Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.
In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.
Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
John Stuart Mill
Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Don't let schooling interfere with your education.
All generalizations are false, including this one.
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
The Public is merely a multiplied "me."
Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.
Otto Von Bismarck
When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.
Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.
Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.
A witty saying proves nothing.
If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.
When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.
Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
All I know is I'm not a Marxist.
The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Dragging Out Old Skeletons
It is a well-conceded fact by the right that President Bush is a fairly ineffective public speaker, who is prone to rambling about odd subjects that don't seem to have any contextual meaning to the subject at hand. So it wasn't pause for concern when during the October 8th debate, the President pointedly assured the television audience that he wouldn't nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who condoned the legal rationale of the Dred Scott decision.
Why did this odd statement not get picked up on by the mainstream media? One reason might be that the general public hasn't impressed the facts and court holdings of a 1857 Supreme Court case into their heads, especially since this seems to be a dead issue considering the case was completely overruled by the Fourteenth Amendment. Those who do know a bit about the case probably didn't think about any Amendments, but instead merely the subject of slavery, which of course no longer persists in our great nation. Those who do have a grip on the facts and holding of the case, which really should include the media, perhaps should have questioned the mention during a Presidential debate. Yet, with the reputation of Bush being fairly inarticulate and not prone to a logical train of thought during speeches, my suspicions were that the statement was dismissed as such.
And of course, I too, blew this off initially, but it nagged at me with each passing day. So I reread the court's decision in Dred Scott, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), and this is what I came up with:
The basic facts are as follows: A black slave brought a cause of action to sue for his freedom. Dred Scott was granted freedom by a MIssouri federal court, and this was appealed by owner, whereupon the intermediate appellate court reversed, finding Scott to be the "lawful property" of his owner. He then appealed to the Supreme Court.
The issue before the court was whether a member of the negro race was entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to its citizen. "One of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution." The court acknowledged that while individual states had the right to declare blacks citizens and grant him rights equal to all citizens withint he state, but it questioned whether it was appropriate "to put it in the power of a single State to make him a citizen of the United States, and endue him with the full rights of citizenship in every other State without their consent?"
So the court passed the proverbial buck. It ignored the real issue and decided to ascertain the intent of our founding fathers. In doing so, it stated:
It is not the province of the court to decide upon the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. The decision of that question belonged to the political or law-making power; to those who formed the sovereignty and framed the Constitution. The duty of the court is, to interpret the instrument they have framed, with the best lights we can obtain on the subject, and to administer it as we find it, according to its true intent and meaning when it was adopted.
As such, the court utilized the language of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and it concluded that the drafters' intent was that anyone imported as a slave, and their descendents, "whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument."
So in conclusion, the court held that Dred Scott remained the property of his owner, and as such, was not a citizen of Missouri as construed by the U.S. Constitution, and therefore, he could not avail himself to sue in federal courts. Now of course this was overturned by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. So what's up with the reference, Prez?
Actually, it turns out to be codespeak aimed towards the religious right against judicial activism. According to Robert S. Sarrgeant, Jr. of EnterStageRight.com, "Dred Scott shows us two things:  The mischief that 'activist' judges always do, and  The fact that people are sometimes willing to resort to a Constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling."
Right. So I did some more poking around. Gotta love Google, because when you plug in "Dred Scott," dozens of conservative Christian websites appear in the search results. Upon which the connection is made to Roe v. Wade. The analogy is as follows: Dred Scott was declared a "non-person" because of the color of his skin. Roe declared fetuses to be "non-persons" because they had not yet been born. Both were denied the rights allowed to "persons." Only that in the former case, the "non-person" was relegated to slavery, while in the latter case, the "non-person" was relegated to death.
The Supreme Court reached the decisions in both Dred Scott and Roe by ascertaining the intent of the Constitutional drafters in the language of the Constitution. Both cases were close calls, with the strict constructionalists losing out and the judicial activists rising to a narrow victory.
So Bush was telling the Christain conservative members of the Republican party that he will only appoint justices that are strict constructionalists. As such, nothing but narrow and plain language analysis of what the stuffy old men in powdered wigs drafted hundreds of years ago. Any nominee of Bush to the Supreme Court will have to subscribe only to this train of legal thought. So much for not having a litmus test.
This indeed should worry anyone who believes in a woman's right to an abortion. Currently the conservative judges outnumber the liberal ones at a five-to-four margin. That is pretty damn close, and with Sandra Day O'Connor acting as a swing vote, the individual liberties cases of late have met with favorable results. Still, the balance is tenuous, and retirement of any one justice could affect the balance drastically. One more strict constructionalist could mean the end of legal abortions again in the United States.
"Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik
PUN-DIT (n) : A learned man; a teacher; a source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit.