Balkinization  

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Taking republicanism seriously

Sandy Levinson

Rep. Anthony Weiner should resign, immediately, for the same reason that Bill Clinton should have resigned in 1998. The reason is not their sexual exploits, distasteful as they may have been, but, rather, their cold-blooded lying to their constituents, the American people, and, in Clinton's case, his cabinet, who were therefore recruited to support what turned out to be his mendacious lying. It is hard to detail what a "republican form of government" is, but, surely, it means that one's elected representatives do not engage in cold-blooded lying about verifiable facts (as opposed to used-car-salesman-like puffery about disputed matters of politics). I do not blame the United States Constitution for this latest turn in public affairs. I do blame a political culture that has lost any sense of personal accountability for the basics of what either a democratic or a republican form of government is, which relies on elemental trust in one's elected representatives. Anthony Weiner has forfeited any claim he might have to the people's trust, just as Bill Clinton did. Clinton was able to hang on, of course, and I admit that by the time of the actual impeachment, I was cheering him on because of the disgusting nature of the Republican overreaching. That only reinforces the point that there are precious few people in contemporary American politics who instantiate the vision of "republican" politics. We are much the worse for this. (I will be curious, incidentally, at who might be nominated as fulfilling that vision by any commentators. I am tempted to nominate Barack Obama, whom I still admire greatly even I as I am increasingly disappointed in many of his (in)actions.)

Comments:

Has David "diaper" Vitter resigned from the Senate yet? The guy committed a crime by hooking up with a prostitute in Washington DC. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
 

I share your concern regarding the self-absorption of our political class, but I would suggest that resignation here is not the solution. To the contrary, resignation is the easy way out for the Member of Congress who is facing investigation and possible punishment from the ethics committee. (see Senator Ensign’s resignation just before his deposition was to be taken by the special counsel). Resignation means that Weiner’s constituents will be left without representation for several months, and will have to bear the inconvenience and expense of a special election. A more just outcome is for Weiner to remain in Congress, focus on actually doing the job of congressman (rather than running his mouth on cable tv) and accept whatever verdict his colleagues render.

In this connection you might want to check out Josh Chafetz’s article, Leaving the House: The Constitutional Status of Resignation from the House of Representatives, 58 Duke L. J. 177 (2008), which argues that congressman should not be allowed to resign as of right, particularly when they are doing so to escape ethics investigations.
 

Thanks for the reference to the Chafetz piece, which I will track down and read. As for Vitter, did he out-and-out lie to his constituents and fellow senators, or did he own up (with the support of his hapless wife) once he was discovered?

sandy
 

So lying to the media for a few days is now the line that separates not resigning (Vitter) and resigning (which you want Weiner to do)?

I am thinking maybe Weiner should resign only because we who believe in the public policies he does realize that he is less use to anyone if he can't speak. For while Vitter never resigned, ran for re-election and won, he is one quiet guy. Never really out there quoted or discussing the public policy issues. Now that may be good for a Republican, but it sure isn't very good for a progressive Democrat.

Now that's a reason he should resign...:-)
 

I don't understand this at all. Let's suppose Weiner were gay and had affairs with men; would you expect him to be truthful about that when asked - to admit he was gay or resign? (He could, I suppose, refuse to answer on your view, but that would be seen as a tacit admission.) I think that voters aren't entitled to knowledge about their representatives' private lives, and that whether a married Congressman sends lewd photos of himself to adult women who ask for them is just as much of a private matter as whether a married Congressman is gay. I don't think that republicanism entitles us to honesty about either.
 

I see a difference between an elected representative deceiving the public about his sexual peccadilloes and his deceiving the public about subjects within the official purview of his office. The former strikes me as an excusable reaction. It is not an attempt to obscure an official failure - invariably inexcusable in a public official - but simply a human reaction to the brutal effect muckraking has on those in its sights.

On the other hand, deceiving the public about one's politics, or the consequences of the policies one supports, etc. is entirely intolerable, and that includes cases where the deceit is merely spin.

This distinction is, moreover, in keeping with the gist of republicanism, which demands of representatives civic virtue. It makes no demands on them qua people, even people being hounded by the press.
 

Consider the punchline for "How can you tell if a [pick one: lawyer, politician, etc] is lying?" "Are his lips moving?"

And as for male sexual misbehavior, street smarts I learned as a pre-teener growing up in Boston confirmed that "A stiff **** has no conscience" resulting in doing stupid things. The many fortunate do not get caught. Consider that even Jimmy Carter had lust in his eyes, but was foolish enough to tell us. And consider our current "Viva Viagra" culture which seems to thrive despite side effects.

Weiner has been bar-b-qued and no longer is on a roll, at least politically, and cannot cut the mustard. For his own sake, he should resign, even though such may result in increasing the unemployment of comedians. Otherwise, we might expect a revival of the "Oscar Meyer Wiener" song parodying Anthony. And what might that do for constitutional "republicanism"?
 

The critical lie here, as in Clinton's case, was the Congressman's marriage oath. The subsequent lies were just to conceal the first. As they say, it's the cover up that gets you.

Let me defend Weiner, if only by comparison. Though we tend to forget it, (Because a huge effort was put on to minimize what Clinton did.) Clinton didn't just lie about an affair.

He perjured himself.

He successfully requested that others perjure themselves.

He destroyed evidence under subpoena. Actually, delegated this task to his staff, demonstrating that they were corrupt, too.

He delayed delivery of other evidence in his possession under subpoena until the statute of limitations had run out.

He violated the privacy act to attack witnesses he couldn't suborn.

As various matters went through the courts, if developed that the judges he'd nominated were diverting cases from the random assignment system, to see to it that all cases related to him were heard before judges he'd nominated. Demonstrating that his nominations had been corrupt, too.

He'd collected FBI files on political enemies.

So, to sum up, Weiner? A scumbag who cheats on his wife.

Clinton? A systematically corrupt administration.

Though, I will say this: "I am thinking maybe Weiner should resign only because we who believe in the public policies he does..."

How do you know what policies he believes in? He's a liar, remember?
 

For obvious reasons, Brett chooses this occasion to dump on Clinton, who has been out of office since January 20, 2001. But Brett yet again for obvious reasons disregards the more recent eight (8) years of Bush/Cheney, even assuming - but not conceding - that they did not lie about grave matters in the public interest, in considering what they hoisted upon America that yet requires undoing. Put the national interests in perspective in judging the Clinton years with the Bush/Cheney years.
 

How do you know what policies [Weiner] believes in? He's a liar, remember?

A willingness to lie about one's personal life does not imply a willingness to lie about public matters. It would have been better for Weiner to have refused to answer any question about his personal life, and said that he was refusing to answer as a matter of principle. Failing that, however, it is permissible to lie when someone asks you something that is none of his business.
 

"their cold-blooded lying to their constituents"

I don't find that a good hard and fast rule because I don't think him lying to them about having an affair or being gay or any number of personal matters is a reason for him to resign. Without going into the weeds, I think Brett is correct is suggesting Clinton's alleged wrongs go beyond this.

I think politicians have lied in the way suggested since the beginning. Certain things were left unsaid and sometimes this required lies of commission and omission. At some point, this might be a problem, but I won't rest "republicanism" on the grounds set forth.

As to not being able to resign as of right, personally, I understand the sentiment that there is a republican obligation to serve your term. I think it dubious that various public officials (who shall remain nameless) have decided not to do so for reasons other than sickness or the like.

But, I think it best upheld voluntarily, though fiscal "early withdrawal" costs might be offered. As to avoiding ethical investigations, if not otherwise allowed, I think even those who leave office should be open to them, to protect the sanctity of the body involved.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1125917
 

"Breaching" the republican obligation of an elected official to serve his/her term by a resignation should at most be treated in the nature of a breach of contract. Surely specific performance would not be an appropriate remedy. But what are the damages and who has standing to assert such a breach and claim damages?

But should we be getting our shorts in a bunch over this triviality rather than a call for a constitutional convention?
 

I'd like to know what constitutes a "lie". Does it include lies of omission, i.e., failure to disclose disreputable facts about one's private life? Because in that case it would be harder to find honest men in politics than liars. I mean, was Hamilton obligated to disclose his affair with Maria Reynolds before he resigned?

Otherwise I agree with Angus.
 

Wow, someone must be clutching his pearls so hard he has cut off the blood flow to his brain. I'm not sure that "republican form of government" is all that hard to define, but I'm reasonably sure it's not meant to embody some sanctimonious con law professor's moral code. Jesus.
 

I don't think the line between "verifiable facts" and "disputed matters of politics" is as clear as the good professor suggests. Politicians make plenty of statements on matters of public policy that are just flat-out false. This is not intended as a defense of Weiner, but I do not recall any calls for Jon Kyl's head based upon the "not intended to be a factual statement" debacle. There's something dysfunctional about our political priorities.
 

There's no winning the subjective argument intérêt lascif which prof. Levinson wishes to advance. I was reflecting, just days since, upon the titillation engendered by the flick Advice and Consent; which in modern journalistic terms simply is one more societal facet, deprived of its sensational innuendo. Times change. The foreign lingo typed in the first sentence in this comment is translated by yahoo's babelfish utility as "prurient interest". The history books will laugh at our two centuries.

The issues the professor cites are important, characterwise; yet, the French are more sanguine about such affairs; though it is easy to list other nations in which the transgressions are chargeable in all manner of sanctionable ways. It's all just political hay made in an environment in which there are few independent media outlets. And the post's word choice for the adjective "cold" has selected the opposite range of the behavioral spectrum, as the associate from the Beacon Hill neighborhood carefully observes in a comment, above.
 

Sandy:
It is hard to detail what a "republican form of government" is, but, surely, it means that one's elected representatives do not engage in cold-blooded lying about verifiable facts (as opposed to used-car-salesman-like puffery about disputed matters of politics)...

(I will be curious, incidentally, at who might be nominated as fulfilling that vision by any commentators. I am tempted to nominate Barack Obama, whom I still admire greatly even I as I am increasingly disappointed in many of his (in)actions.)


We agree that basic honesty concerning verifiable facts should be a prerequisite for an elected representative in a republic, which makes your nomination of Barack Obama as an exemplar of this standard puzzling indeed.

Barack Obama lies pathologically concerning verifiable facts and those lies concern government policy rather than sexual misadventures.

Just over the past few days, the Washington Post caught Obama lying about Chrysler paying back "every penny" to the taxpayers, GM rehiring all the folks it fired and other assorted falsehoods.

Actually, the Post bollixed up its accounting of the Obama lies concerning Chrysler repayment.

The Obama Auto Team plan offered Fiat part ownership with the option to buy more stock if Chrylser repaid Bush era loans. The Obama era bailout was not a loan, he purchased the company and gave most of it away to the UAW.

Chrysler is a money losing, government run company (the US and Canada appointed a majority of the board and all the leaders) whose net worth is less than half of the money Obama poured into it.

No private bank would loan Chrylser more than its net worth (or indeed much of anything after Obama looted the last set of secured creditors) and Chrysler does not have the cash flow to begin to repay the taxpayers.

The Obama scam was to have DOE provide Chrysler with a $3.5 billion "energy efficiency loan" to use to repay the Chrysler debt to the taxpayers. When Obama lied that Chrysler had repaid the taxpayers every dime, Chrysler has not begun to pay back all the TARP money Bush and Obama illegally poured into the company and did not in fact even pay back the Bush era loans.

Obama made a similar lie last year about GM paying back all of its loans when in fact GM simply tapped into a Treasury line of credit to pay back the loan. Sen Inhofe caught this and made a stink that the press largely ignored.

We have not even noted Obama's dozens of lies about verifiable facts concerning Obamacare and his "clean energy economy." Or Rep. Ryan's numerous bones to pick concerning Obama's gross misrepresentations of his budget plans.

Keep looking for that nominee, Sandy.
 

From our yodeler's photo accompanying his comment, we have no idea where his hands are or whether his fingers are crossed as he accuses our President of lies. Our yodeler at this Blog was an enabler of the Bush/Cheney administration during its 8 years of devastation. But perhaps our yodeler with his solicitation of DUI clients knows a tad about lies and lying. Alas, he continues with his screed of all things Obama, our first African American President, that started shortly after Obama's inauguration with our yodeler's book proposal that seems a tad late in publication since his reporting that its completion was close at hand many months ago, pre-emptively doomed to the remainder bin.
 

Shag:

You may have set the world's record for this tallest stack of red herring with that last post.

Since you remain interested, I finished the first draft of the book last month and it is in editing. The target release date is 9/12/11, the anniversary of the 2009 Tea Party march on DC. I was surprised that even my liberal writer friends liked the manuscript.

BTW, selling books in brick and mortar stores is very 20th Century and offers a lousy ROI. I will be publishing primarily in eBook format with print on demand paperbacks for the minority who are not into e-reading yet. Thus, there is no longer a remainder bin. Folks will either buy my modest effort or not.
 

"A willingness to lie about one's personal life does not imply a willingness to lie about public matters."

On the contrary, while it might not prove such a willingness, being willing to lie about something this important to the, theoretically speaking, most important person in your life, damned well DOES imply a willingness to lie to other people about other matters. To assert otherwise is to be obtuse.
 

I imagine a telephone booth as the venue to accommodate this group: "I was surprised that even my liberal writer friends liked the manuscript." Or is this a Tea Party fantasy league?
 

Brett seems ready to invoke "original sin" that could indict just about everybody. [Background music, please, with Frank Sinatra singing "Little White Lies."]
 

Just about everybody cheats on their wife? I don't think so... This isn't about some 'original sin' you're 'guilty of' even if you do nothing. This is about a dude who went to considerable effort to violate his marriage vows. Nothing original about that sin.

The contrary view, that somebody is going to be a lying cheat in one area of his life, and scrupulously honest in other areas, is nonsense that some people take seriously only because they see a need to defend lying scumbags.

Liars lie in all areas of their life. I'm pretty sure you're aware of that, even if there are enough examples of Democratic liars around you feel some partisan urge to deny it.
 

Brett is showing his interesting view of life again. People lie to or about spouses all the time, but under his calculus this suggests a general tendency to lie about professional matters.

Thus, a person who lies about let's saying consensual cybering on the Internet, knowing his wife doesn't like that sort of thing, and lies when someone accuses him of doing something like that, seems under his calculus a "lying scumbag" that will lie about bank loans or his views on the local planning board.

Such an absolutist approach does not seem realistic.
 

Brett tells me:

"Liars lie in all areas of their life. I'm pretty sure you're aware of that, even if there are enough examples of Democratic liars around you feel some partisan urge to deny it."

I am not in denial. With over 50 years of practicing law, I am well aware of lies, damned lies, etc. But Brett tries to make this into a partisan matter, seemingly ignoring the actual adulteries of Newt, etc, on the Republican side as compared to Democrat Weiner's texting on the borders of - but not quite committing - adultery. People lie on resumes, on mortgage applications, on mail order bride proposals and responses, etc. Let's damn all who lie, no matter how small or white.

By the Bybee (&*%^$#@), Brett's photo is missing a halo. Brett may be the leader of the next "Great Awakening."
 

Let's damn all who lie, no matter how small or white.

C'mon, white lies are necessary for peaceful human relations. Do you tell your wife if you don't like her new hairdo? And, as I said in a previous comment, a lie is permissible when a stranger, such as a reporter, asks you a personal question that is none of his business. As I also said, it would be better, however, to refuse to answer and to tell the stranger that it's none of his business.
 

"Do you tell your wife if you don't like her new hairdo?"

Yes, actually, though I'd be very polite about it. "Dear, that Mohawk really doesn't suit you.", rather than, "OMG! What did you do to your hair?"

"People lie on resumes, on mortgage applications, on mail order bride proposals and responses, etc. Let's damn all who lie, no matter how small or white."

None of those lies are "white" lies, Shag; They're all instances where you'd be fraudulently inducing somebody to make a major decision on the basis of false information. In some of those cases, you could face serious legal liability, and all of them could come back to bite you even if the law wouldn't care.

As I said, the relevant lie here was his marriage oath. And you forgot the "some", as in "Some people lie on..."

Finally, while I find his lying at his marriage by far the most important lie of this episode, the fact that he was willing to lie about this even after the evidence was out, and keep a straight face doing it, suggests that he's got an expectation of getting away with lies, and is practiced at it.
 

Brett, be careful. When you say, "Dear, that Mohawk really doesn't suit you," she may hear, "OMG! What did you do to your hair?"
 

It's amazing that in his southern clime Brett can be so purer than the driven snow. I assume Brett would apply the "Scarlet Letter" to (Democrat) Weiner but not to (Republicans) Vitter, Ensign, Newt, ad nauseam. Apparently Brett's originalism=creationism. So I may not have been that far off earlier with a reference to original sin.

But Brett seems a tad self-defensive regarding my failure to use the word "some" although it is clear that I did not use the word "all" in reference to "people." I was not questioning Brett's purity, but I can appreciate his sensitivity.
 

With all due respect, your argument is an absurdity. Trust is the foundation of a representative republic? Why do we have repeating elections if not to express our distaste at those we have elected previously? Why is our system built to harness political competition for the express purpose of limiting government power if "trust" is the foundation of a democratic system?

Democracy is, at its core, a political system defined by skepticism. Its major premises are that one man can never know better than a hundred, that one man cannot be trusted to treat equally the interests of all, and that any person who wields power will inevitably be corrupted by it. It is a thoroughly human system that recognizes no one is divine and that all of us, no matter how exalted, must rightly be judged by our peers for our actions if we are to presume to represent them. Whether Weiner should or shouldn't be a representative is not a matter for moral contemplation; it is a practical matter of public policy to be determined by his constituents.

As to the moral aspect of their actions, they lied about an intensely private and embarrassing aspect of their lives; their sexual behavior and fantasies. Maybe you could point me to the section in the Constitution that states all public officials must make their sex lives a matter of record upon elections, and ought never to, out of shame, hastily attempt to protect their public and familial reputations by attempting to disavow their proclivities; I'm having a heck of a time finding that section.
 

"
It's amazing that in his southern clime Brett can be so purer than the driven snow. I assume Brett would apply the "Scarlet Letter" to (Democrat) Weiner but not to (Republicans) Vitter, Ensign, Newt, ad nauseam. "


I'm not sure what basis you've got for that assumption. I'm laughing my head off at Newt's current problems.
 

Julian said...

With all due respect, your argument is an absurdity. Trust is the foundation of a representative republic? Why do we have repeating elections if not to express our distaste at those we have elected previously? Why is our system built to harness political competition for the express purpose of limiting government power if "trust" is the foundation of a democratic system?

Honesty and trust is a foundation of civilization. One of the reasons we have have elections like we have laws against fraud is to discourage lying.

How precisely can can a representative democracy perform its function of having elected representatives act as the people's agents to enact the will of the people if you can't trust the representative to tell you the truth?

Indeed, telling voters that they would govern one way and then governing in another arguably caused voters in 2010 to fire 63 House members and 6 Senators,
 

Says Brett:

"I'm laughing my head off at Newt's current problems."

But what do Newt's current problems have to do with marriage vows? Presumably Newt's in compliance with the marriage vows with wife no. 3 and has had a religious epiphany accompanied by redemption (of a sort) by means of conversion with respect to his earlier adulteries (one of which he claims resulted from patriotism).

I'm laughing my head off that Weiner has a weiner containment problem, putting all this trivia in perspective.

As for our yodeler's selective election history of 2010, who can forget his enabling of the Bush/Cheney eight (8) years at this Blog, including their reelection in 2004? Our yodeler should be reminded of the 2006 and 2008 elections. And the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on lies.
 

Newt's current problems have everything to do with the sort of person he is, with him being the same sort of person in is private and public lives: Untrustworthy and scheming.

Your theory of a complete firewall between personal and public morality, along with the assertion that "people" in general routinely lie about everything, is perfectly understandable as a reaction from somebody who holds political views which demand that a great deal of power, and thus trust, be invested in politicians, and yet who can't blind himself to their glaring moral shortcomings.

The claim of general moral depravity justifies giving power to a group who routinely demonstrate their moral failings; "There's nobody better.", you say to yourself, when the truth is politicians are morally inferior to the general run of people, because our political system actually selects for sociopaths by giving lies a pass.

While your imaginary firewall between personal and public infidelity allows you to imagine that you can actually believe the politicians on your side, when they claim to agree with you, even though you know they're willing to lie in other contexts.

No, you holding your views make perfect sense from a psychological perspective. Those views are just lousy psychology themselves.
 

Brett's take:

"'There's nobody better.', you say to yourself, when the truth is politicians are morally inferior to the general run of people, because our political system actually selects for sociopaths by giving lies a pass."

suggests a vote for "None of the above" for who could otherwise possibly qualify, except for Brett perhaps, as one who never lies, white, black, or otherwise.
 

So long as the political system in this country is set up to give the advantage to the amoral, we're screwed. Our only salvation is denying them as much power as possible, so they can't screw us too bad.

Refusing to pretend that scumbags are people of even ordinary morality is step one in changing that system so that moral people can achieve high office. We need to stop making excuses, and raise our standards.
 

Brett's psychology would be convincing if true, but it's not. People just aren't that predictable -- they're honest about some things, not about others. The adulterer might well be perfectly honest with money, the thief perfectly safe with another's wife.

It's too bad, really. Life would be much simpler if it were true that someone who lied about A was more likely to lie about B (and vice versa).

John Taylor of Caroline explained this 200 years ago: "The more a nation depends for its liberty on the qualities of individuals, the less likely it is to retain it. By expecting public good from private virtue, we expose ourselves to public evils from private vices."
 

Apparently the solution is for more female elected officials. Today's Sunday NYTimes has three pieces in the Week in Review Section, two under the broad (pun intended?) title "Naked Hubris, and the third Maureen Dowd's "Newt Loves Callistra" (which I may have inspired with an earlier comment - NOT!). In addition, ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour featured a panel of three women (with Christiane the fourth) including the wife of the French President on the difference between male and female elected officials. (With four years of French in grammar/high school, is it time for "Vive la Difference"? Is it time for a Sarah Palin or a Michelle Bachman?)

But Brett gets carried overboard with his puritanism. Perhaps he would like to bring back non-Wall St. stocks and bonds plus the Scarlet Letter. That's quite a broad brush Brett paints with; perhaps that's the influence of his Bible-Belt clime. Let's keep all this in perspective. What's happening is nothing new and will most likely continue despite greater risks of disclosure. These happenings - which are really not that many AND the few are from each side of the political aisle - should not drown out the real needs of America and the world at this time.

Today's NYTimes, in its Arts Section, has an article on Weird Al Yankovic, who perhaps can be expected to come up with a parody of "I Wish I Were An Oscar Meyer Wiener" to commemorate the current state of Internet affairs. (But I'm not planning to eat any hot dogs in the near future.) In addition to common sense, let's apply a sense of humor, as we hoist the Ensign under the watchful eye of Newt.
 

You object to my supposed puritanism, I object to your moral nihilism, and find your belief that we'll be saved from the moral depravity of the political class by their suffering from MPD rather bizarre.

Truth is, I suppose, you prefer your politicians to be liars, because, the sort of constitution you'd like not being reasonably achievable by amendment, you find politicians who violate their oaths of office to be a second best option. A genuinely honest politician couldn't swear to uphold the Constitution we actually have, and then deliver the sort of government you want.

No, I'm not in the least impressed by your approval of lying, or your conviction that everybody routinely does it.
 

The post is a bit silly. But he lied about other more important things as well

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7AQ8rq12rI
 

Shag:

Our yodeler should be reminded of the 2006 and 2008 elections.

During the Bush 43 Administration, the GOP campaigned as the party of limited government and governed oxymoronically in what Fred Barnes aptly nicknamed "big government conservatism." The voters fired the GOP for its lying.

What is good for the goose...
 

"Big government conservatism" is not an oxymoron. With the exception of the occasional libertarian, none of whom has made it to the top ranks of the Republican Party, all conservatives for many decades have favored big government. They have favored big government's imprisoning people for their choice of drugs, starting wars of aggression, banning gay sex and abortion and pornography, and providing welfare to big business. Liberals have favored some of these things, and have also favored big government's protection of consumers and the environment. In short, the difference between conservatives and liberals lies solely in a partial disagreement as to what they want big government to do.
 

My last comment has been said more humorously. Conservatives want to regulate sex, whereas liberals want to regulate business. In other words, each wants to regulate the other.
 

Henry:

Since the Reagan realignment, there has been an ongoing struggle for power in the GOP between the RINO big government establishment and the limited government base. The Tea Party rebellion against Bush "big government conservatism" and the even worse Obama socialism is simply the latest iteration of that struggle.

If the GOP establishment keeps ignoring the voters, it will go the way of the Whigs. 41% of the 2010 voters self identified as Tea Party supporters, far more than self identified as Dems or Republicans.

BTW, a Democrat Congress enacted the federal drug laws, Democrat and Republican state legislatures enacted laws prohibiting abortion and sodomy, and bipartisan majorities of Congress enacted the AUMFs for Afghanistan and Iraq because voters wanted all of them at the time.
 

Bart,

I see the Tea Party as the social conservative wing of the Republican Party, which is rebelling against the plutocrats who have used them all these years. But they want big government to enforce their social conservative views.

A word of advice: people will not take you seriously if you refer to "Obama socialism." At least no more seriously than if you claim that he's a Muslim or was born wherever the birthers claim that he was born.
 

Here's Brett's "J'accuse" de moi:

"No, I'm not in the least impressed by your approval of lying, or your conviction that everybody routinely does it."

Where in this string of comments have I approved of lying or said that everybody routinely lies? Yes, lying goes on. I recognize that but that doesn't mean I approve of lying. Yes, some people lie routinely, but not all. Some people have hemorrhoids and others are perfect *******s. So what? So be it.

The free market has given us Viagra, Cialis, etc, and possible 4-hour tours. With such incentives, how might a Brett regulate lying by elected officials about sexual matters? Castration? Stocks and bonds?

And Henry's reference to libertarians reminds me that a libertarian with a libido is a libertine. With regard to conservatives wanting to regulate sex as suggested by Henry, I don't think conservatives want intra-conservative regulation of sex; no they're afraid of the demographics of liberal sex.

As to Brett's constitutional references, he continues to need a balm for his suffering from Wickburn.

By the Bybee (*^&%^$#@$), Weinergate articles have referenced Alexander Hamilton's escapades to demonstrate sexual infidelity goes back to the founders' days. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, does not contain specific provisions addressing this situation that Brett objects to. Nor did Hamilton mention such in the Federalist Papers. Once again, Brett's foundation seems to be "original sin." Personally, I think Brett should watch reruns of "Hee Haw" and "Two and a Half Men" for perspective.
 

"If the GOP establishment keeps ignoring the voters, it will go the way of the Whigs."

Alas, unlikely. In important respects our politics were much more free back when the Republicans displaced the Whigs. Today we have a high level of legal entrenchment of the incumbent parties. Campaign finance laws, for instance, which handicap everybody, and then make up for it by feeding tax dollars into favored parties. 'Official' debates which serious third parties are excluded from. A media trying out for the roll of being state run, and only too glad to exclude 'dangerous' candidates from coverage.

And if the Tea party becomes a real party, and starts to threaten the GOP, it will only become worse, because this will temporarily empower the Democratic party, and the Democratic party has no interest in the GOP being replaced with an effective opposition party.

No, it's either burrow in, and take over the GOP, or nothing short of revolution. The third party route is already closed off.
 

On the lying front, "The Invention of Lying" was on last night, suggesting what it would be like if everyone simply told the whole truth all the time.
 

I had skipped over this earlier Brett "J'accuse" de moi:

" ... and find your belief that we'll be saved from the moral depravity of the political class by their suffering from MPD rather bizarre."

as I wasn't quite sure what he meant by "MPD." It could be that Brett's reference was to "multiple personality disorder" and not Memphis Police Department. I don't recall that my comments had even approached such a disorder with respect to Weiner. I've got a law degree, not a medical degree. So I'm not in a position to apply MPD to Mr. Weiner's situation. Rather it is Brett's "J'accuse" that is bizarre. Based upon Brett's now admitted puritanism, perhaps Brett suffers from MPD as surely he could not otherwise function in a normal society with his holier-than-thou views expressed here.

In an earlier comment, I made references to several pieces in yesterday's NYTimes related to Weinergate. I should also have mentioned a more serious oped by Katherine Stewart "Separation of Church and School" on First Amendment establishment issues of much greater import than the Weiner briefs.
 

On the subject of lying, George Costanza told Jerry Seinfeld "It's not a lie if you believe it" in connection with Jerry's efforts to thwart a lie detector test.

Brett now seems to be calling for a revolution. Is that an MPD symptom?

By the Bybee (@$#%$^&^*) Brett, the Republican Party of today is NOT the Republican Party that displaced the Whigs. (Brett apparently is anti-Whig.)
 

"as surely he could not otherwise function in a normal society with his holier-than-thou views expressed here."

Curiously, you'll find that it's quite easy to get by in society without cheating on your wife, or lying about your income on a mortgage application. Why, many people go their whole lives without doing such things!

As a society, we're unlikely to achieve as high a moral standard as we aspire to. It is thus incumbent upon us to aspire to a higher standard than "just barely getting by"; If that's all we aspire to, we won't get by...
 

I can agree with Brett on this:

"Why, many people go their whole lives without doing such things! [Cheating on a wife, lying on a mortgage, etc]"

But Brett's mission seems to be to pursue and punish sinners, even though there may be few of them compared to the many good people he describes. No redemption! Sounds like a religious zealot to me making mountains out of molehills in a futile effort to regulate morals perhaps going back to fundamentals of Original Sin.
 

Henry said...

A word of advice: people will not take you seriously if you refer to "Obama socialism."

That was a statement of fact, not a pejorative. I will be publishing a book this fall noting the history and making the case.
 

Our yodeler has to be reminded that while (per George Costanza) "it's not a lie if you believe it," it's not a "fact" just because our yodeler believes it to be a "fact." At best, it would be an opinion, but a rather weak one most likely under the influence. Our yodeler's comments at this Blog going back to Obama's inauguration demonstrate that our yodeler started with that opinion and his efforts have been to corroborate it. Our yodeler's obvious distaste for America's first African American President has distorted his mind, in my not so humble opinion. And he misspelled "his story" by eliminating the space between the words as no such "history" exists. As I have commented over the past couple of years, our yodeler's literary efforts are a work of "friction."
 

Shag:

Playing the race card does not change the nature of Mr. Obama's ideology or his policies.

FWIW, the favorite Tea Party candidate and one of the folks I am following closely is the completely African American Herman Cain with his deep southern black preacher style. Unlike you Dems with the Obama as first black president meme, we like Cain because of his policies. So much for the race card.
 

BREAKING NEWS! Our yodeler is raising Cain!

According to Herman, "Blacks are too poor to attend Tea Party rallies." This is from the "Booker rising" blog:
*****

Asked why more African Americans haven’t joined him at tea party rallies and conservative conventions like the Faith And Family Conference in DC this weekend, the millionaire ex-CEO has a different explanation. African Americans, Cain told TPM, are too poor to tea party. 'They can’t afford to,' Cain said. 'So I think the first reason is economics. If you just look at the sheer economics of it.' 'If you look at the typical income of a black family of four it’s going to be lower than a non-black or white family of four,' he explained. 'Generally speaking on average, white families are much more economically prosperous than black families. So, many black families don’t have the economic flexibility to go to a CPAC conference.' Most tea partiers, Cain said, 'own their own business, or they have the type of job where they have the flexibility where they can go to the rally. Or they’re retired,' he added."

*****
If only their conservative employers would let Herman's people go.

And Cain believes in a 3-page limit for congressional bills. That's really slicing it thin.
 

Henry, in case you were not aware, Blankshot Bart has redefined socialism so that he can call Obama a socialist.
 

Shag:

Cain is right about income limitations and the Tea Party. Our local groups are completely self financed. Poor and unemployed families (we are mostly married with families) cannot afford the tab to go to out of town conferences and rallies. That is what made the 9/12 rally in DC so remarkable.

What Cain left unstated (because he is going to attempt to change this) is that African Americans used to vote monolithically GOP and now monolithically Dem out of racial solidarity. We have as many African Americans in the Tea Party as there are GOP or conservative Indi African Americans - between 5% and 8%. The remainder are not members because of partisanship, not because of a lack of common ideology.

Of all the Americans the government has provided a bad deal, African Americans are at or near the head of the line. They should be a natural limited government and social conservative constituency.
 

Blankshot, they're not voting Dem out of racial solidarity, they're voting Dem because the GOP uses racist innuendo like Willy Horton and welfare queens to scare whites into voting for the GOP. When you act like racists you should not expect the people you are smearing to vote for you.
 

For what it's worth, I think it would be a very interesting development in American politics if Mr. DePalma turns out to be correct in his statement that Tea Partiers will tend to support Cain (instead of, say, Bachman, Santorum, Pawlenty, or Paul, all of whom are clearly pitching their campaigns to them). I doubt that will be the case as the campaign takes shape--and if Rick Perry and Sarah Palin enter the race as well, but stranger things have happened in recent American politics.
 

"For what it's worth," does anyone else out there think Cain's "3-page bill" proposal is as "Queer as a $3 bill"? You can only toss and stretch pizza dough so far. So I don't think it's yet time for a "Tea Party Pizza" franchise. But it may look good on Herman's resume, just as it may for our yodeler on 9/12/11 with his highly anticipated work of "friction."

By the Bybee (@$%#^$&*), don't expect the pepperoni pizza to be replaced by the Weiner pizza any time soon.
 

"But Brett's mission seems to be to pursue and punish sinners, even though there may be few of them compared to the many good people he describes."

Why do you suppose there are few of them compared to the many good people? Could it be because the good people don't tolerate them? And that, if good people did tolerate them, as you advocate, there would be many more of them?

In any event, the suggestion that Weiner is guilty only of violating his marriage oath is falling apart as we discuss this. His fellow incumbents have decided he's an embarrassment to them, and have stripped him of the informal immunity to enforcement of generally applicable laws Congressmen enjoy.

So, now we learn that he stopped renewing the registration on his car years ago, and drives around with another car's plates on it. Oh, and there are all those unpaid parking tickets he might have to pay now. Evidence of criminality we were simply spared knowledge of so long as he was a member in good standing of the political class. I confidently predict that, in the coming weeks, until he does resign, we will learn of more criminal offenses he's committed.

Because, of course, he is not a dishonest rotter in his private life, and otherwise a saint. He's a dishonest rotter in all things.
 

Things have reached a sad state of affairs when Shag’s name-based riffs are more relevant to the subject of the post than most of the other comments.

Come to think of it, maybe Weiner’s lawyers should argue that he is a suspect class, having faced undeniable name-based discrimination throughout his lifetime. Surely under well-established equal protection principles any weiner-based charges against him should face heightened scrutiny. I am sure Holder would write a letter.
 

We are all familiar with the adage "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade" (or something like that). Anthony inherited "Weiner," it was handed to him (pun intended?). And it was Anthony early on in his political career who squeezed "Weiner" (pun intended?) similar to lemons in the adage. But Anthony took self-deprecation to the extreme, exalting his version of lemonade pictorially. I don't know if Coney Island is in Anthony's congressional district but I don't think that the Fourth of July festivities there will be featuring weiners and lemonade contests.

"For what it's worth," I am not nor have been defending Anthony. (Just reread my comments.) He went overbroad [sick pun intended?] with his briefs encounters. Oscar Meyer should be suing him for disparagement. But Brett is making mountains out of weiners and that isn't Kosher. With Anthony's political stock down, what are we going to do with all the buns?

As to mls' suggestion of a legal strategy for Anthony's lawyers, Anthony might be hard-pressed finding a lawyer willing to handle (pun intended?) his problem. I wouldn't handle it with a ten-foot pole even if I were not in retirement.

By the Bybee (*%&^$@#), this thread cannot close until either the fat lady sings or we hear from Linda Lovelace.
 

Sandy Levinson said...

For what it's worth, I think it would be a very interesting development in American politics if Mr. DePalma turns out to be correct in his statement that Tea Partiers will tend to support Cain (instead of, say, Bachman, Santorum, Pawlenty, or Paul, all of whom are clearly pitching their campaigns to them). I doubt that will be the case as the campaign takes shape--and if Rick Perry and Sarah Palin enter the race as well, but stranger things have happened in recent American politics.

Because no GOP candidate can hope to win the general election without the Tea Party, all the candidates including Romney are at least attempting to cater to their principles. Indeed, this is so much the case that it is hard to tell the candidates apart, except for Gingrich's foot in mouth disease and Paul's crazy uncle routine.

The Tea Party is very decentralized and will not back a single candidate like a union or interest group would. Their favorites at the moment are Bachman and Cain because they were Tea Party before it was cool. Palin is playing the Cuomo the Elder's pied piper role and no one knows what she intends.

FWIW, Bachman did rather well in CNN's awful debate format last night, Cain fell off from his SC performance. The question is if anybody saw it.
 

The answer to our yodeler's:

"The question is if anybody saw it."

may relate to the riddle "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make noise?"

Alas, for those of us fortunate not to have watched the debate, our yodeler provides the noise - and the funk. Cain's tea bag may already be spent.
 

I have posted my thoughts regarding Weiner's resignation at Point of Order.
 

Great post!.. keep the posts coming& i ll keep reading them.
 

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