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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

The American InJustice System

Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011, at 11:02 AM

By this point many of you have probably heard the name Troy Davis. If not, here is a quick run down:

Troy Davis was convicted in 1989 for killing an off-duty police officer (Mark MacPhail) in Georgia. He was convicted with little evidence actually pointing at him being the killer. No murder weapon was ever found, however, bullets at the scene were ballist teste and proved to be bullets that Davis had used at another shooting scene. The major action in his original trial that led to his conviction was testimony of several witnesses that put him at the scene.

As the year passed, though, several of the witnesses recanted their testimony. One witness in particular, Dorothy Ferrell, not only recanted her testimony but later said that she was pressured by the police to identify Davis as the shooter. Three other witnesses also later testified that they had been coerced and strong armed by the police to identify Davis as the shooter.

He and his defense team attempted several times throughout the years for a new trial and succeeded in staying his original death sentence date. The situation surrounding Davis was very similar to the West Memphis Three. In both cases evidence presented in the original trial proved to be circumstantial at best. In both cases it became exceedingly hard to get a judge to actually listen to the sides or decide in favor of the "guilty" for a new trial. In both cases despite the fact the witnesses recanted their testimony and the "evidence" was not fire proof, the prosecuting attorneys in both cases still claimed that the men were the murderers. The difference is that while the West Memphis Three were set free after pleading guilty (which still makes absolutely no sense), Davis was put to death.

In a last ditch effort, Davis' team went to the Supreme Court to not only get a stay but to order a new trial. The justices apparently could not be bothered to even consider the case as they declined to even listen to arguments from the two sides. This is the same Supreme Court that decided that Corporations are people but they could not find the time to decide if a man had been incorrectly convicted of a crime he did not commit.

He was put to death last night (September 21) at 10:08 local time.

In his final words he maintained his innocence:

"I'd like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I'm not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent.

The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask ... is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth.

I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.

For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls."

It is my belief that an innocent man was put to death simply because of police department's rush to judgement to find the killer of one of their own and a prosecuting attorney that once Davis was put up as the killer looked at no one else. This is the primary reason why I believe that that putting people to death should be outlawed in this country. The rush to make people pay for their crimes is putting too many innocent people to death. One is too many.

Davis had several high profile people supporting his cause at the end including former presidents, celebrities, countries, the UN, and the pope.

Our justice system in this country is simply unjust and will put people to death on flimsy evidence just to do it.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Given your stand here, it is truly ironic that you have so much faith in government and governmental programs. I had no idea you were ever anti-government. Your posts are full of calls for more taxes, more government programs, more laws and regulations...always more, more, more.

The further from the people the government is, the less likely it is to actually serve the people. Troy Davis was executed by a local city government. By the time you get to the Federal level things are much worse.

We have the BATFE admitting that they actually violated all the gun laws they are supposed to enforce, and ran guns illegally into Mexico in the Fast and Furious program. It was done to bolster the Administration's contention that 90% of guns used by the Mexican drug cartel come from gun shows and gun dealers in the US! So they broke the gun laws themselves in order to promote more stringent guns laws on the rest of us! http://www.therightscoop.com/batfe-admit...

Troy Davis, a black man, was convicted by a jury of 7 blacks and 5 whites--22 years ago. And you and many others have read a few online things and think you know more about the case than those who heard the actual evidence. Maybe a bit presumptuous on your part? Have you not reached your own "rush to judgment"? Were any of those who recanted their testimony charged with perjury? Would you have let Troy come live with you in the santuary of your house if they let him go?

I have no opinion on Troy Davis's guilt. I certainly would not presume that much. I just don't know one way or the other.

How you feel about the death penalty really comes down to your philosophy about life. If you believe folks should be responsible for their decisions and actions, you generally favor the death penalty. If you believe folks should NOT be responsible you oppose the death penalty (while at the same time generally favoring executing through abortion unborn children who are all TRULY innocent--another irony).

As a libertarian, I don't think we need laws against abortion. But I also don't want to pay my taxes for them, or promote them as a good and wonderful thing, either.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 4:00 PM

Who was he trying to shoot at the other shooting?

-- Posted by McCook1 on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 5:34 PM

Hi Boomer,

Nice post. I appreciate your thinking. I do have to challenge you on one thing you wrote...

"If you believe folks should be responsible for their decisions and actions, you generally favor the death penalty. If you believe folks should NOT be responsible you oppose the death penalty (while at the same time generally favoring executing through abortion unborn children who are all TRULY innocent--another irony)."

It really isn't this simple Boomer. You might agree that social issues in this country rarely are. I think there are plenty of folks who can simultaneously defend their belief that "folks should be responsible for their decisions and actions," as well as their belief that the death penalty has no place in US society.

One premise is that the death penalty is overwhelmingly used in cases that involve the poor and minorities. Remember this moment in US History?

"In 9 separate opinions, and by a vote of 5 to 4, the Court held that Georgia's death penalty statute, which gave the jury complete sentencing discretion, could result in arbitrary sentencing. The Court held that the scheme of punishment under the statute was therefore "cruel and unusual" and violated the Eighth Amendment. Thus, on June 29, 1972, the Supreme Court effectively voided 40 death penalty statutes, thereby commuting the sentences of 629 death row inmates around the country and suspending the death penalty because existing statutes were no longer valid."

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/part-i-h...

The question is: has anything changed since 1972? The answer, as you might suspect Boomer, is no. The death penalty is used as capriciously and arbitrarily now as it ever has been.

So while I would like people to be held accountable for their actions, I likewise would be more compelled to support the death penalty if it wasn't used such alarming disproportions against the most vulnerable US populations.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 6:44 PM

"If you believe folks should be responsible for their decisions and actions, you generally favor the death penalty. If you believe folks should NOT be responsible you oppose the death penalty."

Now that is a presumptuous statement and one that pigeonholes people into two groups whether they believe it or not. As Benevolus said, it just isn't that simple. There are many shades of grades between your black and white example and I'm not even sure there is a group of people that believe people should NOT be responsible.

I don't support the death penalty because innocent people have been put to death, and that should never happen. I also oppose the death penalty because the United States has used two arguments for death penalty in its history: the death penalty is used as a deterrent and also the eye for an eye argument. The death penalty is not a deterrent and never will be and I just flat do not accept killing someone because they killed someone else.

As to the Davis case I did actually do quite a bit of research into the case. He was convicted on eyewitness accounts that he pulled the trigger and circumstantial evidence at best. Most of those eyewitnesses have now recanted their stories, as I stated above. Whether they have been charged with perjury is really immaterial, however none of them are likely to ever be charged with perjury because if that were to happen a whole new can of worms would be opened (such as the police strong arming the witnesses to testify a certain way).

"Would you have let Troy come live with you in the san[c]tuary of your house if they let him go?"

What does this question have to do with anything? Why does it matter if I believe him to be an innocent man killed and whether I would let him live in my house?

"I have no opinion on Troy Davis's guilt."

I believe you do. The fact that you asked if I would let him come live with me if he was let out points to that.

This little passage caught my eye and I would ask that you explain a few things:

"Your posts are full of calls for more taxes, more government programs, more laws and regulations...always more, more, more."

I do not deny calling for more taxes, as I believe that will help the slumping economy. History bares that out. Other than healthcare for all Americans when have I called for more government programs. I've called to fix the ones we have (that need to be fixed) instead of gutting or eliminating them, but I don't recall ever calling for more.

I also do not deny calling for more regulations. We have seen what happens when we have deregulation. I don't, however, remember calling for more laws. I personally believe we have too many laws and some of them need to be reformed or removed completely (such as victimless crimes).

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 11:20 PM

Michael,

I am curious as to what you think the solution is? Do you think that execution should be stopped? What should replace it? I am not talking about an individual case, you stated that our criminal justice system "simply unjust", and I would like to know your ideas for for change.

-- Posted by Sir Didymus on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 11:56 PM

Benevolus,

Nice to see that someone is here that seems left of center but does not appear to be an extremist. That should be a nice change. I would be interested in your answers to many of the questions I asked Michael as well. If the death penalty were more evenly applied would you support it?

The problem with arguing the death penalty, abortion or taxation is that no matter what position you are arguing from, you are usually trying to prove a negative. It will all boil down ultimately to opinion and/or belief. Can you prove that murders went down when the death penalty was abolished in any particular area? Can you prove that they increased after abolition? If you could would it truly mean anything? Most of criminal activity could be laid at the feet of many intangible and equally plausible or implausible causes.

I am also curious as to you feel that if the death penalty should or shouldn't be abolished is it a state issue or a federal, and why.

-- Posted by Sir Didymus on Fri, Sep 23, 2011, at 12:15 AM

Michael,

"The death penalty is not a deterrent and never will be and I just flat do not accept killing someone because they killed someone else."

What do you think the consequence for someone convicted of murder should be? Should they be rehabilitated? Incapacitated? Let off the hook? Please give some reason for your opinion.

"As to the Davis case I did actually do quite a bit of research into the case"

What type of research did you do? Did you read the appeals opinions? Did you google it? Did you get information from facebook?

You've said several times, rather derisively, that he was convicted on circumstantial evidence. Do you think circumstantial evidence is not valid or something?

In some ways I have to agree with Boomer here, the trial judge and jury heard the evidence and made a decision. Appeals courts have re-examined the evidence and affirmed the decision. The Supreme Court appointed a special appeal court and it affirmed the decision. How is it that your research has shown you so much more clear and compelling evidence than they saw? Are you an expert in all things now?

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Fri, Sep 23, 2011, at 10:25 AM

Michael,

You also said: "Our justice system in this country is simply unjust and will put people to death on flimsy evidence just to do it."

Can you explain this to me, as it is it doesn't seem to make much sense. It reads that the justice system will execute people on flimsy evidence just to be unjust. Why in your opinion, does the justice system seek to be unjust? This seems an oxymoron.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Fri, Sep 23, 2011, at 10:28 AM

I do find it annoying that Mike hates America so much.

The Media is biased in his opinion. The Republicans are filth. Our justice system is unjust. He just goes on and on about what is wrong with our country.

Yet, people all over the World still dream of getting here. Why is that Mike? Because in America if you have a dream and work hard enough anyone can own a business or even be President.

Wallis Marsh

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 6:05 AM

Sir Didymus,

Thank you for the encouraging words. I don't find myself on the extremes of very many issues, though perhaps like you, there may be a few topics that I have more extreme positions on than others.

You ask some challenging questions, I appreciate that. Ill try to keep my answers to your questions brief so that you aren't sifting though a long and laborious post.

"If the death penalty were more evenly applied would you support it?"

I think that the DP is of special concern in places where poor and minorities convicted of murder are executed in numbers disproportional to white/middle-class/rich people convicted of murder. If these places brought these numbers more into balance, the abolition of the death penalty would certainly be less defensible (at least for me).

I think you make a good point about the ability to prove cause and effect relationships as well. For example, it is a much harder case to make that the DP is/is not a deterrent than it is to examine the ethnicity of those who are executed and apply a little arithmetic to build a case against the DP. Correlation is a powerful statistical tool to show you where to start digging (so to speak), but to your point, it proves nothing as to what causes what.

Take abortion and crime rates as another example of this. The authors of the book Freakonomics issue a controversial (albeit statistically supported) hypothesis that a result of Roe v Wade in the 1970's was a precipitous drop in crime in the states that allowed most access to abortions 20 years later in the 1990's. Here again, most of the challenges these authors have been to demonstrate cause and effect, rather than a correlation between two variables.

"I am also curious as to you feel that if the death penalty should or shouldn't be abolished is it a state issue or a federal, and why."

I struggle with this one. I get the arguments from the left that inconsistencies across states re: the DP are troublesome. Why can you kill a person in Massachusetts and you won't be executed, and yet you can drive a few miles south to Connecticut and kill a person and the state can put you to death? It does seem strange.

But, I admit, where the DP is concerned I fall in the camp that those closet to the populations affected by the most heinous crimes should probably have the right to decide their own methods of dealing out justice. That is to say, I think the moral issues, monetary burdens, etc., are issues to be dealt with by the states.

Where federal involvement and intervention is necessary, in my opinion, is where the DP is out of proportion (as I mentioned earlier).

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 1:50 PM

Benevolus,

I haven't done much research into death penalty cases, maybe you can help. Your comment: "I think that the DP is of special concern in places where poor and minorities convicted of murder are executed in numbers disproportional to white/middle-class/rich people convicted of murder." raises a question.

What is the cause of the disproportionate numbers? Is there evidence that people of some ethnic groups committing murders in the same circumstances as people of other groups are disproportionately executed?

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 3:29 PM

SWNebr Transplant,

Here is the pivotal Supreme Court case that is really a must read...

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/ge...

Here is a quote from a book called "Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in a Contemporary Context," it is corroborated by the Death Penalty Information Center:

"Two of the country's foremost researchers on race and capital punishment, law professor David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth, along with colleagues in Philadelphia, have conducted a careful analysis of race and the death penalty in Philadelphia which reveals that the odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times (3.9) higher if the defendant is black. These results were obtained after analyzing and controlling for case differences such as the severity of the crime and the background of the defendant. The data were subjected to various forms of analysis, but the conclusion was clear: blacks were being sentenced to death far in excess of other defendants for similar crimes."

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-pe...

It has been awhile since my undergrad days of Criminal Justice at UNL, but I used to study this stuff, so I think I can still put together a decent bibliography.

The following are some scientific (or at least peer-reviewed and mainstream) articles that I have read more recently which describe the biases that mark the administration of death sentences...

Slow Dancing with Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment, 1963-2006 James S. Liebman

Columbia Law Review Vol. 107, No. 1 (Jan., 2007), pp. 1-130

Who Survives on Death Row? An Individual and Contextual Analysis. David Jacobs, Zhenchao Qian, Jason T. Carmichael and Stephanie L. Kent American Sociological Review Vol. 72, No. 4(Aug., 2007), pp. 610-632

The Law of Implicit Bias. Christine Jolls and Cass R. Sunstein California Law Review Vol. 94, No. 4 (Jul., 2006), pp. 969-996

Discrimination and Implicit Bias in a Racially Unequal Society. R. Richard Banks, Jennifer L. Eberhardt and Lee Ross California Law Review Vol. 94, No. 4 (Jul., 2006), pp. 1169-1190

To answer your first question: what is the cause of the disproportionate numbers...your guess is as good as mine. I suspect though that the answer is rooted somewhere in a national history of treating African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, etc., as second class citizens.

The article above, "The Law of Implicit Bias" suggests some interesting perspectives on natural biases being unavoidable, and thus we must account for these biases where the DP is concerned, or we must abolish.

You and I might agree that overt and institutional racism in the US has improved (I would argue that it has at least), but it seems that de facto attitudes about the "other" held by the white majority persist in some places as well. In these places you might find the disproportionality of how the the death penalty is applied most startling. It is in these places where I object to the DP most insistently. I don't suppose that my opinion is particularly controversial though; research also demonstrates that when people are confronted with the realities of the numbers in question, the majority of people become skeptical of the DP. Bear in mind, I am not expert, just a curious reader.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 4:40 PM

Wallis, I find it annoying that you lie about what I do and don't believe yet you continue to post those lies as fact.

I do think you have me confused with someone else, though, or you are just outright lying. I have never said that the media is biased. Several other posters (including you) believe the media to be liberally biased. I think for the most part that the actually news part of the media is pretty straightforward. Their one fault is that in their drive to get a story out there first, they will post a story as news that has not been verified.

Odd that another blogger on this site has also called our justice system unjust and even called it Just A System, yet you make no claims about him hating America.

This blogger and several posters continually talk about how evil and murderous and racist the Democratic Party is and yet you never once claim they hate America.

When a blogger continually attacks our education system and calls teachers indoctrinators why aren't you on the front line calling him an America hater?

I go on and on about what is wrong in America because I think and believe that it can be better. I want improvements for this country going forward. If you are fine with the status quo then that's great for you. But the status quo isn't good enough for me. What I would like for you to explain is why you believe that because I want what is best for our country that means that I hate this country?

Or is it just that you hate me and my ideas and you absolutely abhor the idea that I post my ideas and beliefs for the world to see when you would just rather see me go away?

You and I have completely different ideas and beliefs about America, yet I never have and never would claim that you hate America.

I don't hate America, Wallis. I love America.

Why do you have a problem with that?

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 1:53 AM

thats the cry of the right when their empty minds have nothing to say. you talk about the DP and you get "oh yeah, well you hate america"

-- Posted by president obama on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 8:38 AM

Benevolus,

I'll have to take your word for it. I hate reading Supreme Court opinions and I don't have time to read all the research you have done, let alone do any independent research.

I don't know if I can agree with your contention that the discrepancy is due to treatment as second class citizens though. I tend to think it is due to poor representation. I suppose if one wanted to twist that into a second class citizen argument he could, but I think there are also poor uneducated white murderers that are sentenced to death when competent counsel could avoid it. In short, like with education the correlation is between social status not race in my opinion.

I am disappointed by your fence sitting opinion expressed to Sir Didymus regarding the death penalty. On the one hand you say it shouldn't be disproportionate yet on the other say States should decide. You provide a plethora of evidence saying it is by nature disproportionate, how do you reconcile that with letting States decide?

I'll ask you as well, since apparently Michael only likes to engage in name calling arguments with posters and hasn't responded to any of my questions. What do you think the punishment for murder should be in State where you feel there is disproportionate use of execution against minorities?

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 10:44 AM

SWNebr Transplant,

It's fine that you don't agree with me, I wouldn't want to represent my opinion as being the only explanation possible. However, I do know that there are other arenas beside prisons/executions where minorities are at a significant disadvantage as well. Minorities drop out of school at disproportionately higher rates, and it does seem to be the case that in addition to your point (access to good representation) that not graduating from high school leads to increased chances for incarceration/execution.

But to your point about twisting, I don't think it requires a lot of mental gymnastics to connect the history of institutionalized and de facto oppression/racism and treatment of minorities as second-class citizens in this country to the:

1) Disproportionately high drop out rates

2) Lack of access to good counsel

2) Disproportionately high incarceration rates

4) Disproportionately high execution rates

Regarding fence sitting, I guess I am not seeing the contradiction. Why can't I say that states should decide how they dole out justice, but in the absence of equality (put another way, where the constitution is violated) the federal government has the right to step in. You may recall this being the case with Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. In fact, this is the way the system was set up as I understand it.

In Furman v Georgia the Supreme Court decided "Imposition and carrying out of death penalty in these cases held to constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments." The point is, I am not sure that my opinion is particularly controversial, at the very least it is consistent with the prevailing logic of our system of government (which may be why you are skeptical).

In states where minorities are executed in disproportionate numbers I guess I would like the state to kill less people rather than more. Put crudely, I wouldn't want more white people to die so the numbers are more even. Thus, suppose that I would trade life imprisonment and a moratorium on the death penalty until such a time that whatever root societal causes of the disproportionatality are brought to an end.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 1:08 PM

Mike you do not love America.

You complain about it everyday. The root cause of your Hatred? You are a Socialist in a non-Socialist America.

Almost everyone of your blogs is either why Americs Sucks or your glee of more Socialist attempts to further your progressive causes.

You hate America. Just read your own writing.

Wallis

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 4:53 PM

Michael, sorry for the delay. Got a business to run here and sometimes work interferes with blogging.

I was telling the truth when I said I didn't know whether Troy Davis was guilty or not. I merely asked the question about him living with you to make you think. If you truly believe he's innocent the answer should be yes, unless you're riding to the rescue just because of political correctness and not actual firm belief.

In reading about the case, and what others have written, I see very little about the victim of the crime, his family, his kids, and their loss. It seems we have inverted things and now Troy Davis is the victim. The victim lost his life, too, but after 22 years that has become less important.

I remember the line in Shawshank Redemption where the guys says, "Don't you know we're all innocent men in here (in prison)?

Have you ever served on a jury, Michael? I have, and the defendent was most certainly guilty, even though he denied it.

In touting Mr. Davis's innocence, Michael, you find yourself among some famous people, but that doesn't mean they and you are right. Do you remember Al Sharpton raving on about the rape of Tawana Brawley--he later paid $65,000 (actually paid by supporters, not him) for defamation. He's the same Al Sharpton who got behind Crystal Mangnum,the accuser of the Duke lacrosse team, and you surely know how that turned out.

Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are just grandstanders, using any issue they can to further their power among blacks. Jimmy Carter loves the spotlight, too, but at least he knows how to raise peanuts. But still, they and others weigh in on the case. Are you a grandstander, too. Probably. You love your opinion enough to have your own blog so it sort of follows.

You're in good company, Michael

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 11:03 AM

The supreme court was 9-0 Mike so this wasn't politics.

The reason you can't have after the fact events in jury cases is what happens if your Dad is convicted of a crime. Then you threaten to kill every jury memebers family and friends, etc and get them to recant. Then you have altered a "fair trial"

The real question in this case is why did the proper appeals courts stick with the verdict?

Can you give an answer that isn't "Americans just suck?"

Wallis

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 4:38 PM

I personally am in favor of the death penalty. I do think there needs to be more physical evidence and possibly DNA evidence before sentencing someone to death; therefore, I would not have been in favor of executing Troy Davis. There was no hard evidence connecting him to this murder; justice bullets that he used in another shooting; he may not have committed this murder, but they did not execute an innocent man. I have worked for the department of corrections, I was even the death row sargeant for the state of Nebraska, I have read the files and spoke to each man personally. I have seen the costs associated with housing these people each year. I have had a conversation with a man that killed his girlfriends child, then cut the child up and fed the child to the dog. I have had a conversation with a man that sexually assaulted and kill 2 yound women in southeast Nebraska. I have walked the gallery and heard these men joking about this crap...I would pull the switch on ole sparky on any one of them myself. It is not a pleasant thing to put a person to death..but I believe it is a necessary evil.

-- Posted by seentoomuch on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 5:36 PM

he supreme court was 9-0 Mike so this wasn't politics.

The reason you can't have after the fact events in jury cases is what happens if your Dad is convicted of a crime. Then you threaten to kill every jury memebers family and friends, etc and get them to recant. Then you have altered a "fair trial"

The real question in this case is why did the proper appeals courts stick with the verdict?

Can you give an answer that isn't "Americans just suck?"

Wallis

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 4:38 PM

Do you have actual evidence of this happening Wallis, or are you just making it up? There has been no mention of Davis' family threatening to kill any of the witnesses.

I also see that you are sticking to your meme that I hate America. I wish I could take you seriously as a poster but it's posts like this that just make you look ridiculous.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 6:45 PM

Mike you do not love America.

You complain about it everyday. The root cause of your Hatred? You are a Socialist in a non-Socialist America.

Almost everyone of your blogs is either why Americs Sucks or your glee of more Socialist attempts to further your progressive causes.

You hate America. Just read your own writing.

Wallis

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Sun, Sep 25, 2011, at 4:53 PM

I see you answered with more lying and bile. You are a sad, sad individual. I want to see this country improve and advance into the next century and all you can see is hatred so you slander me.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 6:46 PM

As I stated previously Boomer whether I would let someone stay at my house is not a factor in whether I believe he is guilty or innocent. Attempting to simplify it that way is just pigeonholing.

I never stated that Davis was an innocent man. I said that he was innocent of this crime. Putting a man to death because of his past crimes doesn't equal justice.

I do agree with you one point. It is a terrible same that the person that was killed and his family have been completely forgotten in this process.

Comparing me to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson is certainly a weird thing. Calling me a grand stander because I believe in something is also quite odd.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 6:52 PM

Michael,

You may want to read what you type.

"It is my belief that an innocent man was put to death" No qualifiers here from your original blog.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Mon, Sep 26, 2011, at 7:41 PM

Some of you may want to read the book "Dead Man Walking". It makes a person question the use of the death sentence based on Christian values.

I think I have always been FOR the DP, but then again, I am not sure how I or anyone has the right to decide to kill another man and torture him by telling him what day we'll do it. Moreover, if the costs are getting so out of hand to put a man to death, my conservative mind begins to disagree with it. There is no doubt that there has to be consequence for actions in this world, but I am on the fence with regard to what right a man has to enforce consequences. I know I am also not a huge fan of paying for a person's 3 squares and cable TV for the rest of his life, especially if he's chosen to take lives of others. If it were my children/family member/friend, I might be rooting for a rope and and a tall oak tree...so call me a hypocrite.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 8:38 AM

speak-e-z: I dont believe you are hypocritical with your last statement. For the sake of argument, I have always wondered if the loved ones of the opponents of the death penalty were raped, tortured or killed, would they change their mind re the death penalty.

-- Posted by doodle bug on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 9:51 AM

Speak-e-z, I have read "Dead Man Walking", "Innocent Man", and "The Confession". All of them written opposing the death penalty. And like you I have always been in favor of the death penalty.

Do we want actions to have consequences? Do we want criminals to be punished? Or do we want to say, "What the hell, man, we all make mistakes. We'll just put you up for life. You can even get married and have conjugal visits and have children. Watch some TV, read some books, get your law degree. Write a book, maybe about the "unfair" and "racist" nature of the justice system in America".

Because we have gone soft in the head in this country, and now worry about criminals more than their victims. And we take 22 years to carry out an execution--longer than the criminal lived before the crime. Until after most of the witnesses are dead or have forgotten what they actually saw. Until people, even famous ones, are willing to say the people who were on the jury 20 years ago made a mistake. Because if we read a few slanted articles we now know more than the actual jurors did.

Ah, yes, the quasi-jurists of the press.

At one time the press in this country consisted of reporters. They reported things that happened. They didn't try to editorialize except on the editorial page, but those days are long gone.

How many times has the press prejudged cases wrongly? OJ Simpson, Anthony Casey, the Duke lacrosse team, the guys who allegedly raped Tawana Brawley in New York, Bernard Goetz, and the cops who beat Rodney King were all found innocent at their trials or by grand juries.

Because we have a justice system. You are presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty. As it should be. It's frequently difficult to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. And when, after all that you are proven guilty, and the death penalty applies, then finish it. Don't wimp out. Don't second guess the people who made that tough decision.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 10:14 AM

That makes a lot of sense Boomer. Who cares if the person that was convicted of the crime may not have actually done it. He was convicted, don't second guess it. Don't introduce new evidence that will prove his innocence, just kill him already.

You are a special person and I don't mean that kindly. You are a blood thirsty man. You probably cheered at home the other night when it was mentioned in the Republican debate how many people Rick Perry has executed.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 12:48 PM

I'm very sorry that I'm not going to contribute meaningfully to this conversation other than calling someone out. I'm personally torn on the death penalty issue, so I don't feel I can contribute much to this discussion. However, Mike, it just irks me how you can call out wallismarsh for making ridiculous, emotive statements such as "You do not love America," when you don't agree with him and then make ridiculous, emotive statements such as "You are a blood thirsty man," to someone who doesn't agree with you. You said wallismarsh was lying about you, so why are you doing the same thing?

Honestly, I'm beginning to wonder how much introspection occurs on your part before you post anything. It wouldn't be so bad if you would admit that you made a mistake once in a while, rather than acting no better than those you accuse of different things.

-- Posted by bjo on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 1:37 PM

There has to be a set of standards as far as proof to sentence another man to death in my opinion. I would not rely solely on eye witness accounts or random items of evidence that point the blame in a general direction. In the case of Troy Davis; keeping in mind that I only know as much as I have been able to read, I would not have supported the death penalty in this case. I dont think he was an innocent man; but I have read enough to create doubt as to his guilt in this particular shooting. But if there had been DNA evidence, a murder weapon, and proof that he had fired the weapon, or a reliable confession, or video taped evidence, this would change things a bit in my mind. I do believe that once the conditions have been met and there is no doubt of guilt; the sentence should be carried out swiftly. Most of the death row inmates in Nebrasksa have met all of the conditions, DNA, or video, or confession. They have filed appeal after appeal base in the death penalty carried out via the electric chair being cruel and unusual. Now the appeals are based on the validity of thier sentence because the electric chair was declared as such. There has never been any doubt about the guilt of anyone currently sitting on death row in this state..it has all been allowed to drag on and cost millions of dollars to house and hear each appeal. Every one of them should have already been executed.

-- Posted by seentoomuch on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 1:45 PM

"That makes a lot of sense Boomer. Who cares if the person that was convicted of the crime may not have actually done it. He was convicted, don't second guess it. Don't introduce new evidence that will prove his innocence, just kill him already."

22 years of appeals, review of new evidence and second guessing by the court system is not enough for you, Michael?

How much is enough? Is it ever enough? Apparently, not.

If I was "blood thirsty" Michael, I would call for a straight trip to the gallows from the court room. I only say 22 years is long enough for certain, and you say it isn't.

If I am "blood thirsty", then you must be mad as a hatter. Because you make no sense. Your entire argument boils down to "I just don't like the death penalty, no matter how it's used, or where it's used, or when it's used. It's just wrong."

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 2:20 PM

bjo, why do you think the posts on this particular blog sometimes reach into the hundreds as different posters attempt to point out to the author of this blog, using multiple examples and different wordings, all saying the EXACT SAME THING, the definition of hypocricy, ad hominem attacks, and lying? Don't get irked, friend, just shake your head and smile. Maybe the master debater will turn on you or me next! Michael, I give you this, you have very thick skin...and bones in the cranial region.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 2:24 PM

Hi everybody,

I would like to pose a question to the board (sorry if you guys have already talked about this on another blog):

What do you all think about the state (i.e., governments) being endowed with the legal ability to kill people?

I ask because I am not sure what to make of the logic that: yes, the government has the right and responsibility to carry out death sentences (at great cost); but no, the government does not have the right or responsibility to provide welfare to its vulnerable citizens. I may have this completely wrong (and if so, please correct me), but it seems as though the logic is something like: the role of government is to protect and punish its citizens, not help them?

-- Posted by Benevolus on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 6:01 PM

bjo,

It's quite simple, When anyone who disagrees with Mike says something hateful, vile, or ridiculous that is indeed worthy of reproach. When Michael, or someone who agrees with Michael speaks, it is TRUTH and therefore not hateful, vile, or ridiculous. Nothing a Liberal says is ever wrong, the sooner you realize that the better off you'll be. Because it is TRUTH there is no danger of hypocrisy.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 8:05 PM

Benevolus,

Thank you for your question and leading and disingenuous, in my opinion, follow up explanation.

I think government's right to punish citizens and keep the peace is a centuries old practice that is firmly rooted in law.

A possible logic process that disagrees with your conception could be that it all comes down to personal rights and responsibility. A criminal, we'll use a murderer as per your example, has made a choice to break the law and violate the personal rights of a fellow citizen. Some would argue that it is then governments responsibility to punish the criminal, in the case of a murderer I think the death penalty is there to "ensure he gets his just deserts". Such a argument could see that we as individuals all have the right to be safe and secure and that one who violates that right has willfully given up that right.

In the case of welfare, the state provides "benefits" to people regardless of ability, thus abrogating that person's rights and responsibilities. This argument would be that the government is NOT helping but furthering harm by interfering with the exercise of that person and others' rights and responsibilities.

If we look at the reverse of your logic posit we have: the role of the government is to provide goods to some people that they may have the ability to provide for themselves but not keep them safe and secure in their persons? Is that an honest question?

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 7:38 AM

Dear SW Nebr,

Amen, brother!

Logic is to a liberal, as responsibility is to a 2-year-old. Nonexistent.

Thanks for the great post.

I have no problem with helping the poor, and true charity. But taxing the hell outa me in order to provide an entitlement for life for people I don't even know; that's way different. Being taxed doesn't feel like charity, and the recipients are not grateful at all. Here's a video of one after their bennies failed to be delivered on time:

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/loc...

Jesus taught us to help the poor. He didn't tell us to dump that (and all our other responsibilities) onto the government. My neighbor will never starve if I can help it, with or without government involvement. Why can't liberals be satisfied with sending their own money to help the poor, rather than stealing mine to do it. They claim it's not theft if the government takes it. Did the government earn that money? Did they work for it? Do they use it with my permission? If I come to your house and take it from you that way, I'd be in jail.

Here is a hilarious video of a welfare recipient in front of Judge Judy: http://revolutionarypolitics.tv/video/vi...

Have a great one, and keep the faith. This idiocy too shall pass.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 10:53 AM

SWNebr Transplant,

Thank you for taking time to respond. Despite the "disingenuinousness," I am glad you took the question seriously enough to reply.

Your opening statement is an interesting one. I must say, you immediately gave me pause.

"I think government's right to punish citizens and keep the peace is a centuries old practice that is firmly rooted in law."

So tradition and law are enough to endow government's with their rights? Hypotheically speaking, are all practices rooted in law that are centuries old therefore within the purview of government responisbility?

If so, I could likewise argue that welfare is hundreds of years old, written into the Constituion and is therefore rooted in law, and thus (per your logic) is governmental responsibility. As I am sure you recall...

--Article I, section 8 of the Constitution gives congress the responsibility to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States."

This inconsistency in your argument aside, there is a serious problem in the logic of the following argument...

"In the case of welfare, the state provides "benefits" to people regardless of ability, thus abrogating that person's rights and responsibilities."

It does not follow logically that a benefit given to someone without attention to ability violates that person's rights and responsibilities. This is an intersesting thesis statement, but it requires defending. It is just as easy to argue that the government giving a recently laid off worker a few hundred dollars a month until that person goes back to work is extremely helpful, and that the government taxes you to do so is perfectly in keeping with Constituional clause above. In other words, the practice is rooted in law and tradition.

More over, that government benefits cause harm, and therefore aren't helping, is a really easy statement to make, but again, this needs defending. Or else we can take this as your opinion, which is fine, but this doesn't stand on its own as logcial (i.e., it is not syllogistic, which is required for a conclusion to be logical).

In response to your final two questions:

"...the role of the government is to provide goods to some people that they may have the ability to provide for themselves but not keep them safe and secure in their persons? Is that an honest question?"

The role of the federal government is outlined in the Constituion, and clearly, defense, taxation, and welfare are all part and parcel to the role of government. So using your logic in response to your question: as a result of the roles of government enumerated in the Constituion, safety, security, AND welfare are all rooted in tradition and law, and are therefore roles of government.

Beyond that, I am not sure what constitutes an honest or dishonest question. Perhaps you can enlighten me?

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 11:56 AM

@speak-ez

You're right. I know it's silly to get riled up about that type of argument on a blog, but it's more because of my expectations being dashed to bits. Back when I thought Mike Sr. was the one doing the blogging, I was disappointed because I thought a respectable college professor should be able to discuss things in a more respectable manner. After realizing that it was his son, some of that disappointment lingered over. Of course, I suppose it makes less sense to expect the son of a college professor to be respectful and respectable in debates.

The other thing that irks me is that he acts like a bad political stereotype a good deal of the time. Granted, Mr. Eldridge seems to play the same role from the opposite end of the spectrum, and I admit that I'm not as concerned with his antics in part because his political leanings are more in line with my own than Mr. Hendrick's. However, I'd like to have people on the other side of the fence that I can respect despite disagreements, which is why I get irked when he validates the more emotive accusations of his critics. I can't grow and improve my viewpoints if the behavior of others tarnishes their viewpoints.

Unfortunately, I'm pessimistic about getting any sort of meaningful response from Michael. The last time I criticized his inconsistencies, he left them unanswered. My experience is admittedly limited, but it seems like he only responds to criticism when he can throw it back at the critic- or perhaps at another critic- in some way.

-- Posted by bjo on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 12:10 PM

bjo,

I feel your pain brother, whenever I ask Michael a meaningful question or offer a valid criticism he refuses to respond. If you scroll back up, I've asked him several pertinent questions as have others, but he hasn't responded. Interestingly enough when I'm being rude to him or calling him names, Mr Pot being my favorite, he almost always responds. For someone who complains of the unfairness of this behavior he sure does engage in it frequently.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 12:40 PM

Benevolus, once again, as usual, you write an excellent post. Let me give you my perception of Article 1, Section 8 that you have quoted. Firstly, re: paying the debt - the debt has not been paid since we started running a continual national debt, now at 14+ trillion and rising. And I dont believe the "common welfare" is anything near what most folks now consider "welfare". I could be incorrect.

WHO decides what is the FAIR SHARE?

-- Posted by doodle bug on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 2:22 PM

Doodle Bug,

Thank you for the compliment. I hope that SWNebr Transplant agrees!

I have to concede your point about the debt, it is alarming and I think most agree that something needs to be done quickly. Not to run this conversation in circles, but to me it does seem necessary to raise, not lower, tax revenue when the debt gets so high. Which brings us back to your new tag line I suppose. I heard an interesting statistic yesterday: the bottom 50% of earners in the US own 2.5% of the wealth. I guess I don't know where the "fair share" lies, but if this is true, I would argue that it lies somewhere in the top half.

Regarding the "common welfare" not being anywhere near what most folks now consider welfare, is slightly reminiscent of the argument that semi-automatic/automatic weapons with armor piercing bullets, and 75 round magazines aren't anywhere near what most folks consider the right to bear arms. My point is, times change, concepts of weaponry and welfare probably change as well (the two may be uncomfortably related in fact as the population continues to grow so wildly).

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 3:04 PM

Benevolus,

"So tradition and law are enough to endow government's with their rights? Hypotheically speaking, are all practices rooted in law that are centuries old therefore within the purview of government responisbility?"

In its most basic sense the answer to your first question is yes. Government's rights flow directly from the laws it passes that it's citizen's allow. If you don't think the government's rights come from law, where do you think it comes from? I guess comes from isn't a very good term to use, a more appropriate term might be the authority to exercise the rights. To the second, if the government's laws allow it to do something then I would say it has that right unless there is a change in the law in which case the new law would govern its' rights.

I don't see an inconsistency in "my" argument, the inconsistency seems to be in possible definitions of terms. You appear to claim that Art. 1 section to establish the general welfare, apparently means something that an individual rights person might interpret to mean "specific" or "individual" welfare. Such a person would probably argue that there is a difference between "general" and "specific" welfare and that something like unemployment benefits is a "specific" case.

For example, "general" welfare could include things like maintaining roads to ensure transportation of needed goods, regulating food and drugs so we don't have adulterated molasses ruining our gingerbread, ensure that there are doctors or hospitals that people can go to when sick, etc. If one were to look at the general adjective I think it is much harder to make the argument that the Constitution intends welfare to mean "SW Nebr's" medical care should be provided at government expense or that his food should be paid for with SNAP.

Perhaps tellingly when you, and others, make these sorts of arguments you drop the word "general" from your description of welfare.

"It does not follow logically that a benefit given to someone without attention to ability violates that person's rights and responsibilities"

This is not what I intended my comment to be understood as, for that I apologize, I thought I had chosen my vocabulary better, but alas, I failed.

"It is just as easy to argue that the government giving a recently laid off worker a few hundred dollars a month until that person goes back to work is extremely helpful, and that the government taxes you to do so is perfectly in keeping with Constituional clause above. In other words, the practice is rooted in law and tradition"

One could argue how "helpful" that is, which is what I intended with my earlier comment. Thank you for providing a specific example to discuss, I dislike speaking in vague generalities.

I know a person, we'll call her "Michaela" who was wrongfully terminated in February and was thus eligible for unemployment benefits. Michaela had already applied to college and knew she would be starting in August, good for Michaela! She decided that rather than find work it would be more "helpful" for her to collect unemployment that may or may not be extended yet again for six months so she could lay on the couch and eat bon bons all day ala Peg Bundy and start school in August. She knows that as long as unemployment benefits are extended she only needs to produce two applications or meaningful contacts with employers each week to get a check. Is this what you mean when you talk of welfare guaranteed by the Constitution?

I must apologize for thinking your question disingenuous. I had thought you could understand what the thinking behind a person who may disagree with you would be and were just asking an assumption ridden question, that could be read as offensive, to spark discussion. That is all I meant to do by asking what could be a reversal of your question. I did mean my question to be dishonest by way of hyperbolic example. I think I understand the thinking behind your positions even if I don't necessarily agree or disagree with all of them. I was just trying to propose a possible opposing view.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 3:30 PM

Benevolus,

Wow that post ended up much longer that I thought. You said:

"but to me it does seem necessary to raise, not lower, tax revenue when the debt gets so high."

I don't think even the staunchest conservative disagrees with your premise. However, the rub lay in what is the best way to raise tax revenue. Some say raising rates to get more money, others say lower rates to stimulate economy. Sort of a Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog v. Walmart Black Friday ad dilemma.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 3:36 PM

SWNebr Transplant,

No worries about length, the more detailed (and as you point out, the less vague) a post, perhaps the better.

"If you don't think the government's rights come from law, where do you think it comes from?"

I agree with you, which is why I was pointing out that welfare is consistent with the roles of government per the logic you expressed. Your differentiation of terms i.e., specific and general welfare is an interesting point, and I will consider it further. But my initial reaction is: what is the aggregation of "specific welfare" if not "general welfare?" Roads, regulating foods and drugs, hospitals etc., serve individuals, do they not? I think that providing for the general welfare requires that the welfare of each individual citizen be considered. Talking about "general welfare" doesn't make any sense outside of a conversation regarding the welfare of individuals. So you see, I didn't drop the "general" from welfare to be sneaky, I simply don't think it is possible to think of general welfare in another way than what is beneficial to individuals. Hence, utilitarianism I suppose.

But you are right to point out that your acquaintance Michaela is an example of someone gaming the system, there are plenty of other examples of people doing this beyond the one anecdote you provide. But, because the system is imperfect doesn't mean the system should be dismantled, have the funding cut, etc. Otherwise, then any system that is imperfect must also befall the same fate; think of the mistakes our justice system makes, the mistakes our military makes, the mistakes our police officers make....all of our systems are imperfect. It just happens that if the justice system makes a mistake and executes an innocent person, not only did the people in that state incur a cost many times higher than the cost of Michaela's intransigence, but they also killed a person who should been allowed to live. But I guess the cost of mistakes is a tangential point.

Anyway, let me go back to a point I made earlier. I think it is fair for you to criticize the welfare system for the mistakes it makes, in the same way that I think it's fair for Mike to criticize the mistakes the justice system makes. But I tend to support both systems, as they are both Constitutional, and they are both more often right than they are wrong. In other words, let's criticize where it is necessary, but let's not get trapped into all-or-nothing thinking.

No apology necessary, by the way.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 4:10 PM

Benevolus,

"I think it's fair for Mike to criticize the mistakes the justice system makes."

I agree, it is fair for anyone to criticize anything they want, I just think if they are going to do so they should be willing or able to defend their position or not complain if others do the same things. In short, any problem I have with Michael is due to his actions not his positions.

Also, the previous arguments aren't necessarily mine. You merely asked for an opposing reason. My personal beliefs are generally too nuanced and varied to fit into any clean label, but I try to understand what other people might think.

I do however see a distinction between "general" and "specific" and don't agree with your characterization. A whole lot of specifics don't add up to a general, they add up to a lot of specifics in my opinion. I'm not arguing that specific welfare we practice today is illegal or even unconstitutional, but I think to try to link it to the Constitution in the way you did is a stretch.

Roads and regulations serve individuals but not specific indviduals. There is no road that the government built specifically for my personal needs and no others. That is where I see a difference. I think promoting general welfare means creating the "general" environment in which individuals can be well, not requiring that each individual is in fact well.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 4:53 PM

Benevolus,

Also, if you're opposed to all or nothing thinking, I'm afraid you'll soon tire of some of the bloggers around here.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 4:56 PM

Benevolus, I have to come down on the side of SW for these last three or four posts. I wonder if it is determined by conservative mindset vs. liberal mindset? On increasing revenue - I am very supportive of closing loopholes and tax shelters for the sole purpose of hiding/disguising income. I would even support raising tax rates if the additional revenue went only to reducing the national debt. Not for more spending.

As to your point of 50% of Americans owning only 2.5% of the wealth; I am sure that is true and it probably is unfair. But is it not also true that almost 50% of Americans pay no federal income tax?

The tagline is mostly for Michael. I have asked him three or four times who he thinks should decide the fair share and have yet to receive a response to that specific question.

WHO decides what is the FAIR SHARE?

-- Posted by doodle bug on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 5:16 PM

SWNebr Transplant,

I guess I don't know what Michael's behavior is like other than what you have explained to me (I haven't experienced what you mean, though perhaps I will). I think that I saw a similarity between his dismissal of the justice system and your dismissal of the welfare system. It seems as though my mistake may have been conflating your position (which as you say is nuanced and varied) with your explanation of a position. Sorry about that.

However, we remain in disagreement about the movement from "specific welfare" to "general welfare" as Constitutionally indefensible.

If you want to argue theoretically that an aggregation (which by definition is "a whole lot of specifics) is really just a "whole lot of specifics" I'll not debate you. That isn't particularly controversial. Though scientists, statisticians, geographers, demographers etc., all do what I describe; i.e., they take a whole lot of specific samples and from them make generalizations. This is the basis of every science you can name.

But, from a practical/policy perspective, a government may build a road, pass import/export standards, provide social security, all of which (I think we agree) can be described as "welfare," and in my view, it does these things to make the individual lives of POTENTIALLY all its citizens better. Not all citizens use roads, but they all have potential to, and not all citizens use welfare, but they have potential to as well.

This is what I meant by utilitarianism. When this is the case, and the greatest number of individuals as possible have benefited, or have the potential to benefit, from a policy, I think it is easy to defend that the government has provided for the "general welfare."

The proof of this lies in the inverse situation. Think of Brown vs. The Topeka Board of Education: when a government entity enacts a policy that is deleterious to the specific welfare of an individual, we name the individual(s) whose welfare was not provided for (Lynda Brown in this case). But, when ruling came back in favor of the Lynda Brown, and she was granted equal access to Topeka schools the ruling applied generally, not just to Lynda Brown. Thus, via the "specific welfare" of Lynda Brown, the "general welfare" was emboldened.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 6:10 PM

Fair. Whoever told you life is "fair" was lying, simply wrong, or both.

Life has never, ever been "fair". Not here, not there, not anywhere.

And it never will be "fair".

All attempts, governmental or otherwise, to make life "fair" will fail. It's not achievable on this side of Heaven.

If you accept that life is not fair, and that it never will be, then what should be our goal?

As a libertarian I believe in freedom. Freedom from unnecessary law and regulation. Freedom to succeed or fail on your own. Freedom to live in harmony with your own beliefs.

Libertarian creed is the direct opposite of the Marxist philosophy, but it works every time, unlike Marxist states that always fail and are dismal from start to finish. Because we all strive for liberty and freedom from the day of our birth; it's a natural extension of our being.

I am often accused of seeing things too simply. I take that as a compliment.

Complex solutions are always favored by those getting paid to deal with that complexity. Complex solutions seldom work, but they do employ lots of bureaucrats, researchers, lobbyists, and staff. Obamacare, anyone?

Before Copernicus, people used highly complex models to show how the sun and planets moved--really wierd in many ways. Then Copernicus showed a new, simple model that was truly elegant in its simplicity.

And those with an attachment, financially and otherwise, to the old ridiculous system proposed that Mr. Copernicus be hanged.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 6:12 PM

Doodle Bug,

Sorry, I ran outta gas with that last post. I have to be running on all cylinders to keep up with you and SWNebr Transplant, so please forgive me if my response is brief (you may prefer that actually!).

I hope that I don't have a conservative or liberal mindset, I guess my hope is that I have rational and pragmatic mindset. Such a mindset of course is not without its problems, but like a conservative or liberal, I have chosen a way to structure my thinking and it usually works for me. It means though that in the same issue I may appear liberal to a conservative, and conservative to a liberal. In my experience, rationality and pragmatism lies somewhere between extremes.

As to your second question, I believe the answer is yes. In fact, it might be even more lopsided than just the top 50% (maybe like the top 15-20%), I don't really know. But that seems fair to me. Whatever percentage of wealth each quartile (for the sake of argument) owns should determine that quartile's tax rate.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 6:22 PM

Uhh, Boomer62,

I know that this is beside your point, but if you don't think that Copernicus used highly complex models to show how the sun was situated at the center of the universe, then you my friend are a genius. Here is a link to the kinds of mathematical models Copernicus was theorizing about, and then solving...not simple by any means.

http://astro.unl.edu/naap/ssm/ssm_advanc...

-- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 6:32 PM

Benevolus, are you the same poster who uses said screen name/handle on the Lincoln Journal Star website? Just curious.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 7:51 AM

"As a libertarian I believe in freedom. Freedom from unnecessary law and regulation. Freedom to succeed or fail on your own. Freedom to live in harmony with your own beliefs."

So then you don't believe in laws that tell women what they can and can't do with their bodies, or laws that tell people what they can or can't do in the bedroom. If you really believe in the freedom to live in harmony with your own beliefs, then why do you put so much effort into telling me that my beliefs are wrong?

"Libertarian creed is the direct opposite of the Marxist philosophy, but it works every time, unlike Marxist states that always fail and are dismal from start to finish. Because we all strive for liberty and freedom from the day of our birth; it's a natural extension of our being."

Can you point out a single government that is run solely libertarian that has succeeded? The main problem with your argument is that there has never been a government truly run solely on Marxist ideas. The Soviet Union certainly didn't do it.

The best run governments are the governments that can effectively use the best ideas from many different political ideologies. The United States has been doing it since its inception. China, as of late, has also been doing it, though their record on human rights is deplorable.

I guess I have to remind you again Boomer that Obamacare is mostly made up of Republican ideas. Very little of what Obama actually wanted in the law ended up there. Though it is interesting that in countries that actually run on socialized medicine, they all rank higher than us in over all health of their citizens.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 9:36 AM

WHO decides what is the FAIR SHARE?

-- Posted by doodle bug on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 5:16 PM

Obviously, doodle bug, the people do. There has been poll after poll showing that the majority of people all across the political spectrum (even in the TEA Party) support raising taxes on the rich.

It certainly shouldn't be politicians who sell themselves to the highest bidder.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 9:37 AM

"As to your point of 50% of Americans owning only 2.5% of the wealth; I am sure that is true and it probably is unfair. But is it not also true that almost 50% of Americans pay no federal income tax?"

doodle bug the myth that half of Americans pay no federal income tax has been debunked. You do have to be careful with wording and percentages. Even if someone pays no federal income tax they are still paying taxes along the way. If you buy cigarettes you are paying a federal tax. If you buy gas you are paying a federal tax.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 9:40 AM

You're right. I know it's silly to get riled up about that type of argument on a blog, but it's more because of my expectations being dashed to bits. Back when I thought Mike Sr. was the one doing the blogging, I was disappointed because I thought a respectable college professor should be able to discuss things in a more respectable manner. After realizing that it was his son, some of that disappointment lingered over. Of course, I suppose it makes less sense to expect the son of a college professor to be respectful and respectable in debates.

The other thing that irks me is that he acts like a bad political stereotype a good deal of the time. Granted, Mr. Eldridge seems to play the same role from the opposite end of the spectrum, and I admit that I'm not as concerned with his antics in part because his political leanings are more in line with my own than Mr. Hendrick's. However, I'd like to have people on the other side of the fence that I can respect despite disagreements, which is why I get irked when he validates the more emotive accusations of his critics. I can't grow and improve my viewpoints if the behavior of others tarnishes their viewpoints.

Unfortunately, I'm pessimistic about getting any sort of meaningful response from Michael. The last time I criticized his inconsistencies, he left them unanswered. My experience is admittedly limited, but it seems like he only responds to criticism when he can throw it back at the critic- or perhaps at another critic- in some way.

-- Posted by bjo on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 12:10 P

What criticisms exactly are you talking about bjo? All I really see is trash talking, defending Sam's actions because he believes the same as you but being disappointed in my actions (which you compare) because we don't.

I live by the standard show respect to get respect. You have never respected my viewpoint which you admit to, but yet you demand that I respect your viewpoint.

Having said that, I do respect your viewpoint. I don't understand how you can justify defending one persons words and actions simply because they agree with you while condemning another's (who you say are similar) because they don't agree with you.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 9:47 AM

So, Boomer, paying the lowest level of taxes in more than fifty years isn't enough for you? I just don't understand your complaint. There was no complaining about taxes under Bush, yet your tax burden has lessened since Obama took office and now you are complaining.

How exactly do you propose that our infrastructure be fixed, or our military get paid and the needed armor and weapons they need. If the current taxation is still too much for you then when won't it be.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 9:49 AM

Michael, once again; I said nothing about any other taxes. I specifically said federal INCOME tax. Do you believe that I am so stupid I do not realize everyone pays some kind of tax that supports the federal/state/local governments? And you have the audacity to complain about folks twisting and misconstruing what is actually said. Please re-read my post where I stated that I wouldnt be opposed to higher tax rates if the generated revenue went to the national debt rather than increased spending. Please tell me if you believe "the people" get a direct vote in whether or not taxes are increased or decreased.

-- Posted by doodle bug on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 10:22 AM

speak e-z,

I am not the same poster. Alas, I thought I was being clever with the handle...apparently someone else beat me to it.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 11:03 AM

"What criticisms exactly are you talking about bjo? All I really see is trash talking, defending Sam's actions because he believes the same as you but being disappointed in my actions (which you compare) because we don't.

I live by the standard show respect to get respect. You have never respected my viewpoint which you admit to, but yet you demand that I respect your viewpoint.

Having said that, I do respect your viewpoint. I don't understand how you can justify defending one persons words and actions simply because they agree with you while condemning another's (who you say are similar) because they don't agree with you."

I think I'm a bit confused. Since I'm not sure if you have read my last post in the West Memphis Three, or the first post I made in this blog, I'll try to answer for both possibilities. If you haven't, then that is where you shall find my criticisms. I can understand if you have missed them, though I am a bit concerned that you didn't try to find any additional context in the post you quoted, since the post you quoted was a response to a response to my first post.

If you have read them, then...I'm not sure what to say. The post you quoted does have trash talk, and I'll apologize for said trash talk. The other posts, however, were not trash talk. If you do, then there is a disconnect between our definitions of what is trash talk. I am inclined to believe, based on the language of your post, that you haven't read my other critical posts. However, assuming that you did so intentionally, or just disregarded them in your post, would be speculative, so I won't do so.

I do apologize if I gave you the impression that I was defending Sam's actions, because I didn't intend to. I find Sam's emotive responses to be just as bad as a liberal's responses. Yes, I did say that I don't go after him because I agree with some of his viewpoints- not necessarily the emotive ones, though- but I also don't go after him because, for some reason, I feel you have more potential to be reasonable and respectful. Of course, I think I'm feeling that way because I respect your father, as a former student of his.

I do respect some of your viewpoints- for example, your view on the death penalty- but I feel it is harder to do so because you do things like calling Boomer blood-thirsty after getting after Wallismarsh for saying you hate America. You say you live by a standard of showing respect to get respect, but the actions that I've called you out on betray that standard. It's understandable if you mess up from time to time, but simply choosing to ignore that you've messed up or throw those mistakes back at others is not respectful at all.

I appreciate you choosing to respect my opinions, and I have no intention of justifying bad behavior in one group while condemning it in another. I do have some respect for your opinions, which is why I ask you to hold yourself to a higher standard. You'll show more respect, and likely get more respect, if you would at least admit to making mistakes which might be considered hypocritical, if you don't correct those behaviors. From the comments you've received, it would seem as though you are expressing the "less popular opinion," at least in the circle of people that comment on this newspaper website. If you want to get people to change their minds, then you need to act in a more respectful manner. If you don't, and simply piss people off, then they'll won't be likely to change their minds.

Then again, this is just my view on the matter. I could be very mistaken about things. I could also be mistaken in assuming your desire is to change people's minds. My advice could still help if you are wanting to get meaningful discussion. If you are just wanting to provide a different viewpoint without getting people to change their minds, then I question why you bother commenting at all. If you just want to stir up arguments or get hits on your blog on this site, then I think I may be taking these blogs too seriously.

-- Posted by bjo on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 12:16 PM

Michael,

"Obviously, doodle bug, the people do. There has been poll after poll showing that the majority of people all across the political spectrum (even in the TEA Party) support raising taxes on the rich."

This is an interesting statement you make. The majority of voters in California decided that homosexual marriage should be illegal, yet I didn't see you proclaiming that the majority there can make the decision. What about Civil Rights, should they not have been passed because polling shows a majority are against it. Abortion?

What you are describing is tyranny of the masses, you cannot endorse it when it suits your purposes and decry it when it doesn't without seeming to be a hypocrite.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 12:18 PM

SWNebr Transplant.

I have a question (honest?) for you: are you equating and or/conflating "raising taxes on the rich" with gay marriage/civil rights/abortion?

Certainly the tyranny of the masses is something to be very wary of...but certainly there are nuances where majority opinions are concerned, right? For example, if the majority of people wish to enact a policy that is currently unconstitutional or is later deemed unconstitutional, then the tyranny of the masses argument seems more appropriate. Segregation and Jim Crow laws come to mind.

Taxing the rich an extra 3.5% (I may be wrong but I think this was the Clinton-era tax difference that is at stake) doesn't seem anything like tyranny. Especially when you consider that billionaires like Buffet are spearheading the effort.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 4:07 PM

Benevolus,

I don't believe I'm equating or conflating anything. I am pointing out analogous situations of law determined by popular opinion in extreme examples as a caution to why basing law on polls is probably not the best way to enact law. After all we are a representative republic not a democracy, you may recall how well laws based on public opinion worked for Athens in the long run.

Will all of the times you cite Supreme Court decisions, I'm surprised you don't seem aware that what is deemed constitutional can change over time and with different justices. Earlier you cited Brown V. Board of Education, yet not Plessy V. Ferguson.

One can make an argument about why taxes should be increased in many ways, I don't think "because polls say so" should be one we should accept. Otherwise don't we have to overturn Roe v. Wade on those grounds?

Also I'm leery of Buffett's influence here, I notice he isn't arguing for raising capital gains taxes to previous levels. What other billionaires are spearheading the effort all I ever hear about is Buffett?

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Thu, Sep 29, 2011, at 7:27 PM

SWNebr Tranplant,

I actually don't recall laws based on public opinion in Athens, my Grecian history is not what it probably should be. As I am not likely to google my way to your expertise in the next few minutes before bed, I am left with taking your word for it, which I will do happily.

I am interested in this statement you made though...

"I'm surprised you don't seem aware that what is deemed constitutional can change over time and with different justice..."

I guess that when I wrote...

"...if the majority of people wish to enact a policy that is currently unconstitutional or is later deemed unconstitutional..."

What I meant by the words "currently" and "later" was to express that indeed I am aware that "what is deemed constitutional" can change over time. This seems pretty clear to me, but I admit, I am often guilty of not expressing my thoughts accurately in words, clear as they may be in my head. Can you see now how those two words, "currently" and "later" index my knowledge that there are past, current, and probably future versions of "what is deemed constitutional?"

Regarding billionaires with Buffet...will you accept 100 millionaires?

http://www.nationaljournal.com/-patrioti...

http://patrioticmillionaires.org/

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 12:39 AM

Michael, you're absolutely brilliant.

Obamacare was a Republican bill, right? Why did most of them vote against it? They had to give special deals even to Democrats to vote for it. And now special states are getting exemptions from it. You had to vote for it to get exemption from it later. Wonderful.

Marxist governments have never been tried in the pure form, whatever that is? If only they had your pure spirit.

Libertarian governments have never been tried? We started out pretty close in the US at the beginning. And we are gave it up for the soft security of socialism.

I have already stated several times that while I despise abortions, I don't favor laws against it. I also favor repealing all laws against illegal drugs-let people be stupid if they want to; they're doing it anyway. I believe in freedom, to be smart or to be stupid. I belive in all freedom that doesn't mess with others freedom. Freedom, can you conceive of it? It's a great concept. Freedom from unnecessary laws and regulation. Freedom from excessive taxation. Freedom from the thought police and speech police. Freedom to make the best of your life.

I think you should be able to live according to your beliefs, Michael, just don't impose them on me. If I think homosexuality and abortion are wrong, I should be able so say so without being jailed. I don't want laws against them--I want freedom for others, as well as myself. I don't want gay marriages though for that changes the nature of marriage. Will we then allow people to marry animals, or children? Do you love your goat or dog? Do you love a 10-year-old? Am I judgmental for opposing that?

Taxes are lower under Obama than at any time in the past 50 years? You don't know taxes. They were lower in 1987 when the Reagan revolution occured there. 28% top rate, it's now 35%. And about needing them to pay for defense, we'd need a lot less if Obama had gotten us out of Iraq and Afganistan in the first 18 months after his election, like he promised. That's one of the few promises I hoped he would fulfill. We've been there longer than we were in Viet Nam. Instead of getting us out, Obama took us to Libya, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and other nations, some announced and some not. Why do we think we need to impose our will on other countries? Bring our troops home and stop making enemies all over the world. There are better uses for the money.

This great recession is far from over; it will last years longer because the government did not allow the banks to lose on their foolish loans. Those have not been allowed to be disposed of and the banks still have them at full loan value on their books. They have spent trillions for nothing. Propping up banks, auto makers, insurance companies, et al that should have died.

The infrastructure you mention needing taxes for, are mostly built and maintained either by state and local government or private industry. Why do we need more federal tax to pay for that?

Just like I said before. You are Mr. Michael More, More, More (more government always). You think you will be truly happy when the government runs everything and taxes you at 100% of your income. At that point they will tell you where to live, where to work, who you can marry, if you can go to college and what your major will be, if you can have children, what you can do, what you can read, what you can think, and what you can say (hey isn't that China, Cuba or the old USSR?). But you won't have any of those awful things called responsibilities because even your decisions will be made for you. Free medical and free lunch though, LOL. Have you read "1984"?

Oh, yeah. You have a vision of a wonderful world.

And to promote it, you lie about taxes, about Obamacare, about what works and what doesn't. If you believe in something I guess it's fine to lie about it, eh?

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 10:04 AM

Boomer,

"I don't want laws against them--I want freedom for others, as well as myself. I don't want gay marriages though..."

This made me laugh out loud. You aren't serious, right. Please say you aren't serious.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 10:16 AM

The reason you get so many responses for each of your blog entries is simple. So many people disagree with you. There have been a few I agreed with, and apparently most people did, since there were few responses to those posts. People do not respond when they agree.

"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." Proverbs 18:2

"It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife; but every fool will be quarreling." Proverbs 20:3

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 11:18 AM

Benevolus, I don't think many cultures have allowed marriage between people of the same sex. The purpose of marriage historically has been to form a union between committed people who will, as a natural course, have children who will need a stable, concrete pair of adults in unity to care for them for 20 years or more.

That, as I see it, is the purpose of marriage. It's one of the bedrocks of a successful nation.

I believe you should go ahead and sleep with your man, Benevolus, if you like--freedom. But marriage is, and should be between a man and a woman. We don't let people marry more than one person, or a person of the same sex, for some very practical reasons. I don't favor man-dog marriage, man-goat marriage, woman-horse marriage, etc, either, but perhaps you do, since you think that's what is meant by true freedom.

Complete and absolute freedom for everyone equals anarchy, and that's not what libertarians favor. But perhaps you advocate anarchy. If you do, then you cannot favor taxes, laws, regulations, licenses, socialism, Marxism, free medical care, welfare, food stamps, or even democracy.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 11:58 AM

Boomer62,

Interesting response. I guess I expected as much. It was pretty funny to me that you contradicted yourself so thoroughly in the post above with the 'freedom for everyone except homosexuals,' line, but perhaps you felt slighted by my jesting. If so, apologies.

I can certainly see that you are passionate about gay marriage, but as a result it appears that you more willing to attack than you are willing to be reasonable. As a result of your overly emotional response, you have strayed from reason, history, and logic. I am not sure where to begin (or end for that matter) in unpacking the problems with your post,

How about from the beginning?

Marriage has a fascinating history, Boomer62. For most human history marriage had nothing to do with the union between a man and a woman, but rather it was economical arrangement between families (i.e., fathers). In the great majority of cases, women in history have had their husbands selected for them, and in many cultures, a woman who wasn't virginal would never have a husband. Or, if a man's brother died and the brother left behind a wife, the brother was legally bound to marry his brother's wife. These practices of course continue on today, often right here in America (though they are not legally sanctioned).

Polygamy has been practiced throughout time and across cultures as well. But so has polyandry, which is when a woman has more than one husband. This was an ancient Minoan custom, and most matriarchal societies in history have followed some version of this practice.

Love, as scholar Joseph Campbell pointed out in "The Power of Myth", didn't factor into marriage at all until medieval times.

Marriage between a black man or woman and white man or woman was until recently (from a historical perspective) illegal for fear of miscegenation. Such a union was an abomination in the minds of the enlightened, like gay marriage is in yours. Of course reason eventually triumphed and now such a prohibition seems ridiculously atavistic.

Until the 1970's most states didn't acknowledge that spousal rape was even possible, let alone a crime. That of course seems absurd to us now as well.

Here is the point: the argument that modern marriage is in anyway "traditional" simply has no rational or historical support. And as we all know, "slippery slope" arguments (if we allow gay marriages then people will marry their pets) are BY DEFINITION logical fallacies. Read for yourself:

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies...

As for sleeping with men and being an anarchist, well, as Franklin wrote, "modest sensible men will leave you in error." Good day.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 12:40 PM

Benevolus, you use big words but your discussion is all over the place.

You seem to advocate poligamy and polandry, at least you say it's historical and traditional. And since, according to you, marriage has historically been an economical arrangement, that's traditional between a man and a woman, too. You also talk about opposition to interracial marriage being traditional, too (still one man-one woman, though).

But at the same time you claim one man-one woman marriage has no historical or traditional support.

I can't figure out if you think it's traditional as I said, or not. You appear to argue with yourself. Being a modest man I will leave you wherever you are--in error or not.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 1:28 PM

Boomer62,

Let me perfectly clear then. My post makes two points:

1) Marriage as a concept has never been particularly static--anywhere or anytime. Marriage has been conceived in myriad ways throughout time and across cultures, and even in these United States, what is and is not socially and legally acceptable as "marriage" has changed drastically. So, we should expect any modern legal and/or socially acceptable definition of what marriage should be to change as well.

As far as i can tell, the only tradition that is a part of marriage is that the definition of marriage is constantly in flux. Put crudely, the tradition of marriage is change. You can take Iowa, Hawaii, Vermont, etc., as current examples; these states have changed their definition of marriage to include homosexuals. Incidentally, we have not seen man-goat/woman-horse marriages as result. This is no surprise.

This leads me to the second point of my post above...

2) "Slippery slope" reasoning, which is what you engage in when you write that gay marriage will lead to human-animal marriages, is illogical by definition (nor is it supported by any evidence). If you are comfortable making illogical arguments, I will not protest any further. However, if you wish to be reasoned and logical it is important then to clarify breakdowns in logic. In this particular case, your argument broke down. It isn't personal, so please do not take offense.

Note: If you reread my post above a bit more carefully there is nothing in there that can logically allow you to conclude that I support polygamy or polyandry. Mentioning historical and cultural facts is not tantamount to support.

Beyond these criticisms, I do want to thank you for taking the time to engage in conversation with me. I do appreciate the challenge of debating your ideas.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 2:51 PM

Benevolus,

I'm sorry I must have misunderstood your comment. When you said: "...if the majority of people wish to enact a policy that is currently unconstitutional or is later deemed unconstitutional..."I read that as applying to laws that have been passed but that haven't yet passed Constitutional muster. I thought when the Supreme Court overrules itself, it doesn't go back and decide that the previous decision it made of constitutionality is changed, but that from this point forward this is the new rule.

I don't think I can accept 100 millionaires to be "billionaires like Buffet". That isn't to say their opinions should be disregarded out of hand, but I don't see them splashed on the news making what I consider to be disingenuous claims. As other people have pointed out, if someone doesn't think they are being taxed enough they have the right to make a gift to the government.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 3:39 PM

SWNebr Transplant,

It's not necessary to apologize, misunderstandings occur frequently, in particular across the medium through which we are communicating. I will try to pay attention to clearly writing my thoughts and correct myself as needed.

Well I found some evidence that suggests Soros and a few Rockefellers are with Buffet. This would buttress the billionaire crowd I hinted at earlier.

"Billionaire George Soros, billionaire Warren Buffett, several Rockefellers, and other icons of American wealth are telling George Bush, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' They are running this newspaper ad saying they want to pay estate taxes because not to do so would be bad for our democracy, our economy, and our society.'"

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/geoffrey-di...

But, if you still refuse to accept that there are other billionaires standing beside Buffet ready to be taxed, then I will happily withdraw and rephrase my argument.

There are at least 100 (probably more) people who like Buffet are extremely rich, and also like Buffet are asking the president to tax them more. There. Now we can agree.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 4:14 PM

my 2.5 cents worth. I must have missed something somewhere along the line; I still havent seen where the affluent (of whatever wealth)counld not gift the government with whatever amount they think they should be paying. And, as I have stated several times, I would not be opposed to higher tax rates if the additional revenue went to debt reduction rather than additional spending.

-- Posted by doodle bug on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 5:29 PM

Hey Doodle Bug,

Yeah, I saw that clever post on the other blog as well. Send a check to the government, sounds like a good idea. Those who don't want to can keep their money. Something like that? The problem is, this misses the point entirely. A handful of millionaires giving in total a few million dollars will not raise revenue. So while the quip is cute, it doesn't really approximate a reasonable solution (or even a reasonable compromise for that matter--which often fall far short of solutions as Obama has learned).

But to your second point I think we have agreed that the debt is out of control, and as Libertarians like Ron Paul will tell you, the spending on Iraq and Afghanistan are responsible for the majority of what got us to this place. If we raise taxes on the rich, stop spending money on war, bring our soldiers home, and start investing tax money into burgeoning businesses in cutting edge technological and green energy fields, I think we can go a long way to controlling get out of deficit-spending mode and set about repaying our debt.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 6:01 PM

Benevolus, I agree re the wealthy giving money to the government will not affect revenue flow that much. So why does Buffet and his co-horts keep suggesting it? As far as I am concerned, it is still a spending problem.

As far as cutting edge technology and green energy, surely you are not promoting Solyndra are you? (tongue-in-cheek)

-- Posted by doodle bug on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 6:33 PM

Doodle Bug,

I could be wrong but I think that what Buffet et al., want is for tax rates on themselves and everyone else in their income tax bracket raised. I think some of them also want to pay higher estate taxes. I can that imagine that there are just as many extremely wealthy folks who don't appreciate Buffet and company speaking for them, and wish they/he'd shut the you-know-what up.

This website does present a compelling message though. One that certainly challenges many right wing assumptions about tax increases (which is probably why so many on the right wince at the mention of this):

http://patrioticmillionaires.org/

Haha...yeah, you right. I would guess that Obama is pretty embarrassed by Solyndra. He seems to have completely mishandled the investment in that company. I imagine many on left likewise wince at the mention of Solyndra.

But hopefully you and I can agree that the US being the world's supplier of green energy technology would do our country some good. Remember when we used to supply the world with steel? Those were the days...

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 7:11 PM

Benevolus,

"Well I found some evidence that suggests Soros and a few Rockefellers are with Buffet. This would buttress the billionaire crowd I hinted at earlier"

While I am aware Soros is a billionaire I don't know about the few Rockefellers, but I'm willing to accept if you say they are. I don't think I refused that billionaires said that, just that I only hear of Buffett.

While I appreciate you trying to use a conservative source to show liberals in a good light, in doing so you've changed your argument. Buffett, the WH, and patriotmillionaires are talking about income tax. The quote you used talks about estate tax not income tax. Further, later in the article it mentions that most of the billionaires are against this proposal.

"There are at least 100 (probably more) people who like Buffet are extremely rich, and also like Buffet are asking the president to tax them more. There. Now we can agree."

I can agree that there are 100 people who are asking for more taxes, yet interestingly not volunteering more income, according to the patriotmillionaire site you posted. These people make up 2 and 2/3 e-4 percent of thier income bracket. I don't even know what that number means but when I figured it on the calculator that's what it told me. I do remember that it means that number is extremely small. I don't think that percentage is strong support considering that 97 and 1/3 e+4 (presumably, maybe some mathmagician can tell me what it all means) percent have not taken that stance.

I'm curious, if we stopped the wars and brought our troops home if we would still need more revenue or would the savings be enough?

"But hopefully you and I can agree that the US being the world's supplier of green energy technology would do our country some good. Remember when we used to supply the world with steel? Those were the days..."

Why aren't we the world's supplier of steel anymore? Would those reasons allow us to be the world's supplier of green energy technology I wonder.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 7:40 PM

SWNebr Transplant,

"While I appreciate you trying to use a conservative source to show liberals in a good light..."

I don't want to give off the impression that that was what I was doing. I wouldn't claim to speak for, nor would I want to represent, nor would I want to cast "liberals" (whatever they are) in any kind of light. My objective was to defend a statement I made to you.

Furthermore, I don't think I changed my argument, in fact I said "I found some evidence that suggests..." The word "suggests" is clearly a marker indicating this article is not ironclad proof of anything. It merely "suggests" that Buffet has billionaire allies. This is why I said I would retract the argument and rephrase if you still weren't satisfied.

"I don't think that percentage is strong support considering that 97 and 1/3 e+4 (presumably, maybe some mathmagician can tell me what it all means) percent have not taken that stance."

Is there where I am supposed to invoke the "tyranny of the masses" argument you like so much (to quote Doodle: "tongue-in-cheek")?

"I'm curious, if we stopped the wars and brought our troops home if we would still need more revenue or would the savings be enough?"

I'm curious too. Who knows? Regardless, I would still prefer that our government invest and spend money in/on businesses that are working to improve our infrastructure.

"Why aren't we the world's supplier of steel anymore? Would those reasons allow us to be the world's supplier of green energy technology I wonder."

Because by the 1970's Japan and our other competition had better technology than we did for starters. One reason was because we neglected to invest federal money to update our antiquated open-hearth furnaces to oxygen furnaces. Another reason is that enough time had passed since we (and our allies) destroyed all of our steel making competition during WWII. It was only a matter of time--we simply couldn't hold onto our share of the steel market with other countries catching up, and subsequently surpassing us. In addition (and here is the point I'm sure that you have been chaffing at)...we actually paid our steel workers decent wages and provide them with the right to assemble so that they could demand safe work environments. Our competition wasn't bound to treating their workers with anything resembling dignity or respect, and thus they were able to make a cheaper product.

But sure. We can still be the world's supplier of green energy technology. It is still a frontier science and we have the most resources, best universities, and largest corporations in the world. I can see government investment being a boon to the economy where green energy is concerned, just like it was with the internet.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 8:24 PM

I posted this on another blog but will fit fine here, if Warron

Buffit and anyone else that feels they are underpaying taxes, or

just that it is a nobil idea can send money without filling out any

long forms to this address.

Gifts to the United States

U.S. Department of Treasury

3700 East-West Highway

Hyattsville, MD 20782

Now! wasn't that easy, no staged rhetoric or political bull

As far as your discussion on Marriage , marriage is the triumph

of imagination over reality. doesn't matter which side of the

fence your on

-- Posted by Keda46 on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 9:21 PM

Keda46,

Since we are rehashing old posts...here is my contribution...

Yeah, I saw that clever post [psst..I was referring to your post above, Keda] on the other blog as well. Send a check to the government, sounds like a good idea. Those who don't want to can keep their money. Something like that? The problem is, this misses the point entirely. A handful of millionaires giving in total a few million dollars will not raise revenue [but 10's of thousands will!]. So while the quip is cute [and it is cute, by the way], it doesn't really approximate a reasonable solution (or even a reasonable compromise for that matter--which often fall far short of solutions as Obama has learned) to the problem we face.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 9:33 PM

I like your arguments Benevolus, but (lol) you still havent convinced me that revenue enhancement (of any type) is going to cure our financial problems. I am one of those bull-headed conservatives who believe the only reasonable way out of the financial mess is to cut spending, meaningfully. I also believe green energy may have some promise for the future. I dont have any facts or figures at hand, but, I also believe that revenue enhancement only leads to increased governmental spending, by BOTH parties.

-- Posted by doodle bug on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 9:35 AM

Michael,

I know I haven't been around much this week, and it seems that you do not attempt to address any of my questions or posts, but something you posted earlier is bothering me. What did you mean when you said to boomer "You are a special person and I don't mean that kindly."? Please answer as soon as you can, because I am not going to let this go.

-- Posted by Sir Didymus on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 11:35 AM

Doodle Bug,

You don't seem particularly bull-headed to me. And I am not surprised that I haven't convinced you...I am no expert in these matters, and I have long forgotten what I learned in debate, economics, etc.

It's fun to argue though (well, when you aren't being dressed down and called a senseless liberal/heartless republican), and Google can make us all look like we know what we are talking about to some degree.

To that point...Warren B and taxing the rich is thematic in this thread (which I find funny because the blog began with Michael decrying the American justice system). But it occurred to me as I was watching Game day, right after Lee Corso picked the Huskers to beat Wisconsin to be exact, that I have read all kinds of articles praising and criticizing Buffet, but I have never heard Buffet explain himself.

So here is the video of Buffet explaining himself if you are interested. If you don't feel like watching, I will just say that the reporter makes the same point you do, Doodle Bug (are you feeling legitimatized yet:)?) His response is that taxing per his plan means that 1/3 of %1 (or 50,000 people out of 300 million) will see their taxes raised, amounting to about $20 billion a year in revenue. Peanuts in a multitrillion dollar debt, he admits. But he points out that if we are going to meaningfully cut programs like medicare, social security and other programs that serve the middle class and the the poor, then the ultra rich (like him) need to be held accountable to the idea of "shared sacrifice" as well. In essence, he doesn't want a pass while everyone else has to make sacrifices. I think he's absolutely right.

Then the reporter nails his you-know-what to the wall regarding Bank of America fees and he tells his customers to go to another bank if they aren't happy. Funny old man.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/busines...

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 11:51 AM

I must admit that I read Michael's initial post and about the first 30 responses - have just scrolled through the latest ones. That being said, there was obviously a more than ample effort to fairly evaluate Mr. Davis fate. Right or wrong, our justice system is still the best in the world.

I'm personally opposed to the death penalty and very opposed to abortion. My opposition to the death penalty lies mainly with my belief that aside from the act of war, or the act of defending one's self; taking someone else's life belongs in the hands of God. I would, of course, incarcerate criminals differently than most of them are being held now. Does the name Joe Arpaio ring a bell?

I also believe that abortion hurts the innocent the most. There is no "win" scenario in the termination of an innocent life. Rape does not justify the murder of an innocent. Incest does not justify the murder of an innocent. And those who abort as a means of birth control (statistically I wonder if the number of women who practice this is higher than the insemination rate from rape?) I beleive should simply face sterilization.

PS - Michael, you said to Boomer that he was paying less taxes under Obama than he was under Bush...While I don't pretend to know Boomer's finances; I do know mine. And you couldn't actually say that to me.

-- Posted by Mickel on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 11:53 AM

Benevolus,

As someone that has passive aggressive tendancies, I greatly appriciate your passive agressive posts! However, I tend to find them dishonest. Not to say that I think you are lying, but the shape of your arguments seem to lead in directions that you are professing not to be trying to take. Many of the lines in your posts support my beliefs. You claim to not want to have a liberal or conservative mindset. That is a nice fluffy meaninless phrase. Cmon, stand up for what you think. When you bring forth a point, and have a multitude of different reasons why it should be, come out and admit that you think that the death penalty is wrong, the rich should be taxed etc etc. If you were to stick with one line of reasoning, I would find that honest. When a person throws in every thing but the kitchen sink into a discussion and then attempts to portray themself as being rational and open minded, I tend to think that the person has an agenda, is not that open minded, and is being dishonest. I just calls em like I sees em. Feel free to have your point of view, but be up front about it. I don't believe that you have.

P.S.

I can see why you would not want to be labeled a "liberal" when michael is an example of one. But, I don't mind being labeled a "conservative" when there are some pretty annoying irrational individuals that would fall under that umbrella.

-- Posted by Sir Didymus on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 11:54 AM

Sir Didymus,

While my first reaction to your criticism of me is that I don't find you particularly fair, I will give your critique some thought.

In the meantime, I am not interested in engaging in a discussion as to whether anyone does or does not honestly represent his/her beliefs over a blog where names like Sir Didymus and Benevolus represent who we really are anyway. Such a discussion begins in hypocrisy, you see?

Here is my intention: I do not aim to offend anybody, but I do aim to challenge ideas/arguments. I privilege reason, logic, and research in debate and so I tend to rely on these to make my points, and I tend to point out places where these are lacking in the posts of others. I also firmly believe that even in argument, showing respect is paramount if you wish your arguments to likewise be respected.

However you find these qualities and characteristics: honest, dishonest, wish-washy, etc., cannot be helped by me.

That said, I do thank you for your critique. We cannot grow as individuals if nobody is willing to explain to us where we falter.

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 1:53 PM

The pouring of federal tax monies into green energy technology is a total and absolute waste; Solyendra just being the latest example.

When, driving down the road, you spy a bunch of those big windmills, be aware that each costs around $1 million to build. The tax subsidies to each one is $100,000 per year for 10 years. In essence, the taxpayers put them up and the owners get all the revenue from them for free. A real boondoggle! The taxpayers get screwed again.

Ethanol is the same thing. The federal government subsidizes the ethanol production, but it still can't compete with imported ethanol from Brazil. So the government levies a tariff against imported ethanol. And then the government requires ethanol usage at the pumps. And subsidizes corn production for making the ethanol. The taxpayers get screwed again. Higher taxes, higher food prices, poorer gas mileage.

None of the solar array farms would have been built without the government subsidies, either. Like windmills, they just aren't econimically viable yet.

Solar, wind, and ethanol may be economically viable someday. When the price of oil gets high enough. But the fools in government think they need to force viability so they can feel they have done something important. Green feels soooo good. And it's not their money, anyway, so what the heck.

What they have done, and likely will continue to do, is rip off the taxpayers and reward their crony capitalist friends.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 5:25 PM

Boomer62,

I think what you may be missing is the idea that the rest of the world, Europe and China especially, is expanding experimentation with green energy. The EU has ambitious energy plans for the future.

In Seville, Spain, engineers and scientists are experimenting with ways to run the entire city grid on solar power.

You are absolutely right to point out that for the most part these types of resources aren't economically viable (at least enough to replace our dependency on oil). And they won't be for a few decades. But the field of green energy is undeniably burgeoning, and its global.

My point is that the US has the resources, researchers, and corporations/factories to lead from the front. Rather than ignoring the future of green energy, which will mean in 20 years we will be importing all of the technologies to run our cities/cars/factories/buildings/etc from other countries, the US has the chance to become a world leader in this market. We would be foolish not to consider this seriously right now.

The Texas oil tycoon, T Boone Pickens agrees with me...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21...

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 6:04 PM

Benevolus: I'm sure I'm not the first to see that you are a polymath, and you know everything there is to know about everything. I'm but a low life layman who is looking for guidance in our upcoming 2012 election. PLEASE!!!!!!!! if you are running for office let me know, I will give you my full support. Your humble follower KEDA 46

-- Posted by Keda46 on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 12:04 AM

Keda46,

You know what's funny? I had to Google what a polymath is...your vote is probably better spent on someone else!

-- Posted by Benevolus on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 5:54 AM

Benevolus - perception!!! What an amazing thing. Our perception is formed by every facet of our lives that makes us what we are. Even though my thinking will fall in line more with the other conservative posters on here, I have never considered you to be over-bearing or attempting to FORCE your opinion on others. I am sure we would have many differences of opinion, but I respect your reasoned rebuttals. You may not have changed my mind, but you have given me plenty of reasons to at least look at your perspective. And I am looking forward to more discussion.

-- Posted by doodle bug on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 9:46 AM

Benevolus, so the rest of the world is expanding experimenation with "green energy"? I am fine with that, as long as the experimenters are using their own money, and not feeding at the government/taxpayer trough.

So the US has the opportunity be a world leader in this market? We already are, but with socialist money flowing like a river from Washington.

Why not let the marketplace dictate where money is spent? You know, like productively, rationally? Instead of just spraying the taxpayer's money around hoping something will work, without anyone having any real skin in the game, except the poor taxpayers who had no choice in the matter.

T Boone Pickens just wants to pick the pockets of the taxpayer for the costs, while picking up any profits for himself.

Our government is broke and getting broker by the minute. The day of reckoning is at hand. There will be hell to pay when people won't loan Uncle Sam money any more.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Wed, Oct 5, 2011, at 6:00 PM

Boomer62,

I think you missed my point. I am not suggesting the government should set up and operate sources for renewable energy. I am suggesting that through tax breaks, investments, and other ways of support, the government would be wise to put our tax money to use in the development of new technologies where green energy is concerned.

There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with governments incentivizing businesses who are willing to take risks that may one day cause our nation to become as prosperous as it was in the 50's and 60's. You and I wouldn't have the world wide web if the Clinton administration didn't invest so heavily in companies seeking to develop the internet. The technological boom and prosperity of the 1990's was impacted in important ways by government incentivizing businesses.

Another technological frontier reveals itself in green energy. I just hope that Obama and Congress do enough to loosen us from the shackles of our Middle Eastern captives.

Here is the rub. You don't want your tax money spent in this way, but this is exactly how I want my tax money spent. I guess that's why we each have a vote, right?

-- Posted by Benevolus on Thu, Oct 6, 2011, at 3:41 PM


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