Monday, October 25, 2010


The title of this post is meant to be provacative. But it is also true. Let's start with a simple idea and one really that cannot be legitimately disputed: Anyone who tells you they know what "The Founding Fathers" were thinking and that they have some inside track as to what they believed is lying. Plain and simple.

Anyone with the least bit of common sense can see that. There is just no way that anyone can say that they know clearly and unequivically what "The Founding Fathers" thought or wanted, because anyone with the least bit of common sense would notice that there is just no such thing as a monolithic group called "The Founding Fathers." So when you ascribe to "The Founding Fathers" this singular vision for what the United States was and should be, you are just lying out your ass because that never existed.

This is particularly troublesome for conservatives who seem to believe that they have some direct spiritual tie to "The Founding Fathers" and that they know exactly what TFFs wanted, just like they know exactly what God wants and everyone else is simply wrong. But, point out to them that the statement they cherry-picked from, say, Thomas Jefferson is not consistent with other statements Jefferson may have made, and they will state that 1) Jefferson never said that, 2) if he did he didn't mean it, and 3) you're nothing but a Nazi for pointing out that Jefferson contradicted himself.

Recently, for instance, that renowned Constitutional scholar Christine O'Donnell went to absurd lengths trying to deny separation of church and state. Leaving aside her hapless reasoning that it is not a tenet of The Constitution because the phrase as written is not directly written there, the Conservative Never Ever Right came to her defense arguing that she was not claiming that The Establishment Clause - the very first line of the First Amendment - was not there (she did, actually), but that her interpretation of The Constitution was an originalist one, and that those damn Liberals thought so little of TFFs that they would argue that 200 years worth of legal precedence had greater meaning than TFFs.

Now, we're talking Christine O'Donnell here, and let's face it, she has no idea what an originalist interpretation of The Constitution is. But let us discuss the idea of an originalist interpretation - just what does that mean exactly? That we should accept The Constitution on its face as complete and immutable? I doubt you will find many minorities who will willingly give up their right to vote so that we can have that originalist interpretation reinstated, conservative or otherwise. Yes, I know, that was granted by amendment and the only way to change the law of the land should be by amendment only - or so say conservatives, but only when it is not them doing the changing of the law.

For instance, conservatives never bring up the fact that The Constitution of the US was and is a compromise document, the most egregious example of that being the 3/5ths Compromise. Are we to ignore that? James Madison - The Father of The Constitution - placed within The Constitution a compromise which made a black man worth 3/5s of a white one. But, I hear conservatives shouting, he didn't mean it! We fixed it later through amendment! We gave blacks the right to vote through amendment! True, eventually The Constitution included the right to vote for all men and women, but the change didn't come because the Original Constitution allowed for it. It came because of the struggle and sacrifice of individuals willing to fight for it. An originalist interpretation of The Constitution would have kept out voting for all minorities forever.

And on the other side of the coin, we have Coroprate Personhood. The same conservatives who argue that we should follow their originalist interpretation of The Constitution - those very same folks who shout about how those damn Liberals are making up the law as they go - they will defend to the death this concept of corporate personhood - that somehow a corporation has the same rights as an individual, but with none of the responsibilities of the individual. This idea of Coroprate Personhood which came into being because a law clerk added a word which shouldn't have been added to a decision - THIS! Conservatives will defend as right and proper!

Madison - The Father of The Constitution - feared Democracy. Jefferson believed in a small agrarian society. Both men were dead set against having a standing army. Patrick Henry was supposedly a money-grubbing little worm of a man who barely passed law exams. Washington was a wealthy land-owner who wanted more than anything to keep his patrician's place. Thomas Paine and Aaron Burr wanted all able-bodied free men and women to be able to vote. There is no originalist interpretation of The Constitution. TFFs didn't know exactly what they wanted when it was written. Stating that it should remain static because you believe you know what they thought and what they wanted and that you are somehow right while everyone else is wrong is just the most appalling act of hubris.

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Monday, October 18, 2010


Ross Douthat, one of the two conservative columnists that write regularly for the New York Times - interesting The Times has two conservatives while it seems that papers like the Washington Times have no Liberal columnists, but that's another article - apologized, as in the ancient Greek use of the word, for The Tea Party in a column he wrote on October 17th. He began his column with a supposed survey by a former CATO Institute intern that shows that only 5% of the signs she saw were about race or religion, and only 1% about the President's birth certificate. Considering the fact that our surveyor surveyed only 250 signs at a Tea Party Rally on the Washington Mall, one has to wonder from the beginning just how serious a survey we are talking about here. Nor do we have any survey at all as to what those not carrying signs thought. But to Douthat, this is evidence that Tea Baggers aren't racists and bigots, because, really, only 5% of their signs out of 250 made those kinds of statements and so Liberals are just being mean to these poor Tea Baggers. So Douthat sets up his little strawman and knocks it down handily.

But let's take his other points one at a time - The Tea Party isn't really driving the Republican Party over the political cliff. Douthat's argument here is that there are just so many great Tea Party candidates who aren't Christine O'Donnell and Carl Paladino. Why, you have such stalwart examples of conservative rectitude as Marco Rubio - who has no problem using the corporate credit card to pay his personal bills - Ken Buck - who believes if you are a woman who was raped, it was probably your fault and you should be forced to live with the consequences, and Pat Toomey - who admittedly isn't as extreme as the other two, he just wishes to do away with most social programs and believes shipping jobs overseas is really a very good idea. So Douthat's reasonable Tea Baggers are only reasonable in regards to their completely insane counterparts.

The Tea Partiers are not puppets of the Sinister Rich - Really? Let's think about this for a minute. Because the movement began as a possible grassroots movement, it cannot possibly be a puppet now? He's right about the Koch brothers funding every single conservative movement since the dawn of time, but just because they haven't been as effective up til now doesn't change the fact that they finally hit on a winning formula. Keep throwing shit against the wall long enough, sooner or later some of it is going to stick. Douthat's defense is that they started out as a grassroots movement even though every single Tea Bagger candidate is a Republican. Are we to believe that only Republicans care about the deficit? Because if he does expect that, how does he explain that the largest defeicits have been created by Republicans? Nor does he explain Dick Armey or the Koch brothers and the money they are pouring into the Tea Bagger movement. Again, we are simply to take his word.

The Tea Parties are not just the John Birch Society all over again - This is a throwback to the first point Douthat makes: that because there just aren't enough signs, they can't be racist, bigoted bastards. Of course, he does nothing to try to explain the hatred against muslims and the hatred against the Islamic Community Center in New York. Of course this doesn't come from people looking for a scapegoat just like the Red Scare of the '50's. No, Tea Baggers would never do such a thing. Why, they're saints and would never behave in any way that is opposite to The Constitution of the United States. Douthat seems to forget the First Amendment.

And, finally, The Tea Party are not hypocrites because there are two candidates who have statements that could be construed as possibly, actually presenting their true position. But that's the point, isn't it? There are 138 Tea Bagger candidates - every single one of them is running as a Republican. Every single one of them - to get elected - have disavowed their statesments concerning privatization of Social Security and the dissolution of Medicare. The great mass of the Tea Baggers - the rank and file, if you will - may believe that their candidates will not privatize Social Secuirty and dissolve Medicare, but that is the position all of their candidates have expressed at one time or another. And while they have disavowed their past statements, none of them have unequivically stated that they will not do what they have professed in the past.

Some may believe Douthat has admirably defended the Tea Baggers, but, really, all he has done is shown that he's somewhat adept at twisting arguments so he can defend the position that he wants to defend and not the actualy facts. Just like most Tea Baggers.


Friday, October 15, 2010


Recently, Greg Manikow, an economist in the Bush Adminsitration, wrote an editorial stating that if the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 1% were to expire, he would not work as hard as he presently does since any income above $250,000 would be taxed a total of 4% more than it is presently taxed. This argument has been around for awhile now: Bill O'Reilly made it a few years ago; there was a brief movement of individuals who all promised to go Galt over this very issue. All I can say is: Go Galt, already, and leave the rest of us alone, for Christ's sake!

Honestly, how many of these people are actually that important that we cannot live without them? Is Greg Manikow such a great economist that there is no one to replace him? How about Bill O'Reilly? Given that O'Reilly is being eclipsed by the Insane Clown Posse that is Glenn Beck, who is going to miss him? None of these people are irreplaceable? Give me a break.

The one overriding principle of any place of work is that no one is irreplaceable. No one. Assume for a moment that Manikow stops taking every speaking assignment offered. Will there be no one to take that speaking assignment? Hardly. Or O'Reilly stops writing his books. Given the lack of thought or empathy that goes into his turgid prose, most of us would be happy if he stopped writing them altogether. There is nothing these two call their work that is of such a singular creation that we could not live without it. Neither Manikow nor O'Reilly is that unique a talent.

This, by the way, is the problem with Atlas Shrugged in the first place. It presupposes that there are some individuals that are just so unique that the world cannot live without them. Now, assuming this is so, conservatives have a problem; basically, one of contradiction. If there are individuals so unique that we cannot do without them, then not everyone can be one of these individuals. If, on the other hand, as conservatives constantly harp, everyone can do it, then these individuals do not exist.

The reality is is that overall, there are very few people the world cannot do without. In almost every instance of scientific discovery, it appears there were individuals on the same track as those who are given credit for their scientific discoveries. So under the proper circumstances, scientific, social, communal progress would continue, perhaps a bit differently, but it would continue.

So if Bill O'Reilly or Greg Manikow, or Pam Geller (who produces even less than these other two do) were to stop working altogether, nothing untoward would happen. The US would continue on it's way; there would still be bad economic policy put forth by some other RWNJ; there would still be stupid commentary on Faux News; and there would still be ignorant RWNJ blogs.

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