, members of a liberal democracy as described by Francis Fukuyama in The End of History and the Last Man, thrive on their pursuit of Platonic thumos.

Thumos is generally translated as “spiritedness” or the passion of one’s heart for just honor. But it is clearly meant by Plato as the intermediary component of our distinctly human psyche, between animal appetite and human reason. The human psyche loves with progressive sophistication: we love first with our stomachs, then with our hearts, and ultimately with our reason. Thumos is that amalgam of reasonably directed passion for personal recognition that drives the guardians of Plato’s Republic to want to fulfill their civic function precisely, honorably. Thumos then seems best understood as one’s personal desire for honor and glory in good accomplishments. There is no mystery that the recognition one receives for a job well done, the social recognition that brings about justifiable pride of accomplishment appeals to our sense of thumos.

We want to succeed. As Fukuyama points out, we “struggle for recognition.” We yearn to be honored for our success. And we actively pursue the glory of a success that is earned. Yet, as Plato describes, the truly just individual recognizes that reason must guide thumos, and thumos must in turn guide appetite. Thumos is then the goal of appetitive desire, and yet thumos without the guidance of reason would be but tyrannical. No just soul wants mere glory; for the love for glory is but a transitory instrument for winning justifiable honor from those whose reason we truly respect. In the end we love the Good beyond even the chest satiated with thumos. The Democratic Party, however, has abandoned this spirited pursuit of honor, thumos. Whereas, at root the American psyche is Platonic, the Democratic Party’s psyche is a Freudian inversion.

Democrats have placed appetite ahead of reason and conceived of reason as a pleading child before a cold patriarchal judge envisioned as some variety of super-ego-induced conscience. So, one must resign oneself to be a Democrat. One must resign one’s self to discontent within civilization. For the Democrats there are imagined giants in our souls like the imagined Anakim (Deut 1:28) that scared Moses into the desert for yet 40 more years. Psychological determinism cannot be beaten; there is no Promised Land of liberty for today’s Democrats, only sighing and recrimination and neverending sacrifice to sociological determinism.

To be a Democrat, as they conceive of themselves, requires resignation to the plight of having a socially induced, socially designed, insurmountable psychology. We are individually helpless. Each of us is but the outcome of the consequences of the forces of history and politics upon our frail bodies and minds. The Democratic Party is the party of Fukuyama’s “Last Man,” that pathetic, shameless, prideless, genderless “person”. These are the “men without chests” (p.11) for whom resolving their socially induced mental illnesses are the only telos (function) left for their forlorn psyches. That is why sadness haunts Democrats so. Their sadness is their last delight.

Reason, for the Democrat, has been reduced to a little ego navigating between the giants of Superego and Id. Their religion of social psychology thus undermines both authentic individual thumos and thereby individual moral character as well. For the Democrat there is no just pursuit of honor, no true thumos, merely a punitive psychosocial conscience and the requisite symptoms their quasi-scientists call ”ego defenses,” neuroses and mental illnesses. And so long as the Democratic Party continues their faithful embrace of their religion of psychology and the concomitant rejection of individual autonomy and individual pride that comes with autonomy, the Democratic Party will remain a party resigned to mental illness over moral autonomy.

On the other hand, so long as Republicans refrain from descending into the social science quagmire and remain true to the big ideas of political and ethical philosophy – the perennial big ideas of the West – Republicans will, over time, continue to defeat the psychological ideologies of the Democrats. The ideas of philosophers like Plato, Locke, and Mill are timeless and pertinent. The trendy ideas of psychologists like Freud, Skinner, and neophyte Gilligan have all become laughable anachronisms in but decades or less after their arrival.

The psychological despair of the Democratic Party became palpable for me in October 1991 during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Even as a pro-choice Democrat, I agreed with soon-to-be Justice Thomas that the Democrats were using Anita Hill as the rope for their “high-tech lynching.” During those hearings the Democratic Party had become something terrifying. This was not the party of individual freedom, as I had supposed. This was the party of paternalism. The Democratic Party had become the Mental Illness Party. They had given up reasoned morality in favor of deception on behalf of mental health. Anita Hill had allowed herself to be convinced that her mental health had been harmed by her brief time working with Clarence Thomas. Her bizarre pubic-hair-on-the-Coke-can story is akin to the sort of unverifiable recovered-memory hogwash psychotherapists regularly evoke and have often used to destroy the lives of innocent men and women.

During the Clarence Thomas hearings it became clear the Democrats had replaced reasoned argument with a dangerous new attachment to the paternalism of psychotherapy. Psychotherapists easily justify both lying and coercion when they deem lying and coercion in the patient’s best interest. For the Democratic Party, Americans had become psychiatric patients. Moral intentionality had been usurped by mental illness. This was not merely a strategy for the Democrats: they bought it. To make their case during the Clarence Thomas hearings, Democrats brought a seething, mentally anguished, downright bizarre Anita Hill to testify. The Republicans brought legal scholars. At that point I became a Republican.

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About carmine

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I’m not sure that psychoanalyzing the democrats to prove that they want to psychoanalyze the rest of the world makes a great deal of sense in anything but the world of pure irony, but it was interesting nonetheless. And I guess it’s better than just dismissing them as increasingly irrelevant as one is inclined to do.

    Dave

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com mschannon

    For someone clearly as well-educated as you, your simplistic analysis of the Democrats is surprising and distressing.

    Painting with such a broad brush with only the Clarence Thomas hearings as an example (and are you proud you’re now a Republican with Thomas on the bench? The man’s a disaster)leaves little room for criticism beyond the fact the article’s a mass of hyperbole and exaggeration.

    With no sarcasm intended, you should put your intelligence and analytical skills to better use.

    In Decaf Veritas

  • zingzing

    ahh, dave… “increasingly irrelevant?” thanks, buddy… if i could say the same thing about the fucking republicans, this would be a great nation. unfortunatly, those fuckin idiots are up there fuckin up the whole fuckin world, so we can’t really very well ignore them. not that they don’t ignore everyone but themselves (and gawd).

    thing is dave, not one of us matter for shit to republicans. we are nothing. all they want out of us is a tick mark every couple of years. every now and then, they want us to fight their wars.

    and to the author, “one must resign themselves to be discontent within civilization?” do you not see that not everyone is on the same level as you are “within civilization?” that there are people with less? people with not enough to live? that’s the problem with republicans. they are greedy and they are arrogant. they see problems, but they ignore them. if it isn’t the republicans’ problem, it doesn’t really exist.

    look at every issue that comes up time and again. the real struggle isn’t ethics or morality… those things are debatable. the real struggle is the republicans pushing an agenda they do not understand on those that really do understand it. gay rights? abortion? welfare? what do you know of these things? nothing! absolute zero. you want to take away something you will never use. sure, there will always be abuse–of anything, by anybody–but…

    you know what? fuck it. you obviously have no clue why democrats think the way they do. that’s why you’re a republican. i have no idea why you think the way you do either. it boggles the mind. where do you get the right? if you want to puff yourself up (“oh, we’re so logical”–fuck off, your logic is flawed) at the expense of someone else (who you REALLY, REALLY don’t understand), then go ahead–IT’S THE REPUBLICAN WAY.

    fuckin’ assholes.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    thing is dave, not one of us matter for shit to republicans.

    Yeah, ain’t it beautiful. They just do what’s good for the economy and leave us the fuck alone – with a few regrettable exceptions. If you think you want government to ‘care’ about you then you’re hideously naive and up for a very rude awakening. When they do take notice of you it’s going to be to totally wreck your life, so enjoy the freedoms you have left while you can.

    Believe me, benign indifference is way better than well meaning paternalism.

    As for having a clue how Democrats think, I was raised among them – in fact, I’m vacationing with them right now. I’ve got a damned good idea how they think and while they may have some very laudable motives, their grip on reality leaves something to be desired.

    dave

  • zingzing

    1st paragraph–you misunderstand my point. i don’t need any taking care of. i’m okay. but there are people who do need help, more like protection, and that means protection from lots of different things, one of them being the government itself. like trying to deny rights to minority citizens. see? republicans want to do it… why? because it doesn’t matter to them. so they don’t care. and you wouldn’t know it, but the very idea of a safety net is of great comfort to someone who genuinely needs one.

    3rd paragraph–that wasn’t to you, it was to the republican psychoanalyzing democrats. signified by “to the author” in my paragraph three.

  • ASDF

    Believe me, you do NOT want the government to care about you, nor do you want them to know you exist.

    The more those people try to fix things, the more they mess them up, no matter what party they’re in.

  • DazeyMai

    Dr. Carmine: Your ostentatious vocabulary tells
    me you desire to be honored by being addressed as Dr. Good for you! I am impressed with your thumos.

    I do thank you for these priceless bits of knowledge. “For the Democrat there is no just pursuit of honor”… “…so long as Republicans remain true to…ideas of political and ethical philosophy…” I presume you mean the Bush Adminstration has been true to ideas of ethical philosophy. Ethical is not an adjective which can possibly be applied to this bunch of thugs.

    Now, really, Dr. Carmine, do you think Anita Hill was so naive that she went through that hellish mess with Judge Thomas just to be a whipping girl for the Democrats? Secretary Rice might be that devoted….but, Anita? No

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    but there are people who do need help,

    And Republicans believe in creating an environment where they will be able to help themselves.

    more like protection, and that means protection from lots of different things, one of them being the government itself. like trying to deny rights to minority citizens. see? republicans want to do it… why?

    What the hell are you talking about? No Republican wants to deny any minority group its rights. Republicans believe in equality first and foremost.

    because it doesn’t matter to them. so they don’t care. and you wouldn’t know it, but the very idea of a safety net is of great comfort to someone who genuinely needs one.

    When the ‘safety net’ is used primarily as a means to establish equality by dragging those who strive to succeed down to the level of the lowest common denominator then it’s doing no one any good.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Dazey, the certainty with which you diagnose Hill and Rice really fortifies the author’s point.

    Dave, this article doesn’t so much analyse the party’s psyche as its philosophy.

    James, it sounds like you’re writing a book. If you aren’t, you should think about it. Also, if you can figure out a way to reduce this article to a bumper sticker, I’d order one. Great job.

  • Bliffle

    “On the other hand, so long as Republicans refrain from descending into the social science quagmire and remain true to the big ideas of political and ethical philosophy – the perennial big ideas of the West – Republicans will, over time, continue to defeat the psychological ideologies of the Democrats.”

    Ha ha ha ha! Do you REALLY think this is what the Cheneys, Bushes, Rumsfelds and other usurpers of the republican party are doing?

    These modern impostors are even more devoted to psychosis than the dems, obsessed as they are with Terry Schiavo , homosexuals, etc.

  • Arch Conservative

    Well whatever they’re doing they keep beating the Dems Bliffle.

  • Justin Berry

    As any fool can plainly see the strength of the GOP as well as my vote comes with NRA membership. The Dems will just never learn.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    the Original Poster sez..
    *Republicans sin, plenty. Democrats never do.*

    an dwith this blanket statement shows the falsity of each and every one of his baseline Postulates..

    making the entire content of this drivel niothing more than circuolar logic inspired sophistry and solipsism…

    NOTHING in it is anythuing but unsubstantiated opinion…a complete, and well written non-sequitor

    try using your “powers” for good..as in solving problems…rather than evil…attacking a sub-group of your Nation for the mere hubris involved in political one upsmanship

    but i will say, Goebbels would be proud of you screed

    Excelsior?

  • Clavos

    zing 5:

    there are people who do need help, more like protection, and that means protection from lots of different things, one of them being the government itself.

    Interesting…You want the government to protect the people from the government??

  • http://stoppseudoscience.blogspot.com carmine

    I don’t remember where I read this first, but from first hand experience I know it is true:
    “The most dangerous words in the English Language are: ‘This is the Government we are here to help you.'”

  • Clavos

    carmine,

    I first heard that as one of the three biggest lies, the other two being:

    “Your check is in the mail”

    and

    “I’ll still respect you in the morning.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    yeah, just ask the folks in New Orleans, or Baghdad, or Kabul…

    you do realize you are advocating for the single Party that has controlled our government for years, went from surplus to deficit, expanded the government to it’s largest size and is spending our Blood and Treasure on neocon Ideals that have so far, failed miserably in it’s stated intent?

    BTW…where’s Osama?

    and who is the group with the “mental illness”?

    those who see problems and want them addressed, or those who refuse to acknowledge the problems and want to “stay the course”?

    just a Thought from an Independant

    so rather than toss out the AM radio bullshit like #15, why not try and honestly look at and address the Issues raised…including what type of mentality can seriously paint a good portion of the american public as having a “mental illness” rather than examine the legitimate differences in viewpoint and approach?

    too much like real work, i guess

    Excelsior?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Well there Dr. Carmine, you sure got the BC crowd fired up here…personally, I couldn’t get through the whole thing…but sometimes, I’m just like that. It’s a little wordy for me.

    I think the whole fucking planet is crazy in one way or another and a lot of it ain’t treatable!

    Have a nice day…and a great Independance Day…fly a flag or something…or is that to patriotic?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    me..i’m wrapping a psychiatrist in a flag and firing it up to light the charcoals on my b-b-q to celebrate a gay marriage

    that’s normal…right?

    Excelsior?

  • Bliffle

    One can only laugh at the notion that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc., are motivated by the writings of Plato, et al, and spend their leisure time discussing such things. Apparently, what they do is contrive plans for accumulating more power and therefrom bestowing big financial rewards on the sycophants who surround and flatter them. But those are just personal character flaws. That they are republicans is not partly incidental, an accident of birth and experience. But how many people arrive at their political position by carefully considering and contemplating the literature?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Bliffle, if they actually read Plato they might come to understand that by his terms they are inherently disqualified from being leaders just because they want to job in the first place.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    #21 sez…
    *if they actually read Plato they might come to understand that by his terms they are inherently disqualified from being leaders just because they want to job in the first place.*

    Quoted for Truth

    Excelsior?

  • DazeyMai

    Baronius…Which of Dr. Carmine’s points do I fortify with my “diagnosis” of Rice and Hill? Actually, I’m not sure there was A point. But, this I know….Ms. Rice is Bush’s most loyal sycophant.

  • Baronius

    Odd…I thought that Bush was an idiot who was controlled by Rice and the neocons. I guess Condi is both puppet and master.

    I don’t think it’s necessary or especially beneficial for me to list the article’s points. I mean, the article’s right there. But certainly James argues that the Democrats are using a paradigm of psychology, not philosophy. You responded by analysing Hill and Rice in psycholocigal terms, not philosophical.

    It’s not surprising that Hill is the better person in your analysis. But you don’t support the assertion. And, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. It shows a contentedness to play a two-dimensional game of conditioned responses rather than entering the 3-D world of ideas.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    horrible Images in my skull of Condi in full on leather dominatrix gear, with W and Cheney tied up in the gimp suits begging to be paddled with hot waffle irons in exchange for them ordering an invasion anywhere the Mistress wants…

    oh yeah…THAT one is gonna be with me fer a while…

    thanks folks…blargh!

    Excelsior?

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com/ Ray Ellis

    Talk about leaps of logic in a single bound!–How can you dismiss psychology in one fell swoop and turn around and say the Democratic party is mentally ill? To quote endless Warner Brothers cartoons, “It just don’t add up!”

  • http://stoppseudoscience.blogspot.com carmine

    Ray,
    1. Psychotherapy is generally an amoral pseudoscientific determinist cult of victimology.
    2. The Democratic party beleieves in the cult of victimology, and makes this perverse cult the foundation of far too much of their policy.

    Why else would NOW be such a committed funder of Dem candidates? They both worship at the same alter.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com/ Ray Ellis

    I sort of expected someone to mention psychotherapy, which is a completely different discipline from pshychology. As far as it being “amoral,” and how that relates to “victimology,”,and how any of that relates to “perversion,” and how that somehow logically correlates to NOW contributing to Dems, I think someone need to step away from their lexicon and use words that make sense together.

  • sr

    Bunch of racist bastards. It’s not Condi. Dr Rice will do. Dam liberal KKK types.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    carmine sez…
    *The Democratic party beleieves in the cult of victimology, and makes this perverse cult the foundation of far too much of their policy.*

    and here you leave the realm of objective Truth and Logic…

    i defy you to show your Proof..or even evidentiary data that can be correllated by some objective means rather than bullshit ad hominem statements

    you show not only the dearth of honesty in your asessments, but blind prejudice against non-existant sterotypes

    thus falling into the category of

    /ignore

    Excelsior?

  • http://stoppseudoscience.blogspot.com carmine

    Hi Gonzo,
    Check out these two web sites: The first is the who’s who of NOW. The second is an open letter to the Dems.

    nowfoundation.org

    jillnicholson.com

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com/ Ray Ellis

    I’m still trying to get the connection between the National Organization for Women, the Democratic party and mental illness. Are they actually handing out PhD’s for misogyny these days?

  • sr

    Carmine#27. You just fell into senor gonzo marx’s category of ignore. How do I know this. Webster’s definition of ignor is to comment. Just cant ignor this so I must comment on ignor.

    As for proof concerning victimology just keep viewing the drive by networks. CNN, ABC, NBC, BLT, LSD AND BBC. And no objective truth and logic. Duh. Speaking of blind prejudice. Since Im deft I had to type this comment on my braille keyboard. Please ignor me.

  • http://stoppseudoscience.blogspot.com carmine

    Oh one more this is a real doozey, and there are scads more:

    Oh, and Ray, regarding psyche, psychology, and psychotherapy: philosophers have been discussing the workings of the psyche with respect to moral reasoning and behavior from way before Socrates. On the other hand, the so-called (self appointed) “psychologists,” well they are quasi-science upstarts to put it mildly. Hume is great, Wundt? yeesh. And the baby steps from the paltry almost-science of Wundt to the grand self-convinced gobbledy gook of the behaviorists, the functionalists and the psychoanalysts, are stunningly few. Praise be to the Democrat’s 50-minute hour!

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com/ Ray Ellis

    Carmine– you’re still skirting the issue and dodging simple questions. I would also add that pseudo-intellectuals who cloak themselves in meaningless phrases and cliches are at the very least deluding themselves. See, the key to communication is to present your argument in a concise and clear fashion. You have done neither.

  • sr

    Carmine#35. Thank you for making my evening. Please share some Capt Morgan Rum with me. sr.

  • DazeyMai

    Baronius….we agree on one thing for sure…”Bush is an idiot”. However, he is controlled by Rove and Cheney. Ms. Rice does whatever will make Bushy happy.

    I understand your not listing the points of Dr. Carmine’s massive missive. There are no points! It’s a mishmash of inane pratter and senseless chatter by a pseudo-intellect with a vocabulary which amazes even him. As far as I can tell, Dr. Carmine is accusing the Democrats of doing exactly what he attempts to do in this jibberish. Are you claiming to understand what he is trying to say?

    Having watched and heard many psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. testify in Court, I am convinced Dr. Carmine is just another “crazy”.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com/ Ray Ellis

    Bravo! Dazey Mai, you have just demonstrated the power of intellect over titles. All othe things being equal, reason wins over BS every time.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    carmine sez…
    *The Democratic party beleieves in the cult of victimology, and makes this perverse cult the foundation of far too much of their policy.*

    and here you leave the realm of objective Truth and Logic…

    i defy you to show your Proof..or even evidentiary data that can be correllated by some objective means rather than bullshit ad hominem statements

    I don’t know what his basis for this may be, but I know the Dems take a hell of a lot of money from the trial lawyers and oppose any kind of tort reform. Plus the entire idea of a welfare state is based on the idea that people are victims of circumstance rather than in control of their own decisions and their own fate.

    Maybe what he means is that democrats don’t put a lot of stock in personal responsibility.

    But even as stated the comment sure makes a lot of sense based on clear evidence of democrat policy and behavior.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    “… but I know the Dems take a hell of a lot of money from the trial lawyers and oppose any kind of tort reform.”

    This common animus against Trial Lawyers is wrong, IMO, as is the support for “tort reform”, which is nothing more than depriving individuals of the right to sue for remedy for wrongs committed against them. Both ideas strengthen the hand of large organizations against individual Americans, and that’s unjustified, IMO, since big orgs already possess so many weapons against the people they treat badly. I honestly don’t see how any “Conservative” could support either position, as they favor the mob against the individual.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    well Bliffle..i am partway with you there..

    i do strongly agree that trial lawyers do stand as the average citizens last resort in resolving many Issues…and that the repeated calls for “tort reform” come from corporate interests in order to satisfy their actuarial tables in order to reduce any financial risk for their own fuck ups

    remember kiddies, one of the major reasons for incorporation is to shield the managers from responsibility for their actions

    case in point, one facet of tort reform passed by this Administration and congress sets a limit of $250,000 for a lost limb….that’s right…we’re not talking abotu frivolous bullshit here, but something that was drastically wrong or negligent that cost someone an arm….that gets capped at 250k….

    on the other hand, there ARE tons of bullshit and frivolous lawsuits that are filed every day which clog up the System and cause many other problems

    where’s the point of balance? good Question..and worthy of debate…

    but again, note the broad brush stereotype intended to cause irrational emotional reaction and Fear while scapegoating a faceless “them”

    this has been a horrendous but strangely effective tactic honed to a fine point by the AM radio shout shows and utilized by Rovian style strategists…

    yes, i know the tactic is older than that, and it has been used on both sides…i merely make the Observation that it has become standard policy for one faction of partisans and effectively stifles any kind of resonable communication and progress towards actual soloutions

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Bliffle, what you think of as strengthening big corporations against small people suing for their rights, some of us think of as protecting little people agaisnt being sued into bankruptcy over situations they have little control over. The benefits for corporations – and they’re very limited when genuine harm is done – are outweighed by the need to keep small businesses and private property owners from being destroyed by frivolous lawsuits. Tort reform is designed to protect people who genuinely need it. Another example of the aberrant culture of the Democrats is that they can’t understand the fact that everyone who owns a business or owns property is NOT part of the ‘oppressor class’. The truth is that small businesses are the bulk of our economy these days and they’re very vulnerable.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    #42 sez…
    *Tort reform is designed to protect people who genuinely need it. *

    again..i would like to follow this line further, because i just don’t agree

    this is like trying to claim that this GOP congress’ bankruptcy reform was designed to protect the average person, rather than ensure that predatory credit companies are guaranteed to get their money back

    the facts have turned out that the majority of those bankruptcy claims were due to an average of $10,000 of medical bills which pushed average families over the edge financially

    the proposed “tort reform” that the GOP keeps tossing out there are designed to weigh very heavily in favor of larger corps and i have yet to see provisions that would be of much help to the average property owner or a mom and pop small business

    what is needed is some thing that wil put an end to the “hot coffee in the lap million dollar award” kind of lawsuit…yet not stop, hinder or stifle the average citizen from getting legal redress against grievious harm done from things like botched surgery, malpractice…the whole firestone tire bit…difficult class action suits that show enough merit to be heard in court…

    and so on

    instead, the legislation being proposed over and over again, places more and more roadblocks against the average citizen being able to get redress, and seeks to limit the awards by juries for “pain and suffering”

    there ARE good points on BOTH sides of the argument here, and it DOES need to be addressed rationally…but this Issue is not as clear cut as some would make it appear

    i also fail to comprehend how something like this Issue is a purely partisan thing, or how it equates to “mental illness”

    but it just goes along with what is becoming quite clear as the overall strategy of the GOP and their noise machine for this election cycle

    may JuJu guide our Citizens to Wisdom enough to see through the bullshit, and restore checks and balances to our government

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The point being – since I forgot to mention it – that tort reform is ultimately aimed at protecting the common people from malicious abuse of the law, which is a very conservative value. In fact, even lawsuits against corporations and other deep pockets like doctors hurt the common people, because they are what part of what makes our medical costs and insurance costs so damned high.

    And just for the record I don’t believe in tort reform myself, I just understand the motivation behind it. Regardless of the good and laudable reasons for it the policy remains an unfair restraint of trade. There ought to be a better, more equitable way to handle it, like severe penalties against lawyers for filing frivolous suits.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    comment #44 sez…
    *There ought to be a better, more equitable way to handle it, like severe penalties against lawyers for filing frivolous suits.*

    Quoted for Truth

    a MUCH better answer…let those lawyers who bring lawsuits deemed frivolous pay for the court costs and the defendants lawyers fees…that woudl provide enough of a negative feedback loop to end much of the egregious problems right there

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Re. #43. I bought the tort reform thing up because you called for examples of the democrats support for a victim mentality. It’s just one example of an overall pattern of the democrats supporting policies which offer voters ‘pie in the sky’ in the form of some sort of big pay off which never really comes for most of them, be it a lawsuit or a lottery win or some sort of support check from the government. I might argue that it’s not so much a victim mentality as it is a mentality of powerlessness and dependence which they encourage. They want people to not look to themselves and hard work for solutions to their problems, but to play along and look for an external source of salvation. It’s rather like a religion in that respect and sometimes it’s hard to tell religion from mental illness.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    and this is comparable to the desire to repeal the Estate tax..which effects about 5% (slighly less) of the population..under the “pie in the sky” notion that Joe the mechanic may eventually have a 50 million dollar estate and not want to pay taxes on it

    can we at least agree that BOTH partisan gangs do the same shit?

    that everything bad that a Dem nutjob says in broad brush stereotype against the GOP is just as insane as what a GOP nutjob says in the same bullshit broad brush about the Dems?

    from outside the partisan haze…there is not much difference….when you step into the voting booth, you are usually given the unpleasant choice between two steaming piles of shit…the “choice” is only between the stench

    which is why i almost always just vote against, and strive to ensure that at least ONE branch of government is held by the opposition Party

    i think historical analysis will bear out that when such occurs, the best things happen for our Nation…since the crooks on both sides have to be more careful, and they watch each other like hawks…thus keeping the most egregious violations under control

    and they actually, under those circumstances, on rare occasion get soem good things done via compromise and dialogue…not for wanting to, but so they can keep their snouts in the public trough

    otherwise, when you have single Party totalitarian Rule, you get shit like the Marriage Amendment and the Flag burning Amendment taking up our governments time …rather than actually dealing with the many problems that urgently require attention

    just a slight example for you…

    can you honestly say that if the House was in one party’s control, and the Senate in another…we would have wasted the last two weeks on bullshit…rather than dealing with the Fact that the Homeland Security budgets for New York City and Washington DC have been astonishingly slashed by approximately 40%…while places like Omaha and other non-targets got huge increases?

    can you honestly tell me that such manipulation of funds was not callous pork earmarking rather than sane use of funds that are SUPPOSED TO BE USED TO DEFEND OUR NATION!!!

    where is the fucking OUTRAGE about this bit that has been distracted away from and swept under the rug?

    can you honestly tell me that those who wrote and defended this bit of moronic bullshit aren’t the ones that could arguably be justified as “mentally ill”?

    i’m curious

    Excelsior!

  • Clavos

    gonco…

    what is needed is some thing that wil put an end to the “hot coffee in the lap million dollar award” kind of lawsuit…yet not stop, hinder or stifle the average citizen from getting legal redress against grievious harm done from things like botched surgery, malpractice…the whole firestone tire bit…difficult class action suits that show enough merit to be heard in court…

    In your own words: “quoted for Truth”

    In addition to the above, the whole mechanism for paying the lawyers needs to be reformed as well–too often the lawyers are the only winners in litigation, particularly in the case of class action suits.

    As you and Dave both comment, much of what’s wrong with the tort system is the lawyers themselves and their practices.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    agreed Clavos…

    now if folks from wide philosophical spectrums such as yourself, Nalle and me can so easily understand and reach this kind of agreement on what the problem is…and even toss out a few ideas for correcting the problem…

    why can’t our elected officials?

    as usual, follow the money, and remember the vast majority of those elected officials are…lawyers

    Excelsior?

  • Clavos

    Again…

    as usual, follow the money, and remember the vast majority of those elected officials are…lawyers

    Repeated for emphasis…

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dr. Carmine,

    I’ll not argue with the main thrust of anything you say here. I’m no longer a member of the Democratic Party. I could care less if the whole party apparatus checks itself into Belleview or Bedlam.

    But the “Anakim that chased Moses into the desert?” In the book of Genesis yet? Stick to politics and leave the Biblical analogies out of this.

  • http://stoppseudoscience.blogspot.com carmine

    Ruvy,
    Sorry about the Biblical reference. It was actually a reference to Fukuyama who describes the Promised Land as that denied the last man, those too fearful and deadened by the status quo to imagine that liberal democracies may in fact be the future of our world. There is no promised land for those fearful of the exagerated monsters, “giants,” (Anakim) described by the “experts.” In our case the psychobabblers have become the “12 [cowardly] scouts” of Moses.
    Jim

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Well Jim,

    At least you’re trying. Of the 12 spies sent by Moses, only 10 were cowards lacking faith. The other two said that the cities were fortified but could be conquered, etc. One of them was named Joshua and led the Children of Israel into Canaan. I wish these guys who write w3hat you are referring to would consult a rabbi before spouting off…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    Ruvy..you do realize he is quoting Fukuyama…once a neocon who has since renounced the philosophy

    still, Fukuyama’s reasoning and analysis are questionable at best on many topics

    just sharing

    Excelsior?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Thanks Gonzo,

    As I said in comment #51, I have no problem at all with the substance of what these gentlemen (Fukuyama, for example) say. I have no problem with Jim’s article, either. I have no arguments at all. But I just wish the writers he quotes wouldn’t weaken their arguments with faulty Bible quotes. I mean, if I came out with a concept in politics and used “e=MC³” as one of my illustrative analogies…

  • sr

    Carmine, Just love people with great intellective powers. (For sure being a simple man I have none) However I did graduate from 5th grade. I remenber Li’l Abner and DazeyMai along with DazeyMai Moses, Granny Clampett. Now I dont know if this DazeyMai is attemping some kind of a wannabe sudo-intellectual type but compaired to Carmine he or she may have graduated with me in 5th grade. Just my own observation. Feel free to comment ya all. I promise an ignoramis response.

  • DazeyMai

    Yes, sr, you are indeed a simple man!

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Time to kill all the unbprn gay republican congressional evildoers!

  • sr

    Thanks Miss DazeyMai. Yes Im a simple man. I do my best to practice the KISS Formula. Have a good 4th and my best to Jeb Clampett, Granny and Jethro. PS. How are things in Beverly Hills. sr

  • DazeyMai

    sr….Granny, Jeb, Jethro and I are throwing a BIG whingding at our Beverly Hills mansion tomorrow. The grounds have never been lovlier, and we are having our very own private fireworks display. Jeb and Jethro are busy barbecuing tons of beef and pork underground, and it will be delicious. Now for the important part….You are invited!!! And bring as many guests as you want….no need to bring swimsuits – we will furnish them. Please try to be there. RSVP
    Dazey Mai

    P.S. Seriously, sr ~~Happy 4th to you!
    GOD BLESS AMERICA!

  • carmine

    Ruvy,
    I alone am responsible for the extension of the 12 scout metaphor. Fukuyama merely mentions the Promised Land. So the biblical error is all mine. I did not know, and certainly should have, that one of the 12 was Joshua. Clearly a big error in the metaphor. Though I think the 10 without faith still more or less makes the point. I will be more careful in the future, and genuinely appreciate your comment.
    Jim

  • methuselah

    “…what is needed is some thing that wil put an end to the “hot coffee in the lap million dollar award” kind of lawsuit…”

    A poor example to choose, since none of our common perceptions of the actual case are true: the award was not millions, the woman had 3rd degree burns and blisters, McD insisted on heating their coffee to 170 instead of the normal 140, McD refused to pay any of her medical fees, etc. You could look it up.

    Any study I’ve seen shows that the cost of lawsuits has a negligible effect on costs, whether medical or products. Trial Lawyers and PI lawsuits don’t cause high prices.

  • sr

    Dammit Miss Dazey you made me laugh. HAPPY 4TH TO YOU ALSO. sr

  • Clavos

    A poor example to choose, since none of our common perceptions of the actual case are true: the award was not millions, the woman had 3rd degree burns and blisters, McD insisted on heating their coffee to 170 instead of the normal 140, McD refused to pay any of her medical fees, etc. You could look it up.

    None of that excuses her sheer unmitigated stupidity in putting the coffee in her lap, nor does it indicate any responsibility for HER act on McDonald’s part, so why should they pay her medical fees?

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    I know I’m going to regret this; but what the hell does McD coffee have to do with this subject?

  • sr

    McD coffee comes from Brasil and the nuts are roasted. Hell Jet, what do I know.

  • DazeyMai

    sr….I forgot to tell you I just love old curmudgeons. Dazey

  • sr

    Miss Dazey, I have two curmudgeon trees in my back yard. Dont care for the fruit they produce so I give it to the poor. Will chop them down next week. sr

  • DazeyMai

    sr, please don’t cut those curmudgeon trees down until after you try preparing them my way. Simply sprinkle a little sugar on them, heat them for about 20 minutes and they will melt in your mouth.

  • sr

    Sounds good to me Miss Dazey. Just maybe I might spend some time in my office reading the paper the following AM. THANKS AND GOODNIGHT. sr

  • Mohjho

    Has anyone here actually read Plato? lol
    Plato’s ideal political state includes eugenics, slavery, totalitarian control over all aspects of its citizens, as well as strict control of class, art, and child rearing, all on pain of death.
    Hail Plato.
    Plato says that the philosopher should rule. Plato was a philosopher, go figure.

  • carmine

    Mohjho,
    I have, and obiously you only read about Plato in a survey class, if at all … beyond wikepedia that is. Unless you are one of my closest po-mo friends, in which case … you CAD. The argument is really pretty simple, relativism is destructive and the good is actually good, oh and Thrasymachus the sophist(lawyer)relativist is an idiot. Let’s get back to coffee at Mc’s. That was actually on point, since lawyers/sophists are by definition the antithesis of seekers of the Good.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    and this is comparable to the desire to repeal the Estate tax..which effects about 5% (slighly less) of the population..under the “pie in the sky” notion that Joe the mechanic may eventually have a 50 million dollar estate and not want to pay taxes on it

    Not exactly. And that 5% of the nation starts at yearly earnings enormously lower than $50 mil. We’re talking about people earning $150K a year or less in many cases. The estate tax has nothing to do with income and has to do with assets. There are people who have valuable assets like small businesses and real estate who can be screwed to the wall by the estate tax. For example, if I were to die and pass my business to my kids they might have to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes before they could receive the assets of that business which are necessary to keep it functioning. If I didn’t also leave them a cash inhereitance sufficient to cover those expenses then bye-bye family business. And we’re talking something as small as a print shop or a restaurant here.

    can we at least agree that BOTH partisan gangs do the same shit?

    Often true, but your estate tax example sucks wind.

    can you honestly say that if the House was in one party’s control, and the Senate in another…we would have wasted the last two weeks on bullshit…

    Oh, absolutely. There just would have been more argument and the bullshit would not have come as close to passing. Check the votes. Both parties were supporting the flag burning bullshit in pretty equal numbers.

    rather than dealing with the Fact that the Homeland Security budgets for New York City and Washington DC have been astonishingly slashed by approximately 40%…while places like Omaha and other non-targets got huge increases?

    Again, terrible example. That reassignment of funds was enthusiastically supported by both parties. It’s a non partisan issue, it’s pure porkbarelling.

    can you honestly tell me that such manipulation of funds was not callous pork earmarking rather than sane use of funds that are SUPPOSED TO BE USED TO DEFEND OUR NATION!!!

    I can’t argue with you about what it is, but I firmly dispute your argument that splitting the houses would make any difference. You want to end shit like that, pass the line item veto.

    can you honestly tell me that those who wrote and defended this bit of moronic bullshit aren’t the ones that could arguably be justified as “mentally ill”?

    No question, but again it’s a bipartisan illness.

    Dave

  • carmine

    Hey Folks,
    1.AMEN to “line item veto!”

    2. The point here is to satirize those who make mental illness into more than it is. At the moment that is Dem land and their gender feminist (National Organization of Whiney White Women) baby boomer cronies. Charges about who is more mentally ill Dems or Repubs completely misses the point. The CULT of mental illness IS the problem, and demonstrating your membership in that cult is not the solution. “Thumos” trumps “It’s my seretonin’s and my Mommy’s fault.”

    Independent Feminism, as in young post-Baby Boomer Intellectual Women and Men, has replaced NOW’s mental illness vision of politics. But cranky old hormone replacing NOW –the professional victim crowd– doesn’t see that yet, and they have cleaved to the Democratic Party’s anti-abortion, anti-man planks. But if you talk to young intellectual women, 18-25, particularly black young women and ask them what they think of feminism, the way my generation blabs about it, they reject it. I know it is nice to be a pc racist by attacking Condi and Colin under the banner of the Democratic Party. But Black intellectuals (not pop culture screw balls) are turning seriously to the RIGHT. They recognize liberal racists psycho-babblers for exactly who they are. Vote or die, uh well it died.

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Isn’t it interesting how when Clinton wanted the Line-item they said it was a terrible idea, but now that Bush wants it it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?

    How hypocritical do you have to be Carmine?

  • Bliffle

    “For example, if I were to die and pass my business to my kids they might have to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes before they could receive the assets of that business which are necessary to keep it functioning.”

    If your estate is more than the multi-million $ exclusion you should setup a cash account to cover the (small) taxes.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    and the lnie item veto is a horrible idea that removes the power of the purse from where the constitution says it should be and places it in the hands of the executive…so that (under the worst of circumstances, if said POTUS is no even handed saint) he can then line out anything thast does not help his political agenda or his friends/party’s pork and squash anythign the opposition has managed to get in

    example: back to the homeland security funding…note the increase in red state money and the decrease in blue state money…it is almost perfectly matched…

    strange, it’s almost as blatant as last years base closing and consolidation bill that Rummy put forward

    there is a reason the Pres oesn’t get to handle the money in the macro sense…keep it that way

    as for earlier comments…i still state that a divided house and senate are much preferable and much more “honest” in their dealings ..if for no other reason than they know their opponents are itching for them to screw up

    which is how the system was designed

    Excelsior?

  • Clavos

    i still state that a divided house and senate are much preferable and much more “honest” in their dealings ..if for no other reason than they know their opponents are itching for them to screw up

    YEP.

  • Bliffle

    “None of that excuses her sheer unmitigated stupidity in putting the coffee in her lap, nor does it indicate any responsibility for HER act on McDonald’s part, so why should they pay her medical fees?”

    Clearly you know nothing about the case, so for your elucidation here is a synopsis:

    Stella Liebeck, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was a passenger in a car when she was severely burned by McDonald’s coffee in February 1992. Liebeck, 79 at the time, ordered coffee that was served in a styrofoam cup at the drive through window of a McDonald’s. After receiving the order, the driver pulled his car forward and stopped so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. Critics of civil justice, often imply that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee, however, NEITHER IS TRUE. THE CAR WAS STOPPED when Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As she removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap. This could have happened to any McDonald’s customer who picked up at the drive in window and parked on the side.

    The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting. McDonalds refused to pay the 79-year-old woman’s initial medical expenses totaling $11,000. McDonalds actually countered with an offer of $800. And they also refused to turn down the heat on their coffee. Left with $20,000 unpaid bills, Stella Liebeck, a Republican who had never filed a law suit in her life, finally hired a lawyer. Liebeck sought to settle her claim for only $20,000, but McDonald’s refused. A mediator later recommended the parties settle for $225,000. Again, McDonald’s refused and the case went to trial.

    McDonald’s representatives lied to the court and jury about the existence of other claims, but documents showing that they knew of more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992 were admitted in to evidence. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonald’s knowledge about the extent and nature of the intentionally created hazard. McDonald’s even ignored a request from the Shriner’s Burn Institute in Cincinnati to turn down the temperature of its coffee. McDonald’s also said that based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

    Incredibly, McDonald’s quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforced a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonald’s coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonald’s had no intention of reducing the “holding temperature” of its coffee. McDonald’s also claimed that customers buy coffee on their way to work or home, intending to consume it there, however, the company’s own research showed that customers intend to consume the coffee immediately while driving. McDonald’s also argued that consumers known coffee is hot and that its customers want it that way. The company admitted its customers were unaware that they could suffer third degree burns from the coffee and that a statement on the side of the cup was not a “warning” but a “reminder” since the location of the writing would not warn customers of the hazard.

    Plaintiff’s expert, a scholar in thermodynamics applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids, at 180 degrees, will cause a full thickness (third-degree burns) burn to human skin in two to seven seconds. Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck’s spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.

    The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. The jury reduced this amount to $160,000 because they found Liebeck 20 percent at fault for spilling the coffee (not because she was driving a car). The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonald’s coffee sales. The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000, even though the judge called McDonald’s conduct reckless, callous and willful. No one will ever know the final ending to this case. The parties eventually entered into a secret settlement which has never been revealed to the public, despite the fact that this was a public case, litigated in public and subjected to extensive media reporting. Such secret settlements, after public trials, should not be permitted.

    After the trial and verdict, it was found that the temperature of coffee at the local Albuquerque McDonald’s had dropped to a relatively safe 158 degrees Fahrenheit. This proves that law suits are the only effective mechanism which force companies to produce safe products. Additionally, the real story shows that the court system works. The jury reduced the verdict for the percentage of negligence attributable to the plaintiff. The jury felt that McDonald’s actions were so disgusting and heinous that they awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages to punish McDonald’s in an effort to stop this kind of callousness. The judge felt that this was too much and reduced McDonald’s punishment to only $480,000. Reductions of jury awards is a very little know fact. Judges have the power to reduce a jury award and they do, frequently. Judges reduce awards whenever they feel the jury awarded too much, however, the media never, never reports the reduced awards. They only report the original verdict because, after all, $480,000 punitive award to McDonald’s burn victim doesn’t sell as well as $2.7 million punitive award to McDonald’s burn victim!

  • Clavos

    Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup.

    I repeat: sheer, umitigated stupidity on her part, and not McD’s responsibility.

    That the jury found in her favor only demonstrates how little individual Americans (including the members of that jury) are willing to accept responsibilty for their own actions.

    Which was my point, and which has nothing to do with what I do or don’t know about the details of the case.

    But thanks for the “elucidation.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    now, if i might interject here a Moment since it was my example in the first place…

    the Court found , quite correctly, that McD’s was wrong for having it’s coffee at too high a temperature….that’s not my problem, that was a Decision based on legal precedents

    my difficulty, and the Reason i used it , was twofold…
    1)everybody knows about this case…the GOP types use it to hammer their attacks regularily
    2)it was the Award which appears to have been quite out of proportion to the Circumstances

    it is point #2 and the ramifications which get us into the sticky territory that needs to be discussed and Debated to find a satisfactory soloution to the concerns surrounding tort Reform…

    where is the line drawn between the defendant’s own Responsibility and that of the Complaintant?

    we have legal guidelines for that, and they appear to work decently enough

    so it comes down to what the proponents of “reform” want…limits on damage awards from Juries

    now, someone mentioned earlier that a large part of the problem, as seen by some, concerns Lawyers fees…it should be noted that in the case of most pressing the lawsuits, they get paid nothing until and unless they win the suit…this makes the Problem much more complex, the custom is 30-40% of the Award total…

    could something be worked out so that there is the Award and a seperate payment for the Lawyers?

    the possible problem with that woudl not be from the corporate lawyers who are defending (and pushing for said “reform”), but form those who file such suits, and win only a percentage from which they get paid…

    dare i offer the possibility of a “public defender” style Office to handle such cases, thus removing much of the concerns around “frivolous: suits? i see both upsides, and readily apparent downsides to this…but it would probably be counter-productive in the free market sense as well as limit Choice for those who have been harmed…

    don’t know any easy Answers here folks…but i DO know that the vast Majority of the real problems in this Issue are not even being mentioned, much less taken into Consideration in the arena of political debate

    Excelsior?

  • Bliffle

    “That the jury found in her favor only demonstrates how little individual Americans (including the members of that jury) are willing to accept responsibilty for their own actions.”

    It also demonstrates how little corporations are willing to accept responsibility for their own actions.

    The jury decided the fault was NOT all on one side and reduced the damages 20% for the womans part.

    If McD had accepted responsibility for their own action leading to this womans severe burns, there would have been no story.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Placing coffee in your lap would not be so risky if it were coffee from home, or from any of the other establishments that hold coffee at temperatures similar to homemade coffee. Only with McDonald’s coffee would you be taking a risk of such severe injury by placing the cup in your lap so you could add sugar and cream.

    Accusing the injured person of “unmitigated stupidity” reveals an extreme bias on the part of people like Clavos. They look only for the details that seem to support their prejudices, and stop reading as soon as they find one.

    Any unbiased reading of the case leads to the inevitable conclusion that McDonald’s was substantially in the wrong by choosing to hold its coffee at dangerously high temperatures, far above what any reasonable person would expect to encounter in a cup of liquid supposedly meant to be consumed by humans.

  • Clavos

    Bliffle,

    A woman I know is a paraplegic, and has no feeling from the waist down. A few weeks ago, she fell asleep on top of a heating pad and, as a result, suffered third degree burns on her buttocks.

    Would you say the heating pad manufacturer has a responsibility in that case?

  • Clavos

    Accusing the injured person of “unmitigated stupidity” reveals an extreme bias on the part of people like Clavos.

    You’re absolutely right, Victor. My bias is that I think it very stupid to open a wobbly styrofoam cup of any hot liquid from any place while holding it between your knees.

    Do you know other “people like Clavos?” I’d like to meet them.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Yet you fail to address the pertinent facts of the case. The extreme difference between the temperature McDonald’s deliberately maintained in its coffee, and the temperature found in coffee from nearly every other source, you simply ignore.

    And that makes your argument weak.

    I can see why you’d like to meet other persons more similar to yourself. They’re probably much easier to debate.

  • Clavos

    Yet you fail to address the pertinent facts of the case.

    I do, for the simple reason that the temperature of the coffee is irrelevant to my point–it’s a stupid move, even with cold grape juice, because the potential for spillage is almost certain.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    You don’t have a point, Clavos. That’s your problem. You think you have a point when you really don’t.

    Spillage is certain whenever containers of liquids are in moving vehicles. Some percentage of the containers will spill. McDonald’s knew they were placing their customers at an unreasonable risk of injury by insisting on a dangerously high holding temperature for their coffee.

    The fact that one person placed a container between her knees is irrelevant to McDonald’s reckless endangerment of their customers’ safety by keeping their coffee so hot it was not safe to have in close proximity to passengers.

    When you blame the victim in this specific case, you are merely grasping at straws in your desperate but doomed attempt to absolve McDonald’s of their responsibility.

  • Clavos

    Well, thanks for setting me straight, Victor.

  • Lumpy

    So victor. I spilled a coke and it made a sticky mess of my floormats. I bought it at mcdonalds. They should have known it could spill wheb I balanced it on the dashboard. where do I go for my free detailing and new mats?

  • Lumpy

    Oh wait. Try this one. I like to kill children at the park but i’m trying to quit. The problem is that parents kee%sending their kids to the park. Can I sue the parents for causing me emotional distress by putting me in a situation where I have to kill yet again? After all I certainly can’t be responsible for my actions.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Let me know if you ever think of a good one, Lumpy.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    His wit is like a hammer, but methinks Lumpy does have a point there.

    Dave

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    I’m very disappointed in you, Dave. Lumpy doesn’t have any points at all.

    Where McDonald’s went wrong was in selling a product significantly more likely to cause severe injuries than any other product of the same type. They had multiple chances to make their coffee less dangerous to humans, and they refused repeatedly. They deserved a large penalty for this callous disregard for their customers’ safety.

    Nobody has addressed this point, not Clavos, not Lumpy, and not you.

    To make Lumpy’s first example remotely comparable to the real case under discussion, it would have to involve McDonald’s selling Coke laced with something like a highly corrosive acid, never found in the Coke sold by any other company. Then McDonald’s might be liable for damage from that spilled Coke. Otherwise the stickiness is just what any reasonable person would expect from a spilled cup of sugar water.

    Lumpy’s second example is beneath contempt.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Victor, I don’t have a point myself. I think the coffee case is an example of the system working. The initial jury award was excessive, the judge cut it down. That was just right. The blame was apportioned and that makes sense too. I might have split it a little more in favor of McD’s, but it was close enough.

    But you have to go beyond the fact that this case is a bad example. Putting it aside, the overall point that Lumpy and others are making is valid. There really is a trend going on for people to blame others for their errors and look for someone to give them a fat payoff. A poorly chosen example is a distraction, but doesn’t negate the valid basic point.

    Dave

  • Mohjho

    Carmine
    Maybe you should go back to PhD land and reread your Plato. See how his lofty Socratic rhetoric turns into nightmare politics in his Republic.
    Seems this is exactly what we get with today’s conservative politics.
    Lots of non-relative rhetoric tuned into anti democratic demagoguery. Then you come in and ad a little psychobabble. What a wonderful combination.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Dave, on that point I can agree with you. The coffee lawsuit is not a case that tells us much about personal responsibility, if we properly understand the details of it.

    In the end, with some intervention from a judge, that case ended up around where it needed to end up: not letting McDonald’s evade responsibility for the severity of the injuries its policy caused, yet not handing over quite such a huge windfall to a person for simply spilling some coffee.

    So yes, this case is definitely a bad example, and my beef is with people who fail to recognize what a bad example it is. It doesn’t prove our society has completely abandoned the principle of personal responsibility. It doesn’t prove much of anything about personal responsibility, really.

    It does show that our court system can sometimes find a fairly good solution to such conflicts. Certainly a better solution than blood feuds between rival clans, which is how such disputes used to be handled before the tort system existed.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    no blood feuds?

    awwwwwww…..

    but that’s the only time i get to use swords……legally!

    yas are NO Fun anymore…

    /sniffles

    Excelsior?

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    My fencing instructor tells me duels are still legal in Portugal, Gonzo. But you might want to check with a Portuguese lawyer to make sure you have all the required insurance coverage before you go challenging anyone to meet you in Lisbon at dawn.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    dreck..they used them pansy foils and epees and the like…

    but i can adapt

    do i get to use one in each hand, at least?

    i remember back in the Dark Past, the looks on the judges faces when i did a tai chi sword form with a claymore (claidheamh-mor)

    any blade will do when needed….

    but i digress

    Excelsior?

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Jet, re #75, indeed–doesn’t Bush have enough power right now (legitimately or not)? The last thing we need is to give him Line Item power.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    personally, I’d say ANYONE that holds a hot cup (made of paper)of coffee between their legs is BEYOND stupid…but that’s just me…

    if you hold a gun in your teeth while you change the bullets and it goes off can you sue?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    and no…I wouldn’t put coffee I made at home in my lap either! It’s fucking hot…even the stuff that comes out of my home coffee pot…so it doesn’t belong resting on my dick! I suppose if she didn’t have her makeup out and being held by the cup holders built into her car…she probably would have had a place to set that cup!

    only in America does stupidity get you money for simply passing GO!

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    Victor, and Dave, re McD–I personally think the “personal responsibility” mantra is repeated too often, and in a number of cases is a way to obscure the way that another party’s actions or policies contribute to a decision. There are, like it or not, company wide and society wide decisions and policies that have detrimental effects. I’d agree that in the McD case, the system worked reasonably well–but I’m tired of this phrase being used as a battering ram to destroy any and all sense of community.

    I’m beginning to think that we need a phrase like “executive responsibility” to express the need for CEOs and others to take “personal responsibility” for the decisions and actions of their companies.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    The ideas of philosophers like Plato, Locke, and Mill are timeless and pertinent.

    Mill was a liberal. Locke would probably be considered something like a libertarian. Neither would support republican, especially neo-conservative, ideologies. Funny too that you mention Mill, whose theories are often criticized for cultural relativism, the same criticism that is so often hurled at the Democratic party.

  • Bliffle

    “thing is dave, not one of us matter for shit to republicans.

    Yeah, ain’t it beautiful. They just do what’s good for the economy and leave us the fuck alone – with a few regrettable exceptions.”

    Problem is, they DO care very much about their close friends and allies, and are willing to sacrifice the country for the benefit of those few.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I’m tired of this phrase being used as a battering ram to destroy any and all sense of community.

    This illustrates the problem of the left excellently. Clearly you don’t even understand the concept of personal responsibility, because if you did you’d realize that taking responsibility is the first step towards building a strong community. It’s not an idea which divides people, it’s one which brings them together. It includes not only responsibility for yourself, but shared responsibility for the community. The two go hand in hand.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    ah, but the converse can also be said…

    what about Responsibility in the corporate and governmental realms?

    all the Variables need to be taken into account, or else the Equation is inherently flawed

    Excelsior?

  • http://stoppseudoscience.blogspot.com carmine

    Brian McKay,
    Good insight, I think, nevertheless Mill was a classical liberal in that he believed in the absolute value of reason to tease truth out of the conflict of ideas, all ideas are allowed in the roiling Market Place of Ideas, and the detritus falls to the bottom and the best float. Freedom of speech is rooted in this concept. Truth wins over mere speculation. So that is not really a relativist any more than a Jesuit would be a relativist, or even a Hegelian. Truth is true, but we need conflict of ideas to discover it.

  • Nancy

    For what it’s worth, I have to weigh in w/Dave, Andy, & Clavos: far too frequently acts of egregious personal stupidity are claimed as something someone – anyone – else is responsible for. Personally, were I the judge, I would have thrown the Mickey D’s Coffee Case out of court entirely, since no one should be playing with coffee or anything else (including cell phones) while they’re driving to begin with … or had we forgotten that?

    But yeah, I’m pretty sick of hearing from various criminals how it isn’t their fault they did whatever they did; it’s because they grew up poor/deprived/without a father/etc. What bullshit. And what an insult to the tens of thousands who grew up with just as few advantages if not even less, and who didn’t go on to commit crimes or get into a criminal lifestyle. Which means that IMO there’s even less grounds for, say, a Michael Skakel or anyone else from a rich or privileged background.

    I also hold that there’s a crying need for CEOs & Board members to be held personally responsible for corporate malfeasance, since they are the ones who decide corporate policies & actions. The claims of various execs that they had no idea what was going on would be laughable if it weren’t such an affront to the credibility of even the most cretinous citizen on the street.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    I think, nevertheless Mill was a classical liberal in that he believed in the absolute value of reason to tease truth out of the conflict of ideas […].

    Yes, I would certainly agree with this. I was thinking more along the lines of utlitarianism, which, when applied correctly doesn’t promote relativism, but can be easily distorted to do so (and thus Mill is often wrongfully blamed himself for spawning his (actually Bentham’s) creation).

  • Diz

    It appears to me that Dr. Carmine has his dictionary, thesaurus, PhD, and bible shoved way too far up his ass for this article to make any sense.

    The logic is terribly flawed and, ironically, does nothing more than expose the weaknesses of philosophy.

    I ask the Dr. to go a step beyond ranting utter nonsense and actually produce empirical evidence that supports his claims…something that as a philosophy worshipper he’ll more than likely refuse to do.

    Its quite ironic to refer to psychology as an ultra-soft science while at the same time preaching philosophy. You claim that psychology is untestable, I challenge you to produce evidence to support this claim Dr. Carmine.

    At the same time, you should consider educating yourself in the field of psychology before philosophically deducing it to the twin of psychoanalysis. You should know that modern psychologists reject the idea of a subconscientious and to suggest that they attribute personal failures or shortcomings to victimization is absurd.

    Furthermore, you should know that the psychoanalysis you so vehemently oppose was founded by a man with very philosophical roots. This was a man who reached conclusions based upon nothing more than personal interactions and what he thought was logical reasoning, hence hypnosis, dream interpretation, and the subconscience.

    These byproducts of Freud’s psychoanalysis are the same kinds of delusions you will find with any great philosopher including republicans such as George Bush. Remember when the administration rejected the need to obtain empirical evidence and instead relied upon their moral and logical reasoning to invade Iraq?

    This is the problem with philosophy, when even a minor part of that logic is flawed it causes a snowballing reaction and you end up with nothing more than a mass of philosophical muck. This article is a good example of that muck, alongside the situation in Iraq.

    To be honest none of that matters to me because to suggest that all replubicans stick to philosophical reasoning and all democrats preach psychoanalysis is absurd in itself.

    Dr. Carmine, please put your bible down and provide some sound logic and perhaps some evidence for your assertions.

  • carmine

    Diz
    So nice to hear from the Democratic/NOW party.
    Jim

  • Diz

    Philosophy has failed you yet again my furry friend. You seem to have mistaken me for a democrat. Did you reach this verdict through rational deduction? Hold on, let me get into your mind with some psychology and figure out your train of thought…actually its quite simple, you think that because I criticized your article that must make me a democrat. How did I guess?

    Actually I was merely put off by the amount of ignorance your article contained. I at least partially agree that the democratic party plays the victim game but you just made perhaps the worst case against them by applying your terribly flawed philosophical logic to the situation.

    Lets just pick apart your closing paragraph shall we?

    “During the Clarence Thomas hearings it became clear the Democrats had replaced reasoned argument with a dangerous new attachment to the paternalism of psychotherapy.”…prove it

    “Psychotherapists easily justify both lying and coercion when they deem lying and coercion in the patient’s best interest.”…where is the proof?

    “For the Democratic Party, Americans had become psychiatric patients.”…Once again your ignorance is astounding, psychiatric patients are patients of psychiatry not psychotherapy. Psychiatry is a practice held by medical doctors who prescribe medication to cure physical problems such as hormone imbalances. The therapy that they provide is heavily backed by empirical evidence and is proven to be effective, unlike your philosophical babble.

    Lets just get to the good part…

    “At that point I became a Republican.”…and now we can all see how the republicans work their magic, by proclaiming themselves as the moral knights of the universe who have infinite knowledge about what is right and wrong with absolutely no proof aside from maybe a bible.

  • Diz

    Jim would you please address some of the points I’ve made or perhaps reinforce some of your empty rhetoric.

    You can start by addressing your assertion that Skinner’s trendy ideas have become laughable. I don’t see how you could call the idea of behaviorism laughable. Skinner put forth the idea of operant conditioning which, to this day, holds a lot of weight in the world of psychology. Do you know why this is? Its because Skinner’s theories of conditioning are fully testable and can be proven at any time by way of thorough scientific, not philosophical, analysis. This means the theories are backed by empirical evidence and studies show that time and time again the theories always hold true.

    Allow me to give you an example. Skinner found through a scientific approach that experience is a predictor of future behavior. Have you ever had a pet Jim? Well if you have, you probably realize that training that pet involved repeatedly applying the same experiences to it in order to produce the desired behavior. When you first tell your dog to sit it doesn’t have a god damn clue what you’re trying to make it do. After telling it to sit a hundred times while pushing its ass to the floor the dog learns to sit down because you’re just going to push it down anyway. This is the result of operant conditioning.

    Another theory put forth by Skinner is that of learned helplessness. This theory, which I’m sure will rile up all the anti-democrats, states that after consistent let-downs and negative reinforcements people will begin to not try certain things anymore…such as going to school, working, or advancing their lives in some other manner. This theory once again has been proven by thorough scientific analysis in thousands of various studies. This is probably the laughable idea you were referring to because it is the one thing democrats have on their side in the victimization game. The unfortunate thing for you is that this theory can be proven time and time again while your philosophical ranting is just philosophical ranting.