Saturday, September 18, 2004

Marshall v. Georgia

My beloved Marshall Thundering Herd are on the road again this week, teeing it up between the "hedges" of Sanford Stadium. The Herd is coming off of an encouraging, but disappointing loss at Ohio State, which followed on the heels of a shocking home opening loss to Troy. In retrospect, Troy is a much better team than most folks thought, and Marshall appears to be a little better than it displayed against Troy.

Although Marshall had opportunities to defeat Ohio St. last weekend at the 'Shoe, credit must be extended to OSU kicker Mike Nugent. Nugent's 55-yard FG as time expired had the distance for 65 yards. Tremendous kick, to say the least.

Marshall made adjustments from week 1 to week 2 -- if Marshall can make similar adjustments from week 2 to week 3, Marshall should provide another challenge to a BCS school. If Marshall is able to generate turnovers as it did against OSU, the Herd-Dawg game should be much closer than the +19 the Herd is getting in Athens.

The turf at Sanford may be soggy from the downpour the SE has received courtesy (or rudeness) of Ivan. My sympathies to the folks of the SE - the last eight weeks have been hellish.

I expect a close contest tomorrow. Hopefully, the Herd will pull out another impressive road win (to follow up last years landmark win at #6 Kansas State) and set the tone for the rest of the season.

Go HERD!!

Ryder Cup

The European team dominated the opening eight matches and have a comfortable 61/2 to 11/2 lead.

I do not expect Saturday to be any better. US Captain Hal Sutton has justifiably resorted to reshuffling the line-up to try to create better chemistry among the pairings. The Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods pairing generated zero points for Team USA. Mickelson has stirred a little controversy, albeit unintentionally, for switching equipment just two weeks ago, and then failing to participate in practice rounds and hob-knobbing with the fans. One has to wonder why Mickelson, in a year that was extraordinary -- Masters (W), US Open (2nd), British Open (3rd) and PGA Championship (T-6th) -- decided to change equipment. Phil, if it ain't broke, why are you trying to fix it?

Of course, Phil is not the first, and will not be the last, professional golfer to change equipment immediately after an extraordinary season. It seems like a rite of passage for golfers that elevate themselves to the next echelon. Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, and even Tiger Woods have changed some aspect of their equipment following break-through wins / seasons. Just wish Phil would have waited a few weeks to start experimenting.

Short of Hal Sutton whipping out a Knute Rockne-Gipper inspirational speech, I expect the US to trail at least 101/2 to 51/2. It is not inconceivable that Team Europe could sweep (or nearly sweep) the morning and afternoon sessions, thereby clinching at least a tie or outright win. If the US experiences another Friday on Saturday, Europe will need only one of twelve points on Sunday to win the cup. The possibility that Team USA could sweep the individual matches on Sunday is remote - akin to CBS admitting that Dan Rather is a forgery.

Hopefully, my pessimism is put to rest tomorrow - the US needs to close the gap and not have the pressure of having to win 10 matches on Sunday.

Go Team USA!!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Maverick Philosopher - One Man/One Vote

Very interesting and cogent assembly of the rationale for and against the principle of "one man, one vote". Highly recommended. Hat tip to Josh.

I have come to the realization that one-man, one-vote is likely the best we can do at this point, although one has to wonder about the viability of a basic literacy test (in lieu of an issues test recommended by Josh) to ensure a minimum level of education?

A "literacy" test probably conjures up thoughts of the "poll tax" used to discriminate against southern blacks at the voting booth, but which also effectively excluding poor whites as well.

Perhaps the US should switch to a "Survivor" method of choosing a president - put them all on a small boat in the Everglades - the one left standing gets the office. Of course, the alligators probably would resist eating or harming the politicians out of professional courtesy, so ultimately, there may be no single winner (*snickers*).

Wizbang - Term Coinage

As an intellectual property attorney (patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights), a coined term usually catches my eye, and sends the wheels in motion in for potential trademark protection.

Kevin at Whizbang has cannibalized NBC's self-described Summer Olympic coverage ("plausibly live") to describe CBS's pathetically lame explanation for Rathergate - "Plausibly Real". Better than "You're Fired" from the Donald.

Sadly accurate, but cleverly constructed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Frustrated With Democracy - Part II

My previous post attempted to analyze Josh's frustration with democracy, addressing the potential need for a "voting test" to set a minimum level of political competence among the electorate.

In theory, a "voting test" is desireable as an attempt to (a) increase the collective intelligence of the electorate, which should lead to voting results more reflective of the electorate's desire(s); and/or (b) minimize voter "round-ups" on election day, where votes are exchanged for booze or money.

However, the likelihood that a bureaucracy (agency) would have to be formed to implement and overseer the test and the price-tag that would accompany such an agency just does not seem desireable.

Furthermore, and something I neglected to touch on, is the "chilling effect" such a test would likely have. A voting test would be another impediment to voting for many people - and many people need a minimum level of inconvenience to excuse themselves from exercising their right to vote.

As desireable as an informed electorate might be, and a voting test to insure such a desire, bureaucratically and economically speaking, I have serious doubts that it can be done effectively and efficiently. I have little faith in the government to do much in an effective and/or efficient manner. That is probably why I'm politically conservative.

On to Josh's other thoughts:



One last response to Olen: "The form of the test may be as problematic as actually developing the governmental apparatus to implement the test." I agree, but developing the Constitution was also problematic. The difficulty of the task doesn't mean that it shouldn't be undertaken.

Josh, as usual, absolutely correct - I short armed that pass. The difficulty of the task, in isolation, does not require the application of the emergency brake on the project. To clarify, I think that the problems with formulating a test is that the agency charged with such a task would likely corkscrew itself into gridlock over the topics to include in the test. I have little faith that such an agency would be able to work toward a fair, non-partisan test. I'm not even sure that a "fair, non-partisan" test is attainable. However, blatant morbid curiosity would cause me to tune into the fist-to-cuffs that would fly as a result of such an attempt.

**********

As to Josh's other thoughts:


To me, the meat of the post is the part about aristocracy and what humans want from a government. I'm eager to see what anyone has to say about that.

and

Politics is the long process of the aristocracy reasserting itself. Say it like a mantra and let it sink in. Human beings are, by and large, the types of creatures that want an elite group to rule over them. Humans only "yearn to breath free" in certain specialized circumstances (such as a life lived under heavy oppression). Other than that, people want to be told what to do. If people are allowed to self-govern they will eventually set up their own artificial aristocracies (or perhaps theocracies). By 'aristocracy' I mean 'government by the citizens deemed best qualified to lead' (definition from Bartleby.com). Perhaps they will let scientists rule their lives, perhaps theologians, perhaps rhetoricians. Most likely, subgroups in the countries will choose different
aristocrats to follow.

So what does all this mean? It means that democracy is a doomed experiment. Democracy is contrary to human nature, so it will ultimately fail as most other political systems have. People say they want to rule their own destinies, but they really don't want to put in the time it takes to do so.

I think there is an interesting, and obvious, paradox in human nature that Josh has identified. I would interpret the paradox as the desire to have freedom defined by boundaries. Assuming this paradox is true / exists, how does a tribe / culture / society define the bounds of freedom? What person / group decides the bounds? What person / group enforces those bounds?

In one respect, it seems natural that an aristocracy results as a consequence of a common societal ethos. Assuming that the tribe / culture / society desires to function in an orderly manner, and conversely does not want to invite destruction upon itself, then it is somewhat predictable that those labeled as "best qualified" would be elevated to positions of leadership. On average, the best qualified should make the best decisions relative to the rest of the citizens, assuming those that are best qualified are relatively the most intelligent and most reasonable / logical. That doesn't necessarily follow that the best qualified will ultimately make the right / appropriate decisions - folks of all intelligence levels make poor decisions. But, those best qualified should be helpful in promoting the progress of the society it leads.

Once the group-wanting-self-government has decided upon its initial aristocracy, the next question is the permanence of the individual(s) that constitute the aristocracy, if that has not already been decided by constitution or other document (such as with the U.S.). By installing a permanent aristrocracy, the group would be inviting some form of authoritative / dictatorial rule, in which the people may progressively have power taken from them (through force or reticience, among other options). An alternative to a permanent aristrocracy is something akin to the US system, which may be accurately labeled an aristrocracy with a revolving door (of sorts). While many families have been part of the aristocratic class since the revolution, there have been other families that have entered and exited the aristocratic class over the past two centuries. Poverty does not have to be permanent in this society, thus the aristocratic club can have turnover. That seems to be the best alternative, where the aristocrats perpetually govern, but the face of the aristocrats are replaced periodically, though the replacement is never wholesale.

I suspect that my analysis is probably unsatisfactory or incomplete - admittedly, my "analysis" only tap dances around the issues, but it may be a good starting point for further sub-discussions at a later time.

Whether democracy is doomed or not is something I will have to explore in what I hope is the final installment (*acknowledges cheers of the pundits*).





Rathergate

CBS will issue a statement by EMAIL at noon purportedly addressing the allegedly forged memos (courtesy of Backcountry Conservative via Instapundit).

Rather has personally defended the "60 Minutes II" piece on several CBS Evening News broadcasts, and has been firmly castigated by the blogsphere for his lack of a defense. Rather's rather pathetic defenses have attempted to redirect the questions from the authenticity of the documents to whether anything from the documents can stick against Dubya. Unfortunately for The Dan, authenticity of a document is more than getting the "thumbs up" from the intern that just fetched your morning latte and the lack of authenticity trumps the necessity of anyone answering questions raised by suspicious documents.

The "email at high noon" approach is certainly interesting, as a stark contrast to the Texas Twit's two-stepping live action defense for the past week. Is Rather and his minions crawling back into the bat-cave in hopes that other news will eventually wipe this from our memory? Let's hope not, since Rather seems to have a checkered past with truthfulness.

For an excellent starting point in this sad, sorry episode, check out my brethern of the bar at Powerline.

UPDATE: Shockingly, as of 4:00pm (EST), I have yet to see a link to or a report of the "high noon" email that CBS claimed it would release today. I'm shocked that CBS didn't keep its word. And appalled.

Does anyone here the ticking of that blasted 60 Minutes watch?

UPDATE II: Polipundit writes that CBS has delayed the "high noon" email until "rush hour".

Although, according to this link from Polipundit, Rather would rather stick to his guns.

UPDATE III: More "shock" and "appall" from me - no wait - "shock and awe" - Tiffany's Black Eye failed to release the email at 5:00pm as promised. I've got my "eye" on CBS.

UPDATE IV: At approximately 6:50pm, Rather reported on the "60 Minutes II" piece as if he was completely detached from the reporting. Bill Hobbs has a nice phrase-by-phrase response to the money quote coming from CBS.

The CBS Evening News report went on to provide a short clip and tease of Marion Knox , who claims that the documents are false (that she did not type them), but that the information in the documents reflect Lt. Col. Killian's sentiments at the time.

The predictable spin should follow - means (falsifying documents) justify the ends (Bush lied!!).

Amazing.

UPDATE V: Watched "60 Minutes II" piece. Arg. According to Ms. Knox, documents are not authentic, but are accurate recreations of events and sentiments. According to The Dan, critics have not challenged the content of the documents (which of course leads to the conclusion that the "unchallenged" contents are true - ahem).

I have some thoughts on this, but I have to perform research to verify that I am approaching the thoughts in an accurate manner.



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Frustrated With Democracy - Part I

Josh - The Lazy Logician presents an interesting reaction to democracy, appropriately timed for an important presidential election cycle.

Unfortunately, this topic is so deep, I will probably have to address particulars one at a time.

I admit it. I'm frustrated with democracy. My frustration stems from those who pay no attention to the issues in elections, but rather they vote for their party or whomever some authority figure tells them to vote for....

Do I mean to suggest that certain people shouldn't be allowed to vote? YES. I think that anyone who wants to vote should be forced to take a test on the issues. If they cannot support their beliefs with reasonable premises they fail.


In an attempt to avoid writing a dissertation on a subject that I have only mild competence of, I am going to make a broad assumption - there is anarchy / chaos (no rule) and there is government (including highly organized and formalized systems down to tribal or communal rule). For purposes of this discussion, that seems to be a reasonable point to concede (and if not, I'm confident someone will rip me a new one). I further assume that government is preferred over anarchy.

Governmental rule is always frustrating, regardless of form or philosophy, formality or informality. In a monarchy or oligarchy, the people are frustrated by the subjugation of personal autonomy to the crown or the ruling class, and self-determination is largely absent. Historically, in a democracy, the people directly control many aspects of the government, but invite majority rule to hamstring the minority sentiment. In a representative democracy or republic, the people elect representatives to control much of the government, reducing (but not eliminating) the hamstringing of minority sentiment. These are but a few simplifications that superficially describes obvious problems of the forms noted.

The U.S. is technically a "constitutional representative republic", although "democracy" has lost its original definition and now creeps into the conversation when folks describe the U.S. governmental system. Under the U.S. system, a person has the right to vote provided: (a) the person reaches 18 years of age; (b) the person is not a convicted felon and (c) the person is still alive (Chicago, Eastern KY and WV excluded). OK - I'm only half-joking about (c). There is no longer a "test" at the booth that might exclude those lacking in education.

But, should there be a test?

I'm intentionally ignoring the Constitutional Law questions for now. As a person who borders on the edge of "professional student", I'm inclined to say "yes, there should be a test." B/c of my own personal inquisitiveness, I'm fairly well read and well informed. As such, I feel competent in discussing most of the issues and examining the platforms of the candidates (esp. the presidential candidates).

But what about other folks that (a) are not that interested in all the issues or (b) don't have the time or means to educate themselves to a level that I or others might be more comfortable with?

So, although the initial question may be whether to institute a voting test, IMO, the real question becomes (a) form and (b) the desire to create another layer of beauracracy in governement.

However, I choose to address the "real questions" in reverse order, the reasons which will become apparent.

By instituting a voting test, in this highly politicized culture, by default we will be left with at least the state government (if not the federal government) forming bi-partisan committees for: drafting the test, for examining the drafts that result, for determining testing sites /dates, for hiring administrators to proctor the tests, for determining the grading system, for determining who and how many graders, an appeals process for those that fail and wish to challenge the test on its face or as graded, developing a certification system for identifying voters that have and have not passed the test, and for structuring budgets and requesting appropriations, among other considerations.

Furthermore, such a test would invite the Constitutional scrutiny that I alluded to above, further clogging the courts with cases that will have to be expedited so as not to render the claimant's case moot.

In view of these considerations, the economic factors of building another beauracratic beast and the practicalities of such a system seem to weigh in favor of a "no" answer. Especially if you are a "small government" conservative.

As to form of such a test - how many and what types of questions, and what grading key?

For instance, one question could be about abortion. But, is it posed as "do you support the right to have an abortion? if so, why so? if not, why not?" Would an acceptable articulated position be "No. Abortion is murder, and murder is wrong."? From one perspective, that is a perfectly acceptable (arguably accurate) statement. Is that equal to an answer that elaborates the nuances of Roe v. Wade and its progeny?

Or, does the test avoid these types of issues in lieu of economic policy questions?

The form of the test may be as problematic as actually developing the governmental apparatus to implement the test.

To be cont'd....