How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

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Pdxfashionpioneer
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How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Pdxfashionpioneer »

Greetings,

Before someone

In the run-up to the last US Presidential Election there was quite a lively -- in fact, the moderators felt it got to be too lively -- debate of not only the candidates, but also the political issues facing the US electorate. One thing all Americans seem to agree on is that the US government, perhaps at all levels, national, state and local, is hopelessly gridlocked. What none of us is able to agree on is why?

The Democrats blame the Republicans and the Republicans blame the Democrats. Carl advanced the theory that an oligarchy was to blame, and by the way so does Former President Jimmy Carter and Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. One of my problems with that theory is that no one identifies a way to get the US out of either of those fixes beyond "organize a movement!" Which, btw, is what Bernie Sanders proposed and we all know how far that has gone!

The following link will take you to an article that posits another theory, namely that we Americans have turned our Constitutional system of checks and balances into a Vetocracy. That is, a system where nearly everyone has the right to veto whatever they don't like and no one has the power to overrule those vetoes. Fortunately, the author of the column offers some possible solutions, that as a practical matter aren't much easier than organizing a movement, but at least they're specific.

I'm not looking to reopen a barely shut can of worms, I'm just trying to pass along another theory on a serious subject that a good number of you took seriously. I hope you read it and give it serious thought. If anyone wants to comment, that is the purpose of having a forum like this, just let's all keep in mind that what makes the SkirtCafe successful is that by and large, people are civil, respectful and considerate of one another. They debate issues rather than indulge in character assassination.

Here's the link: https://apple.news/Ake7y2l-CSPeslrHUGspYTg. I suggest you copy and paste it into your search engine. Have fun!
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Shilo »

As an outsider looking in I am struck by the mounting sense of frustration Americans seem to be undergoing. This has been happening for some time but has been brought to a head by the current crisis. Our own system in the UK is far from perfect but BOJO and crew seem to have mellowed slightly. That is if you forgive the vast resources dedicated to”getting BREXIT done” instead of planning how to deal with the pandemic. ( fact not opinion).
I hope the American public will go some way to recovering their belief in November elections.
I have always enjoyed visiting the USA. but have commented in the past “It’s no country for poor men”
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by oldsalt1 »

Very interesting article. I think he does an excellent job of defining the problem .

what is the solution. IMHO when you have an election you have a winning a losing side. The losing side has to acknowledge that they lost and allow the winning side to do things their way until the next election.

at the same time the winning side has to realize that their win could be temporary and what they start to do can be lost in the next election unless they work with the losing side to come up with reasonable alternatives.

the losing side has to realize that they lost and that they should try to work with the winning side to get something done so that when they eventually win the former winning side wont act as they did and try to prohibit anything from happening.

The other problem is the side that is in power must not try to increase their power over what was originally given to them

This problem exists with many in office who have decided that they are omnipotent and what they say is unquestionable

My example is the governor of Michigan who in her attempt to show she is a viable vp candidate has expressed her self assumed infinite power.
her attempt to rule supreme is going to cost control over anything

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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Pdxfashionpioneer »

It's interesting that you skipped over the President's claim that the US Governors can't do anything without his permission and that in fact he has total control over everything. A claim that is so patently absurd that Trump, a man who never admits to making a mistake, had to walk that remark back the very next day.
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by oldsalt1 »

you said you wanted to avoid the prior entanglements so why did you have to insert your anti trump comments

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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Pdxfashionpioneer »

Why did you have to single out Gov. Whitmer?
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by crfriend »

oldsalt1 wrote:
Fri Apr 24, 2020 10:30 pm
IMHO when you have an election you have a winning a losing side. The losing side has to acknowledge that they lost and allow the winning side to do things their way until the next election. [...] at the same time the winning side has to realize that their win could be temporary and what they start to do can be lost in the next election unless they work with the losing side to come up with reasonable alternatives.
If I may float (as it were) a straw man and posit the situation where the "winners" and "losers" are actually on the same side and any differences as perceived by the electorate are artificial. This is a situation guaranteed to provide a lot of heat and smoke but precious little light. It winds up looking like gridlock, but really isn't when one peels back a layer or so of onion (and I admit that I am libeling onions here).

I liked the notion of a "vetocracy", but when compared to an oligarchy it seems to have a lot more moving parts than are really necessary to produce the current situation in the USA. I like simple. A "vetocracy" might explain why Connecticut is the "Biggest Little State in the Union" when it comes to folks trying to get from Boston to New York City by train, but it's a stretch to pin the whole modern mess on NIMBYs and naysayers. I smell the corrupting power of money.

To Dave's comment of:
[...] the President's claim that the US Governors can't do anything without his permission [...]
This is a question of States Rights, and I believe we got schooled pretty well in that field in the 1860s. All the Federal government has to do is invoke interstate trade and it gets its way.

Another straw man... Let's say that Connecticut decides to throw off all restraints on its populace as far as quarantine restrictions -- and its Governor is within rights to do so. What happens then if Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York (and likely New Jersey) all close their borders with Connecticut to keep the disease from spreading? How long will it be before the ITC (Interstate Trade Commission) finds that to be a "restraint of interstate trade"? Do the various Governors' decision have a chance of standing before the Federal government?
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Pdxfashionpioneer »

The immediate issue in the Civil War revolved around the fact that there is no provision in the Constitution for dissolution, either jointly or severally. None of the states attempted to secede by their governor's declaration; all of those attempts were by the action of their legislations. So there is nothing about the Civil War that is germane to Trump's statement.

As far as your purported oligarchy goes, it would take a whole lot more collusion among a whole lot more folks to pull that off, because what you're saying is that to satisfy their donor bases on the federal level, the Democratic and Republican leadership are conspiring together to put on this years' long charade and keep it quiet and convincing. I'd say that's a LOT more moving parts than the vetocracy needs for it to be effective. Furthermore, the vetocracy theory covers a lot more of what occurs in the public domain. As I see it, the Occam's Razor goes to vetocracy.

Finally, the Interstate Commerce (not Trade) Commission would have no jurisdiction over the joint or several actions of the states; it only regulates the activities of private enterprise. Nor would the states colluding in such a manner constitute a conspiracy in restraint of trade; because again those are defined by the various anti-trust laws as joint actions by private businesses.

Nonetheless, there would be a legitimate Constitutional question, because the US Constitution mandates free trade and transit among the several states. However, the Typhoid Mary case would probably be the controlling precedent. In that case the US Supreme Court (Yes, her lifetime quarantine made it to that level.) granted the public health authorities quite a bit of leeway to handle health emergencies.

That said, you raise an interesting question because the states of Florida, Alabama, and North and South Carolina are facing a situation similar to what you are hypothesizing. The challenges to upholding such an action are 1) the clean hands principle (several of the surrounding states aren't doing much better than Georgia) and 2) proving cause and effect. That is, in this day and age the only way such a quarantining of a whole state could be effective is if ALL of the other states concurred and also closed their seaports and airports to ships and planes coming out of Georgia, which they couldn't do because ocean and air traffic is controlled by the Federal government. This 49-state action would also have to be taken immediately upon Georgia's declaration that they were lifting their stay-at-home orders for it to be effective. To prevail in the inevitable federal court case (All interstate disputes are settled in federal court.) said 49 states would have to present clear and convincing evidence (the standard in civil court) that closing off Georgia was a reasonable and necessary (the common standard for all infringements of liberties) public health precaution.

High enough hurdle for all of you?
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Pdxfashionpioneer »

Btw, any historian worthy of the title can tell you darn little that has happened in history has been the result of conspiracies. The conspiracies that have pulled off one kind of event or another have generally made themselves known quite soon afterwards, which generally leads to their demise.

Why? Because of the simple fact of human nature that everyone's favorite topic of conversation is themselves.
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by crfriend »

Pdxfashionpioneer wrote:
Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:31 am
The immediate issue in the Civil War revolved around the fact that there is no provision in the Constitution for dissolution, either jointly or severally. None of the states attempted to secede by their governor's declaration; all of those attempts were by the action of their legislations. So there is nothing about the Civil War that is germane to Trump's statement.
So the notion of states rights then remains open. I don't suspect for a moment that it'll cause the cataclysm that happened in the 1860s, but it'll be yet another reminder that this is one "united" country instead of a coalition of sovereign states.
As far as your purported oligarchy goes, it would take a whole lot more collusion among a whole lot more folks to pull that off, because what you're saying is that to satisfy their donor bases on the federal level, the Democratic and Republican leadership are conspiring together to put on this years' long charade and keep it quiet and convincing.
I'd put the bar a lot lower than what you propose, and pin it at, perhaps -- and this is a guess -- a thousand or two individuals in key places. The rest would have plausible deniability. Money buys much in the modern world, and quaint notions like ethics have no role. The main problem with the "vetocracy" as I see it is that it does not explain why the economic elite get 100% of what they're interested in as far as law goes and everybody else gets less than scraps. If it was a "vetocracy" I'd expect that ratio to be much (5 to 10 percent) closer to even than where it is now because the noise in a vetocracy would be higher (thanks to the competing interests).
Finally, the Interstate Commerce (not Trade) Commission would have no jurisdiction over the joint or several actions of the states; it only regulates the activities of private enterprise. Nor would the states colluding in such a manner constitute a conspiracy in restraint of trade; because again those are defined by the various anti-trust laws as joint actions by private businesses.
Point taken, and I botched the bit about "trade" versus "commerce", but collusion wouldn't necessarily need to be a part of the matter. Too, conspiracy is an obsolete concept. Since the law is now what the White House says it is (quite unlike during the Nixon administration!) we don't even need to discuss it,

It's going to be a very interesting few months coming -- and we are definitely living that old Chinese curse now.
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by Freefrom »

I'll butt out on US politics, other countries affairs are there own business and besides I'm not a vote holder in that democracy. What I can observe, across the globe, is that perhaps most democracies are a tad too binary. Yes no, on off, right wrong, my side your side. There is a third way, compromise. Coming together and deciding what is right and proper for any given subject or situation.
Most politicians worldwide might be reminded that their job depends on best serving their country and it's electorate, not the other way around.

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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by alexthebird »

I think there is another major element of the current US situation - the transformation of "news" into "reality TV entertainment." When I was younger, we tuned into Walter Cronkite, Huntley-Brinkley, Howard G. Smith, Harry Reasoner, et al who soberly relayed an uninflected listing of the days happenings in about 15 minutes every evening. The local newspaper (in my case the Boston Globe) had national and international correspondents who would do the same but with a little more depth and if you really craved information, you sought out the New York Times, the old grey lady.

Somewhere along the line, though (I'd say beginning with Watergate), reporters began to think they could become famous and rich if they broke stories about scandals and from that point forward, finding dirt, sexual titillation, and malfeasance became more important than relaying the days events. Later, CNN's coverage of the Gulf War showed everybody that there was an audience for all news all the time and that news wasn't all that different from entertainment. A little after that Roger Ailes showed that audiences would respond to "news" that was loud, outrageous, intended to whip up anger and solidify existing schools of thought, and had only a tangential relationship to objectivity and truth.

While all this is happening, the FCC is eviscerated, the fairness doctrine dismantled, and the producers of news programs are charged with maximizing ratings just like any other show. And for good measure, the internet and a host of other factors essentially kill off daily metropolitan newspapers as factors in anything but the most local of news.

There is no such thing as news right now. I don't want to get into what is "fake" news or real news, but there is no news. There is no reliable, non-partisan, explicitly objective recitation of facts and stories anywhere. All the "news" networks have experts, pundits, and talking heads galore but there is no news. There is nothing that maps on to the model of Walter Cronkite or Huntley/Brinkley. And making it worse, what poses for "news" is so powerful and so ubiquitous that it drowns out any offerings at local news. I live in Philadelphia, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US and it is quite difficult to find actual reporting on what my city and state are doing during the crisis. You can choose one set of biased, partisan talking heads or another, but you can't find out what's actually happening.

Very reminiscent of Orwell's 1984, actually.

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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by moonshadow »

Alexthebird,

You might find the book, "Four Arguments for the elimination of television" by Jerry Mander interesting.

https://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Elimin ... 0688082742
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by crfriend »

moonshadow wrote:
Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:35 pm
You might find the book, "Four Arguments for the elimination of television" by Jerry Mander interesting.
Oh, boy. That poor soul's parents must have really hated him since birth.
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Re: How Did the Country (USA) that Could Do Anything Turn Into One That Can't Do Anything

Post by moonshadow »

crfriend wrote:
Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:57 pm
moonshadow wrote:
Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:35 pm
You might find the book, "Four Arguments for the elimination of television" by Jerry Mander interesting.
Oh, boy. That poor soul's parents must have really hated him since birth.
Heh.... indeed!

But seriously, it's an interesting read, and once you do read it, you'll never look at television the same way again.

Perhaps one reason the vetocracy exist is because of bad information, one reason for this bad information could be television. We receive much of our news from television and as Mander explains, it's probably the worst method for conveying information there is just due to its inherent limitations.

I don't think its a conspiracy as much as I think it's a combination of laziness and greed. Laziness because television does our thinking for us... it stiffles the imagination, greed as over the decades producers have packed in more and more subliminal marketing techniques to keep your eyes on the box.

A recent technique is the use of what's known as "the brown note" a deep tone that some can't even hear. Horror movies use it often as it creates a feeling of unease in humans, I've caught the use of this note on political campaign ads.

Television is manipulation... and who likes to be manipulated?

Reading something without visual aids like a newspaper or a book require the brain to think and fire up the imagination. Television removes this and does our thinking for us.

In the modern day, we literally have a reality TV president who mostly communicates through punchlines on Twitter... time tested punchlines that have been historically proven to invoke various emotional states within humans, to whip them into a frenzy without much critical thought.

Twitter is similar to what I've called "bumper sticker thinking", in other words, quick one or two line statements that provoke extreme emotions.

We have been trained to accept these one liners at face value without asking "why?"

When the U.S. was founded, politicians of the day would argue their cases back and forth in written "pamphlets", that often were nothing like the little pamphlets of today. They were enormous pieces of literature, sometimes with thousands of words. They also used a very sophisticated vocabulary. Compare that to what we have today.

Politicians have to communicate in a more dumbed down manner today because if they spoke more intellectually, most people wouldn't understand what they were saying. You can't present a 2,000 word article for a populous to unpack when we've been conditioned to accept short visual snippets for the last 70 years.

Post like what we find frequently here at the Cafe are rare elsewhere on the internet. Often times they are long, and the author goes to great lengths to explore the thoughts he is trying to convey before hitting submit. Compare that to elsewhere online where rebuttals are short, crass, and often accomplish nothing other than to continue to fan flames or cheerlead for a favored viewpoint or politician.

Thus I posit that if a vetocracy exist here, perhaps one reason could be due to a mostly uninformed populous conditioned to ACT on punchlines rather than thoroughly explore issues.
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