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Author Topic: Question about a quote in Empire preview
The Mister
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OK, this is a snippet from Chapter 2, but I'm *hoping* this thread doesn't turn into a mess like the other one seems to have done:

"The American idea was thrown out with Social Security. We nailed the coffin shut with group rights. We don't want individual liberty because we don't want individual responsibility. We want somebody else to take care of us. If we had a dictator who did a better job of it than our present system, then as long as he pretended to respect Congress, we'd lick his hands like dogs."

This is a strange thing to say, since Bush - or at least the media's versions of Bush - seem(s) to be portrayed as trying to be such a person (disregarding the judicial branch, and according to some doing the same with Congress, while pretending to respect them nonetheless). Meanwhile his approval rating seems stuck at around 30%.

Few are "licking his hands", but is it because most people figure he'd fail miserably at being such a dictator?

Or am I totally mis-reading Prof. Torrent's comment?

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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quote:
The American idea was thrown out with Social Security. We nailed the coffin shut with group rights. We don't want individual liberty because we don't want individual responsibility.
A complicated sentiment, this. It seems to me the absence of these programs would not make people more indiviudally responsible, as much as, I think that the absence of these programs would serve as a devastating blow to our national morale.

This is all speculation, and I can't offer any proof, but I get the sense:

1) More people would be trapped in quiet misery.
2) Business ethics would take a dive. Not only would people engage in more unsavory occupations, drug dealing or prostitution, even legitimate businesses would fall prey to increased nepotism because of the heightened pressure to make sure that ones family, ones "own," were provided for.

3) Organized labor would be in an even worse situation, as any fledging Union drive faces threats from the employer of lay-offs, and this would take away the security net for fired workers. Employer threats are the nature of the beast, and I think that the absence of social security and group rights would result in a more rapacious job atmosphere, where the employees are going to be less willing to hold on to their dignity, if that dignity means the possibility of being fired. To an unbecoming extent, I believe that the market would dictate our personal choices.

[ August 15, 2006, 07:30 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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King of Men
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It is surely not obvious that the Torrent character is intended to be correct. Maybe he's just playing the attractively cynical professor for his admiring students? Or maybe he believes it but is mistaken.
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TomDavidson
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It is, in fact, pretty obvious that the Torrent character is intended to be wrong.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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There is a little truth in his statement. For some people, it may work out exactly as Torrent explains. The questions become how large is the size of that population, and even if it works the way he says it does, what kind of society would result from this push to personal responsibility?

[ August 15, 2006, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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RunningBear
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Then why is Malek seeming to believe what he is saying then? Maybe I am seeing it wrong.
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Orson Scott Card
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They accuse Bush of being that dictator, but they can't actually cite instances. They only say that he is "opening the door" to it. It's all booshwa.

In fact we don't have a dictator and Bush is no closer to it than any president.

Augustus kept all the forms of the Republic and pretended not even to hold office. But nobody could BE a Senator without his approval. What he wanted, happened.

Stalin didn't have an actual political office until well into WWII. He was just party secretary - not even official head of the party!

The quotation is a particular view. But nothing in the chapter implies that Torrent actually believes it, as stated - or Reuben, either. It's a hypothetical - and a hyperbolic one at that. Meant, by a teacher, to be provocative.

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Lyrhawn
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More specifically, for anyone interested in a little Roman history [Smile] :

Augustus ruled as Imperator Augustus Devi Fili Julio Caesaro Pontifax Maximus Pater Patriaii Tribunica Potestes Consul Sonatas Consultum.

Augustus offered the people of Rome a flavor of the Old Republic. After 100 and some odd years of civil war and social upheaval, it didn't matter that it wasn't exactly the real Republic, but it had the taste of Republic, it was the next best thing, and the people greedily lapped it up. And generally, he was great for Rome, he really made it a better place.

As for the latin above:

Imperator is a kind of consular power. Gives him a lot of authority.
Augustus Honorific title, a symbol of what he had achieved, both for Rome and himself.
Devi Fili Julio Caesaro "Son of the God Julius" He created a priesthood around Julius Ceasar after he came to power, and placed himself more or less at the head of it. Also an honorific title.
Pontifax Maximus He was also the head of all religious festivals and events.
Pater Patriaii Father of his nation, parental title over all Romans.
Tribunica Podestes Given by senate, power of the tribune, cannot be screwed with.
Consul Consul for 14 times, other consul always a friend or family member.
Sonatas Consultum Acts on behalf of the senate, with the senate.

My ancient history professor likened it to Arby-Q, which is Arby's version of BBQ. He said it tasted nothing like real southern BBQ, but in the north we really don't know the difference do we? So we accept it for what it is, and like it.

When it comes down to it, Augustus was a master of propaganda. It goes on and on, I could write a couple pages on it if I had to, but I don't [Smile] . Every name above, was an office that used to be held by someone else. Lepidus, a member of the second triumvirate used to hold the office of Pontifax Maximus, before fading away to obscurity in Spain.

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The Mister
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quote:
Originally posted by Orson Scott Card:
They accuse Bush of being that dictator, but they can't actually cite instances. They only say that he is "opening the door" to it. It's all booshwa.

In fact we don't have a dictator and Bush is no closer to it than any president.

Yeah, I know that much, at least (and implied it, though perhaps I wasn't clear).
quote:
The quotation is a particular view. But nothing in the chapter implies that Torrent actually believes it, as stated - or Reuben, either. It's a hypothetical - and a hyperbolic one at that. Meant, by a teacher, to be provocative.
Well, both provocative and dead wrong, I suppose. Here in the real U.S. we have a media who portray such a blatant (and completely imaginary) power grab to be a very bad thing. Slapping his hands rather than licking them, I'd say. Perhaps a more charismatic leader might have more success at such an attempt. (But if I mention the obvious example from WWII it'll be the end of this thread. It's an internet rule, you know. [Wink] )
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Gwen
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quote:
(But if I mention the obvious example from WWII it'll be the end of this thread. It's an internet rule, you know.)
Nazi. [Razz]
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MrSquicky
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Err...what some may call a power grab is neither completely imaginary nor undetailed.

Various sources have claimed that the Bush administration has pursued an active program of expanding what they claim falls under their Article II powers. Among them, one of my state's Senators, Arlen Specter, head of Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here's an excerpt of a letter Senator Specter sent to Vice-President Cheney in June of this year:
quote:
It has been my hope that there could be an accommodation between Congress's Article I authority on oversight and the President's constitutional authority under Article II. There is no doubt that the NSA program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which sets forth the exclusive procedure for domestic wiretaps which requires the approval of the FISA Court. It may be that the President has inherent authority under Article II to trump that statute but the President does not have a blank check and the determination on whether the President has such Article II power calls for a balancing test which requires knowing what the surveillance program constitutes.

If an accommodation cannot be reached with the Administration, the Judiciary Committee will consider confronting the issue with subpoenas and enforcement of that compulsory process if it appears that a majority vote will be forthcoming. The Committee would obviously have a much easier time making our case for enforcement of subpoenas against the telephone companies which do not have the plea of executive privilege. That may ultimately be the course of least resistance.

We press this issue in the context of repeated stances by the Administration on expansion of Article II power, frequently at the expense of Congress's Article I authority. There are the Presidential signing statements where the President seeks to cherry-pick which parts of the statute he will follow. There has been the refusal of the Department of Justice to provide the necessary clearances to permit its Office of Professional Responsibility to determine the propriety of the legal advice given by the Department of Justice on the electronic surveillance program. There is the recent Executive Branch search and seizure of Congressman Jefferson's office. There are recent and repeated assertions by the Department of Justice that it has the authority to criminally prosecute newspapers and reporters under highly questionable criminal statutes.

All of this is occurring in the context where the Administration is continuing warrantless wiretaps in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and is preventing the Senate Judiciary Committee from carrying out its constitutional responsibility for Congressional oversight on constitutional issues. I am available to try to work this out with the Administration without the necessity of a constitutional confrontation between Congress and the President.

Likewise, the movement to impeach the President has furnished an extensive list of instances where they feel that he has exceeded the powers granted to him by the Constitution.

You can disagree with what they have to say or you can say that it was good that the President did what he did and/or it was within his rights, but I don't think that saying that it's all nonesense without addressing the criticisms of sources such as a prominent Republican Senator is responsible. Also, if you think that people haven't laid out specifics and are instead making merely general claims, you haven't been looking very hard at this issue.

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MrSquicky
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I'd add that Bush's low approval rating, to me, seems more to do with his failures and dishonesty than it does with his power grabbing. Were administration predictions correct and we swept through Iraq in a few months, leaving a happy, healthy democracy in our wake, if we found WMDs or support for various other claims that the administration made, and if they had more to show for themselves than repeated empty claims of success, I think the opposition to the administration's attempts to expand their powers would be much weaker and less widespread.

Authoritarians don't submit themselves to power unreservedly. They do this in part to feel safe, so they're not big on submission to one they perceive as weak or as a failure.

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Gwen
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Nitpick:
quote:
There is the recent Executive Branch search and seizure of Congressman Jefferson's office. There are recent and repeated assertions by the Department of Justice that it has the authority to criminally prosecute newspapers and reporters under highly questionable criminal statutes.
Wasn't that the one that they were all throwing such a fuss over, even though they actually had a search warrant? (And how the heck did they seize an office? *g*)
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MrSquicky
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Didn't really follow it too much. What little I gleaned wsa that investigations into the legislative branch does not fall under the normal purview of the executive branch. Thus, the Justice Department couldn't actually get a valid search warrant for a Congressman's office.

It's sort of like how a sitting President can not be convicted of a crime in anything less than a full impeachment hearing. He doesn't come under the normal sway of the judicial branch.

Of course, I may not understand that at all correctly, so take that with a big grain of salt.

Oooh, and maybe some butter. Hey, I'm getting some corn on the cob. Anyone else want some?

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