Pro Logica

December 6, 2012

Scientism–the Religion of Science

Filed under: Philosophy of Science, Religion — Tags: , — Ron Toczek @ 3:52 pm

Not so very long ago an internet science site essentially posed this question in a contest format:  Of all the assumptions underlying the physical sciences, which one is the most dubious?  Since there were bound to be many answers, I imagined that the winner would be the one with the best argument.  I never did follow up to see what the winning entry was but have thought about it at times, coming up with good assumptions but absolutely no argument why those assumptions are dubious.  Take the ‘Big Bang’ concept in cosmology.  From a theoretical mathematicians perspective it certainly is an assumption but there is nothing dubious about it.  It does supply answers to questions and for many scientists it is nothing but a working hypothesis until something better comes along.  (Unfortunately, there are many who consider their belief in the ‘Big Bang’ to be more than belief.)  The same can be said of other assumptions masquerading as concepts such as evolution or the universal laws of natural physics.

Within the last month or two I have entertained an idea which, although not dubious, does play havoc with the really basic assumption of science, the scientific concept of the ‘real world’.  This concept represents an abstraction from the sense experiences of (all?) human consciences and is believed to be representable as a model within some complete abstract mathematical system that can be found by proper investigation–the so-called scientific method.  Aside from the explicit assumption in the last sentence, there are two even more basic and hidden assumptions which render that explicit assumption a necessary consequence.  First, humans are assumed to be incidental  to and, consequently, independent of the ‘real world’ ; and second, the principles of mathematical creation are embedded within this ‘real world’ and consequently also exist independently of human consciences.  As long as human consciences exist no proof is available and if humans do extinct themselves these assumptions disappear and cannot even have a meaningful formulation.

Being blunt, if the belief in God can be called a religion, so the belief in an independent ‘real world’ can also be called a religion.  An advantage to a belief in a Christian God introduces love and morals into the world.  What do you get with scientism?



November 22, 2012

The Devil and the Catholic Church

Filed under: The Catholic Church — Tags: — Ron Toczek @ 2:56 pm

As noted by many commentators and pundits, secularism has outflanked traditional religion in the U.S. enhancing the number of deists, pagans, new ageists, agnostics and atheists in our country.  Added to this, the current agents from the culture of death and those promoting immoral sexual practices are further undermining traditional religion by claiming their views are justified by the concept of human dignity within traditional religion, itself.  Clearly nonsense, but believable within a secular framework of society.  If Charles Taylor is correct in his supposition–I have no reason not to believe it–the origin of secularism lies in the centuries before the Protestant Reformation and arose from the increased devotional attitude of the more pious churchgoers.  In this matter, Lucifer has been subtly influencing people to turn against the Christian God.  No doubt that he turned to this endeavor since his creation of Islam (where its god is the essence of Lucifer, himself) seemed to be coming to a standstill, although he has lately increased his scope of activity there.  The devil is certainly a master planner of long-term strategies and even if you don’t or can’t believe in an all-comprehensive evil trying to influence human activity, this trend is very clear.

Currently, the Church is engaging in a new program, ‘New Evangelization’, an attempt to convince fallen away former members to come back to the Church and also to convince others of the necessity of joining the Church.  Unfortunately this won’t work because there is too much cultural antipathy and false belief among those targeted to really ensure a truly faithful following.  The Church may attract more adherents but here, in America, the net effect will be just a larger, more fractionated Church.  This program may be more effective in Europe where the Church’s roots are deeper, but that remains to be seen.  The biggest obstacle to overcome will be the newest religion of ‘scientism’ (more about this in a later post) whose many atheistic scientists tout their beliefs against Christianity in a loudly vocal manner.  I suppose they don’t say much against Islam because of the fear of assassination but you can believe that they have as much antipathy if not more.  The ‘culture of death’, one of the opponents of the Church, is largely a side aspect of ‘scientism’, even though a good many scientists do reject its principles.  Another obstacle here in America is the over emphasis toward individualism in the goals of governing  even as the main political parties emphasize that their respective ideology for action needs to be conformative to the party itself, thus undermining their very political soul.

I would suggest, instead, that the Church should embark on a program of retrenchment:  First, by verbally proclaiming the self-excommunication of all professed Catholics who speak against the official teachings of the Church.  Yes, our God is a forgiving God and these self-excommunicatants must be given the chance to repent and re-enter the fold, but they simply must not be allowed to call themselves Catholics while spouting heresy within and outside the Church.  This very much includes politicians who vote on or support measures specifically legalizing actions expressly banned by the Church.  There is no intention of stifling all debate among Church members since there can be other complicating factors (circumstances) or even other moral considerations (justice) which need to be taken account of in any given situation.  Second, disengage all Church clerical activity from civil authority so that no same-sex or polygamous marriages or anything sinful will ever be forced within the Catholic community.  Third, establish an educational system which will be mandatory for each child within the Church community and which emphasizes the differences between the Church’s teachings and the outside civil community while still providing a proficiency of secular knowledge.  This educational system must, of necessity, be totally independent from any governmental supervision.

Finally, a recommendation, not considered as a retrenchment but as an expansion, which calls for each parish to become a combined faith and social community, a very necessary action required by the last two recommendations.  Many parishioners consider themselves a part of the Catholic faith community but have nothing to do with socializing among the other parishioners.  The disconnect caused by this lack of social cohesion is one problem evangelization will never overcome.  The Church needs a little more than faith alone in order to properly achieve its mission here on earth.  This social cohesion also needs to go much further than mere socializing.  Proclaiming social justice means nothing if it is not practiced among the faithful; the Church needs to be regarded by outsiders in a favorable light even as other outsiders revile it.  During Roman times, I am led to believe, a criticism of the Church was, “See how these people love one another.”; I’m also sure the comment doesn’t refer to sex.  We must still be a unitary faith community on all three levels: parish, diocese and world-wide and we must allow for our members to interact with the outside community but each parish must practice the virtue of charity to its own members, unremittingly.

All these proposals stem from the Nicene Creed wherein Catholics are required to believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Certainly the world has many people who claim Catholicity while differing vociferously with Apostolic teachings–not an example of Oneness–and neither is the support of temptations to sin, a big problem for politicians.  Marriages and Baptisms have become family private affairs and the secular world is constantly providing more distractions, all contributing to less social cohesion.  Pastors need to do more than get their parishioners to come to church on Sundays or, equivalently, Saturdays.  The Catholic Church does need to become one again.

March 7, 2012

EXTORTION–a Criminal Activity

Filed under: Sociology — Tags: , , — Ron Toczek @ 2:49 pm

Extortion  —  An illegal or oppressive action designed to extract compensation which cannot be obtained in a normally acceptable manner.

The definition, as stated, is fairly ambiguous since 1) there is criminal extortion where it is defined in a more precise way and has penalties set upon those convicted of this particular wrongdoing and 2) there is a much milder form which people are apt to use when it will gain them an advantage of sorts.  Extortion in this latter sense is different from haggling because it generally uses an item of interest which can be damaging in some sense to the party being extorted.  This latter form, while not being criminal is generally viewed as unacceptable human behavior, although one can find many novels and probably some real-life situations where an extortion can lead to good actions by individuals with no invasion of privacy.  Christians would relegate this mild form to being a minor sin especially if some good resulted.  I find it very hard to believe that a human would not eke out some small personal advantage in a situation where extortion would be used, certainly, personal satisfaction counts.

Extortion is deemed to be criminal when the threat of illegal, damaging action is used in order to collect the compensation.  The classical protection racket provides a good example:  A small business owner is roughed up and his business is damaged. A nearby business owner is approached and offered protection from the same thing that happened to his fellow businessman while usually intimating that the same will happen to him unless he pays his ‘insurance’.  A down side to the extortion laws is that if a gang is involved it becomes near impossible to convict the leaders.

Let’s examine the workings of Islam.  It claims to be a religion and its practitioners are called muslims; anyone not a muslim is an infidel.  There are four or five major tenets and one can become a muslim by simply declaring these tenets publicly.  I presume one must have a witness to these declarations before one will be accepted as a true muslim.  There is a book called the Koran which consists of all the revelations made to Mohamed by Allah and these revelations describe all the duties of a devout muslim.  Unfortunately, the Koran does not cover all situations and some situations gave rise to conflicting duties so the religion has turned to other sources such as Mohamed’s sayings and actions while on earth.  Presumably, there is a body of papers, certainly not all from the seventh century, which records this knowledge and the keepers of this knowledge will all swear to Allah that this knowledge has been faithfully recorded from that early period when Mohamed was alive.  Today, Islam has preachers and scholars called imams who give advice to the uma (the people of Islam), I know neither their beginning nor their justification for existence and am quite sure they are not mentioned in the Koran, though it would appear that these features are an outgrowth of the tribal view of politics basic to the original believers of Mohamed; hence, the intertwining of politics and Islam.  Islam also consists of many different sects with different beliefs although they, more or less, all agree on the basic tenets,  This is definitely a bare bones description.

The expansion of Islamic territory has been accomplished through conquest by military means and then using the tools of intimidation, mainly killing infidels, so as to assimilate the conquered people into the religion of Islam.  This process of assimilation amounted to wholesale extortion but could be chalked up to the ‘way of the world’ in that era of humankind.  Although we now live in a world where freedom of religion is expressed as a universal right of all people, muslims interpret freedom of religion as the freedom to be a muslim giving them the right to convert or kill all infidels, thus leading to extortion as the main conversion tool.  Of all the willing converts to Islam, practically all are male and probably due to its glorification of patriarchal dominance.  I know of only one female who has expressed a liking for Islam but whose writings give the impression that her beliefs about religion would definitely clash with the male view dominant in Islam.

Turning our attention to modern times. let’s list some actions by muslims:

  • Fatwahs against Salmon Rushdie  saying that it is the duty of any muslim to kill him.
  • Honor killings and threats of honor killing by muslims who believe that Islamic laws (sharia) take precedent over our criminal laws.
  • Riots by muslims protesting cartoons about Mohamed–a historical pederast.
  • A killing of a Dutch movie-maker who had the audacity to make a movie showing the Islamic subjugation of women.
  • Muslims praying in the streets of Paris interrupting traffic even though its against the law.
  • Riots in Afghanistan protesting the burning of Korans and leading to the deaths of two Americans soldiers.
  • Assassinations by guards in Pakistan of civil servants not toting a strict Islamic line.

These and many more actions of the same type can be found by reading the sites of concerned people in America about the arrogance of muslims who believe their religion is more important than the state in which they live ( lists Americans killed by muslims in our own country since 9/11).  I should point out that not all immigrant muslims are of this mindset, except that these people are so brainwashed that they can be easily misled by screeching imams, probably for fear of their own lives.   The Koran also touts the desirability and duty of individual muslims to deceive infidels for the express purpose of putting themselves into a position of eliminating as many of them as they can.  Witness the human bomb in Afghanistan killing top American and NATO personnel.  There should be only one rule when dealing with muslims, “Don’t fully trust any muslim.”

I am especially incensed over this latest Afghanistan incident.  There was nothing wrong with letting the Afghani police attempt to quell the riot.  All of our soldiers and personnel should have been way in the background watching.   Every  Afghani policeman with a gun should have had at least one American soldier training a rifle on that policeman ready to kill him if he dared to raise his gun toward any of our personnel.  Our commanders blew it.

Our leaders have been so intimidated by these barbarians that they have tendered an apology for doing nothing wrong, especially when we should have demanded that these Afghani be  stringently incarcerated and receive the maximum penalty for their act of murder.  Yes, our soldiers did make a mistake when they burned those Korans; they should have used an incinerator making sure that only ashes were left.

The problem with our Western Civilization is that we refuse to believe that muslims are the crudest of barbarians.  We incessantly treat them as civilized human beings not realizing that their civilization has gone steadily downhill since the 14th century or thereabouts.  These muslims have little regard for human life and simply do not consider states that allow for compassion worthy of recognition.  The only thing they really kowtow to is force.  Consider the truck bombing of U.S. troops in Lebanon.  If Reagan would have sent in a division of troops, found the leaders and strung up about 100 Hezbollah before we left, there might have been second thoughts about the twin towers plan.  The weakness of the U.S. was further demonstrated by Clinton pulling troops from Somalia without exacting a good measure of revenge.  How many smaller ways have we demonstrated a lack of willpower to make other people pay for their transgressions against us?  How many times have we forgotten the number one rule of war, “There are no civilians in a war zone.”?

February 29, 2012

Susan G. Komen Foundation–I’m Disappointed

Filed under: Sociology — Tags: , , , , — Ron Toczek @ 5:25 pm

Not too long ago, the Susan G. Komen Foundation (Komen G.) issued a statement saying that they would, henceforth, not award any more grants to Planned Parenthood since it was under investigation for possible misuse of funds.  A presumption here would be that PP would be eligible again once the investigation was completed.  As a pro-lifer, I applauded this decision, hoping that it might become permanent but at first, I was somewhat perplexed since I wondered why they were even eligible.  From all that I have heard, every PP facility offers abortion and a limited amount of contraception services but no cancer prevention services.  They will refer women who want these services to places that do offer them, but to grant them money for what is nothing more than a courtesy offered by practically any doctor, clinic or hospital is a sin and a perversion of all the charitable principles of Komen G.  This alone would be sufficient reason to deny them any grants at all and I’m sure that PP must have been lying through its teeth when it submitted its grant applications.

Also, the past few years have not been flattering to PP; they have been caught lying many times; they have been caught in abetting criminal actions; and they have been caught defrauding agencies by spending money for purposes other than their official existence.  Most importantly, medical studies have been presented to the public which indicate that the services they do offer often lead to an increased cancer risk.


February 28, 2012

The HHS Mandate and Religious Institutions

It is probably not an overstatement to say that the Obama administration has decided to enforce its peculiar interpretation of the religious freedom clause of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and simultaneously wage war against religious institutions whose beliefs about conception and abortion differ with the current administration’s; I say ‘peculiar’ because it is at odds with an unwritten freedom of conscience and is unrelated to the attack orchestrated by atheists and secularists to remove any vestige of religious symbols from occurring on Federal and State land.  I dare say that these people would support the administration’s position but further discussion in this vein would be off-topic.

We need to start at the beginning which is the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act (AFCA) in 2009, a somewhat unconventional enactment of a law.  In order to get enough Congressional votes to pass the health resolution, the POTUS claimed that he would write a directive which seemingly banned the Federal Government from using this law as a loophole for an existing law which denies the Federal Government to spend taxpayer money for elective abortions.  I, myself, was somewhat unconvinced that this directive was written to properly enforce this aspect but it seemed to satisfy the recalcitrant Representatives.  Two years after the law’s passage HHS issues a mandate stating that employers must offer health insurance to its employees that provides free contraceptive procedures, some of which are abortions by chemical means.  Religious organizations  and employers with conscientious objections to contraception and abortion are forbidden to exercise their freedom of conscience in the health insurance they offer to their employees.  After a period of defiance, Mr. Obama announced a compromise, i.e., he called it a compromise, wherein the onus for covering elective contraceptive procedures, including abortifacients would apply to the health insurance provider but no details on how this separation would be handled; presumably the insurance company would have to calculate their costs for the extra coverage and charge the conscience objectors that much less than the non-objectors.  Currently, some organizations have filed lawsuits against this mandate with their emphasis being on freedom of conscience.

As of now, the situation has calmed in the major media, but quite alive within the pro-life community.  It seems that the noisiest of pro-Obama commentators have gone on to other topics and will be content to say very little more unless the rulings in these lawsuits turn out unfavorable. It looks like SCOTUS will have another aspect of the AFCA Act to mull over besides the individual mandate.

Above, I have said nothing more than anyone could have found by a short search for the relevant data, so why have I decided to write this post?  Because there are a couple of arguments that have not surfaced in the media which deserve to be considered.  First off is the matter of proper protocol for a presidential directive.  The Secretary of HHS is the person who has announced the mandate but the Secretary has no Constitutional authority to write a presidential directive unless the POTUS has written a presidential directive giving her the authority or Congress has given the Secretary the authority specifically through wording in the law itself.  Any person or organization impacted by the law has the right to see these authorizations.  I have been told that the AFCA has provisions wherein it is permissible for the HHS Secretary to make some decisions that will have the force of law, but I have not, myself, ever read the law so I cannot verify that.  I do assume that any religious organization planning on not obeying the mandate thoroughly investigates the law for this particular aspect.  Considering the hugeness of the law and its speed of passage it is quite possible that its actual wording may be less than satisfactory to establish the HHS mandate as law.  Certainly, it is clear that Mr. Obama has not written a directive, else he could not have come up with his so-called compromise; therefore, he must believe that the law, itself, authorizes the HHS to fill out the law with legal mandates.  However this compromise has not yet been written, since the POTUS believes the actual content of the mandate has yet to develop.  Who knows, he just might be a dictator and let the mandate stand as originally proposed; any sort of compromise might require an actual presidential directive to implement.

On the other hand, If the Democrat’s lawyers did allow for an HHS mandate to become law, a thorough investigation into the presidential directive which was promised at the time of the original passage should be performed.  That wording might be enough to void  or seriously impair the intent of this particular mandate.  At this time, I have to wonder if the POTUS has actually written a directive as he said he would at its impending passage; it would not surprise me in the least if no such directive exists.  In fact, if Mr. Obama did write a directive such as was promised, he would of, necessity, need to write a directive separating the use of abortifacients from mechanical abortions or insist that the mandate not cover abortifacients. This entire argument would be extraneous if the AFCA did not grant any tax money to those unable to afford the required health insurance; but it does and, hence, the argument applies.  Long before Mr. Obama became POTUS (I did not vote for the man) I wrote a letter to the editor of the Missoulian stating that he would, if elected, become the most hypocritical of any elected president of the U.S. and here I stand confirmed in that conviction.

Supposing that a health insurance company were to accept the government edict and not bother to give the conscientious objectors a lower rate.  We would have to go to the same argument as above–the conscientious objectors are paying for services they have a right not to.  What about the administration’s argument that the insurance company will save money since the cost of an abortion is less than that of the corresponding birth or possible births.  This is a very specious argument since the birth itself is a very natural process and should not be covered by insurance–then only complications leading to necessary medical procedures need to be covered.  This does not mean that check-ups for the prevention of adverse medical problems which may occur during and after birth should be denied, and they shouldn’t since the health of the mother is the prime consideration.  Consequently, a normal birth having no foreseeable complications should not be covered by any health insurance, but certainly, in the health interests of the mother, a qualified birth assistant should be on call at the time.  We might also add that under this view, elective contraception and abortions add nothing to the overall well-being of any nation.

Assuredly, there have been many studies showing that elective abortions and contraception are bad for women’s health but these studies are totally ignored by the pro-choice people primarily because their chief concern is sex without normal responsibility.  Why haven’t the health insurance companies claimed that covering elective contraceptive procedures and abortions do not enhance women’s health since it is linked to increasing cancer in those having these procedures. Also, why not avoid controversy and allow employers to opt out for conscience and let their employees get their own insurance through the State exchanges.  Of course, all the employers would eventually drop out, but what would be wrong with that?  Go, go ‘free market’.

Another thought: the administration or possibly, the AFCA  has mandated that at least one of the available insurance policies in each exchange must contain provisions for these procedures, but this cannot be enforced in any legal way.  Any private insurance company would have the option of not providing these services and if any single company were forced to provide the coverage, they could claim that that coverage places them at a disadvantage relative to the companies that do not provide that coverage, a very substantial equity argument.  However, this situation provides no obstacle to the mandate, for the government, itself, would be required to set up such a policy.

November 25, 2011

Obama, Boehner and the Constitution

The recent Congressional law concerning appropriations, borrowing and the deficit has pushed the deficit onto a super committee.  Many pundits, myself included, were fairly confident that it would never accomplish its goal especially when the super committee’s members were appointed.  This law required unpleasant cuts in spending for both political parties, hopefully ensuring a failsafe super committee.  However, it did resolve the looming contradiction between Federal spending and borrowing.  One facet of this Congressional mess was the meeting requested by the Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner, with the POTUS, Mr. Obama.  While I have no objection with the POTUS and members of Congress meeting to talk about policy–Constitutional interpretation is never fixed and particular outcomes of enacted laws may be explored and debated–this meeting was particularly egregiously wrong from the standpoint of the U.S. Constitution.

The pre-history of this meeting was a lengthy discussion/debate in the House dealing with the above concerns.  No workable bill was forthcoming  primarily due to the mulishness of the members of the two major political parties.  With this background and time for action becoming worrisome, (the contradiction between spending and borrowing) Mr. Boehner requested a meeting with the POTUS to get an agreement that would be acceptable to members of both parties. his reasoning probably being that upon reaching an agreement, he would then convince the Republican Party members of Congress to vote for the bill while the POTUS would convince the Democratic Party members of Congress to vote for it and, also, not veto the bill when it comes time for the POTUS’s signature.

The relevant circumstances from the point of view of the Constitution are these:

  • The discussion in the House was stymied.
  • There was very little dissent among the Republican Party members of the House; the dissent was over political party ideologies.
  • The Republican Party had control of the House and could have passed a resolution without any Democratic Party members support.
  • Doing so would assure defeat in the Senate.
  • The Speaker of the House requested a personal meeting with the POTUS expressly and publicly for reaching an agreement between themselves.  This agreement would raise the borrowing limit and specify deficit reductions.

Constitutionally, this last statement was the invalid tactic since it was an actual request by Mr. Boehner to have Mr. Obama set aside his Constitutional duty as POTUS and, instead, use his office as a bully pulpit to convince recalcitrant Democratic Party members of the Senate to vote for a largely Republican Party bill.  This hints at a possibility that Mr. Obama knew he could never convince the Senate Democrats.

Now here is how I would have handled  the situation.

  • First (a no-brainer), I would agree to the meeting and set up a date to meet in the oval office.
  • Second (after the social niceties), I would tell him that I intend to make an initial small speech and will record this meeting beginning with my speech after which he (Mr. Boehner) can decide if he would like to continue the meeting,
  • Third (my initial speech),  “I have been following the proceedings in the House and understand your frustrations and I realize that it is those frustrations which have led you to seek this meeting; so, before anything is discussed between us, I should make clear a most important parameter which will govern my statements during this meeting.  I have been elected by the people of this country as President, and, as such, I have taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and this is my primary responsibility as President.  In this regard, I would be remiss in my duty to the people of this country if I were to commit myself to signing a bill which has not yet cleared the full Congress.  From this point of view, anything discussed at this meeting is essentially inconsequential  and I can only say that when a proper bill is sent to me from Congress, then and only then will I consider whether it merits either my signature or my veto.  I take this position because you, Mr. Boehner, are only one person.  If the object of this meeting is to discuss aspects of a bill that will be presented to me for my signature, where are the Senate representatives?  the Democratic House members?  Surely, you are not telling me that you represent the Senate and, really, since you cannot represent the Senate, I am more than justified in following the Constitution.  Also bearing upon the content of this meeting is the fact that the House is controlled by the Republican Party.  It is also true that under the current circumstances the House Republicans are not divided and could pass any resolution they desired; the fight you have is with the House Democrats and the Senate.  Let’s delve into the problem just a little deeper and may I point out that the borrowing cap is strictly a legislative problem, not an executive one; to wit, there are two laws on the books, one of which requires me to spend an amount of money which will not be in the treasury. In order for the treasury to obtain this money, I would have to issue a presidential directive authorizing the Treasury Department to borrow the necessary amount, but the other law puts a cap on the amount of money which the Federal Government can borrow and, unfortunately, we are at that limit.  I am left with the choice of enforcing one of these laws while not enforcing the other one.   This is not an executive problem since, in the absence of direction from Congress, I will make a decision on which law to enforce and base it upon my interpretation of the Constitution which I am duty bound to uphold.  Furthermore, the solution to this legislative problem does not impinge on any of the deficit discussions which are causing your frustrations.  Your problem, as I see it, is to solve the legislative contradiction before I am forced to make a decision and deficits have no bearing on that solution.  If you and the Republican Party manage to get a bill through Congress that include provisions to lower the Federal Government’s deficit, I can assure you that it will be vetoed by me unless one of the bill’s provisions authorizes a steeply graduated income tax on incomes above three times the median wage and will last long enough to pay for the cost of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars while Mr. Bush was President.
  • Fourth, I would then ask Mr. Boehner If he would like to continue this meeting.
  • Fifth, I will make the recording of the meeting available to the public.

My guess would be that the meeting would not continue after my speech.

November 19, 2011

Constitutions, Laws and Equity

After ranting about the U.S. Government, its Constitution and the actions of its several parts, I imagine that it is past time to explain the underlying philosophy of governments with a constitution.

To start at the beginning I assume that people can assemble and while in their assembly, agree that among them there are enough persons of similar views that organizing themselves in a bloc might be advantageous.  When there are a small number of participants in a particular bloc, membership can be fluid since it would be of no consequence to skip any meetings of the bloc and oftentimes these blocs form and dissolve depending on common interest among the participants.  Some blocs will gather a goodly number of participants, continue to exist over a lengthy period of time and, in this process, develop  a sense of independent existence.  Over this extended existence some members (possibly natural leader types) become instrumental in keeping the rest of the members from abandoning the bloc (at this stage more rightly called a club or an organization), and the members develop a common understanding of their purpose and permitted actions; this common understanding is generally called a constitution or charter, and may be written or unwritten.  I point out that many organizations are very casual in these matters–unwritten constitutions are often fluid in their purpose and permitted actions while written constitutions often lend themselves to rather loose interpretations.  A common gambit among many organizations is to reference “Robert’s Rule of Orders” as their bible of operating as an organization.

Many large organizations use a written constitution for the justification of their individual governing policies.  The only thing that can be said about the make-up of any written constitution can probably be stated in these words, “If a statement pertains to the organization, its goals and objectives, its membership, its officers, its actions, its members actions or its property, tangible and intangible, that statement is fit to be included in the organizations written constitution.”  On the other hand, an organization’s written constitution must have a section defining how members may pass resolutions (laws, by-laws, edicts, etc.); these resolutions may name the organization, define its goals, define procedures for admitting new members and define members proper actions as representatives of the organization.  Clearly, though, a written constitution having only the one required section does not function any better than an organization having an unwritten constitution.  The primary purpose of using a written constitution for a large organization is stability, it verbalizes the organization’s governing principles so that actions by its members can be judged by both members and non-members as actions befitting the organization’s goals and objectives.  Constitutional principles are not meant to be changed since changing the constitution will usually result in an organization with changed membership.

Most nation-states are organizations with an extensive written constitution.  There is a long tradition of governing policies and these are usually found in the written constitutions of these states.  These governing policies, in most cases, are different for different nation-states but, more often, constitutional provisions are general statements which need clarification of details, such details being the proper subject of laws.  Many of these constitutions have provisions concerning the redress of grievances and fairness in application of laws, commonly called equity.  There is nothing in the make-up of organizations which require any provision of equity–if a member of an organization does not approve of one of its laws, that member may work within the organization to pass a resolution rescinding that law or the member may quit the organization.  Citizens of nation-states, often for reasons of family, traditions or patriotism, as well as laws proscribing the citizen’s movements, may not have the choice of quitting that nation-state to join a different one, hence the existence of equity sections in their written constitutions.  Equity is not synonymous with justice since justice has moral connotations while equity is strictly concerned with legality and fairness in application of laws; equity provisions in a written constitution can, in no way, guarantee justice.

Philosophically, for a nation-state, the above paragraph lays out the proper relations between a written constitution, the laws enacted by the government established by that written constitution and the rulings of that government’s section charged with deciding matters of equity.  These are: constitutional provisions always have precedent over laws and equity rulings are concerned with citizen’s complaints in the application of laws either in specific circumstances or in the relationship between a specific law and the constitutional provision underlying that law.  Unless specifically prescribed otherwise an equity ruling has no effect upon a written constitution or any laws duly enacted under the rules of the constitution.

So much for common sense.  Governments of nation-states are composed of people and these people can, and usually do,  have different interpretations of the constitutional provisions as well as of the duly enacted laws.  These interpretations can be incorporated in the government as de facto laws and invalid constitutional interpretations.  Two exceptionally egregious beliefs of the American people (this includes members of the Legislative and Executive Branches) are that SCOTUS has the authority to invalidate Congressional laws and that SCOTUS can invalidate sovereign State laws which violate ‘freedom of speech’ as defined by SCOTUS.  A very egregious de facto law observed by SCOTUS is that judicial precedence is above the Constitution.  These de facto laws cannot be deduced from any reasonable interpretation of the U.S. Constitution yet they are religiously obeyed.

October 17, 2011

A Small Thought about Election Results

Filed under: Voting — Tags: , , — Ron Toczek @ 3:12 pm

Sometimes, when voting, I have a hard decision as to which candidate would be the least of evils and sometimes there are candidates for an office that I have never heard of before.  Oftentimes in these situations I would skip voting for that office or write in a name of a non-candidate, either of which is a vote equivalent to ‘none of the above’.  If I were serious about voting for my write-in choice I would make sure that that non-candidate’s name would be spelled correctly. I certainly can’t imagine that I am the only voter who does this; there are many missing numbers of votes,especially for the lesser offices.

Whatever the shortcomings, either the voter’s failure to chase down the relevant information about the candidates, the voter’s failure to make an unwarranted decision or the political machinery not putting out the relevant data, these ‘none of the above’ votes are never tallied and shown when the election results are made known.

I pose this question: Why should a candidate be placed into an elective office when the ‘none of the above’ votes outnumber his/her ‘for’ votes?  Furthermore,  Why shouldn’t there always be a ‘none of the above’ choice, which, if it receives more votes than any candidate, invalidate all listed candidates.  No doubt, problems would arise such as funding for additional elections or shifting the election to a different process or even not filling a vacated office, but that could be emended by changing the laws regarding the voting process–nothing insurmountable except for power hungry political parties which, I imagine, would be totally against this democratic choice.

July 18, 2011

Reflections on the Current State of the U.S. Congress

Filed under: Governments — Tags: , , , , , — Ron Toczek @ 1:45 pm

Recently, I have come across a bit of history concerning the Weimar Republic; yes, the government of Germany before and after WWI.  Prior to this reading, I have generally tried to compare America with the Roman Republic.  Both of these regimes, as republics, degenerated into dictatorships.  It is interesting to note that the last nail to close the coffin on both republics was their legislatures failure to govern responsibly, eventually conceding the power to make laws and allowing a person (Rome) or party (Weimar Republic) to make the laws.  When I have brought this topic to discussion, I usually get two responses–it can’t happen here or  just plain indifference.  Very few seem to be concerned.

While it is true that when one compares current happenings with historical similarities, there are differences–I would say there would have to be differences, this does not mean that on some abstract level above the mean and dirty details that possibilities of a similar nature are always exempted from happening; so, in this case, the possibility of the U.S. Republic reverting to a dictatorship of some sort is entirely plausible and the extreme bickering between the major parties could certainly be a big factor in such a development.

This ugly question rears its head, “Are the citizens of the U.S. on a course which will result in their losing its republican form of government?”  I hope not but the answer depends only on the action of those citizens who vote and the primary hope is that these voters attain the wisdom to choose representatives who will not put party above the country, something not attained for roughly 45 years, and there do not seem to be any indications of a reversal on the horizon.

Further speculation on this topic would be unwarranted but, here and there, the occasional article appears wherein a party member will bemoan certain consequences of the other party’s ruling tendencies, so it seems that the loss of our republic would definitely result in a lessening of our freedoms somewhere and anything more would be idle speculation.

July 15, 2011

Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Much of Congress’ time in 2011 as been spent in consideration of the U.S. debt; it is at an all-time high. A good part of the discussion concerns the debt ceiling provision–a law passed by Congress and also amended many times as the debt has continued to increase. While I am irked by some of the demands of our representatives, especially those showing some lack of common sense or some ignorance about government operations affecting the common welfare of the citizens of the U.S., I am concerned about the process wherein the Republican Party negotiates directly with the POTUS on fabricating an acceptable bill to be passed.

First of all, I have no objection to lawmakers talking with executive branch officers about upcoming legislation; this action, one would hope, should lead to better laws. The situation is peculiar since the Republican Party lawmakers are stubbornly unwilling to find an acceptable compromise with its Democratic Party lawmakers and has found that the POTUS is more amenable to their position. I really don’t know what the Republican Party can reasonably expect to gain by this direct negotiation. One, they cannot have the POTUS sign any kind of document nor should the POTUS sign anything; meaning he does not commit himself to signing any kind of a bill into law. Two, they would have to get any agreement into a bill passed by the House. Three, they would need the Senate’s concurrence on the bill so it could be presented to the POTUS for his signature. Fourth, they would need a two-thirds majority to override a veto. Finally, come time to pay bills, the POTUS would have contradictory Congressional laws to enforce, i.e., he either, borrows enough to pay for those costs incurred by enforcing certain laws and, thus, not enforce the debt limit, or he does not borrow and, thus, not enforce certain laws of his choosing which were duly passed by Congress.

Maybe Mr. Obama sees some re-election possibilities by entering into talks with the Republican Party members of the House but as POTUS he should tell those Republican Party members of the House to do their Constitutional job and come up with a bill that he can accept or else have the requisite two/thirds majority vote to over ride his veto and to do so in a timely manner, otherwise he will be forced to choose those law or laws which he will enforce.  Certainly, one option is for the POTUS is to disregard the debt ceiling law and borrow the necessary money while the other option would be to issue IOU’s instead of valid claims against the treasury.  Before choosing one of these extreme options, the POTUS probably would first use up money not spent within those allocations where the full allocation was not deemed necessary.  Of course, Congress could attempt to have a bill passed specifying the manner in which the default should proceed.  No such law currently exists.  To be totally effective,  when telling Congress to do their job, he should openly tell the citizens of the U. S. what he will do if Congress does not do its job.  As for borrowing above the debt ceiling, a good case can be made on the basis of these facts: 1)  Government branches are independent, 2)  the POTUS has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, 3)  the Constitution prioritises itself over Congressional laws, and 4)  the Constitution states it debts are valid.

As of July 12, 2011, it appears that there will be no agreements to increase the U.S. Government’s debt ceiling so the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Senator McConnell, came up with a proposal designed to exonerate all Republican Congressmen from  having to vote for an increased debt limit while increasing the debt limit within certain bounds.  This proposal purports to put the responsibility on the POTUS for actually raising the debt ceiling but its real effect would be to allow the POTUS to berate Congress for not doing its job.

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