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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

OTP - Jan 2013: Jewish Journal:E1: An error in baseball and Mideast politics

Tripon Posted: January 02, 2013 at 02:48 PM | 2805 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ot, politics

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   1601. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4349845)
Using one example out of context to suggest A is better/worse than B is a bit out there. I have no idea if Egypt is "more free" now than before, but it would take some definitions and an actual examination of criteria and not X happened therefor.

However, even if your assertion is completely and uncritically true I disagree with the premise. Slavery was a fact during much of the US history, but that does not mean that Democracy is bad or that our early leaders were "totalitarian thugs" and neither does the genocidal things the US did to Native Americans (spreading small pox on purpose, taking children away from their natural parents, and so on).

That does not mean I endorse how Egyptian Christians are being treated (according to your assertion - for myself I have no idea how they are treated) any more than I would have endorsed the US treatment of Blacks, Native Americans, or the Japanese during WWII, but none of that means what you seem to be claiming it does.

It does mean that people are flawed, freedom and justice wneed to be fought for, and worked for, in any government. It is not an indictment of either the Arab Spring or the US revolution though - that would be silly.

You miss the point.

Despite its flaws, early American Gov't was a movement towards more liberty. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than what came before.

The current ruling parties in Egypt explicitly favor less liberty. They support Sharia based law; which is quite frankly monsterous.

There is simply no comparison between a system that is actively attempting to advance liberty, even if it has serious flaws in that area, and one that is actively trying to surpress liberty.

Edit: double posted for flip
   1602. BrianBrianson Posted: January 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4349847)
Luckily I'm of the "I wouldn't presume to advise Her Majesty on how to run her government" political persuasion, so I probably wouldn't have voted anyway.


You don't vote for Queens. The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that she, Elizabeth II, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why she is your queen.
   1603. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4349849)
There is simply no comparison between a system that is actively attempting to advance liberty, even if it has serious flaws in that area, and one that is actively trying to surpress liberty.

So democracy is great unless the people choose a government that I don't like? How much more American can you get?
   1604. Greg K Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4349851)
You don't vote for Queens. The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that she, Elizabeth II, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why she is your queen.

Now that's a basis for government!
   1605. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4349853)
You don't vote for Queens. The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that she, Elizabeth II, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why she is your queen.


Well, that and the lack of #### all over her.
   1606. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4349855)
So democracy is great unless the people choose a government that I don't like? How much more American can you get?

I never said democracy is great. I think it's often the best of competing systems (like Churchill said "the worst form of Gov't except all those other formas that have been tried". But if the people have totalitarian ideals, democracy is a disaster. Democracy in a country of committed Nazis or Islamists would be a hideous system.

What I do think is that Liberty is much, much more important that Democracy. I much rather live under a king that allowed freedom of religion, speech and property, than a democracy that didn't.
   1607. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4349874)
You miss the point.

Despite its flaws, early American Gov't was a movement towards more liberty. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than what came before.

The current ruling parties in Egypt explicitly favor less liberty. They support Sharia based law; which is quite frankly monsterous.

There is simply no comparison between a system that is actively attempting to advance liberty, even if it has serious flaws in that area, and one that is actively trying to surpress liberty.


Less liberty than what? You assert they favor less liberty and you have a single example. My point (which you missed) is Democracy (and any system for that matter) can result in terrible consequences. That does not invalidate the entire system. A terrible thing - such as slavery, deliberately spreading small pox, whatever - is a terrible thing. It does not indict an entire nation, an entire system of government, and entire movement, and to suggest it does is wrong.

Your appeal to trends (toward more liberty, away from liberty) is silly. Over the centuries the US has moved in fits and starts towards liberty in total, but there have certainly been moves towards less liberty. The arab spring is slightly over two years old. Bad things are in fact bad and should be exposed as such, and i certainly am not fond of those in power in Egypt, but it is a little early to call the whole expirament a failure.

And I think Democracy is great. The reason it is unambiguously better than monarchy is over time Democracies tend towards freedom and liberty (in total) as the people express themselves (I am talking real Democracy here, not any nation that calls itself Democratic). Monarchies show no such trend.

So snapper your hypothetical monarchy sounds OK versus your your hypothetical Democracy but over time history suggests (very strongly) the Democracy will end up more free and a better nation (not many monarchies left are there and there is a reason for it - and yes I am giving short shrift to the Monarchy/Democracies, but I am counting them as Democracies).
   1608. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4349875)
But if the people have totalitarian ideals, democracy is a disaster.

And how does one avoid this, and who gets to pick if their democracy is good enough? And what is the solution - to install a benign dictatorship by force? I think we've gone that route already.
   1609. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4349887)
The current ruling parties in Egypt explicitly favor less liberty. They support Sharia based law; which is quite frankly monsterous.


A major party in the United States supports "Christian law."
   1610. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4349899)
As predicted, GOP about to lose yet another hostage showdown. Cornyn Walks Back Shutdown Threat. Pwned, again, and by their own idiotic strategery.
   1611. tshipman Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4349908)
As predicted, GOP about to lose yet another hostage showdown. Cornyn Walks Back Shutdown Threat. Pwned, again, and by their own idiotic strategery.


I will be mildly shocked if Obama is successful at re-routinizing the debt ceiling.

If so, I think this really points out what a debacle 2011 was for Obama.
   1612. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4349912)
Snapper I'm curious as to how much you know about Sharia law. Most of us (I include myself though I've made an effort to find out more) in the west have a very poor understanding of it.

EDIT: And it's worth noting that many supporters of "Sharia Law" have a poor understanding of what is covered in the authoritative sources. What they see as "Sharia" is a mix of local customs, personal beliefs and personal interpretations of the various authoritative texts.

EDIT2: I lived 2 1/2 years in Iran -- but under the Shah. Sharia law wasn't an issue for us. My earliest exposure came from reading James Clavell's Whirlwind. And it was his contention that most western males could live under sharia law with no particular problem.
   1613. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 18, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4349914)
You don't vote for Queens. The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that she, Elizabeth II, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why she is your queen.



Well, that and the lack of #### all over her.


And don't forget nicer teeth.
   1614. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4349916)
If so, I think this really points out what a debacle 2011 was for Obama.


In 2011, Barack Obama faced reelection in 2012.

In 2012, the only pols facing reelection are congress members in 2014.
   1615. zenbitz Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4349917)
I spent about 5 minutes googling about the Nadia Mohammad Ali conversion story... but I am not convinced it's not a fake or semi-intentional misunderstanding. They also sentenced the clerks who let her change the documents?

This article appears in FOX news, the Daily Mail (UK) and has been echoed on many christian sites.

From The assyrian international news agency

In 2006, one of the boys was arrested by police in an information center in the city of Beni Suef. Suspicious of the young man from the documents he as carrying, where he had changed its name to Bishoy Malak Abdel-Massih, police agents interrogated him for hours until he confessed his conversion to Christianity as desired by the mother. The judges then decide to stop not only the woman, but all of her children and seven clerks from the registration office, responsible for changing the documents.

An individuals religious faith is listed in Egyptian identity cards. Christians, converted to Islam for various reasons that attempt to return to the religion to which they belong have enormous difficulty in correcting their names on the documents. This leads many people to forge them, risking prison. The reverse process, ie the transition from Christianity to Islam is not hindered, and in many cases is favored by the very Registry officials.


So ANOTHER interpretation of this (my interpretation, not the assyrian news service)
1) The "crime" was committed in 2006
2) The "crime" is actually forgery of documents

To look at this story skeptically:
- stipulated - it's illegal in 2013 Egypt to convert to Xtianity
- one FAMILY OF SEVEN is sentenced to prison for doing so.

So... why only one new report? It's it only because it's a family that FOX picked up the story? There are no other converts in present-day Egypt? They never get caught? It's not like they are the only Christians around - they are like 10+% of the Egyptian population.

Sharia law is awful. Lack of Religious freedom is awful. I consider it very likely that the Egyptian government discriminates against Christians (to what extent I do not know). But I think this news story has been "embellished"
   1616. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4349922)
A further glimmer of hopeful news.

Slowly, painfully, political reality has begun to dawn on Washington Republicans and their supporters: If they force a major battle over the debt ceiling — a battle that they have acted oh-so-eager to fight — they are guaranteed to lose, and to lose badly.

... even Krauthammer wants to back down from a fight that he suddenly sees can only end badly. “The party establishment,” he writes, “is coming around to the view that if you try to govern from one house — e.g., force spending cuts with cliffhanging brinkmanship — you lose. You not only don’t get the cuts. You get the blame for rattled markets and economic uncertainty. You get humiliated by having to cave in the end. And you get opinion polls ranking you below head lice and colonoscopies in popularity.”

What’s going on here? Why this sudden outburst of strategic sanity? I think the great Samuel Johnson put it best:

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
   1617. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4349926)
Snapper I'm curious as to how much you know about Sharia law. Most of us (I include myself though I've made an effort to find out more) in the west have a very poor understanding of it.

EDIT: And it's worth noting that many supporters of "Sharia Law" have a poor understanding of what is covered in the authoritative sources. What they see as "Sharia" is a mix of local customs, personal beliefs and personal interpretations of the various authoritative texts.


I agree that, as you state, it's mostly an excuse for the local religious bigwigs and their allies to imposed their view on the population. In reality, there can be no true definition, since there is no one authoritative source of religiou teaching in Islam (there's no Muslim Pope).

EDIT2: I lived 2 1/2 years in Iran -- but under the Shah. Sharia law wasn't an issue for us. My earliest exposure came from reading James Clavell's Whirlwind. And it was his contention that most western males could live under sharia law with no particular problem

Not for those of us who are Christian.

Interesting you mention the Shah. I think he's a good example of a progressive autocrat. Iran would be far better off today if it had continued a Pahlevi Monarchy. It would even be better off having a Shah than being a democracy.
   1618. tshipman Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4349928)
In 2011, Barack Obama faced reelection in 2012.

In 2012, the only pols facing reelection are congress members in 2014.


Yes, but the fact remains that the 2011 debt ceiling fiasco was a debacle for Obama. It drove his numbers way, way down. It did not one damn thing to help him get re-elected. He calculated that he could obtain a "grand bargain" with Boehner. He was absolutely ####### wrong. It was a huge, unforced error.

I think it's important to acknowledge O's mistakes.
   1619. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4349930)

What I do think is that Liberty is much, much more important that Democracy. I much rather live under a king that allowed freedom of religion, speech and property, than a democracy that didn't.

I think democracy is unsustainable over the long term without strong protection of individual rights, and vice versa.

A benevolent monarch might be fine, until he dies and his spoiled heirs take over (or worse, fight for the crown). One of the best things about democracy is that it enables a relatively smooth and bloodless transition of power.

Meanwhile, the concern about democracies that don't protect individual rights is that the elections become meaningless if there are no basic freedoms like speech and assembly -- there was an old line in Algeria about a system of "one man, one vote, one time". Even when the elected party does allow subsequent elections, they are of questionable legitimacy at best.
   1620. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4349931)
I think it's important to acknowledge O's mistakes.


I don't disagree. I think he was slow to admit the radical nature of the new Tea Party caucus. He thought he was getting standard line, talk-radical, behave-rationally GOP members, and he was wrong.
   1621. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4349932)
Sharia law is awful. Lack of Religious freedom is awful. I consider it very likely that the Egyptian government discriminates against Christians (to what extent I do not know). But I think this news story has been "embellished"

They clearly discriminate, awfully. Christians are not allowed to build new churches, or often even repair old ones. They can't evangelize, and conversion of Muslims can lead to a death sentence.

In Egypt recently, Islamic extremists have been directing serious and lethal violence against Christians, and the Gov't has done jack to protect the Copts. The Islamists are trying to intimidate the Copts into leaving. They want to ethnically cleanse Egypt, just like the extremists in Iraq have greatly succeeded in purging their Christian population; something like 50% of Iraqi Christians have fled the country. It's so bad the Iraqi Christian hav escaped to Syria. When Syria looks good, you know you have a problem.
   1622. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4349937)
I think democracy is unsustainable over the long term without strong protection of individual rights, and vice versa.

A benevolent monarch might be fine, until he dies and his spoiled heirs take over (or worse, fight for the crown). One of the best things about democracy is that it enables a relatively smooth and bloodless transition of power.

Meanwhile, the concern about democracies that don't protect individual rights is that the elections become meaningless if there are no basic freedoms like speech and assembly -- there was an old line in Algeria about a system of "one man, one vote, one time". Even when the elected party does allow subsequent elections, they are of questionable legitimacy at best.


A monarchical system need not be despotic. Throughout the history of monarchies, the earl-modern European absolute monarchs are a glaring exception.

Most monarchies have widely dispersed powers and rights. Paging Greg(UK) here, but in Medieval Europe, the nobility, Church, guilds, cities, even the serfs, had well defined rights priveleges and responsibilities vis a vis each other. Many of these rights tended to be collective, rather than individual, but they were protected rights that granted substantial liberty to individuals indirectly.

Liberty can not only be guaranteed by individual rights and democracy. There are many other socio-political structures that can restrain power and maintain rights.
   1623. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4349940)
I think he was slow to admit the radical nature of the new Tea Party caucus. He thought he was getting standard line, talk-radical, behave-rationally GOP members, and he was wrong.

Entirely agreed, and it appears that he's fully learned that lesson, and isn't about to get played that way this time around. What makes for even better news is that there does appear to at last be awakening among the few less-dim bulbs in the GOP caucus that they understand this and are factoring this new reality into their calculation.
   1624. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4349944)
They clearly discriminate, awfully. Christians are not allowed to build new churches, or often even repair old ones.

Yeah, Muslims trying to build a mosque in the US would never have any problems at all.
   1625. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4349947)
Yeah, Muslims trying to build a mosque in the US would never have any problems at all.

A perfect example of the exception proving the rule. There are thousands of mosques in the U.S. and new ones built every month, yet you cite the two examples of local resistance to draw a moral equivalence to an offical gov't persecution.
   1626. Lassus Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4349952)
There are thousands of mosques in the U.S. and new ones built every month, yet you cite the two examples of local resistance to draw a moral equivalence to an offical gov't persecution.

I'm at work, but I'm sure someone with 15 minutes could find more than two examples of local resistance to mosques being built.
   1627. CrosbyBird Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4349953)
Put it this way: Which do you think represents a better solution, our current "system", but with the threat of arrests or fines removed from smoking pot, or a mimicking of the system that's currently in place for cigarettes?

The latter, of course.

From a moral sense, the former (while clearly better than what we have now) is an unreasonable violation of personal liberty. Victimless "crimes" should not be crimes at all, and laws that make such behavior illegal, even those that are unenforced, contribute to the general state of acceptability of such laws. It also still stigmatizes the user in a way that we don't stigmatize recreational alcohol or tobacco use.

From an economic sense, the former generates no additional revenue for the government (in the way that taxation would) and perpetuates the underground market (which often offers other, less tolerable substances).

From a public health and education perspective, illegal but decriminalized marijuana still sends the message that marijuana is somehow more dangerous and less reasonable a vice than alcohol or tobacco. Even if you think the government is right to discourage some particular vices over others, you should recognize that illegal marijuana and legal alcohol contributes to the perception that marijuana is a worse recreational decision. There is overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary: alcohol and tobacco are more addictive and also more damaging physically.

From a practical perspective, even if marijuana advertisement was somehow as pervasive as tobacco advertisement (with the same restrictions: no billboards near a school, no television commercials, required warning labels, etc.), and even if this actually created significant additional demand, I don't see this as a particularly serious problem. Tobacco is poison; there's a very good chance that it will contribute to health problems and an early death, and there's really no such thing as "reasonable tobacco use." Alcohol is very dangerous when abused: in the short-term, you can overdose and die; in the long-term, you can permanently damage your liver. In comparison, marijuana is remarkably benign: there has never been a single death by overdose, and there is very little scientific evidence of any long-term harm at all, even for chronic (pun intended) users. If we could add 100,000 pot smokers, but 20,000 of those were converts from alcohol and 20,000 more reduced alcohol consumption, it would be a desirable tradeoff in a practical, public health sense.

So there are your examples of the costs of "illegal but decriminalized," which are significant. There's certainly an argument to be made (you'll have a lot of difficulty finding facts to support such an argument, but I'm not going to rule it out completely, and frankly, if you've got one, I'd love to hear it so I can consider it carefully), but it's not really justifiable to say that decriminalization doesn't carry any costs at all.
   1628. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4349956)
I'm at work, but I'm sure someone with 15 minutes could find more than two examples of local resistance to mosques being built.

There are two prominent ones I've heard of (the WTC issue, and one in Tennessee). Whether it's a few more doesn't change the point.

There is no equivalence to individuals in a democracy lobbying for a mosque not to be built (it's not the Feds or states stopping it) and official gov't laws against building Churches in Egypt (not to mention other Muslim countries).
   1629. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4349957)
   1630. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4349963)
They clearly discriminate, awfully. Christians are not allowed to build new churches, or often even repair old ones. They can't evangelize, and conversion of Muslims can lead to a death sentence.


How terrible. Perhaps these Christians should ask the Jews how to deal with despotic religious zealots who seek to destroy their freedom and marginalize their very presence in society.
   1631. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4349964)
. I think he's a good example of a progressive autocrat. Iran would be far better off today if it had continued a Pahlevi Monarchy

I suspect an interview with SAVAK might change your mind about what a swell Joe he was.
   1632. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4349972)
I suspect an interview with SAVAK might change your mind about what a swell Joe he was.

Compared to what followed? Do you think that Iran doesn't have secret police today?
   1633. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4349977)
That's hardly an affirmative argument for the Shah as an example of a progressive autocrat.
   1634. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4349995)
Liberty can not only be guaranteed by individual rights and democracy. There are many other socio-political structures that can restrain power and maintain rights.


If you knew nothing else about two countries, one was a Monarchy and one was a Democracy, which would you rather live in?

Interesting you mention the Shah. I think he's a good example of a progressive autocrat. Iran would be far better off today if it had continued a Pahlevi Monarchy. It would even be better off having a Shah than being a democracy.


Well yeah, because they would have ponies for everyone there! Seriously though what makes you think that? How could you even begin to prove that without wild assertions?
   1635. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4350007)
If you knew nothing else about two countries, one was a Monarchy and one was a Democracy, which would you rather live in?


The will of the mob, or the will of the tyrant? Sophie should kill 'em both.
   1636. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4350011)
Iran would be far better off today if it had continued a Pahlevi Monarchy.


That's an M for Maybe. I can still recall my father trying to explain the realities of a state with secret police (and torture of opponents) to a smart-mouthed 11 year old. Very difficult to get my head around the fact that some jokes were forbidden and the consequences were pretty dire.

And I have no idea why you'd think a Christian couldn't live under Sharia law.
   1637. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4350014)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.—House Republicans will approve a short-term increase of the debt ceiling in exchange for an official budget resolution from the Democrat-led Senate, a chamber that hasn't passed a traditional budget since the early days of President Barack Obama's first term nearly four years ago.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, said Republicans will exchange a three-month increase for an official Senate Budget resolution. If Democrats in the Senate cannot pass one, Cantor said, Members won't get paid.

"The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending. The House has done so, and will again. The Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in almost four years, which is unfair to hardworking taxpayers who expect more from their representatives. That ends this year," Cantor said in a statement from the House Republican retreat here Friday. "We must pay our bills and responsibly budget for our future. Next week, we will authorize a three month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget. Furthermore, if the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, Members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay."
   1638. GregD Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4350017)
If you knew nothing else about two countries, one was a Monarchy and one was a Democracy, which would you rather live in?
To answer this, you would have to stipulate your status and your time period.

If you're a slave, and you're talking the 19th century, no question you want to be in a monarchy. Unsurprisingly, monarchies were more open to appeals from slaves to authority, and kings heard petitions from slaves all the time. Not that they granted many but there was at least access.

Democracies routinely closed off slaves from the right of petition. By creating citizens, you eliminate the old privileges of subjects, so people who don't become citizens are worse off in democracies than in monarchies, in general. Monarchies also had the capacity to transition to gradual emancipation more smoothly since they didn't allow settler democracy to overrule them. If Jamaican planters had self-rule, the British could never have forced emancipation on them.

Of course the Atlantic slave trade was run by monarchies, and colonial slavery was pretty grim. But still democracy was worse.

If there's a chance you are an ethnic native in an area occupied by another people, it's a closer call but it is still true that democracies in the 19th and much of the 20th centuries edged toward annihilation, while monarchies often were more willing to cut deals. There's little doubt that a referendum in 1830, genocide would have carried the day pretty easily; we got reservations because the republican system allowed politicians to ignore the calls for slaughter.

For the 20th century, ethnic minorities in general--and Jews in particular--do better under monarchies. Sarajevo would be example #1 of this. In many ways toleration is a common aspect of empire building. Ethnic cleansing tends to follow monarchies.

For women before suffrage, it's really a complicated question.

All that said, a democracy with universal citizenship and strong protection for minority rights is generally better than a monarchy. The problem is that most democracies historically have not had universal citizenship or protection of minority rights.
   1639. zenbitz Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4350019)

How terrible. Perhaps these Christians should ask the Jews how to deal with despotic religious zealots who seek to destroy their freedom and marginalize their very presence in society.


A buddy of mine is a theoretical astrophysicist. He was born in LA and grew up there. His parents were Turkish, he has a Turkish name, and dual citizenship (to keep he had to serve in the Turkish military for a few months... but they put him in the ExPat Battalion, essentially).

He was a post doc for several years in Israel, but Israeli immigration gave him an EXTREMELY hard time about putting "Atheist" on his form. They wanted him to admit he was a Muslim.

   1640. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4350022)
Yes, but the fact remains that the 2011 debt ceiling fiasco was a debacle for Obama. It drove his numbers way, way down. It did not one damn thing to help him get re-elected. He calculated that he could obtain a "grand bargain" with Boehner. He was absolutely ####### wrong. It was a huge, unforced error.

How should he have resolved it? It's not like he was the one who created the issue over the debt ceiling. And I don't think it's true that it drove his numbers way down.
   1641. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4350034)
Interesting you mention the Shah. I think he's a good example of a progressive autocrat.

The Shah was a thug, Ataturk, maybe Jordan's Royal Family are good examples of progressive autocrats, not the Shah

Iran would be far better off today if it had continued a Pahlevi Monarchy.

Quite possible, the Shah was thug, but Khomeini was quite a bit worse.

It would even be better off having a Shah than being a democracy.


I doubt it, if Iran was a real democracy they would have voted the clerics out of power well more than a decade ago.
   1642. GregD Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4350037)
And I have no idea why you'd think a Christian couldn't live under Sharia law.
Yes. That's a bizarre claim. A lot depends on what you call sharia law, but in fact during the Tanzimat modernization reforms of the Ottoman Empire, Jews and Christians not infrequently asked to be put back under the old religious law, since that carved out pools of exemption and self-governance for them. At least some of them thought they were better off as recognized minorities in a religiously governed system than as citizens in a secularizing state.
   1643. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4350038)
Furthermore, if the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, Members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay.

Whoop-dee-dee. I doubt this threat carries a lot of power, given that many if not most members of Congress (especially the Senate) don't need their Congressional paycheck, and moreover, most voters are probably thrilled to see them go unpaid.
   1644. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4350043)
Put it this way: Which do you think represents a better solution, our current "system", but with the threat of arrests or fines removed from smoking pot, or a mimicking of the system that's currently in place for cigarettes?

The latter, of course.

From a moral sense, the former (while clearly better than what we have now) is an unreasonable violation of personal liberty. Victimless "crimes" should not be crimes at all, and laws that make such behavior illegal, even those that are unenforced, contribute to the general state of acceptability of such laws.


?????? I said I'd remove all laws against personal use of pot.

From an economic sense, the former generates no additional revenue for the government (in the way that taxation would) and perpetuates the underground market (which often offers other, less tolerable substances).

I don't care about raising more tax money if it's accompanied by even more profits to corporate sleazeballs, and we've already seen what good regulation has done in removing addictive additives to cigarettes. I suppose you think that Big Marijuana would be more ethical than Big Tobacco in the ways they "enhance" their product.

From a practical perspective, even if marijuana advertisement was somehow as pervasive as tobacco advertisement (with the same restrictions: no billboards near a school, no television commercials, required warning labels, etc.), and even if this actually created significant additional demand, I don't see this as a particularly serious problem. Tobacco is poison; there's a very good chance that it will contribute to health problems and an early death, and there's really no such thing as "reasonable tobacco use." Alcohol is very dangerous when abused: in the short-term, you can overdose and die; in the long-term, you can permanently damage your liver. In comparison, marijuana is remarkably benign: there has never been a single death by overdose, and there is very little scientific evidence of any long-term harm at all, even for chronic (pun intended) users.

The comparisons are irrelevant, since in the cases of tobacco and alcohol we can't put the genie back in the bottle, whereas with pot we don't need to pull the cork to begin with.

And I think you must have hung out in different crowds than I have over the course of your lifetime, because I've seen many cases of friends and acquaintances whose lives were seriously diminished by excessive pot use. Obviously in terms of numbers the damage caused by tobacco and alcohol is much worse, but I still don't see any reason whatever to encourage additional pot usage by allowing such time-tested marketing devices as branding and advertising.

To me 99.99% of the legal problems caused by our current "system" are in the realm of criminal penalties for pot users. Get rid of those laws and the horror stories will go away. I'm not interested in the enrichment of Joe Cannabis or any of his would-be marketers. That's a line of work I think we can easily do without.
   1645. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4350044)
Whoop-dee-dee. I doubt this threat carries a lot of power, given that many if not most members of Congress (especially the Senate) don't need their Congressional paycheck, and moreover, most voters are probably thrilled to see them go unpaid.


Shorter Eric Cantor: "Obama says we can't hostage the debt ceiling?! You just watch us!"
   1646. GregD Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4350067)
Whoop-dee-dee. I doubt this threat carries a lot of power, given that many if not most members of Congress (especially the Senate) don't need their Congressional paycheck, and moreover, most voters are probably thrilled to see them go unpaid.
Presumably it's unconstitutional anyway under the 27th amendment
   1647. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4350068)
“Furthermore, if the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, Members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job.”

Do these guys EVER think their cunning plans through? How many times does the hostage ploy have to fail?
   1648. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4350077)
Do these guys EVER think their cunning plans through? How many times does the hostage ploy have to fail?


I'm beginning to think of this as a medieval siege more than a hostage taking scenario. The Teapers are inside the castle. They reconquering Obama isn't going to waste his men and horses storming high walls. But the Teapers have no lines of supply for food and are just hunkering down waiting, hoping that someone comes along to save them, or that Obama does something foolish and gives them an out. I look forward to Eric Cantor eating a rat.
   1649. tshipman Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4350081)
How should he have resolved it? It's not like he was the one who created the issue over the debt ceiling. And I don't think it's true that it drove his numbers way down.


Oh, I think pretty much as he is doing right now. If he would have refused to negotiate and used the bully pulpit, like he is now, there's a pretty good chance that the whole thing gets resolved more or less as it is right now.

As far as driving his numbers down: this chart shows his approval rating in 2011. Look at what happens during the debt ceiling crap (July-September, roughly). His numbers take a sharp dive. Now Congress's does too, so no mistaking that, but Obama got rolled a bit by his staff on the debt ceiling. The thinking went that deficit reduction could be used as a bipartisan achievement for reelection. They underestimated the extent to which Republicans were unwilling to compromise, and it was very politically costly.
   1650. Mefisto Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4350089)
I think Eric Cantor is playing the Black Knight in this scene.
   1651. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4350093)
The intellectual leader of modern conservatism has spoken:

LIMBAUGH: So those of you who are not mobilizing to change the Second Amendment, those of you who are not mobilizing to make it more difficult to get guns and weapons are the modern equivalent of people who sat around and let Bull Connor turn his dogs loose on the marches at Selma. Man, I -- the foundation of what you must believe to be this out of phase. And then he said they let Bull Connor and the redneck elements of the South and the Klan take over their culture, in effect become a face of it. 

Now Bull Connor and these guys are all Democrats. But you, in Tom Brokaw's eyes, you, who are trying to defend a civil right that you have by virtue of the Constitution are the modern equivalent of people who denied civil rights to blacks in the '60s in Tom Brokaw's view. And that has governed the way he sees this country ever since it happened. And a lot of other journalists, too.  

Try this. If a lot of African-Americans back in the '60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma? I don't know, I'm just asking. If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge? Anyway, that's what we're -- and these people that think like Brokaw are all over the media. This is the way they're looking at this.  


Megadittjoes!
   1652. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 18, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4350095)
BTF's search engine is really quite terrible. I wanted to cut-and-paste some of the references to hostage-taking when a government shutdown was barely averted in March 2006 by 2 votes when the Senate Democrats almost prevented the increase in the debt ceiling. Based on my experience attempting this, it seems that the Google Search application must simply be very poor at queries before November, 2008 for some reason.
   1653. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4350099)
A buddy of mine is a theoretical astrophysicist. He was born in LA and grew up there. His parents were Turkish, he has a Turkish name, and dual citizenship (to keep he had to serve in the Turkish military for a few months... but they put him in the ExPat Battalion, essentially).

He was a post doc for several years in Israel, but Israeli immigration gave him an EXTREMELY hard time about putting "Atheist" on his form. They wanted him to admit he was a Muslim.


They should have made him wear a piece of yellow pasta on his lapel at all times.
   1654. tshipman Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4350100)
it seems that the Google Search application must simply be very poor at queries before November, 2008 for some reason.


I know who's to blame for this.
   1655. Danny Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4350110)
a government shutdown was barely averted in March 2006 by 2 votes when the Senate Democrats almost prevented the increase in the debt ceiling

Can you explain how Senate Democrats, with only 48 votes, "almost prevented" an increase in the debt ceiling? It seems strange to describe an event as "almost" happening when there was never any possibility of it actually happening.
   1656. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4350118)
Yes. That's a bizarre claim. A lot depends on what you call sharia law, but in fact during the Tanzimat modernization reforms of the Ottoman Empire, Jews and Christians not infrequently asked to be put back under the old religious law, since that carved out pools of exemption and self-governance for them. At least some of them thought they were better off as recognized minorities in a religiously governed system than as citizens in a secularizing state.

He said that Western males could live under Sharia law with "no particular problem".

I have a problem with not being able to discuss my faith with non-christians, or display a cross, or display our religion openly. I have a problem that if I convinced a Muslim that Christianity was the true faith, he would face execution. Depending on the severity of the "Sharia Law", Churches and worship may not be allowed at all; no Christian Churches are allowed in Saudi Arabia.

Certainly Christian have survived version of Sharia law, but that's no evidence that they had "no problem" with dhimmitude.
   1657. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4350120)
Can you explain how Senate Democrats, with only 48 votes, "almost prevented" an increase in the debt ceiling? It seems strange to describe an event as "almost" happening when there was never any possibility of it actually happening.


The Dems didn't have 48 "votes" the Dems didn't have 48 seats
there were 48 votes against raising the debt ceiling

It was basically a symbolic way of taking a swipe at Bush, basically on par with the House Repub's vote to repeal Obamacare in 2011.

Now if the Dems has a majority of the Senate in 2006 (remember this was before the 11/06 elections) then the Dems threatening to block the debt limit increase could be seen as an attempt at hostage taking.

And besides Obama comments about the 3/06 vote are kind of interesting- he admits it was a "political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country"

For a politico that's a pretty rare admission- most would try to claim that voting no in 3/06 was justified, but that voting no now would not be...
   1658. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4350121)
He said that Western males could live under Sharia law with "no particular problem".


Agnostic/atheist or secular western males may have little problem, evangelical (in the adjective not denominational sense) would have a lot of problems

but who cares about western males, what about western women?

   1659. zonk Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4350122)
a government shutdown was barely averted in March 2006 by 2 votes when the Senate Democrats almost prevented the increase in the debt ceiling


Can you explain how Senate Democrats, with only 48 votes, "almost prevented" an increase in the debt ceiling? It seems strange to describe an event as "almost" happening when there was never any possibility of it actually happening.


It's pretty fair to say that since the Clinton years -- anytime we've had a split government (President of one party/congress of another) -- positioning games have been played... and since the costly Iraq mistake, Democrats most definitely used the black hole supplementals in tandem with the debt ceiling to try to force Bush's hand on his monumental, historic mistake.

However - and you can find plenty of articles on the 2006 debt ceiling vote - there was never any real danger of it not passing.

There was plenty of sabre rattling, there were days, weeks on the outside of discussion -- and plenty of Democrats (including the President) voted against raising the debt ceiling solely because it made for a good show.

That was when the debt ceiling nonsense was just silly, not dangerous, though... as in - I can guarantee with maybe just a very, very few exceptions - if it had come right down to it, and we were literally at the point of "vote to raise it or we default" - perhaps no Senate democrat would have made his or hers the vote to create a default.

Yes, sure - it was a naked kabuki theater performance... yes, it was used to score cheap points with a media that never really bothered with the details.

But - this is a different animal because there DO appear to be a large chunk of House Republicans (the Senate - especially now sans DeMint, doesn't seem to have (m)any) that aren't merely posturing... I honestly don't know if it's 50, 100, 150, or 200 -- but there is a very appreciable chunk of House Republicans who truly do seem intent on, if it came down to a single vote - wouldn't vote yes.

   1660. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4350125)
So if the Egyptian version of democracy is flawed beyond repair for exhibiting a preference for Islam, should we dissolve our own for using taxpater funds to teach Creationism at hundreds of schools?
   1661. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4350127)
I have a problem with not being able to discuss my faith with non-christians


I grew up in a lilly white homogeneous town, we had Catholics and a smattering of Jews, Lutherans and agnostics, consequently I never had a conversation with a Muslim regarding religion until I was in college- when I spoke with a fellow freshman who was (I can't quite remember but I think Pakistan)...

I remember that conversation because he wasn't a bad guy, just a quite naive 18 year old, who grew up in a very different tradition, who was honestly baffled that Christians did not immediately convert after being informed that Muhammad came after Jesus and that therefore Muhammad's teaching took priority... The idea that Christians flatly rejected Muhammad's status as a prophet was stunning to him, it was like trying to say that water wasn't wet, the earth wasn't round...
   1662. zonk Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4350128)
Now if the Dems has a majority of the Senate in 2006 (remember this was before the 11/06 elections) then the Dems threatening to block the debt limit increase could be seen as an attempt at hostage taking.


Right - there were no threats of filibuster - the 2006 raising was a 7-10 day story (as it usually is... one party - usually the one opposite the WH resident) postures and dances, but in the end, it happens.... did under Reagan, did under Clinton, under Bush, etc.

It's only now that these debt ceiling debates have been multi-month death marches where there's the very real possibility of it coming to pass.

That said - now that the 'Hastert Rule' appears done with - I'm not sure it matters... The Senate GOP caucus seems less crazy and Boehner has already established in principle that votes can come to the floor with Dem majority support.

As such, it seems like we're finally/at least/at last down to the point where the House GOP leadership is just trying to make the forced tactical retreat of its Crazee Cavalry charges look less like what it is.

The partisan in me wants to harry their retreat out of both spite and because, well, it's for the best that they be routed once and for all... the pragmatist wants to sit down with Boehner and say "So - we both understand now, that the Gohmert/Bachmann/etc corps doesn't get a seat at any future tables, right?" in private and then let them fall back.
   1663. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4350129)
So if the Egyptian version of democracy is flawed beyond repair for exhibiting a preference for Islam, should we dissolve our own for using taxpater funds to teach Creationism at hundreds of schools?


You're confused spike. Democracy bad, if democracy equals "some religion other than mine is in the majority." But vouchers are free market happiness and light, because free markets are better than anything, so long as my religion is in the majority.
   1664. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4350135)
You're confused spike. Democracy bad, if democracy equals "some religion other than mine is in the majority." But vouchers are free market happiness and light, because free markets are better than anything, so long as my religion is in the majority.

Free markets are much more important when you're in the minority. Look at how the Jews prospered in trade when they were prohibited from gov't positions and the professions in Europe. In a free market, people still want to deal with you, even if they despise you for your race, religion, whatever, b/c it puts money in their pocket.
   1665. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4350140)
now that the 'Hastert Rule' appears done with - I'm not sure it matters... The Senate GOP caucus seems less crazy and Boehner has already established in principle that votes can come to the floor with Dem majority support.

Boehner has violated the rule, true. I hope that means that the Hastert Rule is done with. I'm not yet fully confident that it is; I'm not sure Boehner is going to prove to be that thick-skinned.

As such, it seems like we're finally/at least/at last down to the point where the House GOP leadership is just trying to make the forced tactical retreat of its Crazee Cavalry charges look less like what it is.

Again, I hope this is true, I believe it may be true, but I won't be certain that it is true until it plays out in practice. Because what we've seen of "GOP leadership" over the past several political cycles is that it isn't especially effective at leading.
   1666. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4350144)
if Iran was a real democracy they would have voted the clerics out of power well more than a decade ago.


I'm genuinely doubtful of this. I'm pretty confident that the clerics have (at minimum) plurality support.

And prior to Khomeni laying a real beating on them, the communists were either the second or third largest faction. I don't think there's a heck of lot of them left now.

   1667. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4350148)
Free markets are much more important when you're in the minority. Look at how the Jews prospered in trade when they were prohibited from gov't positions and the professions in Europe. In a free market, people still want to deal with you, even if they despise you for your race, religion, whatever, b/c it puts money in their pocket.


Democracy is the free market applied to politics.
   1668. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4350152)
#1658 I was extremely cautious in my phrasing. While it's not as bad as many people believe, there are many places where women definitely get the short end of the stick. Inheritance in particular.

And yes, in many muslim countries they're legally little more than property -- first of their father then their husband.

Thing is that that's the mix of local customs and tradition I mentioned, not precisely (or at least not all) to the Quran (and other authoritative sources). Similarly dress restrictions. Very little to do with the Quran per se. (where the injunction is something along the line of dress modestly)

EDIT: I should note that my nephew's ex-girlfriend converted to Islam. IOW it's not precisely devoid of attraction to some females.
   1669. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4350154)
Based on my experience attempting this, it seems that the Google Search application must simply be very poor at queries before November, 2008 for some reason.


Obama.
   1670. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4350159)
#1669 I guess it's an answer that makes everybody (with a partisan viewpoint at any rate happy)

Dem partisan: On taking office Obama had the Google search application at fixed.

R partisan: On taking office Obama had the Google search application gaffed.
   1671. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4350163)
Democracy is the free market applied to politics.

Not really. Distributism/localism is the free market applied to politics.

Democracy is just the dictatorship of the 50.1%.
   1672. tshipman Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4350175)
That said - now that the 'Hastert Rule' appears done with - I'm not sure it matters... The Senate GOP caucus seems less crazy and Boehner has already established in principle that votes can come to the floor with Dem majority support.


This isn't true, I don't think. These bills, the fiscal cliff and potentially the Debt Ceiling bill, are not bills that the House majority truly doesn't want to pass. They're bills that they don't want to vote for. That's a crucial distinction, I think.

The Hastert rule would only be violated if the House voted for something like gun control--something that most of their members genuinely do not want passed. Fiscal spending bills are seen as necessary evils by a lot of Republicans. Gun control, or other issues, don't fit into that category.

Even though Boehner has violated the Hastert rule, he's done so with the tacit blessing of the caucus.
   1673. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4350183)
Interesting to note that the Armstrong interview is the highest rated program in the history of Oprah's network. Something close to 4.3 million viewers.

Interesting bits of the interview (to me at any rate)

while he was winning his Tours, doping did not feel wrong. "Scary" he said.
When asked if he felt bad about it now he said, "No" "Even scarier".
And he didn't think it was "cheating" since as far as he could tell everybody was doing what he did.
   1674. formerly dp Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4350192)
Got stuck watching Fox and Friends while my car was being worked on. Megan Kelley* said that with all of the doping, athletes today "look like superheroes and Transformers"...

*or another blonde who talks a lot of nonsense on Fox, they all look alike to me
   1675. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4350196)
while he was winning his Tours, doping did not feel wrong. "Scary" he said.
When asked if he felt bad about it now he said, "No" "Even scarier".
And he didn't think it was "cheating" since as far as he could tell everybody was doing what he did.


Is there any possible reason to believe what Armstrong says? In other words, is there any reason to believe that all Armstrong has ever done or said is that which he calculates in his self-interest, regardless of its affiliation with the truth?
   1676. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4350208)
(#1651)The intellectual leader of modern conservatism has spoken:

I think Kehoskie's got strong grounds for a plagiarism suit. Rush couldn't possibly be that comical intentionally.

----------------------------------------------------

Is there any possible reason to believe what Armstrong says? In other words, is there any reason to believe that all Armstrong has ever done or said is that which he calculates in his self-interest, regardless of its affiliation with the truth?

Two letters: "N" and "o".
   1677. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4350221)
What's more astonishing is that anyone cares what he has to say at this point, regardless of truthiness.
   1678. spike Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4350234)
No budget, no pay.

In addition to the 27th amendment, and the fact regardless, this latest Flintstonian scheme from the GOP is just as doomed to failure as the previous ones, wouldn't this be considered a Bill of Attainder?
   1679. CrosbyBird Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4350235)
I don't care about raising more tax money if it's accompanied by even more profits to corporate sleazeballs, and we've already seen what good regulation has done in removing addictive additives to cigarettes. I suppose you think that Big Marijuana would be more ethical than Big Tobacco in the ways they "enhance" their product.

Well, first of all, I don't think there would be "Big Marijuana" in the way that there's Big Tobacco because it's so easy to produce on the micro-level. I don't even think it would be on the level of "Big Alcohol" (as much as such a thing exists, since there's a huge market in microbrewing, home brewing, etc.) because if you're willing to accept low-grade product, you can grow it in your backyard with practically zero maintenance. There's a reason they call it "weed."

The comparisons are irrelevant, since in the cases of tobacco and alcohol we can't put the genie back in the bottle, whereas with pot we don't need to pull the cork to begin with.

Why couldn't we put the genie back into the bottle, if it were really desirable? Marijuana and cocaine and heroin all used to be perfectly legal, and then the law changed. Why can't these laws change too?

Of course, I'm saying that the laws shouldn't change; tobacco and alcohol, with all their faults, should be perfectly legal (not merely decriminalized), so the comparison is highly relevant. If substances that represent a more serious health risk than marijuana are legal (and should be legal), then there's not a health argument for illegal marijuana.

Are you suggesting that if we had it to do over that we'd have been better off as a society having decriminalized, rather than legalized alcohol?

And I think you must have hung out in different crowds than I have over the course of your lifetime, because I've seen many cases of friends and acquaintances whose lives were seriously diminished by excessive pot use. Obviously in terms of numbers the damage caused by tobacco and alcohol is much worse, but I still don't see any reason whatever to encourage additional pot usage by allowing such time-tested marketing devices as branding and advertising.

This is pretty shocking to me, honestly. I've been around a lot of people that smoke a lot of pot, and I have personally never seen one life remotely close to "seriously diminished" by it. I've seen a guy slack off and tank a semester of college (followed by a pretty quick rebound, without reducing pot intake one bit). I really think you're seeing people that were going to destroy their lives in one way or another, and chose pot as the vehicle and/or excuse for that destruction.

The best argument for "pot seriously damaged my career" might be Ricky Williams, but I think even that is more a case of "social anxiety disorder and depression, and the enforcement of anti-marijuana sentiment seriously damaged my career." (Williams claimed that marijuana helped him more than Paxil, with fewer side effects.)

To me 99.99% of the legal problems caused by our current "system" are in the realm of criminal penalties for pot users. Get rid of those laws and the horror stories will go away. I'm not interested in the enrichment of Joe Cannabis or any of his would-be marketers. That's a line of work I think we can easily do without.

I think you could still have everything you want (even though I disagree with the problems of branding and encouragement) with full legalization and sales, and strong restrictions on advertisement. Decriminalization still strongly encourages people to buy their drugs on the black market, and I don't understand why you don't see that as a serious problem.

There are also two very different strains of marijuana that have very different physiological effects. Sativa has a relatively low ratio of CBD to THC, which is more of a stimulant and more of a mental/emotional influence; this makes sativa-heavy strains particularly helpful for depressive conditions but also potentially anxiety-enhancing. Indica has a much higher ratio of CBD to THC; it is less mentally/emotionally stimulating and more sedative, making it more appropriate for pain relief, anxiety reduction, and treatment of insomnia. Recreationally, this is the difference between a cerebral, stimulating high and a relaxing body high. (Most varieties are a mix of the two strains in some proportion.)

When you go to a dispensary, you can speak freely with an expert and obtain a strain that is appropriately balanced for the experience that you want to have, whether medicinal or recreational. You can purchase edibles, reducing the negative effects of inhaling any burning substance. Also, the fact that marijuana is illegal makes it less reliable and less safe. In most states, you have to buy from a criminal, and you don't have any recourse if the product is misrepresented or somehow tainted. If you buy from an authorized source, in a regulated environment, much of that problem disappears.

Decriminalization, as opposed to legalization, is essentially taking the position that it's worth the additional harm, inconvenience, expense, and stigma that responsible users face in exchange for avoiding "government endorsement" of marijuana. I think that's a terrible, terrible trade. Bear in mind that I know what decriminalization looks like, because I live in NYC. If you're not making a spectacle of yourself (at least if you're white) you're probably not even getting that $100 ticket; police will routinely walk right by a circle of people standing outside that stashed a joint a minute ago and don't even blink.
   1680. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4350237)
What's more astonishing is that anyone cares what he has to say at this point, regardless of truthiness.


I do think a lot of the current 'listen to Lance Armstrong interview' interest is of the same variety of 'listen to the Charles Manson' interview. People are always morbidly interested in psychopaths.
   1681. Ron J2 Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4350253)
#1675 No reason to believe anything self-serving, I just found it interesting that he'd say he didn't see anything wrong with it at the time and really doesn't regret it now. (IOW the old you're not sorry you did it. You're sorry you got caught. And in the interview he does muse that he'd have probably got away with everything if he hadn't come back in 2009)

Normally you'll hear the guys coming clean talk about regrets, terrible mistakes, moments of weakness. Not Armstrong and I find that kind of refreshing. (but as he says, scary. At least sociopaths scare me. Don't know about you)

Oh yeah. He admits to bullying those around him and to trying to destroy critics and those who raised the story earlier on.
   1682. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4350271)
Are you suggesting that if we had it to do over that we'd have been better off as a society having decriminalized, rather than legalized alcohol?

No, but we certainly would have been better off if we'd kept branding and advertising out of tobacco right from the start. The profit motive was the entire cause of what at one point became a nearly universal nationwide adult addiction. There's not a snowball's chance in hell that cigarette addiction would have ever reached the levels it did without the bombardment of advertising that practically made it seem a patriotic duty to smoke.

I think you could still have everything you want (even though I disagree with the problems of branding and encouragement) with full legalization and sales, and strong restrictions on advertisement. Decriminalization still strongly encourages people to buy their drugs on the black market, and I don't understand why you don't see that as a serious problem.

Because I don't see the black market as it exists today to be that much of a problem to begin with. Remove the penalties for personal usage and grow-your-own and I think the black market would lose much of its present reach.

There are also two very different strains of marijuana that have very different physiological effects. Sativa has a relatively low ratio of CBD to THC, which is more of a stimulant and more of a mental/emotional influence; this makes sativa-heavy strains particularly helpful for depressive conditions but also potentially anxiety-enhancing. Indica has a much higher ratio of CBD to THC; it is less mentally/emotionally stimulating and more sedative, making it more appropriate for pain relief, anxiety reduction, and treatment of insomnia. Recreationally, this is the difference between a cerebral, stimulating high and a relaxing body high. (Most varieties are a mix of the two strains in some proportion.)

When you go to a dispensary, you can speak freely with an expert and obtain a strain that is appropriately balanced for the experience that you want to have, whether medicinal or recreational. You can purchase edibles, reducing the negative effects of inhaling any burning substance. Also, the fact that marijuana is illegal makes it less reliable and less safe. In most states, you have to buy from a criminal, and you don't have any recourse if the product is misrepresented or somehow tainted. If you buy from an authorized source, in a regulated environment, much of that problem disappears.


That version of legalization is something I could live with, as long as branding and advertising were completely kept out of it. And I might add that whatever problems there've been with misrepresented or tainted black market marijuana pale in comparison with the problems caused by Big Tobacco adding addictive chemicals to their cigarettes. In that sense, regulated alcohol and regulated tobacco have very little in common.

Bottom line: With an ironclad prohibition against all forms of branding and advertising, legalization becomes a lot less problematic. The question is whether or not the Roberts Court would ever agree to such a Grand Bargain, given the way they've expanded the first amendment to include nearly every form of commercial speech. When it comes to its slavish bending in sync with every last corporate wish and desire, I trust that court about as far as our 11 year old goddaughter could throw Prince Fielder.
   1683. Lassus Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4350286)
BTF's search engine is really quite terrible.

Oh my god, yes.
   1684. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:48 PM (#4350297)
Is there any possible reason to believe what Armstrong says?


No. Never trust a serial liar.
   1685. Lassus Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4350299)
People are always morbidly interested in psychopaths.

Defining Lance Armstrong as a psychopath seems something of an oversell.
   1686. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4350305)
Regarding the federal challenges to Wisconsin's ACT 10, the 7th Circuit upheld Scott Walker's ACT 10 law, overturning a Madison federal district court judge's striking of the law.

still more litigation at State level.
   1687. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:02 PM (#4350307)
Defining Lance Armstrong as a psychopath seems something of an oversell.


Psychopaths and sociopaths are remorseless, constantly self-promoting and incapable of considering the impact of their actions on others. The fact that Armstrong's mania was to ride a bike faster than anyone else rather than to slice up young girls doesn't enter the equation.
   1688. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4350314)
Defining Lance Armstrong as a psychopath seems something of an oversell.
Not with the way he went after critics and truth-tellers.
   1689. CrosbyBird Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4350320)
Because I don't see the black market as it exists today to be that much of a problem to begin with. Remove the penalties for personal usage and grow-your-own and I think the black market would lose much of its present reach.

I doubt it. While you can grow your own if easily if you're willing to accept crappy product, you need to be pretty serious about things to get top-quality (precise management of light cycles with total darkness during the off-stages, properly identifying and discarding the males before fertilization, proper curing, etc.). With that effort (and expense, since good grow lights are high-wattage), it will only be cost-effective for some sort of distribution. And just like some people don't drink Budweiser, some people don't use crappy weed; there's a market for high-quality stuff that won't just go away.

If the government got too piggish on the taxes, or too heavy-handed in the regulation (maximums on potency, for example), it might actually benefit the black market. I think it was Bill Maher who said that people should almost hope pot stays illegal because right now it's easy to get, good, and cheap.

That version of legalization is something I could live with, as long as branding and advertising were completely kept out of it. And I might add that whatever problems there've been with misrepresented or tainted black market marijuana pale in comparison with the problems caused by Big Tobacco adding addictive chemicals to their cigarettes. In that sense, regulated alcohol and regulated tobacco have very little in common.

That's fair, but marijuana is much more appropriately compared to alcohol than tobacco for a number of reasons. I think you're comparing marijuana to tobacco because people generally smoke both of them, but that's not really what is the dominant factor in the differences in advertisement and additives. Tobacco is really its own class of product; if ever there were any substance truly worthy of Schedule I classification, that would be it. I favor legalized tobacco on libertarian grounds, of course, but I hate it just as much as you do. Also, if I were a religious man, I'd be pretty confident that there's a special place in hell reserved for the death merchants of Big Tobacco.
   1690. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4350325)
It was basically a symbolic way of taking a swipe at Bush, basically on par with the House Repub's vote to repeal Obamacare in 2011.

Pretty tough to argue when it's 52-48. That's not exactly like being the 1 protest vote in a 99-1 vote.

Whether or not you agree that long-term budget reform is necessary, I fail to see how "risking the full faith and credit of the United States" on a symbolic swipe at Bush is anymore morally sound than "risking the full faith and credit of the United States" for budgetary reform.

However, I assume that the people here, not being hypocrites, didn't think that it was in fact morally superior at the time. I just can't find the criticisms hurled at the Democratic senators (and the Republicans that joined them) that were, to use the calm, judicial words of Steny Hoyer, putting a gun to the head of our children. But that's the fault of BTF's search engine, no doubt.
   1691. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:45 PM (#4350326)
I do think a lot of the current 'listen to Lance Armstrong interview' interest is of the same variety of 'listen to the Charles Manson' interview. People are always morbidly interested in psychopaths.


I will admit that I'm vaguely ashamed that I'm amused by this clip.
   1692. tshipman Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:45 PM (#4350327)
Whether or not you agree that long-term budget reform is necessary, I fail to see how "risking the full faith and credit of the United States" on a symbolic swipe at Bush is anymore morally sound than "risking the full faith and credit of the United States" for budgetary reform.

However, I assume that the people here, not being hypocrites, didn't think that it was in fact morally superior at the time. I just can't find the criticisms hurled at the Democratic senators (and the Republicans that joined them) that were, to use the calm, judicial words of Steny Hoyer, putting a gun to the head of our children. But that's the fault of BTF's search engine, no doubt.


I don't really get the point of making baldly disingenuous arguments.
   1693. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4350329)
Whether or not you agree that long-term budget reform is necessary, I fail to see how "risking the full faith and credit of the United States" on a symbolic swipe at Bush is anymore morally sound than "risking the full faith and credit of the United States" for budgetary reform.


You don't think the Dems knew the whip count before they voted?

Not everybody governs their caucus as badly as Orange Julius.
   1694. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: January 18, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4350331)
Hey, you leave refreshing beverages purchased at malls out of this!
   1695. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2013 at 08:06 PM (#4350336)
I haven't seen an Orange Julius in ages. I think Dairy Queen bought them out, didn't they?
   1696. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 18, 2013 at 08:19 PM (#4350344)
You don't think the Dems knew the whip count before they voted?

3 votes is a pretty close margin on which to risk the full faith and credit of the United States (sorry, said 2, but presumably Cheney would have broken the tie in Bush's favor).

To continue with Steny Hoyer's analogy, then, the Democrats wouldn't be shooting someone's child in the head, they were just shooting the gun near the child's head and were totally, super sure that it would miss, which is totally responsible behavior. The target was like a whole foot to the right of the child's head, so it was cool, brah.

But again, I have little doubt that the consternation here about the Democrats (and a few Republicans) ploy in which they risked the full faith and credit of the United States to score a political point was thick and heated, I just can't find it because of a lack of good searchable archives. But I'm a trusting type of guy, so I have no problem giving Sammy and the others my full faith and credit in their intellectual consistency that has to do with the merits of a position, not the letter next to a politician's name. If a stathead can't have full faith and credit in other statheads, where would we be today?
   1697. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4350348)
Not everybody governs their caucus as badly as Orange Julius.

Serious question: how many Speakers or Minority Leaders have governed their caucus as badly as Orange Julius?
   1698. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 18, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4350349)
I just can't find the criticisms hurled at the Democratic senators (and the Republicans that joined them) that were, to use the calm, judicial words of Steny Hoyer, putting a gun to the head of our children. But that's the fault of BTF's search engine, no doubt.


Because there was no real intent of forcing a default, it was pure grandstanding, if it was 51-49 "no"
they would have voted again later that day or the next and it would have passed.

If this House votes "no" the teaper brigade will throw up their arms in Ecstasy, run out and get drunk celebrating.
   1699. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4350352)
What DJS is performing here is generally known as a "reach."
   1700. Steve Treder Posted: January 18, 2013 at 08:33 PM (#4350353)
get drunk celebrating

No, that would just be the Mormons.
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