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Name: Mister Rea
Gender: Male
Hometown: Houston
Home country: Moon
Current location: afk
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 48,808

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mostly harmless

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Pictures of plane wrecks that *everyone* aboard survived from.


"Photos of plane crashes where everyone aboard survived"

According to Baron Montesquieu, this country doesn't want to be a republic.

You should learn a lot about Charles-Louis, Baron de Brede et Montesquieu (Chucky for short). In your civics class, he's taught as the guy who identified the three basic functions of government--legislative, executive, and judicial--and who had a powerful pull on the Founding Conventioneers in Philadelphia in 1787. He's more important for the Constitution than John Locke is. Locke more inspired the Declaration, but it was Chucky who inspired both the three branches scheme and laid the philosophical groundwork for maintaining a federal, instead of a national, structure to the Old 13. However Chucky had some other, more pertinent observations about how men & their governments interact. He identified the governments of the world as falling into three types: Republic, Monarchy, or Despotism. Yes, he always thought in threes. Like any Frenchman, he spent a good deal of time worrying about how size matters. And Chucky didn't think a country, like ours, nearly the size of a continent was quite suited for republicanism. There are dangerous signs he was rights.

In his view, a true republic requires a public and culture that has a love of virtue, that is, a society in which people (particularly leaders) put their love of country and the welfare of the community above their own personal needs. Think about everything we revere George Washington for and now compare it to, say, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, that clown from Alaska, or Rand Paul. But this character must exist among a nation as well. When a people lose virtuousness, they begin to lose their republican form of government. We pause now for this important commercial message.

Now back to Bucky's rant.

We're in post-democratic America. According to ol' Chuck Montesquieu, it's not just the character of the people, but also the size of the state itself, that encourages or prevents certain forms of government. A small state tends toward Republic because the rich and poor are neighbors; they see each other at the market or one works for the other, person to person. There is shared commonwealth because they see one another's person & thus one another's rights. A medium sized nation tends toward monarchy; when you lose neighborliness with your fellow countrymen, you lose common-feeling. You need a strong man to enforce the law so that all have an equality of (now reduced) liberty as allowed by the unifying state. But a large nation, an empire--a Russia or a China--will never be a true democracy. The size of state itself requires a despot to hold united all the conflicting interests of a vast land. Even with elections, Putin is still a strong man, a crowd manipulator and a godfather to racketeers who kill inconvenient journalists for him. An iron grasp has always unified Russia; when Gorbachev loosened that grasp, the factions tore the nation apart.

But let's look at the mote in Uncle Sam's eye. For two generations we've bemoaned the imperial presidency--tho mostly when there's a Republican in office. On the other talon, our compatriots at RedState.com only seem to gin up their love of the non-Second Amendments during the Clinton and Obama presidencies. These are two nice data points of what losing one's virtue looks like. Not as pretty as losing one's virginity, is it? When it's not the president taking over legislative functions, it's the Congress thrusting legislative decisions onto his desk. Remember all those pass-the-buck sequestration proposals the Republican caucuses came up with? They were dodging their responsibilities (just like with fobbing on the debt extension votes) because experience showed the members of Congress lacked the discipline, the capacity to compromise, in a word, the virtue, to pass a budget that split their differences.

Judges, too, demonstrate at least a check-and-balancing expression of despotism. Activist judges on the left and right assume more and more power... but this mostly happens when the most representative branch of the people, the legislative, fails to handle its core responsibilities. It is a failure of republican governance (small-r), demonstrating a failure of public virtue. Congress doesn't deliver it because the people don't demand it. And the people don't demand it because they want their MTV more than they want their communities serviced by their public servants.

We've not lost our republicanism yet. We may never lose it in full, but against Ben Franklin's possibly apocryphal advice, we're not really keeping it up lately.

A cartoon that isn't funny

See? No punchline. Not unless we get our shit together, that is.

In fact, life is a broccoli eating contest, but they don't tell you that.

When you die and go to heaven, St. Peter doesn't review a video of all you sins with you. He just has a big ledger with your name and a list of all the times you could have eaten broccoli but didn't. Then yall watch a video, and it's on BetaMax because that's where they've all gone and not because "VCR had better marketing" or some crap like that, and you and St. Peter watch you turning your nose up at broccoli when you were like 3 or 4 years old and you mom was only worried about your vitamin intake, and then when you get to the part where you gag on the first forkfull and throw the plate of broccoli onto the floor and scream "I want cake!" St. Peter says, "You know what, I'm not gonna sit through this shit any longer; you know what you did." and he turns the BetaMax off and kicks your ass down to hell.

That is the point in life. You should have listened to your mother.
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