Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I’m starting this series of my examination of the Constitution of the United States for a couple of reasons. 1) This has been on my mind since I started this blog. The Constitution was written as a way to legitimize a country and a government in a way that hadn’t been done before. We talk of the President of being the leader of the USA, but he/she isn’t. The Constitution is the authority of this country. 2) The first thing I said when I heard that Obama was running for president was, “Well, I can finally feel confident that at least one person running has actually read the constitution.” I still feel that way. Palin’s continual responses to describing the job of the Vice President shows me that she doesn’t have a clue what’s in the constitution. And that is frustrating considering that section directly matters to her possible future. It might be excused if I don’t know specifically what the constitution says about the VP, but she is running for VP... 3) There is an ideology behind the Constitution that deserves to be explored. There is sometimes a divide between idealists and pragmatists, but the Constitution is really the best of both. An ideal of a government that is run by the rule of law and not the whims of power hungry maniacs that is tempered by pragmatic compromises and steps to make that ideal a reality. So, I’ll start at the beginning, giving the passage and then my thoughts and I would encourage anyone who has any comments to please add it to the comments section below. Think of it as like Oprah’s book club, only, you know, important. (At the very least let me know if you think I'm wasting my time.)
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Right from the start we see the ultimate authority for this document: the people. Not, as past monarchies and such had, divine right or genetic lineage, but rather the people who will be ruled by this document allow themselves to be ruled by it. I recognize in this the ideals of the social contract theory most well known by Thomas Hobbes. The idea of a social contract theory works like this: Imagine a state of no government and no authority (so no family members in charge either). In this state of nature, as Hobbes refers to it, we would all ultimately be in a constant state of war against each other because we would all have wants and desires that would be limited by either resources or other’s wanting the exact same things. In this state we simply cannot trust one another to make deals or keep pacts. It is every person for themselves. What happens in this state of nature however is while we are free to pursue whatever end we need or want, we are simply never going to be able to get anywhere near all of the things we could possibly need or want. This is because no matter how strong or intelligent one person may be over others, they are never so far ahead that any other person can’t find a big enough rock to bash their brains out. Lucky for us we are capable of reason and recognizing that it is in our best interest to try and make peace with others to be able to have any chance of achieving our own ends. To achieve this peace requires us to give up some of our freedoms (at least as much as we expect everyone else to give up) to an authority whose sole purpose is to help ensure peace. The people, because it is rational and the only way to ensure we can achieve any of our ends, give their authority over themselves to a governing body.
Many politicians remark that their real boss is the American people, but that is only true to a certain degree. In one way it is true because we can vote, even a step removed, on offices of government and in another way it is true because we are the one who ultimately give up our authority to the Constitution. But once we give up that authority, as we did when the Constitution was ratified, we are no longer the main entity in charge. The Constitution itself becomes the sole authority of the government.
And the reasons why we would ratify the Constitution are given in a very social contract ideal way: to establish justice, to insure domestic peace, for common defense, for the promotion of general well being, and to keep ourselves as free as we can understanding that perfect freedom leads to us pragmatically having little to no freedom.
The Rational Moderate
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
CBS - Obama 53% to McCain’s 22% with undecided voters
CNN - Obama 58% to McCain’s 31%
MSNBC - Obama
Fox News - Obama
Media Curves - Obama 60% to McCain’s 30%
BBC - Their review of “expert” verdicts was 4 for Obama and 3 for McCain with no tie. Their analysts Kevin Connolly gave the win to the American Voters which is not only lame but proof that he hasn’t been paying attention.
I can’t believe I didn’t include ABC news before now - Oh, that’s because their web site stinks and I can’t find it despite a huge link to “Polls” and “Click Here For More Polls” - stupid disney network
My Take - First, Schieffer should moderate every debate. I’m a fan now. I’m getting the podcasts for Face the Nation right now.
Second, I thought McCain started well and then went into lala land with some ridiculous statements including talking about the “health” of women as code for “give me an abortion so I can go back to whoring around,” his incessant muttering that he knows how to do everything to fix every problem we face without ever telling anyone else despite his being in a position of authority already by being a senator, his stating that he’ll freeze every spending program except for three and then describing how he’ll spend money on these same problems, and, one more for abortion that made me feel like I had my own Life on Mars experience, how he wouldn’t use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test for the Supreme Court but thought that anyone who agrees with Roe v. Wade would not be qualified. (In fairness this isn’t a direct contradiction but rather he thinks there is a correlation between agreeing with Roe v. Wade and being wrong on a host of other issues that would not make one qualified. I still found it jarring.)
Third, Obama was fine. Not spectacular, not making any mistakes that contradicted or confused his position. He seemed exactly the same as the last two debates so I guess I didn’t think he did too well, but the polls again disagree with me. It’s likely because of the reasons I gave about McCain. He does seem erratic. I know Schieffer was hammering them both of the negative comments, specifically Obama’s erratic comment, but that’s the way he looked to me. You can make a partisan comment and still be right. Obama, on the other hand, never had that nervous energy that McCain kept showing up in his odd quips, sarcastic lines, and laughing at his own jokes. As I said last time, I think this is done and Obama will be the next president. But there is one last chance for a turnaround for McCain - he finally appears on Letterman tonight. After canceling with Dave by saying he was suspending his campaign and flying immediately back to Washington to try and fix the problem, Dave got a feed into Katie Couric’s anchor booth to see McCain sitting there waiting to do an interview. Needless to say, Dave spent the better part of the episode and the weeks to follow calling out McCain about it, describing the move as “fishy.”
The Rational Moderate
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Falsely invoking terrorism is a form of terrorism. If the idea behind terrorism is to terrorize (use tactics to make others instantly and incredibly afraid) some group into doing either a) what the terrorist wants and/or b) something other than what the group would normally do, then the outcome of calling someone a terrorist is to get others to be afraid of being around or associating with that individual. Since 9/11, the US has been in the thrall of the word terrorism. It has been used over and over to make us afraid of “others” in the world who would do us harm. For some, such as myself, this can become numbing. I don’t tend to think much about anyone labeled a terrorist anymore since it is used so often and incorrectly.
Now the definition I am using to describe terrorism may be objected to as being too broad, as it may include such tactics as using fear to get someone to stop smoking, or brush their teeth, or be good or receive a lump of coal at Christmas, or worship one specific God or spend eternity listening to New Kids on the Block. I added the qualifiers instantly and incredibly to offset the difference between simple fear and the full blown terror that terrorism is attempting to invoke. The fear involved in terrorism arises from sudden and unexpected actions that is of a much grander scale than the examples of fear I gave earlier. And this leads to my conclusion that given the climate of our country and the rhetoric of its leaders since 9/11, calling someone a terrorist who has not done the actions of a terrorist is an act of terrorism. It is an attempt to make someone so suddenly afraid of that individual that they will abandon their previous way of living and thinking and adopt one more in line with the invoker or will at least stop what they were doing.
Lately, McCain/Palin supporters have gone in public and proclaimed Obama a terrorist (see last post.) Now I’m not saying this is representative of all of his supporters, nor am I disagreeing with my earlier post that most of these individuals are mostly saying these things to rile those they see on the other side of the ticket. But to use the term terrorist to describe a Senator who is running for President is to try and scare someone into either a) voting for the other party or b) getting them to not vote for someone else, or not at all.
I’m calling them out as terrorists.
The Rational Moderate
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
CBS - Uncommitted voters went with Obama 40% to 26%
CNN - Obama
MSNBC - Obama (but this one seems particularly skewed)
Fox News - Obama
Media Curves - Independents for Obama 52% to 34%
BBC - didn’t really have anything on their own but linked to Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe who called it a tie which gives it to Obama.
My Take -
I thought it was ugly. I thought Obama avoided answering some questions and he needs to stop doing that. It is a strength for him. While some politicians do better by moving the question into a direction better suited to what they want to talk about, it is worse when he does that because he can specifically answer the question and should.
I thought McCain attacked Obama too much with things that were easily responded to, such as his arguments about Obama “invading” Pakistan or his record on tax increases.
I thought McCain started off looking angry and ended up looking really flustered and nervous. The weird jokes he made, the dropping of the microphone into his hand when he finished a question... these are the actions of someone who is really nervous.
I think McCain’s really worried, and I think it’s going to get really, really ugly.
The Rational Moderate
Friday, October 3, 2008
Polling wrap up on last night’s VP debate. (Again, I’m not linking to these so if you doubt me check out a lovely thing called “google”)
CBS - Biden, as more uncommitted voters went his way. Though Palin’s numbers did increase as far as knowledge and preparedness (though I can’t imagine they could have gone down considering...)
CNN - Biden, though again Palin did better than expected.
MSNBC - Biden
Fox News - Biden - I could actually find the poll this time. Commentator Aaron Bruns gives it to Biden, but thinks it won’t have an effect on voters whereas Palin has reassured her base that she can handle the job.
Media Curves - Isn’t up, though commenters who saw their results said once again independents favored Biden.
BBC - commentator Kevin Connolly gives it to Palin, but again prefacing that with the fact that she was expected to fall on her face and didn’t rather than on her making any decent points. If not for that he would have called it even.
My Take: Yeah, I admit that I was watching this for the same reason that millions of NASCAR fans watch cars driving around in circles - I wanted to see a fire ball explosion. And yeah that didn’t happen. But paying any attention to Palin’s answers to the questions compared to Biden, it is clear that she doesn’t know what she is talking about but just managed to hide it better than she has in her interviews. What I thought was interesting was that Biden never once attacked her on anything. He defended against attacks on him by her, but never attacked her directly on anything about her experience or her being a maverick. (I’m so sick of that word I could scream) This was clearly calculated and I think it worked as instead of getting bogged down into what is a monumentally bad decision by McCain, he basically ignored her while coming off as gracious. One of the biggest fears for Obama’s side was that Biden would come across as a big overbearing bully against Palin, but by ignoring her and her *ahem* experience, he avoided that trap.
The Rational Moderate