I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Friday, August 30, 2013

a race based society

If you think that there is no one who wants to have a society in which race is the defining characteristic on a permanent basis consider the following:

"To say that we should get over race is like saying democracy should get over having elections."
Caleb Branch on Face the Nation August 25, 2013.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Voter ID 3

The Republicans need to cut out or revise their voter id campaign.

Now, I favor the requirement of a reliable voter ID to cast a ballot.  I have previously said so here see 7/25/12 - go here - and below.  But that is subject to Rule II:  Anyone who doesn't have an acceptable ID should be provided one - at government expense.

Without Rule II it is very believable that they are engaged in voter suppression.

Perhaps this should be subtitled "Things you get from the government."
All politics aside, I guess I am in favor of the following rule:

Rule I  If you  have a right to or are entitled to get something from the government, then you should be prepared to prove that you are eligible for it.  

It doesn't make me any difference whether it is a welfare check, tax "loophole", or the right to vote.
Rule II     Since voting is constitutionally fundamental it should get special treatment.  The state is obligated to provide for the cost free  acquisition of a suitable ID for the individual.  Otherwise you have overtones (if not the reality of) a poll tax.

The arguments against this (rule I) which are based on: "Poor ole granny doesn't have a picture ID." , seem silly to me. They do have an lot of emotional appeal, but they go right down the drain in the face of rule II.

PS  Since rule two would require a bit of time to implement, you can't do one of these things just before an election.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MLK I have a dream speech

August 28
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
Martin Luther King - August 28, 1968 Hear highlights at I have a dream speech or read the full text.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nixon Tapes Cartoon

In 1973-4 President Nixon was claiming that he could withhold the White House tapes from Congress because of Executive Privilege.  That theory is that the President can withhold some things or else the Executive would not be an independent Branch of Government. The Supreme Court ruled (I think unanimously) that Nixon's concept of executive privilege was larger than was justified and ordered him to give over the tapes.

Bob Taylor of the Dallas Times Herald drew a cartoon which was among the best I have ever seen.
It shows Nixon sitting atop an roughly constructed (i.e. extra constitutional) structure labeled executive privilege branch which is itself sitting on the Executive Branch.

I wish I had a cleaner copy.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today's quote

August 25 “Moderation in all things.” From the temple at Delphi

My personal take on today's quote - moderation in all things, including moderation. Occasionally it is good to drink 10 beers or eat an entire sleeve of Oreo's. 


One of the framers' fears.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Obama and Egypt

I want to get this post up now because you are going to shortly see a lot of howling about how Obama is siding with (gasp) Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which is a Muslim religious-political organization.

Briefly the Brotherhood won the (close) elections and put President Morsi in office.  He apparently did not govern very democratically and was moving to "permatize" his power.

The Egyptian military overthrew him.

That required that we reduce our support for Egypt.

Obama temporized for several weeks about stopping aid (which is a cornerstone of the Camp David Accords which established peace between Egypt and Israel) and is now moving in that direction.

So - as usual in the Middle East - we have easy choices:
         a)  The Muslim Brotherhood which was moving away from democracy, or
         b)  the military which staged a coup and has already killed hundreds.

Sometimes I think that I know what a president should do.
Sometimes - like Jose Jimenez - I am glad that:  "It's naa my job."

You will soon hear that this means that Obama is a Muslim sympathizer or "worse".

With respect to that, I say poppycock.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Obama vs Lincoln

The Obama administration announced last month via blog post that the president was unilaterally suspending ObamaCare's employer mandate—notwithstanding the clear command of the law. President Obama's comments about it on Aug. 9—claiming that "the normal thing [he] would prefer to do" is seek a "change to the law"—then added insult to constitutional injury. It also offers a sharp contrast with a different president who also suspended the law.
On April 27, 1861, President Lincoln unilaterally authorized his commanding general to suspend the writ of habeas corpus so that he could detain dangerous rebels in the early days of the Civil War. Lincoln's order was constitutionally questionable. The Constitution provides that "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
A rebellion was in progress, so suspension was permissible. But the Constitution doesn't specify who can suspend the writ in such circumstances. Since the Suspension Clause appears in Article I of the Constitution, which is predominantly about the powers of Congress, there is a strong argument that only Congress can suspend the habeas writ.
Lincoln's order was legally dubious, but what he did next showed remarkable constitutional rectitude. On July 4, 1861, he delivered a solemn message to Congress, in which he did everything possible to square his action with the Constitution. In this message, he set forth the best possible constitutional arguments that he had unilateral power to suspend the writ. These arguments may have been wrong, but they were serious, and they were presented seriously, in good faith.


Lincoln also made a powerful argument about the necessity of his action. Even if he was wrong, and only Congress had the power to suspend the writ, surely the circumstances had to be considered: Congress was in recess and the South was in open rebellion. "The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed, were being resisted, and failing of execution, in nearly one-third of the states," Lincoln said to Congress.
Should Lincoln have refrained from suspending habeas, if doing so meant that the republic would fall? As he put it: "[A]re all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?"
Lincoln also invited Congress to ratify his actions: "Whether there shall be any legislation upon the subject, and, if any, what, is submitted entirely to the better judgment of Congress." On Aug, 6, 1861, Congress did indeed retroactively ratify "all the acts, proclamations, and orders of the President . . . respecting the army and navy of the United States." And later, on March 3, 1863, Congress expressly authorized the president to suspend the writ.
Scholars have debated whether Lincoln exceeded his power by suspending the writ and whether Congress's retroactive ratification cured any constitutional infirmity. Whatever one's answer, this is a case of a president—himself a constitutional lawyer—trying, under impossible circumstances, to be as faithful to the Constitution as possible.
Contrast all of this with President Obama's announcement that he is unilaterally suspending part of the Affordable Care Act. Like Lincoln, Mr. Obama is a constitutional lawyer. And like Lincoln's action, Mr. Obama's was a unilateral executive suspension of the law. But in every other way, the president's behavior could not have been more different from Lincoln's.
First, Lincoln's action was at least arguably constitutional, while Mr. Obama's is not. The Constitution has a provision for suspending habeas. It has no general provision for executive suspension of laws. English kings used to suspend laws, but the Framers rejected that practice: The president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
Second, Lincoln volunteered an articulate constitutional defense of his action. Mr. Obama seemed annoyed when the New York Times dared to ask him the constitutional question. When the reporter asked whether he had consulted with lawyers about the legality of the mandate's delay, he declined to answer.
As for Republican congressmen who had the temerity to question his authority, Mr. Obama said only: "I'm not concerned about their opinions—very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers." Mr. Obama made no mention of Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin—a Democrat, a lawyer and one of the authors of ObamaCare—who said: "This was the law. How can they change the law?"
Third, Lincoln offered a brilliant and compelling argument about the necessity of his action, given that the republic was in imminent danger. Mr. Obama's official version of the constitutional-necessity argument was nothing more than a breezy blog post attributed to an assistant secretary for tax policy. The title? "Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner."
Fourth, and most strikingly, Lincoln promptly looked to Congress to ratify his unilateral action. Congress agreed with Lincoln, and the president welcomed and signed new legislation. President Obama says only that he wishes he could follow the same course. Last week, he said he would like to "simply call up the Speaker" of the House to request a "change to the law" that would achieve his desired delay.
In fact, as the president knows, he doesn't even need to pick up the phone: On July 17, the House of Representatives passed the Authority for Mandate Delay Act (with 229 Republicans and 35 Democrats voting in favor). This would authorize President Obama's desired suspension of the law, just as Congress ratified Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus.
But unlike Lincoln, President Obama doesn't welcome this congressional ratification. He has called the House bill that fixes the constitutional problem he created "unnecessary," and he threatened to veto it. Why? Because the House also passed a companion bill that would delay the individual mandate too. For political reasons, the president doesn't want to be in the inconvenient position of signing one bill that would give companies a reprieve from ObamaCare, while vetoing another that would grant individuals the same delay. The Democratic-controlled Senate will quietly kill the House bill and save Mr. Obama the awkwardness of having to veto it.
Faced with military exigencies, Lincoln did everything possible to enlist Congress's support—and thus to follow the Constitution. Mr. Obama, faced with mere political and bureaucratic inconveniences, spurned Congress's support and flouted the Constitution.

Mr. Rosenkranz is a professor of law at Georgetown and a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"War" on pride

If you ever wonder why some conservatives believe that the democrats want to increase our dependence on the government, you might find this interesting.

The U S Dept of Agriculture is in charge of the food stamp program called SNAP and so it seeks to inform people about the program.  Or is that what you would call this:   USDA combats ‘mountain pride,’ self-reliance to boost food stamp rolls

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


While we are on definitions how about this illustration of one  by Sen. Harry Reid
who hopes Republican opposition to Obama is not due to his race.

"Here we are seven months into his second term and nothing has changed," Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told Las Vegas-based National Public Radio Affiliate KNPR. "It's been obvious they are doing everything they can to make him fail. And I hope, I hope, and I say this seriously, it's based on substance and not the fact that he's an African American."

The opposition couldn't possibly be because they support different policies.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Racist definition

Defining racist seems to be most difficult.    I am going to offer my own definition for comment on Yellowarmadillos. 

1.   An act may be considered racist when made as the result of a decision consciously influenced by race.  
      2.   A racist is someone who commits a racist act.

For the moment, and for discussion, I will say that item 1 describes the only racist act(s).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The media's double standard

This is an article on how the media handles political violence.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

language and the war on terror

One of the things that irritates me is the misuse of the language, particularly by the press who are among its professionals and should be among its guardians

Two examples:

"to beg the question" is a term of logic that means to assume what you are trying to prove.  For example:  "those people" have a higher crime rate because they are more violent.

The press uses it to mean "to raise the question".

"to decimate" was a disciplinary practice used on the Roman legions.  If they fled in a battle, then they were lined up in some order and counted off.  Every tenth man was executed.

The press uses this to mean "to destroy".

The latter example may prove useful to the President.

During the 2012 campaign he and Biden loudly and frequently declared that they had decimated Al Queda.  (Notice the restraint - I did not say "brayed".)  On Oct. 21, 2012 I wrote here that the President's misrepresentation of what happened in Benghazi was probably motivated by a concern that it would make his middle eastern policy appear to be a failure because they had, in fact, not destroyed Al Queda.

Now it appears that Al Queda is far far from destroyed.  Perhaps Carney will soon explain that the President had never said that he had "destroyed" Al Queda, only that he had "decimated" them which everyone knows means killed about a tenth of them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Growing meat in a laboratory

Apparently growing meat in a laboratory is a reality and ready to go forward.  The implications are huge, it would seem to me.  First of all the shear amount of investment in people (I mean people who depend on the production of meat for their living but do not necessarily engage in the labor of producing meat), labor, equipment and facilities would be rendered, if not worthless, then certainly worth less...much less.  A lot of real estate would be freed up but I don't see the value of land going down because of it.  Perhaps even positive substitutive uses would make it even more valuable.

Secondly, the cost of producing this meat, I would think, will, eventually be much less than the costs of ranching and producing the meat the old fashioned way.  There is a lot of risk in ranching and farming that would be taken out of the test tube production of food.  Therefore, it would seem to me that the impact on world hunger would be reduced materially.

Thirdly. it would be a big positive for the environment, if the environmentalists are correct about the size of the negative impact that raising large numbers of cattle has on the environment. 

I noted that the taste testers' only complaint was the lack of fat for taste purposes. No doubt they can figure out how to add fat.  We add fat to just about everything else. 

Any other implications anyone can think of?  I'm sure some can think of more negatives. 


Thursday, August 1, 2013


The number of viewers at cable channel MSNBC continues to plummet.  This is a good thing.

Their extremist presentation sounds more and more like the Rush Limbaugh I listened to for a few minutes some years ago.  For example here's Chris, who went beyond the pale some time ago.

Chris Matthews: Senators Cruz, Paul & Lee Are "Political Terrorists"

since they disagree with him.

I assume that people on both sides who do this are aware that they are making compromise on anything harder.