Pharyngula

Congress is a dysfunctional mess

Once upon a time, there was a bill moving through congress that was a good bill. It increased funding for research, and for science and math education. It had bipartisan support and was sailing through.

There is a villain to this story, though. Some congresscreatures — Republicans, led by a fool from Texas — didn’t like the good little bill. It’s not clear why. Maybe because it was going to cost some money. Maybe just because they don’t like that science and education stuff.

So they hatched a plan, taking advantage of a little rule. They made a motion to recommit, stopping the bill in its tracks by adding a new addition that would require the whole thing to go back to committee. Congress could vote to kill the addition, which would let the bill proceed, or they could vote to for the recommit, throwing the good little bill back.

Now here’s the cunning part: the addition was a completely irrelevant demand, a new requirement that federal employees caught watching porn would not get paid. Congress could vote for better science and education funding and allow porn watching, or they could vote against science and education and against porn. Sneaky. Devious. Evil. Jebus, but I’ve come to despise Republicans.

So what happened? 121 Democrats promptly abandoned the bill and voted against it. Because they’re cowards without a single bone of principle in their flabby, craven bodies. They didn’t want to be seen voting for porn, so they let the Rethuglican ringmaster crack his whip and herd them right where he wanted them to go.

I think I despise them all.

Comments

  1. #1 Alex P.
    May 14, 2010

    People still care about porn? Jesus, I thought we got over this.

  2. #2 Greg Esres
    May 14, 2010

    dYsfunctional

  3. #3 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Not to be obnoxious, but where would we have gotten the money to pay for this bill? By printing some more?

  4. #4 Legion
    May 14, 2010

    Hey, better a five minute porn break on the web than a fifteen minute smoke break out back by the trash dumpsters.

  5. #5 sandiseattle
    May 14, 2010

    Heres a good question: why should we even pay taxes at all if the govt can just print all the money it needs ?

  6. #6 John Morales
    May 14, 2010

    sbreedlo, money?

    War money.

    Duh.

  7. #7 James F
    May 14, 2010

    From TheHill.com:

    During a colloquy with House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats would bring the COMPETES Act back to the floor next week.

  8. #8 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 14, 2010

    Simple, let me decide what is porn. Unless it involves a rethuglican, it isn’t porn. Easy…

  9. #9 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    May 14, 2010

    Ah sbreedlo and sandiinseattle really know how to go for the capillaries. Yup, cut back on science research and edumecation. That’ll get rid o’ that thar budget deficit.

    Just curious. How many teeth do you guys have in your heads? Asshats!

  10. #10 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Wouldn’t that be wonderful. If only wars were profitable in the modern era. But when you attack impoverished countries there is little to steal.

  11. #11 devin.baillie
    May 14, 2010

    “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: democracy simply doesn’t work.”

  12. #12 uke
    May 14, 2010

    LOL this is great. We’re watching our civilization crumble around us, and the wheels are falling off in the most amusing fashion imaginable.

    Gotta give the republicrats points for imagination. Good one!

  13. #13 Nebula99
    May 14, 2010

    No no, sbreedlo, we’re not going to get money through wars. We’re going to save money through peace.

  14. #14 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    So, ray, you jump to the extremely logical conclusion that I believe our first cut should be science and education. Nice.

    Anyway, it priorites don’t matter when you don’t have something to spend. And when you are spending borrowed money, by definition, you don’t have any. The lender’s goodwill enables you to keep up the fraudulent idea that you can keep spending, but you still don’t have anything. Eventually, they set the priorities. Look at Greece. It never works out well.

    If you want, I could give you my prioritized list, but no one with power is listening.

  15. #15 Steven Dunlap
    May 14, 2010

    There’s a boatload of crap they should teach in 8th grade civics class but don’t. This is the tip of the iceberg.

    There exists about 8 or 9 “opportunities” to make drastic alterations to a bill – or kill it off. Many politicians make grandiose speeches about this bill or that program at the beginning of the process. But by the end it could be gutted, dead or so full of dreadful amendments (often having nothing to do with the initial bill itself) that it no longer remotely resembles the rhetoric that scored points with the base earlier. Media typically does not track legislation unless it’s something major like the healthcare disaster.

  16. #16 Ben Goren
    May 14, 2010

    Never mind the barf bags. Just get me a mop.

    Please?

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  17. #17 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Nebula99, if you thought I was serious about getting money through war, perhaps it was my fault for assuming sarcasm came through on comments on a blog.

  18. #18 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    Wouldn’t that be wonderful. If only wars were profitable in the modern era. But when you attack impoverished countries there is little to steal.

    you’re a subliterate moron. the point was to stop having expensive wars, not go start wars to steal and plunder other countries.

  19. #19 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    ray, in case you missed the point, “cut back” is different than “no new spending”. Not that Congress is following that principal voiced by Obama anyway.

  20. #20 John Morales
    May 14, 2010

    sbreedlo, so, were you being serious about there being no money to invest in your country’s human and intellectual resources, though blood and treasure are being squandered on pride and adventurism?

  21. #21 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Jade
    your insults look exceptionally stupid given that they were posted after the point about sarcasm. I will forgive them, because my comments were sarcastic. See John Morales above. You could have figured that out by noting that the “impoverished countries” is a reference to the two wars we are in.

    Next time, analyze and think before you insult. You will make more friends.

  22. #22 Love F
    May 14, 2010

    Either I’m misreading(/-interpreting) or there is a logic flaw here. The addition is described by PZ as anti-porn-watching. But he then goes on to say that pro bill is pro porn, which has me confused.

    Also, thanks for posting so much in one day. It helps greatly in killing of time at my night work.

  23. #23 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    May 14, 2010

    sbreedlo,
    OK, so if a family is in debt, they should take the kids out of school? Dude, rule number one: DON’T EAT THE SEED CORN!!!

    Rule number two, cut where it’s gonna make a frigging difference! Military spending on two wars that aren’t even addressing the threats we face. Entitlements–yup, I know I’ll never see a Social Security Check. And quit handing our money like candy to healthcare companies. A single-payer plan might actually cause a health-care or drug company to cut back on corporate jets rather than us cutting back on education! DAMMIT! The rest of the world has solved the healthcare issue. Are we really the only people in the world who are too stupid to do so?

  24. #24 edhensley
    May 14, 2010
  25. #25 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    John Morales and ray –

    I am not proposing a cut in education. We could take what we are spending and use it better and literally do three or four times as much. I know this. I run a school.
    I am saying that when you don’t have money, you don’t have money. I know that we think that we do, but when interest keeps piling up, eventually you can’t even pay what you need or promised, and then the creditor sets the standards. It scares me to think about foreign countries telling us what we can spend money on.
    If I could, I would cut tons out of our budget, including stupid wars, and I would give education everything it ever needed.
    To assume that because I point out that we don’t have this money I want to de-fund education doesn’t logically follow. It is an assumption.

  26. #26 MAJeff, OM
    May 14, 2010

    The Republican Party: Bigots who whore for the financier and capitalist classes. In other words, parasites.

  27. #27 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    your insults look exceptionally stupid given that they were posted after the point about sarcasm. I will forgive them, because my comments were sarcastic.

    you think I’m saying you’re a subliterate moron because I thought you were serious in the post I responded?

    oh my, you’re even dumber than I thought. either that, or you’re incapable of applying sarcasm correctly, since disagreeing-by-sarcasm actually requires you to address the idea presented, either directly or by a sarcastic presentation of its alternative. You’ve done neither. you’ve made a snide comment about a nonexistent, unrelated but similar idea. it’s not communicating anything.

  28. #28 Geoffrey
    May 14, 2010

    @edhensley

    Perhaps PZ should blog on this.

    Perhaps someone should bother to look at earlier blog posts.

  29. #29 Pierce R. Butler
    May 14, 2010

    Alex P. @ # 1: … porn? Jesus, I thought we got over this.

    Quite the opposite: wingnuts are revving up their porn hysteria lately.

    I subscribe to a maillist which forwards me dozens of hyperchristian emails per day. I counted mentions of “porn” in my archive for last year and over the last four months: the rate for 2010 has increased by ~50%.

    Otoh, use of “teabag” has dropped by over 90% in the same period.

  30. #30 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Jade-
    The appropriate, and civil, comment would be to say, “I’m sorry, I thought you wanted to go to war to make money.”

    Your comment seems to indicate that you didn’t read the preceding statement about war money.

    I do appreciate that your only mode of discourse is insult. I bet you are pleasant to be around.

  31. #31 Geoffrey
    May 14, 2010

    For fucks sake sbreedlo, cut the passive-aggressive bullshit and grow up.

  32. #32 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    The appropriate, and civil, comment would be to say, “I’m sorry, I thought you wanted to go to war to make money.”

    except that wouldn’t be true. why would I say it? to make you feel better?

    You’re a subliterate moron because you responded as if someone else made that suggestion, which means either you don’t know how to use sarcasm effectively to make a point, or you misread the previous war-related comment; the attempted sarcasm wasn’t what I was commenting on.

  33. #33 Ichthyic
    May 14, 2010

    Not to be obnoxious, but…

    you can’t help it.

    we know.

    get lost.

  34. #34 John Morales
    May 14, 2010

    Quoting PZ in an effort to avoid topic drift:

    Now here’s the cunning part: the addition was a completely irrelevant demand, a new requirement that federal employees caught watching porn would not get paid. Congress could vote for better science and education funding and allow porn watching, or they could vote against science and education and against porn.
    [...]
    So what happened? 121 Democrats promptly abandoned the bill and voted against it. Because they’re cowards without a single bone of principle in their flabby, craven bodies. They didn’t want to be seen voting for porn, so they let the Rethuglican ringmaster crack his whip and herd them right where he wanted them to go.

  35. #35 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    for that matter, Nebula99 was also not responding as if they thought you were serious about making money through war, but because you were using your attempt at sarcasm in such a way as if you thought John Morales was suggesting such; i.e. they thought you misread John’s post and were being sarcastic about that misunderstood post

  36. #36 jojame
    May 14, 2010

    Something tells me there is more to this story. Irrelevant things are added to bills all the time in order to slow it down or score political points. If there is a clear majority supporting the bill then they will just strike down these amendments and pass the bill. This is all nothing new.

  37. #37 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Passive-agressive? Are you kidding me?
    Passive-agressivity is NOT telling someone exactly what you think. I did the opposite. I mean it when I say he should acknowledge he was wrong.

    Jade, the previous comment about war money was a reference to how much we spend on war. It was a statement that we could get the money for education by stopping the war, which I completely agree with.
    I sarcastically (and yes, you don’t really have a full grasp of what constitutes a statement on topic) responded by saying that we could get the money through war.

    You are utterly incapable of acknowledging that you are wrong. If you think that sarcasm is never a slight tangent (we could steal money through war), but must be exactly address the apex of the previous comment (we spend lots of money on war), you are a subliterate moron.

    By the way, it felt stupid to type “subliterate moron” to someone who is obviously reading, but it is obviously the bulk of your vocabulary.

  38. #38 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 14, 2010

    And this is why I’m going to have a problem voting for another Democrat. No, I’m not going to vote for a Republifuck, or a Libertardian. But I can’t keep voting for these spineless, cowardly, pearl-clutching fuckers.

    Jesus Christ – grow a spine. “Liberals?” We have none in this country. Just right wing fascists and those who fellate them while begging “please, please don’t make it any worse.”

  39. #39 Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad
    May 14, 2010

    For those who don’t know there’s a name for these sorts of thing:

    In legislative practice, a rider is an additional provision annexed to a bill under the consideration of a legislature, having little connection with the subject matter of the bill.[1] Riders are usually created as a tactic to pass a controversial provision which would not pass as its own bill. Occasionally, a controversial provision is attached to a bill not to be passed itself but to prevent the bill from being passed (in which case it is called a wrecking amendment or poison pill).

    Apparently there was an attempt to make it so the President can veto single items in a bill but the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.

    It seems pretty silly that something like this is allowed to go on.

  40. #40 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Ichtyic –

    Well done. You have succeeded in not addressing any of the issues.

    My original point stands. PZ mentioned that the Republicans may have opposed the bill because of funding. My question was on topic. My guess is that obnoxious (in your mind) is either
    a.) pointing it out when people insult needlessly
    b.) daring to raise the question of where we will get the money for a federally funded initiative you like
    c.) not being a regular commentor
    d.) not insulting needlessly.

    But I guess that it is b. Which is probably why you didn’t address the actual issue. You just ran away.

  41. #41 jon2112
    May 14, 2010

    no such thing as a *Good* Republican OR democrat they all suck nuts

  42. #42 HenryS
    May 14, 2010

    But I can’t keep voting for these spineless, cowardly, pearl-clutching fuckers.
    ********
    That was my rationalization for the Dems. passively supporting the Bush/Cheney, spineless but with a big majority it will be different. Wrong. Follow the money. Health reform scam…Max Baucus $1.7 million from Big Health, Barack Obama $19+ million from the Health Industrial complex…big oil? who got the most $$ from BP..Barack Obama..one and on. Barack Obama signs an exec order restricting a woman’s right to choose. I never though that I would live long enough to see a Dem President do that. Executive death warrants for American citizens…Barack Obama..

    Both parties are owned by the multinationals, the “differences” are the street theater for them masses.

  43. #43 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    May 14, 2010

    sbreedlo,
    Jadehawk already answered your question. You didn’t bother to read it because of it’s tone, but that’s your issue. The point was, if we did stop financing wars, we could finance an education bill.

  44. #44 Ichthyic
    May 14, 2010

    You have succeeded in not addressing any of the issues.

    I’ve seen your posts over the last week or so.

    You have no issues of any cogent substance.

  45. #45 Jason A.
    May 14, 2010

    “My original point stands. PZ mentioned that the Republicans may have opposed the bill because of funding. My question was on topic.”

    No, the topic had nothing to do with whether the bill was a good idea. It was the transparently dirty tactics the republicans are using to get their way, and the spinelessness with which the democrats take it.

    And for goddess’ sake, you’re just digging yourself deeper with every smarmy little tone-troll post.

  46. #46 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Gyeong –

    I understand that point. But Jade didn’t make it. It was John (see #6).

    Don’t defend an idiot whose only mode of discourse is insult.

  47. #47 otrame
    May 14, 2010

    Lets see. sbreedlo drags issues of deficit spending into conversation about the complete lack of balls and spines in supposedly Democratic legislatures, and does so in a highly ambiguous way. Several people “not understanding” sbreedlo tell him to go fuck himself. sbreedlo claims “sarcasm” and is snide about the “failure to understand”. sbreedlo mentions that the US government is heavily in debt (duh). Several people suggest that not fighting a pointless war might save enough money to pay down the debt and pay for the bill in question, and that that has nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of vertebrates in the halls of Congress, and also note that sbreedlo needs to fuck off. sbreedlo complains about insults and suggests the insults are due to not being a regular commenter.

    God, I love this blog.

  48. #48 Jason A.
    May 14, 2010

    “I understand that point. But Jade didn’t make it. It was John (see #6).”

    John made it, and you didn’t read well enough to understand it and acted as if John suggested going to war would make money. So Jadehawk called you a subliterate moron. Then you tried to pretend you were on a ‘sarcastic tangent’.

    Yes, we’re all up to date with the thread here, you don’t need to summarize. Especially when you were the last one to get up to date.

  49. #49 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    otrame

    You made a mistake in your recap.
    The spending issue was raised by PZ.

  50. #50 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    Jade, the previous comment about war money was a reference to how much we spend on war. It was a statement that we could get the money for education by stopping the war, which I completely agree with.
    I sarcastically (and yes, you don’t really have a full grasp of what constitutes a statement on topic) responded by saying that we could get the money through war.

    yes, I’m fully aware, and were from the very beginning, that this is what you said. However, both I and Nebula99 responded to this because your use of sarcasm is nonsensical here; we were both wrong in interpreting this as you misreading John Morales’ statement, because we assumed you know how to use sarcasm; turns out we had it exactly backwards: you understood John, but don’t know how to use sarcasm effectively. Your use of sarcasm didn’t convey any point whatsoever, other than your snarkiness, because you don’t seem to know how to use it to make a point.

  51. #51 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    May 14, 2010

    I understand that point. But Jade didn’t make it. It was John (see #6).

    No, Jadehawk reiterated the point in comment 18

    you’re a subliterate moron. the point was to stop having expensive wars, not go start wars to steal and plunder other countries.

    (emphasis mine)

  52. #52 Vene
    May 14, 2010

    Here we go, a list of who voted how is available here. I suggest everybody look for their representative and vote accordingly in November. If anybody feels like praising those who voted intelligently (or condemning those who didn’t), I point you to this.

  53. #53 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    ohn made it, and you didn’t read well enough to understand it and acted as if John suggested going to war would make money. So Jadehawk called you a subliterate moron. Then you tried to pretend you were on a ‘sarcastic tangent’.

    that is another option, and the one with which I went originally. It may well still be true, but the alternative (inability to use sarcasm to convey a point) doesn’t make him more literate either.

    ANYway, back on topic: the process of attaching unrelated things to bills like that is annoying, and can be used to kill bills or to smuggle in pork. why is “topic-drift” in law-making even done? I don’t understand how unrelated topics can be passed as one and the same bill. Why is this done?

  54. #54 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmVT1LBhwmO9ej9LNg7a5e9d-AVJ8ezfmE
    May 14, 2010

    I’m always taken aback when Americans brag about their democracy and their brilliant founding fathers. Do you mean the ones who built a republic that was wracked with civil wars before it made 150 years? Why expect congress to be anything but a bunch of idiots? The US is a young country and is still an “experiment.”

  55. #55 Jadehawk, OM
    May 14, 2010

    Here we go, a list of who voted how is available here.

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED! I tell ya, that Pomeroy voted yes.

    And you know what I can do about this? Diddly squat. Yay for residency: taxation without representation.

  56. #56 sbreedlo
    May 14, 2010

    Jadehawk

    What you wrote is so close to an apology. Well done. Now that you have pointed out all that you missed was my sarcasm, comment #17 is proven useful in the dialogue.
    Your godlike stance on proper use of sarcasm still amuses me. I suggest you get a book on rhetorical devices.
    The real issue is that sarcasm is an issue of tone. By definition (consult your new book) it is saying the opposite of what you mean, for effect. It has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with how on topic it is. In fact, it can set the topic, and thus you can have sarcastic opening lines, bumper stickers, etc. But in print, tone never comes through, and so perhaps I am at fault for using it here. But PZ does, and so I assumed his readers were comfortable with discerning tone in type. But, alas, I was wrong.

    Gyeong, I like how you said “no, Jadehawk reiterated…”
    He did reiterate. But what I said was that John made it, and thus by saying j-hawk reiterated it, you aren’t really disagreeing with me, and thus “no” makes little sense.

  57. #57 superposition
    May 14, 2010

    Is sbreedlo here to simply derail the topic of discussion with inane babbling? Seriously, I don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

    Love F:

    Either I’m misreading(/-interpreting) or there is a logic flaw here. The addition is described by PZ as anti-porn-watching. But he then goes on to say that pro bill is pro porn, which has me confused.

    I was also confused.

  58. #58 Numad
    May 14, 2010

    “Is sbreedlo here to simply derail the topic of discussion with inane babbling?”

    Yes, I think that’s the gist of it.

  59. #59 Pygmy Loris
    May 15, 2010

    It scares me to think about foreign countries telling us what we can spend money on.

    If you look at this diagram you will see that most of the public debt is held by American institutions, including the Federal Reserve and state governments. Foreign countries are hardly our biggest creditors, so get off you fear horse. Maybe you should actually do a little research before typing stupid fear-mongering on this blog.

  60. #60 Jadehawk, OM
    May 15, 2010

    Now that you have pointed out all that you missed was my sarcasm, comment #17 is proven useful in the dialogue.

    I did not miss your sarcasm, you lying, pathetic troll. Fuck off.

    By definition (consult your new book) it is saying the opposite of what you mean, for effect.

    yes, “for effect”. yours did not have the effect you seem to have tried to portray, because it was misapplied. Basically, what your sarcasm was saying that invading countries for wealth is a stupid plan. yeah, no shit; and?

    And if you do it right, sarcasm comes through just fine. your intent at sarcasm went through and was understood by all, but the effect you’ve attempted did not, because you have no flaming clue how to use sarcasm. which is why everybody read your sarcasm the same way I did: as you not understanding what John was saying.

    and what was the point of that attempt at sarcasm, anyway…?

  61. #61 MadScientist
    May 15, 2010

    They voted *against* smut? They’re stifling my Freedom of Stiffy – I mean Freedom of Press. Any bets that the proponents of the amendment are all Completely Heterosexual? It’s obviously a cry for help: “I’m stuck in the closet and can’t get out!”

  62. #62 sbreedlo
    May 15, 2010

    j-hawk, or should I say j-had? That is what you seem to be on.

    I am amused that you have finally gotten it. Invading countries for wealth is a bad plan.

    But then you ask what I was saying…

    See comment #3.

  63. #63 Jadehawk, OM
    May 15, 2010

    j-hawk, or should I say j-had? That is what you seem to be on.

    I am amused that you have finally gotten it. Invading countries for wealth is a bad plan.

    But then you ask what I was saying…

    wow… you really don’t know how to use sarcasm. let me explain this to you in tiny steps, since your ego is making it hard for you to understand

    I and everybody on this thread has understood from the very beginning that comment #10 was saying that warmongering for money is bad.

    This was a non-sequitur.

    Therefore, everybody interpreted this as you using sarcasm to make fun of John Morales for suggesting to wage war to make money; Nebula and I commented that that wasn’t what John meant.

    You from then on kept repeating that we didn’t get your sarcasm, despite my multiple explanations to the contrary, failing to understand that your non-sequitur is not an effective use of sarcasm to show agreement. If that’s what you’ve attempted, you’d have to sarcastically “agree” with the opposite of John’s proposition, not some random other statement.

    In any case, you have not communicated clearly, because you don’t know how to use sarcasm to communicate your ideas.

  64. #64 Jadehawk, OM
    May 15, 2010

    so let me repeat my previous question. what was the point of that post? warmongering for money is bad; and?

    was there a point, or do you have keyboard-Tourette’s, and throw out “sarcastic” comments about irrelevant things all the time?

  65. #65 John Morales
    May 15, 2010

    Love F, Superposition,

    The addition is described by PZ as anti-porn-watching. But he then goes on to say that pro bill is pro porn, which has me confused.

    It shouldn’t be confusing, with careful reading.

    In his own words:

    [...] the addition was a completely irrelevant demand, a new requirement that federal employees caught watching porn would not get paid. Congress could vote for better science and education funding and allow porn watching, or they could vote against science and education and against porn.

    Hence, pro-bill now involves “disallowing” anti-porn (and can therefore be seen as pro-porn), given the rider appended to it.

  66. #66 Pygmy Loris
    May 15, 2010

    googlemess @54,

    I’m always taken aback when Americans brag about their democracy and their brilliant founding fathers. Do you mean the ones who built a republic that was wracked with civil wars before it made 150 years? Why expect congress to be anything but a bunch of idiots? The US is a young country and is still an “experiment.”

    Not to get all patriotic or nationalistic, but seriously. We were not “wracked with civil wars.” There was a single Civil War. It lasted four years from the attack on Fort Sumter in April of 1861 to the Stand Watie’s cease-fire in June of 1865. How many countries have never had a Civil War or massive civil unrest? How many countries’ current forms of government are more than a century or two old? Our republic’s problems are many, but just where the fuck do you live that’s so much better? I mean do you get all snide with Germans because their country is only 65 years old? Or do you mock the British because of Oliver Cromwell? Perhaps you think the Spanish should not be proud of their cultural heritage because Franco was a bastard?

    Sorry, but our Founding Fathers created a government with a written constitution and bill of rights that has provided for a relatively stable country for more than two centuries. Very few places around the world have experience the kind of stability we have. Yes, there are many outside reasons for instability in other countries (like colonialism in much of the developing world), but The contributions of Jefferson, Adams, Payne, et al. to political thought are tremendous. Our Declaration of Independence has been used to support the throwing off of colonial chains all over the world. Seriously, fuck off.

    BTW, the current idiocy that has taken hold in Congress is not an inherent part of our political system, but rather a consequence of having a political party with the explicit agenda of destroying the very government you think is so bad.

  67. #67 JohnnieCanuck
    May 15, 2010

    #62

    Does that mean you are finished derailing the thread, now?

    Even killfile wouldn’t be enough to keep your ego from splattering all over the thread.

    Please, please don’t respond.

  68. #68 ambulocetacean
    May 15, 2010

    Aaargh! Things like this make me want to tear my hair out.

    The whole legislation rider thing absolutely baffles me. It’s one of many things that (as far as I know) make the US work completely differently from other developed countries, and not in a good way.

    I might be wrong, but in other countries, don’t all parts of any given bill have to relate to the same subject?

  69. #69 Pygmy Loris
    May 15, 2010

    Sorry about that outpouring of nationalism, but I get really pissed off sometimes. One thing I would love to change about the Constitution is the Senate. There is no democracy when 600,000 people in Wyoming have the same voice as 40,000,000 in California. Replacing the Senate with some sort of body that could be elected in such a way that third parties would have a better chance of getting elected might be nice instead of FPTP. Oh, and get rid of the fucking electoral college!

  70. #70 Pygmy Loris
    May 15, 2010

    One more thing, this fiasco has little to do with the government established by the Constitution and everything to do with the fucked up rules for legislation in the Senate.

  71. #71 Pygmy Loris
    May 15, 2010

    Crap, I meant Congress not Senate in #70. I guess I was still fuming about my distaste for the Senate :)

  72. #72 Sioux Laris
    May 15, 2010

    Can’t Al Franken be asked to use the exact same strategy on EVERY SINGLE BILL proposed by either party?

    And would he also add a similar one: “a new requirement that federal employees caught reading the Bible would not get paid”?

    I’m not any more outraged by this, though. “Republican” has an exclusive, permanent copyright as the definition of “evil scum”. “Republicans” (and most especially those pretending to be Teabaggers and faux-libertarians), fuck off and die.

  73. #73 Sioux Laris
    May 15, 2010

    What’s with the libertarian infection at the start of this thread? Can’t they masturbate about a return to the Gold Standard at “Ron Paul’s Super Site of Fiscal responsibility” instead of making pissing on a perfectly good blog?

  74. #74 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 15, 2010

    The Republicans are likely to do well in November, possibly even getting a majority in the House. It’s not just the Teabaggers who are getting pissed off at Congress for failing to do their jobs.

  75. #75 Doug Meyer
    May 15, 2010

    Sorry (got in late tonight), but where can we see the list of the Democrats who caved? This thread is too long to read in full, and I guess that I’m just as pissed as anybody else about this obscenity (the Congressional action…not the porn).

  76. #76 Jadehawk, OM
    May 15, 2010

    75 posts is “too long to read in full”?

    are you new here? ;-)

    anyway, #52 has a link to the list of who voted how.

  77. #77 zzubzzub
    May 15, 2010

    This reminds me of the time that fucker Bill Frist inserted the “Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act” rider into The Safe Port Act the night before it was to be voted on. Nobody would ever vote down an anti-terrorist bill.

  78. #78 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    May 15, 2010

  79. #79 SaintStephen
    May 15, 2010

    If you agree with Professor Myers in this post, please think about joining the brilliant Lawrence Lessig’s effort to Fix Congress First.

    Here is Larry’s Wiki entry. A few credits:

    Stanford Law Professor;
    Harvard Law Professor;
    Former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia;
    M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge (Trinity);
    Juris Doctor from Yale Law School;
    Board member of Electronic Frontier Foundation.
    Total stud.

    Make sure to watch some of his excellent and innovative presentations (on video clips) archived on the site.

  80. #80 Ichthyic
    May 15, 2010

    this might be a useful item for those wondering why line item vetoes are not more common in the legislative process in the US:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line-item_veto

  81. #81 Ichthyic
    May 15, 2010

    @jcmartz

    if you plan to use inline style tags, please use links to appropriately scaled pics.

    thanks

  82. #82 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnpyG94PBrZd-vxul6bDbVoXWtg1LcLXc4
    May 15, 2010

    If I may be allowed to comment on others style of government while ignoring the beam in my eye. Why allow an irrelevant amendment be tacked on to a major bill? It is almost like it is designed to go against the wishes of the majority in the house. Either stop a bill by tacking on something unacceptable or make sure something gets through by joining it to a totally vital bill.
    What was the original intent?

    Another thing that has often annoyed me since watching ?Mr Smith goes to Washington? is the way you do filibusters. It is much more entertaining if they have to speak only about the subject in hand without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

  83. #83 burpy
    May 15, 2010

    DonŽt worry, weŽll keep doing science in Europe. Maybe weŽll sell you some of whatever we come up with (I hear the Republicans are quite keen on free markets). We also make great porn.

  84. #84 chaseacross
    May 15, 2010

    Hey gang, if you want to know how your Rep. voted on this issue, follow the link here:

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll270.xml

    If only only this kind of info was more readily availible, I think we’d do a better job of holding our legislators accountable. I did a three month internship in Jim McDermott’s office (from the Fightin’ 7th-WA). Glad to see he voted NO on this motion to recommit bullshit. Does your Rep. have the same sack? If not, consider making a phone call or writing a letter (handwritten, mind you; the emails get sorted automatically).

  85. #85 https://me.yahoo.com/wmdkitty#83021
    May 15, 2010

    dYsfunctional.

    Sorry, PZ, I’m a bit OCD about spelling. >.<

  86. #86 truth machine, OM
    May 15, 2010

    the “differences” are the street theater for them masses

    This immensely stupid conclusion is the direct consequence of the sort of pathetic ignorance and misrepresentation found in the article above. Fuck, fine, despise the Republicans and Democrats equally and enjoy another George W Bush or worse.

  87. #87 truth machine, OM
    May 15, 2010

    Either I’m misreading(/-interpreting) or there is a logic flaw here. The addition is described by PZ as anti-porn-watching. But he then goes on to say that pro bill is pro porn, which has me confused.

    It really isn’t hard to understand. A vote against the motion to recommit is a vote to pay government employees to watch porn — that’s how it would be portrayed by their Republican opponents. To call them spineless for withdrawing the bill (temporarily) is fucking stupid and completely ignorant about political reality.

  88. #88 chaseacross
    May 15, 2010

    Any other time, any other year, I’d agree with PZ, but this is a special case. Who holds the House next year could very well come down to a single seat. The Republicans are set to pick up +20, but that could go as high as +50. It’s not fucking stupid or completely ignorant to call it cowardly, because it is cowardly… but that’s politics for you. It’s the lesser of two evils. And that’s the only things get done in a country of 250 million. It’s easy for a science prof to call it cowardly from the sidelines. The view is very different on the field. If I were quarterbacking this, I’d probably have made the same call: let the conservative Dems vote AYE on this one for now, maybe hold the House, then re-up this bill at the start of next session either way. What’s a couple months when the country’s purse is at stake?

  89. #89 truth machine, OM
    May 15, 2010

    It’s not fucking stupid or completely ignorant to call it cowardly, because it is cowardly… but that’s politics for you.

    No, it is fucking stupid, because it makes “bravery” equivalent to losing Dem seats and not being able to anything. It’s fucking stupid because it frames things in terms of cowardice/bravery rather than in terms of pragmatic outcomes — “politics for you”. It’s fucking stupid because it’s macho posturing bullshit. Ooh, ooh, the Dems are cowards — they should be chest-thumping morons instead.

    It’s easy for a science prof to call it cowardly from the sidelines.

    Easy,and fucking stupid.

  90. #90 truth machine, OM
    May 15, 2010

    P.S. The most fucking stupid part is, as I noted in #86, this bit: “I think I despise them all”. The Rethuglicans use the sleaziest of tactics to kill a science-funding and jobs bill, and some Dems make a pragmatic decision to not be portrayed as voting to pay government workers to watch pornography, and other Dems wisely pull the bill because it was gutted by the recommit amendment, and someone fucking stupidly despises them all, despite an immense gulf between the evil of the actions and motivations of the two sides.

  91. #91 truth machine, OM
    May 15, 2010

    It’s the lesser of two evils

    That’s a grossly intellectually dishonest, misleading framing of “the better of two choices”. All choices are among “evils” because no option is perfect.

  92. #92 truth machine, OM
    May 15, 2010

    Fuck, fine, despise the Republicans and Democrats equally and enjoy another George W Bush or worse.

    Let me say this again: we got George W. Bush because people fucking stupidly said there was no difference between the Dems and the Rethugs. People are saying this now about Obama. But that’s fucking stupid; “not nearly as good as we would like” is not equal to “horrible beyond our worst imagining”. Being fucking stupid in 2000 and 2004 got us, among other things, the Roberts/Alito court that never met a corporation it didn’t want to fellate.

  93. #93 SC OM
    May 15, 2010

    Let me say this again: we got George W. Bush because people fucking stupidly said there was no difference between the Dems and the Rethugs. People are saying this now about Obama. But that’s fucking stupid; “not nearly as good as we would like” is not equal to “horrible beyond our worst imagining”.

    True.

    But if I’m Honduran it’s the lesser of two evils.

  94. #94 chaseacross
    May 15, 2010

    @91

    It’s not intellectually dishonest to use the vernacular. Moral cowardice is an evil. Parliamentary procedure used to obstruct otherwise popular legislation for political gain is a greater evil. Both are, unfortunately, a permanent part of the political process. I agree with your main point: let’s keep our eyes on the prize here, and not get bogged down in poaching from our own side. Discipline, not disillusionment, is the name of the game.

  95. #95 solius
    May 15, 2010

    @ sbreedlo:

    While, I rarely comment on this blog, and perhaps, only marginally literate-I only made it through about 50 of the comments.

    Your tea-bagging bullshit found a receptive audience in ’32 with their man, Hoover. Fortunately, most Americans then, saw through the economic cluster-fuck proposed by that statesman, and choose instead, a real progressive-FDR!

    Had we listened to his, and by proxy, your’s, argument,… I shudder to think.

    Maybe, in my inebriation, I have interpreted what you seem to imply, incorrectly…It seems that implicit in your arguments is that laissez-faire economics is a good thing???

  96. #96 MetzO'Magic
    May 15, 2010

    This is insane. You can just tack anything you fucking want onto a bill that the opposing party is pushing to make sure it doesn’t get through?

    How about this one: all republican representatives get a %100 salary increase. Pass that, dems.

    This too is one of the very few times I disagree with PZ’s stance. The republican scum would have had a field day with “Democrats are OK with watching porn on government time”.

  97. #97 Flex
    May 15, 2010

    Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad at #39 wrote,

    …President can veto single items in a bill but the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.

    A line item veto gives the office of the president too much power. There are two better alternatives, either change the legislative rules for adding riders, or amend the US Constitution with something like a line that the Michigan Constitution has;

    State Constitution of Michigan of 1963 Section 24 Laws; object, title, amendments changing purpose.

    No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title. No bill shall be altered or amended on its passage through either house so as to change its original purpose as determined by its total content and not alone by its title.

    This allows riders, but only riders which are related to the substance of the main bill.

    Giving line-item veto power to the president for this purpose is like handing someone dynamite to clean your chimney. It can work, but the results will be better if you pick a tool more suited for the job.

  98. #98 MetzO'Magic
    May 15, 2010

    What Flex says. We need a change to the legislative rules to stop this kinda crap from happening in the first place.

  99. #99 ConcernedJoe
    May 15, 2010

    Nicely done Truth Machine as usual.

    My two cents – to think Dems = Repubs is like saying Zero Degrees Kelvin is the same as Zero Degrees Celsius – ‘cuz they are both f’n cold aren’t they?!?

  100. #100 matthew.hodson
    May 15, 2010

    That is fucking retarded! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, democracy just doesn’t work.

  101. #101 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    May 15, 2010

    Matthew Hodson says “…democracy just doesn’t work.”

    OK. Your suggestion? Last I saw, the add for the “philosopher-king” position has gone unfulfilled due to lack of qualified applicants.

    Did you think democracy was supposed to be easy? That is certainly not how the founding fathers viewed it. Democracy works when you ensure the people are sufficiently educated to understand and vote their own interest–not just short-term gain, but their interests stretching on for generations.

    Democracy has not failed us. We have failed democracy.

  102. #102 RijkswaanVijanD
    May 15, 2010

    Did you honestly expect to find a politician with principles other than greed?
    So beautifully naive!

  103. #103 a.human.ape
    May 15, 2010

    There is a villain to this story, though. Some congresscreatures ? Republicans, led by a fool from Texas ? didn’t like the good little bill. It’s not clear why. Maybe because it was going to cost some money. Maybe just because they don’t like that science and education stuff.

    Virtually all Republicans are creationists, so perhaps they didn’t want any more money spent on teaching biology.

    Too bad about Texas. I have never heard anything good come out of that state. I’ll never forget when I read somewhere that about 50% of Texas high schools don’t teach evolution at all. Are all those biology teachers incompetent, afraid of Christian harassment, or both? The whole thing seems so hopeless. We finally got a pro-science president, and still there’s an out-of-control anti-science sentiment in congress.

  104. #104 ereador
    May 15, 2010

    I have a brother like you, sbreedlo; he won’t ever shut up until he thinks he has “won” (whatever that means to him — usually just getting the last word).

  105. #105 PZ Myers
    May 15, 2010

    I don’t equate Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are actively evil and incredibly stupid. Democrats are craven and unprincipled.

    Those are two different things. They are not the same.

    And the argument that they have to cave in in order to get elected is so old and tired and wrong. I think the electorate likes politicians who are bold and forthright. This was an opportunity for the Democrats to make a case for the perfidy of the Republicans, and they ran away.

  106. #106 ereador
    May 15, 2010

    I think you are right PZ. It would be incredibly refreshing to see a politician be forthright and honest. And I like to call the current trend-leaders in the GOP “Kill-the-poor Republicans” because of their attitudes toward the disadvantaged, but they have promulgated many other evils also.

  107. #107 dutchdoc
    May 15, 2010

    I’ll probably never understand politics. Nor politicians.

    – Why is it a problem to deny a motion to add measure to a bill, when that measure has absolutely nothing to do with the intent of the bill, regardles of how good or bad that measure is?
    Denying the motion to add a way to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country into a bill concerning the quality of drinkwater does in NO way mean you’re all for letting in illegal immigrants.

    – So, why does it take such extraordinairy courage to say “Hey: watching porn is a HORRIBLE crime and everyone caught doing it should be stoned to death … but it does NOT belong in THIS bill, so: motion denied! Make your own bill for it”.

    – Doesn’t this end the democratic process? Becasue from now on, every time the democrats submit a bill that some nitwit doesn’t like, he simply submits a motion to recommit and demands adding “yeah… and let’s burn all porn watchers at the stake”.
    And I’m sure democrats can find something to add to republican bills that no republican DARES running the risk of being accused of being in favor of it.

    .. and there are a few more things I don’t understand about this. And probably newer will.

  108. #108 dutchdoc
    May 15, 2010

    #106:

    a politician be forthright and honest

    Isn’t there a “contradictio in terminis” in there somewhere?

  109. #109 Katharine
    May 15, 2010

    Leave it to the regressives to do something like that.

    We need to rub it in their faces a little more that they’re powerless.

  110. #110 Pierce R. Butler
    May 15, 2010

    Here’s how Tony “James Dobson’s answer to Ralph Reed” Perkins, top banana of the Patriarchy Research Council, characterized the vote (under a photo of Pelosi with a speech balloon saying, “What part of ‘I will only allow Radical Legislation’ don’t you understand?”):

    Yesterday Democratic leadership pulled a < http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/14/obama-urges-action-on-job-creation/>$86 billion “jobs creation” bill from the floor after Congress passed a Republican amendment that would trim the cost, require federally-funded institutions to allow military recruiters on their campuses, and to restrict federal funds from paying the salary of federal employees who had been disciplined for downloading or viewing pornography. Not surprisingly, the amendment passed overwhelmingly (292 to 126).

    Surprisingly, Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) thought these provisions were so egregious she pulled the bill so that Congress did not have a final vote on it. Whether it pertains to the military or the protection of pornography, the action yesterday shows the extent to which Democratic Leaders are controlled by the radical Left.

    Another telling example involves final regulations effective yesterday to loosen restrictions on funding international groups that support prostitution and sex-trafficking. President Bush’s international HIV/AIDS program (PEPFAR) included a provision by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to require recipients of < http://www.cwfa.org/articles/13683/BLI/nation/index.htm>PEPFAR to certify that they do not support prostitution and sex-trafficking. Two cases challenged this provision in the courts, one filed in D.C. district court by pornographers DKT International and the other in N.Y. district court by George Soros-backed groups. The first case upheld the anti-prostitution provision, whereas the second case ruled against the provision.

    The Bush administration appealed the ruling and issued regulations to address free speech objections while enforcing the anti-prostitution provision. The court ruled against the appeal and now, thankfully, the Obama administration has appealed that decision. However, the Obama administration replaced the Bush regulations yesterday with ones that would make it easier for groups to skirt the anti-prostitution provision by creating affiliates who support prostitution and sex-trafficking.

    For women caught up in the sex trade, they do not need the U.S. supporting groups, even indirectly, who support that trade. The purpose of PEPFAR is to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS–not to encourage a practice that shows a major increase in that disease. The fact that Democratic leadership is questioning whether the U.S. should fund groups supporting prostitution or continue to pay federal salaries to those reprimanded for viewing pornography again shows the need for change in Washington.

    The endemic hyperchristian tendency for political non-sequiturs appears to demand crisis intervention.

  111. #111 ereador
    May 15, 2010

    Yeah, dutchdoc, and I apologize. Sometimes I just flit into the alternate universe without warning, you know. I have imagined myself as a politician answering questions at a press conference:

    REPORTER: But many point out their traditional values (the Bible) contradicts your stand on gay rights, women’s health issues (abortions), etc. Don’t you think that will impact your campaign negatively?

    ME: Fuck that noise! Not worthy of rational attention. My “stand” stands. Next question?

  112. #112 ereador
    May 15, 2010

    /Sorry about slipping OT.

  113. #113 Pierce R. Butler
    May 15, 2010

    Incidentally, the whole spiel about “supporting prostitution” from the Perkins rant in # 110 is a ploy against organizations like Planned Parenthood which provide services to sex workers without demanding that they immediately quit and becomes housewives behind white picket fences.

    There are similar backstories behind the “trim the costs” and no-limits-on-military-recruiters provisions.

    The same email begins with a ringing defense of the new wingnut Maine GOP platform (“Maine Stream IS Mainstream”) and concludes with pitches for a radio broadcoast about the Kagan nomination – also featuring Gen. Jerry Boykin on unrestricted “homosexuals in the military” – and a webcast on “The Bible and the Founding Fathers”. These guys are not slackers.

  114. #114 ckitching
    May 15, 2010

    If there is a clear majority supporting the bill then they will just strike down these amendments and pass the bill.

    It’s all politics. Let’s say the amendment was struck down, can you imagine how much use that little fact would see during the next election cycle? “Congressman John Doe supports paying federal employees to look at porn all day. Support family values, vote Republican Jack Doh!” By killing the bill outright, they can claim that any of the amendments were the reason, or that the bill itself was defective in some way. The worst they can be accused of is killing a spending bill.

  115. #115 Pygmy Loris
    May 15, 2010

    Another thing that has often annoyed me since watching ?Mr Smith goes to Washington? is the way you do filibusters. It is much more entertaining if they have to speak only about the subject in hand without hesitation, deviation or repetition.

    Surprisingly, this is actually what is required of a filibuster in the Texas legislature. At least, that’s what Molly Ivins told me.

  116. #116 Garrett
    May 15, 2010

    Only 1 of the 4 Democratic Representatives from Oregon (where I live) voted on the side of sanity. I would say Oregon is relatively progressive. That 3 out of 4 (plus the 1 Republican Rep.) felt the need to vote for the motion to recommit suggests to me that this country is in even bigger trouble than I had thought.

    I see that the lone Republican who voted against the motion is a Michigan Rep. who will not be running for re-election.

  117. #117 chgo_liz
    May 15, 2010

    I don’t mean to diss you, PZ, but the title of this thread is dysfunctional.

  118. #118 Garrett
    May 15, 2010

    #85, see #2. #117, see #85 and #2.

  119. #119 Blind Squirrel FCD
    May 15, 2010

    @103

    Too bad about Texas. I have never heard anything good come out of that state.

    Empty Greyhound buses.

    BS

  120. #120 leepicton
    May 15, 2010

    Wow. OT comment first. I only got to the comment box by using Firefox. Nothing at all worked with any of the other sign-ons.
    Anyway, all I wanted to say is that I am increasingly saddened by everything that is going on in our once-great country, not for myself, as I am on the back end of my life and just want to be left alone to tend to the husbeast, and enjoy my incredibly wonderful grandson. But there’s the rub – what kind of world are we leaving to the grandkids? Certainly not one that is better than the way we got it. No I am not indulging in romanticizing the past; things really have gone to hell in the last 20 years or so.

  121. #121 fendpa
    May 15, 2010

    I love Pharyngula for the pro-science, science news, and god bashing. What confuses me constantly is when logic and rationalism are thrown out due to irrational emotive belief. Most of us agree that the Republican Party sucks along with most if not all of the politicians which make up the party. How though can any sane person believe that the Democratic Party and their professional membership are any better? Some people prefer the Republican talking points and some favor the Democrats philosophy, but please someone show me evidence that it isn?t all hyperbole and rhetoric. I am willing to challenge anybody who can show an evil, self aggrandizing bullshit act by a presently active scumbag member of the GOP, and I can show an equivalent on the Dems side. To use someone else?s vernacular the ?fucking stupidest? thing we can do is to continue to vote for what Washington described as the eventual despotic rule of party politics. The very same things people despise about Bush, they excuse in Obama. The wars still rage, corporations are still subsidized, warrantless wire tapping has expanded, and the religious are still pandered to due to this current administration. Excuse me for not drinking your corrupted parties rotted fruit drink.

  122. #122 amphiox
    May 15, 2010

    fendpa, who do you suggest we ought to vote for then? Ron Paul?

    Or should we bust out our (2nd Amendment guaranteed) legacy flintlocks, confiscate Rhode Island, and declare independence?

    Or maybe we could move en masse to Canada, where we’d get the privilege of choosing between Eviler than Bush/Smarter than Cheney Stephen Harper, Still has just a notochord of a backbone Michael Ignatieff, and Don’t tell me I’m not actually relevant Jack Layton?

    Or are you planning on establishing and funding a third party, and you want us to vote for you?

  123. #123 Antiochus Epiphanes
    May 15, 2010

    Where is the porn-lobby hiding? Is there not a single politician who will stand up for porn? If government employees are allowed to do anything at work that is not work-related* why not porn surfin’? If I were to run for Philosopher King of the US of A, it would be a pro-science/pro-porn ticket all the way.

    *Chit-chat, scratch themselves, sudoku, shop or insurance, check out science blogs, etc.

  124. #124 Acronym Jim
    May 15, 2010

    So a republican pulls the legislative equivalent of asking the question “when did you stop beating your wife,” and 121 Dems fell for it. It’s a wonder any of these gutless, politically cowed “public servants” ever managed to graduate from college.

    The Democrats need to continue to hold press conferences to expose republican sophomoric shenanigans.

  125. #125 Acronym Jim
    May 15, 2010

    If the bill comes back for another vote with the anti-porn amendment, do you thing it will pass the Senate?

  126. #126 Acronym Jim
    May 15, 2010

    Slight correction, the senator in my previous comment is a Florida state senator, not a U.S. senator, so he technically is not a federal employee.;-)

  127. #127 frog, Inc.
    May 15, 2010

    @pygmy: Not to get all patriotic or nationalistic, but seriously. We were not “wracked with civil wars.” There was a single Civil War. It lasted four years from the attack on Fort Sumter in April of 1861 to the Stand Watie’s cease-fire in June of 1865.

    Depends on how you define it. We had several rebellions in the 1780’s and 1790’s — with good cause, as impoverished veterans were robbed of their homes and farms by folks who were in the social circles of the “FF”‘s. Then of course, there was the ongoing war between white people and every other group, sometimes they were called citizens, and sometimes they weren’t. The Indian Wars could be considered a civil war, there were several slave uprisings, there was the terror campaign against African Americans in the 1870s & 80’s…

    How many countries have never had a Civil War or massive civil unrest? How many countries’ current forms of government are more than a century or two old?

    Well, I’d say our form of government is only “formally” the same. We’ve gone through at least four very distinct forms of government, from 1789-1828, 1828-1860, 1864-1930ish, and the current form. Yes, we’re real hyped up on “reinterpreting” the same old titles and formal structures, while changing them substantively.

    Our republic’s problems are many, but just where the fuck do you live that’s so much better?

    Well, that’s a fucking good point. Every nation is primarily composed of assholes and idiots, and very few places have democracies in anything but name.

    Sorry, but our Founding Fathers created a government with a written constitution and bill of rights that has provided for a relatively stable country for more than two centuries. Very few places around the world have experience the kind of stability we have … The contributions of Jefferson, Adams, Payne, et al. to political thought are tremendous. Our Declaration of Independence has been used to support the throwing off of colonial chains all over the world. Seriously, fuck off.

    Yup, the DI is very well-written propaganda (not as a negative — if we lived up to it, we’d be much better off).

    But Paine had to leave the country and died impoverished overseas — he didn’t quite get along with what the country actually was. Jefferson appears to have believed that the constitution was fatally flawed. How tremendous their contributions were… well, that’s debatable. It was definitely influential — but one can definitely argue that their analysis was weak.

    BTW, the current idiocy that has taken hold in Congress is not an inherent part of our political system, but rather a consequence of having a political party with the explicit agenda of destroying the very government you think is so bad.

    True and false. We are facing a particularly bad outbreak of idiocy, but they are fairly regular in our history and I’d argue an inherent part of the tension in the system, going back to those early rebellions where Washington and his ilk put down the veterans who were demanding that the promises of the DI be actually fulfilled, rather than just pretty words on parchment.

    We don’t particularly suck — that’s true. Everywhere is pretty sucky, in the long view.

  128. #128 Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad
    May 15, 2010

    Flex,

    A line item veto gives the office of the president too much power. There are two better alternatives, either change the legislative rules for adding riders, or amend the US Constitution with something like a line that the Michigan Constitution has

    You’re right. Those would be better alternatives.

  129. #129 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 15, 2010
  130. #130 AJ Milne OM
    May 15, 2010

    The Democrats need to continue to hold press conferences to expose republican sophomoric shenanigans.

    Quite. And it seems to me the Dems missed an opportunity. Seems to me they coulda proposed another amendment:

    (i) WHEREAS asshats who add stupid shit about porn to good bills purely to derail them are showboating clowns and do corrupt democracy and generally make a mess of the nation;

    (ii) BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that persons caught adding stupid shit like that ‘porn amendment’ above in this very bill to proposed legislation should be beaten bloody with axe handles for their troubles.

    (/No, it’s not a threat. It’s the LAW, people.)

  131. #131 fendpa
    May 15, 2010

    Amphiox
    {fendpa, who do you suggest we ought to vote for then? Ron Paul?
    Or should we bust out our (2nd Amendment guaranteed) legacy flintlocks, confiscate Rhode Island, and declare independence?
    Or maybe we could move en masse to Canada, where we’d get the privilege of choosing between Eviler than Bush/Smarter than Cheney Stephen Harper, Still has just a notochord of a backbone Michael Ignatieff, and Don’t tell me I’m not actually relevant Jack Layton?
    Or are you planning on establishing and funding a third party, and you want us to vote for you?}

    I suggest we vote for anyone who doesn?t take RNC/DNC campaign contributions, if you have professional membership in the parties then you have to vote their way or they will contribute to someone else who will. It might be harder for big interests to buy off multiple groups instead of just two. I suggest a bloodless revolution where voters actually stop excusing corruption. My plan is to get the Dems to take social liberalism serious and Reps to take fiscal conservatism serious by making both fear the results of every election if they don?t. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, stop the insanity; stop voting for Republicans and Democrats.

  132. #132 David Marjanovi?
    May 15, 2010

    What is it about the USA that one party can unilaterally add stuff to a proposed law!?!

    Dys*functional mess indeed.

    I didn’t even know this occurred in any other country. The Wikipedia article suggests it’s more difficult in the UK (another highly functional democracy there… </sarcasm>) and outright unconstitutional in France and Hungary.

    Why do You The People put up with this bullshit? That’s what I don’t get!

    * Greek dys- “bad”, not Latin dis- “apart”.

    I am saying that when you don’t have money, you don’t have money.

    In a rich country like the USA, there is no such thing as “you don’t have money”. The only matter is the political will to put it where it’s really needed.

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED! I tell ya, that Pomeroy voted yes.
    And you know what I can do about this? Diddly squat. Yay for residency: taxation without representation.

    Do Pomeroy or his staff have any way to figure out you’re not a citizen? If not, you can write to him anyway.

    And if yes, do it anyway and threaten you’ll tell all your friends & neighbors about Pomeroy’s fully cartilaginous pleurocentra. (Unless comments 88 and 89 more persuasive, though I’m more with comment 105 in this case.)

    What you wrote is so close to an apology. Well done. Now that you have pointed out all that you missed was my sarcasm, comment #17 is proven useful in the dialogue.
    Your godlike stance on proper use of sarcasm still amuses me. I suggest you get a book on rhetorical devices.

    Dude… this is the Internet. If you’re not correctly understood, it is your fault. We can’t hear your tone of voice or see your sardonic grin ? and we know that Stogoe’s Law says:

    “I maintain that no statement could possibly exist that is obviously stupid enough such that no one could be convinced of its veracity. There’s always a bigger idiot.”

    Another way to put it is called Jonell’s Law:

    “It can be shown that for any nutty theory, beyond-the-fringe political view or strange religion there exists a proponent on the Net. The proof is left as an exercise for your kill-file.”

    Finally, Morgan’s Law (a generalization from Poe’s Law = Ebert’s Fallacy):

    “Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.”

    If you fail to mark your sarcasm as such, the consequences are your fault.

    Hell, the first thing I was taught when I started writing scientific papers is that some of my colleagues will misunderstand me, so I better bend over backwards to express myself clearly ? in order to minimize the number of such colleagues.

    It’s the lesser of two evils

    That’s a grossly intellectually dishonest, misleading framing of “the better of two choices”. All choices are among “evils” because no option is perfect.

    Framing it this way again and again… doesn’t that make the point that all choices are among evils?

  133. #133 frog, Inc.
    May 15, 2010

    DM: Why do You The People put up with this bullshit? That’s what I don’t get!

    Because we are The Greatest Nation on Earth. The Founding Fathers were the Greatest Geniuses Ever, of the Finest Caliber, emotionally, socially, intellectually and politically. The Constitution is As Close To Perfect As Is Imaginable.

    Seriously, don’t you get it? Even those of us who are “unpatriotic” by American standards, are still as nationalistic as jingoists elsewhere.

    Just come to the US and look at how many flags are hanging. I can’t think of a country I’ve been to where it’s so constant. You can’t even go to the damn circus without getting the national anthem, a girl on an elephant wrapped in the flag, and a salute to our fine soldiers.

    It’s everywhere — it’s like believing in Jesus in 12th century France. Not being nationalistic is unthinkable in the US — you’re a commie freak if you don’t think that patriotism is one of mankind’s finest emotions.

    For a minority, it’s then tied into their religion — I don’t know how many bumperstickers I’ve seen with the cross wrapped in the flag. So questioning anything about our system is tantamount to heresy for them.

    Look, when we talk about dysfunction in the US, it’s always put in terms of individuals who have failed us, a particularly party who has failed us, and primarily how we’ve failed our Constitution and our system.

    That makes it impossible to fix the dysfunction — because you can only attack symptoms, never the disease (part of which is a duopoly where the partnership between the ruling parties is much more important than any distinction that they may run on).

  134. #134 Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad
    May 15, 2010

    For a minority, it’s then tied into their religion — I don’t know how many bumperstickers I’ve seen with the cross wrapped in the flag. So questioning anything about our system is tantamount to heresy for them.

    Glenn Beck was inspired by The 5,000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen, which:

    reflects Skousen’s “passion for the United States Constitution,” which he “felt was inspired by God and the reason behind America?s success as a nation.”[42] The book is touted by Beck as “required reading” to understand the current American political landscape and become a “September twelfth person”.[40] Beck authored a foreword for the 2008 edition of Leap and Beck’s on-air recommendations in 2009 propelled the book to number one in the government category on Amazon for several months.

    It amazes anyone outside a mental health facility takes Beck seriously.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_beck#Influences

  135. #135 Richard
    May 15, 2010

    Thank you for talking about the right-wing war against education. I think that this is a subject that is not talked about as much as it should be in the humanist/skeptical community. I was particularly appalled by the recent legislation in Arizona which outlawed ethnic studies classes. Often these issues are not directly related to science, but they are very important to a quality education. Keep up the good work.

  136. #136 Pygmy Loris
    May 16, 2010

    frog, Inc,

    I agree with your assessment. Like I said in subsequent posts, there are several major problems I have with the Constitution, but I do think it’s a decent overall system. Many of the problems I have with our government concern how people are elected and the specific rules and procedures for the two houses of Congress.

    One of my new pet ideas is that politicians should face sanctions and impeachment for lying about what a bill contains*. For example, claiming that the health care insurance reform bill had provisions for death panels or required coverage for illegal aliens would mean losing your seat in Congress and being disallowed from pursuing elected office for a period of time. Yes, I really hate that I have to fact check everything my representatives say about legislation, no matter how innocuous it seems.

    But Paine had to leave the country and died impoverished overseas — he didn’t quite get along with what the country actually was.

    Just for the record, Paine died impoverished and abandoned right here in the good ole USofA.

    * Of course I realize this would be hard to implement and police, so I’m not actually advocating such a thing just yet. Give me a couple more years of hearing Rethuglicans make shit up constantly, and I’ll be writing the legislation myself. Grrr.

  137. #137 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnpyG94PBrZd-vxul6bDbVoXWtg1LcLXc4
    May 16, 2010

    In the UK there are procedures for amending bills as they are debated.
    The difference is that the changes are usually in detail and do not substantially change the purpose of the bill.

    Out executive (often effectively the Prime Minister if he is dominant in cabinet and has a majority) can usually get any bill they want through and stop any they don?t by bullying or bribing backbenchers.
    At least you don?t have a second house largely populated by those that made financial contributions to the governing party.

  138. #138 Myk Dowling
    May 16, 2010

    IT seems to me, as a complete outsider, that the US Democrats seem to spend all their time trying to placate the people that didn’t vote for them. Why don’t they work for the people that did vote for them, instead, and show that they actually stand for something?

    Every time you back down to someone else’s bullshit moralising, you effectively admit they’re right.

    Mind you, this whole bullshit business of attaching irrelevant amendments to bills is the big problem. It shouldn’t be allowed.

  139. #139 Carlie
    May 16, 2010

    IT seems to me, as a complete outsider, that the US Democrats seem to spend all their time trying to placate the people that didn’t vote for them. Why don’t they work for the people that did vote for them, instead, and show that they actually stand for something?

    That’s exactly what we want to know. :(

  140. #140 wayofdisaster
    May 17, 2010

    All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill?

  141. #141 Robert Thille
    May 17, 2010

    While I hate to defend the cowardly Democrats, I blame the electorate and the Republicans more. It’s easier to tear down than to build up, and Republicans are way too willing to do that whenever they aren’t in power. Further, in contested districts, those Democrats would likely lose their seats due to the idiocy of their constituents and the cost of countering the the assertion that they ‘voted for porn’.

  142. #142 onion
    May 17, 2010

    The Reparanoids and Demogaugs are the same coin with two sides that mirror each other. Porn is just fine in some places. Not on tax dollars. But really now what difference does it make although I don condone it in offises they do a lot worse things thaan this. Seriously though let them have it it will only continue to contribute to their demise. The Building Department heads in San Francisco have all been brought up on charges and had a large sperd in the Chronicle and Examiner about them e-mailing porn to female workers in their offices. Hey folks let rome burn what the hell do you care it is a piece of crapped on society anyway. What in the hell are you protecting by worring over degenerates looking at porn. I seriousaly don’t get where peoples heads are these days. You are all too invested in this piece of crap Government knowing they are all degenerates ask yourself what does that mean to you. If your education wont let you answer look it up in the dictionary. Hey this is 2010 Google the word Degenerate, google pervert, google traitor. I think you all should have dropped out of school in the 10th grade like I did you would have some shred of dignity left. Let Rome Burn, Burn Baby Burn

  143. #143 windy
    May 17, 2010
    Let me say this again: we got George W. Bush because people fucking stupidly said there was no difference between the Dems and the Rethugs. People are saying this now about Obama. But that’s fucking stupid; “not nearly as good as we would like” is not equal to “horrible beyond our worst imagining”.

    True.
    But if I’m Honduran it’s the lesser of two evils.

    Which one?

    I think it is evil, among other things, to risk a massive environmental disaster without taking the effort to understand the risks and mandate appropriate precautions. However much better the new administration was in this respect, this distinction was apparently lost on the rig that blew up. And now, apparently, we should merely just say that the results are “not nearly as good as we would like”. CLAP HARDER!!!

  144. #144 onion
    May 17, 2010

    Nero is naked and sounds like wendy wants us to give him clothes. Trying to compare Bush to Seotoro is no equation and does not address the issue of Dems vs Rebubs. Sounds as if you may be bugging out on Seotoro. I hear he is gay so what if. The next phase of the overseas invasion of innocent people for the rich is no more of a gl;ory wagon than anything Bush ever did he just did it longer. If Mc Cain would have won things would not have been different they only folled you in a different way. Thing is Dems Repubs good cop bad cop. Bush was in your face Soetero is behind your back. Still the same game it will just take until he commits some 9/11 event for you to recognize this. So what is this horrible thing you speak of explain and stop name calling without backing up your conversation. What do you mean horrible what. Oh did I forget to mention it happened in the Gulf last month. did I miss something. Maybe it was an accident so whose is responsible for the deregulation of the construction Seotero waived, Who is responsible for the looting of 30 or 40 Trillion dollars, Oh Oh wait I missed something did you see it well I will remind you that your thinking is more like this. Bush was worse because he lied about weapons of mass destruction and the 9/11 incident. No comparrison but fact is 3,500 Americans died for a phoney wmd BS and Seotero is just as responsible for the 10s of thousands of Iraqis dead as bush was. Hey wait a minute how can you compare American lives with a difference in Iraqis. How can you compare crashing buildings with Gulf water catastrophie. You haven’t did this so what exactly is your horrible scinerio you speak of. Are FBI or CIA cause I dont get it. Seotero is a master deceiver look at the looting going on by his Goldman Sacks buddies. The entire world and the planet is crumbling Rome is burning WWlll on the horizon and you want to compare one obsessed thug to another criminal thug. Notice how I changed up the comparrison name at the end. I am a genius. No seriously Just try to think into what I have said for a while and don’t attempt to be right for a minute or so let go of being right and just loisten to what my words say I am not trying to make you wrong just stating my facts you can take them or leave it. I have no vested interest in none of this whatsoever. Just conversation.

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