Scalia and Originalism: May They Rest in Peace

Feb 17, 2016

Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

By Ronald A. Lindsay

As a jurist, Antonin Scalia will likely be remembered most for championing the “originalist” view of constitutional law, that is, the view that in determining how constitutional provisions should be applied today, we need to adhere without deviation to the “original” meaning of the provisions. Scalia maintained this is the only legitimate way for an unelected judiciary to apply the Constitution because otherwise they would be acting as legislators. Scalia repeatedly heaped scorn on the view that judges should interpret constitutional provisions in light of contemporary conditions and standards.

The originalist view has some superficial merit, which, in part, explains why it continues to have supporters. On this view, judges are not influenced by their personal beliefs. Instead, they are objective legal technicians, who hold their positions because they have the skill necessary to understand and apply the constitutional manual. They’re like plumbers but with more education because, you know, the piping in our legal system is more complex than the one in your bathroom.

But the alleged objectivity of originalism is a pernicious myth. To begin, the Founders themselves likely did not adhere to originalism, so originalism is predicated on the paradoxical position that we should respect the Founders by rejecting their own understanding of the Constitution. Moreover, Scalia, like all judges, interpreted constitutional provisions through his own ideological prism. The mask of originalism was simply used to camouflage his agenda.

How is an originalist supposed to determine the meaning of a constitutional provision? According to Scalia, one starts, and ideally ends, with the text. Just read the provision in question.


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49 comments on “Scalia and Originalism: May They Rest in Peace

  • From this article:

    Scalia repeatedly heaped scorn on the view that judges should interpret constitutional provisions in light of contemporary conditions and standards.

    If this were true then why do we have amendments to the constitution at all? If we were to stay loyal to the original constitution then as a female, I should surrender my right to vote and I will head on down to the local slave market and purchase a few of my fellow humans. This is all consistent with the contemporary conditions and standards of the time.



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  • The “originalist” view is as daft in its dogma as its religious analogue, faith in the bible. The constitutional framers were purposefully ambiguous with many aspects of the Constitution. Why? Because they knew the world would change. And with that change interpretations of concepts drafted in a completely different world would also change. This is called progress. Scalia was an originalist when it convenienced him. When it didn’t, as in Bush v. Gore, he simply said “get over it” when questioned about the constitutional fidelity (or lack thereof) of his concurrence. To paraphrase a recent article:

    “In his concurrence, Justice Scalia did not trouble for a moment to consider whether the threatened injury to Bush if the counting continued outweighed the damage to Gore if it did not. Scalia went straight to “irreparable harm.” If the manual count continued, he said, it “does in my view threaten irreparable harm to the petitioner, and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election.”
    Well, there it is. The irreparable harm of “casting a cloud.” In the long and honorable tradition of injunctions and stays, this “irreparable injury” is a new one. Not just a cloud, but a cloud on “what he claims to be the legitimacy” of what he is claiming. By that standard, of course, every litigant in every case should be granted an injunction to halt the proceeding that offends him: the prosecutor casts a cloud on a claim of innocence; the civil plaintiff, a cloud on the defendant’s claim that he has already paid him. And of course vice versa, the defendants casting clouds on plaintiffs and prosecutors. The whole adversary system consists of a casting of clouds.”

    The esteemed Justice William Brennan held a view of the Constitution that I think most people could agree with. He dismissed attempts to “find legitimacy in fidelity” to the intentions of the framers as “little more than arrogance cloaked as humility.” He insisted that “current justices read the Constitution the only way we can: as twentieth-century Americans,” and that “the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs.”



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  • Hi Steven007,

    Well said.

    Scalia’s position was that of a legal dogmatist – and an arrogant dogmatist who was willing to suspend that legal dogma for a greater political dogma whenever it suited him … which would be the definition of an unelected legislator with the power of diktat, except that there are other justices.

    Justice Brennan’s position skates a little too closely to the Living Constitution position (dogmatic too, in it’s own way) for my liking.

    Nevertheless, Brennan’s approach works for me if he means that modern people interpret the Constitution through the lens of the principles the Founders expressed in terms that were clear to them. In this very limited sense Scalia was correct; studying the historical context of the constitutional texts is a requirement for a Supreme Court Justice.

    Thus freedom of the press, as per the 1st Amendment, is about the principle of being able to publish free speech and not about the right of the rich to shout down the poor. The 2nd Amendment on the right to bear arms is couched in terms of the principle that the existence of such a right requires that it be “well regulated”.

    Peace.



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  • Hi @stephen-of-wimbeldon.

    Justice Brennan’s position skates a little too closely to the Living
    Constitution position (dogmatic too, in it’s own way) for my liking.

    I tend to agree, but only slightly; I think I’d rather skate too closely to the living/breathing position than I would its opposite. Specifically because its opposite is where the dogma lives, this thought process that we must not change one precious word of this ancient document.

    I find it both interesting and amusing that a document ratified in 1788 – 228 years ago! – is considered for all intents and purposes, basically infallible. No, I am fully aware of the amendment process and Judicial review, etc, but think of the progress we’ve made in every other area in of human life in that space of time. But yet this one document drafted then is still considered the standard to most people. That said, the original framers were among our most brilliant politicians. I could not imagine members of the current Senate or body politic, without a strong precedent to work off of, creating anything this comprehensive. So the devil you know… However there has also been much recent discussion about the declining influence of the US Constitution, mostly revolving around human rights and the right to bear arms (which, perhaps surprisingly to most, is a right that can only be found in the constitutions of the US, Mexico and Guatemala). Interesting articles:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1923556

    http://journalistsresource.org/studies/international/development/decline-influence-united-states-constitution



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  • Steven007,

    Yes, it’ll get here eventually. 😉

    Just thinking that originalism could only be liked by conservatives who by definition can tolerate some change as long as it goes at a snails pace and by reactionaries who want to move everything backward in time to an imaginary utopia that is mostly liked only by those in a high place of privilege. To everyone else it’s not a utopia they seek, it’s a dystopia. A constitution that is petrified in time is a strong legal document for them to throw in the face of progressives, especially the ones who haven’t done their homework on the subject. Ted Cruz is from what I’ve heard, a specialist at doing exactly that.



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  • Hi Steven007,

    Thank you for the links.

    It seems to me that if the Drafters of the US Constitution could be brought here in a time machine they would say that they wrote it thinking it would be an ever-changing constitution. They would be very surprised to find that it has ossified in the way it has.

    The Constitution is becoming an albatross around the necks of modern Americans. A large and vocal minority treat it as if it is a sacred text. The constitution has become an integral part of a US Civil Religion which is largely supported by those who also have evangelical or charismatic Protestant faith – although Scalia was clearly the tip of a Catholic iceberg of intellectuals and theologians that are working to re-interpret the constitution in Catholic terms.

    As the links you provided show, the US Constitution doesn’t grant many rights that are taken for granted in most of the Workd today, grants rights which are antithetical to good, moral, citizenship – such as the right to bear arms – and that are not supported in the vast majority of countries and includes some articles that are highly questionable. This is not the place or time, but – briefly – a very strong case can be made that constitutionally enforced rules like intellectual property, particularly copyright, can actually become anti-human-flourishing despite the authors’ best intentions. No publication has entered the public domain in the US for 40 years due to constant new extensions to copyright terms. The sharing of public knowledge, on hold, for a generation. A ‘cornering of the market’ of social intercourse for more than 18 university graduations …

    To be fair, the US Constitution was an outstanding document for its time – and Americans have flourished for a long time under its principles. Not least, it established, as far as I’m aware, the first ever fully secular government.

    The Founding Fathers in our notional time machine would be distressed, even disappointed, with their modern compatriots. The World has not stood still, and they ensured that the Constitution could evolve, but some US citizens today seem bent – in their ignorance and stupidity – on ensuring that their constitution becomes, by slow degrees, ever more irrelevant. Scalia’s basis for interpretation seemed designed precisely to that end.

    In a related development, the fact that the US Constitution is out-of-date and, while the rest of the World has moved on, some Americans want to continue to live in their increasingly dusty past and bow with reverence to that antique, Americans wonder why their ‘leadership of the free world’ is slipping through their fingers.

    Peace.



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  • The World has not stood still, and they ensured that the Constitution could evolve, but some US citizens today seem bent – in their ignorance and stupidity – on ensuring that their constitution becomes, by slow degrees, ever more irrelevant.

    A well reasoned post. I find a parallel with the bible. Another immutable document. The constitution was written in the 1700’s? to reflect the society that lived at that time. Ditto the bible (insert date). The author(s) could not have possibly know that 2016 would be like, so could not possibly have written their document to be an accurate reflection of society at this time, and thus to be taken as (Holy) writ.

    Of course the constitution needs to change. As Stephen of W so rightly points out, the definition of civilization has advanced in most of the rest of the free world, but America is stuck or is a captive of a document authored in the 1700’s? Just as the religious are captives of their books, authored by people way back in history. We’re better than this.



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  • @ #8 – dusty past and bow with reverence

    Powdered wigged gentlemen sweep their hats, and ladies, winded from a minuet, curtsey before the document.

    Seriously, behold the moneyed David Green (Hobby Lobby), who place full paged ads 4 July honouring the ‘Founding Fathers’, with Christianity shoehorned. Folks like him help ensure the Constitution stays “grandfathered” in.



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  • 11
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    @Stephen-of-Wimbledon The Constitution is becoming an albatross around the necks of modern Americans.

    ROTFLMAO. Ok, sorry, I know that is not a reasoned argument, but sometimes even the most rational individual bursts out in uproarious laughter and amusement, and I am not one to get all butt hurt about such a deeply insulting falsehood tossed my way about my beloved nation of birth and residence, rather, I am ever amused at the endless stream of such nonsense coming from my friends across the waters. So let’s just see about some of the “supporting” statements made below…

    As the links you provided show, the US Constitution doesn’t grant many rights that are taken for granted in most of the Workd today,

    The Constitution does not grant rights. Please read the history of the 9th and 10th amendments. We the people retain all rights except those restrictions we allow the government to enforce as enumerated in the constitution. The rights of the people that are enumerated are merely reiterations of existing rights placed in the constitution as a non-comprehensive clarification of some of the most important rights we the people retain.
    You will not be surprised to find that we Americans care little about the opinions of “most of the world” given the wretched state “most of the world” is in.
    “Most of the world” has nothing like the great freedoms, the great rights, we Americans enjoy and cherish. I wish they did. We keep liberating country after country handing them a chance at freedom on a silver platter. Each time we do, most make good use of this opportunity, in a few cases ingrained religious and tribal conflict has been just too pervasive to permit a quick transformation to freedom we Americans have attempted to bring to them.

    grants rights which are antithetical to good, moral, citizenship – such as the right to bear arms –

    I am an American gun owner, so please do explain to me how my possession of firearms is “antithetical to good, moral, citizenship”. Are you thereby asserting that I, as an individual American gun owner, am the antithesis of good, the antithesis of morality, and the antithesis of a good, moral, citizen?

    and that are not supported in the vast majority of countries

    That’s fine for them in Japan etc., or not so fine for the disarmed who are suffering an inability to defend themselves, which is why they were disarmed. I intend to stay armed, and if the “vast majority of countries” don’t like that idea, tough luck for them.

    and includes some articles that are highly questionable.In a related development,

    Well there is that very odd provision about no congressional representation for the citizens of our capitol. Can you name any other “highly questionable” provisions?

    the fact that the US Constitution is out-of-date and, while the rest of the World has moved on,

    So separation of religion and state, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, a right to a jury trial, a right to not incriminate one’s self, equal protection, voting rights, and all the great freedoms we Americans enjoy and cherish and fight to the death for…all this is “out of date”?

    You sir, do not have a wit of which you speak.



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  • 13
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    @David-R-Allen US citizens today seem bent – in their ignorance and stupidity – on ensuring that their constitution becomes, by slow degrees, ever more irrelevant.

    Indeed, I am such a stupid and ignorant American, see how apologetic I am about it ?-)

    A well reasoned post. I find a parallel with the bible. Another immutable document. Of course the constitution needs to change.

    It has, 27 times. We have a process for that called an amendment. There were just 7 original articles. Nearly 4 times as many amendments. Yet you seem to think this document is “immutable”.

    As Stephen of W so rightly points out, the definition of civilization has advanced in most of the rest of the free world, but America is stuck or is a captive of a document authored in the 1700’s? Just as the religious are captives of their books, authored by people way back in history.

    We Americans are now “captives”. Please sir, learn some more.

    27 amendments != captive. (that means not equal if you do not speak geek)

    In the landmark Brown vs the Board of Education that led to school desegregation it was argued that the founders sent their children to segregated schools and therefore they could not have meant equality to apply to desegregation of schools.

    While true on its face the modern day court rejected that argument. Equality was indeed intended for the enfranchised class of the day, white male land owners. However, the court found, that since all citizens of voting age are enfranchised in this day, then equality is a right of all citizens today.

    I don’t really expect others to know all about American history, why should you? I mean, most people do not know the detailed histories of all the other countries in the world, but then, I do not get on line and decry those countries based on ignorance of them. I realize I do not know the detailed histories of the countries I refrain from commenting on.

    Quite obviously, my friends across the waters feel no such compunctions. You seem to feel you are well qualified to say things like “America is stuck or is a captive of a document authored in the 1700’s” without any knowledge as to how original meaning is used to apply to the presently enfranchised those principles that were applied to the enfranchised of the 1700s, nor do you seem to have any awareness of the very active amendment process.

    Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
    Walk a mile in my shoes
    — Joe South



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  • @stardustypsyche – #11

    We keep liberating country after country handing them a chance at
    freedom on a silver platter.

    Hi Stardusty. I’ve enjoyed your contributions and probably agree with you a bit more on some of the disparate subjects discussed here than some of our other friends, but this statement on its face is simply ludicrous and smacks of the American Exceptionalism that nauseates so many of our neighbors. It nauseates me and I am American born and raised with a father who was stationed in Japan during WWII, a brother who served 24 years in the Navy and a son that recently returned from Afghanistan (Army). I won’t get into any of the ‘inside information’ I’ve digested and integrated to help (further) determine the way I feel about our Exceptionalism as that’s not the subject at hand, but I had to call you out on this statement, which drips with propaganda.

    Clearly you are patriotic. I’m sure Stephen of W (UK I presume) and David from Australia feel just as patriotic as you do for their own good reasons. SoW was chiming in with his measured, cogent, reasonable rhetoric regarding originalism and the constitution, piggybacking on some of the things I mentioned. But I have to agree with Phil here, regarding the ad hominems. I’m more interested in how you feel about originalism and Justice Scalia. So please, thrill us with your acumen.



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  • 15
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    phil rimmer
    Did you mean “a whit” or “the wit”?
    I think we should seek clarity in our ad hominems… if thats what you were attempting?

    I enjoy the occasional mangling of “correct” English. There is no god of English, so sometimes I employ split infinitives, fragments, misspellings, and other techniques in making my points a bit more colorful.

    Apparently my “attempt” succeeded, since you clearly receiving the meaning, though mischaracterized it as an attack against the individual, when in fact it is a statement that the arguments of the individual have no substantial basis in factual knowledge.



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  • I failed to receive your chosen meaning and I mischaracterised nothing. To claim someone doesn’t know enough (they have only a whit of knowledge) or to claim they haven’t the intelligence (the wit) for the subject, are two distinct complaints.



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  • @stardustypsyche

    The knee and the jerk are still total unison. Could be an Olympic Sport dominated by Americans.

    @stephen-of-wimbledon

    In response to Stephen you say… with all arrogance and hubris…

    You will not be surprised to find that we Americans care little about the opinions of “most of the world” given the wretched state “most of the world” is in.

    As I read Stephen’s “Well Reasoned Comment” I believed he was referring to countries equivalent to America. Germany. France. The UK. Scandenavia. New Zealand. Canada. Australia. But you seem to stretch Stephen’s post to some imaginary argument, then attempt to demolish what your imagination created.

    Your quote encapsulates your problem and why you wrap yourself in the US flag of patriotism and say.. we Americans care little about the opinions Arrogance and Hubris on display…. yet again. If you took the time to prop a ladder up to the Great Wall of Trump that you surround yourself with in America, you may just spot a country doing something a little better than you, which, if you weren’t full of arrogance and hubris, adopt, thus improving your lot. But your America can do no wrong. Hear no evil. See no evil. Cue. “Oh Say Can you Seeeee”

    We keep liberating country after country handing them a chance at freedom on a silver platter.

    No. Not more arrogance and hubris. Korea. Vietnam. Nicaragua. Iraq. Iran. Cuba. I am trying and failing to find a country that fits your modest declaration.

    Your knee jerk patriotism is probably applauded within your circle, however have you ever considered where patriotism comes from, and if it is a good value to hold. Patriotism, the grand child of Nationalism, sired by Tribalism hard wired into your and my stone age brain. Fierce and unthinking loyalty to your tribe was a winning evolutionary survival trait that allowed those with the strongest trait to pass on more genes than a disunited tribe. You’ve been bred through millions of years of evolution to be a blind tribal savage. Translate that to today and you get Nationalism. My country. My Tribe. We’re better than your tribe. Is this a productive and ethical trait in 2016, or are we all on just one planet.

    Deutschland über alles” (“Germany, Germany above all”)

    You carry a gun. Because everyone else has a gun. The bad guys have guns. You are in an arms race with yourself. And all of this because a 1700s document, had an amendment, at a time when America was under international threat of invasion, that was great, because it empowered, nay required its citizens to be part of

    *

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
    State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
    infringed.”

    *

    ready to respond at a moments notice to an external threat. Roll on to 2016 and you carry a gun, using this as your justification. Imagine if America had limited firearms in keeping with the correct meaning of the 2nd amendment. You might have been like Australia where a 31 year veteran law enforcement officer has never had to remove his gun once from his holster. Imagine living in America where you didn’t have to live in fear 24/7

    Every constitution in the countries Stephen of W was referring too have mechanisms for amendment. But for an amendment to improve a society, requires a voting population that is rational enough to un-drape the flag from their shoulders for a second and see that some countries are now way ahead of America in terms of living conditions for its citizens.



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  • @stardustypsyche
    @stephen-of-wimbledon

    I’d like to thank Stardusty for invoking my ignorance on the American Constitution. Turns out lots of countries, including America have amended their constitutions as circumstances change. Recent amendments. You know. 20th century ones.

    It also allowed me to focus on the 2nd Amendment which allows Stardusty to carry firearms around, because every man and his dog in America is armed to the teeth, so everyone carries guns to protect themselves from everyone else who are carry guns because everyone else is carrying guns to infinity, which, was apparently the rationale behind those who drafted the second amendment way back in history. They knew that America in the 21st century would be so dripping with armaments that they presciently inserted this vaguely worded clause to do with Militia, knowing that a politicized and therefore undemocratic Supreme Court would draw a long bow and interpret this clause to mean guns up everyone.

    But as Stardusty rightly points out, I am light on in my studies of US history and thus need to get up to speed. It seems the second amendment comes out of the British Declaration of Rights. The political circumstances at the time were pre-American revolution with the country dividing itself into Loyalists and Patriots. The battle was on by the loyalists to disarm the patriots and visa versa… Lots of not so well regulated militia going about.

    This is informative of the society at that time as it relates to the 2nd amendment.

    Early English settlers in America viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes (in no particular order):[48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

    *enabling the people to organize a militia system.*
    *participating in law enforcement;*
    *deterring tyrannical government;[56]*
    *repelling invasion*
    *suppressing insurrection, allegedly including slave revolts;[57][58][59]*
    *facilitating a natural right of self-defense.*

    Which of these considerations were thought of as most important and ultimately found expression in the Second Amendment is disputed. Some of these purposes were explicitly mentioned in early state constitutions; for example, the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 asserted that, “the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state”.[60]

    During the 1760s pre-revolutionary period, the established colonial militia was composed of colonists, including many who were loyal to British imperial rule. As defiance and opposition to British rule developed, a distrust of these Loyalists in the militia became widespread among the colonists, known as Patriots, who favored independence from British rule. As a result, some Patriots created their own militias that excluded the Loyalists and then sought to stock independent armories for their militias. In response to this arms build up, the British Parliament established an embargo on firearms, parts and ammunition on the American colonies.[61]

    British and Loyalist efforts to disarm the colonial Patriot militia armories in the early phases of the American Revolution resulted in the Patriot colonists protesting by citing the Declaration of Rights, Blackstone’s summary of the Declaration of Rights, their own militia laws and common law rights to self-defense.[62] While British policy in the early phases of the Revolution clearly aimed to prevent coordinated action by the Patriot militia, some have argued that there is no evidence that the British sought to restrict the traditional common law right of self-defense.[62]

    Now this old constitution, framed in such historical times, has had such an impact on the US, that SdP has to carry a firearm in his personal fortress. There would be some that would say that the times of the conflict post the US revolution with Shay’s rebellion etc and the flux of federalist vs states sentiments, when the 2nd amendment was crafted were fine for that time, but times always change, and a constitution must keep up. Hence Stephen of Wimbledon’s fine post that I supported.

    And this little gem…

    You will not be surprised to find that we Americans care little about the opinions of “most of the world”

    The moment you close your mind is the moment you stagnate. All wisdom does not reside behind Trumps Great Wall of America.

    But wait, there’s more modesty.

    We keep liberating country after country handing them a chance at freedom on a silver platter.

    I know I’m light on US history so I hopeful that SdP could list of these countries in date order. I tried and came up with Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Nicaragua, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan… I suppose you could count Granada as a shining success in the Caribbean when the might of the US military overthrew a few police in a local coupe. So help me out here Stardusty. After such a modest post like this, I expect to see a very long list of countries “Liberated” and saved for eternity.

    Or is this just primitive stone age tribalism wrapped in an unthinking American flag.



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  • 19
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Steven007
    SP – We keep liberating country after country handing them a chance at
    freedom on a silver platter.

    007 – So please, thrill us with your acumen.

    Very well then, my fellow American, I shall be honored to oblige 🙂
    But first, please allow me to thank the members of your family for their most honorable service on my behalf, and that of every American, and every freedom loving individual on this planet.

    its face is simply ludicrous and smacks of the American Exceptionalism

    The United States of America simply is exceptional. The mistake is thinking our exceptional accomplishments somehow come without enormous faults and wrongs. Both are true. Life is complex.

    a father who was stationed in Japan during WWII, a brother who served 24 years in the Navy and a son that recently returned from Afghanistan (Army).

    Indeed, we liberated Japan from their fascist leaders and what a great success at great cost that has proven to be, our Navy has a great history of service, and we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But, we can’t do it all for everybody forever. At some point Afghanistan will have to find its own way out of tribal and religious infighting.

    Stephen of W (UK I presume) and David from Australia feel just as patriotic as you do for their own good reasons.

    Indeed. I would not wish to have a system that lacks a constitution and still has a place for religion as an integral part of government as the UK, but the UK has its own history and its own culture so I wish them all the best in spite of my abhorrence for that form of government.

    I’m more interested in how you feel about originalism

    Original meaning is a foundation principle. But there have been 27 amendments since the original 7 articles. So, it is important to expand original principles to the expansions the later amendments call for. Further, it is important to apply original principles to their modern analogs, for example, freedom of the press must now include freedom of all media, even though they are not literally a press.

    and Justice Scalia.

    Ding dong the witch is dead. Ok, I suppose that is a bit crass, but that is the first thing that honestly came to my mind. He never really understood the 9th and 10th amendments, nor did he understand Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. It is important to cite dictionaries of the day and papers of the day to determine what the words meant to the people of the day, and less importantly to the ratifiers of the day and least important of all the authors of the passages, but I suspect Scalia had that order of importance back to front in his mind..

    Here’s hoping Obama can make delay politically untenable and appoint a justice that will tip the balance firmly away from the conservatives.



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  • Stephen of W (UK I presume) and David from Australia feel just as patriotic as you do for their own good reasons.

    I’ve been thinking about patriotism for a while and this quote prompted me to try and put down in words what I am feeling about it. I ponder patriotism. I wonder why we feel it. What is the origin of this feelings that almost all humans across the planet are endowed with. For what it’s worth, this is what I think.

    When a trait like patriotism is universal to our species, just like a universal trait in any other animal, there is always a reason. It occurred to me that natural selection working at the level of the genes may be the reason for this trait. Consider two tribes. One tribe that loosely cooperate but are largely independent. The other tribe in the next valley are all loyal to the tribe and will sacrifice for the survival of the tribe. They will hunt together and take risks. They will band together and defend the tribe from predators, both animal and human. They have a bond with the other members of the tribe often signified by totems or the possession of common markings or objects.

    The loyal tribe will out compete the independent individuals. They would probably kill them and take over their territory and women. They will act in concert, taking risks for a goal they see that will benefit the whole tribe, not just them. And the benefits are huge. Access to territory and women provide excellent breeding prospects. Natural selection will favour individual humans in whom this tribal loyalty trait is strong. They will get the pass on their genes. There will be negative selection pressure on solo independent actors. So over time, homo sapiens with a tendency to tribal loyalty dominate.

    Roll on to today. What was very successful stone age tribalism still manifests itself. We are loyal to our tribe, our country. We will go to war and die in our millions for our country. We carry the flag and sing the national anthem and confront members of other tribes, because in our prehistory, there is nothing more dangerous than those others. They will kill you, take your territory and your women.

    Today we call it Nationalism. Every country / tribe / religious grouping / economic grouping on this planet exhibits a loyalty to their tribe. Patriotism is a commitment to the tribe. Flying the flag. Blind defence of your country in face of threat or criticism.

    So in 2016, is primitive stone age tribalism a good trait for humanity to continue to express. That tribalism, with the modern name of patriotic nationalism has been behind both great wars and many minor ones. World leaders chesting up. Armies ready and willing to kill the others. It has been the motivation for atrocities across the planet. So I’m a bit nervous about continuing to be a patriot for my country.

    If we are to survive as a species, we will have more chance if we override our nationalism / patriotism and realize that the threats that face us in the future are global threats and there will be no place for patriotism, which prevents solutions from being made workable. We’re all in this together, on this tiny fragile planet traveling at 2,000,000 KPH towards Andromeda with a real chance of mass extinction. So I try to be a citizen of planet earth first, in my thinking and actions.

    p.s. This primitive trait also explains sports fans.



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  • Stardusty Psyche #19
    Feb 19, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Indeed, we liberated Japan from their fascist leaders and what a great success at great cost that has proven to be, our Navy has a great history of service,

    One of the modern problems of the US today, is the fantasies its citizens are fed by its media as a substitute for history.

    The US an Japan were rivals trying to build empires in the Pacific before the attack on Pearl harbour forced the issue.

    and we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    I think the jury is still out on that one!
    The British and Russians have set about “liberating Afghanistan” before!
    http://www.britannica.com/topic/Anglo-Afghan-Wars

    But, we can’t do it all for everybody forever.

    A message which surprised US troops in Iraq and Vietnam, and which many US politicians still don’t understand, is that many countries do not want themselves or their resources, to be “liberated” into the hands of corporate America! (or any other colonial powers.)

    At some point Afghanistan will have to find its own way out of tribal and religious infighting.

    History suggests that it has always found a way back into religious tribalism!



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  • 22
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    SP – We keep liberating country after country handing them a chance at freedom on a silver platter.

    DRA – No. Not more arrogance and hubris. Korea. Vietnam. Nicaragua. Iraq. Iran. Cuba. I am trying and failing to find a country that fits your modest declaration.

    Ok, I shall assist you therefore in your failings 🙂
    Korea – We failed to hold the North, having pushed to the Chinese border, we were pushed back. We succeeded in holding the South.

    Please do tell me, David, if there were only 2 countries on Earth you could live in, North Korea or South Korea, would you choose the nation in which the United States of America succeeded, or failed?

    Oh, but I promised to assist your admitted failings, so I will ask you a similar question. In Germany prior to the reunification, would you prefer to live in the the part the United States of America liberated, or the other part?

    Ok, maybe you still need some assistance in your admitted failings. Would you prefer to live in Mussolini’s Italy or the Italy the United States of America liberated?

    Nazi France or post USA liberation France? Nazi Belgium or liberated Belgium?

    And on and on…

    Hmmm…tick tock, David.

    Oh, but I see some other nations on your list.

    Vietnam. Indeed, we failed in Vietnam. Since you seem to revile American military success perhaps you would wish to move to an American military failure, Vietnam? Would you care to compare the fates of 2 countries, Thailand and Vietnam? Indeed, Vietnam was a horrible low point…it doesn’t get much uglier than that, I mean, we really hit rock bottom in the Johnson/Nixon years, I hated that time. I was a Vietnam war protester and that remains one of the few things I hold with pride about my youth.

    But how did the people of Vietnam fare after they sent us packing? A repressive dictatorship is what they bought for themselves with their blood.

    I will tell you something else about Vietnam. I work with my Vietnamese friends every day, escapees from a vicious dictatorship who risked their lives to escape and found freedom here, and how much I feel solidarity and best wishes for them and their families they left behind.

    How disgusted I was as a young man at the filthy racism and ghastly genocidal tactics of our administration led forces. Yet I wish we had prevailed, since our failure led to the imprisonment of a whole nation in the iron grip of communist dictatorship.

    Oh, but you have more…
    Nicaragua. Yes, Ronald Reagan, what a pathetic excuse for a president. Arms for hostages. Selling weapons to Iran to pay for illegal wars. I mean, WTF. I did my best by voting against him, but very obviously, my best was not good enough.

    Iraq.
    We liberated Iraq, handed them a chance at freedom on a silver platter. It kind of worked for a while after we left. At least the Kurds didn’t have to worry about getting gassed and the Hussein family was no longer terrorizing the whole nation. But, those Muslims are still arguing about some jackass named Ali from 1300 years ago, so, there is only so much we can do with endemic stupidity and self destructiveness at that level.

    Now we are in there again killing off the most maniacal of the Muhammadan true believers at great expense to ourselves.

    Notice, we did not steal the oil.

    Nor did we seek to rule Iraq as a colony or anything else. If those religious maniacs would just stop hacking each other to pieces we could help them build some kind of democratic nation, but we can only do so much with that lot.

    Iran.
    Huh? Like the Muhammadan nuts who rule that theocratic fascist dictatorship are somehow doing the bidding of the USA? I love Iranians. You don’t even know. Iranian Americans always call themselves “Persian”. Nobody wants to be associated with the present Iranian nutbag government.

    Cuba.
    Indeed, what happens when America fails? You get Castro and Che and all the rest of the fascist goons who imprison their people under brutal dictatorship. Oh sure, Cuba, the worker’s paradise, care to move there? Didn’t think so.

    Now, how about Australia? I recall that the Aussies didn’t seem to mind having some gun totin cowboys in the neighborhood to save their necks when fascist killers were threatening to invade.

    How quickly they forget.



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  • @stardustypsyche – #19

    The United States of America simply is exceptional.

    Thanks for your comments. I have a feeling, and I already see some pushback from the crowd here, that ‘American liberation’ is seen far differently from those whose countries we invaded, er, liberated. But I’ll leave the liberation and Exceptionalism discussion to our non American friends, who can offer the best point of view in my opinion. Hard to fairly and rationally discuss Exceptionalism when you’re wholly convinced you’re the only exceptional one.

    Before this thread loses its steam, and it probably already has, I’d like to add some flavor, for those who may not be fully aware, with a relatively succinct primer on Scalia’s philosophy, originalism, as written by Erwin Chemerinsky, prominent scholar in United States constitutional law and federal civil procedure and dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law:

    “Scalia’s judicial philosophy is familiar to all. He strongly opposes abortion rights and all constitutional protection of privacy, finds no constitutional limits on the death penalty, believes that affirmative action is unconstitutional, rejects a wall separating church and state, and favors protecting a Second Amendment right of individuals to have guns. He justifies all of this by claiming that he is applying an originalist approach to the Constitution: the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed at the time it is adopted and does not change until amended. For Scalia, the role of the justice is to ascertain and apply the original understanding in deciding cases. Murphy does an excellent job of showing how Scalia’s originalist philosophy has changed over the years, something that Scalia does not admit or acknowledge.

    …Scalia is just using originalism as a guise for imposing his conservative values. Of course, all justices inevitably make value choices in interpreting the Constitution. That is inescapable for a document written in ambiguous, expansive language, using phrases such as “due process of law” and “cruel and unusual punishment,” and requiring courts to decide what is “reasonable” or a “compelling” government interest. What makes Scalia different is that he refuses to acknowledge that he is making value choices, claiming instead to be following a neutral method of interpretation that just happens to lead to very conservative results.

    The problems with originalism have been repeatedly identified. It assumes that there was a clear original understanding for constitutional provisions. In reality, those who drafted and ratified the Constitution and its subsequent amendments often disagreed, themselves, on its meaning. In teaching constitutional law, I often point to the many important disagreements between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison over basic constitutional questions. As a result, justices are not discovering the original understanding; they start with their conclusions and then look for the historical evidence to support it.
    Even more important, even if the original understanding could be discerned, that does not explain why it should control modern constitutional interpretation. Long ago, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that we must never forget that it is a Constitution we are expounding, a Constitution meant to adapt and endure for ages to come. The Constitution was written for a vastly different world, and applying its original meaning leads to results that are clearly unacceptable. The same Congress that ratified the 14th Amendment also voted to segregate the District of Columbia public schools. Under an originalist philosophy, Brown v. Board of Education was wrongly decided.

    In fact, if one were to take Scalia’s originalist philosophy seriously, it would be unconstitutional to elect a woman as president or vice president until the Constitution is amended. Article II of the Constitution refers to these officeholders as “he,” and the framers undoubtedly thought that they had to be men. Women were not even accorded the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920.

    For many reasons, I am not a fan of Scalia. I am on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. I find his originalist method of constitutional interpretation to be a nonsensical way to approach a document written for an agrarian slave society and believe that Scalia only follows it when it serves his conservative agenda. I especially dislike the sarcastic, often nasty tone of his opinions. It sets a terrible example for law students and lawyers on how to write.”



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  • I think it is obvious that you need a powerful intellect to reach the position of Supreme Court judge. However Scalia is proof, if ever it were needed, that intelligence is no guarantee of immunity to being delusional and disingenuous. His agenda has only ever been about religiosity and right wing, frontier mentality conservatism. He has sought to justify or explain that by claiming a particular approach to the Constitution but in truth he has paid little attention to that unless it suited him. I think, and long have done, that he represents the absolute worst about a life time tenure in a position of power in the judiciary. A complete inability to remain impartial and unbiased and put the needs of the country and the people above his personal political ideals. I’m profoundly glad he is no longer around to do more damage.



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  • Arkrid Sandwich #24

    Feb 19, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I think, and long have done, that he represents the absolute worst about a life time tenure in a position of power in the judiciary. A complete inability to remain impartial and unbiased and put the needs of the country and the people above his personal political ideals. I’m profoundly glad he is no longer around to do more damage.

    I agree. I’m glad he’s gone and hopeful for a decent replacement.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in the chambers and hallways of the Supreme Court these days…



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  • @stardustypsyche

    Interesting to note that your list of triumphs was my list of failures. I suppose its all in the spin. I also note that the only two new references to my list were WW2. And it seems from your take on these that the US was the only victorious player in the war. Did you know that my father in law’s Australian 2/2 Pioneer Battalion where the first allied army to defeat the Japanese in the field. Battle of Kokoda. And they were a field kitchen engineering support battalion.

    Did you know that at the end of WW2, in 1946, Ho Chi Minh President of Vietnam, wrote to Truman asking for support. In side negotiations, Ho wanted the deal given to the Philippines. Independence. In exchange, Ho would ally with the US to fight Communism. But the US sided with the colonial French who resumed their occupation of this South East Asian nation. And the rest is history. Here is a piece of Ho’s correspondence to Truman.

    http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=228



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  • 28
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    @david-r-allen

    SP – You will not be surprised to find that we Americans care little about the opinions of “most of the world” given the wretched state “most of the world” is in.

    DRA – As I read Stephen’s “Well Reasoned Comment” I believed he was referring to countries equivalent to America. Germany. France. The UK. Scandenavia. New Zealand. Canada. Australia.

    “Most of the world” = the west, in your view, apparently. Now who is the exceptionalist? 🙂

    “Most of the world” in terms of population, numbers of countries, and UN general assembly votes is not the West. Add a few more countries to the list and we could speak of “the free world” and consider, perhaps, “most of the free world”.

    SP – we Americans care little about the opinions
    DRA – Arrogance and Hubris on display

    I suggest the old movie, “Lorenzo’s Oil” for a great exploration of a man accused of arrogance, who embraces the term in his forthright and confident fight for the life of his son as a lone voice against many. The many proved ultimately wrong, and the arrogant man’s son reaped the benefits of a man not swayed by the denunciations of the majority.

    Besides being an American I am an atheist, and I care little about the opinions of the vast majority of the world on theistic and related philosophical matters. The fact I am in such a tiny minority does not bother me in the slightest. Rational arguments are what concern me, and I have found most people on this planet to be highly irrational on many subjects.

    If you have some rational arguments against my positions I consider it a favor that you disabuse me of my misconceptions. Your argumentum ad populum has less than zero interest to me, since it only indicates a lack of rational arguments against mine.

    DAR – But your America can do no wrong. Hear no evil. See no evil. Cue. “Oh Say Can you Seeeee”

    Now you are just making things up out of whole cloth.

    DAR – Deutschland über alles” (“Germany, Germany above all”)

    Uhm, we teamed up with our allies and wiped those guys out. What are you even going on about?

    DAR – Recent amendments. You know. 20th century ones.

    Here are the amendments to the US constitution adopted in the 20th century
    16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
    What’s your point?

    DAR – every man and his dog in America is armed to the teeth, so everyone carries guns to protect themselves from everyone else who are carry guns because everyone else is carrying guns to infinity,

    Ok, David, really, take deep breath bro 🙂 I think maybe you have watched a few too many Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson movies. The vast majority of Americans just go about their daily lives like anybody else in the Western world. Most people just don’t bother getting a permit to carry because there is no pressing need for most people and carrying a gun is kind of a hassle. For those who feel threatened they have that option in most states.

    DAR- SdP has to carry a firearm in his personal fortress.
    Oh, it’s not as bad as all that! Although, there are some people who fear home invasion and keep a firearm easily and quickly accessible at all times, that is pretty uncommon. From time to time we have had civil unrest in the wake of a dubious court ruling, or police action, or natural disaster, but that isn’t something many American spend a great deal of time worrying about.

    It’s just not that big of a deal. It’s just a gun. My 2 wheeled fun machines have been the most injurious aspect of my life, the gun just a very ordinary item.



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  • Stardusty…

    I had a motor bike once. It was the only way I could accept a low paying job and afford to get to it. A car was out of the question and public transport would mean I payed more than I earned. I hated every minute of that bike. Unsafe, cold and the amount of clothing I put on took me half the morning.

    If you felt properly protected then guns would not come into the equation. Duck tape doesn’t work for everything though some Americans seem to think it can.



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  • 31
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    @alan4discussion
    One of the modern problems of the US today, is the fantasies its citizens are fed by its media as a substitute for history.
    The US an Japan were rivals trying to build empires in the Pacific before the attack on Pearl harbour forced the issue.

    False equivalency. No, it was not the US that raped Nanking or perpetrate anything like the genocidal conquests of Imperial Japan. The US did not fight the war to liberate Japan, but we did liberate Japan after we defeated them. Before we defeated Japan that country was ruled by a fascist, militaristic, expansionist, genocidal, dictatorship. After we left Japan was a peaceful democracy. The Japanese people took advantage of the opportunity we gave them to build themselves into a great, free, and peaceful economic powerhouse.

    SP – and we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    I think the jury is still out on that one!
    The British and Russians have set about “liberating Afghanistan” before!

    More false equivalencies. The British empire was an empire of conquest, continual occupation, political disempowerment, and economic enslavement. The Soviets had an empire of satellite states they dominated and intended to rule by occupation in perpetuity. The United States of America has a long history of establishing independent and democratic governments and then getting out. We leave, typically maintaining a few bases in the countryside, until and unless the people ask us to close those, in which case we do and we just leave. Some empire, huh?

    The US has been trying to get out of Afghanistan but the government there keeps begging us to stay. Afghanistan is a sink hole of money and lives for we Americans. We just don’t want another haven for another 9/11 operation.

    We attacked the people who bombed New York City and the Pentagon, and now we are trying to get out without leaving a base in tact from which another such attack can be launched.

    You really need to develop your ability to make clear distinctions.

    History suggests that it has always found a way back into religious tribalism!

    Indeed, there is only so much we can do with that lot. Germany, Japan, Italy, France, South Korea, The Philippines, Taiwan, and others have made good use of the liberation and military protections the USA has provided to build great nations for themselves. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan have yet to get themselves together as those nations have.



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  • Stardusty Psyche #31
    Feb 20, 2016 at 9:26 am

    @alan4discussion
    One of the modern problems of the US today, is the fantasies its citizens are fed by its media as a substitute for history.

    The US an Japan were rivals trying to build empires in the Pacific before the attack on Pearl harbour forced the issue.

    Before we defeated Japan that country was ruled by a fascist, militaristic, expansionist, genocidal, dictatorship.

    A bit like the fascist militaristic genocidal dictatorships the CIA / US armed and supported, in their coups and bids to rule Central and South America!

    http://wais.stanford.edu/USA/us_supportforladictators8303.html



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  • 33
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Duck tape doesn’t work for everything though some Americans seem to think it can.

    @olgun, I love duct tape! I’ll guess that does not surprise you 🙂

    “Properly protected” is a great idea, and indeed the vast majority of our law enforcement officers are highly trained and honorable professionals. Unfortunately, along with all the great things I love so much about my homeland we have a long history of terrible criminality, largely because we are so free and we cherish principles of privacy, rights of the accused, freedom from government interference, and the principle of innocent until proven guilty by a unanimous jury vote.

    Michael Moore is at it again! Now he is showcasing Norway and its prison system. How lovely. I have a suggestion for Michael Moore and all his fans. Build a posh community around a Norway style prison, move there, then populate the prison with the inmates from Pelican Bay California state prison. Good luck with that. The gangsters, Aryan Nation, Mexican Mafia, Bloods, Crips, Hells Angels, and just your average killers and rapists…well, the ones who don’t kill each other will be invading your nice little neighborhood before you can say Jack Robinson.

    Works for Norway, that’s great, I am happy for them, I really am, but it won’t work here, I wish it could, but it can’t.

    Crime is generally down over recent decades, as prison population is up. That is unlikely to be a correlation disconnected from causation. The mechanism is simple. Criminals have very limited ability to commit outside crime while they are inside. I think much of the liberal Western world just does not understand the level of criminal incorrigibility we are faced with here.



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  • Stardusty #32

    I love duct tape! I’ll guess that does not surprise you

    It has its uses but love? Taping a leaky trap on your sink is a temporary measure and does not get to the root of the problem.

    Exporting the American caused illness might and might not work to transform these peoples lives but send them when they are young and Norway stands a better chance supporting them properly……Root cause being the aim.



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  • SP

    Uber-diligent policing and punishment of poor white, but especially black kids manufactures criminals from an very early age. It turns early teen middle-class white mis-demeanors into a burgeoning criminal career for those now unemployable, blighted and hopeless others.

    Throw in a laisez faire attitude to guns, and stimulate a $15bn gun industry to drive their costs down to $100 and an all too tempting opportunity opens up for these now hopeless others. Thinking of gun laws most gun owners simply respond that they are safe with guns…no biggie, they say, totally missing the point of the last-chance-culture they create for the poor, deprived and desperate. etc. etc.

    Don’t just say it won’t work here, think why it won’t work there, then plan how you can make it work.

    Americans were and are exceptional. Sadly the huge promise growing through a maturing 60’s and 70’s, reclaiming the banner of civil rights whilst keeping an astonishingly creative and productive culture, was thwarted by the psychopaths, who repealed laws that kept people’s money safe, stole their future and shored up the culture of the selfish. America is now exceptional for its levels of inequality, for being the only OECD country where IQ is actively correlated with income because welfare is so pitiful. The sins of the parents (unluckily born to poor parents) not only visited upon the children but with an additional downward kick.

    (Don’t get me wrong, the UK is racing to catch up with you.)

    The young criminals manufactured out of this national failure to understand the causes of crime and how to manage it, (this is a country where it is not just the religious who savour punishment as a just desert), then go on to complete their education with their early incarceration. Mentored by professionals, they learn how not to get caught,but how to find more lucrative lines. This is business networking on a grand scale.

    To stay the world leaders of incarceration , the US lock up huge numbers of drug users and small dealers. 25% of the world’s criminals are US citizens. This misuse of incarceration depletes the opportunity for rehabilitation amongst the endless drive to cost saving. Recidivism is chronic.



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  • 36
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    @alan4discussion A bit like the fascist militaristic genocidal dictatorships the CIA / US armed and supported, in their coups and bids to rule Central and South America!

    Barely a bit.

    I actually have personal failings, but I am not all down on my self about it. I learn from my mistakes and move on. On balance I have been a force for good in the lives of those I have engaged. That’s not to say I have never done anything wrong.

    We as a nation are like that.
    Slavery
    Jim Crow
    Vietnam
    East Timor
    Chile
    The United Fruit Company
    and on and on…

    Noam Chomsky has made a career out of these and much more. Malcolm X was actually pretty reasonable when he characterized the Kennedy assassination as a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

    Life is complex. There is good and bad in every individual and every nation.

    But unlike Imperial Japan when we went way off track in Vietnam we also had a population free to vociferously protest that action and bring it to a halt, a process I am proud to have been a part of in my own small way.

    That’s a critical and vast difference. We have the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and to petition our government for redress of grievances. Nothing like that existed for the people of the axis powers.

    It is true that the US used assassination of foreign heads of state as a covert military and political weapon. President Ford ordered that to stop, and that presidential order remains in force. That’s an order from the boss, since the CIA and military intelligence are under the direct command of the president. It is taken very seriously and so far we have avoided any more chickens coming home to roost.

    A guy like Noam Chomsky can publish all the exposés he wants while continuing his long career at MIT, an institution heavily funded by the very government entities he so harshly criticizes.

    Equivalency between the axis and the US? Nonsense. Sorry, I just don’t have the self flagellating liberal white guilt needed to take that stand.



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  • Stardusty Psyche #36
    Feb 20, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Life is complex. There is good and bad in every individual and every nation.

    Don’t get me wrong in criticising the current and recent US empire building and corporate exploitation.

    I am British (unless you want to go back to my Viking ancestors), so have studied the history of abuses of colonial empires, along with unrestrained corporate world trading! – Such as the tea -opium triangle trade in the East, and the Slaves sugar triangle trade, in the West.

    (Look up the British East India Company, and “gunboat diplomacy”, some time!)
    http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/trading/story/trade/4tradingplaces.html

    America has simply been repeating the sorts of abuses, previously perpetrated by other political and commercial empire building powers in less civilised times.



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  • 38
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    @phil-rimmer Uber-diligent policing and punishment of poor white, but especially black kids manufactures criminals from an very early age.

    Policing makes criminals. Physicians make people sick. Vaccines kill. Seat belts cause injuries.

    The primary attack on black youth is a near total breakdown of the stable two parent black household.

    The most likely perpetrator of violence against a black person is another black person. Police violence against black kids barely registers on the scale.

    Don’t just say it won’t work here, think why it won’t work there, then plan how you can make it work.

    Gee, I never thought of that! < /sarc >
    That’s pretty good advice though, make it work. Nice idea, problem is government has very limited capability to change culture. Racism is already institutionally illegal. Government spending on college education would be great, but very unfortunately the black dropout rate is terrible, and one needs to graduate high school at the very least to enter university.

    It’s really very difficult to mandate so many black women from having babies without any prospect of a stable family for the child, or to mandate black men from getting them pregnant with no intention of becoming a father to their children.

    for being the only OECD country where IQ is actively correlated with income because welfare is so pitiful.

    Ok, I have to admit to being a bit lost on this point. Are you suggesting IQ would not be expected to be correlated with income? Doesn’t it make sense that more intelligent people would be better equipped to make more money? So, you are suggesting that we should seek to eliminate this IQ/income correlation with increased welfare benefits?

    Ok, so we should give really intelligent people, who would otherwise be productive in earning money, a great big handout at taxpayer expense so they can lay about doing nothing and be very intelligent in their leech life. Great suggestion Phil, way to “make it work”

    The young criminals manufactured out of this national failure to understand the causes of crime

    Indeed, the primary cause of crime is the collapse of the stable two parent family. Most people are afraid to point out the elephant in the room either because they are personally participating in this national disgrace or they are afraid to be called racist or anti-self determination for women or some other regressive left claptrap.

    To stay the world leaders of incarceration , the US lock up huge numbers of drug users and small dealers.

    Indeed, this is a big factor as well. This is something government could actually do something about so I am in 100% agreement with you on this point.

    Less known is the fact there are a large number of diversion programs available but grossly insufficient treatment facilities to go with them. Coupled with a weak family structure huge numbers of kids we could help instead feed into a system of ever increasing criminality.



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  • Policing makes criminals.

    American cops in poor neighbourhoods.

    8 year study in Chicago, detailed in Alice Goffman’s “On the Run.”

    Doesn’t it make sense that more intelligent people would be better equipped to make more money?

    That happens too, but is accounted for. This is a distinction of the USA.

    Don’t just say it won’t work here, think why it won’t work there, then plan how you can make it work.

    Ha! I meant to delete that!

    It’s really very difficult to mandate so many black women from having babies

    !!!



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  • I struggle with your world view Stardusty Psyche. ( BTW Can you explain the meaning in this choice of name?) It’s not what you say but the way you say it. I enjoy a robust exchange of views with the denizens of this forum but your unbridled arrogance and hubris just light me up. Despite almost every poster rejecting your views, you cannot admit that somewhere, some people might do things better than the US, and you could learn from it. This is what so infuriates me about the style of your posts.

    For example. The crime rates in America are disproportional to equivalent societies. It is the American Dream and the lack of a civilized social welfare, universal health and education going back 100 years that has brought you to this point. The crime you are reaping today has a history going back one hundred years. Rich getting richer. The gap between strata of your society way out of kilter with equivalent societies. A large portion of your population live in the third world. But all you can respond with is….It’s really very difficult to mandate so many black women from having babies

    If you were gaining support from across the spectrum of posters to this forum I would concede and desist. But when you have zero support, and the regulars see fit to go hard at the things you claim, let alone having two posts deleted by the Moderators, doesn’t that tell you something. Has it ever occurred to you that a modest pause of introspection and mirror gazing may lead you to some wisdom, the wisdom the other posters put before you. But arrogance and hubris is all I am likely to receive by attempting to improve your understanding the error of blind support for Team America.



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  • @david-r-allen #40

    Wot he said and +1

    I forget which thread it was that SP was banging on about American exceptionalism. I agree. As a nation it’s exceptionally fat, exceptionally poorly educated, exceptionally religious, the electorate is clearly exceptionally stupid or we would never have had Bush II with Bush III also making a run, it has the most expensive and worst performing healthcare system in the west with lower life expectancy than most other developed nations, Republicans, the most corrupt and ineffective political system, the worst racism, the biggest wealth gap between rich and poor, rampant poverty which fuels rampant crime, an appalling social services system which also fuels crime, by far the largest per capita prison population, more Republicans, guns, gang violence, a history of illegal and unwarranted interference with and invasion of other nations, rampant mass shootings, a culture of paranoia deeply rooted in the American psyche which over time has manifested against the Soviet Union, China, Jews and now muslims, even more Republicans, a corrupt Supreme Court, torture (under Bush II) by methods strictly prohibited under the Geneva Convention since WWII, rendition, detention without legal representation or trial…

    The only thing about the USA that actually could be called exceptional is its size – economically and militarily. Without this it would be little more than a banana republic, ignored and derided by the rest of the world. Only jingoism could make anyone think the USA is a role model for other countries.



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  • @arkrid-sandwich

    As a nation it’s exceptionally fat, exceptionally poorly educated, exceptionally religious,

    Apart from that, what have the Roman’s ever done for us…

    I concur with your list. SP’s blind worship of his homeland is fascinating. It is similar in some respects to a religious fervour, regardless of the facts. I choose to no longer engage. It’s pointless and probably just puts the moderators on edge.



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  • David R Allen #42
    Feb 21, 2016 at 4:25 am

    I concur with your list. SP’s blind worship of his homeland is fascinating. It is similar in some respects to a religious fervour, regardless of the facts.

    There is the catechism of flag allegiance, chanted in US schools and other establishments on a regular basis! + the nature of its media stories and Hollywood versions of “history”.

    As I commented earlier, the British/French/Spanish, and other exploitative commercial empires, back home, fed their young and their proles, on stories of the glorious “civilising” features (or Christianisation of the people), of their conquests and colonial rule.
    The US is just repeating this propagandist process.

    Alan4discussion #21 – Feb 19, 2016 at 5:55 am
    One of the modern problems of the US today, is the fantasies its citizens are fed by its media as a substitute for history.




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  • @David-R-Allen #42
    Feb 21, 2016 at 4:25 am

    Apart from that, what have the Roman’s ever done for us…

    Ok sewers. But apart from that? ummm, laws and central heating. But apart from that..ok, roads, medicine, sanitation.

    Americans do seem awfully fond of claiming that anyone can arrive in the USA, get a green card and make their fortune because it’s the bestest most inclusive most opportunity strewn culture on god’s green earth. As long of course as they don’t fall ill because then the health care system might bankrupt them or just kill them or make them choose which severed fingers they want reattached because their medical insurance won’t cover the whole hand. People who want to work hard will make their fortune in any country and Australia is actually as much of a shining light as any I can think of. I’d happily live there, or in most of Europe if I had to leave the UK but I’d stay the hell away from America until it grows up and becomes a proper adult country.



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  • @Alan4discussion #43
    Feb 21, 2016 at 6:01 am

    There is the catechism of flag allegiance,

    It is seriously barking mad over there. Every public official has to have an office with a big stars and stripes on a pole behind the desk. There was a huge ruckus when Obama started his presidency without a flag pin on his lapel. Like the guy has entered public office, campaigned for a year against vitriolic opposition, finally been elected president but he’s still not a true patriot unless he has a poxy badge on his lapel???? WTF???

    It’s icon worship of a very bizarre kind and I fail to understand it. I’m not sure how national cultural identities arise such as the law abiding Germans, the stoical Brits, the phlegmatic Scandinavians but the Americans always strike me as a nation of testosterone fueled teenagers, still trying to find their way in the world, railing against anyone who tells them they can’t do something or other and paranoid that someone, somewhere is out to get them. Maybe in another couple of hundred years they’ll grow up and become civilised.



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  • Stardusty Psyche #31
    Feb 20, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Before we defeated Japan that country was ruled by a fascist, militaristic, expansionist, genocidal, dictatorship. After we left Japan was a peaceful democracy. The Japanese people took advantage of the opportunity we gave them to build themselves into a great, free, and peaceful economic powerhouse.

    It should be pretty obvious, that the peaceful success of the post WW2 Japanese economy, is attributable to the terms of the surrender, which forbade wasteful expenditure on armaments and military adventures, allowing resources to be directed into productive activities!
    With a $4 to $6 trillion debt resulting from deluded Bush/Blair decisions to press ahead with the Afghan and Iraq wars, the US and its allies should learn from this!

    http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/publications/impact-newsletter/archives/summer-2013/the-costs-of-the-iraq-and-afghanistan-wars
    Bilmes focuses as well on the costs of borrowing money to pay for the wars. “The U.S. has already borrowed some $2 trillion to finance the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the associated defense build-up — a major component of the $9 trillion U.S. debt accrued since 2001,” she writes. Any accounting of other macroeconomic costs associated with the wars, such as the impact of higher oil prices on aggregate demand, would easily bring the total to $6 trillion.



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  • Maybe a better measure of how much Americans really value living in the country they are brainwashed to extol so much is the World Happiness Index.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

    America languishes at number 69. It barely beats most third world countries. It’s hardly surprising when so many of the population live in poverty and in fear of criminal attack and without health care or a decent social security net. Any country is great when you’re rich and privileged but how nations treat their poor and needy is a truer test of social justice. America seems to think that anyone who needs welfare help is a scrounger or lazy and that only the free market can ensure the best outcome.

    When America stops equating socialism, or anything paid for out of taxes, as evil they might finally be making a bit of progress.



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  • @ #43 – flag allegiance

    Upgrade.

    Flags were half mast last week for Scalia. Thankfully they’re full mast now, as it’s a good indicator of wind direction, lol!



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  • Hi David [#20],

    Thank you for your perspective. My own understanding of patriotism – for which I make no claim other than it is my own – follows.

    Stephen of W (GB I presume) . Yes, that Wimbledon … there are, I think, a few others.

    Patriotism: Is a factor in the creation of the modern state.

    I read somewhere that modern humans have not, apparently, evolved to handle more personal connections than our Stone Age ancestors. We can memorize details of people we know (and thus know them well) and our limit is about 100. Regardless of the accuracy of this number this is usually interpreted as: We evolved to live in tribes suggesting that any larger social structure – in the context of hunter-gatherer and early seasonal-nomad-agricultural societies – do not favor the survival of the individual.

    Settled agriculture gave us the opportunity for social organization based on the division of labor and markets. This, in turn, called for civilization (settlement in towns). This level of complex organisation requires that dispute resolution and other factors affecting social cohesion were addressed.

    How did kings resolve the problem of increasing the size of the social structure alienating many citizens who are not connected to anyone at the top of the hierarchy (i.e. their Stone Age networking ability didn’t stretch to contact with senior members of society)?

    There were a number of different solutions applied and one was identity politics. Promoting the idea that I, as a lowly Serf, am nevertheless a member of a group that is superior to other groups. This appeals to a part of us that is even older than the Stone Age – we instinctively understand tribal labels.

    The Enlightenment gave us international expansionism and the Industrial Revolution, and with these came a need to expand beyond simple labels to promote group dynamics and hold ever-larger societies together. Again, patriotism was not the only tool in the box. Racism was another.

    I’m not clear on when patriotism became nationalism. I’m not even convinced there is much difference between tribalism and nationalism. The only major difference between patriotic-nationalism and tribal-nationalism is that one is based on common ancestry and subsequent common ethnicity while the other is uncommon ancestry and the subsequent need to invent a new common ethnicity by creating or adopting a new set of accessories.

    Time-honored accessories for ethnicity include revised common history (all history is revisionism), flags, titles, religious affiliations, iconic buildings and monuments, distinct and beautiful imagery, styles of art and artefact, language, songs, tales and poems of heroism and legend, books, legal codes and so on. Most are about appeals to emotion.

    Patriotism is the glue to stop larger social structures unraveling into smaller, warring, tribes. It’s also the tool of choice for the plutocracy or other authoritarian ruling elite for keeping the proles in line. Patriotism has a good side and a bad.

    Personally, I find this depressing. If we can, collectively, see the benefit of working together why should we need patriotism? It seems to me that we mostly see patriotism deployed for bad reasons rather than good in the modern World.

    It’s even more depressing to think that here we are discussing emotionally-charged human organisation in the context of a Supreme Court judge. The one place where we might hope to find cool, calculated, objectivity.

    Peace.



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