Category Archives: Freedom & Privacy

S&R Poll results: major issues

The results of the latest S&R poll are in.

What issue will be foremost in your thoughts when you vote for a president in 2008?

1. Civil Liberties (28)
2. Economy and Class (26)
3. Iraq and Military Issues (20) Continue reading S&R Poll results: major issues

2007 in Review, pt. 5: Politicians, whores and the media who love them…

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Scholars & Rogues year-end wrap-up. Today we tackle the dirty, but oddly riveting world of politics. We’ll take a couple shots at the even dirtier world of media that makes it all possible. Let’s start at the top, shall we?

George Walker Bush: I’ve been telling my Republican friends for five years now that Dubya was going to do more damage to their party than an army of Hillarys could dream of doing. And 2007 was the year where I think the truth of this proposition finally started becoming evident. Scandals at the Justice Department and World Bank did him no favors, nor did the conviction of Scooter Libby (which necessitated the most politically debilitating pardon/commutation sequence since Ford saved Nixon). Iraq got worse by the day and we’re not seeing a lot of GOP presidential hopefuls looking to surf that Bush legacy. Continue reading 2007 in Review, pt. 5: Politicians, whores and the media who love them…

All I want for Christmas is for Democrats to stop making Ron Paul look good

Hey, what’s that in our stocking? It’s Ron Paul! Oh joy – we got The Truth® for Christmas!

Ahem. So those of you who thought Ron Paul was going to go away once the big boys got serious have probably been surprised by his staying power so far. He’s polling in the high single digits (something Ronald Reagan Fred Thompson can’t say) and one pollster thinks his actual numbers are in the double digits. He says he’s raised $19M this quarter. His supporters are insane courageously enthusiastic, and he seems to be showing strength among some groups that you wouldn’t expect – progressives, younger voters, etc.

And of course, he’s left the rest of the pack for dead in the highly scientific S&R reader poll, where at the moment of this writing he has over twice as many votes as the rest of the GOP candidates put together (unless you count “other”).

Election watchers in both parties are trying to better understand Paul’s appeal and what it means for their candidates’ chances. Continue reading All I want for Christmas is for Democrats to stop making Ron Paul look good

There is no opposition party in Washington

In describing the Democratic response to Bush’s sabre-rattling toward Iran, Power of Narrative’s Arthur Silber summed things up neatly:

They don’t object because — they don’t object.

The only thing wrong with Silber’s assessment is that it was limited to Iran. In truth, you could just as easily use those seven succinct words to characterize the Democratic Party in general. Time and time again, on critical issue after critical issue, the Democrats fall in line with their Republican leaders and do what they’re asked. They do the will of the GOP instead of the will of the people. They act in the interests of the nation’s narrow power elite instead of in the public interest. They follow instead of leading. And they do so because – they don’t object.

Some examples illustrate the point.

The sorry state of skepticism in St. Louis

A colleague has notified me that I’m under indictment by a previously unknown blog calling itself the St. Louis Skeptical Society, a site that “was founded on October 11, 2007 by a handful of physics graduate students in order to promote skepticism and science.” These enterprising students have taken exception to my earlier thoughts on democracy in America, concluding that it’s “sloppy and unsupported,” among other things.

Let me begin my humble defense by stating that I categorically share this organization’s stated goals – America could do with a great deal more skepticism and commitment to science (a point that I think is more than evident from my recent writings). However, as I think will shortly become clear, I’m not uniformly impressed with their analysis, tactics, or attention to nuance.

Forgive me if my points are a bit disorganized, but I’m going to take these as they occur to me.

1: I wish my judges were less anonymous. Continue reading The sorry state of skepticism in St. Louis

Real heroes refuse to shut up and sing

A few weeks ago I watched The US vs. John Lennon, a documentary chronicling the extraordinary lengths the American government went to in order to silence an artist who had the audacity to speak out against corruption and injustice. Of course, Lennon came from an age when artists did that sort of thing, and he wasn’t the only musician to get on the nerves of the authorities during the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. I imagine the FBI had a file on folks like Bob Dylan, too.

But we don’t live that world anymore, do we? These days the pressure to shut up and sing is greater than ever, and those who benefit most from our silence have engineered newer and more effective means for muzzling the consciences of those whose voices can actually be heard above the deafening white noise.

Last night my wife and I watched Shut Up and Sing, another documentary about an artist who had the temerity to speak the truth. Continue reading Real heroes refuse to shut up and sing

Are Americans smart enough to vote?

I recently offended some people, quite unintentionally, with my modest suggestion that perhaps it wasn’t in the best interests of the nation to hand over so much decision-making power to people who aren’t informed about the issues and their own system of government. (Responses ranged from “thoughtful disagreement” to what I believe is referred to as a “galloping hissy fit.”) Honestly, I was a bit shocked by the reaction – when I penned those remarks it hardly occurred to me that I was saying something controversial. On the other hand, it seemed to me that I was merely stating common sense.

Since that post I’ve been ruminating about the assumption embedded in the premise – that a goodly number of Americans aren’t intelligent enough to be safely entrusted with the vote. In order to bring a little more depth to this debate I thought I’d do some research to discover whether or not the nation’s citizens are under-informed, and if so, to what degree. Continue reading Are Americans smart enough to vote?

The problem with democracy in America…

In my most recent post, one commenter repeatedly insisted that I offer a solution or an alternative for the problems I was pointing to. As I noted there, I never suggested that there was a problem, and even if there were, it’s hardly my job to be proposing a lot of solutions that aren’t going to be acted on. If you believe there’s the slightest plausibility of change wafting in the wind, you haven’t taken a good look at the likely presidential contenders in your two major parties.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that I think America’s current condition constitutes a “problem” and that I’m tasked with offering a solution. I would begin with one critical observation about your system of governance: The problem with democracy in America is that too many people are allowed to participate. Continue reading The problem with democracy in America…

Democracy: the cleverest tool for oppression in the history of the world

Thomas Jefferson’s legacy is much admired in the US and beyond, and for good reason. Without his contributions it’s hard to imagine how the American system of “democracy” would have evolved.

I’ve always admired him a great deal, too, although for somewhat different reasons than most. Yes, he was critical to the development of democracy, but what was so brilliant about this is that democracy is arguably the cleverest tool for the oppression of the masses ever devised.

This assertion no doubt comes as something of a shock to The Average American, who tends to get all sniffly about the majesty of his “freedoms” every 4th of July as he sits in his local park watching pretty explosions in the sky and listening to the facile, self-deluded patriotism of Lee Greenwood yowling from the PA. Continue reading Democracy: the cleverest tool for oppression in the history of the world