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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Federal Gov Spending....

It's always a given that the government is spending too much. However, is Bush the all time biggest spender?

As of the latest GDP report the federal government is spending about 20.40% GDP. Up until 1980, this would have been considered an extradordinary amount. However, the Reagan Revolution ratcheded up spending to as high as 23.46%. Much of this was spending on the military, as military spending reached 6.0% of GDP in 1983. If military spending would have been 3%, federal spending would have been about 20.5% of GDP in 1983

In 1993 when Clinton took office, spending was in the mid to upper 22% range. However, in 1993 we were also still spending 4.4% GDP on the military. In 1998, spending decreased to 19% GDP, however, defense spending decreased as well to a low 3.0%. If military spending would have remained at 4.4% in 1998, federal spending would have been about 20.5% of GDP. Today, we have ratcheded military spending up to about $500 billion, which includes $80 billion for Iraq. That is roughly 3.9% GDP. If we were spending only 3.0% on military spending in 2006, total federal spending would be about 19.5% of GDP... or where it was during the late 1990s.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

So what I hear you say is that spending was way, way too high in the eighties, way too high in the nineties, and way, way too high now.

When is the last time spending was closer to 10% GDP?

7:50 AM, April 30, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

You would probably have to go back to pre-income tax days.

During the 1950s, spending was between 15-18%.

1:49 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Spending was about 10% of GDP in 1930. It rose and hovered around 15% during the thirties (but consider what the GDP was during the depression), shot up during WWII and never recovered.

6:18 PM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Whoops -- that was way off. 10% was TOTAL government spending as %age of GDP. Federal spending was about 2.5% in 1930. Federal spending didn't hit 10% until 1941.

6:42 PM, May 01, 2006  

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Ode to SSC is Odious

The recent First Things magazine has an interesting symposium on Theology as Knowledge. Since the Chairman and the Secretary appear to take the side that Theology is not Knowledge, it may be interesting to touch on one theme in the articles written for the symposium:

Modern secular university education, initiated in 19th Century German university reforms, relegates theology to the sidelines. Science and the social sciences are pushed to the fore. Theology is not knowledge. To the modern scientist or "social" scientitst, theology is merely faith or explanation of the irrational -- so theology has no primary role in the modern university or the modern education.

I believe that modern education can be fairly criticized for this point -- but that is not the purpose of this post. For my own part, I am sure that I don't want theology taught in the public universities of our day; but I am equally sure that theology is knowlege -- which brings to my point.

I think the JAS should welcome theological discussion because it can help explain issues and in some cases answer questions or raise issues -- at the very least I suspect most members would agree that different theological perspectives can be helpful.

For example, in my Intelligent Design speech which apparently led to the Chairman's "Ode to SSC", my principal point regarding Evangelical Protestantism on this issue was that Catholic and Orthodox Christians may agree with Intelligent Design but because of their balanced theological perspective, the issue is not prioritized very highly. On the other hand, certain Evangelical Protestants without this balanced theological perspective have prioritized the issue too highly. Basically, proving Creationism scientifically is important to certain Evangelical Protestants and not to Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

My debating point was that a lot of Christians don't believe that Intelligent Design is worth spending a lot of political capital on. Obviously, my theological statements offered lots of food for thought -- but I was debating the resolution, not trying to resolve the world's problems.

I recall that in a question to a pro-ID apparent Biblical literalist, I asked something like, "What would the gentleman prefer taught in the public schools: evolution, intelligent design or the History of the People of God as stated in Genesis?" The gentlement preferred intelligent design. I laughed because I figured he would choose the History of the People of God taught literally. Of course, if I was given a choice of the three, I would prefer Genesis taught allegorically.

So, in the end, I believe that my knowledge of theology is knowledge and is useful at times in making speeches, debating points and in asking questions.

For these reasons, I think the "Ode to SSC" written by the Chairman is odious, an obvious step in the wrong direction and probably unintentional political correctness.

P.S. For those who think I lack humor about this matter, I dissent. I think the "Ode to SSC" would be funny if it weren't slanderous based on the facts stated above. Lastly, I surely would not have written this post except the Chairman and the Secretary published the "Ode to SSC" on the Internet for the public to read.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

I agree with ssc. The Ode was odious, both in the general and the specific.

In the general since it is the nature of such ditties to be the product of mischievous minds with, quite unlike ssc, too much time on their hands.

In the specific, I feel akin to a member of the Antient and Honorable King David Society (Jerusalem, circa 25 AD) who feels compelled to make light of the fact that a certain member, John, seems to weave "what's really important is that we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord" into every speech, no matter how seemingly unrelated. Those who make light of John have the advantage of the fact that John really does have a remarkable ability to make this point regardless of the topic. John, on the other hand, has the advantage of being, um, well, correct.

Thus I strongly suspect that those making light of John's tendencies came to regret their comments. But I also strongly hope and suspect that their loving Father, after proper chastisement, forgave them, and I likewise hope that He, and ssc, does likewise with me.

8:59 PM, April 29, 2006  

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Monday, April 24, 2006

More McCarthy

Despite all the gross behavior by Democrats in the last few years, the Mary McCarthy story is the worst yet. This story needs to be constantly repeated over and over by Republicans until she is prosecuted and the rest of her cabal is rooted out of the government. The fact that Democrat moles in the CIA are leaking classified information that they in their own mind believe should be leaked for the common good is despicable. No single earthly individual has the right to decide what is morally right or wrong, especially those who take an oath not to. These Democrats in the CIA and elsewhere in the government hate Bush so much that they believe in their own mind it is worth throwing over all the cannons rather than risk Bush winning a victory. It is pure insanity and should be a reminder to anyone who is currently upset with the Republican party over some pet issue as to why they still need to get out and vote Republican.

Powerline is doing a great job in covering the case.

Suspicious Lineup

The Duke LaCrosse player's case has some interesting factoids, especially how the alleged victim was able to identify the now named defendants:
Part of the photo line-up process, experts say, includes fillers -- pictures of people unrelated to the case who look like the suspect. "They, the police, only showed the woman just pictures of the lacrosse players," said defense attorney Joe Cheshire. "It's so constitutionally suspect it's extraordinary."

Durham police would not comment on the line-up because it is part of the ongoing investigation, but legal experts with the North Carolina Commission on Actual Innocence say if line-ups are biased, a judge will likely throw them out in court. "The Supreme Court has said if a lineup is unduly suggestive it must be excluded from evidence," said Chris Mumma, executive director of the commission, which sets state standards for line-ups.

"If someone said, 'The person who attacked me was on a football team,' and they only showed me pictures of people on the football team, I'm likely to pick someone on the football team," he said.


No kidding!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A crook has been uncovered at the CIA.

The Central Intelligence Agency has dismissed a senior career officer for disclosing classified information to reporters, including material for Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in The Washington Post about the agency's secret overseas prisons for terror suspects, intelligence officials said Friday. The C.I.A. would not identify the officer, but several government officials said it was Mary O. McCarthy, a veteran intelligence analyst who until 2001 was senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, where she served under President Bill Clinton.


This tells it all:

Public records show that Ms. McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of John Kerry.

What government employee has $2000 to contribute to a political campaign. She must REALLY be a supporter.

What a joke. I guarantee all her democratic friends will run for the hills. I hope she rots in prison.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Her Democrat friends will probably scream she is being persecuted in a political witch hunt, and that what she did was patriotic because it revealed the terrible things the Bush administration is doing. They might throw in sexism too. Some few might say she was over zealous. But very brave.

9:22 AM, April 22, 2006  

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Iran wants to fight

Iran lost nealry 750,000 troops in its 8 year war with Iraq. Yet, the same mullah regime is in power today. Are we really able to face an enemy like this. Do we have the will?

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Yes, we are able, no, we do not have the will We hardly have the will to complete what we have already started.

6:07 PM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

We have been at war with Iran since 1979. They've been acting like it. We haven't.

3:14 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Absolutely correct Pencil. What more demonstration of lack of will do we need than a one sided war?

5:10 PM, April 19, 2006  

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Proper response

Today a 21 year old suicide bomber blew himself up in Tel Aviv, killing, at last count nine people. Question: When the government of a neighboring country sends a suicide bomber into your country as part of its foreign policy, what is the proper response when the bomber is successful?

This is an act of war. It seems to me that Israel is morally justified retaliating ferociously. I simply cannot see why it is either morally wrong or strategically unwise for Israel to simply start shelling the "territories", especially the neighborhood where this man was from. They need to set up an incentive mechanism. You send a suicide bomber, we shell where he came from for 24 hours. If artillery can't reach that area, we send in the jets and helicopters.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

And the next time a Mexican Army unit crosses into the U.S. it too should be shelled. And its base as well.

9:37 PM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Israel needs to allow Hamas to fail on its own. The more Hamas begins to fail at governing, the more they will step up the attacks hoping that Israel will attack them to mask these failings. If Hamas goes down on its own, that will be a great ictory.

I agree, Israel should retaliate. However, unless they are willing to go all the way (put the Palestiniant population to the sword), a better strategic decision may be to allow Hamas to become unpopular.

8:39 AM, April 18, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

If the radicals are able to get away with killing Israelis without big time retaliation, then Hamas has not failed at governing. They have achieved what the average Palestinian wants, regardless of whether the trash gets picked up. The Palestinian people have chosen. To paraphrase Golda Mier, they hate Israeli children more than they love their own.

One of the few good things Jimmy Carter did was implement a simple incentive scheme for authoritarian governments we supported. His adminstration simply estimated every year the number of political executions and subtracted $100,000 per killing from our aid to that country. This drove the generals in those countries nuts, but it worked. They saw a price for each killing, and they greatly reduced them.

So Israel does not need to limit its choices to annihilating the Palestinians and doing nothing. It simply needs to give them a choice.

Like I said, each suicide bombing is returned with X number of shells.

8:51 AM, April 18, 2006  

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Great Debate

I don't have much to say about the debate caucus on Wednesday night, other than I thoroughly enjoyed it and was glad to see so many new faces and returning old faces.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

You should post the Ode to the SSC.

7:12 AM, April 15, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Not sure how to top reading the minutes in rhyme,
I think I'll do this debate's version in mime.

6:49 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Or ASCII. Or Braille. Or Haiku.

8:43 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Resolved: It's my life.
I will die if I want to.
Motion read. It failed.

8:52 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Well, if this doesn't prove who is the bigger geek of the blog. I was NOT thinking Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME). No. I was talking of those annoying goofballs wearing black and white, unable to speak intellibibly, or at all for that matter. Not that I wouldn't like to be the bigger geek, but Festivus clearly has me beat.

(But, how about hexadecimal, or minutes via X-Modem?)

As to Pencil's comment, I vote to give him back the Secretary's seat. Now, if only his speeches were that short.

8:59 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

My apologies, Pencil. Brilliant Haiku. I just never really "got" Haiku. I've learned about it. I know what it is. But it's a shortcoming of mine that I just don't appreciate it. But as Haiku goes, that's excellent Haiku. (Bless you.)

9:27 PM, April 16, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

It must be fun for one to write everything in rhyme, but it gets to be a bore when you do it all the time.

9:48 AM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Guilty as charged.

4:11 PM, April 17, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

By the way, I still want to know what the appropriate punishment is for attempted suicide. And, most especially, for successful suicide.

9:47 PM, April 17, 2006  

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dishonest or Stupid. Take your pick.

Over at The Corner John Derbyshire posts the following regarding cliches spouted by the pro-illegals side.

--"They're just coming here for a better life." Well, that's also the reason people rob banks. If you rob a bank and get away with it, you'll have a MUCH better life than you had before. Should we legalize bank robbery?


This is a point about the logic of the argument "If people do X for a better life, X should be legal." Derbyshire points out that this is silly. If "If people do X for a better life, X should be legal " is valid, then since bank robbers rob banks for a better life, bank robbery should be legal. Since bank robbery should obviously not be legal, the statement "If people do X for a better life, X should be legal" is false. QED.

This is met with the following response by John Miller

Derb: Surely you can't really believe that crossing the border to get a job, albeit against the laws of the United States, is the moral equivalent of robbing a bank. Would you rather live next door to a family of illegal aliens or a gang of bank robbers?
I find this type of response both common and infuriating. Miller is being simply amazingly stupid or dishonest. Pro-homosexual activists do the same tactic. They say "Sex acts between consenting adults should be legal." You respond "If that were true, then it should be legal for adult siblings to have sex." They respond "Now you're saying homosexuality is the same as incest!" No. No. No. The statement "If that were true, then it should be legal for adult siblings to have sex" is a statement about the validity of the statement "Sex acts between consenting adults should be legal." Nothing else.

There are good words for people who are incapable of using logic (idiots) and those who are capable but purposefully mischaracterize their opponents arguments (liars).


Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Build the fence!

1:00 PM, April 11, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

We can hire Mexicans to build the fence, so it shouldn't put much of a dent in the budget. They just have to build it from their side of the Border.

1:08 PM, April 11, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Miller should know better. He's not a stupid man. Maybe he'll show up at the debate tomorrow and use that logic, and we can heckle him out of the room.

1:11 PM, April 11, 2006  

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Don't Do This

Border Guardian member Russ Dove burns a Mexican flag -->

(From FoxNews.com)

What, exactly, is this rube attempting to accomplish beyond proving his intellectual shortcomings?

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

A new ideas is coming forth regarding conservatives and the immigration issue. That is to 1) build the fence now, and 2) worry about the immigrants who are already here after we build the fence.

I think that is a good compromise, one that all conservatives and republicans should support.

9:41 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger festivus said...

Just had this conversation with a neighbor over a couple of brews. Enforcement first. It's the thing that we ought to all agree on, and I believe that many more people would be willing to come to an agreement on what to do with illegals already here if we were absolutely confident that we would not have to address the issue again in 20 years.

11:39 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

This may have been stupid, but you know, I bet it felt REALLY good.

8:30 AM, April 13, 2006  

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Good Companies, Evil Cookies


As occasionally happens, I needed a quick translation of a foreign phrase this morning and pulled up the first translation service off the search engine, pasted in my phrase and was done with it. Or so I thought. A few minutes ago I received an email urging me to Learn a Foreign Language in Ten Days.

I am downright diligent about deleting unwanted cookies and other spyware, running my Spybot program a couple of times a day. And my firewall is made of steel. I think. But apparently I’m just not as good as the cookie monsters. It must be that I have a weakness for the conveniences of some cookies, that I dislike having to log in everywhere day after day.

But being cheap and easy with your cookies can lead to bigger issues than some occasional junk email which may easily be filtered. The May issue of Smart Money (which I received sometime in March) describes major sites, including Dell and Amazon, as offering different prices to consumers based on their surfing habits. And there’s no way for you to know if you’re getting the best deal unless you clear your cookie files and try again. And again with new and different cookies.

For a quick example, scroll down on this very page to see what Amazon is offering you here. Pencil reported that he was being peddled the little whore dolls, as his surfing behavior indicated that young females were present in his household. My firewall won't permit me to view the Amazon ad (what does that tell you?) but by briefly disabling my fierce defender, I can be sold a SanDisk SDSDB-1024-A10 1 GB Secure Digital Card for $38.99, though, Amazon warns, "Prices may change."

I have long thought that the internet was the answer to perfect information for perfect capitalism. But is it?

(As an aside, if you mistakenly subscribe to Money, a publication of CNN, thinking it couldn’t possibly have a bent, or if it did, that it was surely toward fiscal conservatism, switch to Smart Money, a publication of the WSJ, immediately.)

Blogger festivus said...

Scribbler, I'm not an expert on this, but I'm probably more well versed than 95% of the general public. Cookies are items placed by one site that can ONLY be read (barring a major security hole in your browser) by the site that put them there.

For a site to store your email address in a cookie, it has to first know about it, and generally the only way for it to know about it is for you to give it to them, which I suspect you did not.

Again, one site (like your translation site) cannot read cookies or information that you don't give them, so I suspect this is a weird coincidence.

That said, a single site [OR ads generated by a single site that appear on another site] can (and should) track what you do on that site and present you with things that match your buying habits. For instance, I generally get presented with computer and history books and jazz CDs on on Amazon ads, because I buy a number of them. They know I buy that stuff, and THEIR ads know it's me and give me customized information. If I go to, say Books-a-Million, they cannot read Amazon's cookies and tell me what I bought there.

Additionally, a smart site won't actually store information about your preferences on your computer. Instead, it stores an identifier unique to you that allows them to look it up on the big servers they have, and those servers customize the web pages you're presented with. In this case, even if Books-a-Million was able to access the Amazon cookies, they can't do much with something like {5FF91D84-1B63-47f3-AB22-E2C77024FBCC} unless they also hacked into Amazon's back end servers, a very unlikely possibility.

Bottom line: there's a lot of misinformation about cookies, and they aren't too dangerous. In fact, without them, your browsing experience would be far less enjoyable.

4:26 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:23 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

There are a number of all-purpose tracking cookies such as hitbox, adtracker, I don't recall all the names. I don't know what deals they all cut behind the scenes, but tracking cookies specifically monitor what sites a user visits and makes that data available for targeting purposes.

I did wonder how a language outfit could have gotten my email, but realized I have a passport cookie, and my email address is right there in text. Rethinking it, however, I believe you're right, Festivus, that with my firewall, an unathorized guest shouldn't be able to access that cookie.

But many different sites can and share cookies, such as the aforementioned hitbox and other spyware.

I'll re-read the Smart Money article to see if they say how exactly Dell does it.

I agree that cookies are great in many ways. I don't have to retype my location every time I want to check the weather. But there are also bad cookies out there, and running something like Spybot is warranted.

6:28 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

From PCWorld.com:

"Cookie Central, a clearinghouse for cookie information, states that some Web advertising companies, including FocaLink and DoubleClick, surreptitiously set cookies that report back directly to them and keep track of your cookies with a database. By cross-referencing various cookies they have on you, they can profile your interests, spending habits, and lifestyle to target-market products to you. And as Net advertising companies grow and buy out related firms--as DoubleClick recently did with direct-marketing agency Abacus Direct--more people are growing concerned about how information gathered through cookies will be used. Using data Abacus may have on you, such as your name and address, DoubleClick could use its cookies, which contain a record of your surfing habits, to create a profile of your activities."

8:48 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Get a Mac. Get a Mac. Get a Mac.

I have never had a virus. Theoretically, Macs could get virus, but they just don't. A big, but overblown, deal is that hackers don't want to write MacOS viruses because of the smaller base of users. But the operating system also has fewer holes for the hackers to exploit.

I have never run an adware or spyware checker before tonight. I surf all the time. I just did a scan for adware, spyware. None. Zip. Nada.

Get a mac.

9:22 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Because no one bothers writing viruses for Macs. ROTFLMAO. Actually, Macs have improved immensely since I bought my last one 10 years or more ago. And you can now run Win XP in addition to the Mac OS. But why pay more to get the same specs or less than you can get with a PC? No, I was a devout, though private, Machead for 6 years maybe, in the early 90's. Then I grew up. Sigh.

I can handle the viruses. It's the cookies that you have to pick through, because, as Festivus points out, the vast majority ARE good. You can't surf effectively without cookies. Are you sure the adware scan you ran was configured for a Mac?

9:43 PM, April 10, 2006  

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Global Cooling!

Via Drudge:

More debunking of the greatest fraud committed by man on man of the idustrial age: That humans are causing global warming.
for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero)....In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming.

Read it here.

Why we must continue to fight

France is headed for the trash heap. Chirac has given up on the reforms to labor laws that would have made it easier for companies to fire young workers. I'm not completely familiar with their current law, but my understanding is that it is so onerous that French companies minimize new hiring, leading to high rates of unemployment. The failure of these reforms must be considered a huge victory for the socialists and unions, if I can be redundant, and a major blow for any thought that France will recover from attempts to step back from the chasm.

This is but more proof that we in the United States must be constantly vigilant against any changes that lead us down the slipperly slope to socialism, but I fear that we simply don't have the stomach for it. Like any new intrusion by government into our private affairs, they all start out sounding good. "Universal Health Care" - now there's something that's easy to like. Yet once implemented, like all other intrusions, it will be virtually impossible to get rid of if, as expected, it turns out to be a boondoggle. There are many other examples, including the medicare drug program and social security.

We're on the road to being like France, my friends. I only pray that we can learn from the situation in France before it's too late.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I agree. However, you have people in the conservative movement who are so pissed at Bush about Iraq or maybe Immigration that they are willing to give up to dogmatic principles rather than continue to fight the real battle.

These critics believe Republicans are fat because they are not getting their pet projects.... Perhaps we should be less cynical and realize that we need to keep our majority keep the Democrats from instituting stuff like single payor health care.

11:11 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:18 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

If fighting Universal Health Care is being dogmatic, then call me a dog.

12:52 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Okay Dog. Or should I call you straw-man? or straw-dog?

1:01 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Hey, at least I'm not a Red Herring. Or a fat Republican. Well, not fat like that Newt picture a month or so ago.

1:58 PM, April 10, 2006  

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Society Lecture
Associate Justice Barry Anderson



April 12, 2006, 7:30 p.m.

Christopher Phelan, Chairman
Marianne Stebbins Beck, Secretary
Larry Colson, Chief Whip
Roger Belfay, Chancellor

The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society extends an invitation to a Society Lecture featuring the Honorable Barry Anderson, Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

G. Barry Anderson is a 1976 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN and a 1979 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. He was a member of the Minnesota Court of Appeals from August l998 until his appointment to the Supreme Court. He was sworn in and joined the Court on October 13, 2004.

The Lecture will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2006, half past seven, at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, in Saint Paul. The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o'clock p.m.

Following the lecture will be the regular debate caucus, to begin at eight o’clock. Questions about this event or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at (612) 204-5615 or the Secretary at (952) 470-8090.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Debate April 12
It’s My Life and I’ll Die If I Want To

Christopher Phelan, Chairman
Marianne Stebbins Beck, Secretary
Larry Colson, Chief Whip
Roger Belfay, Chancellor

APRIL 2006

“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.”
— Plato quoting Socrates


IN A FREE SOCIETY, no one should wield more control over a person’s body, life and decisions than that person, to the extent that those decisions do not adversely impact another being. Does the State have an interest if an autonomous individual decides to opt out of life? Is a portion of the tax base lost? Not likely. In terminal cases at least, the government may be freed of a financial burden. In our “socialist-lite” system, this may also be true of the chronically depressed, who may be less likely to stay employed or be productive Citizens, often relying on society for their basic needs.

For those who are irretrievably on their journey to death, is it humane to withhold food and water for the purpose of allowing death to occur naturally? This is the only legal recourse for the desperate terminally ill patients who no longer wish to live with their suffering. That many of these patients plead with their doctors to violate the law by less than overt methods leaves physicians in a hard place between compassion and the law.

ON THE OTHER HAND, any intentional cessation of life is a step down a slippery slope. Physician-assisted suicide by those who have sworn to “do no harm” is an ethical demise. Furthermore, once the subject of termination may legally request euthanasia, it is inevitable that relatives, powers of attorney, and others who may stand to gain financially, would soon have the same authority. Besides, since when have we had complete control over our bodies and lives? Seat belt and helmet laws, drug restrictions and regulations over consensual behaviors are very popular in our “free” society.

The chairman, having given up death for Lent, has called for a debate to settle the question:

RESOLVED: It’s My Life and I’ll Die If I Want To.

The Debate will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2006 at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, in Saint Paul. The Chancellor will preside over drinks beginning at seven o'clock p.m. The debate will begin at eight o’clock, following a Society Lecture by Justice Barry Anderson at seven thirty. While there is no dress code for attendance, gentlemen who wish to speak must wear a tie; ladies should adhere to a similar sartorial standard. For those gentlemen who arrive tieless yet wish to speak, fret not: the Purveyor of Ties will keep on hand at least one of his quite remarkable ties for just such an eventuality. Questions about debate caucus procedures or about the John Adams Society itself may be directed to the Chairman at (612) 204-5615 or the Secretary at (952) 470-8090.

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Am I the only one to notice we have just one lawyer on the Masthead this term? And only one to two Catholics (is the Chancellor, well, you know, one of THEM)? My, how we've evolved.

3:36 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I don't think any of the masthead officers are lawyers.

A travesty!

10:21 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

And no Captains either! A double travesty!

11:18 PM, April 08, 2006  

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Alesia


Julius Caesar is well known in history as the man who helped bring about the end of the Roman Republic and was then killed in the most famous assassination in history. However, it is often overlooked that Caesar was also one the greatest Captains in history.

His most significant military achievement was achieved at Alesia where Vercingetorix, Gaul's greatest military leader who had recently united most of Gaul against Rome, had holed himself up in the fortress with 80,000 men. Caesar laid siege to Alesia by enclosing the fortress with a wall, and then building another wall to keep out any relief force. Some of Caesar's defenses were novel, including an ancient version of the mine. When the relief force came, it was more than 200,000 strong. Caesar, through raw leadership and the discipline of the Roman Legion, managed to beat both the relief force and Vercingetorix, destroying liberty for the Gauls for all time.

Read more about it here.

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

And he invented a really good salad dressing!

7:37 AM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

I think it was the salad he invented. You don't order a salad with Caesar dressing; you order a Caesar salad. And then he came up with the Orange Julius. S'aurus is right: he was quite the guy, a vintage Thomas Edison, if you will.

3:31 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

And, he was a preventive strike Neo-Con who saw that keeping the fight away from the heartland of Rome was in the National interest. Kept the barbarians on their own turf.

11:25 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

The Gauls were the arch enemies of the Romans since 390 BC when they sacked Rome... The Galllic general was heard to have said "Woe to the Vanquished."

Caesar put an end to this threat for all time.

1:04 AM, April 09, 2006  

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Meaning of Patriotism

I saw somewhere on the net today someone comment that voting in the Wisconsin pull out the troops referendum was the most patriotic thing an American can do. Well… it is quite a stretch to call voting patriotic. In fact, the statement is idiotic. Nevertheless, it begs the question of what does it mean to be patriotic or unpatriotic.

Patriotism is defined in the dictionary as “love and devotion to ones country.” However, this does not tell the whole story. I would define patriotism as putting country before self. In this sense, patriotism does not always equate to what is right or even what is noble. For example, while I would not refer to the Confederate rebels as fighting for a noble cause, they were certainly patriots. Similarly, if a German citizen in the Third Reich attempted to undermine the war effort at home, he would not be patriotic even if his cause was moral and just.

This leads us to Iraq and patriotism. The Iraq war was not just a cause advocated and begun by President Bush. It was a cause supported by 3/4s of Congress and supported by a majority of the nation. As such, the cause is war in Iraq and victory. Any attempt to undermine the cause is unpatriotic because it puts the self ahead of the nation (which includes speaking falsely about the effort). In this case, the self is advocating an alternative policy which did not prevail when the determination was made to invade Iraq. Of course arguing for an alternative policy or to end the current cause is not unpatriotic, because it is not an attempt to undermine the cause - it is merely a debate about what to do. Thus, the policies promoted by Rep. Murtha to pull out are not necessarily unpatriotic. However, Rep Murtha is unpatriotic in his use of false statements used to promote his policy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Relativity

As I said in my post below spending has increased relative to the late 1990s, but has declined relative to 1994.

This USA Today article makes the same point about the late 1990s:

The federal government is currently spending 20.8 cents of every $1 the
economy generates, up from 18.5 cents in 2001, White House budget documents show. That's the most rapid growth during one administration since Franklin Roosevelt.

The problem with this post is that it uses "the low point" to make an argument. Granted you can fool some investors in arguing that a stock has increased 100% in the past year by citing the high vs the low, but most know that its almost impossible to buy into the all time lows and sell at the all time highs.

The low point in 2000-2001 was at the top of the business cycle. It ignores the fact that we also went into recession in 2001, and that there was a ridiculous and unsustainable boom year in 2000. Further, this increased spending should be compared to other periods. For example, in 1994 we were spending 21.75%. In the 1980s we were up near 23%. Further, to be fair with our comparisons, the spending increase that occurred under Roosevelt went up more than 500% from 1941-1944.

While I agree with the author's point that spending is too high, the media should at least deliver the facts in a fair and reasoned manner. (maybe on another planet!)

UPDATE: I revisted this and tried to replicate USA Today's claim that spending in 2001 was 18.5%. I am coming up with about 19.3% as of 1/1/2001. I use GDP = $10.025 trillion and expenditures = $2.001 trillion using data from the Federal Reserve. I have spending at 20.47% as of October 2005. Hmmm....

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Campaign Contributions

Click here to look up your friends and neighbors (end enemies) campaign contributions since 1980. If that is not enough, find out your neighbor's property tax our home price in Hennepin County, Washington County, or Scott County.

Isn't it great to share!

Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Property taxes are a sore point with me at the moment. They jacked up my TAXABLE value by $50k from 2006 to 2007. These insidious, non-voter-approved tax hikes are maddening, I tell you. Have any of my fellow bloggers had any luck fighting a property tax increase? Any words of wisdom from the SSC, perhaps, on fighting city hall?

6:49 AM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:49 AM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

And just to be fair, Ramsey County property tax info may be found here.

7:53 AM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

Property tax info
Allows us to see
What our fellow bloggers
Pay on their property

But, of course, Harsh Pencil,
With the lovely Mrs McCabe,
Have twenty-three kids,
Not all of them named Dave.
So I'm sure they found it
Quite necessary.
To find for themselves
A large dormitory.

Now there's another tale on which
With Seuss I'd like to spar.
His bashing of Irish Catholics
Has gone a little too far.

8:50 AM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger Air Marshall said...

Aw, this is only Federal contributions and they don't even get mine right.

10:51 AM, April 03, 2006  

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Dean Johnson Told the Truth

After much thought, I believe Dean Johnson told the truth about talking to the Supreme Court justices -- but embellished the conversations. Where that leaves things I don't know?

Blogger festivus said...

I tend to agree with you, but I wonder if conversations like this are the exception rather than the rule. The more important question to me is "should we care" (I think we should) and if so, why aren't more people outraged?

10:48 PM, April 02, 2006  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

The fact that Johnson recounted a specific converstation with one of the Justices tends to support the idea that some conversations took place.

At the very least Johnson should step down as party leader. How disgusting.

11:02 PM, April 02, 2006  

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Republicans on the Rocks?

I keep reading news reports saying that Republicans are imploding over all the terrible things going on in the country and that they are set to lose the House, the Senate etc., unless things get a whole lot better.

Well, how exactly would things get a whole lot better? and relative to what? I keep hearing that the Republican Congress spends like a bunch of drunken sailors. However, if you compare today to 1994, government spending is down to 20.4% of GDP from 21.75% in 1994. Is this progress? A 1.35% swing is not chump change, it is almost $200 billion per year.

Tax revenues as a percentage of GDP is also down to 18% today from roughly 18.5% in 1994.

We keep hearing about the public debt, yet the debt as a percentage to GDP in 1994 was 65%. Today it is only 62%.

It is certianly true that spending and the debt are up from lows reached in 1999 and 2000. However, the trend line from 1994 still remains down (and there was no war going on in 1994). We should be more positive about Republican accomplishments in the long term rather than just thinking in isolation. Lets not be so cynical.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

Bravo, Sloanasaurus, Bravo!

10:18 AM, April 02, 2006  

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