“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Friday!

OK, people. It's Friday and you know what that means. We've had a stimulating back-and-forth on various topics this week and I hope there are no hard feelings, everybody learned something he/she didn't know on Monday, and our perspectives were widened.

It's enriching to have one's horizons broadened by lively debate....because everybody needs a broad in their horizons. Heh, heh.

There may be a weekend post or two so feel free to check in. Otherwise consider this an open thread and discuss anything you like. I'll start things off with a topic:

Is it considered moral for me to force my neighbor Joe to give me money so I can send my kids to school, or paint a picture, or subsidize my tobacco crop? If not, how can it be right for me to do it using the federal government as my agent?

Is it moral just because enough of us vote to take Joe's money for something we want to do? Is the definition of "morality" therefore, in modern democratic society, "whatever the majority wants". Is this "mob rule" okay for any purpose, or only if it is a "good" purpose? If so, who decides what a "good" purpose is?

See you on Monday,



Capt. America said...

Define "good" purpose.

This could be a looong thread..

ed said...

According to what most Americans believe, "good" purpose is whatever the majority votes for. That is, whatever the representatives decide is good on behalf of their constituents. Take property for instance...if the gov't decides it's best for the common good that a handful of houses be torn down to make room for a strip mall, then that's the moral thing to do since it benefits the most people.

The question is, is morality defined by what's best for the most people in society, or is morality defined by what's constitutional for the individual regardless of the impact on the rest of society?

freedom2learn said...

This is what we were discussing at my work place the other day - the dangers of a majority/ mob rules democracy. Even though this is something I just recently started reading up on in my severely limited spare time, I believe the Framers of the Constitution were brilliant and knew exactly what they were doing when they created this Republic. Why people try to turn our great nation into a democracy is beyond me. Am I wrong?Honestly, maybe some of you people who are more educated than I am can explain this to me.
It appears, as you said, most people in America define moral as good for the "common good" rather than the individual. Again, I admit I don't know near as much as I would like to about this, but my two cents... we should preserve our individual, constitutional rights first and foremost.

As far as Joe's money goes - I ’m a proponent of the Davy Crockett school of thought ......

Mr. Speaker: I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has not the power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member on this floor knows it. We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.” - Davy Crockett-

Anonymous said...

well stated freedom2learn. you know way more than you give yourself credit for.

Capt. America said...

"Why people try to turn our great nation into a democracy is beyond me."

Beyond comments.

ed said...

@capt. america,

Surely you are aware that the U.S. Constitution establishes this country as a representative republic, and not a democracy? People cavaleirly refer to any country with representative government as a "democracy", but technically, they aren't.

A country in which simple mob-rule dictates government policy, in which 51% of the people get anything they want regardless of the desires of the other 49%, is a democracy and is a horrible system of government in terms of individual rights and freedoms.

freedom2learn is exactly correct in her assessment.

Capt. America said...

So "a horrible system of government in terms of individual rights and freedoms" is what Bush in all his kindness is forcing on Iraq?

No wonder they fight back.

Brian Y. said...

He he - kudos, Captain!

ed said...

@capt. and brian,

Did you two knuckle-heads not pay attention in your government-school civics class? People just call it democracy. It's not technically a democracy.

To wit, Bush is not forcing democracy on anybody. Iraqis voted themselves a constitutional republic. It's similar to a representative republic, which we enjoy.

brian Y. said...

Since when did you get so technical, Ed?

freedom2learn said...

Republic = Rule of law
Democracy = Rule of majority

Is that correct, anyone?
If so, it is more than a technicality, isn't it?

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theory lunatic :) .... Why do people(in governmnet) who should know better use the words interchangeably? Is it simply misuse - or intentional propaganda?
Don't rip me apart - I'm honestly just trying to figure this out because it doesn't make sense to me.

And since this is an open thread, does anyone care to give their thoughts on the electoral college - reform - eliminate - leave it as is???

capt. America said...

"To wit, Bush is not forcing democracy on anybody"

You're right, Ed - they begged us to invade them, I remember now.

Technically I guess we didn't invade them either.

Ed said...


I think people use the term "democracy" as a catchall to describe any form of government in which the people get to elect their representation and leadership, sort of the way the term "Coke" is sometimes used to describe any carbonated beverage to be drunk in the future...."Hey man, I'm going to grab a Coke, you want anything"? I say that, knowing that the machine down the hall only has Pepsi. It's just a simple conversational way of differentiating between dictatorships, theocracies, and electoral governments.


I'm not going to debate the merits of invading Iraq and ridding the Iraqi people and the world of one of the most murderous, brutal dictatorships in existence. I think it was the right thing to do at the time regardless of the fact that it was poorly led, poorly prosecuted, poorly planned, and ineffectively sold to the American people.

The Iraqi's voted for a constitutional convention, they wrote and ratified a constitution using free voting, which then legitimized their general election for leadership and representation. We didn't cram "democracy" down their throats. They voted for a representative form of government.

You are either being puerile and argumentative, or disappointingly misinformed to argue that anyone but terrorists are fighting us in Iraq.

And brian y, I wouldn't have gotten technical except that this post has to do with mob-rule, and capt. america seemed stupefied that freedom2learn drew(correctly I might add) a difference between "our great nation" and a "democracy".

capt. America said...

Most of all, the terrorists in Iraq are killing innocent civilians (which really is a silly term, as they pay the price in every war).

But what you forget is that before the fall of Saddam (who certainly was nothing but a monster), there were no terrorists in Iraq.

Ed said...

There were no people being terrorists during Saddam's reign because he would not tolerate it. He'd just kill them too. (probably his only good point)

capt. america, are you seriously arguing that keeping the peace through brutally raping and murdering civilians by the thousands is a legitimate method of terrorism avoidance?

Look, nefarious opportunists will fill the vacuum left by the departure of any powerful person. If all we did was get rid of Saddam, then leave, Iraq would be just like Somalia today. Roving bands of blood-thirsty, barbarians fighting each other and terrorizing civilians.

Would you at least agree that Saddam needed to be gotten rid of? Or are rape-rooms and mass slaughter of politically inconvenient races tolerable as long as heavens....there are no terrorists?

Kevin said...

I think that raping a murdering your own civilians, would be one definition of terrorism. So Saddam may not have trouble with terrorists in his country, but that is only because he was the terrorist.

capt. America said...


I agree with you 100% that Saddam was a despot and tyrant (we also supported him for many years). And even though a lot of Iraqi people are worse off today than under his evil rule (sic), I sincerely think getting rid of him was the best thing for the country - and for the future of its people.

His removal may also have good influence of the region. Then again, it may not - I don't know. And I find no comfort in the fact that nobody else (politicians and the military that is) knows either.

But I will never accept that his removal was worth over 3000 (so far) American lives (so far).

We went in there knowing (!) that he wasn't behind 9/11 or had WMD. And we didn't go there because of our concern for the poor surpressed people - we went there because

1) we needed a scapegoat for 9/11, and Saddam served as a convenient cool-down-the-public substitute for Osama B-L

2) to secure our access to the oil

3) we had unfinished business from the Kuwait war

4) he was an 'easy' target (no WMD and he was feared and hated by most countries in the world - at least the civilized ones) and

5) we believed it would be a walk in the park and that we'd be met by cheering crowds as liberators.

And probably some other geo-political issues that I'm unware of.

Instead we experienced being cought without pants down doing ugly un-American things as Abu Graib and Guantanamo - nowadays it's the trigger happy Blackwater.

And since our invention Iraq has been a magnet for all kinds of mad terrorists and suicidebombers.

And what this war will have cost the taxpayers when/if it's over is simply astronomical. On the other hand, some US companies have earned BIG money...

Saddam was an asshole and though I'm totally against the death penalty, it's good he's dead.

But was he worth all this? In my opinion, no.

PS: If we cared so much for the surpressed masses, we'd liberate the North-Koreans - Saddam's Iraq was heaven compared to the conditions these people have been living under for decades.

Or Burma. Or Mosambique. Somalia. And what about our allies, Saudi Arabia - the ruling class are nothing more than savages.

But as we all know, there's a limit for our concern.

Ed said...

Point well made all, capt. america., but briefly, if you go back and look at what democrats including the Clintons were saying, everybody in the free world "knew" that Iraq had WMD(unclear), was pursuing nukes(true), had used and was developing chemical WMD(true), had disobeyed 17 UN demands that he allow unrestricte inspections(true), and most importantly, was a primary sponsor of terrorism directed at the US via Al Qaida(true).

I'm not saying that I think all your points are completely wrong. I just think we may never know, or not for a long time, just what the circumstances were when the decision was made to go in. You may be more correct than I'm willing to admit right now, in the absence of evidence other than Daily Kos talking points.

I agree with you about the cost. We need to get out at the earliest possible opportunity. We do not need to loiter there for decades like we are still in Kosovo and other places.

As for the Norks, they represent a multi-administration mistake, but they can be negotiated with. Saddam could not. And the worst thing the Norks are doing to threaten us other than nukes development is counterfeit DVD's and US currency.

And let's face it, while liberation of the people is good, unlike smelly hippies, I don't have any problems with going to war over oil.

Kevin said...

We solved many problems going to war with Iraq. We got oil, we freed an oppressed population from a heinous dictator, and we showed the strength of our military to the smaller nations who wish to do battle with us. Fighting this war proved to other nations that we are willing to fight, and we have proved that we are the best at war. If we get nothing else, I think that we will get respect from countries like Iran and North Korea, and there is proof of this:
The Iranian President actually came here for a visit, and North Korea abandoned its Nuclear technology.

Bottom line, we are winning more than oil by fighting this war.

brian said...

So you think these small countries actually considered attacking the world's biggest and most sophisticated army, but our little demonstration i Iraq gave them second thoughts?


Kevin said...

Its a speculation, yes. Why else would those small countries want nuclear technology? Just to have it? No they wanted more power. They wanted to be one of the few countries in the world who have it, to be exclusive. This would give them more power, and I could certainly see how it would give them confidence against the bigger powers. They would at least feel as though they are on the same playing field as the U.S., Russia, and other bigger nations. Who knows, down the road, they may actually feel as though they can hack out a war with us. This war might suggest to them otherwise.

capt. America said...

"I don't have any problems with going to war over oil."

I disagree, but I value an honest point of view.

ed said...

It would be morally "wrong" to go to war over somebody elses oil. That being said I think it's naive to think that if American families were hungry because the Arabs cut off our oil supply and food couldn't get from SoCal and the midwest to kitchen tables, that the self-righteous liberals wouldn't say to the military, "I don't care how you get the gas, just get it and put food on my table!"

I think that's exactly how it would go down if it came to it, so why not go to war before it gets to that?

But I will concede capt. that it is wrong to go to war over somebody elses oil.

capt. America said...

"...and most importantly, (Iraq) was a primary sponsor of terrorism directed at the US via Al Qaida (true)."

No, Ed - it's still not true, no matter how many times you repeat it.

"On March 20, 2006, President Bush made clear that his Administration did not have any evidence of Saddam playing a role in those attacks."

A lot (!) more on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein_and_al-Qaeda

Kevin said...

Capt. America,
There is one fatal flaw with your statement

You got this off of wikipedia. That is perhaps the worse source on the internet, people can freely go on there and change anything and everything. I'm not saying that what you said is wrong, but I will NEVER believe anything from that source. So to be more convincing, find a more credible source.

ed said...

capt. america, I never claimed that Iraq had a role in 9/11. I said that Iraq was found to be a significant source of funding for terrorist operations, sooner or later aimed at the US. In addition, we know that UBL had visited Iraq many times...reckon that was to burn some frequent flier miles at the Hilton and hang out at the Baghdad Hooters?

The US is the Microsoft of geopolitics. 99% of viruses are written against Microsoft and 99% of terrorism is ultimately directed against the US and our assets. So it's a pretty clear assumption that if we detect potential terrorism, we had better snuff it out over there rather than wait until they come here.

Now a legitimate argument might be the chicken/egg argument...that is, is terrorism directed at the US because we're always meddling in the mid-east, or are we in the mid-east because terrorism directed at the US has it's genesis there? But for Israel and oil, I wouldn't give a damn what happend in that third-world catbox. But Israel is our ally and we need the oil so that's why we meddle in their affairs.

capt. America said...


Ignoring things you apparently know little about usually backfires.

Contrary to most other sources, articles in Wiki usually ends with a massive list of references.

Kevin said...

Have you looked into these references? If so, why didn't you site them? Wikipedia is a starting point for research at best. If you want real sources, that lay out the facts by professionals, you might want to look into some college web pages. They usually have the best information.

capt. America said...

I forgot you're the authority on neutral information, Kevin.

I apologise.

Kevin said...

No but i actually got an education in a world dependant on computers and internet, so if anyone knows anything about credible sources, it would be me

capt. America said...

A comment for the history books!

Kevin said...

Care to explain?

capt. America said...

No, I won't explain the obvious.

Hint: If you still don't get it, consult this internet of yours.

Kevin said...

Well your statement is very vague. I can take it many different ways, both complimenting and insulting.