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   G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic:  Politics
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   Author  Topic: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic:  Politics  (Read 52387 times)
Travistotle
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #100 on: Nov 2nd, 2004, 12:07pm »
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The "American value of individual autonomy:" ah, the great deceit.  Our culture drives this notion into our mind at every turn.  And yet this notion is really quite inconsistent.
Clearly we're not totally autonomous: our actions are limited by law, and our very existence depends upon the action of others (we need food, shelter, etc.).  So, our autonomy is limited (now there's a contradiction in terms).  Man really is a social creature by nature; there is in man not only the dependency on others for the means of existence, but even a desire for companionship, for friendship.  Community is a natural longing in man.  So, we're not really all that "autonomous."
As Frankl points out, each of us has true autonomy over our internal selves, that is, over our will.  Conscience, will, etc. are all things that no one else can force one way or another.  But is this all that can be said?  Are we really free to choose anything we wish, to decide what is right for ourselves how we wish, etc?  Clearly the answer cannot be an unqualified "yes," for most people would admit that, at the very least, our autonomy ends at the point at which we infringe upon the rights of another autonomous individual.  I cannot decide that, for me, satanic worship is right and thus I must make human sacrifice.  Every sane person would admit this.  But look further: it is not only the external action of sacrificing a human being that falls outside the sphere of legitimate autonomy: the internal act of willing satanic worship, of desiring it, of declaring it "right" must also in some respect be outside of legitimate autonomy, for it naturally leads to the infringement upon another's "rights."  
This is where liberal society fails: it wishes to maintain total autonomy in internal actions of the individual, while restricting external autonomy to those actions which do not infringe upon the "rights" of another.  Such a dichotomy is unmaintainable, for the internal actions (deciding what is right or wrong, desiring something, etc.) are the cause of the external actions.  Therefore, if we are to limit the external actions, the internal actions must also be limited, albeit in a different way since no internal act can truly be coerced.  So, ultimately, there is no pure autonomy.  Man is held to a standard, with regard to both his external and his internal actions.  In other words, true freedom is not the mere ability to choose whatever one wants.  
This is where "natural moral law" theory enters in.  There must be a moral standard to which individuals hold themselves.  One cannot dispense altogether with such a standard; though every aspect of it need not be legislated, clearly any society that wishes to function peacefully needs to legislate the basic demands of such a moral standard.  How this is done is of course a huge topic of debate: ultimately, it seems to center around one's view of society and government.  That is, do you see government as merely a negative institution, existing only to maintain peace in the society while allowing its citizens to decide however they want to live their lives? Or do you see it as a positive institution, as an integral part of society existing not only to maintain peace, etc., but also to promote the common good by means of positive legislation intended to perfect man, even through the positive legislation of virtue?  The former view dispenses with the need for a common understanding of the nature of man and his happiness, while the latter view assumes that the well-being of society requires a unified agreement regarding these questions.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic:  Politics
« Reply #101 on: Nov 2nd, 2004, 7:45pm »
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What a tremendous way to enter the Gridiron, legends!
 
I agree 100% that the question you pose is the overriding question we should each ask ourselves when analyzing our political positions.  
 
In answering the questions posed above, please think of the consequences of the "positive institution" of government. The road to Hell is paved with the best of intentions.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #102 on: Nov 2nd, 2004, 9:59pm »
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Interesting post, (although I admit I had to read it four times to get the point).
 
Quote:
Do you see government as merely a negative institution, existing only to maintain peace in the society while allowing its citizens to decide however, they want to live their lives?

 
I believe the answer here is 'Yes'.  The government is hardly capable of fulfilling its real responsibilities of protecting our borders and efficiently providing public goods.
 
Legislation is no substitute for personal responsibility, each citizen in a free society should act within his own moral parameters as prescribed by whatever spiritual guidance they wish to follow.  Your personal transgressions are between you and *od.  If you adversely affect anyone outside your sphere of misguided behavior, that is where the law applies.
 
Would it be beneficial to society if all citizens espoused the virtues of kindness toward their fellow man, generous charitable works and a conscious acknowledgement of Judeo-Christian values ?  Of course, but that's not the governments responsibility.  If you have children, or you have a significant role in a child's life, it's your responsibility to teach and reinforce constructive values.
 
Instead of contemplating what the government could do in it's commonly ill-fated attempts to strengthen the collective morals of society, we should be more interested in petitioning them to stop intervening where they should have no jurisdiction and usually end up causing additional harm.
 
You want parent's to actually have the time to teach values to their children ?  Stop taxing families to death so that both parents don't need to work just to maintain a standard of living.
 
You want to promote the role of private charities and religious institutions in society as a supplementary safety net and an opportunity for well-meaning persons to pursue careers as philanthropists?  Then aggressively encourage donations to charity by making these contributions 100% tax-deductible.
 
You want individuals to espouse the values of personal responsibility, work ethic and contribute to society in some productive way ?  Then don't encourage generations of welfare recipients by actually paying unwed mothers to have more children.  (Unbelievable but true, thank you Newt Gringich for helping to eliminate this policy in 1995).
 
I believe the same arguments apply to subsidized gambling (lotteries, Indian reservations) as well as subsidized abortions.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #103 on: Nov 3rd, 2004, 8:48am »
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I wanted to jump for joy and scream  
All is right in the world![
 
when I saw Bush win Ohio.   But it really needs to be kept in mind that this is merely a step toward trying to make things closer to right.   There is still plenty wrong in our own country let alone the world.    
 
With tremendous power, comes tremendous responsibility.   Don't know who said it, don't feel like looking it up.  But with a clear majority in all government now, and an increasing probability that Bush will be appointing another Supreme this term (surely a conservative), there's a real chance to accomplish some ideological change.   I just hope Bush finds a spending bill he won't sign!
 
Here's to America!  What a great place to live!
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #104 on: Nov 3rd, 2004, 9:20am »
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I'm not a Bush fan at all.  I appreciate his stand on terrorism and protecting our country.  I hope he spends the next four years working on getting our economy running strong again.  I hope that his administration passes legislation that will temper skyrocketing healthcare costs.  I hope that the preservation of the environment is an important issue.  Bush has a lot of work to do.
 
With that said, I'm happy that he won.  I don't think Kerry would have been able to accomplish much with his lack of a firm (and consistent) stance on major issues.
 
Finally, I'm happy that Michael Moore must be gagging on a Krispy Kreme right now.  Yes, he has his cameras in Florida and Ohio documenting the election process, and I'm sure he'll spin the election in a way that shows that Bush didn't really win, but it's time to face the facts Mr. Moore.  Now please put your politics aside and go back to making excellent documentaries that deal with issues instead of partisanship.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #105 on: Nov 3rd, 2004, 10:29am »
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on Nov 3rd, 2004, 9:20am, Philly wrote:
I'm not a Bush fan at all. I appreciate his stand on terrorism and protecting our country. I hope he spends the next four years working on getting our economy running strong again. I hope that his administration passes legislation that will temper skyrocketing healthcare costs. I hope that the preservation of the environment is an important issue. Bush has a lot of work to do.

I can't find words to agree more.  I especially appreciate the fact that you didn't even bring up Iraq.  There is so much to do here in America to protect us from terror and make life better for our fellow citizens.  While I don't want Bush taking his eye off the ball abroad, I sure hope someone takes the reigns domestically and tries to do something positively toward fixing social security, cutting discretionary spending, developing alternative fuel sources, improving our schools, reducing healthcare costs....and the list goes on.
 
 
on Nov 3rd, 2004, 9:20am, Philly wrote:
Finally, I'm happy that Michael Moore must be gagging on a Krispy Kreme right now.

     
 
on Nov 3rd, 2004, 9:20am, Philly wrote:
Now please put your politics aside and go back to making excellent documentaries that deal with issues instead of partisanship.

 
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #106 on: Nov 3rd, 2004, 1:24pm »
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Welcome to the Gridiron, legends!
I enjoyed your first post very much.
 
If I understand your post correctly, you are positing that internal wants and needs cause external behavior.  Therefore if we legislate or otherwise restrict external autonomy, we effectively restrict internal autonomy.  Since a society must restrict external autonomy in some ways, individual internal autonomy in a society is an illusion.  Then further, you ask if we see government as external restrictions ignoring human nature, or do we see it as "positive legislation intended to perfect man."
 
I believe that the problem with the dichotomy you present is in the fact that it is based on a false first premise - namely, that human internal drives are based on ANY idea of autonomy.  You consider our need for community and tie it to societal needs, but then this is extended to a choice between external restrictions that do not consider human nature vs. external restrictions that not only consider human nature but also strive to "perfect man."
 
I believe that the false premise is addressed by a nod to community and belonging as a basic drive, but then you seem to consider external restrictions to be somehow antagonistic to internal needs unless there is some humanism and some applied philosophy thrown in.  
 
One reason we package the candidates like toothpaste is that all marketing appeals to our basic needs for acceptance, and it works.  We all need to belong to and be accepted by our "clan."  Maslow states that physiological and safety needs must be met before humans can move on to fulfilling the need for love, acceptance and community.  But individuals who become "stuck" at the level of a deficiency of safty and physiological needs are not bad or selfish or evil.  They are emotionally "sick."  That is not the natural state of human beings.  Further, once belonging and then self-esteem needs are met, only then can humans seek what we consider higher ideals.
 
So who gets to choose the methods for the humanistic healing of the emotionally stuck?  That is the idealistic basis of our elections.  And we vote for the person we feel is most like our own "clan."  But most importantly, at the point of being able to seek higher ideals, my question is this:  Who gets to choose which restrictions are going to perfect man?  Our history is full of individuals who claimed to have the answer to how we should "perfect man."
 
(I liked the school-yard rock fight comment in this thread because of a quote from Will Rogers:  Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice kitty" until you can find a rock.)
 
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #107 on: Nov 4th, 2004, 12:37pm »
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Good news Philly, now that the election is over, I heard that Michael Moore will next address the far more relevant issue of Michael Vick's failure to master the 'West Coast Offense' and his inability to consistently throw for 200 yards a game.
 
I believe the documentary will be called Vick or Fiction ? : The Unspeakable Truth Behind The Biggest Fraud in Fantasy Football. I also heard he's been snooping around that thread that you and Killer King Sting have been yelling at each other on for the last 2 months, so make sure that nipple-head doesn't mis-quote you on anything.
 
Of course after the release of Vick or Fiction ?..., I would expect that Killer King would hire his own independant production company and counter-attack with his documentary- Unfit To Make Documentaries: Shut Up Michael Moore You Fat Bastard.
 
It's all good though, as long as we finally get to the bottom of this perplexing issue.
« Last Edit: Nov 4th, 2004, 12:38pm by junkyardjake » Logged

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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #108 on: Nov 6th, 2004, 2:13pm »
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on Nov 1st, 2004, 9:39pm, junkyardjake wrote:
I don't....Descartes was a drunken idiot.

 
Well, not that you are totally off-base, Jake,... but now ad hominem attacks on those I quote.  Exasperating...  I too think that he was a bit of a lazy ass with too much time on his hands to think about shit, and though he went about trying to reinvent the wheel oftentimes, he was brilliant and did come up with some brilliant ideas and systems (uh, analytic geometry) and to some brilliant conclusions.
 
I just feel absolutely NO meeting of the minds with you, man (read, not agreement... meeting of the minds).
 
Quote:
Does this make Bill Clinton twice the super-fantastic President ? Afterall, 8 years transpired between the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 2001 attack.

 
Oh, come on...  1) Pre- and post-9/11 are different worlds, apples and oranges largely; now we know their "fullest" capabilities/potential as well as their agenda more clearly; 2) 9/11/01 was barely into the Bush era; the Clinton regime was just as much if not more so asleep at the wheel or pussyfootish, however you want to look at it, with these jackasses on jackasses; 3) It is worth mentioning that there were significant non-wartime "terrorist" attacks against America abroad, the U.S.S. Cole, the embassy/consulate in Kenya, the military housing facility in Saudi Arabia, the Americans slain in the Philippines, etc. (what am I forgetting?); 4) And, oh, what about the Oklahoma City bombing; that was, eh-hem, terrorism on the homefront.
 
...
 
You, at times, point out that you were both anti-Kerry and anti-Bush, but, boy, did you air your anti-Bush laundry here vis-a-vis your anti-Kerry sentiments like 100:1.  I did not appreciate that (incessant) tack (where were your Kerry graphics?).
 
...
 
Anyway, in my (peripheral) readings of late I came across these "QUOTES", which are worth MY reflecting on, and perhaps you all, too, will find them worth meditating on...
 
"The Master said:  'The gentleman has universal sympathies and is not partisan.  The small man is partisan and does not have universal sympathies.'
 
The Master said:  'If one studies but does not think, one is caught in a trap.  If one thinks but does not study, one is in peril.'
 
The Master said:  'If one is attacked from different starting points, it is indeed damaging.'
 
The Master said:  'You, shall I teach you about understanding something?  When you understand something, to recognize that you understand it; but when you do not understand something, to recognize that you do not understand it-that is understanding.'"
 
- Confucius, The Analects (Book 2, 14-17)
 
Aside,... I love the Russellian and Socratic elements of the last quote.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #109 on: Nov 6th, 2004, 8:31pm »
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Descartes was a drunken idiot

 
This is an admittedly dismissive opinion on Descartes from someone who has not been subjected to the chinese water-torture of having to study him.
 
Let me explain briefly why I've concluded that Decartes was a drunken idiot, and also why I do agree that his process was useful (although I imagine in perhaps a different way then you think it's useful).
 
1) Descartes seems to have expended a great deal of intellectual energy on a narcissistic and somewhat arrogant notion that all former conclusions should be abandoned and attempted to validate his thoughts by convincing himself that he wasn't being tricked by a 'wicked demon'.
 
2) Once he reintroduced the idea of a supreme being (i.e. *od, who would not deceive), this exposed his circuitous argument, and he could then trust that his thoughts were genuine.
 
Now from my vantage point, I have never doubted the existence of *od, because personally I think there is ample evidence of a supreme being that is manifested in such things as, for example, us residing on a spinning mudball impeccably distanced from a giant ball of perpetual fusion.
 
His process is interesting to me, because it illustrates how confusing and pointless existence might be to someone who has decided to follow an atheist/ agnostic viewpoint.
 
Note to self: Never again comment on philosophy, it makes me dizzy and one Steg is clearly enough.
 
Quote:
the Clinton regime was just as much if not more so asleep at the wheel

 
I was no fan of the Clinton administration, and I especially dislike Hillary Clinton, but this is a Republican party line that you may want to research the veracity of, here's a useful summary of what was happening to combat terrorism under Clinton:
 
1996
 
Clinton administration brokers an agreement with the government of Sudan to arrest bin Laden and turn him over to Saudi Arabia. For 10 weeks, Clinton tried to persuade the Saudis to accept the offer. They refused. With no cooperation from the Saudis, the deal fell apart.  
 
1998
 
-- Clinton gives the CIA a green light to use whatever covert means are necessary to gather information on Osama bin Laden and his followers, and to disrupt and preempt any planned terrorist activities against the United States.
 
-- The CIA, under Clinton, trains and equips five dozen commandos from Pakistan to enter Afghanistan and capture bin Laden. The efforts collapse when a military coup overthrows the Pakistani government and installs a new one.
 
-- Clinton signs a secret agreement with Uzbekistan to begin joint covert operations against bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban regime. U.S. Special Forces have been training there ever since.
 
-- Clinton's unleashes cruise missile attacks on bin Laden in Afghanistan and the Sudan, following the terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Operating on limited intelligence -- at that time, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tazikistan refused to share information on the terrorists whereabouts inside Afghanistan -- American forces miss killing bin Laden by only a couple of hours.
 
1998-99
 
-- Clinton sponsors legislation to freeze the financial assets of international organizations suspected of funneling money to bin Laden's Al Qaeda network, but it is killed, on behalf of big banks, by Republican Senator Phil Gramm of Texas. George Bush will later call for identical legislation
 
-- but only after September 11, 2001.
 
1999-2000
 
-- Clinton Administration, through press spokesman Joe Lockhart, goes public with warnings of a "general" threat from Al Qaeda. Clinton's intelligence agencies then stop cold bin Laden's planned "millennium" bombing plot aimed against the Los Angeles International Airport.
 
Quote:
It is worth mentioning that there were significant non-wartime "terrorist" attacks against America abroad.

 
Yes, that is true, the U.S.S. Cole, Kenya, the military installation in Saudi Arabia, and the Americans slain in the Philippines were all the result of Muslim extremists. The problem is, and I think your list is exhaustive, that was 4 events over 8 years, and now we have terrorist attacks every single day conducted against our troops in Iraq.  
 
I know you qualified your statement as 'non-wartime', but this distinction is irrelevant to me since I still believe the Iraq war was an unneccesary deversion to addressing the issue of terrorism. Also remember, that certain factions of the Bush administration and Bush himself were hellbent on invading Iraq regardless any connection to terrorism as per direct testimony by former officials Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill.
 
Quote:
And, oh, what about the Oklahoma City bombing; that was, eh-hem, terrorism on the homefront.

 
This is your one example of a domestic terrorism event, but of course you know this has absolutely nothing to do with Muslim extremism. Timothy McVeigh was essentially a deranged individual that decided to protest what he thought was excessive use of federal authority in the Waco compound incident 2 years earlier. (This conclusion comports with McVeigh's own testimony)
 
Quote:
You, at times, point out that you were both anti-Kerry and anti-Bush, but, boy, did you air your anti-Bush laundry here vis-a-vis your anti-Kerry sentiments like 100:1.

 
That's a good point, but Kerry was, and is certainly now completely irrelevant. For one thing, I wouldn't even know where to start criticizing Kerry, because I could never figure out what the f&ck he stood for.
 
Additionally, Kerry is not the guy who has somehow takes credit for combating terrorism, but has accomplished essentially nothing, expect vaporizing 100,000 Iraqi civilians in order to promote democracy in a country that never asked for it. Meanwhile, Bin Laden is still making homemovies and the Anthrax killer is a forgotten historical footnote. In fact, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Bush ordered federal agencies to "back off" the bin Laden family prior to 911, if true, what the f&ck is up with that ?
 
I could go on and on, there's of course the fact that this adminstration has concealed more presidential records than any in history, they are responsible for the leaking the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative involved with preventing terrorists from procuring dangerous weapons (remember Robert Novak ? this leaking was ostensibly done for political purposes because her husband told the truth about Iraqi's nuclear capabilities). The Bush administration also attempted to block the 911 commission, and if it weren't for four widows from your homestate of New Jersey (all former Bush supporters), we may never have even had that (although it unfortunately turned into somewhat of a pointless charade).
 
Here's a quote from one of the 'Jersey Moms' that's fairly pertinent to this discussion:
 
"The Bush people keep saying that Clinton was not doing enough to combat the Al Qaeda threat," said Ms. Kleinberg. "But nothing is less than not enough, and nothing is what the Bush administration did."  
 
Now I'm not saying that Bush doesn't sincerely care about the welfare of this country, I just don't appreciate the secrecy, the dishonesty and the political grandstanding with regards to the 'war on terrorism' over his first term. That said, I can't imagine that a Kerry presidency would be anything short of a disaster, so Bush was probably the better choice and maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.
 
Lastly, I think your quotes are awesome (perhaps the advice offered by these quotes will lead you to a more inquisitive approach to some of the nonsense you hear on Fox News ?)
« Last Edit: Nov 6th, 2004, 8:34pm by junkyardjake » Logged

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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #110 on: Dec 11th, 2004, 5:23pm »
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I just thought this was a neat, non-partisan, yet very appropriate quote to add (especially now after the dust is settling).  It is from Descartes (again), his Discourse on the Method Part Two:
 
"...a majority vote is worthless as a proof of truths that are at all difficult to discover; for a single man is much more likely to hit upon them than a group of people."
 
Just a nice, non-acrimonious little ditty. It is worth noting that I think most of life, that is worth a damn, is difficult to discover, at first at least.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #111 on: Dec 20th, 2004, 3:39pm »
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I'm just going to throw this Steggie special I came up with today in the car out atchyas (I've had one or two original goodies on here, I think):
 
"All that 'tolerance' in America 'tolerates' is 'intolerance'."
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #112 on: Jan 10th, 2005, 6:05pm »
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Well, I am finally just getting this post in under the wire.  With the semester starting up here today, I won't be dinkin' around this thread for a while.
 
This is a story that happened to me quite awhile back (like in September).  I have been wanting to tell it to you guys time and time again, but just could not make the time (to do it right, at least).
 
I had locked my keys in my car and had to take a taxi back to my place where I had a spare set (yea, not on me, of course, like a dipshit).  The cab driver, a very nice chap, was from somewhere in Africa.  I think it was Sudan, but don't quote me on that.  It was the political season and some numskull just got elected to office in some special election in DC.  His ensuing commentary about the state of things in general was "educational", especially since many in our society would never put such words in the mouth of someone from another country...
 
He said that he wished that the world (including his homeland) could adopt the American system of government and general way of life... with the direct help of America.  He pointed out that if this were so, the world would be at peace (again, he understands (and values) peace in a way that many an "average" American cannot).  But, he pointed out the problem with and impediment to this (progress).  You see, he said, leaders of these "governments", some quite primitive, want American money and aid, but they want to keep their complete power and autonomy in tact.  So, they ignore the bigger-picture economic problems of the American system because they want that cash and help while emphasizing what they can to engender a dislike of the American way among their people, "nitpicking" (the exact word he used) that America did this "bad thing" here and this other "bad thing" there.  This way they can take from America, but keep "their" power (thumbs) over "their" people.  The truth is that our system and mix of democracy and capitalism and our resultant concept of freedom are quite ill (topic for a later discussion).  We are not fixing these bigger-picture problems and, thus, killing ourselves from within while the smaller pictures are being blown out of proportion, exploited and used against us abroad.  Then, here on the homefront we beat ourselves up with that fodder as well.  Meanwhile, as my friend pointed out, it is not like these other countries do not have these kinds of skeletons, too.  The scale may be smaller because the countries are and the scope of their influence is.  However, the kinds of atrocities, like those taking place in his country, are in kind worse and more heinous.
 
That's the short of the picture he painted and what I was able to see of it.  Take it for what it's worth,... quite a bit, actually.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #113 on: Jan 11th, 2005, 10:09pm »
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A lot of citizens of other parts of the world do not understand our checks and balances system.  They are used to the idea that cheap shots actually mean something.  They do not have a history of competing sides yapping at each other to end up somewhere in the middle (like the bad type of lawyers).  To some, dissent against the ruling party means actually getting hurt - for real.
 
I heard a great thing from Ann Coulter (sp?) tonight.  It was like the George Will gate test - do you have gates to keep people out, or to keep people in.  Ann mentioned the "It's a Wonderful Life" idea.  What would the world be like without America.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #114 on: Jan 12th, 2005, 7:40pm »
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Vice President Dick Cheney is speaking here at Catholic U. tomorrow! Admission is by invitation only.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #115 on: Jan 15th, 2005, 4:02pm »
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So who was on the invitee list? Probably some of the coke-heads from the MBA program, they might be the only ones potentially capable of staying awake for a two-hour exhilarating treatise on how to exploit third-world countries for imperialistic fun and profit.  
 
(Actually, the real reason he stopped by was probably to sell your university a new Haliburton nuclear power plant)  
 
I wish I would have seen this before Friday, maybe you could have gotten him to sign this poster for me:
 

 
It's from Dick's favorite website!
 
http://www.whitehouse.org
 
The website he tried to intimidate because they had the audacity to publish a very unpatriotic parody that included some unflattering and remarkably untrue items about his wife Lynne Cheney.
 
http://www.whitehouse.org/administration/lynne.asp
 
(Of course Dick must have forgotten all about that first amendment thing when he wasted probably around $5,000 in taxpayer money to have his counsel write that letter, but I can see why he wasn't pleased.  At least it didn't turn into a 'frivilous' lawsuit, I hear real Republicans are against those.)
 
http://www.whitehouse.org/administration/love_letter.asp
 
But that's alright, being Vice President is a tough job, and that's not the only thing he's been wrong about:
 
'Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.'  Dick Cheney, 2002
 
Search Is Over For Weapons of Mass Destruction
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/10631506.htm?1c
 
'Ooops, My Bad !' -Your Pal Dick, 2005  
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #116 on: Jan 15th, 2005, 4:47pm »
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Ok, now that I have gotten all the obligatory sarcasm out of the way, I actually did see Mr. Cheney's speech at Catholic University on CSPAN, (because I am a geek and I watch those kind of things).
 
Not surprisingly, what he addressed was the new privatization plan for Social Security, which to me in principle sounds like a fantastic idea.
 
Of course in principle and in reality are two entirely different things.  It sounds like the primary selling point right now focuses on the ability to invest your retirement savings in the stock market instead of the current trust fund, which is theoretically government bonds.  The reason why this should be appealing is that 'government bonds only earn 2%, while in the stock market your savings will earn at least 7%, in a bad year !'.    
 
One thing to keep in mind about this selling point is that it is misleading, the stock market is essentially one big casino.  Successful investing requires careful research, timing and patience....if you are not careful, the only certainty involved in equity investing is that you will get screwed.
 
Another thing that doesn't make any sense is that the transition will cost $1-2 trillion now, to avert an alleged calamity in the system that experts say will happen anywhere from 2018-2050.  Huh ?  I don't understand how we are so damn certain that the most successful government program, perhaps ever, is so urgently in need of fixing, right now at such a high cost while the deficit is already an imminent problem.
 
I heard another thing on CNBC that was pretty interesting, and potentially illustrative of what may happen under the private account plan:
 
In the year 2000, evidently Sweden converted to a voluntary private account plan, 67% of citizens decided to make the transition, while 33% continued with the government retirement fund.   The average return so far for the 67% that switched to private accounts ?..... minus 49 %.
 
Anyway, here is my preliminary proposal to revamp Social Security:
 
The social security trust fund is essentially designed to address two classes of citizens:  
 
1) The disabled, or otherwise immediately less fortunate.  
 
-and-  
 
2) Retired persons with inadequate savings.  
 
To address the disabled, or otherwise immediately less fortunate:  
 
1) Reduce the size and scope of our government to the extent that taxes can be drastically reduced, this will allow more discretionary income to be contributed to charitable organizations. Private charities have always been more efficient in providing help to those in need when compared to a bureaurocratic, centralized, and predominantly clueless source like Washington DC. To encourage this redistribution from tax payments to charitable donation, the Federal government can provide more aggressive tax deductions for contributions to private charities.  
 
For the unavoidable problem of retired persons with inadequate savings:  
2) Unfortunately, it is fair to say that the majority of Americans do not know the stock market from the flea market or treasury bills from phone bills. To allow even younger Americans, who theoretically have time to make up for their stock market blunders, the ability to invest their social security money in the markets is a foolish idea. Granted, over any historical 20 year period with proper diversification, the market can return 8% a year, however, an inexperienced investor could also lose 50% in some years if they pick the wrong investments without diversification.  
 
So given the speculative, and largely unreliable nature of the equity market, I would propose this: Under the supervision of the former social security administration, which should now be slashed to around maybe 100 bureaurocrats, a standardized financial aptitude test should be created. If you pass the test, you may opt out of social security, if you fail, or elect not to bother taking the test, your current social security contributions go directly towards the purchase of something like 10 year treasury notes, which have historical earned anywhere from 4% to 14%. Of course, the important thing is that there should be complete accountability, all contributions go to your personal account for this purpose, not subject to Congressional raiding to put up new $1,000 per square foot mushroom cloud wallpaper at the Pentagon.  
 
The financial aptitude test could be administered in the same place you renew your drivers license and would be used to ensure that those attempting to opt out of social security can actually demonstrate some sort of financial cognizance. For example they know what a P/E and debt to equity ratio is, they can read an income statement and balance sheet, they know the history of speculative free markets (i.e. they know that the Dow took 25 years to recover it's value after the 1929 crash, they are familiar with the Holland tulip-bulb bubble market of 1634-1637, etc..).  
 
But the point is, if you pass the test, you are free to save or invest anyway you choose, if not, you are involuntarily buying US T-Bills for your own retirement account that can't be touched by you or the jackasses in Congress until you retire.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #117 on: Jan 18th, 2005, 2:01pm »
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"Of course in principle and in reality are two entirely different things"
 
Don't you think this distinction applies to your solution? It sounds ok in principle, but would never work in reality.  Since when are standardized tests good indicators of someone's intelligence?  Just take the pertinent preparation courses and you'll do well no matter your intelligence (unless you're abnormally slow).  Unfortunately, in school many people take their tests, pass them, then forget the material they studied.  This happens all the time.
 
Even more idealistic is the notion of slashing back the bureaucracy.  Good luck.  Yeah, I agree that it's a good idea, but the only time this seems to happen is when Arnold is your governor, and even then it doesn't make as much progress as planned.
 
Furthermore, it seems extremely naive to expect charitable giving to be able to cover all the costs for those who are "disabled, or otherwise immediately less fortunate."  You seem to propose this as the only solution to this problem, but it is prima facie unrealistic as the sole source for the financial support of this class of people.  But maybe I have misunderstood what you said.
 
All this being said, I agree with much of what you've proposed.  I think safer investments are the way to go to revamp the Social Security system.  I don't see how we can lose with that reform: even IF the return is nil, you haven't lost anything.  I would also like to see government cut back on bureaucracy, but like I said, good luck with that happening.  
 
However, I think that the revamping of Social Security should be limited to government bond investment and the like, and that invesment on the stock market should not be allowed, even for those who are financially savvy.  If something goes wrong, it's a huge mess.  Limit it to the safer, albeit less fruitful, kinds of investment.  
 
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #118 on: Jan 18th, 2005, 2:36pm »
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Legends, yes I believe my plan is unrealistic in the face of our increasingly entrenched Federal government, but I still think it's the correct thing to do.  The Bush proposal sounds like it will simply add more complexity and expense atop the current system, and what we really need is a fundamentally different approach that addresses two main issues:
 
1) The government is a soulless and inefficient mechanism that we have placed too much faith in for the social well-being of our society.  Granted private charities, as a general idea or entity, are subject to the same waste, abuse and inefficiency, but when I say 'charity', I am also encompassing family members, local community religious leaders and other sources with a vested, or spiritual interest in the well-being of their community.  The general idea is to let citizens keep more of their money, so that they can direct a portion of it to charitable purposes, as they see fit.
 
2) As far as the standardized testing, I agree with your points.  However, I think those that are qualified to understand the risks and have the required financial acumen should be allowed to plan for retirement in any way they choose.   This class of citizen should be allowed to opt out of Social Security, because it serves no useful purpose to them.   The idea of testing will force a demonstration of the requisite understanding, in the same way someone does not become a Certified Public Accountant or an airline pilot without demonstrating their skills.  Of course the advantage to the tax-payer when you have a percentage of the population handling their own retirement affairs, is less expense, and more focus on those that really do need the help.
 
One last point I forgot to add about the privatization proposal, is that the administrations timing is, in my opinion, impeccable.  If you observe the stock market cycles, specifically post-insane speculative market bubble crashes (i.e. March 2000 and October 1929), the market might be poised for an impressive increase over the next two years (afterwhich, my forecast has it crashing right back down to current levels).
 
 
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #119 on: Jan 19th, 2005, 10:25pm »
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Not to break up this tay-to-tay (sp. ?) or anything, but I just wanted to let you all know that it pays to pay attention and not ignore ALL the options and opportunities life... "living" offers up...  Due to keeping himself remotely in the loop, Steg's headin' to George W.'s Inauguration tomorrow.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #120 on: Jan 20th, 2005, 11:30am »
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Quote:
George W.'s Inauguration

 
GW.'s 40 million dollar ($12 million for security) Inauguration  
 
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #121 on: Jan 20th, 2005, 5:08pm »
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Parade... rain onner,... literally!
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #122 on: Jan 20th, 2005, 8:09pm »
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Sorry, what I meant to say was 'hope you had a great time and can someday share your special experience of attending GW's inauguration with your kids and grandchildren'.  
 
But really, as you know, I don't like the guy, and I think $40 million was excessive.
 
 
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #123 on: Jan 21st, 2005, 11:13am »
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I also was at W's inauguration, Steg.
 
I don't think 40 million is excessive.  There aren't many occasions in our democratic republic for pomp and circumstance, since one of our characteristic traits is anti-monarchism.  And since I'm a huge fan of "majestic fanfare," I relish such opportunities.  There was nothing like being awestruck at the sight of the Capitol Building (which in itself is awe-inspiring) decked out with flags, arrangements, government officials, and our representatives.  
 
Beyond my personal tastes, I do think it is a good thing to have this sort of fanfare: such ceremonies lend solemnity to the office of the government (the President in particular), and solemnity is important if we are to respect the authority those offices hold (apart from the person who fills those offices).  That is one advantage of monarchies: they tend more to engender respect for authority than do democracies.
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Re: G.T.K.Y.G. - Topic: Politics
« Reply #124 on: Jan 21st, 2005, 3:13pm »
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Quote:
I don't think 40 million is excessive

 
You are probably correct, to be fair, I've heard that Bill Clinton's inauguration parties, in inflation-adjusted terms, were even more expensive.
 
Quote:
That is one advantage of monarchies: they tend more to engender respect for authority than do democracies.

 
OK, I don't get that, the president works for you and his job is to uphold the Constitution, that's it  (or in GW's case, reading the Constitution would be a good start).  I'm personally not interested in paying for elaborate proxy-coronation parties.
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