« George W. Bush: Tough On Terror (Not!) | Main | George W. Bush: Serious About WMD (Not!) »

May 01, 2006

Comments

Criminals

Jeanne D'Arc is back with a post on the same topic, ending with a quote from MLK from Birmingham Jail and one from Dylan:"But to live outside the law, you must be honest."

The quote from MLK, on the justification of civil disobedience, brought me short and stood me up straight, so to speak. For I have raised questions in this forum. I get confused.

Your piece is an excellent piece of politics. But I am not so sure that Marbury vs Madison settled everything, and that in some sense of "legal" or "constitutional" the President is not within his "rights". I think we have let SCOTUS decide constitutionality mostly because it was convenient to do so and would limit disorder.
And maybe under one useful definition of "legal" involving precedent and simplest solutions that was the correct path.

But I do sometimes believe that law is politics, and that "might does make right." The President does only what the people allow him to do, and only the people can ultimately stop him.

Anyone who admires the revolutionary generation and their willingness to fight or their liberties should not admire the chorus of right-wing bloggers who say things like: what good are civil liberties once you're dead?

If you don't smoke and don't want to allow others to do so, are against gun ownership and prayer in school, want to coerce people to pay for state sponsered abortions, or approve of government seizure of private property, are against the right to take out an ad and speak your mind less than 30 days before an election, would you still consider yourself a defender of liberty? Some freedomes have been taken away from Americans in the name of national security, but others have been taken away because "smart people" don't want the normal guy to make decisions about his own life.

Interesting takes on this here and here.

At the risk of threadjacking, I willcomment on the effects of "positive freedoms" such as universal lietracy and health care that Cuba supposedly has versus "negative freedoms" that I wish to continue in the USA.

Astounding facts, at least to me, about the 1950 Cuba compared to what it is like today from a critique of a film review. I found this at Babalu Blog.

Here's a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba circa 1957: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class," it starts. "Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans are covered by social legislation, a higher percentage than in the U.S."

In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the eighth-highest wages in the world. In the 1950s Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an eight-hour workday in 1933 – five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. Add to this a one-month paid vacation. The much-lauded (by liberals) social democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this till 30 years later.
...
Cuban women got three months of paid maternity leave. I repeat, this was in the 1930s. Cuba, a country 71 percent white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the U.S.

The anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Unemployed lawyers were prominent (take Fidel Castro himself). Here's the makeup of the "peasant revolution's" first Cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the anti-Batista fight: seven lawyers, two university professors, three university students, one doctor, one engineer, one architect, one former city mayor and a colonel who defected from the Batista army. A notoriously "bourgeois" bunch, as Che himself might have put it.

By 1961, however, workers and campesinos (country folk) made up the overwhelming bulk of the anti-Castroite rebels, especially the guerrillas in the Escambray mountains. And boy, would THAT rebellion make for an action-packed and gut-wrenching movie! If by some miracle it ever got made, you can bet these learned critics would pan it too. Who ever heard of poor country folk fighting against their benefactors Fidel and Che?
...
before Castro "came to town," Cuba took in more immigrants (primarily from Europe) as a percentage of population than the U.S. And more Americans lived in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S. Furthermore, inner tubes were used in truck tires, oil drums for oil, and Styrofoam for insulation. None were cherished black market items for use as flotation devices to flee the glorious liberation while fighting off hammerheads and tiger sharks.
...
the "apparatchiks" Garcia depicts in his movie incarcerated and executed a higher percentage of their countrymen in their first three months in power than Hitler and his apparatchiks jailed and executed in their first three years.
...
Andy Garcia shows it precisely right. In 1958 Cuba was undergoing a rebellion, not a revolution. Cubans expected political change, not a socioeconomic cataclysm and catastrophe. But I fully realize such distinctions are much too "complex" for a film critic to grasp. They prefer boneheaded cliches. Garcia might have followed the laudable examples of "historical complexity" and "accuracy" shown in previous movies on Cuba. Take two that these critics compare (favorably) to "The Lost City," "Havana" and "Godfather II."

In "Havana," the brilliant director Sydney Pollack casts Fulgencio Batista with blond hair and blue eyes. In fact Batista was a black. In "Godfather II," Francis Ford Coppola, to show Havana streets on New Year's Eve 1958, casts more people than marched in Los Angeles last week and depicts them in a battle scene right out of "Braveheart." In fact, Havana streets were deathly quiet that night.

If you don't smoke and don't want to allow others to do so...

FWIW, I know very few people who hold that position. I know a huge number of people who want to curtail where other people smoke (as a general rule of thumb, removing the smoke from public places) which is a vastly different proposition.

are against gun ownership and prayer in school...

Gun ownership I'll grant you. Prayer in school is, again, generally about mandatory or officially-sponsored prayer; I know of no-one who wants to simply prevent students from praying in schools, period.

want to coerce people to pay for state sponsered abortions...

Since anything funded by taxes can be regarded as "coerce people to pay for state-sponsored *blank*", this is a classic example of more-heat-than-light. One could just as easily (and with a substantially stronger case) argue against "coercing people to pay for state-sponsored killings" in re Abu Ghreib or, heck, the death penalty. In neither case is the "coercion", aka tax-paying, what's truly at issue; what's at issue is the policy towards which the money will be spent.

are against the right to take out an ad and speak your mind less than 30 days before an election...

Again, I know of no-one who's trying to prevent people from exercising their right to speak their mind prior to an election. The question is in what forum that right can, or should, be exercised, which is a very different question.

[And this latter, in particular, is hardly the province of a "normal guy" making decisions about how to live his life...]

I'm with Anarch. About prayer in school, I'll just add that when I first heard of this issue, in my teens, I was a serious Christian in a predominantly atheist school, and I honestly didn't get it. I had a very voluble relationship with God, involving an awful lot of prayer, much of it in school, and I couldn't see how anyone could possibly prevent me from praying, especially since I had no need to pray aloud.

It took me a while to realize that what people meant by "banning prayer in schools" (a complete impossibility) was "banning officially sponsored prayer in school." I couldn't see why this should be a problem, not only because obviously anyone who wanted to could still pray, but also because, in my experience, the main effects of requiring prayer were hypocritical prayer and a dislike for religion.

Same point from a different part of the political spectrum: in the early 90s, the college where I worked put into place a new curriculum, and some students on the left wanted there to be a requirement that all students take a class in (if memory serves) "race, class, and power". I knew a lot of these students, and tried (and in most cases succeeded) to convince them that this was a bad idea. One of the reasons I thought it was a bad idea was just that forcing things on people tends to make them hate those things. -- I mean, as a professor I found their faith that making people courses they would not otherwise take would lead them to like the subject of those courses rather touching, but I also thought it was dead wrong. I think the same thing is true of mandatory prayer.

Hilzoy: I couldn't see why this should be a problem, not only because obviously anyone who wanted to could still pray, but also because, in my experience, the main effects of requiring prayer were hypocritical prayer and a dislike for religion.

With a further side-effect of forcing children who do not belong to the majority religion to either isolate themselves from their friends or take part in a religious service which is either meaningless or blasphemous to them. (DaveC is invited to consider how he would feel about compulsory Salaah... and how he thinks the usual supporters of "prayer in schools" would feel if they got their wish, but the compulsory "prayer in schools" was Islamic.)

For all of the talk among some conservatives that Islam needs to go through a Reformation and an Enlightenment the way Western Civilization did, it seems this Adminstration needs to recall some of the lessons of that period, as well. The Administration's position seems little different than Louis XIV's statement "L'etat, c'est moi."

I think the main issue raised by the post is even more fundamental than the question "Which civil liberties ought to be enshrined in law?" (on the particulars of which I agree with hilzoy). It's about the rule of law, which is necessary for us to have any liberties at all. We may disagree with particular laws and decisions, but the majority of us recognize that legitimate government obeys and enforces laws as passed by the legislature and interpreted by the judiciary.

Bush does not seem to see that as part of his duty. And when the government is exercising power outside the law, there is no way to guarantee any human right at all. If the executive is not constrained by the law, then only the executive's pleasure prevents it from doing anything it wants to us. That is not a system where people have any rights they can count on; it is a system where our rights don't happen to have been taken away—yet.

DaveC, do you not want to think about the administration's lawless behavior? Would you rather think about liberal opposition to school prayer, and about pre-communist Cuba? Those are fine things to think about but I think (if you are a supporter of the administration as I believe you are based on your comments in other threads) you ought to spend some time thinking about Bush's arrogation of power, and the danger it poses to our republic.

you ought to spend some time thinking about Bush's arrogation of power, and the danger it poses to our republic.

i'm sure they'll rediscover their devotion to the Constitution and all of its 'plain meaning' and 'original intent', as soon as the guy in the White House doesn't have that magic "(R)", next to his name.

Look, I am all about disagreeing with hilzoy or introducing other points of view because I don't want everybody here to hurt their necks by nodding too vigorously ;^)

you ought to spend some time thinking about [insert long list of complaints about Bush administration here]

Hey, I read the posts and sometimes the comments, so I'm doing my bit to stay informed, even if I think about what I disagree with.

By the way, since I'm always asking for hilzoy to comment about various issues, a non-political case that has been going on is the Andrea">http://www.prolifeblogs.com/articles/archives/2006/05/good_news_about_1.php">Andrea Clark case. Thank goodness it isn't the media circus that the Terri Schaivo tragedy produced, but it does bring up the fact that life and death decisions can be taken out of our hands. I first read about this at Winds of Change.

This issue is in the area of hilzoy's expertise, I believe.

"because 'smart people' don't want the normal guy to make decisions about his own life."

Yes, the "elites" queen of spades is dropped! The moon, it is shot.

I should leave this alone. I can't bear to do a point-by-point, mainly because I will become extremely rude, and being a slightly above-average normal guy, I'll feel badly afterwards. I'll say stupid things like .......... no, that would be awful, and besides if Rilkefan writes one more poem about garages, pointy things, whiskey, and sealing wax, I'll be embarrassed and retire to the yard to yank out bindweed to the rhythmic strains of "Ethics Profs Uber Alles" or move to Boulder and doublebunk with Gary Farber to pool our meager elitist funds and pay the stinking cable bill.

So, I'll just say this. For the last time, neighbor, move the Valiant. If I look out the window one more time and see the snowplow negotiating its way around that piece of junk with the 73 parking tickets fluttering off into the wind and the sickly green reflective pallor it gives the neighborhood under the street lights (installed by appropriating my private property), I'll dispense with the jackbooted elitists down at City Hall, recall the 2300 plus, American, very, very late-term fetuses aborted at my expense in Iraq, and go all vigilante-Minuteman on that rusting hulk.

Because normal is as normal does.

Tom Hanks gets to play me in the movie. Who gets to play you? Can Barbara Streisand do character acting?

What's the emoticon for "sometimes the people I like best make me nuts"?

DaveC, although I usually end up disagreeing with you, you, and others from "The Dark Side" :) are part of the reason I come to this site. So disagree all you want.

One of the problems in any group is when there isn't anybody there to present an opposing voice. That this can be a major problem is evident by looking at the current administration..

In terms of the case you are talking about, this has long been an item of discussion on a lot of liberal blogs (not this case in particular, but the law as it stands in Texas.)

If anything, this deserves a lot more attention than the Schiavo case got, because in this case the woman wants to stay alive, or at least die a natural death.

I also would be interested in hilzoy's take.

I second DaveC.'s suggestion that Obwings address the Andrea Clark case and the larger issues of our medical "system" (sic).

I am all about disagreeing with hilzoy

So by all means, disagree with her! Argue that the administration's rejection of constitutional limitations on its power is appropriate! Hilzoy called your boy a would-be dictator -- take exception to that and explain how his assertion that the legislature cannot control the activities of his bureaucracy is in keeping with democratic norms and accountability! If all you can do is change the subject it just looks weak and like your heart is not in it.

Tom Hanks gets to play me in the movie. Who gets to play you?

George Clooney. A sort of middle-aged, bearded disheveled George Clooney. I got some comments at work about how much I look like him when Syriana was at the movie theaters.

I'm an outsider here, but I thought that The Modesto Kid's complaint was that DaveC was not so much disagreeing on the topic of Bush's arrogation of power as saying, "Look! Over there! Something else!" And TMK did not exactly insert a long list of complaints about the Bush Administration; he merely reiterated the topic of the original post.

Not that DaveC has to say anything about it if he doesn't want; it's still a free country.

I second John Miller's suggestion that Obwings address the Andrea Clark case and the larger issues of our medical "system".

I nominate DaveC. as the lead poster on the Andrea Clark thread, given his experience playing a doctor on E.R.

Was George Clooney on E.R.?

Actually, Matt I was going to make a post about Cuba at the other place I mouth off at, but we're not discussing poltics as much over there recently, so I just threw it in here gratuitously, and hoped that the posting rules gods didn't catch it. I have a limited amount of time that I can blather, I need to be at work like 20 minutes ago.

hilzoy: I mean, as a professor I found their faith that making people courses they would not otherwise take would lead them to like the subject of those courses rather touching, but I also thought it was dead wrong. I think the same thing is true of mandatory prayer.

Not that anyone is proposing it, but prohibiting prayer in schools would probably increase its attractiveness (the "forbidden fruit" effect).

And, for Anarch: anyone who thinks prayer in schools can be stopped has never observed a math test.

JT: I think we need one of the main posters to develop a post on the Clark case, or wait for the next open thread. But it is definiitely worthy of comment, and I have a hunch we may see something from hilzoy in the next day or so.

By the way, you have my sympathy. I know of no more frustrating or futile gardening activity than trying to get rid of bindweed without totally digging out the top foot of soil throughout the garden. I did that once and was bindweed free for two whole years.

DaveC, thanks for the pointers. The first one is broken (I see the kitty is working on it -- still broken, though, needs "typepad" removed) but the second one works.

I was not aware of this case. I agree it would be a good topic for discussion.

Oho, DaveC's link is different between "preview" and normal view. It says "obsidianwings" in normal view, "typepad" in preview. I wrote too soon.

Hi -- I have to go to work soon, so I won't be able to write about Andrea Clark until this evening. In the meantime, though, if anyone wants to speed my progress by linking to a good account of what, exactly, is wrong with her, and/or on what grounds the ethics committee made its 'futility' judgment, I'd be grateful.

Some ethics committees are better than others; I have no knowledge of this one. In the meantime, bear in mind the difference between (a) ordering that someone be killed (which no ethics committee is empowered to do), (b) deciding that the hospital should no longer pay for that person's treatment, and (c) deciding that the hospital will cease treating her on some other grounds (e.g., excruciating pain without hope of recovery.) (Generally, in these cases 'stop treating' means: stop trying to prolong life', not 'just stop everything, including e.g. anaesthetics'.)

They all raise very different issues.

DaveC: Look, I am all about disagreeing with hilzoy or introducing other points of view because I don't want everybody here to hurt their necks by nodding too vigorously ;^)

I do excellent neck-rubs. ;-) Will give any ObWing regular a neck-rub, including my esteemed opponents, though I am likely to combine this with a lecture on politics that will rival a London taxi-driver.

John Thullen: What's the emoticon for "sometimes the people I like best make me nuts"?

:-&

It figures that Jes would have Satan's keyboard --- @)+ (that's Kirk Douglas smiling with chin dimple)

DaveC, fair enough, it does look potentially interesting (and I wouldn't wish wrestling with Blogger on anyone).

Signing Statements and the Necessity of Impeachment...KagroX at Next Hurrah

"On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia, where the US military is advising the government in its struggle against narcotics-funded Marxist rebels. After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is commander in chief."

"I think we here in the blogosphere consider ourselves to be a fairly informed, politically aware group. But how many of us knew that Congress would have particular reason to prohibit -- not once, but four times -- US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia? And given that this specific prohibition has been issue four times and nullified unilaterally by the president four times, are we concerned when we read headlines like this?" ...kagrox

Kagrox explains why "resign, forgive, and forget" is a horrible and irresponsible policy. Leniency and moderation during Iran-Contra has come back to haunt us, and I do not even care to imagine what the next Republican President will believe his perogatives to be.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad