1,620 thoughts on “DNC and the RNC: the good, the bad, the ugly”

  1. David,

    If your question is whether French patients *must* present a carte vitale in order to receive treatment, the answer is I don’t know — presumably it’s easy enough to find out. Purely guessing … my hunch is that many doctors would be reluctant to treat patients who refuse to provide medical histories.

    Either way, however, keep in mind that one reason (not the only one, perhaps) many Americans guard their medical histories so jealously is for fear of being denied insurance or employment for having pre-existing conditions. In the French system, I don’t think either of those fears reasonably exists. And … still guessing … I suspect the French are culturally less fearful than we on such matters, for better or worse.

    In other ways, patients’ privacy *is* preserved, at least according to T.R. Reid. Medical information on the carte vitale is encrypted, for instance, so, supposedly, I couldn’t read the medical history of some guy whose card I found on the street.

    I suspect the system isn’t perfect, but none is.

    1. I agree Paul, the French are used to living in a very class oriented society and so have less cultural fear about giving up their liberty to a “system.” America is generally split some between those whose ancestors came here for freedom from class systems (earlier) and those whose ancestors came here because of national wealth (more recent). Those who believe in freedom are going to question whether the government should have any roll in health care … but to the degree that any redistributive program would succeed in this culture, it will have to focus on individual consumer control vs system control.

    2. David H:

      You say:


      I agree Paul, the French are used to living in a very class oriented society and so have less cultural fear about giving up their liberty to a “system.”

      Thanks for your agreement, but let’s be clear on where our agreement lies. I guessed that the French are culturally less fearful than we about breaches of medical privacy, and perhaps more generally about being hapless victims of government. The idea that this amounts to “giving up their liberty to a system” is your formulation, not mine.

      And your analysis that a historically strong class system somehow leads a people to indifference to “liberty” seems novel, to say the least. Couldn’t it go the other way? As I recall, they once fought a revolution over that stuff. The French also have a history of oppressive religious rule, and this has hardly made them more submissive to religious authority.

    3. I was just playing with your notion of “culturally fearful.” I think it is just wordsmithing “fear” into a debate that is about choices and not about fear. The big difference, Paul, in our beliefs is you want to centralize and control peoples choices and I want to decentralize and let people’s good choices drive the “system.” I believe all the men and women on the street are smarter by a mile (in total) than you, I or the geniuses from Harvard. Europe historically has had elite control systems (Kings) and they are less fervent than Americans about keeping the power of choice at the individual level. Let’s not forget the airplane was perfected by two guys with a bike shop – not academics or government employees … why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

  2. In the midst of all the criticism of our political system I must take time to say ‘they’ are doing some things correctly…

    The Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill, and President Obama has promised to sign it by the end of the month.
    It was a long battle to get this essential piece of legislation; right wing groups lobbied long and hard with ridiculous assertions like the passing of it would”shred Judeo-Christian values in America”.

    I think it is a Shame that we need to pass a bill such as this in order to PRESERVE values in America.

    Congratulations to the Congress on this one!

    1. Kiffi, The “right wing” groups are concerned about free speech, not “values” – except in the “free speech” was a value once thought highly of in the USA. I do not understand the need to make laws that say it is illegal to do something illegal if the motivation is hate (it was already illegal – see)… it falls somewhere between infantile silliness and pandering. I disagree with James Dobson on many things but I agree that this is just a back door attack on free speech.

    2. David H.- Well said. I’m not sure how any premeditated murder is NOT a hate crime. Perhaps you lawyers out there can shed some light on this logic from a strictly legal perspective.

    3. Kiffi- I think it is interesting how this legislation got passed. It was attached to a “must pass” defense funding bill. That being the case. I don’t see this as any bellweather of change in the country. It is just inside-the-beltway politics as usual.

    4. The result of attaching the Matthew Shepard Act to a ‘must pass’ defense spending bill must mean that SOMEONE thinks the passing of it is , or should be, a “bellweather change” in this country… Human Rights campaign activists don’t just sneak into the Congressional bills offices and attach their favorite little causes.

      Have ‘must pass’ bills ever NOT passed because of some other piece of legislation being attached to them? Is there a process for the non-defense subject matter to be removed before final vote/passage?

      I would say the way it was done shows the necessity of it being done, at least in the mind of someone important. Maybe you could research how/who caused it to be attached to a ‘must pass’ bill?

    5. Kiffi- According to this link in the Stonewall Democrats (?) website
      http://www.stonewalldemocrats.org/node/930,
      majority leader Harry Reid is being credited with getting the amendment through. I still say this is unnecessary legislation and mires Congress down from getting health care and the national debt taken care of. As David H. said, why make something illegal that is already illegal?

    6. Peter and John : I believe Franken’s “rape” amendment WAS stripped from the same bill, or another “must pass” bill, so there is obviously a process for doing so…
      So, I would conclude there was no, or not enough, political will to strip the Matthew Shepard act from this defense bill; i.e. there was a desire to get it passed.

      As to the principle (“if it’s illegal, it’s illegal” ) many states have legislation that calls for a higher penalty for killing a law enforcement officer than an ordinary citizen; do you also find that inappropriate?

  3. John G:

    You write:

    Statistics can be meaningful when a person is comparing like treatments for like maladies for like people. The greatest problem we have is how much of the population the statistics actually fit.

    I think you misunderstand what broad general statistics, like those on healthy life expectancy, can tell us. Obviously they don’t tell us everything. If you want to compare success rates of midweek ingrown left middle toenail outpatient surgery on married churchgoing Protestant patients of Scandinavian origin, here and in Montreal, there’s a pretty clear research protocol.

    But if these are the only statistics you think “can be meaningful”, then we’ve got some communication problems. How would *you* suggest we broadly compare large systems, like the US and Canadian systems? Or do you say this is simply impossible? Are we already living in the best of all possible worlds?

    Concerning medical privacy, you say:

    I … expect … my family doctor to have access to all my medical history, but I’m leery of having a card with my whole history on it that could be accessed by anyone with a card reader and a hacked software system.

    Sure, medical data should be private. So should financial data, but almost all of us walk around heavy-laden with theoretically breachable bank records, ATM keys, credit histories, etc. Say lah vee.

    In any event, do you have any reason to think that medical data in a filing cabinet in Dr. Pangloss’s office is really more secure than properly encrypted data, with layered security, on an electronic card? And how would you like your medical data transferred if you move elsewhere, or Dr. Pangloss retires, or you’re run over by a truck while en vacance in France?

    1. Paul- I think we are maybe talking past one another here. Broad statistics can apply to broad sections of the populace, but specific statistics, say on needs for MRI’s in diagnostice processes, are hard to really compare. If broad statistics are all we have, then we can only be that accurate in our use of them. One of the things that worries me with the proposals before Congress is that they are a little broad. How the details are worked out and who is going to make those decisions are points of discussion. I think the term I have heard to describe this is “specificity.”

      As far as having my medical history on a card, since Alina has computerised their system, I suppose any hacker could probably get into this if he really wanted to. I have a couple sons-in-law in the IT industry, and security is not as sewn up as some would have us to believe. I don’t think my medical history would be of any value to anyone, but the idea of having this info out there in a magnetic strip just bothers me a little.

    2. John G:

      Yes, broad statistics apply to broad sections of the populace — that’s kinda the definition of “broad”.

      What puzzles me is your view, if I understand it correctly, that broad statistics are somehow less valuable (“meaningful” was your word) than narrower ones in the context of a broad discussion about health care policy. The current national health care debate is, and should be, about broad policies, and should properly be informed by general statistics about outcomes on a large scale. As a stats freak I’m glad to hear about comparative MRI use rates and anything else, but big picture stats are surely “meaningful” when we’re proposing to mess with the big picture.

      Whether the various health care proposals out there — as opposed to statistics about health care — are too general and not detailed enough is another question. I think you and I would both be glad to see more detail, not less. But a natural corollary of more detail is greater length and complexity in the bill. If you liked the original, 1000-page House bill, get ready for even more fun. OK with that?

    3. Paul- I think it is evident that we are going down the road of universal health care. I personally don’t need any more broad statistics. What I, and I think many others, are looking for now are some specifics. The main two questions for me are who is going to make the decisions for treatments and who is going to pay for them? What is that old saying, the Devil is in the details? There are a lot of individual specifics about personal health care. My feeling is that unless we have some idea of and plans for how these details are going to be worked out, then we will get into a mess before we can actually get the whole program operative.

    4. John and Kiffi,

      ” All people are created equal” I didn’t read the part where some are less valuable then others. Maybe somebody could point that out to me?

  4. John,

    I could never understand the the whole hate crime provisions either.
    In my mind anybody that kills somebody needs to be punished to the fullest extend of the law..period.

    Are gay people more valuable then straight people? How can one determine if somebody was hating gay people when he killed a person?

    Symbolism over substance. IMHO.

  5. RE: John George – 1002.7

    Mr. George, I don’t read this thread with great frequency and seldom have I commented on this line. Probably never. Sort of like going to a bad movie hoping for the one stunning cameo performance. I have that opportunity at home, as I live with Kiffi.

    When I do read the assorted comments of these threads, I’m almost always appalled at your narrow perspective (that’s my perspective) especially on matters dealing with gay concerns … a subject matter that you (and some others here) frequently tend to find a link to morph to in almost all threads. Amazes me.
    Your remark in 1002.7
    “Kiffi- Are you saying that gay people are on the same level as law enforcement personnel?”

    Leads me to infer that you feel there is an undeniable difference in the level of worth, between gay persons and law enforcement officials, blanket statement! The conclusion you lead me to is that you feel gay persons – across the board, are of lesser worth .. and the same numbers, if applied to law enforcement officials, will show their enforcement mode to be more humane and therefore better than that of the gays. Or else why do you bring in the cops?

    Yes … I read your remarks as a BLANKLET STATEMENT!

    What then do you say of the Gay Cop? Literally is he/she worth less than the straight cop”?

    How about the Gay Preacher?

    What of the cops who brutalize as a part of their professional conduct – wielding unbridled power over others, gay or not?

    How many times have you read of police brutality?

    How many times have you read of gay brutality? Gangs roaming neighborhoods seeking out skinheads they might engage in a head bash?

    Are gay men or women who are employed in these industries worth less than the straight?

    Is a preacher who forces himself sexually on a member of his/her congregation okay if it’s on a person of the opposite sex .. but not, if it’s: SAME SEX, GAY ON INNOCENT?

    Here’s one for you. The gay ballet dancer v the straight ballet dancer. Are they to be judged by their sexual proclivity or, their abilities in leaps, spins and pirouettes?

    Your assessment is beyond my belief. That’s probably why I don’t engage you on this blog. I simply cannot abide the tone. Even so, I haven’t stalked you with intent to do bodily harm.

    My point, while I don’t accuse you of those heinous kinds of acts, stalking, intent to do bodily harm, etc., I do believe you contribute to that thought process, and therefore enable that kind of conduct. Following this line of thinking, a less aggressive position on gays, and higher responsibility bar for the police, might lead toward a less aggressive lifestyle, and directly diminish the numbers of hate crimes.

    Lighten a bit. Please, for God’s sake.

    PS: I don’t consider this discourse to be an intellectual exchange. I will not respond to your response – if there is any – in fact, I’d be happiest if you simply read my remarks as, well intended … and contemplated their value if any.

    victor

  6. Victor & Kiffi- I’ll side with Peter’s comment in 1003.4.
    ” All people are created equal” I didn’t read the part where some are less valuable then others. Maybe somebody could point that out to me?”
    I see no reason to try to discuss this with either of you. Kiffi has quite firmly expressed her disdain of my beliefs about homosexuality, and that is your prerogative to disagree. I will not carry this discussion any further, but I will still exercise my freedom to express my opinion.

    1. Just for the enlightenment of others, John … what did you mean in your statement in 1002.7, i.e., ” Are you saying that gay people are on the same level as law enforcement personel?”

      (we were talking about hate crime legislation and the relevancy to legislation which allows extra penalty for killing a police officer)

      I can’t discern any meaning from that other than you think they (‘gay people’) are not…

      You didn’t answer before. Would you like to make yourself more clear now?
      I’ll be glad to have misunderstood your meaning, as I think it was/is very non-Christian.

    2. Kiffi- I will afford you this one answer. Law enforcement personel are authorized by law to use lethal force in the enforcement of those laws. This puts them in harm’s way and they are subject to lethal responses to their duties. This makes them no more or less EQUAL than any other citizen, but their specific responsibility to the society requires a greater level of risk than the average citizen. If I correctly understand most of the intent of the laws addressing offenses against them, it is this greater risk that is driving the penal code. I don’t see the gay community as being in the same function or level of risk in our society, but they are no less EQUAL. (I don’t mean to be SHOUTING with my use of caps on this word. I just can’t find the italics function on this computer, and I wanted to accent the word EQUAL.)

    3. John: Thank you for “affording” me the one answer.

      Now we just need to have the bar bullies in places like Laramie, Wyoming agree with your statement of EQUAL, and then we wouldn’t need excess penalty laws.

      P.S. I don’t mind CAPS!
      kws

  7. Laws should be applied equally to everyone. Many, in the past, felt morally justified enslaving blacks as they were a different legal class of people. ‘Hate laws’ follow the exact same mistaken logic of applying the legal system differently for certain classes of people. Proponents of ‘hate laws’ might think they are protecting certain groups, but they are not. They are weakening the logical foundation of treating all people exactly equally under the law … this moralizing or politicizing the application of laws can just as easily turn against their interests.

  8. Peter,

    You say:

    I could never understand … hate crime [laws].

    I agree the topic is tricky, and that reasonable people might differ on the wisdom of such laws.

    If you want to understand more about all this, and haven’t done so already, you might check Wikipedia for some standard arguments pro and con; W. also gives some history and references.

    The ACLU (a useful organization, IMO, which catches equal opportunity flak from left and right) has generally opposed laws that criminalize speech of any kind, including hate speech. Laws that “enhance penalties” for crimes (not speech) that can be shown to have been driven by hatred against groups are, arguably, something else, and the Supremes decided unanimously in the early 1990s that such “penalty enhancement” need not violate First Amendment guarantees of free speech. Nevertheless, the ACLU has advocated consistently that hate crimes laws include specific language protecting freedom of speech.

    According to their blog, the ACLU supports the Matthew Shepard legislation “because of its very strong First Amendment protections, as well as the power it gives to the Justice Department to investigate crimes in which the victim was selected specifically because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”

    You ask:

    Are gay people more valuable than straight people?

    The legislation, as I understand it, makes no such presumption. Seems to me the law would treat animus against straights in just the same way as animus against gays.

    How one actually determines — and then proves in court — that such animus significantly motivated a particular crime, as in the Matthew Shepard case, would indeed be difficult. But that’s a good thing — there should be a high standard of proof for applying such a law.

  9. Sorry, Kiffi.

    But your attack on John is not justified. I clearly understaood what he meant by
    ——————————————————-
    Are you saying that gay people are on the same level as law enforcement personel?”
    ——————————————————-

    IMHO he did not imply that gays are of a lesser value then police officers. From John’s comments in the past it is quiet obvious that he has strong religious beliefs. Most religion preach tolerance (that doesn’t mean they practice it)for anybody that is different.

    Myself I am very tolerant towards gays, this doesn’t mean that I approve of their lifestyle or particiapte in it.
    I grant them the freedom to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t interfere with my value system. Isn’t it just fair? Shouldn’t it be “Live and let live”?
    This goes both ways. In the past all to often people are getting demonized for not agreeing with the gay agenda. Not agreeing with ones agenda doesn’t mean that you don’t respect their freedoms.
    Isn’t that what real freedom is about?

    1. Sorry, Peter… asking a question to clarify a person’s position is not an “attack”.

      It is clear to all who read here that I will continue to question what I understand as discriminatory language towards gay people; if you do not see it that way, that is your understanding, and you may of course respond accordingly.

      I do believe”all people are created equal” and that is the point of my continuing campaign against harmful, discriminatory speech.

    1. John, that was a good piece, I think David Brooks idea of replacing one centralized decision making cabal with another being a mistake is correct. But I wish he and the country could focus more on a decentalized approach to building the economy (which seems to be tanking much faster at street level than reflected in the media and Washington).

  10. Northfield is a very small town and what is being said to one another will travel fast and reaches people.

    It is not a secret that most people disagree with most of my views and that’s ok by me.  I don’t agree with most people’s views here either.
    Openly disagreeing with one another and doing it freely is what America is founded on.
    Openly disagreeing with each others point of view but still respect the human being behind it is also part of what America has been founded on.

    Although I disagree with most of you here I never try taking it to a personal level and if some of you feel I have than let me assure you that it wasn’t my intention. It is simply a matter of my sometimes inability to communicate correctly.

    I would think that if we were to meet in person we could sit down and talk about the Vikes, the weather and other daily thinks, without hatred and contempt for one another.
    Speaking for myself I can assure I would. I never talk negatively at home about any of the posters negatively on a personal level.
    This includes Mr.Bly and Senator Dahle which whom I strongly disagree politcially.
    I have never said to any of my family members ” I really hate this guy” simply because I don’t.

    My daughter came up to me last night and told me that ” So and so’s father really hates you”.  That really took me by surprise, so i asked her why?
    She replied that he knows you from “locally grown”.

    This is pretty sad that anyone would tell their children that they hate somebody because of his political views.

    It teaches intolerance and hatred and this is not what America is all about.

    If some of you have any personal issue with me, be man/woman enough and speak to me personally and don’t use your kids as pawns.

    1. Peter- It’s really too bad that our children have to suffer for some of our convictions, but I guess the term “tolerance” can be applied differently. Some comments posted here and on other blogs I have read seem to convey that an opinion will be tolerated as long as in the end, the opposing opinion admits that they are wrong. I really don’t think human nature differs much from person to person. We all filter communications, be they written or oral, through our own prejudice filter. I have felt that these prejudices are often projected onto the commenter whether or not they have expressed an opinion that supports the accusation. For instance, a band of Muslim extremists piloted the planes that brought down the World Trade center. These people were motivated by a few verses in the Q’ran that talk about destroying infidels. Therefore, all Muslims must be extremists bent on attacking America. The falacy of this line of logic has been demonstrated, yet the pattern seems ingrained in some peoples’ thinking. Hopefully, communication can dispell some of these false preceps, but closed mindedness and “righteous indignation” can stand in the way of understanding and accepting one another. 

  11. Peter:  It is sad that adults model such unfortunate behavior for their children–and our children learn from what they see and hear from their parents–so we should all take a lesson and make sure we are modeling the behavior that we want them to follow.

    It is a small town and we know each other–which makes these discussions much more interesting and meaningful to me.

    I also do not allow for “hate” in my life and try hard to keep it out of my children’s lives–how can anyone “hate” someone for expressing their opinons?!  (That is a rhetorical question–no one has to answer it.)

    It is also difficult, sometimes, to be sure that we are typing out what we want to convey–sometimes the message is interpreted differently than intended–so readers may not get a clear view of what we are saying.

    That said, your responses regarding any of the discussions on gays–including gay marriage and the recent discussions on hate crime laws–are loaded with your highly prejudiced opinion that leaves no doubt that you judge gays harshly.  Many people (including me) are offended by these opinions-just as if you were stating harsh opinions regarding women, blacks, or Jews. 

    As an example, and I copies from your entry 1009:

    “Myself I am very tolerant towards gays, this doesn’t mean that I approve of their lifestyle or particiapte in it.
    I grant them the freedom to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t interfere with my value system. Isn’t it just fair? Shouldn’t it be “Live and let live”?
    This goes both ways. In the past all to often people are getting demonized for not agreeing with the gay agenda. Not agreeing with ones agenda doesn’t mean that you don’t respect their freedoms.
    Isn’t that what real freedom is about?”

    In this paragraph you insult just about everybody–You are claiming that there is a “gay lifestyle”, “gay agenda”,  claim that gays interfere with your value system (an insinuation that “gay values” are not good enough for you and must be “bad” values),  and finishing up with claiming that those that don’t agree with you are unpatriotic.

    Try substituting “black” or “Jewish” for “gay” in your paragraphs above and see if it won’t read as something –well hateful–that you think is OK because you don’t like gays. 

    In fact, the opinions you express are the reason there are special laws for “hate crimes.”  Because these kind of opinons become part of everyday speech and acceptable behavior–leading younger, less mature members of society to believe we condone treating other members as deserving less protection–that we think it is ok to treat some persons as non-persons.

    I frequently do not respond to your discussions because your opinion is stated in a way that is entrenched in judgement and leaves me with no doubt you have closed your mind to any other ideas–and I could be completely wrong–you may not have intended to shut out discussion.

    And I take your insults and slurs regarding gays personally in that I believe we must all stand up against bigotry, mysogyny, and racism–for if we don’t who will stand up for us?

  12. Jane,
    It took me about a day to digest some of your comments. If you would know me a little better then you would realize that i am the last person that hates anybody. Especially not gays.
    When I first came in to this country in 1987 I embarked on my first business venture and my business partner at the time happened to be gay.

    Through him I got to spend quiet some time in the gay community and found them to be as diversified as any of the “breeders (gay slang for straight people)” that i found.
    I have experienced some of their intolerance and discriminations they experience in daily life and was quiet uphauled by them.

    To this day some of the people I have met in the gay commuinty are still my friends.

    It is a difficult balance for me to seperate the person from their sexually preference, which is part of the person.

    I just can’t reconcile their sexual preference with the people I have met. That doesn’t mean that I don’t tolerate and respect them or support their right to form a civil unions.

    If I gave you any other impression than the fault is clearly with me.

  13. There is an interesting article on the health care bills in today’s (Oct. 30) Strib. I couldn’t find a link, but the article was written for the Washington Post. One sentence stood out to me in the overview of the House bill, which calls for “sizeable penalties” for those who “don’t obtain coverage”:

    “People can apply for hardship waivers is coverage is unaffordable.”

    Oh, really? I thought this was what all the dog and pony show was about in the first place. One of the problems with the current system is that many people cannot afford coverage. Does this mean they are going to be in the same boat? What kind of reform is this, anyway?

    1. John G:

      I don’t understand what you’re getting at here, why you refer to it as a dog and pony show, etc.

      Are you surprised that the requirement to purchase medical insurance would be waived for the very poor?    Or are you worried  that these very poor folks would not get  access to medical care?       Do you see such a provision in the legislation?

      Maybe I’m dense, but I can’t decode this.    What’s your point?

    2. Paul- Sorry to confuse you with my terminology. As I have heard the phrase used, and as I used it here, a “dog and pony show” is any elaborate presentation of an idea or product. It is all about marketing. The concept I heard way back in President Obama’s speech about health care was that all those people who cannot afford health coverage now will be provided this coverage. The phrase I quoted out of the article seems to suggest that those on the lower end of the economic spectrum, who cannot afford coverage now, will be exempted from any surcharge for refusing coverage if they cannot afford it. To me, this is a disconnect with the original plan presented. You asked this question,
      “Do you see such a provision in the legislation?”
      Isn’t this what is being stated in this sentence I quoted? I haven’t read the whole multi-ream health bill, but it seems that if health care was going to be provided for these people, then there would be no need of a rider like this one.

      As far as your question,
      “Or are you worried  that these very poor folks would not get  access to medical care?”
      well, yes I am. I have been in that group before. I have no problem with medical care being provided for those who cannot afford it. There is a concept I live by, freely you have received, so freely give. I consider it sowing against an uncertain future need when you give to another’s need now out of your ability to do so. Every person in need has not gotten there just out of laziness. Time and circumstance can overtake any of us.

      So, what is my point? This type of phraseology does not sound like the change that was promised by the President. It sounds like the same old system with a new name.

    3. The plan is clearly to take healthy middle income people (what will be poor?) and force them to buy health insurance at a cost far higher than their risk reflects. This is a tax plain and simple on a group Obama specifically said he would not tax. This will be chaos when people understand what is being done to them. One needs a very large income to have several $1000s whacked off each year without feeling a lot of pain.

    4. David,

      You say:

      The plan is clearly to take healthy middle income people … and force them to buy health insurance at a cost far higher than their risk reflects.

      If your point is that many healthy people would pay more for insurance than they receive in benefits, then that’s true, but it’s a truism, not a scandal:   it’s the principle on which insurance is based.

      If your point is (as I expect) the more interesting one that people will be overpaying in some actuarial sense for health insurance, then so be it.  But that claim is quantitative, so please defend it quantitatively.   How would you propose that healthcare costs (now north of 15% in our economy) be actuarially distributed?

    5. Paul, if the free market would offer a $2000.00 deductible hospitalization plan for a few $100s  to a healthy 20 something and the government forcing them to buy a several $1000s plan then this is just another form of tax on “people making under $250,000.” (which Obama promised not to do). Selling out your base to private insurance seems a huge mistake.

    6. David:

      You say:

      …  if the free market would offer a $2000.00 deductible hospitalization plan for a few $100s  to a healthy 20 something  …

      Again I ask:  are these specific numbers ($2000, “a few $100s”) specifically defensible, or are you just using them for illustration?   In the latter case, why not $3000 deductible?  Or $1000?   Or $100?

      And — more important — whatever the figures may be for the  “healthy 20-somethings”, how, if at all, would you propose that society provide for, and pay for,  the health care of unhealthy 20-somethings?    Or healthy  80-somethings?

       

    7. Paul Z, when you say “society” I think you mean, how can we through a centralized all powerful state structure provide for people’s health care. My answer is I don’t think people will be more healthy in an all powerful centralized state. I think the current economic melt down is the result of policy gone wild in such a state and the negative impact on people’s health far out weighs the good you hope can be achieved through socialized medicine.

    8. David H:

      We can discuss some other time whether I favor a “centralized all powerful state” and whether the present health care proposals would indeed usher in such a totalitarian heaven, or hell.

      But for now let’s stick to the subject.      I’d still like to see evidence for  your  quantitative claims (that the middle class will  overpay actuarially for health care, and that $2000-deductible policies could be offered profitably to “healthy 20-somethings” for a few hundred dollars).     And how would you propose that medical expenses of less fortunate groups be borne?

  14. Paul : I think what John means by “dog and pony show” is the concept that the goal  would be to have essentially affordable insurance for everyone… the concept that some people who absolutely cannot afford  it, no matter what can be ‘waived’ out is offensive to some, who feel that they will end up paying for some who cannot.

    In truth, there are many things we all pay for in some way for the “common good” … and we don’t bother to parse out every penny in the ledger.

    I think this objection is a red herring presented as  a fair dish…

  15. Here is yet another link giving a little more insight into the two plans moving through Congress. It is on an MSNBC website.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33564275/ns/politics-health_care_reform
    This quote from the article pretty well sums up what I think many people are feeling.

    “For the same reason, employer groups also remain wary. Big companies don’t want to lose control of their health care budgets and instead have the government send them a tax bill.

    “That cost is going to come back to you one way or another … and it’s coming back in the way of taxes and liabilities,” said Eastman Kodak’s chief executive, Antonio M. Perez, speaking for the Business Roundtable. “We just don’t believe that there are miracles out there.”

    1. John G:

      The article you cite is not really about “the two plans moving through Congress”.    It’s about the so-called public option, which is asserted to be unattractive or unavailable to the large majority of people.

      The Kodak executive’s point about the absence of miracles is true enough in this context (let’s not argue here about whether Mr Perez’s point might also hold over in that intermittent atheism thread).   But Mr Perez’s insight is hardly earthshaking.    Health care is clearly an expensive proposition, whether or not we manage to “bend the curve”.   The point of health care reform is not to deny or hide or wish away its considerable expenses, but to join all the world’s other rich nations in investing in our own health, and in protecting ourselves and each other against catastrophic health expenses.       It’s not just prudent, but also the right thing to do.

    2. Paul- No, this wasn’t an in-depth article about the plans before Congress. If fact, I haven’t seen an article out there like that. I’m assuming it is because nothing has been decided yet about what is being planned. I think the news media likes to give us little glimpses as they are divulged. The danger in this, of course, is that when the plans actually get hammered out, none of nthe little tidbits will be in them anyway.

      As far as ” join(ing) all the world’s other rich nations in investing in our own health,” I think it is interesting that the Saudi King and his entourage frequently add to the economic base or Rochester, MN, when they visit the Mayo Clinic. I think what you were meaning, though, is that we raise the percentage of our citizenry that actually has health coverage from its present level to be comparable to the Europen nations so often cited. I hope we can, also. I also hope we do not put our great great grandchildren into debt in the process.

    3. John G:

      Here’s a site that gives a reasonable amount of detail on the House and Senate plans.

      http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gm81TTE7a0EUL9JlzVML1dnH2N2gD9BL9MB80

      Neither suggests to me that the poor would simply be left out, as you seemed to be suggesting.        The poorest, I think, would be covered at least by Medicaid.     I’d have hoped for more, but perhaps it’s a start.

      As for whether  “the news media likes to give us little glimpses …”, I think you overestimate the media’s ability to agree on and coordinate any  policy, good or bad.       They just do what they do.

      Yes,  Saudi Arabia may be to some extent an exception to the rule that rich countries invest in their own health — though I don’t know what access ordinary Saudis have to healthcare at home.    In any case, I don’t think either of us draws much comfort from being in the company of Saudi royalty.

      And  yes, we should worry about bankrupting our grandchildren.    But let’s worry, too, about taking care of people who need medical care here and now.

       

    4. Paul Z.-Re. Your comment,
      “Neither suggests to me that the poor would simply be left out, as you seemed to be suggesting.” (italics mine)
      actuallywas not my suggestion. The comment came from this phrase in the article that I could not link:
      “People can apply for hardship waivers is coverage is unaffordable.”
      I’m just deducing from this that there will be people still without coverage if the bill goes through unammended. I hope it does not happen.

      As far as the media doing what they do, yep, they are. And these reports do not create or ” coordinate” policy. IMO, they only succeed in fanning the flames of confusion among the populace.

      According to this article, 
      http://unix.dfn.org/Saudi_Arabia.shtml 
      you are correct about the general Saudi populace.

      And, yes, we need to get healthcare for the portion of our populace that does not currently have accessable healthcare. I would just like some honesty on the part of our congressmen on how it is all going to happen. Perhaps I am a little premature in my suspicions of how this is going to be accomplished, but I prefer to not just accept the idea that the Congress, and the government in general, always has the best intrest of the general citzenry in mind when they make these types of decisions.

  16. I’m almost afraid to bring this up here, but, what the heck. I haven’t been shot at for a couple weeks, and this is news. In the Maine elections yesterday, the voters came out in favor, 53-47%, of repealing the law legalizing same sex marriage in that state. I found this interesting quote in an MSNBC article (at this link here : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33626383/ns/politics-more_politics) about the results.

    “Some California activists said the outcome in Maine strengthened their belief that it will fall to the U.S. Supreme Court — not the voters — to make gay marriage legal.”

    Hmmmmm. It sounds like the attitude in some camps is that if they can’t get a majority of opinion to support their agenda, then they will force it upon the voters via the court system. It is interesting that in every instance where the subject has been put before the voters, there has not been a majority that has supported the measure.

    1. OK… here comes the “shot”, John…

      Will you agree , that after many votes, by legislature or plebiscites presented to voters, a controversial issue has gone to the Supreme Court of the United States, which has then made a decision which may overrule either of the two aforementioned groups, and then becomes the Law of the Land?

    2. Kiffi- Yep. That is what is happening. To me, this is just an indication that the majority of the population is not quite ready yet to embrace same sex marriage. I wouldn’t use these results to support any type of moral judgement, though. This trend of using the courts to effect social changes in our country which do have moral overtones to them for some people is technically outside the democratic process of majority rule. I think it riles many Libertarians. I don’t agree with this trend, but I’m just a puff of breath in a windstorm when it comes right down to it.

    3. Kiffi- Sorry, I thought I understood what you were saying. I thought your comment- 
       
      “…which has then made a decision which may overrule either of the two aforementioned groups, and then becomes the Law of the Land?”

      was just stating that the Supreme Court has authority to overide popular opinion. This is true. What did I miss?

    4. John:   My point was: sometimes we need a larger more objective entity (Supreme Court in this instance)  to make sure that the “will of the people” is not, through their purely personal prejudice, removing the rights of some other people…

      And I don’t want to hear another circular argument about how those voters ‘rights’ were stripped; NO ONE has the right to hate another person because of their skin color, sexual orientation, etc. etc. etc.

      Disagree all you want, and as vehemently as you want, but in the end… DO  NO   HARM

       

    5. …and my only point was that the majority of the population at this point in time does not support same sex marriage. The general function of the Supreme Court, as I understand it, is to define legality of application of legislation. You and I differ on how we define same sex marriage. You define it as a civil right with merit for legal protection. I define it as a social issue whose popularity and support within the general populace changes from time to time, and therefore does not fall within the legal enforcement of the Supreme court. And, your association of my beliefs with hate driven factions of the society is unfounded.

    6. John G:

      You say that

      the majority of the population at this point in time does not support same sex marriage

      and then that

      [same sex marriage is]  a social issue whose popularity and support within the general populace changes from time to time, and therefore does not fall within the legal enforcement of the Supreme court.

      You may be right about the majority’s view, but the second quote baffles me.    Are you really saying that the Supremes should comment only on matters on which public opinion is fully settled?      In that case we’d have no need for a Supreme Court — we could just have a plebiscite on any sticky issue.

      Seems to me that the Supremes (and lower courts) are there not to divine and ratify majority opinion, but to rule on whether particular laws or policies are consistent with broad principles and precedents enunciated in our Constitution and other elements of settled law.    Judges with fingers in the wind are not doing their job as I understand it.

       

       

       

       

       

    7. Paul Z.- Re. your question;

      Are you really saying that the Supremes should comment only on matters on which public opinion is fully settled? 

      No, I am not saying that at all. There will never be a time when public consensus on anything will be settled. I am just differentiating how I define same sex marriage. By social issue, I am asserting that sexual attraction is something that can be and is changed, as opposed to race, which one has from birth to death.  There is emperical evidence of people changing from heterosexual attraction to homosexual and vice versa. I have yet for anyone to present any evidence that a person has changed from one race to another. I have personal friends that have been in same sex relationships and have changed their attraction to the opposite sex. I have other friends who have lived in opposite sex relationships, raised a family, and then decided they weren’t attracted to the opposite sex at all, and have left those relationships for a same sex relationship. I have personal friends of various race and skin color, but none of them has chosen to or suddenly become another race. That is why I call same sex marrige a social issue and differentiate it from racial issues.

      Your last statement

      Seems to me that the Supremes (and lower courts) are there not to divine and ratify majority opinion, but to rule on whether particular laws or policies are consistent with broad principles and precedents enunciated in our Constitution and other elements of settled law.    Judges with fingers in the wind are not doing their job as I understand it.

      I agree with 100%, but I think that we are drawing two different
      conclusions from it.

    8. John: If your views  of other human beings’ personal choices align with that segment of society who would discriminate based on those personal choices, how am I to separate you?

    9. Kiffi- Maybe just get to know me rather than assuming you know me because of what I profess to believe. As far as your association of me with that church in Texas, look at my writings and tell me where I have supported any of their hate filled interpretation of the scriptures. I think you will find otherwise.

    1. John G:

      Since you ask, here’s my take.

      The Garvin piece is amusing,  but it works better as humor  than as serious analysis.    Sure, every administration gives itself the benefit of any doubt about the efficacy of its programs.       And I never liked  Cash for Clunkers as economic policy.   (As politics it had a kind of zany genius.)

      But  the writer, Glenn Garvin, plays a bit fast and loose, too.   He implies, for instance, that the idea of saved jobs (as opposed to newly created jobs) is a political fiction.     Wrong— saved jobs may be hard to meaasure, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      Where Garvin goes farthest off the rails is in comparing, even in passing, this stuff, even at its silliest  to the GWB administration’s systematic anti-science views and policies.   There’s no comparison.

    2. Paul- Thanks for responding to the article. I thought it was amusing, also. I don’t put a lot of stock in these columns. The writers have a bias they are presenting, so any of their assertions are going to be weighted that way. I get a little concerned that we citizens have some unrealistic expectations of how soon some of these things in the economy can be fixed. It doesn’t matter who would have been elected in ’08, we would be facing the same problems and the same time frame to correct them. They didn’t come on us overnight, and they are not going to be fixed overnight. I also agree on the science analogy with GWB. They are not equal.

  17. John,

    My computer makes it inconvenient to reply in a long thread, so I’ll start another here.

    In 1018.8, in ref to my question on when the Supremes get to weigh in on stuff, you explained that in your view sexual orientation is changeable, unlike a person’s race.

    There’s an interesting discussion to be had on the substance of that view.   A good case can be made, I think, that sexual orientation is actually  much more fundamental to a person’s makeup than his or her “race”, which is arguably an outdated fiction from the biological point of view.     (Skin color is of course not fictitious, but it’s only skin deep, if that.)

    In any event, what difference do you think this somewhat esoteric question makes to whether or not the Supremes get to weigh in on a matter?     Is there some reason the Court should keep mum on things that involve personal choices?     I don’t follow your line of reasoning.

    1. Paul- I understand the problem with long post replies. I almost started again,myself. There is a reason I use sexual preference instead of sexual orientation, but it is kind of fine hairs to split. Going back to your last paragraph in 1018.7, where you said something about the SC ratifying majority opinions, I see it doing the same thing with a present minority public opinion with same sex marriage. It seems that rather than wait until this generation that is against same sex marriage dies off, they can force compliance through legal caveate. I personally don’t see any difference in whether the court supports a majority or a minority opinion, the effects are the same.  

      Then, your statement,
      “but to rule on whether particular laws or policies are consistent with broad principles and precedents enunciated in our Constitution and other elements of settled law.”
      would seem to indicate that there is a standing precident to support this marriage law. I don’t see that. In fact, it wasn’t until the late ’50’s that homosexuality was taken out of the list of psychological deviations.

  18. John: regardless of what you actually write, you continually  make it clear that you think of  homosexuality as a “deviation”, or some sort of condition or disease that can be “cured”. You have repeatedly spoken of ‘friends’ who have been “cured”.

    By your own statement regarding the use of the term”preference” as opposed to orientation, you acknowledge that homosexuality is a choice a person is making, and in your opinion not an appropriate choice.

    Paul’s example of  the out moded concept of race as an example of a LESS determinant factor is a good one; I am part Native American… a very small part, maybe a sixteenth or thirty-second… There is no way for this to be known, unless I tell you, or you are my dentist. I have consistantly been told by dentists that my molars are Asian, not Caucasian ,(i.e.,tribal migration over the land bridge from Asia)


    1. Kiffi- What I have wondered about in your responses to my posts is why you lump me into the same mold as that hate filled group in Texas? It is as if you are using the same judgement on me that I here from people who think all Muslims are terrorists just because they are Muslim. That is why I say some of your accusations and responses to my posts are unwarranted, and I invite you to get to know me.

      In regards to your inborn racial characteristics, these can be traced to specific genes. Though there has been much research looking for the gene that governs sexual attraction, I have yet to hear of anyone actually identifying it. If this was possible, there might actually be genetic treatments for those in our society that are attracted to children and are motivated to various examples of sexual violence. At this present time, these behaviors are treated as what they are- deviant behaviors, and by deviant, I am talking about their deviation from normal heterosexual sexual attraction. I just don’t agree with the concept that homosexuality is an acceptable alternative lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that I am going to go out and kill them or even mistreat them. I have worked with many in my industry and have had no problems with interractions. But, if they want to know my convictions, I have no fear in sharing those with them, because I have already demonstrated my love and respect for them as fellow human beings. I don’t have to agree with or embace everything any other person believes to be friends with them or treat them civily and humanely.

    2. John: regardless of what you actually write, you continually  make it clear that you think of  homosexuality as a “deviation”, or some sort of condition or disease that can be “cured”. You have repeatedly spoken of ‘friends’ who have been “cured”.

       

      Like it or not homosexuality is not “normal” however you define normal.

      Truth is that if homosexuality would be the norm than we all would be homosexual.

      Homosexuality by it’s very nature is a natural dead end. You will always need a female entity and a male entity to assure the continuation of the human race.

      Thus homosexuality could be considered an abnormality of nature….which is not the norm.

    3. Peter M:

      Leaving aside the substance of your views on homosexuality, the logic of your posting quite escapes me.        You say, for instance, that

      … if homosexuality [were]  the norm than we all would be homosexual.

      If by “the norm” you mean “universal”, then your statement is true but vacuous.    Otherwise, the assertion makes no more sense to me than saying that since not everyone is male (or blond, or Republican, or …),  all of these traits must be abnormal.         I don’t think so.

    4. Paul,

      if homosexuality would be the norm or normal then humans would stop to exist.
      Two human males are incapable of reproducing on their own…no matter how hard they try.
      Your example implies racism mine states the obvious…huge difference.

      This doesn’t mean that I don’t like gays…it only illustrates the abnormal biological component of a gay relationship. It shows the anormality on the biological level.
      If humans would be able to multiply by being homosexual than nature wouldn’t see a need for a man and a women..but alas it does.

  19. I noticed that a couple of presenters on NPR this morning were having trouble pronouncing the name of the Muslim soldier who attacked Ft. Hood the other day. One of them was pronouncing it “Hossen,” as in the phrase “hoss n buggy,” and the other one kept giving it as “Hassen,” which rhymed with the word “fasten.” Shouldn’t it be pronounced more like the common Muslim name “Hasan,” which doesn’t really rhyme with anything because it ain’t English?

  20. The story around the Ft. Hood shooter is turning more and more in to a budged effort by the Army.
    It seems that he “officially” didn’t belong to AQ, but does that not make him a terrorist anyway?
    Red flags were up all around him…but did we ignore them because of political correctness?
    I hope not.

    1. Peter- I hope we didn’t, either, but I suspect that there may have been a more relaxed view of Hasan because he was Army. Who would really suspect that your own might turn on you? If this were a widespread attitude, then I don’t see how there could be any unified military unit. Suspicion is a poison that brings division and defeat.

      I really hope the media runs into a dead end with Hasan’s connections with AQ or any other Muslim extremist group. Their continued harping on it makes it more difficult for any religious group, IMO. I really think this was a very disturbed person who finally took out his fears on his colleagues. He could just as well have been a blue-eyed Lutheran named Hans. His religious affiliation has no being on his mental state, IMO.

    2. Sorry. That last sentence should read “bearing on his mental state,” not “being.” Spell check is of no help when you correctly spell the wrong word.

    3. http://apnews.myway.com/article/20091111/D9BTACM80.html

      He could be mentally deranged but still be a religious extremist. The more we find out the more disturbing it gets.
      I am still waiting for all the facts, but it doesn’t look good.

      It is a difficult balancing act to consolidate security concerns with political correctness.
      ” Not every muslim is a jihadist, but every jihadist is a muslim”

  21. Peter and John: re: the #1021 post series…

    It is always amazing how people can say  “I don’t dislike gays; some of my friends are gays” ,  and then proceed to talk like those human beings are some kind of sub-species.

    Would you say the things you say here to your “friends”? I guess that question is to Peter; John would probably say yes , because he  sincerely thinks he can ‘help’ by ‘curing’ them.

    So, would you say to your “friends” that they are not normal because they are gay?

    1. Kiffi,
      Your bias is clouding your judgement. I have NEVER referred to gays as sub-human. If i somehow gave you the impression that I did I am very sorry.
      I don’t try to cure them either. My motto is “Live and let live”.

      If my friends can’t be honest with me then I don’t consider them friends I call those acquaintances .
      “Normal” is a very broad definition normal means different things to different people.
      I don’t attack people because of their lifestyle, preferences or in this case a genetic abnormality??? If that what it is.
      The real test of accepting others is, if you can do it, despite of disagreeing with them.
      There are many more facets to a person then their sexuality. Although my business partner and friend knew my position we still managed to be friends.
      It’s not like we spend all of our time together discussing homosexuality.

    2. Kiffi- I’ve been mulling over your comment above, and I guess I am amazed that people would only consider people to be friends if they are in lockstep with their own beliefs/convictions. If we are going to live in a world of tolerance, then that alone would seem to indicate that there are other people who are different from oneself. Does your seeming definition limit those people whom you can call friends? Just wondering.

    3. John : It sometimes seems like we are speaking an unknown foreign language to each other…

      I have all sorts of different ‘friends’; some of whom I , and they with me, differ substantially on important issues. I do not have to be in “lockstep”  with ‘friends’…

      What I asked you was how you can have people that you feel close to, are your ‘friends’, that you feel are in need of “curing” of what they had considered to be an essential part of their self identity.

      You and  Peter have both expressed your beliefs that homosexuality is abnormal…

      I will tell you if you decide to  honestly try and define “normal”, you will run up against a lot of problems with offending all kinds of people.

      IMO you spend too much time “mulling over” what I have said, especially since I don’t seem to be speaking American English to you, or I am ‘losing it’ in my old age, or you just aren’t hearing  what I am actually saying.

    4. Kiffi- I represent your comment about old age. (Yes, “represent” is the correct word. It is an attempt at a self-depricating joke.) 

      Tell me this. If you had a friend who had a drinking problem, and he was gradually digging his own grave, would you keep silent and not say anything to him out of fear of offending him? I would hope not, for to let him continue in his path of destruction would not be demonstrating very much love, IMO. I equate homosexuality with alcoholism, so I use the same approach with each one. I don’t use the term “cure”, (that is your term) for I don’t think it fits. I use the term “set free.” This in no way means that either will not have to fight temptation the rest of their lives, but there is a place of freedom for each them.  In my circles, there is hope for those who recognize their sin. It is called grace.

    5. John: I distinctly remember you saying you have had ‘friends’ who were homosexual but they had been “cured” and are now happy in a traditional marriage. If that memory is  incorrect , I apologize,: I am certainly not going to back and look for the comment.

      But just look at the language you use in the above comment: “continue in his path of destruction”, ”  I equate homosexuality with alcoholism so I use the same approach with each one”, “fight the temptation the rest of their lives”, and “those who recognize their sin”…

      This is all the language of judgement, not acceptance .

    6. Kiffi- Sorry it took all weekend to get back to you, but we have been visiting grandkids in Grand Forks.

      Part of this difference in our approaches to “judgement” or “acceptance” is how we each view God. If God is indeed only a non-loving entity poised to throw lightning bolts at those who transgress His laws, then I suppose what I say sounds judgemental. If the only form of acceptance you recognize is the approach that everyone is free to do what he likes and has no fear of eternity, then this fits. I view God as a redeemer, not wanting any to perish, but for all to come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). If my approach is correct, then to turn a sinner from the error of his ways will save his soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins (James 5:20). I can only tell of what I have seen and heard, but if I do not, then God will find another means or person to present His truth to a perishing world. It is His power that brings redemption and change to a person’s life, not mine. I only get the opportunity to tag along with Daddy while He works.

  22. While we are on the subject (again) of homosexuality, I found a very good study on the origins of many of the terms and ideas we have discussed in this article:
    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-10-036-f.
    The writer is R. V. Young. His credentials can be found here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._V._Young

    There is one conclusion the writer draws:
    “While men and women who are possessed by an urge to commit sodomy with others of the same sex should always be treated with justice and charity, they should not be allowed to determine the norms of moral discourse.”
    that I think is worthy of note.

    1. John G:

      Prof. Young has every right to his opinion on this or any other subject, and his findings on etymology may be of interest.

      But I see nothing in his “credentials”, as you put it, that gives Prof. Young any special standing or credibility as regards moral discourse.   Least of all do I see that he has any special right to allow or disallow others to help “determine the norms of moral discourse”.      On this subject Prof.  Young might be counseled to take his own advice.

    2. Paul- Yes, this is all we can hope for- opinions. Somewhere along the line, though, a person is faced with believing something. The only reason I posted the link for his credentials (he is a professor of romantic languages) is because I wanted to know something about him before I posted any link on the blog here. I suppose any person is going to present evidence that supports his particular bias. What would be newsworthy is if someone such as a practicing gay would write an article like this one.

    3. John :   Who should be allowed to “determine the norms of moral discourse” ?

      It seems to me that every time you are challenged on what you present as fact, or if not fact an opinion you presume will anchor your argument, you squirm out of it with either  your God, or some other questionable authority purportedly on your side.

      You did not respond at all to my questioning of your phrases in 1025…

    4. Paul Z.- Another thought on “opinions.” It appears that R. V. Young has done the research to back up his opinion. In the whole scheme of things, I would say that his “opinion” carries more weight than mine.

      Kiffi- I’m not sure what question you are refering to from1025. Is it this last sentence?
      “So, would you say to your “friends” that they are not normal because they are gay?”
      If so, then this is the way I approach anything like this. I only approach the subject in the context in which it is appropriate. This should be in privacy and non-accusatory. I believe that my God, being personally involved in my daily life, will give me opportunity to discuss the situation. If He does not, I will continue being “friends” and demonstrating His love for the person. Is that what you are looking for?

      As far as your question,
      ” Who should be allowed to ‘determine the norms of moral discourse’ ?”
      that is a good question for which I do not have a difinitive answer. In fact, that seems to be at the basis of all the arguments for/against imposing gay rights. Who decides? The supreme court? The legislature? A majority of the citizenry? Or, is there an absolute truth to direct moral decisions? I know what I believe, but I know that it is not a universal belief. IMO, we in this country are trying to find a moral compass to give us direction right now. This might be a stepping stone into a greater level of cultural development than we have experienced in the past, or it may be the demise of our culture as we have known it. Depending on a person’s perspective and convictions, this is either a discouraging or an encouraging time. We have limited ability to predict the future, but we have finite control over its direction depending on our choices.

    5. John : My previous questions as to your  ‘language’ is in 1025.5… but no matter..

      As to who should determine the “norms of moral discourse”, obviously it is not in the end the general populace who may vote, out of their personal prejudice, in favor of inequality. The clear need is then for a moral decision, by  objective parties, (supreme court) which will come to as close as possible a moral decision which gives all people  equal rights, without prejudice as to skin color, or sexual determination , or whatever…

      Unfortunately, the general populace will vote their preference, which may be prejudicial; they have a right to voice their preference, but not to legally burden others with their prejudices if that results in others’ lessened human rights.

      If we could always rely on the general populace for the most moral decision, we would have had no need of the Supreme Court to vote on equal schools for all children, slavery, or a myriad of other civil/human rights  issues.

       

    6. Kiffi- In response to your trust in the Supreme Court, as you know, the function of this branch is to uphold the constitutionality of various laws enacted by the legislative branch. I think Paul Z. made a good point above in 1018.8,
      “Judges with fingers in the wind are not doing their job as I understand it.”
      This branch is supposedly a-political, but since the debacle of the Robert Bork confirmation hearings, political leanings, rather than good jurisprudence, has had a greater influence on the justices approved. The legislative branch is political, and therefore responding to the winds of popularity, or at least the lobbying, of segments of the populace. I think the court has demonstrated since the early seventies that they will uphold what the legislature enacts whether there is constitutional precedence or not. It is this trend that dampens the trust of many of us in the Supremes exercising good constitutionally based judgement.

    7. John: At this point, the Supreme Court is the Final Word as to the constitutionality of any law of this land.

      IMO, you disagree with them because your  ‘preference’ (word choice is deliberate) is to deny equal rights to all.

    8. John and Kiffi: There is some romance and myth in what you write. The Constitution and its amendments are literally constitutional law. The U.S. Supreme Court (and every inferior court) purportedly does its best to interpret constitutional law. They do not define constitutional law, it’s already defined by the Constitution.

      We all have disagreements on the “justices'” ability to interpret the Constitution. What is remarkable is that the justices are supposedly the best lawyers but even they disagree on many, many rulings. This means either that the Constitution uses vague terms and/or sometimes justices have an ulterior motive. I think it’s probably both.

      Some laws are vague. Often, they’re vague to be more flexible. Rather than define every possible instance of “free speech” to an 18th century legislator, they use vague terms so that “free speech” is given room to grow. We shouldn’t be upset when the law is vague and justices rule differently. Sometimes husbands and wives with common backgrounds and common motives disagree on things. We can’t blame one or the other for being some degree of corrupt.

      Some laws are clear, but for whatever ulterior motive, justices rule against the law. Some ulterior motives are pristine, such as the rulings in the Amistad case, declaring that the legal “property” of slaves were no longer anyone’s “property”. Some ulterior motives are heinous. There is a California controversy, where state-employed judges are receiving an extra $48,000 annually from the County of Los Angeles. This should be interpreted as a bribe because the judges sometimes hear cases where the County is a party. When a judge was challenged on this by an attorney, the judge put the attorney in jail for contempt of court. He’s still in jail, now about 7 months later. And the judge’s association is trying to pass a law to grant judges civil + criminal immunity for taking the County’s bribes.

      We’d sure like to think that the judiciary is the most honest branch of government, but looking beneath the veneer may show otherwise. What this means, to me anyway, is that the justices create case law based on the constitution, and we should hope that their rulings are either constitutional or pristine corruptions. Regardless of their rulings, we should not grant them sole authority over what the Constitution is or means. If we know that torture is illegal, and the U.S. Supreme Court allows torture for whatever reason, we shouldn’t conclude that the Supreme Court was right because they’re mighty smart lawyers. In the same way, we know that bribery is illegal, so we should be outraged of this developing case in California.

      See http://issueswire.com/releases/Court_Corruption/Illegal_Judicial_Payments/prweb2390634.htm

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