Thursday, March 5, 2009

Post No. 92: Dobermans. Surrounded by Dobermans.


© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

We have a colleague, a nice guy, who loves Doberman Pinschers. He loves them so much he’s raising 29 of them at his place.

When we visit him, the dogs do what Dobermans always do.

They bark. They snarl. They attack.

They do so not because they know who or what we are. They’re just in attack mode; in that mode by virtue of the way our colleague raises them.

(About dogs: You can’t make a Doberman behave like a Cocker Spaniel anymore than you can stop a Labrador from curling up on your lap and slobbering all over your sofa. Dogs are simply what they are. So be careful when you fall in love with a puppy, okay?)

Our colleague’s Dobermans got us thinking.

All of us have stress in our lives, and we all react to it differently.

Even though we, individually and collectively, are facing what any reasonable person would call dire circumstances, it seems to us that more and more people these days are firmly set in a default mode on the “attack” side of the register, and as a result, civilized discourse may well have become as extinct as the poor dodo bird.

With fear, well-founded fear at that, running rampant through the land, our recent attention has been directed to a radio commentator whose new book, “The Audacity of Failure,” is expected out soon.

However, for several years now, we’ve been subjected to a constant stream of “something,” which does not have the most pleasant aroma.

How odd, we’ve thought, that so many would resort to the slinging of this “hash.”

Don’t they realize that failure - on the part of any of our institutions at this stage in the game – would amount to a Pyrrhic victory? That incessant ideological chatter will take us nowhere?

Are the slingers, on both sides of the debate, so completely devoid of common sense that they fail to recognize that their slinging might negatively impact the personal empires which they’ve built?

Derail their ability to collect dollars from their advertisers, not to mention dampen their listeners’ interest in spending money for the things their advertisers hope to sell?

Try a little enlightened self-interest on for size, we say. Your own. Your country’s.

Our country’s.

Last week, we ran across an article entitled, “Running Scared? Fear Isn’t Good For The Economy Or Your Health.” We could only say, “No hash, Sherlock.”

Feeling a little exhausted, we sent an email to a friend: “… people claim that politics has always been nasty. However, there is something different going on now. Nasty has gotten real nasty, and personal. All the attacks, the name-calling, the questioning of people’s intelligence, the constant dissection of every word and move, with all of it designed to make people look bad. Is getting one’s way that important? It’s as if much of society has had this pent up anger and frustration, which they previously chose not to express, and that the political campaigns gave them license to say what they really felt. What thinking person would want to enter public service?”

We’ve obviously chosen our friends wisely, because she responded with a new insight.

“Anger and negativity have become synonymous today,” our friend wrote, “when in truth they’re two different emotions.”

“Negativity in the national discourse,” she noted, “has become purely intellectual.”

“None of us are born [negative],” she said. “In fact, I dare you to stop by any grade school playground and find one child who would qualify as negative by nature.”

Fear. We’ve felt it a couple of times. The night before taking the bar exam was the first time we remember. And we’re feeling it again.

Earlier today we sat in front of the computer, fearful, unsure, stomach churning. Probably like a lot of people.

The thing about people, it dawned on us, is that all of us, some to a greater degree than others, were born with the genetic coding necessary to think through the obstacles we encounter.

Paraphrasing our friend’s comment about the lack of negativity of children, it also struck us that, unlike our colleague’s Dobermans, none of us are genetically coded to bark, snarl and attack only.

Common sense says we must be guided, in Lincoln’s words, “by the better angels of our nature.”

There has to be something bigger than this ideological dispute.

Do we still have those angels?


© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

40 comments:

  1. I don't know if common sense is always ruled by angels. I'm a political blogger, I try to be rational and stick to facts, and if the fact is someone is a crook or an idiot I won't sugar coat it. I should try to make positive notes about politicians I find acceptable. John McCain was one of my favorites until the 2008 nomination process, Bill Richardson might turn out to be dirty (haven't heard much on this lately), Tommy Thompson kind of disappeared after Bush told him to shut up, etc.

    Sorry Log, there may be no angels.

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  2. We don't know that children are born without negativity, they can't talk for more than a year and then can't really express themselves in language very well for a couple of years more. What's more negative than a two year old? It seems that the third word they learn is "No!" Children are afraid quite a bit of their early years. Who can blame them? they are entirely dependent on those around them for food, clothing, and protection. I am not so sure they aren't born with negativity in their hearts and learn to be optimistic if they are treated halfway decently. I wouldn't be so pretentious as to think I know the mind of an infant.

    I have met a number of Dobermans that were gentle as lambs and friendly. Yes, they certainly have the potential to be aggressive and vicious. Perhaps most end up that way because their trainers and handlers encouraged it. Hmmm, that might apply to the children we were discussing, too.

    Yep, politics always seems nastier when it is aimed at whatever ideological side you are on. It's easy to ignore all the names thrown at the previous president when he's out of office and your guy is in. All of a sudden, what was justifiable when done by one side is no longer so when it's done by the other. It's all in the perception, I suppose.

    The purpose of partisanship is to make sure the other side doesn't let power go to their heads. To make sure the minority party is not totally ignored. Obstructionism by Democrats was seen as a "positive" thing from 2000 to 2006. But it's not so when it's the Republicans doing it against the party in power? I don't want either party to have carte blanche. I want the "outs" to bedevil the "ins"... always.

    When that stops, we are in for some real trouble.

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  3. Interesting stuff!

    Would you like a Link Exchange with our blog COMMON CENTS where we blog about the issues of the day??

    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

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  4. I made a comment but it got too long so I took it home. You can read it there if you want. BB

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  5. Jonathan, being rational and sticking to facts is a good thing. Providing both positive and negative evaluations suggests balance and fairness on your part.

    Out of curiosity, is a politician an idiot when he or she has an opinion or position with which you disagree? Additionally, is there a measure or some yardstick which you use in determining the level or degree of idiocy?

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  6. Douglas: There is quite a bit of research on the use of sounds by infants to communicate prior to their beginning to talk, and the responses that they have to certain sounds and changes in pitch. Brain scan research has progressed substantially over the last 10 years.

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  7. For ease of reading, we are posting the response of Brenda Bowers for her. A direct link to her blog, "And So I Go: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," appears to the right under our blogroll:

    Letter to Log on why I can not approve of one thing President Obama has done.
    March 5, 2009 — brendabowers
    I agree with Douglas that when the parties start a love fest we the people are in real trouble. BB
    *****************************************************
    ###Now about the negativity and maybe in answer to your post: Log, you are 57 just 10 years younger than me and you also have been actively engaged in society politically and otherwise. Now I confess that up until 10 years ago all I had was newspapers, TV and a select group of magazines from which I got my news. I gather this would also be your experience give or take a few years with the computer.
    ###That said, I don’t remember a time when the news has been as bad as it has been the last few months; especially since our new President took office. Not negative in that people are just being nasty negative, but negative in the things that are taking place. A bad mistake by the last administration in the Bail Out Bill first. And now negative actions of the new administration in attacking our institutions and especially our Constitution. Negative actions our new President and his administration is taking to chum up with leaders from other countries that we know from past experience have grave differences with the United States. (letter to Russia–a bad move in my opinion and will be taken as toadding not only by Putin but by the world). And at the same time he (and his administration) is actually going far out of their way to offend our friends.
    ###I will use as an example his treatment of the Prime Minister of Great Britain Gordon Brown. I was appalled and embarrassed at his actions. This is not how a President of the United States greets and treats a visiting Head of State. To claim to be too busy to have a joint news conference with the person (a standard procedure all over the world with Heads of State by the way) and then spend time with a troop of boy scouts. Dear Lord! This is going to have repercussions believe me. And it certainly did send a loud and clear message to the rest of the world as to just how our President feels towards the Prime Minister of one of our staunches allies. He wasn’t treated this way when he visited Canada!
    ###Some are saying that he didn’t know what was expected of him. Like hell, there are people all over Washington and certainly the White House whose job it is to tell the President exactly what is not only expected, but mandatory! So in my opinion and I am sure in the opinion of the world, the slight to Gordon Brown was deliberate.
    ###And no, I didn’t like Obama because I found him too elusive during the campaign. I have never been one to feel good when fed pablum and that is what his campaign was about. I also was very wary of him due to his past actions and associations. But he was elected and that was that. In our society once elected the new man is THE President and accepted as such and the people pull behind this person as best they can. This doesn’t mean to agree with him on everything or not to comment when an action he is taking or has taken is in my opinion wrong however.
    ###I have had people tell me to “give him a chance”. Well I am giving him a chance, but when he is acting in a way I do not agree with whether it is day one or 100 of his administration I feel I have a right, and perhaps a duty, to speak up. Am I wrong? Should I watch what he is doing and wait a specific amount of time before I say, “Hey that’s wrong!” Is there a given time table in this? Well, what if his actions take effect before the “give him a chance” time to speak out comes about and the actions badly impact my country?
    ###You asked me on my site just the other day if there was one thing I or any of my readers find that the new President has done RIGHT. (Noticed you haven’t been back since). Anyhow, my answer was “not much, sorry” and I am sorry. Truly sorry that everything this man has done scares the “hash” out of me. And once more I think it should you too. And every American.
    ###I have been blogging daily about these assaults on our institutions and Bill of Rights so I won’t go over them now, but don’t they upset you? Are you for the so-called Employee Free-choice Act which will remove the secret ballot from elections. Which in the fine print will put the making of labor laws in the hands of union leaders? Which will in effect overturn by federal government fiat the Right to Work laws of 22 states? And which will actually close companies down by banning them from working and fulfilling their orders and obligations to others during a strike?
    ###You were a business man, the person who invested your time, talent and money in this enterprise and you hire people to work for you who don’t care for the rules you have set up for your company so they go on strike and in effect put you out of business! Do you agree with this? I am not against unions at all, but there must b e equal and just treatment of all parties, both workers and companies. This Employee Free-Choice Act is not fair to anyone, neither the workers who will lose a basic right to a secret ballot when voting, nor to the companies and people who have invested in creating this company. This Act if passed will do much more than just take a basic right away from workers, it will take a job away. No one will want to invest their assets in a business with the threat always hanging over their heads that a strike called by some union boss will shut them down and put them out of business . No investor will want to buy stock in American companies. I know I sure won’t. I will be looking a companies perhaps in India to invest in.
    ### In fact I probably won’t have to change my investments since these companies will most probably move off shore to other countries. Mexico loves this Employees Free-Choice Act and is lobbying for it’s passage!
    ###And that is just one thing that our new President is doing or has done or is trying to do. The list grows everyday. It is overwhelming! And because it is overwhelming, much of this that I really and truly feel is treasonous activity is going to be passed into law by a Congress too busy being assaulted with these omnibus bills to read and understand what they are passing. It happened with the rush, rush Stimulus Bill of 1000+ pages.
    ###Speaking of the Stimulus (Bleeding Debt) Bill there are now 13 states who are rejecting the money because of the strings attached that will change their laws or cause them even more indebtedness. I have been trying to keep information on my blog about these States in Revolt also. And there are rallies taking place all over the country called “Tea Parties” of ordinary people who are against what is happening. The Main Stream Media isn’t reporting these rallies, but other news outlets are and they are both conservative and progressive news outlets who are doing this reporting so I am inclined to believe them. One British news paper even had an article about the “Tea Parties”. This grassroots movement just started and is growing every weekend. It just got going since the Stimulus Bill was passed in fact so expect a lot more as the word gets out.
    ###So Log what can I be positive about? How am I to put a happy face on these dire and life changing laws that are being slipped unobtrusively in spending bills and budget bills?
    ###I am not a negative person by nature. I like to laugh! But I do write about politics and usually about things politicians are doing wrong because that is what political bloggers do: they warn people of mistakes being made.
    ###Can you Log, tell me one thing that this President has done that is right and good for our country? And before you answer off the top of your head make sure you have done a bit of research on the action. Some people have pointed out the help to people who are losing their homes. Check out the strings attached to that help.
    ###Finally, going back to my first paragraph and my reference to our ages, have you ever in your life witnessed anything like what is happening today when the so-called crisis was no worse, and in many cases better, than the recession of the 1980’s? Do you remember any panic in the population or mentioned by the President? I don’t remember any. I remember a President coming on TV and explaining what was happening and telling us not to worry that things would turn around and because we believed him things did turn around. Now things are deteriorating at an unprecedented pace, and that just over the past two weeks. You will note that was after the Stimulus Bill was passed that was supposed to boost everyone’s morale, and the President presented his huge budget to Congress that was supposed to create more jobs and boost the economy. And after his talk to the nation about responsibility. BB

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  8. Two quick things Brenda:

    It seems to us, knowing that reasonable people can differ, that we as a society ought to be able to identify common goals, even if we have different philosophies about how to get there.

    It also seems to us that the two warring factions ought to be able to combine their theories/mechanisms for achieving these common goals, and produce an even better mechanism.

    What we don't understand is why each side fights for its approach to the exclusion of the other. Logic seems to suggest that two heads are better than one, unless emotional crap unrelated to the goal, gets in the way.

    Imagine two engineering firms standing on one side of a river debating about how to build the bridge to the other side. The bridge would never get built.

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  9. I agree with you that intelligent people should be able to get together on their goals and find a solution. The problem with Obama’s agenda is his goals are ones I can not agree to in any way, shape or form. And I believe this is the case with many Congressmen who are just now beginning to realize what they have agreed to in the Stimulus Bill. I believe there will be more Democrats coming out against President Obama’s agenda as time goes on. I just hope it happens soon.

    From your response what this comes down to Reggie is that you don’t seem to understand why I am upset, and I don’t think I can make it any clearer. It is not a matter of disagreeing on "how" things should be done. It is all about my vehement contention that absolutely nothing that he is doing should be done. BB

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  10. We understand people being upset Brenda. Being upset and suffering the consequences of this economic downtown knows no party affiliation.

    At the same time, we believe that "reasonable responsible leaders" ultimately figure out a way to work together to achieve common goals.

    What we don't understand is how arguing advances either side's long term interests, or that of the nation. We're not aware of many instances in life where constant bickering accomplished anything.

    This stuff is bigger than us, and bigger than the here and now.

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  11. This stuff is bigger than us and the here and now and that is my point. The only possible solution to the parts of the bill that limit the rights of American is to delete them from the bill altogether. There is no compromise for instance in any part of the Employee Free-Choice Act. None! It is a pure and simple grab for power by the mafia run union leaders. There is nothing at all in that bill that will help the workers. Read it and you will see there is nothing for the working public and a great deal against the worker down the line.

    Another one is the Global Poverty Act that Obama sponsored and is still pushing with provision hidden in the Stimulus Bill and his Budget that would further the objectives of this handing over of American sovereignty to the United Nations. Read it. Here again I see no compromise possible.

    There are other areas where compromise is possible and I sincerely hope the congress can arrive at these. One compromise is to require drug companies to negotiate on the price of drugs sold in this country bringing the prices more in line with what these companies sell their drugs to other countries for. The Republicans passed the Senior Drug Plan without this safeguard and drugs are now higher than ever for seniors and all of us. the Democrats came in with a big bang that they were going to get it right. well they didn't. All they put in was that the drug companies would talk with the Sec. of Health about the cost of drugs. Not a thing about the government doing anything to clamp down on these thieves. But at the same time the government does require that drugs be purchased only in this country. Drug stores for instance can not look for the best deals as they can on just about everything else.

    The claim is the drugs from outside are not FDA approved. That is a farce. There are very few drugs produced in the United States. Most are now produced in India. For decades Germany had been the drug capitol of the world.

    If the cost of drugs were brought down that would be a substantial lowering of the medical costs.

    Another area the government should get into is regulating the costs of medical equipment. A simple walker cost me $89. A bath chair again aluminum and plastic cost $149. This goes far beyond the supply and demand of the free market. And again these things can be purchased at a far more reasonable price in other countries but by government regulation they must be purchased by American companies. They are however produce in other countries and not by American workers. This is where the federal government should and can reduce medical costs for the public without creating another huge entitlement program.

    Entitlement programs have never, ever worked! Not one of them! Social Security is a huge illegal Ponzi scheme, nothing else. After the first two years recipients have gotten back every cent they put in and after that it is Welfare for the Elderly. But because of it Americans did not save for their old age and families moved away from the responsibilities to each other and their elderly.

    Look what has happened to the recipients of the War on Poverty for God's sake. A far greater percentage of the population is now living in poverty that before this bogus war.

    There is room for much compromise but not until it is agreed that some things must be reversed and eliminated. And this is not going to ever happen with the entitlements we already have because the recipients are addicted to the hand out. The only ones that can be eliminated on the Welfare rolls, but for god's sake don't touch the Social Security or Medicare!

    I am sorry I get so upset and just rage on. BB

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  12. We originally considered including the word "certainty" in the title of this piece. Many on both sides of the cultural and philosophical debate are so sure of their respective positions, and what should be done to get us out of this mess.

    We take the time to conduct research, consider the views of others, read all that we can within reason, and try not to react emotionally. Even after doing all of that, there is little about which we are certain.

    We're obviously not as sophisticated or enlightened as many of our readers who are "certain" about what should and should not be done going forward. That's very different from what we might want or desire, or what we value.

    As for the policies implemented thus far by the Obama Administration, we do not have a clue whether they will be successful in achieving the results sought. If it were really all that clear, and simple to see, we suspect that people would have done it by now, and there would not be any disagreement.

    We strongly suspect that this is bigger and more complicated than anyone has the ability or experience to address. Of course, no one appears willing to admit this, and with some good reason. We do not wish to create a panic any more than we are already experiencing.

    We have often facetiously suggested that when politicians or other leaders argue for a particular approach, and it is actually implemented, that they back it up or guarantee it with their family assets. Something tells us that very few would actually do so if required.

    If one is certain about, or believes that his or her position is absolutely correct, and there is no other way to approach a problem, then no progress will be made.

    The all or nothing approach gets us no where.

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  13. Log, first let me address the "baby language". While I think it might be a bit of "We all see what we want to see" in these studies, I will grant that I could be wrong about that. Instead, I will say that they aren't speaking to us in a language we understand and, therefore, we still haven't the foggiest notion about what goes on in their heads. And I, for one, wouldn't presume to make absolutist statements about their negativity or lack thereof. We can disagree about this. When we learn the baby language, we can ask them who is right.

    Second, Brenda made some very good points. I understand your belief in bi-partisanship but I don't seem to recall much of it in the previous 8 years. I don't recall anyone asking to merge concepts and methods. No, what I saw then and what I see now is bi-partisanship defined this way:

    Republicans go along with Democrats and do not push their principles.

    I have stated a number of times that Democrats say bi-partisanship when they only mean "agree with us." I am certain that Republicans have also been accused of this also. But I am trying to remember when they blocked confirmations for the bench as a routine matter, or blocked important legislation that the country wanted. It didn't happen. Their refusal to be bi-partisan with the Stimulus Bill was to not vote for it. Surprise! Their votes really weren't needed. It would have been a bigger surprise if more than the three rather liberal Republicans voted for it since they weren't consulted on it, there ideas were rejected, as were all of their amendments. Pelosi and her pals wrote the House version and Reid negotiated more with his fellow Democrats than anyone else.

    To be blunt, I have waited for decades to see some bi-partisanship from the Democrats and haven't seen any.

    Nope, there is no bi-partisanship and, frankly, I don't want any. Well, not until it truly is bi-partisanship.

    Finally, I am of the mindset that says, the more the govt does to ease the pain of this recession, the longer it will last and the deeper it will get. The sooner we take our medicine and let some things fall as they will, the sooner we will emerge from it.

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  15. One of the more interesting things which we have found during our operation of this blog has been what one author described as the "risks associated with trying to bridge the gap between competing factions." (We imagine that it is far more comforting to pick sides. It appears that principle applies to many things in life.)

    He noted that when he wrote his book examining both the good and bad of various positions, he thought that he would receive some degree of praise from both sides, and perhaps advance the agenda. Instead, he found that he was attacked by both sides.

    Well, we'll simply have to regard that as one of the indignities which we will have to endure if we are truly interested in making some progress during the discussion of issues affecting society.

    Although we do not support, advocate, or apologize for the position of either party, are there any progressives, liberals, or Democrats who wish to address the points raised thus far? You guys are getting your butts kicked. Don't you have the guts to defend yourself?

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  16. Logistician,

    When I criticize President Obama and others, I may be a bit angry but I am certainly not embracing negativity for its own sake. I believe that that "negative" quality (or the perception thereof) is born of desperation. We all have different perspectives regarding what inspires us to be desperate so, as someone mentioned, our views do not always permit us to "speak the same language".

    I don't know how to account for myself other than to state that I wear no particular "jersey" and I have no other agenda than a wish to see the American experiment (and its attendant "comforts" and advancements) continue so that many future generations may participate in it.

    I criticized Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 just as bitterly as I criticize Obama. I condemned the Congresses which served under those administrations as roundly as I condemn the current Congress. I don not believe that we have had a President or Congress seated in a long, long time who had America's best interests at heart -- or could even manage to do the right thing "accidentally" when no altruism was present.

    Call it "negativity" if you will; characterize me as a "Doberman" if you wish. But what I feel inside right now is desperation -- and I have carried that desperation within my heart for a very long time.

    Jeff Dreibus

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  18. Sometimes compromise is not the answer. Sometimes compromise is the worst path a society can take. Though I am not a believer in absolutes, I am a believer is better paths to take. When one path offered is something I believe will make things much worse then I will not support it and I will oppose it. Regardless of how charming, how persuasive, the proponent of that path is. Those who represent me in Congress should also oppose that path. If they do not, I will definitely vote against them in the next election and I will try to convince others to vote against them. This is how the system works. I like that system. I oppose anyone who thinks it should be scrapped for some kind of authoritarian system no matter how benevolent that system might seem to some.

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  19. Log you asked if there is any signs anywhere of people working together for a solution. You asked what we a citizens can do to solve our problems.

    I and many, many others are at the point where we don't feel we can wait until the next election to change what is happening in Washington today. Like Jeff I have been batting at every administration when I thought they were wrong. That is what politically active people do. I have too been becoming more and more angry, but this is the first time I have felt desperation. And, the signs are that as I said, many more feel the same.

    Perhaps citizens coming together to demand changes in the way Washington works is happening now in the grassroots movement that has just begun where Americans are peacefully demonstrating in what are called "Tea Parties". I blogged on this (States and People in Revolt Against Big Government----March 4, 2009 — brendabowers) It has just gotten started since the passage of the Stimulus (Bleeding Debt) Bill was passed and is spreading.

    We can't as citizens make laws; we elect people to do this for us, but we need sometimes to tell those people what we want done. So far Congress is going it's head up it's butt and not hearing us, but with any luck that may change.

    What the Tea Parties are telling Congress is that all this spending at this time is not the way to go. The MSM (Main Stream Media)is not showing much of this, but when you do see a group the home-made signs the people are carrying are telling. They don't want the government expanding it's services. They don't want government taking anymore of their money to pay some one else's mortgage or health care or more and more babies when the parents or parent can't take care of the ones they have. They want the government to back off of any new programs and to fix the ones that we already have that are not working. And that in my opinion is most of the so-called Social Programs.

    It is not a question of being a Conservative or Progressive, Republican or Democrat. It is a question of being an American seeing problems that government either created by it's meddling, or did the wrong thing to correct. The list is long and adding new programs to this long list of unworkable or outrageously expensive government programs is the wrong way to go. When something is broken you don't keep it and keep using it and go out and buy a new one too. You either fix what's wrong or throw it out and buy a new one.

    And again I must agree with Douglas, compromise is not always the way to go. We must remember the adage about the camel and the horse: a camel is a horse constructed by a (compromising) committee. The past 80 years and especially the past 40 years our government has created a herd of camels. BB

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  20. We suspect that some degree of the anger and desperation felt by citizens is due to their feeling that they do not have any control over their government, or say in the decisions made.

    We elect representatives to the theoretically represent our interests and concerns. In theory, can't the citizens seek the repeal of the 16th Amendment authorizing the imposition of income taxes? Sure, it would require a super-majority, but it can be done. That's what the amendment procedure is for. If the government did not have a source of funds, then some changes might occur, might they not?

    Aren't there other procedures in place for those of us dissatisfied with the manner in which government functions, to change it peaceably? Why do citizens feel so impotent?

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  21. Jeff, you're far from a Doberman of the variety about which we are concerned. First of all, it is clear that your criticism goes both ways, as it should. Secondly, from what we have seen of your analysis, it is about the facts, and not personal attacks on the individuals. You also seem to be able to appreciate that reasonable people can differ.

    There is a concept called "constructive criticism." There are ways in which people interested in achieving certain goals can speak and engage others so that there is some reasonable prospect of achieving those goals.

    There's a tone to civil discourse. Essentially yelling at people accomplishes little, and puts the listener on the defensive. Essentially crying about how you've been mistreated does not draw people to your side.

    For many years, the Logistician was a litigator. On numerous occasions, judges would essentially lock the parties and their counsel in a room, in a MANDATORY settlement conference, and tell them that they would be there until they arrived at a settlement. As one prominent trial attorney used to say, a good settlement is achieved when both sides walks away unhappy. The parties and their counsel would then shake hands as professionals and move on. Why resolution can not be achieved in this setting is incomprehensible to us.

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  22. Now we're talking Brenda. You've outlined a number of things that citizens can do to actually have an impact. That's one of the beauties of our system, which so many envy.

    We as citizens have options. We always have options. There are numerous things that we can do to register our dissatisfaction about what is going on in Washington. Acrimonious personal attacks against individuals does not advance that agenda; the mobilization of the forces as you described, does.

    In our view, that is a more effective utilization of someone's time and energy. Anger only detracts from one's energy and effort.

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  23. Interesting thoughts on negativity there Logistician. Here in the U of K I have longed been put off listening to the "best" interviewers due to their constant aggressive, argumentative technique. Apprently, it's all about playing devil's advocate, telling it like it is, or being upfront and honest, when all it seems to do is make people defensive and clouds the whole issue they're supposed to be talking about.

    I like a good verbal ruckus as much as anyone, but not when the sole purpose is to get information from the interviewee.

    In our own lives, there is a real stigma to losing an argument, which is silly. If we have a viewpoint, then someone argues us round so that we accept their viewpoint instead, that's a two-way thing. We've taken on new data, analysed it and come to our own conclusion, just coloured slightly by the other person's persuasion. Shows character on both sides.

    Unless they're wrong, in which case it just makes you look daft :-)

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  24. Log, The people of California voted against gay marriage (Prop 8) and amended the state constitution to forbid gay marriages. But 10 to 1 it is going to be thrown our by judges. something very wrong has happened in this country when judges have the power to over rule the people when they speak. So perhaps we the people don't have the options our Constitution guarantees us after all.

    Just a thought. BB

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  25. Jules, the problem is that we do not come around to the other point of view. We insist that our way is right, regardless of history, regardless of majority opinion, regardless of the rules of common sense. Even when we know we are wrong, we refuse to accept it. Instead, we insist this way is the way it will be and anyone opposing our view is wrong (and worse, dangerous or extremist). Brenda makes an excellent point with her comment on Prop 8 in California. And that isn't the first time. I once lived in San Diego (for 15 years), time after time, propositions would pass with a large majority and time after time, the opponents of that proposition would take to the courts and the courts would overrule the vote. This is wrong! Nationally, some 70% were against bailouts but they happened and continue. Over 50% were opposed to the Stimulus Bill but it passed. The proponents of these "tea parties" are being marginalized by the administration. In fact, any opposing voices, any critics, are being marginalized.

    These are the things that are angering the public and this is why we are becoming even more divided than we have been the last decade and a half. It is not simply the "outs" vs the "ins", as some would like it to be. It is the people vs the government.

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  26. Jeff: You made an interesting comment yesterday about we have thought often. You said that you, "... wished to see the American experiment... continue so that many generations in the future might participate in it."

    The Logistician often speaks of the pain that he and his partners had to endure while shutting down the law firm which they spent years (and many long hours) to build. Selling the furniture, getting rid of the books, laying off people in phases, and finally taking the firm name off of the door.

    We frequently note that part of the frustration which we may be feeling as citizens is that our prominence and way of life slipped away so quickly, prior to our feeling that it had fully run its course. Some frustration may also stem from the feeling that we "gave our prosperity away" to others and didn't come to our senses quickly enough.

    All great nations eventually experience a decline. Why should the United States be any different? What really bothers us is that it may occur during our lifetimes. Would it be any better if it occurred after our deaths, but during the lifetimes of our children and their children?

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  27. Jules: Thanks for taking the "long trip" to visit our forum. We'd appreciate your perspective on a regular basis. There are obviously different forces in operation in the UK, and yet there are also similarities.

    We could not have articulated your message any better than you did.

    We do have a slightly different view of something that you mentioned, although we suspect that we end up in the same place.

    You made reference to "the sole purpose of getting information from the interviewee." We strongly believe that an interviewer, using a civil tone and not placing the interviewee on the defensive, can actually acquire MORE information from someone. Aggressiveness and nastiness, as you correctly stated, clouds the issue and is more likely to make the interviewee clam up, become protective of information, and resent the questioning.

    This is not rocket science. It's only common sense.

    Thanks for visiting, and please tell your other friends (or even those who disagree with you) around the globe about this forum.

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  28. Brenda: We are ecstatic that you brought up the role of the judiciary. A truly "appropriate" response to your statement probably requires 3 or 4 pages of explanation; however, we'll try to be brief here.

    The Judiciary is not supposed to rubber stamp the acts of the Legislature or the Executive Branch, and theoretically, they are not supposed to be subject to the whims and popular sentiments of the citizens. The judicial branch is the 3rd branch, and serves a check / balance function which most in society do not fully appreciate.

    The function of the judicial branch is to ensure the proper "application" of laws (including the state and federal Constitutions.) One of the reasons that many judicial positions are for life, is that you do not want justices behaving like politicians in order to get re-elected.

    Two very quick examples: (a) The internment of Japanese-American citizens during WWII. The Supreme Court determined that to be unconstitutional, even though the vast majority of the people in the US may have wanted it.

    (b) In the 1970s, if we remember correctly, the people of California enacted a law through the referendum process stating that a landlord could discriminate against a potential renter for ANY REASON they wanted, including race, religion, children, pets, etc. If we recall, close to 75% of the voters approved it. The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional.

    To some extent, constitutions (laws) protect us from ourselves, and establish ideals applicable to all times, not just good times or bad times. They are the rudders which keep our boat floating under control during rough waters.

    All that being said, there is a difference between an "activist" judiciary, like the Warren Court of the 1950s, which affirmatively "makes law," which is the province of the legislative branch, and a court which "responds to legal disputes" presented to it by ruling whether the law has been properly applied.

    Many have argued said that the civil rights legal decisions of the Warren Court were improper and beyond the court's authority. The people of the United States did not want black to have equal rights. The desire of the populace was that blacks be treated as 2nd class citizens. They contend that their desire should have been honored until the Legislative branch thought otherwise.

    On the other hand, some argue that the Equal Protection clause prevented disparate treatment of similarly situated citizens, and that the Jim Crow laws were therefore unconstitutional.

    We apologize for not being able to more fully respond to your frustration; however, the system is constructed in this fashion to achieve certain purposes.

    It is a beautiful and well thought out system, even if it does not always yield what we want as citizens.

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  29. Douglas wrote: "...[T]he problem is that we do not come around to the other point of view. We insist that our way is right, regardless of history, regardless of majority opinion, regardless of the rules of common sense. Even when we know we are wrong, we refuse to accept it."

    You've made it clear that's your view of the world. However, that view is not universally held.

    "The Desire of the Majority of the Citizens." Let us ask you this. You and a male friend of yours, who happens to be the mayor of your town, get into a heated argument at a restaurant. You stomp out in anger, and many in the restaurant see your emotional outburst.

    An hour later, your friend is found dead, slumped behind the wheel. Some of the patrons who witnessed your outburst exit the restaurant during the investigation, and conclude that you are responsible and so convey that to the police.

    They get into their cars and follow the police to your home, and as you are being arrested and led out of your home, a mob scene develops.

    Word has spread throughout your town that you killed the beloved mayor. 15,000 citizens, out of your town of 25,000, gather around and demand that the cops release you to them so that they can "take care of you."

    Enter the Logistician who argues that despite the demands and sentiments of the citizens, the majority of whom are shouting for your head, you should be afforded the full due process of law, and that he will file papers with the Supreme Court of Florida to stop this mob action, despite the fact that the majority of the town's citizens want you dead.

    What say you now Douglas about judicial intervention?

    Just playing of course Douglas. But something to think about.

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  30. Well, ignoring the fact that my character is nothing like the one you described, I would say your metaphor still oranges to my apples. Your metaphor is about the adversarial system with which we dispense what we call justice. It has nothing to do with what I was speaking about. in that quoted paragraph. That concerned our political discourse, our defense of our positions. I have argued many times with people over politics. I have pointed out flaws in reasoning, misunderstandings on the part of my opponent, and received acknowledgment of these by the opponent. And then the opponent says, "Doesn't make any difference, I will still vote the way I always have." Or words to that effect.

    But, in case that was a metaphor for dangers of dissent in this country, the threat of arrest and maybe lynch mobs for disagreeing with the administration, I hope that isn't your view of the world.

    In my view, we are allowed to disagree. We protect it with our Constitution. We don't get arrested because we argue with the mayor, we only get arrested because there is actual evidence of complicity in a crime.

    When I was talking about voting and having that right and tradition ignored in favor of government fiat, it had nothing to do with the criminal justice system. Votes are being nullified after the fact. This is a democratic system? I don't think so.

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  31. Douglas: The response which we prepared as an example of vigilante justice was responsive to this language in your prior post:

    "Brenda makes an excellent point with her comment on Prop 8 in California. And that isn't the first time. I once lived in San Diego (for 15 years), time after time, propositions would pass with a large majority and time after time, the opponents of that proposition would take to the courts and the courts would overrule the vote. This is wrong!"

    We were simply explaining how the 3rd branch of government, the judidiary, functions.

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  32. Later today, at 6pm EST on C-Span2 Book TV, there will be a discussion with the author of a biography about Machiavelli, who some consider to be the Father of modern political thought.

    http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=8814&SectionName=History&PlayMedia=No

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  33. Log, then perhaps that is the portion you should have quoted rather than the part where I talked of debating. To be frank, I saw very little of an explanation of the judiciary functions. What I saw is what I responded to.

    The judiciary system is there to settle disputes of a legal nature. It is there to interpret law. Am I wrong in that understanding?

    The purpose of a proposition ballot is to determine what the people wish in terms of enacting laws. It is a way to directly address a public issue when the legislature won't or can't. When I lived in San Diego, I understood that propositions were screened by the judiciary for Constitutionality prior to being placed on the ballot. This is how it is done in Florida (we actually vote on amendments, not propositions here). To take propositions to court after the vote seems to me to be a kind of double jeopardy and a usurping of the public's right under the system.

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  34. Logistician,

    You nailed it! "Closing the office" is a PERFECT metaphor for the emotions experienced while watching the American experiment swirl painfully down the tubes! The only other comparable metaphor which I can conjure might involve the loss of a beloved family patriarch.

    Perhaps the "Dobrman Effect" is simply an understandable manifestation of the grief response to the loss of our nation’s soul -- just as it might be to the other life-altering scenarios described above.

    Jeff Dreibus

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  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  36. I would like to state that you do not save the "American Experiment" by replacing it with a different system. One could say, as I heard on a program about George Washington on History channel this evening, that our Congress is too big and unwieldy to function efficiently and we should pare it down to a reasonable size since we need to get things done. Or someone could say we cannot tolerate these Right Wing talk show hosts because they are riling up the people and keeping us from getting done the things we must do to save the nation. Or someone could suggest that we simply not allow any dissent because we are in a crisis and must act without delay and, therefore, cannot afford the "luxury" of dissent.

    What then happens to the "American Experiment?"

    Would what would remain be worth having?

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  37. Out of curiosity, for those of you who are married, have any of you found that yelling at your spouse, calling him or her names, questioning their intelligence, accusing them of bad motives, and insulting them, ever advanced your agenda?

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  38. Out of curiosity, for those of you who are married, have any of you found that yelling at your spouse, calling him or her names, questioning their intelligence, accusing them of bad motives, and insulting them, ever advanced your agenda?

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  39. Later today, at 6pm EST on C-Span2 Book TV, there will be a discussion with the author of a biography about Machiavelli, who some consider to be the Father of modern political thought.

    http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=8814&SectionName=History&PlayMedia=No

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  40. Log you asked if there is any signs anywhere of people working together for a solution. You asked what we a citizens can do to solve our problems.

    I and many, many others are at the point where we don't feel we can wait until the next election to change what is happening in Washington today. Like Jeff I have been batting at every administration when I thought they were wrong. That is what politically active people do. I have too been becoming more and more angry, but this is the first time I have felt desperation. And, the signs are that as I said, many more feel the same.

    Perhaps citizens coming together to demand changes in the way Washington works is happening now in the grassroots movement that has just begun where Americans are peacefully demonstrating in what are called "Tea Parties". I blogged on this (States and People in Revolt Against Big Government----March 4, 2009 — brendabowers) It has just gotten started since the passage of the Stimulus (Bleeding Debt) Bill was passed and is spreading.

    We can't as citizens make laws; we elect people to do this for us, but we need sometimes to tell those people what we want done. So far Congress is going it's head up it's butt and not hearing us, but with any luck that may change.

    What the Tea Parties are telling Congress is that all this spending at this time is not the way to go. The MSM (Main Stream Media)is not showing much of this, but when you do see a group the home-made signs the people are carrying are telling. They don't want the government expanding it's services. They don't want government taking anymore of their money to pay some one else's mortgage or health care or more and more babies when the parents or parent can't take care of the ones they have. They want the government to back off of any new programs and to fix the ones that we already have that are not working. And that in my opinion is most of the so-called Social Programs.

    It is not a question of being a Conservative or Progressive, Republican or Democrat. It is a question of being an American seeing problems that government either created by it's meddling, or did the wrong thing to correct. The list is long and adding new programs to this long list of unworkable or outrageously expensive government programs is the wrong way to go. When something is broken you don't keep it and keep using it and go out and buy a new one too. You either fix what's wrong or throw it out and buy a new one.

    And again I must agree with Douglas, compromise is not always the way to go. We must remember the adage about the camel and the horse: a camel is a horse constructed by a (compromising) committee. The past 80 years and especially the past 40 years our government has created a herd of camels. BB

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