Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Quotes

I've never reached back into my own vault of posts before today. But Quote 1 below has been floating all over the Internet, as well as being repeated on TV and radio stations, and appearing in newspapers nationwide. Quote 2 has gotten absolutely no attention anywhere. Why is that?

Quote 1:

I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards.
Mike Huckabee, 01/14/08
Quote 2:
I would like to propose the following Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Anti-Ignorance Amendment
No person whose religious beliefs alone prevent him or her from accepting an overwhelming expert consensus relating to facts and data of science and/or history shall be eligible to the office of president.
The Exterminator, 05/04/07
I'm also going to reprint a response I made to a comment, just so we don't start with this nonsense again:
Yes, the Constitution argues against a religious test. But I'm not proposing one; the president should be free to practice whatever religion he or she chooses, as long as the Constitution is not endangered by his or her religious observance. (Remember: the oath of office requires the president to swear or affirm that he or she will "to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.") My proposal is for an intelligence test, which establishes a bare minimum capability for effectively doing what the president must swear to do. The founding fathers worried about a mob-ocracy, and put certain checks and balances, like the Bill of Rights, in place to keep a potentially ignorant majority from running the country. If the Constitution can insist that the president be a certain age presumably to ensure maturity there's no reason that it can't insist on some minimal intellectual standard.


Unknown said...

An intelligence test, huh? Can it be applied ex post facto please?

The Exterminator said...

Lifey: Do you mean ex post busho? Let's just hope we're not all wishing we could make it ex post hucko.

John Evo said...

It's a great suggestion, Ex. I love it! Unfortunately, ammending the Constitutions requires a plurality of states to approve... oops.

It might be easier to find a plurality of states that would follow Huckabee into hell (or wherever it is he wants to take us).

John Evo said...

You never heard to the "Constitutions"? You can read all about them. Check it out on the Internets.

PhillyChief said...

I would change it to:

No person whose personal beliefs may prompt him or her to act contrary to an overwhelming expert consensus relating to facts and data of science and/or history shall be eligible to the office of president.

Remove religion.
Remove "accepting". It may very well be that a candidate doesn't accept a women's right to an abortion personally but who will nonetheless enforce the law.

Problems I see are with "overwhelming". What's the ratio for overwhelming? 100-1? 10-1? 2-1?
Also, challenges to "facts" as well as "science". Discovery thinks their shit is science, and working hard for it to be recognized as such. Those fucktards also challenge the facts of much scientific evidence.

It's truly quite a task to construct something such as an amendment that's air-tight and incapable of being twisted or misconstrued to mean what you don't intend.

The Exterminator said...

Actually you need more than just a plurality; you need a super-majority: Two-thirds of either both houses of Congress or the legislatures of two-thirds of the states merely to propose an amendment. Then three-fourths of either the state legislatures or special conventions held in the states.

So let's get busy and tell our friends about this.

OK, I'm easy. I'll accept most of your edit.

But I don't like that "may." Are we passing an amendment that asks interpreters to make predictions?

Also, I'm not 100% comfortable with "act," since, if the Amendment passes the person excluded from running will not have had an opportunity to act.

And as long as we're going back to the original text, I think we ought to keep "religious" in there, if for no other reason than to piss off the theocrats. Plus, I like it.

So, maybe I'm not that easy.

bullet said...

I disagree with the intelligence test. One of the wonderful things about this country is that anyone born here can become president. If the American people are too lazy or ignorant to choose an intelligent, capable person, then they deserve what they get for four years. If Bush's incompetence and the threat of more coming can't motivate the 50% of Americans who don't even bother to vote off their butts to change things, so be it.

The checks and balances of the three branches are the mechanism by which we prevent mob rule. This mechanism is not working as well as it has in the past and yes, the executive branch does currently wield too much power. This is a legislative and judicial issue, but still ultimately in the people's hands. The founders trusted the people and I think we should continue to trust them. Once we start monkeying with the system it opens the door for some very bad things. This country has come through worse than this.

Not to mention that all IQ tests are designed and administered by the godless liberal elite and are, therefore, worthless.

PhillyChief said...

Remember, we might have needed Bush. Hopefully his administration will be forever referred to in history as multiple examples of what terrible things could happen should one branch gain too much power and if one party gains too much power for example. There are countless more examples that may be in future history books and poli sci classes for generations to come.

Btw, anyone see Bush's speech to the troops the other day? He said something like "when the final page of history was written it will say...". Nice.

The Exterminator said...

Not an intelligence test. I'm not suggesting that we score the guy. I'm merely asking that he be minimally qualified to weigh actual evidence from scientific and historical sources. If we can say that the boss has to be at least 35 years old, we ought to be able to insist that he have at least a 35 I.Q.

Every time that idiot opens his mouth, I feel embarrassed to be an American. He's our president, f'cryinoutloud. How the fuck is that possible?

John Evo said...

Well, it's fun to kick around, and I personally love the idea - but by what means would you ENFORCE it? I mean, I suppose you could to some degree. You could at least force potential candidates to shut their mouths about such issues. But they would just figure out code language to reach their constituencies, wouldn't they?

So some guy says, in 1990, that there is no such thing as evolution because the earth is only 6,000 years old. Do we hold him "guilty" of stupid beliefs and not allow him to run in 2012, even if he made no further public statements about it?

The Exterminator said...

Do we hold him "guilty" of stupid beliefs and not allow him to run in 2012, even if he made no further public statements about it?
No, we don't hold him "guilty." People, even politicians and other imbeciles, can learn.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that it would be a good idea to generally restrict voting on an issue to those people who actually know what it is.

I'm sure it would be a terrible idea in practice, but so is letting idiots decide things when they don't know either side of the argument.

Spanish Inquisitor said...


I know that your suggestion is served with a side dish of tongue a la' cheeque, and as a result I agree with bullet. If the country is stupid enough to elect a stupid president, then we get what we elect. The Founding Fathers knew that. It's one of their reasons why the President is limited to a 4 year term, and since has been limited to only two of those. If he's that stupid (or if the country is that stupid) it won't last long. We'll self correct, and by all indications, it looks like were about to do just that.

Actually, since I may end up voting for you in the primary, I think I need to ask you a few questions. ;)

1. Noah was:
a) A great geologist who lived 6000 years ago.
b) Kevin Costner (think Waterworld)
c) A great shipbuilder

2. Adam and Eve
a) knew each other
b) KNEW each other (think biblically)
c) gnu each other

3. True or false: God created Mike Huckabee

4. Intelligent Design is:
a) A graduate course taught at MIT
b) A science course taught at The Dover Area High School
c) The name of William Dembski's leaky rowboat

Good luck. My vote for you is conditioned on the right answers.

The Exterminator said...

Sometimes I think that it would be a good idea to generally restrict voting on an issue to those people who actually know what it is.
But then Congress would never have anything to do.

Is this test timed?

1. Noah was:
d) what the patient with the gag reflex said when his doctor pulled out a tongue depresser.

2. Adam and Eve
d) on a raft, and draw one, no cow.

3. None of the above.

4. Intelligent Design is:
d) what Philly does for a living.

My name is The Exterminator, and I approved those answers.

nekouken said...

IQ tests are unreliable. They measure something, but it's not totally clear what.

How about they have to take a Constitution test? In order to run for or be appointed to any public office, I don't think it's unreasonable to insist that you are familiar with the law of the land.

Just imagine: candidates having to prove they are familiar with the founding principles of this country at least as well as an 8th grade student in Illinois. You get to take it once, when you first make your candidacy official. After that, the newsmedia will be encouraged to quiz the candidates further on their knowledge and understanding of the document, demonstrating that they not only know what it says, but what it means. On the ballot in every state, next to the candidate's name and party affiliation would be their Constitution test score.

The test would cover the document itself and every amendment in place a the time of their candidacy.

How's that sound?

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

I like mike's idea.

Of course, it would be interesting if they turned it into a game show. "Are you as smart as an eight grader? If so, you could be the President of the United States." We wouldn't pick the President based on who did the best, of course (though there would probably be more voter participation if we did), but it would be cool. Or, some sort of U.S. citizenship game show, where U.S. citizens would be asked some questions from the test to see if they're smarter than a naturalized citizen. And then, if we were really cruel, we'd revoke their citizenship if they failed.

I might need to stop watching so much TV.

The Exterminator said...

Great idea. I particularly like the part about the Constitution test score sitting on the ballot next to the candidate's name. I'm afraid, though, that many Americans would want to vote for the person whose number was the lowest.

Yeah, I like the idea of "Are You Smarter than George W. Bush?" and then revoking the candidates' citizenship if they aren't. We could deport them to whatever place in the world their party wanted to start a war with.

Here's another interesting idea for a TV show: "Government Swap." Our president and the leader of some other country have to trade legislatures for a week. The object would be to give both nations an opportunity to actually get something done.

Anonymous said...

I like the Constitution test. Another option is to require all candidates to attend and pass a seminar on the Constitution before they file their candidate's papers. Maybe that would eliminate a lot of the bull like what's been coming out of these people's mouths lately.

Babs Gladhand said...

I think there should be an intelligence test and a Constitution test. I also think that whenever our president decides to declare war on a country, instead of sending our military, the president should have a one-on-one face off with the leader of the other country. No weapons would be allowed. So, they could either discuss their differences rationally and work out a solution, or they could just bitch slap each other a lot.

However, if there is going to be a lot of bitch slapping, it should definitely be televised.

And because I'm all giddy from a lack of sleep and too much medication, I'm going to mention one more thing. Did you guys know that when Huckabee was in college, he used to make fried squirrel in a popcorn popper?

He's a fuckin' chef, people. And it's about time we had a chef in the White House, because nothing brings people together like good food. Especially squirrel.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Oh no! Not another squirrel fucker!

The Exterminator said...

Babs, I believe you've outdone Herbert Hoover in finding the perfect Republican slogan:
A fried squirrel in every popcorn popper!

SI, if you must bring squirrel fucking into it, how about:
Marriage is the union between one fried squirrel and one popcorn popper!

Of course, there's always this T-shirt:
My Mom and Dad visited the White House and all I got was this fried squirrel.

Lynet said...

The Anti-Ignorance Amendment is nice wishful thinking, but I can't agree with it. It feels wrong. And face it, if you really did that, you'd just be achieving the impressive feat of actually making the fundies' martyr complex worse.

I'm not going with the intelligence test either, sorry. It's arbitrary, unreliable, and doesn't measure everything necessary in a president, anyway. (It also wouldn't enforce the Anti-Ignorance Amendment. Plenty of highly intelligent, cognitively dissonant religious people out there.)

I do like the idea of a Constitution test, though. I think that makes sense. But frankly, I wouldn't ask for showy constitutional amendments that favour rationalist positions. I'd just like to see balance of powers and rule of law. Is that so much to ask?

The Exterminator said...

If you want to discuss a tongue-in-cheek post as if it's serious stuff, let's do it.

Can you explain why it's wrong for a constitution to require that a president have a minimal ability to evaluate scientific and historical evidence?

Because when he or she can't, or won't, we wind up bombing other countries for no reason.

And as far as I'd just like to see balance of powers and rule of law. Is that so much to ask?
Most Americans would just like to see another installment of "American Idol." So, yeah, it's probably too much to ask.

Lynet said...

If you want to discuss a tongue-in-cheek post as if it's serious stuff . . .

Sorry, by the way; I sort of knew you weren't serious, but I guess the idea really does bother me, even in jest! I suppose it's partly because I don't think you can force rationality on people. Measures to protect minorities are one thing, but partially disenfranchising a majority of the people in a country, officially telling them they're substandard citizens and so is anyone who believes as they do -- that's a recipe for disaster! It's a surefire way of getting people to reject the system as a whole. What can I say? For me, the lesson of Iraq is basically that trying to change a country in a dramatic and sudden fashion from the top down is more than just impractical; it's a thought so dangerous I don't want to go there even in a joke! Let's not joke about 'oh, if we could just go in there with a few bombs Saddam would fall and we'd have a nice democracy where the people would do as they wished'. Don't say it! If the joke spreads, someone will take you seriously. Someone will believe that if we could only get a few states to agree to this amendment, it would actually be a step forward. Well, it wouldn't be a step forward. Rulers rule with the consent of the governed not merely as a moral principle that might be susceptible to the greater force of some other moral reasoning, but also as a practical principle.

The practical priciple is slightly different, of course. Rulers rule with the consent of the governed in proportion to the power that they have and also in proportion to what people will accept. America works in part because people believe they should accept the outcome of the election, even if they don't agree with it -- and even if, as a whole, they'd be powerful enough to topple the elected government. No-one thinks that way. They accept the system, and the country is better for it [yeah, okay, there are bits of the system that could do with changing, but this isn't remotely one of them].

The genius, the beauty of America is creating a system that tries to satify the practical principle and the moral one. And when you go around proposing amendments, even in a joke, that depart so far from the practical principle that the whole system will shatter, well, it scares me. A joke can be the beginning of acceptance of a dangerous idea, and this idea is dangerous with good reason. If agreement with this amendment was strong enough for it to be less than disastrous, it wouldn't be necessary in the first place. Don't go there. Don't encourage that mindset in any way, not ever.

Can you explain why it's wrong for a constitution to require that a president have a minimal ability to evaluate scientific and historical evidence?

It probably isn't, if you could find a way to make the test free from ideology (How the heck would you do that? Don't say 'consensus' -- sometimes consensus is wrong, and whose consensus are we taking, and do we really want to turn membership of that privileged 'consensus' group into something with political meaning?) and minimal enough that flaws in the test wouldn't disqualify a perfectly eligible candidate. But you also have to make the test in such a way that the country as a whole would still all feel equally eligible; you need to not be creating an organised underclass. That's a practical principle, again: a dissatisfied, organised underclass is going to start blowing up buildings eventually if nothing is done to draw them back into the whole. So don't single out religion. People -- and countries -- have to turn away from it by themselves, and for that reason alone, I choke at the idea of any religious test for office, even one that tries to be based on the idea of intelligence.

Heck, it's supposed to be Americans who idolise their constitution to an absurd degree! Why is it me sitting here choking so badly at the idea of a religious test that I can't even take it as a joke?

Making an amendment that forces people to have a particular IQ enshrines the IQ test far beyond its merits; I guess that's the basic reason I disagree with that idea. It's not completely stupid, but people already think too much of the IQ, and you don't want to make it worse :-)

The Exterminator said...

Heck, it's supposed to be Americans who idolise their constitution to an absurd degree! Why is it me sitting here choking so badly at the idea of a religious test that I can't even take it as a joke?

Unfortunately, most Americans wouldn't know the Constitution if they tripped on it. If you think the spirit of the "no religious test" clause is being followed, I guess you haven't been reading much about our current presidential contenders. To them it's a joke, why shouldn't it be to the rest of us?

The actual words in Article VI read: ... no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. This was violated dozens of times by Bush's Justice Department. In addition, I believe that the president's having religious advisers at all is also a clear violation.

John Evo said...

Or the demonstrable fact that a declaration of non-belief is a de facto guarantee of defeat to any candidate running for high office. Is this NOT a religious test? Seems to me it is.

You have to stand up and declare faith in order to get elected. If you were to say, "I respect peoples’ rights to believe what they want, but I don't believe in anything supernatural and just want to concentrate on the problems that confront our nation" - you might as well pack up and head home. So, CLEARLY, we do have the religious test that our Constitution forbids.

Then again, I have to agree with Lynet that changes like this have to come from within and not be imposed. The main thing that needs to happen is for people who are atheists and agnostics to stand up and say who they are and what they believe.

If enough do, and if they are good people, then at least so-called "moderates" might be swayed into saying, "well, yes, I guess I could vote for an atheist if he/she has demonstrated that they stand for the same things I do". Once that starts happening, you may get a snow-ball effect.

As long as atheists fear the results of declaring to the world who they are, we will get what we have had up till now. And we'll deserve it. Not those of us who have spoken out, but the rest have nothing to complain about and right now they are the majority of atheists.

John Evo said...

Wait a tick! You were being "tongue in cheek"? Crap. I had already started organizing.