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[P]
Does true Democracy require PM Questions?

By Pop Top in Op-Ed
Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:31:18 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Most of us who live in the good old US of A believe our nation to be a paragon of democracy. For the record, I do like living here. Yet I also believe we treat our Presidents (of both parties) rather too much like royalty.

I speculate that this may be in part because the US lacks a monarch or other icon to be the object of patriotic veneration. The iconography of the US President resonates well with the American people with Harrison Ford's role in Air Force One being but one example. Unlike the British Crown, which is essentially powerless within the British system of government, the US President wields tremendous political power while also serving as the living symbol of the United States of America.

With the Crown serving as the locus or symbol of British patriotism, questioning Blair may not be seen as unpatriotic in the same way that questioning Bush (especially during wartime) is seen as being fundamentally anti-American.

I submit that viewing the President as the symbol of all America is fundamentally undemocratic. THe President should not be viewed as a patriotic icon to be revered by the citizens of this country.

Thus, I believe that our democratic freedoms would be well served by implementing an American version of the the British practice of PM Questions or Question Time. I call for a K5 Roundtable on the merits and demerits of the practice known as PM Questions or Question Time.

 


At an official Parliament website, Question Time is described as follows:


Prime Minister's Question Time

Question time in the House of Commons is an important aspect of parliamentary control of Government, when issues and grievances are raised by MPs and information sought about the Government's plans. The Prime Minister now answers questions at the new time of 12 noon for half an hour every Wednesday when Parliament is sitting.

Prime Minister's question time usually starts with a routine question from an MP about the Prime Minister's engagements. Following the answer, the MP then raises a particular issue, often one of current political significance. The Leader of the Opposition then follows up on this or another topic. He and the Liberal Democrat leader are the only MPs allowed to come back with further questions. Exchanges may become heated, and this is often the spectacle presented on television.

One terrific description of the practice is found in this New Zealander's description of the process. A quote from this article:

At 12 noon Tony Blair comes into the House, equipped only with a red folder for help. He stands at the table and the first few questions are trifling, to do with his engagements. Then the Leader of the Opposition stands opposite and the battle begins. Blair must think quickly, speak fluently and forcefully, and not get caught.



Lest anyone think this is a partisan diatribe (Democrat versus Republican) please be assured I believe our President should face grilling whether its Clinton answering for his perjury (or sale of the Lincoln bedroom) or Bush answering charges of excessive administration "spin" on the Iraqi WMD issue.

Would such a requirement tend to favor Democrats or Republicans or be essentially party neutral? Is the President's ability to control what questions he is asked a benefit or detriment to a democratic system?

A proposed version of President's Questions:

Weekly, the President appears in the House of Representatives for 1 hour of questions from the opposition party.

The opposition party selects the Representative(s) to question the President. The President is advised in advance which members of his cabinet (or their assistants) most pertain to the subject area of the questioning yet the exact questions are not revealed in advance. The President may consult with his cabinet before answering questions.

Whether the President dodges the questioning or whether the opposition party is guilty of badgering with irrelevant questions is a political matter to be decided by the public opinion of the American people.

If the President desires, a question can be deferred and answered three days later at a special session between the regularly scheduled Question Times.

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Poll
Should the US institute a "PM Questions" style Q&A?
o Yes 79%
o No 11%
o Make 'em appear on Geraldo 8%

Votes: 84
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Air Force One
o Parliament website
o descriptio n of the process
o Also by Pop Top


Display: Sort:
Does true Democracy require PM Questions? | 266 comments (248 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
WHAT? (2.28 / 14) (#2)
by emwi on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:16:45 PM EST

My nation, the good old US of A, is asserted to be the paragon of democracy.

Since when? Oh, you mean by your nation...the rest thinks of you as the paragon of swanks.

Will this do? (4.25 / 4) (#4)
by Pop Top on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:18:54 PM EST

is asserted, by many who live here,

[ Parent ]
It only takes one person (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:41:09 PM EST

to make an assertion.
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[ Parent ]
No (2.54 / 11) (#10)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:40:53 PM EST

British Parialment is a joke. They could make a sit-com out of it. Although it is fun to watch, it isn't a very effective means of determining truth. Having the President answer questions off the top of his head really doesn't do anything.

The President doesn't need to be a good public speaker. A well thought out response is far better than a rapid fire answer off the top of his head.

I agree that the President should take open questions, but I don't think he needs to answer them on the spot.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." -

Whats better? (4.85 / 7) (#11)
by Pop Top on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:44:38 PM EST

(a) Forced to answer "on the spot"

(b) Never get asked (unless the President agrees to be asked)

[ Parent ]

about equal (1.75 / 4) (#23)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:23:36 PM EST

In one case you get softball questions that everybody already knows the answer to. On the other you get empty rheotic on  hard questions that has no informational value.

If you want PM-style questions, have the entire Presidential cabinet there.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

Doesn't my new version propose this? (3.50 / 2) (#45)
by Pop Top on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 10:46:02 PM EST

If you want PM-style questions, have the entire Presidential cabinet there.

[ Parent ]
Yes (3.50 / 2) (#50)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:30:16 PM EST

I didn't see the revisions until after I posted the comment.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
The cabinet reports to the Senate (3.00 / 1) (#245)
by zeda on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:53:02 PM EST

Since the Senate confirms cabinet members, the cabinet members report to their respective oversight commitees.

[ Parent ]
Fun to watch? (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by Urthpaw on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:48:41 PM EST

Have you ever watched the British Parliament? I was in London last spring and watched for half an hour or so from a gallery. According to the guide-type-person, so many MPs skip that they don't even have enough seats for everyone to be there at once. When I was there, there must have only been a dozen MPs sitting around, and most of them were reading newspapers or carrying on their own conversations. One MP went on and on in an endlessly boring speech, that everyone seemed to be ignoring.

[ Parent ]
Yes, I've watched (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:22:05 PM EST

CSPAN2 used to ocassionally broadcast major issues. It has the atmosphere of a sporting event.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Similar to the House of Representatives (2.75 / 3) (#32)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:39:57 PM EST

They've just got benches there. And there are plenty of times both there and in the Senate where there's just some guy entering his speech into the record, his only audience the staff, the next guy who wants to speak, and C-SPAN.
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[ Parent ]
What you don't see (3.00 / 1) (#244)
by zeda on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:48:11 PM EST

All the Senators out in the hall on the phones raising money; because you have to be a millionaire to be a Senator these days.

[ Parent ]
Not that I'm happy about THAT (3.00 / 1) (#246)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:14:22 PM EST

but in England, you have to be appointed by royalty to be in the House of Lords...
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[ Parent ]
what's the president for actually? (3.25 / 3) (#13)
by tashw on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:55:19 PM EST

"The President doesn't need to be a good public speaker. A well thought out response is far better than a rapid fire answer off the top of his head."

That will then be an answer thought out by the flock by the intelligent and helpful advisors of the president.

[ Parent ]

yes that it good (2.00 / 3) (#21)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:20:40 PM EST

The advisors are responsible for policy in their individual areas so they should be the ones answering the questions. Maybe, if you want PM-style questioning, it shouldn't just be the President, but also his cabinet.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Sounds good to me! (3.33 / 2) (#31)
by Happy Monkey on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:36:42 PM EST

Sign me up for C-SPAN if that ever happens.
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[ Parent ]
Make him sweat (4.83 / 6) (#15)
by Oh Man on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 06:00:58 PM EST

I agree that the President should take open questions, but I don't think he needs to answer them on the spot.

Making somebody answer of the top of their head can be a very effective way of finding out what they really think/know. Compare a typical police interogation of a suspect to a scenario where they give him a list of questions and let him prepare the answers at his leasure.

PM Questions is not about debate, it is about interrogating the PM in case of a, not so far fetched, possibility that his government is bullshiting us about something.

[ Parent ]

Different goals (2.25 / 4) (#24)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:28:38 PM EST

The police are trying to get a confession out of somebody. As evidenced by that many cases of confessions being thrown out because they were taken under duress, they don't see any better at reaching the truth that submitted statement.

Legal teams have to submit witness lists and other information. Disclosure is a good thing. It tends to provide for better answers. You hold your questions (and arguments) secret when you are trying to gain a game-like advantage, not when you trying to find out what really happened.

Also, the quality of the answer will vary drastically depending on the President's oratory skills. A poor orator might fumble around and say things that they really don't mean while their brain isn't engaged. That is not guaranteed to be anything close to the truth, either.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

nope (3.00 / 3) (#74)
by Oh Man on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:52:07 AM EST

I agree with you that brilliant oratory skills are not a must have for a president but they are definitely a nice to have (sorry, just working on requirements for a s/w project).

However, I think you are way too easy on the president. Why shouldn't he be able to answer a few questions about policies that he is supposed to fully understand and be honest about? I don't think he would need to come up with flashy speaches on the spot, if he gave honest and straighforward answers that would be good enough and would earn him points with the electorate too.

[ Parent ]

come on (3.25 / 3) (#78)
by demi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:55:14 AM EST

Well, we've got hard, fresh evidence that the President doesn't need good oratory skills to survive. Bush is one of the worst public speakers I've ever had the displeasure of watching. To be fair, most good speakers would wilt under the kind of pressure that a President faces every day, but that's really no excuse. I'm not even talking about answering loaded questions on demand, how about the ability to properly read a rehearsed statement that was written for him by a professional speechwriter.

If you've been overseas recently, U.S. citizenship these days is like being a defendant in a show trial. The fact is that Bush is our chief advocate in the world court. We hired him as our lawyer. Having a stuttering, mumbling fool in the place of your attorney is a dangerous thing. He wouldn't have to be an excellent speaker if he was a good diplomat, but he fails in that role too. Sometimes he surprises everyone and makes an acceptable showing of things, but that should only underscore how low our expectations really are.

[ Parent ]

private encounters (3.00 / 3) (#89)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:36:16 AM EST

Bush is supposedly very well liked by foreign leaders when he is in a 1-on-1 situation. Also, most diplomacy is not handled by the President. People are not really complaining about his diplomacy, though. They are complaining about his policies. Leaders of foreign nations can get away with personally attacking the President, calling him an idiot or explicatives, yet they are not called poor diplomats. The worst Bush has done is to call a brutal dictator we were about to delcare war on a "fucker." He's very cordial about our allies with is more than I can say about them.

If you want to look for a good diplomatic leader you'd had a hard time finding one out of France, Canada, or Germany.

Don't let your disagreement over policy bleed into your image of Bush as a diplomat and person.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

diplomacy (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by demi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:29:16 AM EST

Leaders of foreign nations can get away with personally attacking the President, calling him an idiot or explicatives, yet they are not called poor diplomats.

Aside from Jean Chretien, I don't know of any offensive remarks about Bush attributed directly to a major head of state. I can certainly hold a negative opinion of Bush even if I don't necessarily disagree with his policies. His foreign policy is disastrously susceptible to trivial meddling. Look what a strategically second-rate nation like Turkey almost did to the plans for a campaign in Iraq. He exposed our export economies to retaliatory tariffs with absolutely moronic spot tariffs on steel and textiles. I could go on, but I don't hate the guy, I just feel the need to criticize...

You should re-think your statement that public speaking skills don't matter for the president. Especially when it comes to our dealings with the rest of the world, it really does matter.

[ Parent ]

It's called diplomacy (3.00 / 2) (#97)
by jman11 on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:43:34 AM EST

It's considered poor manners and not very cleaver democracy to call other people idiots.  Most world leaders have learnt to be diplomatic and thus not be rude in their responses.

I understand this point might not be relevant when discussing the President of the USoA, but I figured I would make it.

[ Parent ]

Dang (3.00 / 1) (#98)
by jman11 on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:44:52 AM EST

cleaver => clever

democracy => diplomacy

[ Parent ]

Offensive remark by Chrétien? (3.00 / 1) (#133)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:10:33 AM EST

I know that a couple of remarks have been made by cabinet members— well, former cabinet members now. I don't recall any offensive remarks which could be attributed to Chrétien himself.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]
I think it's a great idea (3.25 / 3) (#83)
by morkeleb on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:06:52 AM EST

The President doesn't need to be a good public speaker. A well thought out response is far better than a rapid fire answer off the top of his head.

Well your boy can't even do that right.

I agree that the President should take open questions, but I don't think he needs to answer them on the spot.

Why not? Instead of scripted responses, it would give people a more personal view of the decision-making process and character of the person they elected (or had appointed for them in this particular case). Clinton could have done this with no problem. Actually so could Dubya's daddy. And I think you know why not. As leaders go - Bush is a tenth of the man Blair or Clinton is, and if he were thrust into the kind of inferno that Blair has to face regularly, his cookie would crumble.


"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
Yes (3.66 / 2) (#109)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:30:28 AM EST

The President doesn't need to be a good public speaker. A well thought out response is far better than a rapid fire answer off the top of his head.

"The President doesn't need to be a good public speaker"??!?? He's a politician, for goodness sake! Of course he needs to be a good public speaker.

You realise, of course, that when Tony Blair walks in to Question Time he's usually got a fair idea of what is going to be asked. He bloody well should, too! The man is head of his entire country, I would hope that he has some answers for important questions that are raised.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Let's split some hairs here (3.33 / 2) (#137)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:15:50 AM EST

Technically, Tony Blair is not head of the entire country, he is only the head of the government. The Queen is the head of the country. (Of course, in practice, since the government runs the country, he must answer to the people— but through the government.)

However, this only emphasizes your point's relevance in the United States, since the president is both head of state and head of government, and should be held answerable to both.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

Oops. (4.00 / 2) (#145)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:23:33 AM EST

Silly me. I forgot. The Queen is, after all, head of my own country also, but most of us forget this unless we decide to vote on becoming a republic. When this happens Australia decides it's better off existing under a monarchy. Then we forget about it again and get on with things.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Republics scare me. (3.50 / 2) (#148)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:31:32 AM EST

But that's probably only because I live far too close to the most powerful one in the world. The anti-monarchy sentiment in Canada does exist, and it does make its voice heard once every few years, but it's a very underwhelming minority.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]
Yes (4.63 / 11) (#14)
by asad on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 05:59:13 PM EST

If you think the British parliment is a joke I have no idea what to make of our govt.  Bush doesn't answer questions, he seems to dread public apperances where he has to talk.  I am not sure if his simplified answers are due to his IQ or if they are a technique to easily communicate with the FL voters.
Being the President of the USA and "leader of the free world" should have a bit more consequence attached to it.  
I would like to see Bush answer questions on environment, Iraq, death row and other subjects from the top of his head.  That would mean "he" has to read the material ahead of time instead of parroting what his advisors have spoon fed him.
Maybe it's just me but I would want my president to have to know as much as possible about the world as well as his country.
It's the highest public office shouldn't he answer to the pulic on a regular basis ?

low IQ? Like your high Asshole Quotient? (2.08 / 12) (#26)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:43:00 PM EST

Just because somebody doesn't like public speaking or isn't good at it that doesn't mean they have a low IQ. I would rather have a President that knows how to pick good advisors and listen to them than one that thinks he is smart enough to run everything for himself.

"Everybody knows what they need to know about human nature by about the third grade," Rogers theorized. "The smart kid up in the front of the class wasn't necessarily the one you wanted as captain of the football team, or to pal around with. ou probably didn't even want him for class president http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A33574-2002Nov9?language=printer]."
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

High Asshole Quotient? Like your high flamability? (4.50 / 4) (#116)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:59:38 AM EST

I thought that an essential quality of a leader that would enable him to pick good advisers would be a high level of understanding about how things work. You sound like you are saying these two things are mutually exclusive!

Why you think that your quote is appropriate is beyond me, by the way. Your President is no long at school, he's in the White House. While I realise that this institution can seem a bit like school -- where everything in based on popularity, bullying is rife and most people are divorced from the real world for their entire term -- I would have hoped that Americans voted people into office based on their intelligence and character rather than only by their charisma.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

flammability! (2.75 / 3) (#139)
by RyoCokey on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:21:58 AM EST

What do you guys have against the English language, anyway?



Is Weaponsgate a hoax or liberal disinformation?
[ Parent ]
Don't blame me, blame Rusty. (3.66 / 2) (#151)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:42:29 AM EST

*mutter mutter*

I knew that flammability was spelt wrongly, it's just that I didn't have space to put it into the subject field. What's a letter between friends, eh?

Yors hmubly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
I blame drduck (3.66 / 2) (#163)
by RyoCokey on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:46:22 AM EST

Who continues to consistantly rate even my most minor and unrelated posts 2 or 1.



Is Weaponsgate a hoax or liberal disinformation?
[ Parent ]
drduck is rusty [nt] (3.66 / 2) (#186)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:46:34 PM EST


You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

If you have a problem with drduck... (3.00 / 1) (#258)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 11:52:24 PM EST

... try emailing him. That is, if his email address is correct!

drduck.denada@reverse.asu.notcom - take out the not and also the reverse I think. Possibly also take out the "drduck." bit.

[root@localhost root] whois asu.com

   Domain Name: ASU.COM
   Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
   Referral URL: http://www.networksolutions.com
   Name Server: NS1.GETUPNOW.NET
   Name Server: NS2.GETUPNOW.NET
   Status: ACTIVE
   Updated Date: 22-apr-2002
   Creation Date: 21-aug-1995
   Expiration Date: 20-aug-2010

Registrant:
Airline Services Unlimited (ASU3-DOM)
   30 Old Landing Road
   Tiburon, CA 94920
   US

   Domain Name: ASU.COM

   Administrative Contact:
      Haynes, Jeff  (JHT998)            jeffreyhaynes@YAHOO.COM
      ASU.COM, Inc.
      30 OLD LANDING RD
      TIBURON, CA 94920-1110
      US
      415-479-4900 fax: 415-435-4471
   Technical Contact:
      Crosby, Brian  (BC10377)          brian@GETUPNOW.COM
      2555 San Bruno Avenue, Suite 200
      SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94134-1504
      US
      415-333-5000 fax: 415-333-5353

   Record expires on 20-Aug-2010.
   Record created on 24-Sep-2002.
   Database last updated on 21-Jun-2003 23:45:52 EDT.

   Domain servers in listed order:

   NS1.GETUPNOW.NET             66.237.61.91
   NS2.GETUPNOW.NET             66.237.61.86

[root@localhost root] nslookup -sil reverse.asu.com
Server:         203.2.75.2
Address:        203.2.75.2#53

** server can't find reverse.asu.com: NXDOMAIN

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

P.S. Who is Dr Duck? (3.00 / 1) (#259)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 11:59:17 PM EST

Be careful in what you write, you could be emailing the former Prime Minister of Korea - Dr. Duck-Woo Nam.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

I think it's usa.com (3.33 / 2) (#265)
by RyoCokey on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 11:05:22 AM EST

Hence the reverse. Not that I care.

"my non-white counterparts who routinely are... given the poorer quality schools... I agree affirmative action should only be temporary but it has been [ Parent ]
I have a better solution (3.00 / 7) (#20)
by PhillipW on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:02:36 PM EST

Make me the King of America. The population gets someone to make the object of their patriotic fervor, democracy is a bit safer, and I get lots of cash and attention. It's a winning proposition on all sides!

-Phil
well.... (2.25 / 4) (#25)
by auraslip on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:29:15 PM EST

No shit.

Sadly though I don't think my little brothers find this so obvious.
124

excellent (3.16 / 6) (#27)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 07:49:12 PM EST

the us, supposed paragon vanguard of democracy, as of late seems to have drifted quite a bit from the democratic ideal

canada and the uk really have become better implementations of the ideal of true democracy

sadly, i see things getting worse in the us before they get better

we have a lot of work to do, but not much will get done until more people get angry at the rot in the state of true democracy in the us


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Ah yes (4.00 / 4) (#59)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:43:51 AM EST

the UK, implementation of the ideal of democracy, where major constitutional changes are made by administrative fiat and the Prime Minister has a royal prerogative and party discipline to basically do whatever he feels like. Although it will be discussed publicly once a week. Great.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

look man (2.75 / 3) (#61)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:54:41 AM EST

we all got problems.

democracy is an ideal we will be pursing for a long time- and that's a good thing.

the closer we get to that ideal, the happier everyone is. just because we fail by a few points here and there is no reason to trash the whole enterprise and bemoan our depressing existence.

currently, canada/us/uk are imperfect implementations of the ideal, but compared to some other countries, we're doing pretty damn good.

we can't lose this perspective, and focus on a tiny detail, blow it out of porportion in our minds, and yell "the world is ending!"

there are enough drama queens in politics. no need for more hysterical bs, please.


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Whoa, who is hysterical? (2.75 / 3) (#62)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:08:10 AM EST

And who is resorting to insinuations and name-calling with no basis in reality?

I thought you were arguing that the UK was a "better implementations of the ideal of true democracy." How dare I bring up things like the near-unchecked power of the British Prime Minister in response.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

your answer (2.25 / 3) (#85)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:15:18 AM EST

defensive

ballistic

pointed

over-the-top...

in a word,

hysterical

lol ;-P

smooches

;-)

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Not everyone will be happier... (3.00 / 3) (#67)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:21:53 AM EST

It stands to reason that if the current system is not perfectly democractic, some people are more politically priviledged than others, hence, these people will not be made happier by movement to the democratic ideal, which will reduce their priviledge. Thus, one would expect this segment of the population, in pursuing its percieved rational self-interest, to resist democratizing trends that may maninfest in society or government. In the US and the Western economies, who are these people? The leaders of the major bastions of power that are least democratic and subject to the least democratic control- corporate managers and the controllers of large capital accumulations. Note that those who control the corporations and capital accumulations are usually not even those that own them, and, as most recently and egregiously demonstrated in the case of Enron corporation, may in fact (commonly) manage the corporation or capital accumulation for purposes directly inimical to the interests of the owners.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
your point? (3.50 / 2) (#87)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:19:26 AM EST

agreed 100%

money is warping american democracy

it is pathetic and disgusting

but what does this point have to do with my larger point?

there is no throwing the baby out with the bathwater, is there?

democracy is the best form of govt mankind has invented so far for channeling the wishes and will of a country's peoples

of course, as any invention of mankind is, it is prone to decay and rot

but the rot does not challenge the overall value of democracy, and should not sway us from the pursuit of an ideal implementation of it

what else is there?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Money runs this country, not democracy. (3.00 / 1) (#235)
by guidoreichstadter on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:46:06 AM EST

Money is not "warping American democracy," control of money is the foundation of American politics. Those who control the economy rule America. You would be more accurate to say: democratic tendencies are warping American corporate rule.

Think about it: all of the major economic and political decisions are made by either corporate managers or their governemnt collaborators, not by the people, which is what democracy means. Thanks to the private funding structure of US "elections," the near total majority of policians able to make a shot at governance are the ones whose alignement with corporate interests guarantees them the necessary funding. The will of the people in the form of an "election" only operates to select within this very narrow context.

True democracy places the direct will of the people foremost, and subordinates all other power sources to it. Whatever you seem to be arguing for, it is not democracy.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Try Swizerland (4.40 / 5) (#63)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:08:57 AM EST

Even though no modern states have yet become democratic, at least in Switzerland there is a referendum procedure that citizens can use to make federal laws or veto federal legislation made by representatives, and subfederal (canton) divisions are relatively autonomous in comparison with US states.

Really though, for all its relative freedom for the relatively priviledged people, the US doesn't come close to my idea of democracy: all policy and legislation formed by directly democratic popular assemblies, with a state apparatus limited to administering that policy, and powerless to set it's own policy or laws, and economic managers (currently, corporate managers)under the political control of directly democratic assemblies.

The big problem I see with the US wrt becoming democratic is that economic power is ultracentralized in corporate management, and the structure of mass media and campaign finance systems couples economic power to political power so strongly that the political managers, policies, and decisions closely mirror the corporate managers, policies and decisions.

The only hope I see is radical political transformation that implements direct democracy and subordinates economic power to democratic political power.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Try Oregon (3.50 / 2) (#80)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:17:55 AM EST

They have a direct initiative and referendum system.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

That's supercool. (3.50 / 2) (#126)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:47:19 AM EST

Florida, where I live, does too. In other states, that's been the saving grace that is helping them pull out from under the thumb of corporate domination of their political system, like in Maine and Arizona where the people passed Clean Elections initiatives that set up an alternative public funding system for candidates that renounce all corporate and private contributions. The result is that the corporate funded candidates are very rapidly losing their majorities to reps who are accountable only to the people.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
actually (3.50 / 2) (#88)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:31:40 AM EST

the problem with economics and government is that they commingle

but you are just proposing commingling of a different sort, that's not an improvement

like this: the shame of the usa is that govt acts subordinate to corporate powers

result? corruption, warping of laws by moneyed interests

but your suggestion amounts to nothing more that corporate interests being subordinate to the govt

that's just the opposite bad status quo, it's not an improvement

if you do that, you stagnate the economy, no?

why is the us an economic power house? do you not wish the economies of the world to be as vibrant as the us? the us is not economically powerful because of nike sweatshops in indonesia. it is economically powerful because, unlike other misled countries, the government minds it's own business (pun intended) and does not try to dictate to companies how to go about doing what they do so well: innovate, unfettered and free.

you can't build a nimble and powerful economy by dictate and fiat from uncreative and timid govt bureaucrats

so:

why can't govt remain unnfettered by $?

and why can't capitalistic pursuits remain unfettered from government bureacracy and destructive stagnating intrusion?

of course i am speaking in ideals, but the idea is to keep one away from the other, and remain faithful to that concept over time, adapting laws to extinguish areas where govt and $ overlap

your just suggesting socialism

yawn

do you like to kill economies? or do you just not see the end result of what you suggest?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Unfetterd capitalism... (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by brain in a jar on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:10:02 AM EST

Doesn't work as well as you might think, and the US does not practice it. Just like the EU The US has trade tariffs, designed to protect US industries and government provides huge subsidies to high tech industry largely by buying military hardware.

The only countries which have completely free markets, are mostly poor and are staying that way because in the absence of some control, companies pay their staff subsistence and no more, pay near zero taxes and all wealth produced disappears overseas into the hands of a few.

Too many people think that Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" will solve everything. This is a myth propagated by rich economists who benefit from a low regulation system and are protected from its ill effects. To be specific for the invisble hand to work requires that no externality exists( no pollution etc.),all goods are privately owned, perfect information(everybody knows everything allowing them to accurately value goods), and that no single firm or individual has the power to significantly influence the market as a whole.

All these assumptions, which you will find in every basic economics text are routinely broken, and yet we are still routinely told that an unregulated system is efficient and that any meddling will make it work more poorly. Economic systems require some degree of regulation to deal with monopolistic behaviour, externality and information problems: this is the job of government. To claim otherwise is to misunderstand the economics. The invisible hand won't fix it all.
*

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

while I'm in favor (3.50 / 2) (#91)
by cyclopatra on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:31:24 AM EST

of a certain amount of direct democracy (I'm ambivalent-to-abolish on the electoral college, and I'd like to see nationwide referendums in the US), I think you need to read up a bit (I suggest John Stuart Mills on the tyranny of the majority as a starting point) and take a look at your fellow human beings. Do you really want to see them making all the laws, with no checks in place to guarantee that they won't do certain things? I'm not suggesting that Congress is inherently much better at making laws than Joe Public would be, but we've got the courts to overturn unjust laws (and to provide the threat of such, keeping them at least careful, if not honest, in the laws they do pass).

If the US converted to a government that passed everything by popular vote, with no government apparatus to repeal or overturn them, I know *I'd* be leaving on the next plane, because it'd only be a matter of time before a large number of laws got passed that I wouldn't be able to live with. How long do you think it would take before it got to you?

Cylopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

U.S. courts (3.00 / 1) (#146)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:25:30 AM EST

Actually, many say that recently the U.S. legislative and executive branches have stopped paying attention to Constitutionality because they know the courts will clean up any messes and it is politically expedient to pass, say, the Communications Decency Act. Which in turn emboldens the courts to clean up the messes, whether the other branches like it or not.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

however (3.00 / 1) (#200)
by cyclopatra on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:41:25 PM EST

What would we do if the courts *weren't* there to clean up the messes? Then anything politically expedient could get passed, and there'd be no way to stop it :P

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

I'm glad (3.00 / 1) (#206)
by Three Pi Mesons on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:31:59 PM EST

that we don't live in such a sick, twisted world. Oh, wait...

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
Indeed (3.00 / 1) (#208)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:58:34 PM EST

I agree. I think the best thing, however, would be if people would not pass laws that they knew to be unconstitutional regardless of the expediency.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Can women vote? (4.00 / 2) (#105)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:01:51 AM EST

Since when?

Yeah, a true bastion of democracy in the Western world.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Since 1989 (4.00 / 2) (#143)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:22:46 AM EST

Since 1971 they can vote in federal elections. The last canton gave women the vote in 1989.

Point well taken, however.

If people would suggest the ideas of particular countries rather than the countries themselves, they would get more of a discussion on the merits. But no, everyone wants to insinuate that Country X is superior.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Westminster vs Washington (2.50 / 3) (#101)
by cam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:26:30 AM EST

canada and the uk really have become better implementations of the ideal of true democracy

Urk no, the Washington system is the triumph of the elightenment, it can be improved of course, but it is superior to the Westminster system. Remember the American founding fathers knew the Westminster system and improved upon it with greater seperation of powers and added enlightment ideals which are in the Bill of Rights.

The Westminster systems as Britain and Canada practice it contain the real power of the Executive in the Legislative. The Executive Council is made up of Legislative members. This gives the PM undue power as he represents the public purse and the signing of law in actuality. This is a poor seperation of powers between the Legislative and Executive.

The only thing stopping a tyrant PM is the Senate. In the British and Canadian systems the Senate is not pubically elected and are tenured. In Canada the PM appoints Senate members. In the British system it used to be Titled Britons were able to be Senators, ie Lords and so forth. I dont know if this is still the case or not.

The Australian "Washminster Mutation" has more Washington elements and has a popularly elected Senate based on State proportions. This is to represent the states at the Federal level though this has been destroyed by party discipline overriding state interests.

The British Westminster system has no formal or written constitution, it is all based on convention and responsible government. When those principles fail you get issues arise like the Whitlam Dismissal in Australia. Canada and Australia have formal constitutions though the Australian Constitution fails as an explicit document. It bears little correlation to practice. As an example the Prime Minister is not mentioned at all in the Australian Constitution.

The US has one of the most explicit Constitutions unfortunately it is being adhered to by the Legislative or Executive and is not being interpreted explicitly by the Judicial.

The Westminster system as practiced by Britain and Canada has poorer seperation of powers, less public involvement in the Senate and in the case of Britain no formal written constitution. Most of the practices of the Westminster system are based on the implied rules of responsible government and convention rather than explicit constitutional practice.

The Washington system is a natural evolution of the Westminster system that incorporated enlightenment ideals and thinking from the past century into it. Australia is coming to political maturity and has already had one referendum on the subject of a republic from a constitutional monarchy.

The challenge for Australia will be to implement a system that is a natural evolution of the Washington system that incorporates the ideals of the late 20thC and the technology of the information age into it.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Some clarifications (3.00 / 1) (#211)
by Jacques Chester on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:28:37 PM EST

The Australian "Washminster Mutation" has more Washington elements and has a popularly elected Senate based on State proportions. This is to represent the states at the Federal level though this has been destroyed by party discipline overriding state interests.

But it does give play to the minor parties, much to the continuing dismay of the Prime Minister.

Canada and Australia have formal constitutions though the Australian Constitution fails as an explicit document. It bears little correlation to practice. As an example the Prime Minister is not mentioned at all in the Australian Constitution.

As I have elsewhere said of Australian Constitutional law:

There's a single document that you start with, but there's simply buckets of cases which tell you what that one document means. The problem is that from time to time the High Court indulges its little flights of fancy and - reducing their acts of legal magic to lay terms - makes shit up.

The point is that the document, the Constitution itself, is not the entire body of the law. The High Court's role is to explain what the Constitution means when disputes arise.

The fact that they have, ever since dumping implied immunities, pissed all over the intentions of the founders, is something I don't like at all. You could call me an intentionalist and legalist and I would agree with you. For the yankees I think the equivalent terms are conservative and strict constructionist.

So while the Constitution does not bear much relation to the day-to-day dealings of Australian Government, you must remember that there are thousands of court cases that map out the connections. They are the law, just as much as the Constitution is.

There's also the Australia Acts, which are quasi-Constitutional. In particular the Australia Act (Imp.) 1986, passed by the Imperial Parliament (Westminster), which forever renounced that Parliament's right and power to legislate for Australia. They also abolished appeals to the Privy Council from State Supreme Courts.



--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]
Senate and Constitution (3.00 / 1) (#214)
by cam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:58:15 PM EST

But it does give play to the minor parties, much to the continuing dismay of the Prime Minister.

Other than the Australian Democrats which have the party permission to conscience vote, the minor parties vote along party lines. That the Senate is more diffuse in its power than the House of Representatives still doesnt mean it isnt party line dominated.

The US Senate which has equal state representation as Rhode Island and other small states were worried about being overridden by Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachussets. The small Australian states like Tasmania and Western Australia were worried that NSW and Victoria would dominate with a Senate based on population representation.

Party discipline has destroyed that intent. The US system since the current Republican Executive have started doing the complete and total party discipline thing. They are now going after their own dissenters as hard as they go after their opposition. The US Congress used to do a fair bit of conscience voting in representing their electorate, but this is happening less and less.

The point is that the document, the Constitution itself, is not the entire body of the law.

No but it is the highest law of the land and from what the rest of the constitutional law stems from. Because it is an implicit and ambigous document in describing the day to day machinations of Australian government and the seperation of powers, an activist judiciary is able to add and tack new things on. Or "making shit up" as you called it.

With a simple, explicit and unambiguous document describing the limits of federal power and the machinations of Australian government that variation in interpretation will be minimised.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

I don't think so. (3.00 / 3) (#106)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:07:18 AM EST

No system in which people have a public role gained by hereditary lineage can call itslef truly democratic.

Kings and queens are one of the most horrible aberrations in modern democracies and a negation to democracy's most basic principles.

Add to that appointed legislators and monarchy representatives (house of Lords, does Canada have a governor like Australia?), nobility titles and frankly the picture is not pretty.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

I don't think so. (3.00 / 1) (#155)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:55:26 AM EST

(No system in which people have a public role gained by corporate associations and a surplus of cash can call itself truly democratic.)

The traditional and theoretical definition of a monarch is in conflict with the traditional and theoretical definition of a democracy. However, neither theory nor tradition hold up in practice.

Personally, I would rather have a relatively uncorruptable figure (tabloids notwithstanding) as the representative of my country (not government, country). The Queen and Governor-General of Canada are respectively heriditary and appointed, yes, but this is appropriate for their practical function. A monarch or monarch representative would only strike down a bill with incredibly violently overwhelming demand from the people, which sure sounds like democracy to me.

The partisan tendency of democracy is thus diminished in power also. While I realize that party lines are not enforced as stridently in the United States as elsewhere, a Republican House, Senate, and Presidency is damned close to a dictatorship.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

Heh. (4.20 / 5) (#28)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:17:33 PM EST

I'd love to see this happen with Junior. He'd choke, sputter, and start to blubber in seconds if they ever allowed the press to really tear into him. The man has no ability to speak publically unless he's been thoroughly prepared. He'd never have made it under the UK's system, too bad for us in America...

I do tend to agree with you that in the UK, they save the "oh, they're too pure and sacred to question" bullshit for people with zilch for power (royalty). Over here, the stench of hereditary royalty just increases over the White House, as some pundits are predicting Jeb Bush to run in 2008, after Junior's had his eight.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
non-sequitor (2.63 / 11) (#29)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:23:44 PM EST

Nobody has yet to give a good reason that the President needs to be an effective orator. It may make the Bush bashers happy to see him do some close to imprompu speaking, but I hardly see why this is actually beneficial to the nation.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Good Reason: (3.87 / 8) (#34)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:41:13 PM EST

It's one way to tell if the man who holds the most powerful position on Earth is a complete and utter moron, or not.

Non-morons, even non-complete, non-utter morons, can carry on an intelligent debate, use words of more than two syllables, and pronounce their own language correctly. I would call that a very good critera (among many others) for determining worthiness to be Leader of the Free World.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
No. (2.72 / 11) (#35)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:56:52 PM EST

If you think that being an orator with good impromptu skills implies intelligence you are mistaken. Some people have serious public speaking problems and doesn't mean a single thing. Some total idiots are excellent public speakers. There is no connection.

This is just a chance for all the Bush bashers to make fun of the President with ad hom attacks while trotting out the old "Bush has a low IQ" lie. It's sad.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

Low IQ (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by kraant on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 09:04:39 PM EST

What is his IQ anyway?
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
I don't know. (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 09:11:44 PM EST

There was a hoax that went around the Net claiming that Bush43 and Reagan had the two lowest IQs of any Presidents. Some seem to have believed it.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
well, (3.50 / 2) (#51)
by pb on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:34:25 PM EST

I hear he made a 1206 on his SATs, and according to that, he should be smarter than the average bear. However, SATs don't mean that much. For instance, my SATs were a lot higher than his, and there's no way I could have gotten into Yale...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
1206? Pathetic. (3.00 / 3) (#90)
by SvnLyrBrto on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:15:45 AM EST

First off, is 1206 even a legitimate score?  I thought SAT scores were always multiples of ten?

In any event, 1206 would be pretty damn pathetic by any account.  Amongst my group of friends, I got one of the loweest scores on my actual SAT, mostly because I had the flu and was doped up on all sorts of antihistamines and decongestants when I took the thing.  I wound up settleing for a 1360 because I didn't really need higher to get into my college of choice.  But had I decided to re-take the test while NOT sick, I've little doubt that I could have scored in the upper 1400s that I was getting on the practice tests.

And this was BEFORE the grest dumbing-down of the SATs that took place in the mid-90's.

But fuck, if I had dropped all the way down into the 1200s, I damn well WOULD have re-taken the thing as a matter of pride and personal self-respect; no matter WHAT colleges had accepted me.  Citing a 1200 score as a defence against an accusation of stupidity is NOT a defence, more like a BIG exhibit for the prosecution.

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

No it isn't! (2.75 / 3) (#123)
by Hideyoshi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:22:17 AM EST

First of all, the 1206 score you mention does seem odd: that indicates to me that said number ought to be taken with a shovelful of salt. Might it actually have been 1260? On the other hand, I've come across statements indicating that such non-decimal scores were indeed possible in the 1960s, so you never know.

Second, the SAT was, until it's renumbering and adulteration, a group IQ test, plain and simple, with an extremely high correlation to both the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler tests, so we can work out what the equivalent score would be in more familiar terms.

Working on the assumption that 15 points = 1 standard deviation, we get an estimate for Bush's IQ of approximately 125, placing him in the top 5% of the American population. Surprising? It shouldn't be - Mensa's entry requirements used to be either a score 2 S.Ds above the mean (i.e. 130 on my chosen scale) or a SAT Score of 1250.

In light of the fact that JFK, that supposed shining prince of Camelot, was assessed as having an IQ of 117, and Bill Bradley's verbal SAT score was supposedly 485, Bush hardly seems the dummy liberals would like to make him out to be. He's no Nixon, certainly, but then again, is Nixon the sort of president you'd rather have?

Many of the nastiest people in history were extremely intelligent. Hjalmar Schacht, governor of the Reichsbank, was assessed as having an IQ of 143 (Stanford-Binet) during the Nuremburg trials. Hermann Göring managed a 138 score on the same scale. Going by the testimony of all those who served under him, Hitler had a brilliant mind, and was rarely defeated in debate (and not because he intimidated his subordinates, either), so he almost certainly would have done at least as well on an IQ test.

IQ doesn't tell you anything about how moral or how effective a leader will be, and I suspect that most liberals, who loathe the very notion of IQ in any other context other than when used to attack George W. Bush, would be rushing to the president's defence if he were a Democrat being attacked in this manner.

<Disclaimer>
Since the rest of you are bragging about your scores, and as I don't want you to think I'm defending Bush out of a sense of damaged self-esteem, let me disclose here that my SAT scores were 1500 (750M/750V) and 1590 (790M/800V) before recentering - and yes, I did go to an Ivy League school >:->
</Disclaimer>

[ Parent ]

WARNING: gratuitous bragging alert (3.00 / 1) (#135)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:13:54 AM EST

Put on your peril-sensitive sunglasses if you don't want to see Hideyoshi's SAT scores!

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

No, I didn't say that (4.14 / 7) (#41)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 09:40:13 PM EST

I said, "among many other" criteria. Good oration is merely one way to tell if the man has a brain. There are many other test, all of which he is ALSO failing. =P

I don't really consider this an ad hominem attack, either. I have a mentally retarded uncle, and Bush is certainly smarter than HIM. I'm not the type to point and laugh at dumb people (which I consider Bush to be). However, I'd instantly vote against my uncle if he ran for president. Why? Because I know he's not bright enough to do the job.

This happens to be why I'll be voting against Bush (unless his opponent is Ashcroft...) in 2004. That, and the fact that I don't believe Dubya actually intends to "defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution". The main reason I hate him is because he doesn't give a shit about me or anyone I know and love. The fact that he's incompetent is just icing on the cake.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
oh he most certainly does (3.50 / 2) (#43)
by puppet10 on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 10:00:12 PM EST

I don't believe Dubya actually intends to "defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution"

the way he sees and interprets it, which seems remarkably like a 19th century interpretation, too bad he's governing in the 21st.

[ Parent ]

The interpretation (3.50 / 2) (#57)
by qbwiz on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:40:43 AM EST

Many people actually want an 18th-century interpetation of the constitution. It all goes back to what the Founding Fathers "would have wanted" (as though they were omniscient). Of course, how much in the interpretation has been changed from back then to now?

[ Parent ]
still not getting it. (2.20 / 5) (#46)
by jjayson on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 10:54:30 PM EST

There is no connection between intelligence and impromptu oration. You might as well use astrology to determine intelligence.

You may not agree with Bush, but that is hardly a reason to call him dumb. As David Von Drehle said, he's dumb like a fox.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

It is to laugh. (4.28 / 7) (#52)
by kitten on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:35:16 PM EST

It figures that jjayson of all people would be bleating defenses of poor or nonexistant ability to form coherent sentences, given that he himself is utterly incapable of producing a paragraph, a sentence, even a phrase, without completely mangling the language.

There is no connection between intelligence and impromptu oration. You might as well use astrology to determine intelligence.

Nobody said that in order to be intelligent one must be a truly gifted public speaker. What Karesyn said was that intelligent people have what it takes to consider what they're saying, and so even if they aren't "great public speakers", they are still able to express themselves reasonably well.

Bush is unable to do even this. Nobody insisted that he should be the next Martin Luther King Jr, but when he's unable to get through a speech without mangling the language and making errors that would cause his third-grade teacher to weep, it reflects poorly on his intelligence.

Frankly, I don't expect you to understand any of this. Everything I'm saying here applies equally to the likes of you, as I have stated on more than one occasion.

So, two quick questions for you.

1. If we are not to use a person's ability to communicate as a measure of his intelligence, then exactly what are we supposed to use?

2. Are you seriously so far gone that you think your astrology analogy was even remotely valid?
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Not so. (3.00 / 5) (#69)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:36:46 AM EST

President Bush displays some very telling signs that he is nervous in front of camera: he is often as a loss for precise words, he stumbles, and he occasionally stutters. Somebody who is wasn't very intelligent but was a better orator wouldn't have these problem, but their speech would be qualitatively different.

What Karesyn said was that intelligent people have what it takes to consider what they're saying, and so even if they aren't "great public speakers", they are still able to express themselves reasonably well.
I know that is what he said. My response is still the same. I have know some very intelligent people that cannot do any sort of impromptu speech. My freshman or sophomore year in high school we had a very talented writer, however whenever she tried to speak she would stumble and say things that were not really words (similar to the often quoted Bush "misunderestimated" mishap). However, I know you would say that I am fairly unintelligent (and I wouldn't disagree with you). I have an excellent ability to speak. It is from practice more than anything else. Her and I are hardly unique either. Speaking in front of cameras or people, making up the speech as you go, is more a learned activity than anything else. Experience and natural ability dwarfs intelligence.

when he's unable to get through a speech without mangling the language and making errors that would cause his third-grade teacher to weep, it reflects poorly on his intelligence.
This somewhat proves the point. If he can write well, and by all accounts he can, then his mangling of English can be explained by nerves.

1. If we are not to use a person's ability to communicate as a measure of his intelligence, then exactly what are we supposed to use?
First, I don't think that general intelligence can be defined very well. It is not totally meaningless, but people too often look for fine divisions that do not exist. Second, I don't think that anything we see of the President can give us an accurate account of his intelligence. A large collection of writings, such as a journal, could provide insight. Nixon was famous for his prolific writing and looking at that collect of letter we can see that he was very intelligent. Living with George W. Bush could provide insight, too. Also, looking at his ideas can provide that information. However, you don't just look to see if you agree with the policy, but you look his reason behind the ideas. None of this is available from televised speeches, though.

2. Are you seriously so far gone that you think your astrology analogy was even remotely valid?
Yes, the statement was hyperbolic, however the point was that impromptu oration is an extremely poor indicator of intelligence, and lack of impromptu skills is also a poor indication of lack of intelligence.

--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Living with George W. Bush (3.00 / 3) (#73)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:50:48 AM EST

Living with George W. Bush could provide insight, too.

I'll pass, thank you.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

BS (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:52:35 AM EST

If you were given the opportunity to live with President Bush for a month you know you would take it. Don't lie.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Do I have to sleep with him? [nt] (3.00 / 3) (#77)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:53:58 AM EST


You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

I wouldn't (3.00 / 1) (#108)
by pyramid termite on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:29:16 AM EST

I can think of a lot more interesting people I'd prefer to hang around for a month - this whole thing about wanting to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, is overrated. I can learn all I need to know about Mr. Bush's actions from what I read online, and got an interesting behind the scenes look in Bernstein's book, "Bush at War". As you might guess, we'd get on each other's nerves reasonably fast.

There's a lot of musicians that it would be very interesting to hang out for a month with, for me, at least ...

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Are you naive? (3.00 / 1) (#121)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:18:21 AM EST

I can learn all I need to know about Mr. Bush's actions from what I read online,
You can't be serious. You will never know about the quality of a person from reading often baised, unknowledgeable tripe online.

There's a lot of musicians that it would be very interesting to hang out for a month with, for me, at least ...
This wasn't a choice where you get to pick who you would like to hang out with. If given the opportunity to spend a month in the White House would you go? There are very few people that have anything better to do. How can you pass up that opportunity?
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Hmmmm (3.00 / 1) (#180)
by pyramid termite on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:05:29 PM EST

You can't be serious. You will never know about the quality of a person from reading often baised, unknowledgeable tripe online.

In other words, I can't possibly learn anything about anyone from the internet - which has mainstream news sites and political commentary from all over the spectrum.

Then why are we all wasting our time here?

This wasn't a choice where you get to pick who you would like to hang out with.

Don't be absurd - if you can come up with a hypothetical and extremely unlikely situation, so can I. Come to think of it, I know musicians - don't know any presidents, though.

If given the opportunity to spend a month in the White House would you go? There are very few people that have anything better to do.

I have better things to do. This might come as a complete surprise to you, but some of us just aren't interested in observing the wheels of power, or the dubious blessings of fame and fortune first hand. If I had a month free from work, I sure as hell wouldn't be spending it with the Prez, even if I thought he was great.

It's a funny thing when people call me naive for being grounded in reality - and I don't mean just the reality of what's around me, but the reality of who I am and what I want to do.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
So.. (3.00 / 1) (#204)
by kitten on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 06:58:02 PM EST

I know that is what he said. My response is still the same. I have know some very intelligent people that cannot do any sort of impromptu speech.

...insert long-winded, pointless, unverifiable personal anecdote that nobody cares about, and that proves absolutely nothing.

However, I know you would say that I am fairly unintelligent (and I wouldn't disagree with you). I have an excellent ability to speak.

You have the linguistic skills of a three-year-old with Down's syndrome, jjayson. You're almost completely incapable of putting together a coherent sentence, nevermind a string of thoughts compiled into a paragraph. Your writing is absolutely abysmal - whether you're being "formal" as in a K5 article, or informal as on IRC, you have repeatedly demonstrated that whatever passes for "thought" inside your malshapen head, you are absolutely unable to express it in any respectable way whatsoever.

If you're that bad at writing, when you have the leisure of considering your words, then you must be almost impossible to comprehend verbally.

Speaking in front of cameras or people, making up the speech as you go, is more a learned activity than anything else.

Wrong. The ability to do it without being nervous is a learned thing, but for some people it comes naturally.

The ability to speak coherently is not a "learned" thing. A person is judged by the way he expresses himself - in words, in action, in attire. With words, we gauge a person's intelligence. With action, we gauge his ethics. Since we're talking about intelligence here, since Bush is a rambling, incoherent twit (much like you), we can conclude that he literally does not know what he's talking about (much like you) and therefore he doesn't understand what he's talking about (much like you) because he lacks the intelligence to do so (much like you).

First, I don't think that general intelligence can be defined very well.

Am I going mad, or did I hear the word THINK escape your lips?

Living with George W. Bush could provide insight, too. Also, looking at his ideas can provide that information. However, you don't just look to see if you agree with the policy, but you look his reason behind the ideas. None of this is available from televised speeches, though.

So, we're supposed to look at..

1. His ideas. Well, his ideas fucking suck, okay? He's clueless. Everything he has ever done has failed.

2. The reason behind his ideas. Well, his reasoning is completely idiotic too. "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction" is fucking idiotic. "This is one nation under God" is fucking idiotic. The list goes on, and on, and on.

Finally, if his reasons and rationale aren't coming through in his speeches, that's even more proof that when he talks, he doesn't even know what he's talking about. A competently average person could put together a speech that outlines the general thoughts and motives.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
lol (3.00 / 1) (#175)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:40:52 PM EST

Yanno, I appreciate you taking up for me, but you'd be a whole lot more effective if you could spell Kasreyn correctly. ;-)

Hmmm... "Karesyn". Maybe that's why people think my nick looks feminine: they have dyslexia! =P


-Kasreyn

P.S. By the way, even if jjayson's ashamed to admit it, I can give his REAL answer to #1: NO method, because he doesn't mind having a dumbass redneck for President. ^_^


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I will admit (3.00 / 1) (#173)
by Kasreyn on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:38:31 PM EST

that he has a certain low cunning, but I wouldn't classify it as intelligence.

Basically, I want a president who knows his stance on the issues without being prompted, either by polls OR by a TelePrompTer. As in, someone who actually knows what the fuck he's doing.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Yes, mostly (3.00 / 1) (#132)
by rigorist on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:10:08 AM EST

It is obviously not a one to one correspondence, but there is a pretty good correlation between the ability to speak clearly and to think clearly.  In addition, the President should be able to lead and persuade the Congress.  If the President is not able to do it in question time, then I think there is a problem.

The best part about question time is that it is public.  The public gets to see its government at work.

I have wanted question time ever since I saw it on CSPAN, and that was when the elder Bush was president.

[ Parent ]

not how things work (3.00 / 1) (#188)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:00:04 PM EST

It is obviously not a one to one correspondence, but there is a pretty good correlation between the ability to speak clearly and to think clearly.
No. I've debunked this quite a few times in other comments to address it here, too. Remeber, we are not just talking about conversational speaking, but a highly specilized extermporaneous speaking in front from of a massive audience with hostile questioners.

In addition, the President should be able to lead and persuade the Congress. If the President is not able to do it in question time, then I think there is a problem.
First, the British PM never convinces anybody during this little farce. If you think that will happen you are mistaken. No congressional representative is ever going to be convinced from this silly thing. Second, persuading others happens behind closed doors and that is a far more important measure.

The best part about question time is that it is public.  The public gets to see its government at work.
That is not the government at work. How could you possibly think such a think. The real work all happens at a much lower level and not in public. If you think that an hour of questions is going to expose anything new that we don't already get, then I don't know where you are getting that idea from.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
You have debunked nothing (2.66 / 2) (#198)
by rigorist on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:13:36 PM EST

Where is your debunking?  Oh, right - the example of a nervous adolescent in a class.

As to what the PM does, have you ever watched question time?  The PM takes both hard and softballs (and not necessarily from the opposition benches).

As to how I "think such a think," (great Spoonerism!)  I think it because I would rather have as few closed doors as possible in a democratic government.  Are you in favor of a more secretive government?  I doubt it, but you are making the arguments for it.

Look, the real reason you don't like the concept of question time is because the Shrub would suck at it.  You have no reasons why it is a bad thing, except that it would embarrass the Young Pretender.  I say, "So what."  If we're going to have a right-wing president, isn't it better that he also have oratorical skills?  

Although I disliked many of Reagan's policies, at least I was rarely embarrassed that he was the spokesman for America.  I am embarrassed every time the Young Pretender opens his mouth.

[ Parent ]

But (3.00 / 1) (#150)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:37:42 AM EST

you should ask yourself if "slickness" is the most important quality in a Prez. Bill Clinton is surely a "slicker" public speaker than Bush43. But that doesn't make him a better president. If anything, Clinton's swaying in the wind, and running everything through polls made him a WORSE leader than a guy who knows what he wants and trys to lead the country in the right direction (even if he DOES stick his foot in his mouth)
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Swaying in the wind (3.00 / 1) (#154)
by Happy Monkey on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:53:09 AM EST

I'd like the wind of evidence to sway a few politicians these days. Bush has shut down more scientific and political studies that he doesn't like the results of than any other US politician I've heard of.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Hmm... (3.00 / 1) (#189)
by kcidx on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:04:48 PM EST

I would really appreciate some sort of evidence to support your assessment of Bush "heading this country in the right direction?"

What direction do you consider "right"? Hmmm, you must mean "right" as in "right-wing." You mean, rich get richer, poor get shit on...and everyone loses their job unless they are a ceo - in which case, they get a bonus? All the while, the defeceit climbs, social security gets screwed, pollution goes up, and you have the same stupid replublicans claiming it's not their fault - it must still somehow be because of Clinton. That's right, Clinton - the guy who balanced the budget, created jobs, and cut taxes for people who actually needed tax cuts. Imagine that. Republicans, still stupid, still wrong.

"President George W. Bush is a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly." - Nelson Mandela

[ Parent ]

Problems (3.00 / 1) (#196)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:03:46 PM EST

Most of your complaints were just as bad under Clinton. The rich got richer, the poor got shit, and the CEO's screwed everyone! Social Security was in the tank, and the air quality still sucked! As for the tax cuts, that was the Republican Congress, and it happened AFTER a Clinton tax increase in 93. The economy was starting to tank before Bush even got into office, and of course 911 didn't help. It would be nice to blame the problems of the US on Bush, but it doesn't fly.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
No good reason? (4.80 / 5) (#55)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:55:45 PM EST

There is ample evidence to suggest that people with good communication skills are better at getting tasks accomplished. Given two individuals, one with poor communication skills and one without and all other things being equal, who would make the better president?

Personally, I'd rather have a president endowed with enough communication skills to realize that ducking one's head into a congressional meeting to say "Fuck Saddam! We're taking him out!" is not a good idea.

[ Parent ]

communication is not public oration (2.60 / 5) (#72)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:46:34 AM EST

Communication with individuals is not nearly the same as public speaking. Not even close. Most people in the nation have problems thinking and speaking in front of crowds, however those same people do not have problems communication in small groups.

I don't know how you can compare an informal discussion with impromptu policy defense in front of a hostile crowd where very word is going to be analyzed and broadcast across the nation.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

Categorical errors (3.00 / 1) (#207)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:48:33 PM EST

Not all communication skills consist of public oration, but public oration is definately a communication skill. Further, there is good reason to believe that a skilled public orator will have other communication skills as well and, all other things being equal, will the good public orator will make a better president than the person who sucks at public oratory.

[ Parent ]
Leadership roles (4.60 / 5) (#64)
by President Saddam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:11:07 AM EST

Speaking and communication skills are essential to perform as a leader or manager. If the people working for you don't know exactly what you want them to do, how are they supposed to do their jobs?

But you might be suggesting that the position of US President does not really require leadship skills, as it's a mere figurehead position. In the case of GWB's presidency, I'd be inclined to agree with you.


---
What part of "No, I didn't gas my own people" don't you understand?[ Parent ]

not impromptu speaking with an audience (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:43:28 AM EST

Having a conversation with somebody is much different than being forced to give impromptu policy defenses on television. Many people, such as President Bush, have a problem with public speaking. It really isn't a comparison.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Yes impromptu speaking with an audience. (3.00 / 3) (#100)
by President Saddam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 06:04:47 AM EST

If you can't impromptu speak adequately in front of an audience then you shouldn't be employed in one of the most difficult and important leadership positions in the world. There are many people who can. Perhaps if GWB is such a great thinker he should be an adviser to someone with real leadership skills.


---
What part of "No, I didn't gas my own people" don't you understand?[ Parent ]
Why? (3.00 / 2) (#103)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:48:00 AM EST

People are just asserting that public policy speaking should be a requirement for either office or to be considered a good candidate. Nobody, not a single person, has come ever close to saying why that is true. Everybody just keeps reverting to asserting that it is a required skill.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
Because it is self evident! (3.66 / 2) (#111)
by President Saddam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:38:53 AM EST

Leaders must lead. They must be able to relate to large groups of people in an unrehearsed, authentic way. That's one of the few requirements of being a leader. Name some great leaders of history who have been poor at public speaking...

---
What part of "No, I didn't gas my own people" don't you understand?[ Parent ]
Nixon, Richard Stallman, and Jack Welch (3.00 / 2) (#120)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:12:54 AM EST

All good leaders at one point, but poor orators.

In a time when the President is more a CEO or upper manager turning to his cabinet for policy decisions and with tele-prompters and speech writers, impromptu speaking is lost. While in the past leaders may have needed to stand in front of their troops and rally them with a speech, in the current world that isn't a requirement. If they can make good decisions and surround them with good advisors, then technology and writers can do the rest for him.

"Self-evident" is not an argument.

--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]

They're your examples?? Bwahahahaha!!!! (nt) (3.75 / 3) (#127)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:55:06 AM EST



---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Which one do you have a problem with? (3.00 / 1) (#184)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:41:10 PM EST

The decision process was a President, an Internet personality, and a CEO.

Nixon would have had a second term in office had ne not been stupid. He did what he was elected to do converning the war. He reopened dialogue with China.

Like it or not, without RMS the world would be a different place than you know of. He's called the god-father of the Free Software movement.

You seriously can't have a problem with Jack Welch. From an AskMen column:

Jack Welch paved a new road for business leaders everywhere. His legendary leadership and management techniques are an example to anyone aspiring to a successful career. He's the patron saint of CEOs everywhere.

He became the youngest CEO & Chairman of one of America's biggest and most respected companies (General Electric) at age 44, and proceeded to rewrite the rules of what an incredibly profitable and successful company should be, all while having fun in the process.

Jack Welch is a business legend. Some consider him an American treasure of sorts as he's not only helped General Electric (GE) become the world's most admired corporation, but has also helped other companies improve through his management ideas.

The man is a business genius. GE ranked as America's Most Admired Company 4 years running until Mr. Welch's retirement. He turned GE into such a powerhouse that it will likely stay in the top 10 for years to come.



--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
You're right (3.00 / 1) (#237)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:04:14 AM EST

I don't have a problem with Jack Welch. I misread you and thought you said Jack Welsh, the sports reporter.

The others... sorry, can't agree with you. Nixon had Watergate and RMS, well, he's an anti-social nut.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

You are arguing with Saddam Hussein (3.00 / 1) (#134)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:11:39 AM EST

Great examples, BTW. Exactly who I would have picked as three great leaders in history. *snicker*

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

(In goes the hat) Because... (3.00 / 1) (#171)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:21:57 PM EST

The leader in office must inform the country of his views and actions. American convention dictates that this be done through the media, often television— hence traditions such as the State of the Union address. The job of the leader in such addresses is to convince the country that his opinions are the right one. He will need an effective presentation to do so.

It's not about knowledge, or reason, or IQ levels. It's about selling your platform to your viewers. It's about convincing your voters that you're right. It's about reinforcing your party's supporters' confidence. It's about intimidating the opposition. These are all integral goals of the American politician, and presentation is an integral factor in their achievement.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

That's nice. (3.00 / 1) (#185)
by jjayson on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:45:43 PM EST

We are talking about extemporaneous speaking, though. Giving speaches prepared ahead of time is fine with me.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
So much for -my- ability to speak (3.00 / 3) (#194)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:23:18 PM EST

I forgot to conclude with my primary point. Oops.

Being able to speak confidently in an impromptu situation like a debate signals a confidence drawn from deep knowledge and understanding of the issues. Being able to respond to an arbitrary challenge reassures the voters that you definitely know what you're talking about, which, as a legislator, you should. All that I mentioned in my second paragraph above can be accomplished much more completely with solid public speaking than with scripted primetime television appearances.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

Our leader should be an effective speaker (3.66 / 2) (#228)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:43:02 AM EST

The President has several effective roles:
  • Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
    A Commander who cannot motivate those under his command through persuasive speech tends to be less effective in command.
  • Representative of the US to the World
    People who cannot speak well are perceived to be less intelligent than those who can. The President is the public face of the country, if he/she comes off as stupid, the country is viewed as stupid.
  • Chief Diplomat
    In addition to powers of war, the President is vested with the chief responsibility for preserving peace. A lack of ability to make a passionate, public plea for peace seriously undermines his/her ability to negotiate. Also, being an effective speaker is part of the actual face-to-face diplomacy often required in the current world climate.
So, while being a poor speaker doesn't mean that you make a poor President, it certainly reduces your ability to do your job. As such, a poorly-spoken President must make up for the shortcoming in other ways; our current leader does not do so.

Therefore (and for other reasons), IMO, President George W. Bush is a terrible leader.

----------
I don't like spam - Parent ]

Hereditary royalty (3.00 / 1) (#140)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:22:03 AM EST

Over here, the stench of hereditary royalty just increases over the White House, as some pundits are predicting Jeb Bush to run in 2008, after Junior's had his eight.
Well, I'd vote for Jeb over Hillary Clinton! Talk about "in the family"!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
In the family? (3.00 / 1) (#153)
by Happy Monkey on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:49:41 AM EST

What? A third Bush is less "in the family" than a second Clinton?
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
as entertaining as I find US politicians (4.00 / 5) (#30)
by VoxLobster on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 08:32:21 PM EST

I really don't think that there are very many viable US presidential candidates that could stand up to this type of verbal sparring. Obviously GW couldn't do it, most of the Democrat nominees couldn't handle it...I mean, look at Lieberman, so soft spoken. I couldn't imagine him trading barbs with anyone.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

If we had this (4.33 / 6) (#76)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:52:36 AM EST

a different kind of candidate would be considered viable. Don't worry, there are plenty of people on both sides who can debate well.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

The distant president (4.75 / 8) (#39)
by swr on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 09:33:09 PM EST

In many ways, the American president is much more distant than a PM.

When you see Bush on TV, his facial expressions seem contrived. Even the way he holds himself while he walks toward the reporters seems like a deliberate attempt to project some kind of image (although the only projection I seem to get from this is "fake").

Watching the news in Canada, it is not uncommon for reporters to snag MPs - including the PM - while they are walking through the corridors of the parliament buildings. I've even seen Mary Walsh on This Hour Has 22 Minutes with Jean Chretien on a number of occasions, which is always good for a laugh. Just take a look at this video clip.

I can't imagine George Bush ever allowing anyone to put him in such a situation. He'd get Ari Fleischer (or whoever his replacement is) to do it.



Er... correction (3.50 / 4) (#42)
by swr on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 09:42:04 PM EST

I wrote:
I can't imagine George Bush ever allowing anyone to put him in such a situation. He'd get Ari Fleischer (or whoever his replacement is) to do it.

After watching that clip again, I take that back. He wouldn't get Ari Fleisher to do it. In fact, he'd probably fire any press secretary who allowed himself to be put in such a situation.



[ Parent ]
Well... (4.00 / 2) (#216)
by Alannon on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:03:41 PM EST

You have to take it in context. Chretien has a great sense of humor and the 22 Minutes 'reporters' are a pretty common sight at press conferances. One of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV was when he was presented by the staff for an award for "most acting in a continuing role." Chretien thanked the presenter, then immediately turned to the microphone, held up the award, and proceded to thank all of the 'little people' who made this moment possible. Can you imagine any US president in recent memory being able to ham up a moment like that, on the spot?

[ Parent ]
They did snag him (4.50 / 4) (#172)
by doconnor on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:26:39 PM EST

The people at "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" did get to George W. Bush. It happened when he was still running for president. During a press conference they told him that he was endorsed by Prime Minister "Jean Poutine". Bush was happy with the endorsement.

[ Parent ]
Democracy (2.66 / 6) (#40)
by NaCh0 on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 09:35:15 PM EST

I submit that viewing the President as the symbol of all America is fundamentally undemocratic

You may be right if it weren't for those little things called elections.

And anyone who views one person as the symbol of all America is an idiot. It goes against the diversity that America posesses. The president may represent the majority, but not the whole.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.

And sometimes not even the majority (nt) (4.50 / 8) (#48)
by ensignyu on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:02:35 PM EST



[ Parent ]
News Flash: the US President isn't elected (2.75 / 3) (#58)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:43:23 AM EST

Read the US Constitution. Plus, electing politicians does not a democracy make.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
News Flash: you are about as clear as Bush (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:06:56 AM EST

Article II, Section I.
The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows...
Now if you meant that he is not popularly elected you would have a point, but instead you made an unclear statement a la Bush.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

You're the one defending the obfuscators (2.50 / 3) (#125)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:41:06 AM EST

You decided to ignore the "as follows" part on purpose, didn't you?

I bet without looking, the Iraqi constitution or equivalent under President Saddam had its own "The President shall be elected as follows" clause. The Devil's in the details, eh?

The US Presidential selection system weights "votes" by geographical region, making the "vote" of each resident of Wisconsin, for example, worth three times as much as the "vote" of a resident of say, California, and the "Winner take all" system of assigning electors disenfranchises as many people each "election" as the number of slaves denied the right to vote under the 3/5ths compromise. That is part of why the Presidential election and entire US representative system is a sham representative sytem, and certainly not a Democracy.

Clear enough?


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Electoral College (3.50 / 2) (#157)
by lpp on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:07:50 AM EST

You bring up two points about the current election format for the POTUS. First, you mention the concept of the electoral college (weighing votes by geographical region). Second, you refer to the "winner take all" system.

I'll address the second point first. Each state may determine how its electors are selected. Most states do employ a winner take all approach, such that the winner of a simple majority receives the benefit of all that states electors. Some states, however, do allow the division of the electoral slate for that college based on the popular vote. I personally prefer that approach, but really that isn't an issue with the US Constitution so much as it an issue with the voting laws of particular states.

Regarding the first point, the electoral college, while it isn't perfect, does address a valid concern of the framers of the Constitution. Consider that a large majority of constituents reside in major population centers. If I wished to win an election as POTUS and only had to concern myself with the popular vote, I could simply concern myself with the major cities of the US, and particularly only certain states. States like Idaho and Montana would not be likely to receive much of my attention, if any, as their votes wouldn't swing the election either way.

You may argue that that is still the case today, since each of those states still only offers 2 electors, but bear in mind that is the lowest threshold. Meaning that for all states in this "bottom tier", each has equal weight in the voting. Suddenly, carrying only the major population centers, or most of them, doesn't mean you are guaranteed the presidency, and it shouldn't.

The point is that while it is flawed, the electoral college isn't as bad as some make it out to be.

[ Parent ]

Historical data (4.00 / 2) (#177)
by Francis on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:01:28 PM EST

...the Presidential election and entire US representative system is a sham representative sytem, and certainly not a Democracy.

Historically there have only been three instances in which the power of the populace was usurped by the electoral college: Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000. The only other peculiar incident was in 1824, when none of the candidates received at least 50% of the electoral vote. The 12th amendment, in this case, called for the House of Representatives to then vote for the President. John Q. Adams was elected, though he recieved neither the popular vote nor the most electoral votes (Andrew Jackson received a majority of both).

In other words, in the 54 (I think) presidential elections that have taken place since the conception of the U.S. constitution, only 4 of them can be said to have elected a president who was not the popular choice (though we do not have popular voting records for the first 9 elections). And all of these were by a relatively narrow margin: George W. by about .5%; Harrison by about 1%; Hayes by about 3%; Adams by about 1.5%.

So, do you really think it is accurate to characterize the process as a "sham," or is it possible that you are only offering propaganda? As the other response to your post states: the electoral system is certainly flawed, but there were certainly good reasons for having it in place 200 years ago. I happen to be one who supports unseating the college and moving to a purely popular election, but I think it is disengenuous to characterize the current system as a "sham."
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

First you laud elections (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:28:45 AM EST

then you call a large portion* of the electorate idiots.

*disclaimer: does not include me

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

On further reflection. . . (2.00 / 3) (#47)
by Pop Top on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 10:55:32 PM EST

. . . maybe it should be the Karl Rove Question Time.

Also, jjayson writes this:

The advisors are responsible for policy in their individual areas so they should be the ones answering the questions. Maybe, if you want PM-style questioning, it shouldn't just be the President, but also his cabinet.

Does anybody else think the Bush cabinet is made up of a team of free thinking folk with the power to set policy without first clearing things with the Big Guy?

More the opposite.. (3.50 / 2) (#92)
by Kwil on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:43:05 AM EST

..I'm betting "The Big Guy" gets his views and policy handed to him by his cabinet. I sincerely doubt that GWB has any input into the matter other than that of a rubber stamp.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Questions for the whole cabinet (3.00 / 1) (#199)
by rigorist on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:22:16 PM EST

My understanding is that the other Ministers are also subject to questioning by the Commons.

Somebody from the UK wanna help me out here?

[ Parent ]

Yes, they are (3.00 / 1) (#205)
by Three Pi Mesons on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:29:21 PM EST

But not all at the same time. There are generally two sets of questions per day - like "Health" followed by "Environment" - the order determined by various complicated means to ensure that every minister is up for the same amount of time. Junior ministers will often be present too, to assist the main one. Ministers are also summoned to Select Committees fairly regularly.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
Kinda agree (2.75 / 3) (#49)
by godix on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:08:28 PM EST

I think there needs to be more communication between the president and the population in general. I don't think a Q&A is the best way to get at it though. Q&As are generally designed to do one of two things, they either are for the audience to get clarifications AFTER a generalized talk on a subject (you know, like how a teacher asks 'are there any questions' at the end of class) or they are designed to try and make someone look bad instead of getting to the truth. Q&As from the opposing party are almost always the type to make the president look bad instead of getting at any facts or truth.

Instead I think the press corps should be able to pick a topic. Within the week the president must come and give his views on that topic. After he's spoken his prepared statement there is a Q&A session for claification. Basically like a mini State of the Union speech but with questions instead of the opposing parties statement. This way you get the best of all worlds. The president has his cabinet memebers, who are the ones who actually make policy anyway (for any president not just Bush), get the info they want to out. The opposition gets a chance to ask serious questions in case the president tries to softball the speech. The news media tends to have a better grasp of what the public wants, after all thats the medias job, so the topics choosen will be of interest to a somewhat sizable % of the population.

Hell, this could be turned into a gameshow. Nationwide voting on what the next topic would be with one random lucky voter being flown to Washington DC to personally ask the President a question during the Q&A.


"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American

On the job training (4.00 / 4) (#54)
by cam on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:40:23 PM EST

Within the week the president must come and give his views on that topic.

The Bush vs Gore debate was horrible to watch as neither were skilled debaters. If a PM Question Time style is instituted then US Presidents will require strong debating skills and think on your feet answering skills. Only Presidents that can meet those skills will get elected.

The role of the US President as it currently is somewhat distanced and divorced from the population and that distance is stringently maintained through keeping the media at arms length and controlling the White Houses interaction with the media.

Anything that involves greater interaction and immediacy between the President/Executive being answerable for their position is a good thing IMO.

Also Question Time doesnt have to be on minutae, a President doesnt need a week to prepare when being asked on his/her commitment to freedom and liberty then asking why the White Houses rhetoric is consistent with the US Constitution but their actions are at odds with the Constitution.

Giving them a week to reply would put too much distance between the question and the answer. It is also guaranteed that it wont be their words either.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

True facts, differing opinions (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by godix on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:09:40 AM EST

We agree on the outcome of both the PM question time idea and my idea. What we differ on is if those outcomes are good or not.

PM Question Time style is instituted then US Presidents will require strong debating skills and think on your feet answering skills.

That isn't neccesarily a good thing. What would you prefer, a president that is used to instantly coming up with answers so he's announcing war with Afghan on 9/12 or a president who's slow and will take the time to verify it was Bin Laden then try to get Afghan to help capture him before invading?

Giving them a week to reply would put too much distance between the question and the answer.

Depends on how it's done. If the question is revieled to the public on the night of the address then the distance isn't precieved. Just because the players have time to practice doesn't mean the audience realizes it.

It is also guaranteed that it wont be their words either.

Good. For a large part it isn't their policy. Every modern president has relied quite heavily on advisors to form official policy. This isn't a problem with Bush either, all recent presidents of both parties have done it. If you want details on policies then the words of the people designing those details are more useful than a vauge presidental 'Well I said we should fight Iraq but it was Rumsfeld that designed the battle plans....' answer.


"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American
[ Parent ]
sorry, but (3.50 / 2) (#118)
by the sixth replicant on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:04:31 AM EST

a president has to be able to think on their feet. You think when they're meeting overseas dignitaries that they have time to say "Well, I can't answer that question now Mr Sharon, I'll have to get back to you after my speech writers have conferred."

Or what about The Situation Room? A President does have to make a lot of decisions, with new information in front of them, and with very little time. In fact, the more extreme the situation (9/11 anyone) the more these powers become essential.

Or was that an episode of West Wing....

Ciao

[ Parent ]

Dignitaries (3.00 / 1) (#217)
by godix on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:30:01 PM EST

Before a president meets any foreign dignitaries he has much more than a week to have his advisers prepare his statements and talking points. What's wrong with giving him a week to do the same for Congress?

The situation room doesn't even enter the debate. As an example, on 9/11 Bush gave the order that civilian planes should be shot down if it was thought they were being used to attack more targets. I've heard Bush quoted as saying that was the hardest decision he's had to make yet. Under the circumstances it was probably the correct choice though. Would it really have been any easier if he had to give in front of Congress with the opposition all ready to jump up and down and scream 'But what about the passengers/people in the buildings?!?!?' Giving necessary, but hard, orders has little to do with debating your opposition.


"A disobedient dog is almost as bad as a disobedient girlfriend or wife."
- A Proud American
[ Parent ]

I'd prefer (3.00 / 1) (#152)
by Happy Monkey on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:48:53 AM EST

a president who takes appropriate time to make decisions, but is willing and able to answer questions about decisions that have already be made.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Not a good analogy (3.33 / 2) (#174)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:39:33 PM EST

That isn't neccesarily a good thing. What would you prefer, a president that is used to instantly coming up with answers so he's announcing war with Afghan on 9/12 or a president who's slow and will take the time to verify it was Bin Laden then try to get Afghan to help capture him before invading?
Sorry, man, but think-on-your-feet debating skills simply can't be equated with rushed decisions.

The purpose of debate is not to make a decision. The purpose of debate is to expose and analyze all the angles and viewpoints of the matter at hand. This illustrates the possible courses of action, the viability of each one, and any facts which may still need to be established before a decision is made. This is the process that "thinking on your feet" speeds up, not the actual decision-making. An excellent quality for any politician.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

Bonus off-topic cheap shot (3.50 / 2) (#176)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:41:26 PM EST

Besides, it's not like Bush ever conclusively proved that the WTC and Pentagon attacks were engineered by bin Laden anyway.

There was the videotape which showed bin Laden describing the attack, which conclusively proved that he'd been watching CNN like everybody else in the world.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

Turnabout is fair play (2.07 / 13) (#53)
by IHCOYC on Wed Jun 18, 2003 at 11:38:54 PM EST

I agree. The President ought to appear and answer impromptu questions from lesser politicians every week. If nothing else, it will give the compilers of English usage manuals something to do.

In return, every citizen and alien in the USA ought to be made to appear before a representative of the executive branch of government --- say, a local FBI agent --- and answer their questions. The first few questions will have to do with your engagements --- where you've been, where you plan to go, what you've been doing with your time, that sort of thing. Then they can start asking the more interesting questions. . . . This goes on for at least an hour.

Let's make it that especially interesting interviews may be selected to air on television, which enters the lucky interviewees in a sweepstake for fabulous prizes. We can also give out prizes for best costume, most creative syntax --- this could be the greatest reality TV show ever! I'd watch it. How 'bout you?
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

I love PM Questions on C-SPAN (4.50 / 4) (#68)
by demi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:36:32 AM EST

It's one of my favorite things to watch, on the rare occasion when I actually watch some TV. But I don't think that setting helps hone intelligent arguments, or even honestly communicate to the public what the intentions and actions of the government will be. At its worst, it encourages a sort of pandering and showmanship that works against all attempts at transparent government. Instead of strongly advocating consistent, rational policies, a president would simply retreat into a labryinth of plausibly deniable half-promises, equivocations, and other chicanery. That is typical of the political acumen of Bush 41, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Al Gore, most Congressmen, etc. This type of politician absolutely loves hamming in front of the camera and takes every opportunity to do so. Public opinion and short-term polling forecasts are central to most decisions. At any given time, a complete policy reversal may occur because of polling.

The strategy of Reagan and Bush 43 is much more deliberate, relying on a basic central idea such as the tax cut, and exerting maximum political pressure on strategic members of the government until the goal has been reached. Any hatred from the opposition and the undecided middle are simply endured, and it is more long-term polling and fundraising trends that influence policy. The public is really only an indirect participant in this kind of power politics. In that sense, it is less directly democratic than having a president cater to everyone's wishes and try to make everyone love him. But it also puts the president's own party in serious jeopardy whenever ambitious legislation is in passage. Take Clinton's stochastic flip-flopping on well, everything, as an instructive example.

My intestines recoil at the thought of George W. Bush trying to survive a questions hour. It would be absolutely unwatchable, even more so than Gore Vidal's last appearance on Crossfire.

I submit that viewing the President as the symbol of all America is fundamentally undemocratic. THe President should not be viewed as a patriotic icon to be revered by the citizens of this country.

Okay. The GOP controls two of the three branches of the US government. It's relatively easy to hold a hard line when you are in control like this. The biggest problem is that the Democrats cannot decide what they stand for. They are in another identity crisis. Giving them yet another forum to voice their objections to Bush's policies wouldn't be effective if they cannot even agree with each other what their platform stands for. The best it could do would be to demonstrate the Bush is a poor orator, a well-known and largely irrelevant fact. The only, and I mean ONLY thing they are sticking to right now is that the economy is bad and that will bring down the President.

Whether the President dodges the questioning or whether the opposition party is guilty of badgering with irrelevant questions is a political matter to be decided by the public opinion of the American people.

The only people that would watch would be the ones that had already made up their minds. Most people wouldn't give a shit. There is a weekly radio address given by the President that almost no-one listens to. Most major network news casts pare back their national and world political content because people find it terribly boring. Putting more politics on the air would make almost no difference in the public opinion of the American people.

Voters elect the President, they elect the people that draft and enact legislation, and I don't see how putting the President in front of Congress on TV makes this system any more or less democratic.

5-4 Majority in the Judiciary... (2.75 / 3) (#86)
by baron samedi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:18:06 AM EST

I'd say they've got all 3 branches right now...
"Hands that help are better by far than lips that pray."- Robert G. Ingersoll
[ Parent ]
barely (3.50 / 2) (#95)
by demi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:16:11 AM EST

Many people don't realize that there is more to the Supreme Court than abortion and freedom of speech. There are only three solid conservative justices and two solid liberals, if you want to use the traditional dividing lines. The rest switch sides on a regular basis. Brennan's court isn't evenly balanced, but with nine justices one side is guaranteed the advantage. For now, though, I wouldn't say that the GOP controls the court. Sure, Scalia and Thomas seem to vote the party line, but nobody complained when Ruth Ginsburg's or Thurgood Marshall's voting record showed the same pattern.

Things may change soon. Especially if Bush wins re-election, the SCOTUS will gain a decidedly conservative slant and keep it for a long time. People are already getting bent out of shape about possible retirements this summer.

[ Parent ]

Radio address (3.00 / 1) (#131)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:09:40 AM EST

There is a weekly radio address given by the President that almost no-one listens to

I almost never listen to it. That's because I consider it political propaganda, and it probably dodges any hard questions on an issue. Sure, if there were direct questioning, some of them could be dodged a la Ari Fleischer. But I think Presidential candidates who always dodged the hard questions couldn't be elected.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

The best conception of democracy you can muster??? (3.12 / 8) (#70)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:41:47 AM EST

Please, I'm dying here, is making an unelected politician answer questions is the best conception of improving democracy that you can muster? You aren't even talking about democracy yet! You are talking about fiddling with the deck chairs of the titanic, while the idea of real democracy sinks under the growing waves of larger, more powerful, increasingly unnaccountable states and concentrations of economic power?

Does anyone out there want democracy anyway? Does anyone out there demand an equal right to decide, at your will, any of the important decisions that affect you? Or are you all satisfied with rubber stamping corporate selected "representatives," "voting" for an unelected Presidential liar, accepting as reasonable and wise the dictat of a couple hundred white millionaires, and calling the whole farce "Democracy" ???

Are there any more metabolically endowed suggestions out there for improving democracy?


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.

"Important decisions"? (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by tkatchev on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:32:08 AM EST

Uh, like what?

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Yes, like: (3.00 / 1) (#142)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:22:21 AM EST

constitutional rights
civil liberties
management of public resources like the airwaves, national forests, rivers...
taxes
environmental standards
social programs
foreign policy
war
drug policy
pollution controls
educational standards
and so on...

In short, any decision (now made primarily by corporate managers and their political cronies)that you think has a major direct influence on your life.

Are you telling me you don't think that there's anything important enough to you that you would claim the right to equal participation in the decision making process?


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Separation of Powers (4.50 / 4) (#84)
by Scrymarch on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:08:16 AM EST

Prime Minister's Question Time is a fine piece of political theatre; it provides an example of how the leader of the nation performs under pressure, and gives a regular chance for the leader of the Opposition to look clever.  It tends to favour good lawyers and formal debating-team style.  Looking foolish in parliament is no fun ...


In sheep country, dog-owners lock their pets in with a ram that gives the pooch a battering. The idea is to teach the dog to tread more warily when there are sheep around, if they don't fancy being shot. Duncan Smith hasn't yet learnt his lesson. That's why, when he announced that, in order to investigate the current status of the Scotland and Wales Offices, "I went to the Downing Street website," he was unprepared when a Labour wag shouted, "That's the closest you'll get."
  -- The Times 19 Jun

... but looking good is no guarantee of wider success.  William Hague, the last leader of the British Opposition, was reputedly excellent at Question Time; it didn't stop the Tories getting routed at the polls on election day, again.

Question Time is crucial to the UK constitution because it has so much power invested in parliament and its chief office, the Prime Minister.  Tony Blair has taken advantage of this, but he's also instituted regular PM press conferences, and the British press is far from genuflectionary.

US Presidents deal with a constitution with a greater separation of powers, including the Supreme Court, and the governors of States, but particularly the powerful Senate, which routinely filibusters aggressive reform.  The Senate is such a powerful house it lets America get away with a more courteous form of review.  Presidents have accumulated a lot of power, though, and GW Bush has very abstract, regal style, if you turn down the volume.  Question Time, or at least more frequent questions without notice outside parliament, would bring him back to earth in front of the TV camera.

"Crucial to the constitution" (4.00 / 2) (#110)
by Craevenwulfe on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:36:31 AM EST

Bearing in mind that the UK has no actual "Constitution" and is a framework formed by a number of different articles.

[ Parent ]
And customs (3.00 / 1) (#130)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:01:07 AM EST

which can be overturned in the blink of an eye. Such as Tony Blair declaring last week that the Law Lords would be replaced by a Supreme Court. No need to consult Parliament. He has the power to implement this on his own.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

or judicial revue (3.00 / 1) (#168)
by cam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:59:43 AM EST

No need to consult Parliament. He has the power to implement this on his own.

Or have it revued by the Judicial arm to determine its constitutionality. I think this is the failing of a non-explicit constitutional system.

Australia has a formal constitution but it is a fiction compared to the reality of how government is practiced in Australia. Despite having a formal document the process is still largely on conventions. So just having a constitution is no saving grace, it has to be explicit and match actual practise.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

I have no idea (3.25 / 3) (#187)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:49:01 PM EST

what you are talking about. No judicial review is necessary. Just declare "we don't need the Lord Chancellor we've had for 1400 years anymore" and it is so.

Also, it is judicial review, not judicial revue unless you mean the Law Lords are going to do an all-singing all-dancing musical rendition of the constitutionality.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Judicial Revue (3.66 / 2) (#202)
by Scrymarch on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 06:48:06 PM EST

Presumably they would mostly be performing covers of The Supremes.

.

That's really, really bad.  I'm terribly glad puns are no longer hanging offenses.

[ Parent ]

No Judical revue (3.00 / 1) (#212)
by cam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:29:20 PM EST

what you are talking about. No judicial review is necessary.

If there is a formal written constitution then it can be interpreted by the judicial. No formal constitution, no chance of the Judical arm determing whether one of the arms of government overstepped their constitutional powers. That is what I meant. There is no judical oversight stopping a Prime Minsters drive for absolute power.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

IN SOVIET ENGLAND (3.00 / 1) (#218)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:30:50 PM EST

the Prime Minister has oversight over the judiciary!

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Emergent property (3.00 / 1) (#203)
by Scrymarch on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 06:57:21 PM EST

Constitutions are emergent properties that evolve from their central explicit core over time.  This emergent process is in many ways an unpredictable product of many iterations of culture, events and the constitution itself.

As particularly useful and central conventions become apparent, it may be worth making them explicit.  But I think you're running Australia's constitution down too much when you say it bears no relation.  The American constitution has evolved a great deal from it's original Union of States without many explicit written changes.  The Australian constitution could perhaps use a mention of the PM, but the current document could mutate into Swiss-style cabinet government with the attendant cultural changes - I think that's a good thing.  The written constitution is like a good specification or high-level design, not the compiled code of a running application.

[ Parent ]

Emergent vs Explicit Constitution (3.00 / 1) (#213)
by cam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:44:03 PM EST

Constitutions are emergent properties that evolve from their central explicit core over time.

That is the British view of a constitution as a loose and malleable framework of conventions and implied responsible behaviour. The American viewpoint is that it is a fixed and immutable document that is the highest law in the land.

I prefer the American viewpoint. Madison et al realised that the main drive of executive government is absolute power. Whitlam even created a slogan for it, "crash or crash through". The only way to limit that is through an explicit document that the judicial arm has to ensure isnt stepped over by the executive or legislative.

The American constitution has evolved a great deal from it's original Union of States without many explicit written changes.

In 1776 the American States and people made a bargain with the Federal Government. They put in measures to change the constitution if needed through 2/3rds majority in the states and both houses. If they want to change the constitution there is a mechanism for it. That American governments have been making unconstitutional laws is a more a sign of the weakness of the judicial and legislative arms.

Even with increasing centralised power in the federal government, the US states are still able to tax independantly, the Australian States now get the GST as a handout. It is still a federal tax that is given as grants to the Australian states. Which is a crippling form of centralised power. The indepdnant tax collction of the NSW Government in 1934 gave Jack Lang the ability to stand against the Federal government.

Any mutation the Australian system has done moves it away from the current document, meaning it is based on convention and practice that the judicial cant explicitly interpret. This means the judicial becomes an activist arm. Already the Australian Supreme Court has said that free speech is implied in the Australian Constitution.

Make it a minimal and immutable document that limits federal power explicitly and puts near all power back in the hands of the states. If at any time the federal government over reaches their power, the states can knock them down through the courts. But if the states like the centralised power they can just not challenge the legislature in the courts.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Explicit and Emergent (3.00 / 1) (#262)
by Scrymarch on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 07:29:45 PM EST

That is the British view of a constitution as a loose and malleable framework of conventions and implied responsible behaviour. The American viewpoint is that it is a fixed and immutable document that is the highest law in the land.

Explicit constitutions which form the highest law of the land are great, but that's never the whole constitutional story.  Even from the first moment social conventions arise.  For instance in the pre-Civil War period the gentlemanly convention was that presidential candidates never campaigned for themselves.  That's clearly a constitutional settlement, but it was never captured in law, and it changed when Douglas broke the convention.  The term limits are another example.

I prefer the American viewpoint. Madison et al realised that the main drive of executive government is absolute power. Whitlam even created a slogan for it, "crash or crash through". The only way to limit that is through an explicit document that the judicial arm has to ensure isnt stepped over by the executive or legislative.

Fair call.  I'd even agree with you that Australian, British, Indian and Canadian PMs should have term limits of say eight years.  I disagree about fixed term limits for parliament though - I think it leads fairly inevitably to the boring and alienating marathon campaigns of American politics.

If they want to change the constitution there is a mechanism for it. That American governments have been making unconstitutional laws is a more a sign of the weakness of the judicial and legislative arms.

That's not what I'm claiming.  American and Australian governments have evolved in entirely legal and constitutional ways, but without necessarily capturing the evolution in an explicit constitutional amendment.

That constitutional grey area is or should be a source of innovation, though it also risks more power being grasped by every generation of central government.  Over time constitutional issues arise that make it essential to amend that central explicity document.

The GST issue in Australia is worrying, the tax reform was needed but it's quite a constitutional cost.  The right of states to raise taxes is still there, but powers tend to atrophy when unused.

The judicial activism you speak of is inevitable in eras of explicit constitutional change and explicit constitutional stasis.  In eras of change, like the recent introduction of the EU Charter of Rights into British law, judges are forced to be activists have by ruling on situations without clear precedent.  In situations of explicit constitutional stasis (like Australia), judges have to be activist to maintain the connection between the law and the current constitutional settlement.  The only way to limit judicial activism is surely to have a slowly changing constitution, like drops of pitch.

[ Parent ]

Explicit Constitution (3.00 / 1) (#201)
by Scrymarch on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 06:47:20 PM EST

Well, I was trying to bear that in mind.

Every non-anarchic government has a constitution.  Some have more explicit written parts.  Britain has the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and now a number of key European treaties tying it to the EU justice system.  It also has years of convention determining how all this works in practice.  That's all part of the constitution too.  The US has Madison's federalist masterpiece of an explicit constitution at its centre, around which the government has been built.  But think how much of US politics is determined by convention - like the convention of buying synchronised State policies on, say, drinking age, by tying it to Federal funds.  Or the winner-takes-all method by which States appoint their members of the Presidential electoral college.  Or the convention that a President only serves two terms, which lasted 150 years before having to be made explicit.  Or the Australian convention cam mentions of there being a Prime Minister.

The new Thai constitution runs to around 1400 pages, as I recall; it's very explicit indeed, because Thai businessmen and politicians were particularly devious at undermining the last one.

Of course, conventions can be fragile things.  Precisely because of how easy it is to change them, they should be handled with care, lest something be broken accidentally.  Which is where the fuss about the British Lord Chancellor has come from, though I suspect Question Time on Wednesday killed it.

[ Parent ]

Not just the PM (4.62 / 8) (#93)
by Stephen Turner on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:48:56 AM EST

It's not just the Prime Minister who has to answer questions in the House of Commons. All the government ministers have to do so at some time during the week. (And because the whole world isn't watching, the questions to individual ministers aren't quite such a theatrical spectacle).

It's hard to see how this would translate to the American system though. In Britain, there isn't a separation of executive and legislature — government ministers are Members of Parliament (or occasionally members of the House of Lords).

If you're curious, you can read all the debates in Hansard, which is published each morning with the previous day's business. PMQs is on Wednesday at noon.

Actually, we do (3.00 / 1) (#253)
by atsmyles on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:48:43 AM EST

The Congress often has hearings with members of the cabinet.

[ Parent ]
+1 (3.16 / 6) (#99)
by SanSeveroPrince on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:48:28 AM EST

While your article fails to deliver the promised discussion on democracy in its forms (always fun for a virtual barbecue), I do find your point of view interesting.

Separation of powers would be an interesting introduction in American politics. You could, for example, separate all the real power from the idiots...

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


You think we go easy on the president? (2.80 / 5) (#102)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:45:45 AM EST

Ummm.... The US political parties have been going after each other hammer and tong for as long as I've been alive - including presidents on both sides. Just because we don't have back benchers yelling in the background doesn't mean we don't.

Let's see. How did the characterizations go?

  1. Nixon: Liar, crook, tool for the Military Industrial Complex.
  2. Ford: Incompetent klutz.
  3. Carter: Goofy farmer incapable of beating off an angry rabbit.
  4. Reagan: Ronnie Raygun, living in a fantasy version of the 1950s.
  5. Bush I: So detached from reality he didn't notice the economy was going in down the tubes.
  6. Clinton: Liar, crook, tool for anyone willing to advance his career.
  7. Bush II: Frat boy who can't tell the difference between war and a kegger in the back yard.

Yup. We treat our presidents with kid gloves, we sure do!


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


It's that it's not PRODUCTIVE... (3.25 / 3) (#112)
by jpiterak on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:46:08 AM EST

It's not that we aren't hard on our Presidents... It's that the attacks (and political discussion in general) in the US seems unproductive.

It seems to me that political 'discussions' nowadays consist of the different sides standing on their soapbox and delivering their heavily-spun version of the truth. Each gets their five minutes in front of the camera, with noone to stand up and call the emporor's naked bluff.

This isn't to say that the ability to think on your feet, to actually debate, to have your facts straight and to be able to make your case in the line of fire is the be-all and end-all of political competence... But it would certianly be better than the incoherent sputtering we get from our politicians now.

[ Parent ]

oooo yeah. (3.00 / 1) (#221)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:20:29 PM EST

But, I'd like to point out that this isn't a new phenomenon; I don't think America has ever really had an age of political civility - heck, there used to be brawls on the floor of the House.

And didn't Andy Jackson's opponents use his illegitimate daughter as a campaign prop?


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
So? (4.00 / 2) (#113)
by President Saddam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:49:54 AM EST

The characterisations may be bad, but American presidents have gotten away a lot more compared to their English counterparts. Just think of all the scams that American presidents have nearly gotten away with - Watergate, Iran-contra, Lewinsky.

Remember that's all that we know about. It's probably the tip of the iceberg.

---
What part of "No, I didn't gas my own people" don't you understand?[ Parent ]

Something wrong (3.00 / 1) (#162)
by rmn on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:44:54 AM EST

I really think there's something wrong when people consider that Clinton getting a BJ from Lewinsky is "a scandal", but don't even bother to mention (or, probably, think about) the hundreds of thousands of people pointlessly killed by american bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq (to mention only the two most recent "gigs").

I really can't understand this american mentality that it's perfectly okay to kill people as long as everyone keeps their clothes on.

[ Parent ]

Very simple... (3.66 / 2) (#170)
by avdi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:14:48 PM EST

It's only a scandal if it a) is done on the sly; b) is not part of the President's mandate (or even job description); and c) does not enjoy majority support.

Clinton getting a BJ meets all the above requirements; war in Iraq and Afghanistan meets none.  Simple enough?

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
[ Parent ]

I didn't say complicated (4.00 / 2) (#225)
by rmn on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:11:05 AM EST

I didn't say it was complicated. I said it was wrong.

[ Parent ]
Having the media brats... (4.00 / 2) (#129)
by poopi on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:59:34 AM EST

...call the president names, is in no way comparable to being accountable in front of the elected representatives of the nation.

-----

"It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - Parent ]

TRAITOR! (2.33 / 2) (#179)
by Golden Hawk on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:34:50 PM EST

You can't say those things about the PRESIDENT!

-----

Seriously though, just look what happeend to the dixie chicks.

The Beetles also said they were bigger than jesus. Just because someone said it doesn't mean it's a socially acceptable opinion, and the same goes for your list of presidential critisisms.


-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

Two words: Dixie Chicks (2.33 / 2) (#191)
by epepke on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:52:47 PM EST

All they said was that the were ashamed that Bush was from Texas. Of course, this isn't true, as Bush is your average Northeast blue blood.

But still, that's all they said. Not that he was a liar or a cheat or that he looked like a chimp. Nothing even remotely as nasty as what our European friends poot out on a daily basis. Nevertheless, they're still the brunt of jokes. Probably good publicity for them, but still.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I am also ashamed (4.00 / 2) (#210)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:09:11 PM EST

that Bush claims he is from Texas. He also claims he has a ranch there. Here we refer to "windshield ranchers" like Bush with the expression "All hat, no cattle."

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Ummm... WTF did you expect? (3.00 / 1) (#219)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:10:26 PM EST

They took a political position diametrically opposed to the majority of their own fans. How did you think the fans would react? And what does that have to do with questioning the president during sessions of congress?


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
It was a subtle example (3.00 / 1) (#220)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:20:14 PM EST

of how politicians would try to sidestep the real issues by bringing up red herrings if such a system were installed.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

LoL. Politicians didn't bring up the issue. (4.00 / 2) (#232)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:25:50 AM EST

The Dixie Chicks did, by completely misreading their own audience. The backlash came from their fans, not the politicians.


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
I expected exactly that (3.00 / 1) (#247)
by epepke on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:20:39 PM EST

But I'm not the one pretending that Presidents don't get honeymoon points.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I remember (4.50 / 4) (#104)
by epepke on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 07:59:41 AM EST

Back when Ted Kennedy was running for president, there was an editorial saying that he would make a lousy president but an excellent king. I'm not sure that this is true, but it's an interesting slant.

You've hit on some of the problems with having the head of state being the same as the head of government. One of the best descriptions of the English monarchy that I've ever heard was that they were important not for the power they wield but for the power that they prevent other members of the government from wielding.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


Holy shit, you're a genius! (1.41 / 12) (#114)
by Kax on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:54:18 AM EST

I submit that viewing the President as the symbol of all America is fundamentally undemocratic. THe President should not be viewed as a patriotic icon to be revered by the citizens of this country.

Why didn't I think of that before!? !

Thank you, you pompous dork, for pointing that out!  Maybe we can get together sometime and practice folding 'rather' into even more everyday conversation!

Thomas Paine (3.50 / 2) (#124)
by gr00vey on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:30:27 AM EST

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from it's government". Not sure where all your bashing is directed at?

[ Parent ]
Structural Difrences (3.50 / 4) (#115)
by TACBAF on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 08:58:31 AM EST

I don't think that would work. The existance of the Q & A in britain (and other multiparty democratical countries, mine included) is because of the organisation of the Government.

In Britain, for example, the Prime-Minister is a man appointed by the Monarchy, normally the leader of the party with the most seats in the house of commons, and he then forms his government.
Any laws that he wants changed he must the propose to the HOC (House of commons) and it must be there aproved. (not talking about the House of Lords, because although that also affects the british government it is a governmental structure that only happens in britain)
The HOC, being mainly composed by his fellow party members then votes to see if the porposal passes or not. Here you understand why most of the times the PM is chosen based on the results of the House of Commons. It results on more stability, since it wouldnt make sense that a government led by a PM would have his party in minority in the HOC. He could hardly get anything done since none of his (or hardly any) proposals would be approved.
(I'm not sure of this, but i think that even when the voting for the HOC is held, if the major party changes the PM must present his resignation to the monarch who will accept nominating the new major party leader as PM). Also In britain the a member of the HOC is elected mainly on what party he belongs too, being that who he is is just a strong bonus

In the USA the voting for the President has absolutily nothing to do with the voting for the Senate or for the House of Reprisentatives. Although often the results of one directly influence the other the President is a man on his own. Even though he too must propose his bills and they must be approved by both Houses it has been more than once that the US has had a Republican Leader with the Houses holding majority Democratic seats, or the other way around. The house of commons members are elected based mainly on who he is, than what party he belongs too. (in oposition to britain's HOC)
Although the President needs the houses he doesnt have his place due to them, therefore he doesnt need to report to them.

Another big difference is also the divisions of power between houses and government leader. While in the US, the president holds full executive powers while the Houses hold practically full legislative powers (if not for the the existence of the presidential veto), while in Britain, being that the PM is chosen based on the results of the HOC the major party holds, at all times, both executive and most of legislative powers.
This of course brings up the neccesity of the PM having to justify himself not only to the House from which he attained his position, but also to the rest of the country, in reprisentation in the HOC.

While in the US, there is never the danger of abuse of power, with such a split division of power (specially since house of representatives members are very little attached to the parties). In britain, if not for Q & A, if a PM had majority (>50%) control of the HOC the PM could do as he please never having justify himself to that that got him his position in the first place, the HOC!

before some know-it-all points it out (2.50 / 3) (#117)
by TACBAF on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:01:16 AM EST

I know britain isnt a multiparty democratical country, just that in relation to its House of Commons, Prime Minister and his chose Ministers it works just like one...

[ Parent ]
how is that a good thing? (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:22:08 AM EST

if the PM is always the same party as the majority party in the HOC then teh opposition has almost no voice, and certainly not a voice that means anything.

in the American system, either party can be in majority of the house and senate and both houses have important parts to play in the construction of legislation. a Republican house might pass a bill, but if the senate is Democratic then it is less likely that they will pass the bill (depending on what the bill is about of course)

and on top of that either party can be in control of the White house. this means that even is the congress is controled by a large majority of one party, if the president is from the other party, he has the almighty Veto....not to mention the mind share he has with the american people that members of congress do not. this gives him/her a gigantic bully pulpit to push through legislation he/she wants.

so in teh American system opposition/minority parties still have a very strong role to play in the government...of course the opposition party can be silenced is the american people vote in a majority in both houses of congress and the white house....there there is very little they can do, but then why should they have a say in that situation? obviously they do not care what the minority party has to say in that case.

[ Parent ]

Depends on the parties (3.00 / 1) (#166)
by Three Pi Mesons on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:51:43 AM EST

The ruling party might not have a very large majority - or might even be a coalition of smaller groups if no one party is large enough to form a government. In either case, they will be forced to make concessions to the opposition and seek support from people outside their own party. Even Blair, who has an enormous Commons majority, had to rely on Tory votes in the resolution on the Iraq war - so many of his own Labour party voted against.

Actually, I think the strength of the party system is a terrible thing for our democracy. The degree of control exercised by the whips makes it very hard for an individual MP to express their own opinion. It's considered big news when a "renegade" MP votes against their party. If there's any reform that needs to be done of British politics, it's not changing the way Parliament works, but reducing the power of the party machine. (Oh, and giving Select Committees more power would be nice.)

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]

I think Bush feels he's above all that (2.50 / 3) (#119)
by Dphitz on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:11:11 AM EST

Judging by his facial expressions, reactions and other body language while answering questions, he always appears to me to be greatly annoyed with the whole process. With the veil of secrecy this administration has placed upon itself, they seem to be wanting to separate themselves more and more from public view or accountability. They've taken on the attitude that they should be allowed to do what they "know" is best and not be questioned.

I would love to see a question and answer forum but it will never happen here. Through our own actions and the current and previous President's actions, this office has been placed on a pedestal so high it won't come down anytime soon.



God, please save me . . . from your followers

You call that Democracy? (4.42 / 7) (#122)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:19:45 AM EST

No, no, no! This will not do at all! I call for something far more radical. I propose that we have something called a "voting queue" and an "editing queue" and we decide issues this way.

Let me expound: an issue comes in that needs some debate. Members write up a story, submit it to the editing queue for peer review of their colleagues. Any corrections can be made during this process. After a certain period of time the proposal is voted on, and if an arbitrary number of members decide that the proposal is without merit the issue is dropped and not discussed any more. If enough members decide that it's good then the issue gets debated some more and is then acted on.

This is far more democratic than the system you propose and rather more things would get done if this was put into place.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú


---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה

And! And! (3.50 / 3) (#128)
by DrJohnEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:55:10 AM EST

Every remark that any representative makes can be evaluated for quality by his colleagues, on a scale of 1 to 5. This would make it easier for the media to filter out the more relevant or insightful comments.

A system could even be put in place to grant "Trusted Representative" status to reps whose ratings are consistently high; they would be entrusted with the power to assign a "zero rating" to remarks which are filled with meaningless buzzwords, or remarks which don't actually answer the question posed. Any remarks with an average rating of less than 1 would be instantly identified as useless.

Plus a Fiction Section would be cool.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

There ARE potential problems (3.00 / 1) (#136)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:14:15 AM EST

For instance: you are calmly going about your business, protecting everyone's freedom of speech, and some callous dictator takes away your ability to evaluate people's arguments.

I also see problems with people abusing the "voting queue" by writing up frivilous articles designed to provoke others. The same problem could occur in the comments process! I think a good name for this would be "ogreing"... it has a certain ring to it, does it not?

Another thing I would do is abolish the media and replace it with a new form of expression called "Diaries". There, everyone gets to have their say with no risk of being censored!

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Micro-managing a country (3.00 / 1) (#241)
by Rich0 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:49:52 PM EST

Unless the population only votes on vague notions of policy direction (which of course would be re-interpreted by the bureaucrats) this isn't going to work.  The average citizen isn't going to come home from work and then tackle a couple thousand posts requesting various policy changes.  

At some point you need to have representatives.  I think that we could stand a system that removes the tremendous power that incumbants possess, and which gives the people more say in what goes on.   A system which makes politicians less accountable to lobbyists than the voters might also be a good idea.  However, direct democracy is just going to result in law A getting passed on monday, followed by law B which contradicts it getting passed on tuesday...

[ Parent ]

PM Question time is a circus act (3.50 / 2) (#138)
by Alhazred on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:18:34 AM EST

I suggest you talk to people in the British political system before you espouse this. Most British politicians think the entire thing is stupid. Basically it winds up being not much more than a PR excersize in which the opposition tries to make the PM look bad, and the PM tries to make himself look good and/or the opposition look bad.

Consider recent events vis-a-vis Iraq. Tony Blaire simply stood up in front of parliament and lied blatantly in response to every question. It was a pure BS PR exercise. The questions were calculated with the cameras in mind, and the answers were predigested pap.

I agree that DEBATE is the heart and soul of democracy. I simply disagree that dog-and-pony-shows are meaningful debate.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.

Lies, damn lies and politicians. (3.00 / 1) (#149)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:37:27 AM EST

Consider recent events vis-a-vis Iraq. Tony Blaire simply stood up in front of parliament and lied blatantly in response to every question. It was a pure BS PR exercise. The questions were calculated with the cameras in mind, and the answers were predigested pap.

This is as opposed to the U.S., where Colin Powell simply blatantly lied in front of the U.N. Security Council and it was a pure BS PR exercise. The spectacle was calculated with the cameras in mind and the "evidence" was manufactured pap.

Who took lessons from whom again?

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

How do we know he lied? (3.00 / 1) (#169)
by Francis on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 12:02:48 PM EST

That is, has there been some revelation about it of which I wasn't aware? I must have missed this in the news...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Been living under a rock, have we? (3.00 / 1) (#236)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:52:27 AM EST

Why don't you check out the original remarks to the United Nations Security Council yourself?

We know that Saddam Hussein has what is called quote, "a higher committee for monitoring the inspections teams," unquote. Think about that. Iraq has a high-level committee to monitor the inspectors who were sent in to monitor Iraq's disarmament.

Not to cooperate with them, not to assist them, but to spy on them and keep them from doing their jobs.

Yeah, that's right. Waltz into his country, do what you like! Goodness, they don't like it and have formed a committee to work out how to deal with things? Shame on them!

Allow me to demonstrate an example of misleading information in Colin Powell's speech:

Iraq also has refused to permit any U-2 reconnaissance flights that would give the inspectors a better sense of what's being moved before, during and after inspectors.

Let's see what Hans Blix's update to the Security Council says:

In this updating I am bound, however, to register some problems. Firstly, relating to two kinds of air operations.

While we now have the technical capability to send a U-2 plane placed at our disposal for aerial imagery and for surveillance during inspections and have informed Iraq that we planned to do so, Iraq has refused to guarantee its safety, unless a number of conditions are fulfilled.  As these conditions went beyond what is stipulated in resolution 1441 (2002) and what was practiced by UNSCOM and Iraq in the past, we note that Iraq is not so far complying with our request.  I hope this attitude will change.

So it seems that Iraq said "Sure, we'll let you fly your U-2 planes over Iraq, but we have some conditions we need to impose." Sounds pretty fair to me! So they didn't point-blank refuse to let the U-2's in - to say otherwise is rather misleading, don't you think?

In this whole time that Iraq has been occupied, don't you think that it's a little strange that they haven't found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction?

That's all I have to say.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú


---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Perhaps you have... (2.75 / 3) (#242)
by Francis on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:40:27 PM EST

Yeah, that's right. Waltz into his country, do what you like! Goodness, they don't like it and have formed a committee to work out how to deal with things? Shame on them!

Indeed, shame on them. There are some curiosities in your language here. Chiefly, I am curious by the fact that you refer to Iraq as "his country." To me this suggests that you feel that Iraq was in the control/governance of one individual (I assume Saddam Hussein). And by it's context, it seems that you do not feel that this is bad situation. Do you lament the fact that Saddam Hussein has been deposed?

Also, you say that the inspectors "waltzed" into Iraq, as if it were as arbitrary and capricious as dancing. The U.N Security Council voted unanimously to restart the inspections process, based on Iraq's escalating non-compliance with prior Security Council resolutions.

And you call it a "committee to work out how to deal with things?" Are you serious? Do you really think it was as innocuous as this sounds? This "committee," as you call it had but one purpose: to derail any attempts on the part of the inspection teams to discover evidence of banned weapons. Hans Blix even flatly stated that he was quite certain that there were listening devices planted in the hotel of the inspectors. That committee of yours was very busy...

Let's not forget that the inspectors were sent in under a U.N. mandate to locate evidence of the production, disposal or development of banned weapons, and that mandate was issued as a result of Iraq's behavior. Iraq was not in a position, based on the mandate, to interfere, spy on, or otherwise attempt to sabotage the inspections.

So it seems that Iraq said "Sure, we'll let you fly your U-2 planes over Iraq, but we have some conditions we need to impose." Sounds pretty fair to me! So they didn't point-blank refuse to let the U-2's in - to say otherwise is rather misleading, don't you think?

On the contrary, I find your statement to be rather misleading. What if their condition was that they need to know precisely when and where the over flights would occur in advance? What would then be the point of the over flights? Once again you seem to have forgotten that Iraq was a nation that had repeatedly demonstrated non-compliance with UN resolution, and the UN had issued this mandate for inspections to try to bring them into compliance. Iraq was at the mercy of the UN, or so they should have been. That is one of the disadvantages of being a brutal, totalitarian state: sometimes the world doesn't like what you do and will do something about it.

In this whole time that Iraq has been occupied, don't you think that it's a little strange that they haven't found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction?

Yeah, I do. If there were weapons there in the first place, then there is still a mystery to solve. If there weren't, then the western intelligence community has some soul-searching to do (the fact that there are tons of Chem/Bio weapons still missing from the early 90's inspections suggests that there is still a mystery to solve). Either way, Mr. Powell is a mouthpiece, not a gatherer of intelligence. If he was given bum information, it isn't sensible to hold him responsible.

BOTTOM LINE:

All the rabble above is beside the point. You still have not offered any evidence that the U.S. Secretary of State knowingly and blatantly lied. You have only said that you disagree with his policies and tactics. Oh well, join the club--its about 3 billion strong now.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

And your answer is... (3.00 / 1) (#250)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:59:21 PM EST

Indeed, shame on them. There are some curiosities in your language here. Chiefly, I am curious by the fact that you refer to Iraq as "his country." To me this suggests that you feel that Iraq was in the control/governance of one individual (I assume Saddam Hussein). And by it's context, it seems that you do not feel that this is bad situation. Do you lament the fact that Saddam Hussein has been deposed?

Ah, that's the way. Change the argument subtly by asking whether I "lament the fact that Saddam Hussien has been deposed". Incidently, when I said "his country" it's like me saying "your country" (e.g. "Your country is going to war for reasons other than what was stated").

Also, you say that the inspectors "waltzed" into Iraq, as if it were as arbitrary and capricious as dancing. The U.N Security Council voted unanimously to restart the inspections process, based on Iraq's escalating non-compliance with prior Security Council resolutions.

OK, fair enough. I concede this point as I recognise you are correct: the inspection process was not arbitrary or unjust.

And you call it a "committee to work out how to deal with things?" Are you serious? Do you really think it was as innocuous as this sounds? This "committee," as you call it had but one purpose: to derail any attempts on the part of the inspection teams to discover evidence of banned weapons. Hans Blix even flatly stated that he was quite certain that there were listening devices planted in the hotel of the inspectors. That committee of yours was very busy...

Would the US government do things any differently? I'm sure if you had inspection teams running around the US then they would be bugging to their gills.

The problem with what you just said is that it's all based on conjecture. How do you know the committee wasn't formed for the very purposes that the Iraqis stated? You can't.

Let's not forget that the inspectors were sent in under a U.N. mandate to locate evidence of the production, disposal or development of banned weapons, and that mandate was issued as a result of Iraq's behavior. Iraq was not in a position, based on the mandate, to interfere, spy on, or otherwise attempt to sabotage the inspections.

All I have to say about this is from Hans Blix's update:

Cooperation on process

It has regard to the procedures, mechanisms, infrastructure and practical arrangements to pursue inspections and seek verifiable disarmament. While inspection is not built on the premise of confidence but may lead to confidence if it is successful, there must nevertheless be a measure of mutual confidence from the very beginning in running the operation of inspection.

Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field.  The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt. We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul.  Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good.  The environment has been workable.

Our inspections have included universities, military bases, presidential sites and private residences.  Inspections have also taken place on Fridays, the Muslim day of rest, on Christmas day and New Years day.  These inspections have been conducted in the same manner as all other inspections.  We seek to be both effective and correct.

In this updating I am bound, however, to register some problems. Firstly, relating to two kinds of air operations.

While we now have the technical capability to send a U-2 plane placed at our disposal for aerial imagery and for surveillance during inspections and have informed Iraq that we planned to do so, Iraq has refused to guarantee its safety, unless a number of conditions are fulfilled.  As these conditions went beyond what is stipulated in resolution 1441 (2002) and what was practiced by UNSCOM and Iraq in the past, we note that Iraq is not so far complying with our request.  I hope this attitude will change.

Another air operation problem - which was solved during our recent talks in Baghdad - concerned the use of helicopters flying into the no-fly zones.  Iraq had insisted on sending helicopters of their own to accompany ours. This would have raised a safety problem. The matter was solved by an offer on our part to take the accompanying Iraq minders in our helicopters to the sites, an arrangement that had been practiced by UNSCOM in the past.

I am obliged to note some recent disturbing incidents and harassment.  For instance, for some time farfetched allegations have been made publicly that questions posed by inspectors were of intelligence character. While I might not defend every question that inspectors might have asked, Iraq knows that they do not serve intelligence purposes and Iraq should not say so.

On a number of occasions, demonstrations have taken place in front of our offices and at inspection sites.

The other day, a sightseeing excursion by five inspectors to a mosque was followed by an unwarranted public outburst.  The inspectors went without any UN insignia and were welcomed in the kind manner that is characteristic of the normal Iraqi attitude to foreigners.  They took off their shoes and were taken around.  They asked perfectly innocent questions and parted with the invitation to come again.

Shortly thereafter, we receive protests from the Iraqi authorities about an unannounced inspection and about questions not relevant to weapons of mass destruction.  Indeed, they were not.  Demonstrations and outbursts of this kind are unlikely to occur in Iraq without initiative or encouragement from the authorities.  We must ask ourselves what the motives may be for these events.  They do not facilitate an already difficult job, in which we try to be effective, professional and, at the same time, correct. Where our Iraqi counterparts have some complaint they can take it up in a calmer and less unpleasant manner.

On the contrary, I find your statement to be rather misleading. What if their condition was that they need to know precisely when and where the over flights would occur in advance? What would then be the point of the over flights? Once again you seem to have forgotten that Iraq was a nation that had repeatedly demonstrated non-compliance with UN resolution, and the UN had issued this mandate for inspections to try to bring them into compliance. Iraq was at the mercy of the UN, or so they should have been. That is one of the disadvantages of being a brutal, totalitarian state: sometimes the world doesn't like what you do and will do something about it.

Point taken: I'm not entirely sure what the conditions were. Then again, neither do you! So until either of us discovers what the conditions were this is a moot point.

Yeah, I do. If there were weapons there in the first place, then there is still a mystery to solve. If there weren't, then the western intelligence community has some soul-searching to do (the fact that there are tons of Chem/Bio weapons still missing from the early 90's inspections suggests that there is still a mystery to solve). Either way, Mr. Powell is a mouthpiece, not a gatherer of intelligence. If he was given bum information, it isn't sensible to hold him responsible.

That was the point I was trying to make: the Security Council was mislead. "Blatant lie"? Alright, perhaps not, but the results have been the same!

BOTTOM LINE:

All the rabble above is beside the point. You still have not offered any evidence that the U.S. Secretary of State knowingly and blatantly lied. You have only said that you disagree with his policies and tactics. Oh well, join the club--its about 3 billion strong now.

BOTTOM LINE:

While I agree that Colin Powell didn't deliberately lie (your comments forced me to look at his remarks again) I do believe that what was stated was misleading. Even Hans Blix stated that Iraq were disarming themselves, and that:

Hans Blix statement to Security Council, 8th March 2003

As I noted on 14 February, intelligence authorities have claimed that weapons of mass destruction are moved around Iraq by trucks and, in particular, that there are mobile production units for biological weapons. The Iraqi side states that such activities do not exist. Several inspections have taken place at declared and undeclared sites in relation to mobile production facilities. Food testing mobile laboratories and mobile workshops have been seen, as well as large containers with seed processing equipment. No evidence of proscribed activities has so far been found. Iraq is expected to assist in the development of credible ways to conduct random checks of ground transportation.

You are correct when you say I dislike his policies and tactics, and this is coming from someone who has a great deal of respect for Americans and the American government! Some of them appear to be very arrogant and not well-considered. The whole situation with Iraq could have been dealt with in a much better way. This, however, is like crying over spilt milk. I can only hope that the US is able to form a proper government and play some part in stopping the persecution of the citzens of Iraq. In this regard I do not disagree with the US.

Yours civilly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Yes, fair enough. (4.00 / 2) (#255)
by Francis on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:45:17 AM EST

We can agree to disagree on some points pertaining to the inspection process, but at least we have reached an accord about Secretary Powell's behavior. Mr. Powell is one of the few officers of the U.S. government for whom I have a degree of respect. I do not always agree with his policies either, but I have always considered him to be forthright. We can agree to disagree on that as well.

I would, however, like to offer my thoughts on some of your points--not in an attempt to be contentious, but simply to offer a different perspective.

First, I'd like to say that I wasn't trying to "change the argument subtly." I had thought, in fact, that was what you had done when you had taken my question about when and how Powell had lied, ignored it, and responded with a dissertation about the rights of the Iraqis in the inspection process. Only you weren't very subtle. I did not create a tangent; I only carried yours further.

Would the US government do things any differently? I'm sure if you had inspection teams running around the US then they would be bugging to their gills.

This is a compelling argument, and the analogy of an international intervention in the U.S. has been brought up many times in defense of Iraq's national rights. Because the truth is that the Americans would never stand for an international body investigating them on their own soil. But consider the likliehood of there ever being an inspection of some sort of the U.S, or any other developed democratic state, for that matter. The UN's inspection and peace-keeping activities have nearly exclusively been restricted to theocratic or autocratic states which have perpetrated, or threatened to perpetrate, harm on other states or peoples. And there is a reason for this, of course: democratic states, such as in Europe and much of the Americas, are the ideal. In other words, nations that exhibit enlightened ideals and show at least a glint of respect for human rights, like the U.S. and those in Europe, earn the right, so to speak, to not have their sovereignty compromised by the U.N. And for those nations that cannot abide by the rules of humanity the U.N. becomes quite a nuissance. The analogy, as it turns out, is not parallel.

The problem with what you just said is that it's all based on conjecture. How do you know the committee wasn't formed for the very purposes that the Iraqis stated? You can't.

True dat. Point taken. Both of our positions are based in conjecture here.

While I agree that Colin Powell didn't deliberately lie (your comments forced me to look at his remarks again) I do believe that what was stated was misleading. Even Hans Blix stated that Iraq were disarming themselves...

Well, we are back to the crux of the matter. Every bit as much skepticism and mistrust that you have for Powell, I have as much for Blix. We are standing on opposite sides of the street on this, and I don't think there is much point in shouting back and forth.

This, however, is like crying over spilt milk. I can only hope that the US is able to form a proper government and play some part in stopping the persecution of the citzens of Iraq. In this regard I do not disagree with the US.

Your spilled milk comment is quite refreshing. Since the beginning of this conflict, the "opposition" has repeatedly accused the U.S. of not being concerned with the needs of the Iraqi people. At the same time, I have gotten the impression that these same people are anxious to see Iraq in a bad state, even at the expense of the Iraqi people, if only to give legitimacy to their objections of the U.S. It is good to hear someone who is not stuck looking backwards but is hopeful for the future.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Your rebuttal is lucid and intelligent (3.00 / 1) (#256)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 07:37:26 AM EST

I'm glad that we could debate this cordially and with little rancour. My posts have certainly had enough to make someone respond in an inflammatory way. My subject-line Been living under a rock, have we? and my sarcastic undertone were not helpful for the rational discussion of this sensitive issue. I greatly appreciate the level of maturity you have displayed when responding to my comments.

I feel that I should explain why I took umbrage to your comment on whether I lamented the fact that Saddam Hussein was deposed. For the record, I do not feel any sense of sorrow that he is no longer in power. He was a brutal, cold-blooded and merciless killer who held his country to ransom for the pursuit of power. My point of contention was that people were mislead by Colin Powell in the Security Council, which as you so reasonably pointed out was not "blatant lies". I suppose I used it to parrot Alhazred's argument and make a point. I regret my use of this phrase.

When it comes to my views on Hans Blix, I feel that he was amazingly nonpartisan when it came to weapons inspections. None of his statements or documents that I have read so far indicate to me that he was anything but even-handed in his dealings with Iraq and the United Nations. He does not appeared to have favoured either the Iraqis, who wished to stop all weapons inspections, or the "coalition of the willing", who wished to depose of Saddam's dictatorship.

The last point that I would like to engage you on is your assertion "And for those nations that cannot abide by the rules of humanity the U.N. becomes quite a nuisance." I'm really not sure I can agree with this. In certain areas, such as the atrocities committed in Bosnia, the U.N. were remarkably unwilling to do anything for the longest period of time. The other point you should consider is that the war on Iraq was not sanctioned by the United Nations.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú


---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Thanks (3.66 / 2) (#257)
by Francis on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:18:09 PM EST

The last point that I would like to engage you on is your assertion "And for those nations that cannot abide by the rules of humanity the U.N. becomes quite a nuisance." I'm really not sure I can agree with this. In certain areas, such as the atrocities committed in Bosnia, the U.N. were remarkably unwilling to do anything for the longest period of time.

Quite right: the UN has been inadequate, at best, in dealing with some of the human rights crisis of the last decade or so. The point I was trying to make (which was not worded properly) was that states that engage in inhumane or tyrannical practices give license to the UN to engage those states on these matters. The UN does not always take them to task, and when it does, it does not always do it well, but the point is that these "rogue" nations have opened themselves up to the possibility of international sanctions or interventions by virtue of their behavior. Which is to be considered opposed to the enlightened, democratic states in the world, such as the US and Europe, who should have no reason to fear potential UN actions.

The other point you should consider is that the war on Iraq was not sanctioned by the United Nations.

Yes, but the UN did engage Iraq with the inspections process, which follows from the point I made just above: Iraq's behavior was egregious enough for the UN to make impositions upon them, and the UN did so with the inspectors. It was a case where the American government, and a majority of the American people, felt that the UN's actions were inadequate enough to warrant independent action (or nearly independent).

And thank you for your kind words. I wish more discourse on K5 could follow this path. I have tried with my footer to indicate my intolerance for those who cannot manage to be civil and respectful in their discourse.

Take care...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Colin Powell Should Take Responsibility... (3.00 / 1) (#252)
by TACBAF on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:32:06 AM EST

for his actions... he aint no dummy and he knows perfectly well what he was going to do. To try and sell an idea so the US wouldnt have to go in against International Opposition.

Powell has plenty of experience and he would have never admited himself into a position of a scape goat. He knew perfectly well what he was going to say and to what end.

[ Parent ]
How about an alternative view... (2.75 / 3) (#239)
by Alhazred on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:46:08 PM EST

The inspection teams were loaded up with western intelligence operatives, so OF COURSE the Iraqi's had to keep tabs on them!

Besides, no sane government would fail to closely monitor a team that had unlimited access to its facilities, records, and personnel. To expect otherwise would be to assume the Iraqis were completely stupid.

Given that we don't seem to have WMD anywhere in Iraq then the only self-consistent explanation of what went on is that for whatever reason the inspectors represented a terrible threat to Saddam's regime and had to be constantly monitored and kept away from this, that, or the other. Considering that the US was already planning an invasion (Clinton basically decided on that in '98, he was just derailed by the Lewinski thing) its not too tough to figure out that western spies  were highly unwelcome just on general security grounds.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

To whom are you speaking? (3.00 / 1) (#249)
by Francis on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:10:31 PM EST

Okay...you thought the Iraqis had every right to spy on the inspectors. Fine. I disagree, but that is no matter. We were not discussing our views on the inspections; I had simply asked for an explanation for what Mr. Powell lied about. Everyone is quick to tell me that they don't like Colin Powell, or that they don't like his policies, but you're not telling me how he is a "blatant liar." That is all I am asking.

As a side, though, what evidence do you have to support the theory that Pres. Clinton planned to invade Iraq in 1998?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Does one lie justify another? (3.00 / 1) (#240)
by Alhazred on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:52:18 PM EST

Just because Powell parrotted Blaire's lies doesn't excuse either one of them, does it?

My point was just that I don't see any evidence that PM question time is making the British system better than the US system.

Honestly I think we DO need genuine public debate, but its pretty pointless when the politicians engaging in it are all bought and paid-for. The fact of the matter is IMHO we are ALL bought and paid-for. We are all living in our greedy little western heaven. Who cares if we all sold our freedom to some oil company when we have nice SUVs to drive? You sure cannot expect leaders to be anything other than what the people deserve or want, especially in a democracy. In a sense the Islamic Fundamentalists are right, we NEED someone to kick us all in the ass and impose some discipline if we aren't going to do it for ourselves.

Sadly I don't think this day and age's society is worthy of the democracy we've been given.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

Actually... (3.00 / 1) (#254)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:09:46 AM EST

Sadly I don't think this day and age's society is worthy of the democracy we've been given.

Based on your comments I would say the society of this day and age is worthy of the democracy we've been given.

Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

It's still a step in the right direction (2.33 / 2) (#164)
by Golden Hawk on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:48:00 AM EST

/public/ debate is the heart and sould of democracy.  It doesn't achieve anything if it's behind closed doors.

So it's not as much that the brittish parliament wants to be deceptive and slick.  It's that the public demands it.

They vote for the candidates which will give them the best line of shit, worded the best, delivered the best, and their skills are constantly put to the test by reaming them with endless questions.

So I submit.. is this worse than the american system?  It seems to me it promotes quick thinking, verbal skills, and accountability in the candidate.. fail to possess those (like Governor Bush) and you'll be chewed up and spit out.

Even if it's BS, it's still better than nothing.
-- Daniel Benoy
[ Parent ]

If only (3.00 / 2) (#181)
by wumpus on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:07:28 PM EST

Bush was willing to enter at least one "debate". I don't know how long it took him to memorize a few simple scripts, but he sort of pulled it off. I wouldn't expect anything else.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]

Exposing Issues. (4.00 / 2) (#231)
by irrevenant on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:59:29 AM EST

Question time is not a panacea. It doesn't suddenly make dishonest politicians honest.

But just asking the questions make the public (via the media) aware of issues they hadn't heard of. Of course politicians will put their best spin on it, but at least the public will be aware the issue exists. I'm sure all of you in countries with question time can think of recent political issues you only know about because they were mentioned in question time.

Iraq isn't the best example since it's an issue we all knew about already, but let's go with it. Let's say you're right: Tony Blair just stood up and lied. Then he has lied repeatedly, on the record, about Iraq. That provides the opportunity for evidence to surface that contradicts those lies.

(One thing I'm confused about: You say the questions were calculated with the cameras in mind. Surely the questions would be from the opposition, and not to Mr Blair's benefit?)

Question time isn't a perfect solution. Yes, politicians can and do sidestep questions. Yes, it gets peurile and simplistic at times. But it at least gives the public a chance to hear the issues and evaluate the politicians' responses to them. It's much better option than not being able to ask the questions at all.

[ Parent ]
Interresting (3.50 / 2) (#144)
by n8f8 on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:22:57 AM EST

I have to admit I used to spend hours watching the House Of Commons on CSPAN. The only major objection I have is that there is a seperation of powers between our branches of government for a good reason. Politicians are sleezebags who will ruthlessly attack their opponents and abuse the system whenever they get the chance. Just look at fillibusters. Can you imagine Representative Waters being cordial to the President?

Another point I would like ot mention is the fact that the President serves the people, not the Senate or House of Reps. I'd rather see a PM Questions type scenario between the the President, Senate and state governors. I think the Federal government has become far too strong. Just look at voting statistics. Or visit the voting booth anytime other than national elections.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)

The way it works in Canada (3.00 / 1) (#156)
by the scooter king on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:03:08 AM EST

From the Parliament of Canada Website:

Oral Questions

This closely watched 45 minutes is also known as Question Period. It is a chance for opposition Members, and sometimes Members of the governing party, to seek information from the government. In a strict legal sense, "the government" is the Prime Minister and the other Cabinet Ministers. The Cabinet determines priorities and policies, ensures their implementation, and presents legislation to Parliament for approval. By questioning the Prime Minister and the other Cabinet Ministers, Members can call the government to account for its actions.

What this means, is that any member of parliament can ask any cabinet minister about anything that is pertinent on that day. It is not uncommon for the government to be blindsided by questions, or for scandals to come to the public's attention in this way. In the Ontario Provincial Legislature recently, a cabinet minister (Chris Stockwell) stepped down after allegations arose that he had misused funds from his riding association (the local sub-branch of his party). When he did so, it was after a week of badgering during Question Period, and the reason he gave for stepping down was that the questioning was "detracting from the day-to-day business of the government". There's an inquiry pending, and in my opinion this is the sign of a healthy democracy.

Similarly, Question Time in the UK is the main reason Tony Blair is having so much trouble in the aftermath of Iraq.

There are many things to admire in the US system, such as much freer votes in Congress and the Senate (There are 'Party Whips' in Canada and the UK to ensure that party members toe the government line), but the "dictatorship of the President" isn't one of them.


The secret is not to try and bend the .sig. The secret is that there is no .sig.

Ministerial questions (3.00 / 1) (#160)
by Three Pi Mesons on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:38:20 AM EST

The UK has questions to other ministers too, scheduled throughout the week. I believe there are usually two bouts of questions per day, some involving multiple ministers (for example, the Chancellor of the Exchequer plus his deputy mini-ministers). Is it the case in Canada that the whole Cabinet is present for a single question-frenzy? I suppose that could be pretty effective as long as it remains focused; might make it harder for them to pass the buck to their colleagues, too.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
In Theory, yes... (3.00 / 1) (#165)
by the scooter king on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:48:50 AM EST

In practice, the Prime Minister has a Deputy, there are parliamentary assistants to all of the big portfolios, and since it happens every day that Parliament is sitting, the media only pays attention when something big is going on. You can watch it on the Parliamentary Channel, though.


The secret is not to try and bend the .sig. The secret is that there is no .sig.
[ Parent ]

Adendum (3.00 / 1) (#167)
by the scooter king on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:54:44 AM EST

Just re-read that post and realized I should clarify that the Deputy PM and the parliamentary assitants can answer questions in the place of the ministers they work with. That's part of why the answers are not always meaty enough to get onto the nightly news.


The secret is not to try and bend the .sig. The secret is that there is no .sig.
[ Parent ]

Question Period (and scrums) (4.00 / 2) (#230)
by ogenstein on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:52:55 AM EST

Question Period is every day while the House is sitting. The period lasts for 45 minutes.

Ministers can show up or not as they please, including the PM.

Questions and answers must be directed to the Speaker of the House. All references must be in the third person. Each question and each answer is limited to a long sound bit. Offhand I think it's 35 seconds but I might be wrong. The microphone is switched off when the time limit is reached.

In practice this means that it's possible for a key minister to be absent at a critical moment. Sometimes, particularly when a scandal is afoot, the cabinet minister in question will not appear. Someone else will field the questions. Generally when a different person takes a question, it is either a very technical but apolitical question which might draw a response from an underling who is particularly well versed in the subject or a senior minister, sometimes the PM or Deputy PM, will shield a minister and take their questions -- even when they are sitting in their chair. When a nasty scandal erupts, like that which engulfed former Public Works Minister Alphonso Gagliano two or three years ago, the Prime Minister would not allow him to answer any questions and stood himself to take the heat. Gagliano sat their with his head down and his mouth shut. Eventually Gagliano was resigned and became the Ambassador to the hapless Danes (Prompting the question, what the hell did Denmark ever do to us?).

Each party in the House gets to ask questions. They go in the order of the number of seats held beginning with the Leader of the Loyal Opposition. Each party asks two questions (plus two supplementary questions) until all the parties have had a crack at the government. The government almost never asks questions. From my observations, this differs greatly from the U.K. The occasional question from the backbenches is usually a cream puff question designed to let some wonderful development that the press forgot to cover come to light. This is an everyday occurrence in Ontario's provincial parliament and kind of embarrassing to watch. Once all the parties have had their two questions, the Opposition gets a couple more.

As things develop, it is hard to pin the government down in Question Period. There is so little time that the answers can be evasive. Generally, those whose talents in this theatre are strong will rise to take senior cabinet posts. The Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) minister, Jane Stewart is a good example of this. Every day for months, she stood up to take a beating over the "Billion Dollar Boondoggle". Every day she defended the government's position and focused on positive developments. It was yeoman work.

By the way, this highlights another method of keeping your feet out of the fire. Parliamentary procedure prohibits asking a former minister any questions about his old job. It also allows a new minister to plead ignorance. When things heat up, as they did with the HRDC, the minister of the day resigns (Pierre Pettigrew) and the new minister takes over with a relatively clean slate.

Finally, the follow-up for Question Period is the scrum. It can be fun.

After Question Period is over, the MPs all file out into the hallway to face the waiting hyaenas media. Each of the party leaders will draw some reporters as will any ministers who are in the middle of something. They'll scurry off to peck at whichever minister looks juiciest that day. It's a free for all. It also means that the PM, who doesn't like giving interviews, gets grilled by the press almost every day for at least a few minutes.

This is where political instincts are valuable. It's disorganised and wild. You have to be on your toes. Most of the PMs in my lifetime who've lasted (Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien) have all been adept. The PM ends the scrum around himself by running up the stairs (he's very fit). I don't think the press is allowed up the stairs.

I don't know if any other nations have scrums but I think they are important. One of the things about Canadian parliamentary procedures is that there are very few prescribed rules. Everything is tradition. You couldn't plan this today. Nobody would allow it. Pity.

From the bits and pieces I've seen of American House or Senate business, I am unable to imagine it. None of the people at the top would be successful. Thus none of them would endorse any such schemes unless they were so organised as to be meaningless. Presidential election debates are an example where structure is everything and a third party needs remarkable resources to even be invited into the room.

[ Parent ]

Pretty much the same setup in Australia (3.50 / 2) (#195)
by goatsmilk on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:30:27 PM EST

While I'm sure that Question Time does resolve some issues, watching it is about the fastest way to become disillusioned with the political process. MPs seem to contantly get away with sidestepping the questions. It's almost awe inspiring to watch how long they can ramble about something completely unrelated to the question.

[ Parent ]
The US also has party whips [nt] (3.00 / 1) (#224)
by shovelknife on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:07:48 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Party Whips.... (3.00 / 1) (#233)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:27:58 AM EST

What an interesting image.... Can you get Party Stilleto Boots to go with them?


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
I have a much better idea, (mine will work.) (1.83 / 6) (#158)
by Fantastic Lad on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:18:02 AM EST

Let's work out a fool-proof system for identifying sociopaths and psychopaths, (it's probably genetic), root them out, and kill them before they they can scoot to the tops of all our power structures.

Think about it! A world without Enron fiascos! There were 17 other major corporations which suffered the same blow all around the same time. I am fairly certain that these robot-heads were 'activated'. -If you listen closely, you can hear Bush 'beep'.

Question periods are only worthwhile if the assholes at the top are inclined to tell the truth, which they NEVER are. Nobody can lie like a psychopath.

-FL

Just because someone is a liar and a criminal... (2.00 / 3) (#159)
by the scooter king on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:34:02 AM EST

...is no reason to call them a pyschopath. It's insulting to psychopaths. Some of them are nice people.


The secret is not to try and bend the .sig. The secret is that there is no .sig.
[ Parent ]

I'd say your name would be at the top of the list! (3.00 / 1) (#178)
by chunkwhite84 on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 01:11:24 PM EST

Babbling like this, you'd be the first to be "deactivated".

[ Parent ]
Brrp. Does not compute. . ! Danger. . ! (n/t) (3.00 / 1) (#223)
by Fantastic Lad on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:54:26 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Bush isn't a psychopath (3.00 / 1) (#183)
by pyramid termite on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:17:10 PM EST

Neither was Stalin. Or Mao. Or Hitler's assistants in the Final Solution. (And shut up, everyone, I'm not actually comparing Bush to these people, OK?)

Nope, they were all psychologically normal people who decided to do some awful things. They weren't a lot different than you and me.

That should frighten you.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Maybe but... (2.75 / 3) (#190)
by holdfast on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:35:17 PM EST

definitely not "normal".

It is not a general feature of the masses to want to be national leaders. To end up in that sort of position, you have to be very unusual. It needs...

single mindedness bordering on the mania
a feeling of superiority approaching arrogance
control freak tendencies
an ability to persuade commitees to see it "your way"

I wouldn't say that these, or any of the other neccesary qualities would define someone as a psychopath. I think the term sociopath would be more appropriate for GWB, his predescessor and possibly many other leaders in our supposedly developed world today!

One disagreement I do have here is that i would say Stalin most definitely WAS a psychopath...


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
You haven't read the literature. (3.00 / 1) (#197)
by ghjm on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 05:10:43 PM EST

It is well understood that given the right set of circumstances, normal people have both ability and willingness to make decisions that cause great harm or death to many other people.

Also, you are assuming that one becomes a national leader through one's own personal efforts and endeavors. This is a necessary prerequisite for your idea that national leaders must have certain qualities, because lacking these qualities they would not have become national leaders. An alternative viewpoint is that becoming a national leader is in large measure simply being in the right place at the right time, in which case national leaders would not be expected to have attributes other than those of the general population, excepting of course that their situation is different.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that any of us could be Stalin or Hitler, given a set of circumstances. Or that Stalin or Hitler would be perfectly nice guys if they only ever lived in a trailer park. It is very comfortable to claim that YOU could never be Saddam Hussein because YOU aren't a sociopath. The observed experimental reality is that yes, actually you - or anyone else - could.

Which is what the original poster found frightening. And rightly so.

-Graham

[ Parent ]

sure, but gwb? (3.66 / 2) (#260)
by juln on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 02:25:30 AM EST

I don't believe Mr. Bush ever really had a great deal of motivation or desire to be a leader. Theres no doubt as far as I'm concerened that he was pushed into place by Cheney et al. for their convenience. I don't think the man could be an adequate control freak or persuade commitees to see anything.

[ Parent ]
Oh yes. (1.50 / 4) (#226)
by Fantastic Lad on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:11:08 AM EST

Study the issue more closely and you might not be so sure.

The endless stream of verbal 'doinks' which come out of Bush's mouth have the exact same profile obsverved in all psychopaths. They make strange uses of language, often contradicting themselves in the very same sentence. Strangely these gaffs often go un-noticed.

Psychopaths lie and lie and lie, and because they have no conscience or internal ability to understand right from wrong, they are without any of the subtle physical cues common when normal people tell lies, which make them very hard to detect except through keeping track of what has been said. When confronted with a lie, the psychopath doesn't even blink. No guilt whatsoever. They just tell another, and another.

Psychopaths are charming and convincing, able to fool even very smart people into believing in them. They even believe their own lies. Psychopaths believe in their own greatness to the extreme; they believe that they are very much beyond any rules which govern the rest of the world.

Important point: Psychopaths derive significant pleasure in causing pain and suffering. --Aside from blowing up frogs with firecrackers when he was a kid, Bush has without question moved on to bigger and badder activities.

Psychopaths engage in self-destructive enterprises and activities without a care, and will smile all the way down to the bitter end, lying as they go to all the many who follow them, despite how much pain and torture they have dumped on their victims. --And the victims nearly always suffer from a form of Stockholme syndrome, protecting their abuser right to the bitter end as well.

These patterns are real. This is all well documented, observed behavior.

-FL

[ Parent ]

both yea and nay (3.00 / 1) (#161)
by chimera on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 11:44:03 AM EST

although I definitely do feel that the US presidency desperately needs to get closer connected to the political-democratic process I wouldn't agree to the Q&A sessions being the best option. As has been pointed out already Q&As easily turn into either PR showcasing for the PM or Prez, or it turns into ridiculous mudslinging a la Jerry Springer.

What I propose is a generally much more actively communicating (as opposed to feeding) presidency. Answer hot political issues on news shows or radio off the top of the head, not so much as a mean to show off speakerskills but to explain policys and decisions taken by the administration.
Take a weekly session answering e- or postal mails from the public on whatever issue there happens to be in those mails, without screening for preferable topics.
Take some calls.

And yes, every once in a while, stand in the heat of the chamber and do some political hardball. However I must stress that I see pure intra-politicians hardball as secondary in the democratic process as the primary objective to reach in a political debate must always be the Public.

Skip showmanship, skip media and go directly to the voters whenever that can be accomplished. If the voter does not agree with the thinking and policy of the administration the voter has then atleast been able to get information on what the intentions are of those the voter has conceded to winning the ruling seat.

Of course there is also the possibility of doing what Sweden has done - implement highly autonomous  and highly committed Government Agencies which see to it that the public has the best possible solutions for those issues that effect it, and in detail. Why blabber about code when you can actually make it work?

The engine is out of kilter (4.50 / 6) (#182)
by scorchio on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 02:07:31 PM EST

Ireland recently introduced Prime Minister's Question Time, as part of our ongoing effort to copy the worst in other systems. It has not made out politicians more lucid, nor more prone to tell the truth. Such an adversarial format quickly degenerates to the level of a university debating society: the pompous recitation of established "truths" coupled with teenage badinage. Politics doesn't get any more telegenic than PMQ, which is why it has little to do with democracy. It is debate as soundbite.

A more reasonable way of restoring democratic accountability in the USA would be to restore the constitutional balance of the three branches of government. The presidential prerogative (the Executive Order) should be reduced to what it once was, an instrument of last resort. A central plank of the US Constitution is that the president is powerful during wartime, yet should retire to the rose-garden when the country is at peace.

The obvious consequence of this is that it suits presidents to manufacture wars, even in the abstract (Drugs, Terrorism), in order to augment their legitimacy. This has now become the status quo in the US, and needs to be seriously addressed. It is now so bad that a barely legitimate president, surrounded by a cadre of unelected advisers, has arrogated to himself the right to send American soldiers abroad to invade foreign countries, without a declaration of war by Congress!

Nobody voted for Rumsfeld, or Wolfowitz, two of the main architects of the recent war in Iraq. They never went on stump: they are not answerable to the public. Is this democracy?

Unfit for office (3.25 / 3) (#215)
by cam on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 10:02:25 PM EST

Nobody voted for Rumsfeld, or Wolfowitz, two of the main architects of the recent war in Iraq. They never went on stump: they are not answerable to the public. Is this democracy?

Or worse Ashcroft. He was deemed unfit for public office by his electorate. Even losing to a dead man. Yet despite the public's lack of faith in his ability to represent them, he now holds one of the most powerful offices in the US.

My personal opinion is that the secretary positions that Executive holds power over, should be legislative functions held by popularly elected officials with the Executive as the Chairmen of their respective committees.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Legitimacy of Cabinets (3.00 / 1) (#264)
by Kruador on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 09:25:32 AM EST

I suppose that's the difference between the US and UK cabinets: the UK cabinet is mostly composed of people who were at least elected to parliament, although there are some Lords in there (e.g. Lord Falconer, the new Lord ChancellorSecretary of State for Constitutional Affairs).

So they have legitimacy in a certain respect.

Of course they are still mostly the PresidentPrime Minister's friends, like Lord Falconer, who was once Our Tone's flatmate.

[ Parent ]

I don't understand (3.00 / 1) (#266)
by TheModerate on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 04:45:37 AM EST

You don't think the President ought to have advisors?

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

The US... paragon of democracy (3.00 / 4) (#192)
by freality on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 03:55:00 PM EST

Not so sure about that.  Consider Bush's election, one of the highest voter turnouts in years (all figures in millions, based off of US Census stats):

Proportion of US actual voters
who chose their President (50/110):    45%

Proportion of US registered voters
who chose their President (50/129):    38%

Proportion of US adults
who chose their President (50/202):    24%

Proportion of US population
who chose their President (50/290):    17%

Anyone know the corresponding stats for other countries?  I've heard Denmark, Finland, etc. have extremely high (80+%) rates.  Such discrepencies, IMHO, would indicate systematic problems with the US voting system and lend credence to grass-roots efforts to reform our voting system

correction (3.00 / 1) (#193)
by freality on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 04:15:37 PM EST

I meant to compare the 80% statistic, but didn't.  The comparison would be to the US rate of 110/202=54%.

[ Parent ]
Bringing up children who can't vote (4.80 / 5) (#209)
by grouse on Thu Jun 19, 2003 at 09:02:49 PM EST

is absurd and irrelevant. Gore got more of the popular vote (about 51 million) so the "Proportion of US population" (including those not eligible to vote) who chose Gore is 18%. Big whoop. If you're trying to bemoan low voter participation, stick to people who are eligible to vote.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

Age 0-18: 88 Million people. (3.00 / 1) (#222)
by freality on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:01:39 AM EST

New York City, by comparison, has around 8 Million people.

I know what you mean, but you're missing the point.  Voter participation isn't the only issue in political legitimacy.  Political decisions affect us all.  The fewer among us who make those decisions relative to the total number, the more problematic the legitimacy.  This was true concerning African-Americans before their right to vote was established and Female-Americans before theirs.

When I walk around and talk to neighbors, strangers, etc., some of the most vocal political opinions come from teens.  Younger children than that are just afraid of politics and hope we're getting it right.  The point of including the 18- age group as a relevant political population is just that: they ~depend~ on us to get it right.

And it's my post, I'll bemoan if I want to.  :p

[ Parent ]

Yes Minister ... (4.77 / 9) (#227)
by myyth on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:19:43 AM EST

Question time is a waste of time. If you have ever had the displeasure of listening to question time in Australian parliament (played regularly on Australian Radio) you would hear something like this :

Opposition Leader : Mr speaker, would the honorable Prime Minister please inform the house about his activities last Tuesday.

Prime Minister : Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the opposition for providing me with the opportunity to speak about this important matter. As you all know, Tuesday is the day after Wednesday, and on Wednesday I ..... (five minutes of crap about what a great job he did on Wednesday broken up by rapturous applause  and "here here"s from members of the Prime Minister's Party and/or outrageous booing and jeering from members of the opposition.).

Opposition Minister for Basket Weaving : Mr Speaker, a point of order. Tuesday is the Day BEFORE Wednesday, not the day AFTER Wednesday as described by the honorable Prime Minister.

Prime Minister : Mr Speaker, I would like to concede this point, Tuesday is, as the opposition minister for basket weaving has pointed out, the day AFTER ... err ... BEFORE Wednesday (cat calling from the house)

Opposition Leader : Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the honorable prime minister for his informative briefing about last Wednesday, but the people of Australia are, in fact, interested in his activities last Tuesday (drowned out and followed by booing and Jeering from members the Prime Minister's party).

Prime Minister : Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the opposition for providing me with the opportunity to speak about this important matter. As you all know, Monday is the day After .. err..Before ... Tuesday, and on Monday I ..... (five minutes of crap about what a great job he did on Monday broken up by rapturous applause  and "here here"s from members of the Prime Minister's Party and/or outrageous booing and jeering from members of the opposition.).

Opposition Leader (voice getting louder and louder) : Mr Speaker, the Australian people await an answer to my original question, what were the Prime Minister's activities last Tuesday (drowned out and followed by booing and Jeering from members the Prime Minister's party).

Prime Minister (now full of indignant self righteousness) : Mr Speaker, I fail to see why the honorable leader of the opposition is wasting the house's time with this persistent repetition of the same question, when I have patiently explained the situation.

Opposition Leader (finally blowing his cool) : You're a lying sack of shit, TELL US WHAT YOU DID LAST TUESDAY

Speaker for the house : Would the leader of the opposition please address the chair

Opposition Leader (calmly) : Mr Speaker, the honorable Prime Minister is a lying sack of shit,  Could he please TELL US WHAT HE DID LAST TUESDAY. (members of both sides of parliament hit the roof screaming the house down).

Prime Minister : Mr Speaker, I don't recall my precise activities last Tuesday. Thank you.

Speaker for the House : The next order of business is ....

Absolutely spot on... (4.00 / 2) (#229)
by stefrobb on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:07:40 AM EST

It's a total waste of time as Bliar (and all other PMs) just dodge the questions (which I think are known in advance.) Hook them up to lie detectors and electrodes on the testicles (although Maggie claimed to be female (pah - even human would be stretching it) I still think she had the old testes.) That is all.

[ Parent ]
Why do people always bring this up? (3.66 / 2) (#234)
by Quila on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:04:41 AM EST

Clinton answering for his perjury (or sale of the Lincoln bedroom)

Bush is guilty of perjury too, and almost every recent president has "sold" the Lincoln bedroom -- it's just another way the rich can legally bribe politicians.

Why don't you bring up Clinton's pardons-for-favors program? If you do, please bring up Bush Sr.'s too.

On Presidency and stuff (4.00 / 2) (#238)
by yooden on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:29:50 PM EST

Germany had a constitution with major flaws once, which allowed the Reichspräsident to appoint a man to head of government who never won a popular vote. To help the novice, the president permanently suspended all civil rights; the novice soon started to kill people by the millions.

After this mess was over the new constitution named a  head of state (Bundespräsident) with little power, and a head of government (Bundeskanzler) who is elected by the parliament (which in turn is elected by proportional representation) making the decisions.

The result is similar to the situation in the UK: A head of government which everyone can pick at and a head of state which everyone can look up to. Because the Bundespräsident is usually a career politician at the end of his career and has little nominal power, he can comment on issues with an authority and credibility entirely different than that given to active politicians.

The Prime Minister's position is best shown by Churchill's failed attempt at re-election two months after he won WWII. The people loved him, but thought that the other guys would be the better choice during peacetime.

Essentially, the US President has a similar role than the Reichspräsident of the Weimarer Republik, which was nothing but an ersatz Kaiser. (The guy with the bad taste in chancellors was the Kaiser's Chief of Staff during WWI. That would be like making Frederick North President of the USA.) So while the USA is nominally a republic, it's really a electoral monarchy in all but name.
This is also reflected by the handling of the First Family's private life in the media (cf. JFK jr.'s death), which is more reminiscent to the Royals. Even more telling is the fact that it seems to be worse to get an extramarital blow-job than to lie to Congress about the reasons for war. This is clearly not a clever way to judge a public servant.

Oh, and nobody is allowed to suspend civil rights in Germany now, for any reason. That's why Helgoland has vacation homes and Gitmo has a concentration camp.


one thing... (3.00 / 1) (#243)
by werner on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:44:55 PM EST

the american president is more like reichspräsident and reichskanzler together.

it should also be noted that mr. blair has more relative power than mr. bush. the british pm doesn't have to clear anywhere near as much with parliament as the us president does with congress. this is clearly shown in the fact that blair went to war with much of his own cabinet and most of the government against him.

last but not least, don't forget, the uk has no constitution. there is no higher super-law preventing the government from doing what it likes. theoretically, the queen can say no, but that hasn't happened since victoria, IIRC.

[ Parent ]

Two Presidents (3.50 / 2) (#248)
by yooden on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:26:44 PM EST

the american president is more like reichspräsident and reichskanzler together.

The important point is that the Reichspräsident was very powerful, undemocratically so. (In theory, he should be able to make himself Chancellor.) Because the US President is beyond criticism, he is nearly equally powerful.
The difference is that the Reichspräsident had unlimited powers to begin with, the current US President just somehow gets away with doing whatever he wants even if it disgraces the US Constitution.

the uk has no constitution. there is no higher super-law preventing the government from doing what it likes.

There are laws against doing whatever he wants, but true, there is no constitution. Incidentally, the US Constitution can be changed in any way current politicians think best, unlike the Grundgesetz.


[ Parent ]
on a leash (2.75 / 3) (#251)
by TACBAF on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:22:59 AM EST

.. The American president doesnt have full powers. In both sistems (British and US) the heads of the executive powers are both held back by their Legislative powers (british parlimant and US senate and house of reps).
Actually the US president has more of a leash than the British PM. Being the head of the largest parlimentary party the British PM in fact controls both executive and legislative power (as much legislative power as his party's number of seats). While the US president isnt the head of his Party in the Senate and House of Reps, and might not even be of the same party as the party in majority in any of the Houses.

Thats why Blair had a green light to go to war against iraque, even though most of the country disagreed.. (same with spain, Spain's PM Aznar had only 3% of the populations support of his decision of supporting the US in going to war!) While the US President at the time of WWI, Woodrow Wilson, only declared war on Germany/Austria-Hungary after 2 years of asking the Houses to declare war! (and this only when US aid ships going to the UK started being attacked by german Subs in the atlantic)

[ Parent ]
i was not aware (3.00 / 1) (#261)
by werner on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 03:30:54 PM EST

of the true extent of the reichspräsident's power.
Because the US President is beyond criticism, he is nearly equally powerful... the current US President just somehow gets away with doing whatever he wants even if it disgraces the US Constitution.
this is a most interesting and salient point. i think this is the crux of the american and british systems. whereas noone can violate the german system, by its very nature (it was designed by the allies exactly for this purpose), the us/uk system relies on the common sense of the upper house (house of lords/senate) and the populace to prevent such things as a dictator taking power.

we have seen in past months how this system has spectacularly failed. that mr. blair could send our country to war with neither the agreement of british subjects nor strong support from the government is horrendous and frightening.

at least in britain there is powerful opposition. in the us, the whole administration is behind mr. bush, as he tries to turn the us into some kind of facist state, with the government spying on everyone it can and offering cash to people who spy for it. crazy.

as you say, bush gets away with things which are bordering on unconstitutional. it is an interesting contrast to his predecessor who wasn't even allowed to get away with a blowjob.

[ Parent ]

Question time bluff (3.00 / 1) (#263)
by Space on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 05:36:11 AM EST

Question time is often described as Dorothy Dixer question time" by political scientists today because it's a show rather than a mechanism of accountability.

The analogy Dorothy Dixer comes from the real life advice collumnists on etiquette who was found out for writing the letters in her collumn so she could comment on and tell people what her idea of correct etiquette was. The same goes for question time. Question time is a spectacle for the press gallery rather than a check on democracy because all real questions and discussion are conducted behind closed doors in party and confrence rooms.

MP's simply speak up during question time to either commend or embarrass the prime minister as a matter of political point scoring. The only benefit this can give to democracy is that it can give the media a party endorsed gaff in which case it reinforces party accountability (and partisan bickering) rather than democratic accountability.

The real solution for improving democracy would lie in electoral reform and media reform. A proportional electoral system is far more democratic than "first past the post" and preferential systems and insures a variety of interests rather than an opressive majority. Review of media regulation, broadcasting laws and government-media relations would also make democracy far more accountable. But as far as question time is concerned, its a cheap play and nothing else.
<recycle your pets>

Does true Democracy require PM Questions? | 266 comments (248 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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