Jul 31: Libs and Cons; Immigration and Morality
Jul 31st, 2010 by Sam


Newsflash!!! Libs and cons view immigration differently!!! We libs are certain that for us, it is a moral issue. Not only is it immoral to let people die of thirst in the desert, it is immoral to not provide healthcare, separate families, withhold a better living standard to people who just out of bad luck were born into a poorer country.

But, is it POSSIBLE that conservatives have their own moral view? That it isn’t just naked self-interest?

We’re going to look at some cutting edge research on the science of morality; studies that have been done globally on the moral intuitions of people and how that effects their stances on immigration and a whole lot of other things.

These guys got together to talk all about it…

Jonathan Haidt has a theory, the Moral Foundations Theory, where he proposes that liberals and conservatives view the world differently:

Moral Foundations Theory was created to understand why morality varies so much across cultures yet still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes. In brief, the theory proposes that five innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of “intuitive ethics.” Each culture then constructs virtues, narratives, and institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world, and conflicting within nations too. The foundations are:

1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulate the theory in 2010 based on new data, we are likely to include several forms of fairness, and to emphasize proportionality, which is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundation underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions)

Take the morality quiz to see where you fall…

Jul 24: Ed Buckner, Pres of American Atheists; talks Founding Fathers
Jul 18th, 2010 by Sam


Glen Beck is on a crusade; a self-appointed prophet of God, the Founding Fathers, and anyone else he can think of.

According to him, social justice is wicked.  Collective salvation is what liberals are trying to get by taking wealth from individuals and spreading to the needy. And atheists are to blame for it all.  As reported in the Utah News…

First, though, he asked the audience to visualize a pyramid illustrating his view of how liberals are attacking America’s foundation.

Originally, he said, America was built on God at its base and personal charity (as opposed to government welfare) at its center, with government occupying only the pointy, narrow top, doing only the things people couldn’t do for themselves. Now, he argued, the U.S. government has reversed the equation, insinuating itself into all aspects of life while pushing God aside.

“There is a perversion of faith right now,” he said, “a wicked, wicked perversion. And it is all about social justice. It is all about collective salvation. It’s actually all about Marxism.”

Collective salvation, he said, is a liberal goal meant to force individuals into doing the right thing by taking wealth from them and spreading it to the needy. In his view, he said, salvation only comes when individuals accept God.  Utah News, July 18, 2010.

We’re going to get a real live atheist on the show to explain why he wants to destroy America by imposing Marxism and thus thwarting the Founding Fathers, who apparently weren’t deists or atheists…  except they were.

Interestingly, even faith organizations are protesting Beck’s characterizations – we’ll look into that as well.

Jul 17: Immigration, the constitution, state’s rights and the ACLU
Jul 17th, 2010 by Sam


  • Strict constructionists should LOVE the Obama administration for filing the federal suit against Arizona – RIGHT??  Well, maybe not.
  • We’ll talk about what Immigration, the Constitution, State’s rights and Gay marriage have to do with each other!
  • Laura Rótolo, staff attorney for the ACLU, will join us to explain the constitutional issue at stake.
Jul 10: Turning up the Heat: the climate, AZ & the feds, BP sends a bill
Jul 9th, 2010 by Sam

  • Hot enough for you? Changing your mind about climate change? If you believe that climate change is happening and we’re destroying the planet, is it immoral to run your air conditioner?
  • Arizona, immigration, the feds – Let’s be real – Arizonans are bearing the brunt of the lack of economic opportunity in Mexico. What are we willing to do to help them cope with immigration?
  • BP sends Anadarko a bill…
Don Leka: Our Independent Judiciary and Other Myths
Jul 5th, 2010 by Sam

Presented on July 3, 2010…

Let’s picture a country that touts the independence of its judges.  But whenever a citizen sues the government, say for breach of contract, and the government worries that embarrasing facts may come out during the litigation, then a standard ritual takes place.  A government official certifies that the case must be dismissed because State Secrets might be revealed in the course of the litigation.  So the judge dutifully accepts the certificate at face value and dismisses the case.  Now the question is:  what country are we talking about?

You might say it could be Russia, and this is a practice left over from the Soviet system.  Or you might say it shows that China still controls the judiciary as tightly as it controls internet access.  Or maybe the Ayatollahs in Iran are at it again.  But nay, I speak of The United States, the land of three co-equal branches of government as we all learned in school.  Except our judiciary has abandoned its independence when it comes to holding the government to the same conduct as all other defendants.  And the scary part is the judges do it consistently, enthusiastically, and with full patriotic fervor.

The State Secrets doctrine grew out of the case of McReynolds versus United States, decided by the Supreme Court in 1953.  Chief Justice Vinson wrote the opinion, holding that when a trial court receives a statement from a responsible government official informing him that the case before him would likely lead to disclosure of state secrets or information jeopardizing national security, the judge should give serious consideration – in other words, defer – to the request from that government official.  The McReynolds case was wrongly decided, a product of cold war hysteria.  But the thing about the law is, when a legal doctrine veers in the wrong direction it often fails to correct itself – the erroneous thinking just expands organically.  And so the State Secrets Doctrine has extended its reach over the years.  For example, the government doesn’t have to be a party to the case – it can intervene in a private suit between two private companies and get the complaint dismissed.  And the claim for privilege (and therefore dismissal) doesn’t have to involve classified information.  The government has successfully argued that the pattern of public information as disclosed during the litigation may reveal something to foreign spies.  And even if the plaintiff claims that it does not need and will not disclose any sensitive information for its case, the government simply says it can’t defend itself without revealing such information, regardless of what the plaintiff says.  Case dismissed.

So you can look at this doctrine two ways.  First, this certificate claiming a State Secrets Privilege is given by a responsible government official, and we know the offical would not falsify a claim because that would be irresponsible.  Nowadays in the Obama administration, a really, really responsible official – Attorney General Eric Holder – signs the certificate so we really, really know we can rely on it.  The other view says that our government is predicated on separation of powers – each branch is subject to checks and balances against the other branches.  This principle holds that the executive branch should not be the final judge of its own claim of privilege.

I suppose we could call this topic the ultimate moot point, since by definition no one gives independent scrutiny to the government’s claim – not even a judge, much less the media or the public.  So the claim can never be disproven.

But wait.  There was one instance where the information became available to the public, 40 years later.  And it happened in McReynolds vs. United States itself, the case that started the whole doctrine.  The case arose from the crash of an Army Air Foce B-27 in 1948, carrying several civilian engineers.  The engineers were testing out a guidance system for missiles – the system was not guiding the airplane, it was measuring accuracy along ground monitoring stations.  Widows of three engineers aboard the plane brought a wrongful death suit against the government for negligence.  The plaintiffs asked for a copy of the accident report – the report of the investigation conducted by the Inspector General after every airplane accident.  Lawyers for the Army Air Force refused to provide it, saying the engineers were on a secret mission (that much was true) and the accident report would reveal highly important military secrets.  They argued the material was so sensitive they were not allowed to share it even with lawyers for the Department of Justice who would be trying the case.

The trial judge used standard procedure when a party refuses to turn over relevant documents, even to the judge for independent scrutiny.  He defaulted the Government and went on to assess damages.  The government appealed, and the circuit court, again using standard precedents, confirmed the dismissal.  It was the Supreme Court, led by Truman’s poker buddy Fred Vinson, who reversed the judgment and sent it back to the trial court.

But in the interim the Records Department had declassified the accident report, using standard procedures, even while the case was going through appeals.  No one realized this, and the document sat in storage until President Clinton, in 1993, made most government records available to the public if they were older than 40 years.  And when the original plaintiffs (or their offspring) finally were able to read the report – guess what?  It contained not one word about the secret mission.  It was a damning catalogue of negligence and inattention, ignored safety upgrades, and sloppy maintenance and operating procedures that led the plane inevitably to fail while in flight.  The record makes it obvious that the Secretary of the Army Air Force perjured himself in his sworn declarations and government lawyers participated in defrauding the Supreme Court.  When the plaintiffs tried to point this out, in the late 1990’s, no court wanted to be bothered with this sort of challenge to our patriotic State Secrets Doctrine.  The denial of justice to the families of those engineers was a dead issue.

So, even though the state secrets doctrine was founded on a fraud, it continues to survive.  It was Coleridge who once said patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.  We now know that the scoundrel’s first refuge is claiming the privilege of secrecy.

This is Don Leka from the Cause and Effect World.

Jul 3: Our Feuding Fathers and the origins of “You lie!!!”
Jul 2nd, 2010 by Sam


They look so nice in their wigs and nifty little outfits, but the verbal combat at the beginning makes things look kind of tame now…

Consider this:

Thomas Paine denounced George Washington in an open letter as “treacherous in private friendship…and a hypocrite in public life.”  He even wondered aloud whether Washington was “an apostate or an imposter; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any.”  Wall Street Journal, June 26/27, 2010


We’ll have a walk down memory lane about just how rough things were back then….

Are you stoked that we are still independent???  If you were alive then, would you have:

  • supported the revolution or deferred to authority?
  • been willing to die for it?
  • advocated use of force?
  • put your family at risk for it?

Thomas Jefferson made slip in Declaration, Talking Points Memo

And Don Leka, writer and self-described recovering lawyer, on “Our Independent Judiciary and Other Myths.”

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