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Okay, I have a date here with Armando a half hour from now to conduct the long threatened "What is democracy?" debate.

The roots of this discussion occured right here on the Daily Kos, mainly in our discussions over the upcoming August 15 referendum in Venezuela in which Armando takes issue with my characterizations of Venezuelan democracy as more authentic and advanced as that of the United States. We soon both realized that while we agree on some basic things we have different perceptions of "democracy" and have talked and talked and talked about maybe someday debating them to try and see what those differences really are, or whether they are really differences.

As my first salvo and demonstration that democracy belongs to the majority that gets up earlier in the morning and works harder for what it wants, I'm jumping in 25 minutes before our High Noon duel to throw the gauntlet down to our esteemed colleage Armando, and adding a poll to increase the stakes.

So, Armando, what is democracy?

Originally posted to Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 08:38 AM PDT.

Poll

Debate Winner

23%11 votes
52%24 votes
23%11 votes

| 46 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  armando (none)
    i voted for armando but that is only because I'm still trying to get beer out of him.

    so, how exactly are you intending to do this debate?  have you elected someone to represent you in this debate?

  •  frist? (none)
    well, while we're waiting, al. how about warming up with a question.

    have you read fareed zakaria's future of freedom? what do you think about his idea of "illiberal democracy"?

    we're rolling back the republican crime wave

    by zeke L on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 12:43:59 PM PDT

    •  Gimme a link... (none)
      ...and I'll read it and let you know.  (yeah yeah, I know I could Google it, but I'm lazy, and if you are really interested in what I think, you'll post a link)

      don't always believe what you think and Beware of Fungibility Unlimited

      by claude on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 12:56:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  um, it's a book (none)
        so it's not like you're gonna read it right now and comment on it.

        and um, your name's not al.

        we're rolling back the republican crime wave

        by zeke L on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:02:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, haven't read it (none)
          Can you summarize while we are waiting for my esteemed debate rival to show up?

          Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

          by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:21:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  illiberal democracy (none)
            well there are a number of things in the book.  good book, but i certainly don't agree with everything.

            anyway one of the main points he makes is that there's a distinction between liberal democracy - what we ostensibly have - and illiberal democracy.

            illiberal democracy is one where people get to vote, but many of the institutions that support democracy are weak or nonexistent.  for instance, take russia, where putin has eviscerated the free press.  therefore the information people get supports him, and they choose predictably. he talks about this happening in a number of countries. it's been a while since i read it, so i can't remember if venezuela was one he featured as an "illiberal democracy".  

            and of course, although the subtitle was "the rise of illiberal democracy at home and abroad" he steered well clear of looking at the problem in the US. just a cursory mention.

            we're rolling back the republican crime wave

            by zeke L on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:45:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  If... (none)
          ...you addressed your comment to Al, rather than the masses, you could say so.  ("Al, what do you think about...")

          don't always believe what you think and Beware of Fungibility Unlimited

          by claude on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:52:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. (4.00)
    As my first salvo and demonstration that democracy belongs to the majority that gets up earlier in the morning and works harder for what it wants, I'm jumping in 25 minutes before our High Noon duel

    Pardon the interruption, but this is a fantastic idea and I intend to follow up on it by raising an angry mob and storming the offices where they count the votes in your poll. You know, to make sure the count is performed with honesty and integrity.

    That's what the bullhorns and softball bats are for, of course.

  •  whoever loses their temper first loses (none)

    WE LOST, GET OVER IT

    by ctkeith on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 12:48:52 PM PDT

  •  Good morning Al (none)
    First a quote to give you my starting point -

    "It is an interesting and somewhat surprising fact of the modern world that liberal democracy has become the single most accepted model for organizing and controlling state power. Democracy has been consolidated (albeit in significantly impaired versions) in North America, Western Europe, Australia, large parts of Latin America, and in important parts of Asia. In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the governments formed in the aftermath of Communism have committed themselves, with varying degrees of sincerity, to the establishment of liberal democratic institutions. Even in South Africa, the two sides of a bitterly contested racial divide have agreed on the desirability of liberal democracy as the most appropriate means for constituting political power and resolving conflict.

    Schumpeter's theory of democracy as a competition among elites has influenced several generations of political scientists, but this book is the first to show that Schumpeter also conceived of democracy as a powerful transformative tendency leading toward the establishment of democratic socialism. Deploring this prospect, he theorized elite-dominated forms of society in which democratic change could be reined in.

    The contrasts between the two perspectives are striking. The neglected transformative view, which this book expounds, stressed the importance of democratic beliefs and ideology, whereas the elite conception minimized their significance. The transformative perspective highlighted the radicalizing, dynamic effects of movements that attempt to realize democratic values and act upon democratic ideologies, while the better-known elite model depicted democracy in static terms and as institutionally stable.
    Despite the sharp contrasts, both perspectives were part of Schumpeter's complex and deeply conservative response to political change in his lifetime. Precisely because he viewed democracy as a potent transformative social force, he labored strenuously to theorize a form of society in which elites could restrain the pace and nature of democratic change."

    The POTENTIAL transformative nature of democracy as an institution will be my theme.

    Let me start with first principles - In its simplest terms, democracy is government by consent of the majority.  In the past, "majority" has been the point of contention - as citizenship, who was and who wasn't, was the major battleground.

    With the end of slavery, women's suffrage, the One man one vote decision, and other developments, I'd like to think that, at least in principle, that debate is over.

    However, the debate of insuring and allowing access for the exercise of the right to vote remains, both in practical and theoretical terms.

    Campaign finance, voter registration laws, ballot access issues, IRV, etc., are the conventional manifestations of this discussion. And these issues are important.  But I  am going to gloss these over right now as I feel that a consensus is building on many issues - IRV a notable exception.

    The larger issue, and one that I blieve is central to your approach is the importance of the Marxist perspective (not in the conventional political action sense, but rather in the interprative sense) of the questions of control of the means of production (call it economic power as a short hand).  My distillation  of your position, and correct me if I am wrong, is that absent equitable economic power among the competing social forces, a true democracy is not achievable.

    Let me fudge this issue.  At its core, it seems hardly arguable.  No question that some measure of levelling is required to achieve true democracy.  In our own country, we did not achieve a more authentic democracy until the rise of Jacksonian politics, which largely stemmed from the levelling, or more accurately, the diffusion of economic power.

    So, as a principle, we agree.  We likely disagree with regard to the EXTENT of levelling required to achieve authentic democratic institutions.  Here are my thoughts -

    (1)  The degree of diffusion of economic power necessary to create authentic democratic institutions is that which insures that citizens have a legitimate opportunity to express their views and defend their interests.  For me, that means having the right to vote in an informed manner.

    What does this encompass? (a) Access to the ballot. (b) Access to information regarding the political choices presented. Do I mean perfect information?  Of course not.  But I do mean a fair opportunity to assess the choice presented. (c) access to political choices that can address their social interests.  Again, this  does not mean that certain candidates must have a chance to win - just that citizens should have a chance to vote fo someone  who they think best speaks for them.

    A is not controversial.

    B is one of the central problems facing our democracy.  I'll explain  in a subsequent post.

    C, to me at least, is NOT a problem in the United States.  And that conclusion will require a detailed explanation that I will offer  in a subsequent post.

    Anyway, that's my starting point.

    (2) Once the conditions described above are met, my idea of democracy has no guaranteed outcomes.  If the people choose, retrograde policies, so be it. If they choose socialist policies so be it.  As long as the policies DO NOT impair the condition I describe above, anything goes.

    (3) What of the minority?  The loser in the electoral process.  What guarantees do they have?  I have strong opinions on this.  And my conception of democracy would absolutely entail protection of minority rights.  But that is a policy choice. Again, to me, the only restriction on policy is the preservation of the conditions described in 1 above.

    Anyway, this is my start, and I will add more detail to these answers as we go along.  

    •  Go Big A! (none)
      Oh, hell, you could both qualify under the banner of "Big A."

      Nevermind...

    •  I think you're missing one (none)
      What does this encompass? (a) Access to the ballot. (b) Access to information regarding the political choices presented. Do I mean perfect information?  Of course not.  But I do mean a fair opportunity to assess the choice presented. (c) access to political choices that can address their social interests.  ...

      I think that the absence of intentionally untrue information about the political choices presented is also important - having the opportunity to pick sound information from a sea of lies does not fulfill criteria (b), IMO.

      Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it.

      by justinb on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:59:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Access to Information" (none)
      Nice opener, Armando.

      It seems we agree and can just call off the debate!

      But then we would let the public, which wants a good show, down.

      So, like Jack the Ripper, let's take this in parts.

      You write:

      So, as a principle, we agree.  We likely disagree with regard to the EXTENT of levelling required to achieve authentic democratic institutions.  Here are my thoughts -

      (1)  The degree of diffusion of economic power necessary to create authentic democratic institutions is that which insures that citizens have a legitimate opportunity to express their views and defend their interests.  For me, that means having the right to vote in an informed manner.

      What does this encompass? (a) Access to the ballot. (b) Access to information regarding the political choices presented. Do I mean perfect information?  Of course not.  But I do mean a fair opportunity to assess the choice presented. (c) access to political choices that can address their social interests...

      I start with "access to information" because it gets close to what I think is at the core of the problems with U.S. "democracy."

      Of course, we are speaking here of the mass Commercial Media's total dominance of the airwaves - TV and radio - as people spend far more time watching or listening to broadcast media as they do reading newspapers. (I'll put aside the challenges/opportunities/perils of the Internet for later in the thread to stay focused on this question of broadcast media.)

      I don't think "access to information" is enough. The act of receiving information is more passive than active, even if we go looking for that information. We must also speak of "access to the microphone," to the ability of all citizens, not just those with expendable cash, to be able to speak through the broadcast media, not merely receive it passively.

      Venezuela's Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 is the first in the world to guarantee this right to the citizenry. As a result, there are already 85 Community TV and Radio stations throughout the country, by law not affiliated with any political party or religion (although all have access to them), non-profit, and governed democratically by members of the community or neighborhood from where they broadcast.

      You don't hear any talk of this important advance in the U.S. broadcast media for obvious reasons... because these micro-radio and micro-TV stations have taken a significant chunk of viewers-listeners and credibility from the Commercial Media in Venezuela.

      Interestingly, it was the participation by the Commercial Media in stoking the violent coup d'etat of April 2002 that sent so many people running to their Community Media stations during those Three Days that Shook the Media and caused the Community Media movement to explode in Venezuela.

      And this largely explains why, in spite of the fact that the big national centralized media continues to be totally one-sided in promoting the recall of President Hugo Chavez, that Chavez's numbers keep climbing and he is now ahead in the polls.

      Frankly, we need this kind of Community Media in the United States, one that doesn't answer to the "laws of the marketplace" but rather to the needs and desires of the people not only to receive information, but to give their own.

      Had there been this kind of Community Media in the United States in November 2000 my guess is that there would have been no way the January 2001 inauguration of an illegitimate president would have been possible.

      But what we have in the U.S. is a Commercial Media that considers its first priority to maintain profitable business, and therefore snuff out any revolt or dissent before it grows large enough to change things on a large scale. The Commercial Media in the U.S. from the moment of the Florida projections on election night right through to the inauguration created an environment in which even Al Gore shrugged his shoulders and declined to fight the imposed, corrupted, "results."

      Democracy, say I, is impossible under such conditions, and we have a fresh example from just four years ago.

      Which is why I always find it funny, if also frustrating, when people lay claims of "authoritarian" at Chavez's feet, because his country and his Constitution have finally solved the problem of both letting the big Commercial Media entities say and do whatever they want but also to allow the voices from below to speak.

      In otherwords, "access to information" is not just about eyes and ears, but also mouths and tongues. It is access to give as well as to receive. And without it, democracy is dying in the United States.

      Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

      by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 02:04:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We disagree (none)
        While the idea of Community Media is appealing, and even workable, it simply is not, in my mind, a necessary condition for authentic democracy.

        Your insistence on certain policy choices, such as this one, is precisely where I thought we would diverge.

        As to the efficacy of the Venezuelan model, I obviously have to defer to your better knowledge.  BUT, it seems to me, your satisfaction with it stems from your approval of the message that the Community Media was sending out.

        But I just disagree with the notion that effective citizenship requires a microphone.  I stand by my positon - it requires an effective ballot.

        •  Do you catch the irony of where you are saying it? (none)
          Armando writes:

          I just disagree with the notion that effective citizenship requires a microphone.

          When we think of "effective citizenship" in 2004 the discussion immediately turns to the Daily Kos and other online, participatory, media where citizenship has indeed become more effective precisely because we do have this "microphone."

          And here you are, availing yourself of this visual microphone of databytes and pixels so effectively and you don't find maybe a wee bit of contradiction in your insistence that it's not important?

          There is already no doubt that more people having more opportunity to express ourselves to the large Kossian public has already had positive impact on bringing back democracy to the U.S.A.

          It was seen in the way that the Dean candidacy was made viable, and competitive in the money department, and thus set the tone for the campaign.

          It was seen in the way that campaign fundraising has been revolutionized in that the average contribution size has plunged and the number of donors has widened, a very important counterweight to what existed before in this land of $1,000-a-head fundraisers in order to be able to shake a candidate's hand and bend his ear.

          It was seen in the way it was so easily and swiftly transfered from the Dean operating style to Kerry's... who thought, a year ago, that the presumptive Democratic nominee would be outraising Bush in these months... and largely due to the wave of small contributions made via Internet?

          This didn't just happen because people had access to receive information. It happened precisely because people had access to give information and to participate, to become players on the field and not just fans in the bleachers.

          Now, if you could take this energy and transfer it to broadcast media, so many of America's problems would solve themselves.

          Let's look at it from another angle, Armando, that I think you will be sympathetic to considering: the fall of the Soviet Bloc.

          There you had State TV, and nothing more. People speak of the fall of the Berlin Wall but that was just Berlin. What happened in all those Eastern Bloc countries to finally cause the fall of the regime? Was it people taking over the National Palace? The halls of Congress? The Supreme Courts and Tribunals?

          No! The moment they fell, in most cases, was the moment when the people took over the TV stations, crowded into the news studio, and one by one began speaking before the camera and into the microphone telling their personal stories of what they lived under that kind of tyranny. At that exact point, the regimes collapsed.

          And I would posit that a great part of the retardation and reversion of those historic moments to a banal status quo was the errant attempt to imitate "American democracy" and media systems, where only one class gets the microphone.

          Freedom of expression means nothing if it is pay-per-minute. The limits in the United States on ownership and scale of TV and Radio are our Berlin Wall. One down. One to go!

          Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

          by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 02:43:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not ironic at all (none)
            To say that dkos serves a wonderful is not the same thing as saying access to a microphone is necessary for effective citzienship.

            Our fellow citizens are no less effective as citizens for not expressing themselves - the expression required is the opportunity to vote in an informed way. The citize does not need to do the informing.

            •  How will you possibly be informed... (none)
              ...of what your fellow and sister participants in citizenship are saying unless they, too, have access to the microphone in all its forms?

              The fact is that the United States of America is compartamentalized into market niches. People, like it or not, tend to hang out with people who look, sound, think, and pray, a lot like them. The only place they "see" many of their neighbors is on TV... or in the smoking lounge at work (the only place, I posit, where different economic classes still have conversations with each other), but then you're just seeing other smokers! And still ones that work at similar tasks to your own.

              To be an "informed citizen" as you say, you also need to be informed as to what other citizens, from all the "market niches" are saying.

              But since Commercial Media is driven by contrary principles (to scare you, to give you a hard on, to do anything to grab and hold your attention IF you are someone who shows up on survey research as having expendable cash), it merely provides you shallow, inaccurate, caricature versions of your fellow and sister citizens... and if they are among the majority without much expendable cash, the Commercial Media grabs and holds your attention largely by telling you why you should avoid them, why you should fear them, why you should lock them in jail and lock yourself in your home and only "see" them through that little screen in your living room.

              So the average American has no friggin' idea what others who are "different" than him really think or say about anything... even as in many ways they think and say the same things with different ways of expressing it.

              We fall into our market niches and because there we only speak to others like us, and we only hear from others like us, we start to think, wrongly, that our perspective is THE perspective... around here that has been called "tin foil hat" or "echo chamber" thinking. And it leads to bad calls and uninformed decisions.

              Look, this is a diverse place but we have even seen it here in these forums during the Democratic primaries. So many people really believed the result would go one way because that is what a majority in this niche thought, and meanwhile couldn't gauge what was going on outside the room.

              So even the Internet is tricky that way, because it tends to bring us together only with those that think like us. I mean, Armando, here you and I are "debating" and we have obvious differences of opinion, but by jove we're both here because, in the big picture, we see the 2004 U.S. election in exactly the same way: we want their sonovabitch out and we want our sonovabitch in!

              Maybe when we're done here we can take this show on the road and hold the same debate over in Freeperland and see how different the discussion turns! Likewise, if we take it on the road in meatspace and "debate" this at universities (Ann Coulter vs. Al Franken style) we would get a totally different response. And at a Baptist university a different one altogether.

              Come to think of it, we could both get rich that way!

              Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

              by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 03:21:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not what fellow citizens (none)
                are saying but what the respective leaders are saying and proposing.

                I am not a big fan of the idea that my view must necessarily be informed by the views of my fellow citizens.

                Rather, my vte must be informed by what the prospective leaders are proposing.

                In that sense, I need good information from the press on what's going on and what is being offered.

    •  Some detail (none)
      First the question of information -

      A difficult issue, but one that has clearly become problematic in the United States.

      One of the problems that has been oft mentioned is the concentration of Media power.  I wasn't one to take that point too seriously.  My view was that the problem wasn't concentration but rather competence.

      On second thought, I have revised that view.  Because I was equating the concentration threat with deliberate slanting of the news, I missed the larger point that whatever the cause of the failing, the fact of concentration exacerbates that failing.

      This is a sea change for me, and one that produces great tension between the tenets of the First Amendment and the problems of market concentration.

      Unlike most, it is my policy preference to extend First Amendment protections fully to all forms of Media.  The distinction between prnt media and electronic media is unconvincing to me.  Further, with the broadening of the electronic media potential, it is even mroe difficult to make the distinction.

      This tension leaves me, at this time, a bit short on solutions.  I don't think much of the Fairness Doctrine nor on restrictions on station ownership.  So, I'm without solution right now but I recognize the problem.

         

      •  More detail (none)
        Access to representative political choices.

        Here I'm sure we will diverge because I am going to strongly defend the 2 Party System.

        One of the most irksome qualities of the Nader movement, not just this year, but in 2000 as well, is Nader's bypass of even attempting to work within the 2 Party system.

        One of the stabilizing and beneficial qualities of the 2 Party system is its ability to be the conduit for political change.  Certain political and social ideas, if not most, start outside of the Party system.   But, in the main, the good ones are coopted.  This has been our history.

        From abolition, to suffrage, to taxation, to well you name it.

        The 2 Party system allows for the introduction of new strong effective ideas to flow in a fashion that does not destabilize our institutions.

        I've always felt like saying to Nader and others you really want to achieve what you are talking about, do it the old fashioned way, win the hearts and minds of the ne of our parties.  Not only can it be done, it is done all the time.

        The conceit of 3rd parties, and here I'm sure I will lose the voting, is that ONLY though them can change occur. hogwash. Fact is through them change will NEVER occur.

      •  Soluciones Hayan (none)
        Armando writes:

        Unlike most, it is my policy preference to extend First Amendment protections fully to all forms of Media.  The distinction between prnt media and electronic media is unconvincing to me.  Further, with the broadening of the electronic media potential, it is even mroe difficult to make the distinction.

        This tension leaves me, at this time, a bit short on solutions.  I don't think much of the Fairness Doctrine nor on restrictions on station ownership.  So, I'm without solution right now but I recognize the problem.

        Now, "if I had my way I would tear this old building down!"

        But I realistically don't expect to get my way unless I get a microphone big enough to convince a critical mass of people, in terms of FDR style busting up of media monopolies.

        What fascinates me about the Venezuelan solution is that it sidesteps the question of busting up Big Media and instead bolsters the alternative from below: the small scale, Jeffersonian, decentralized media.

        The airwaves - as an attorney you know this - are, at least on paper, public property. They are leased, not owned. I think those who use them should pay rent according to the size of their terrain or reach of their broadcast signal.

        And I think that "rent money" (call it an airwaves tax if you look) should be targeted toward helping local citizens start small scale TV and radio stations in their own towns and neighborhoods.

        Here is where the First Amendment starts to bleed into the Second Amendment right to bear arms: guns are already inferior weapons to cameras, microphones, printing presses and, yes, keypads.

        But these techno-toys are expensive. Not all can afford them. Not all are educated to write or type proficiently. So the upper classes have all the "guns" now in the info-wars.

        Another of the great advances of the Venezuelan Community TV and Radio stations is the sheer volume of poor and working folk who otherwise can't afford a video camera or a minidisk recorder to have access to them, to become trained in their use ("gun safety!") and to therefore be able to defend themselves, their loved ones, their children, their neighbors, from crime and attack.

        Some of these people, like my colleague and Narco News School of Authentic Journalism professor Blanca Eekhout, started out that way: just an unarmed citizen who through her local Community TV station in the Caracas neighborhood of Catia learned how to use these weapons, and had a natural-born skill at it... I came across Blanca in June 2002 during the weekly program "Alo Presidente!" when Chavez broadcasts, each Sunday, to the nation. And for the first time he publicly recognized the heroic work of the Community TV and Radio stations, inviting their reporters into the studio audience... and Blanca was suddenly thrust from the role of local neighborhood reporter to co-EmCeeing the national TV program on the public TV station with her nation's president.

        Today, two years later, Blanca is now the director of the national public TV station.

        Without that Community TV station in her neighborhood, though, she would have never achieved the skills she so obviously has the talent to use in order to gain that kind of access to participate in her democracy. And having come up that way, she dedicates so much of her job now to bringing so many others up with her. Oh, how different she is than any TV station official I've ever met in the United States (and I have met many) who rose up through an entirely different set of conditions driven not by the audience, but, rather, by the advertisers seeking a certain kind of audience... an audience with expendable cash.

        And in the United States, the situation is even worse with PBS public television and NPR public radio, because the dependency on fundraising and pledge drives forces them to suck up to people with expendable cash and exclude the masses in the process.

        Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

        by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 03:05:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Public property (none)
          Yes, that is the doctrine.  As policy, I don't much like it.  Moreover, the existing problem of preexisting rights and licenses sort of makes it a fallacy.

          As I said, the Community Media idea is intriguing, but not necessary for authentic democracy.

          Moreover, despite your vivid descriptions, I'm a skeptic. At the end of the day, the government is always ultimately in control.

          That's why the First Amendment concerns are so paramount to me.  I believe that authentic democracy does have  a private sector component - a free press.

          Our problem now is we do not have a responsible press, and that's my conundrum - a public policy that maximizes the chances of insuring a responsible press.

          •  "Preexisting Injustices" (none)
            It is precisely the fixed concept of "preexisting rights and licenses" that leads to the stagnation of any democracy.

            When Thomas Jefferson spoke of the need to "spill the blood of patriots" every ten or twenty years I think he was speaking about just that... over time, all systems calcify and need shaking up.

            Or as Abbie Hoffman used to say, "Democracy is like chicken soup. If you just leave it in the refrigerator it forms a thick crust on top. You have to heat it up and stir it up to make it worthwhile again."

            Vast accumulations of wealth and power happen under unjust and unfair conditions. The "book version" of Democracy (in which "rights" stem from "laws") is very rigid, even fundamentalist, in tone and deed. So you end up saying that, say, a Commercial TV station has a "right" to a vast swatch of airwaves because of "preexisting licenses and and rights" that it gained on an unfair playing field.

            For this many cultures, no less democratic than our own, have concepts like "potlatch" or "regalia," or what the Judeo-Christian Bible calls "jubilee" in which, on a regular basis, concentrations of wealth and property are redistributed again. Sometimes that happens via public policy (FDR style). Sometimes that happens through violent explosions (looting and riots). Other times it happens through revolution. But it always eventually happens.

            So, if your position is that because somebody got some license or "rights" years ago over airwaves and therefore they have a permanent right to it, irregardless of the unfair conditions by which they, and not somebody else or everybody else, got it, you are virtually ensuring the most violent and harmful solutions later on. Human history shows, time and time again, that it will not stand.

            The idea of democracy, at least as Jefferson saw it, was to institutionalize the de-institutionalization process... to make it possible for the people to do everything, including, yes, dump barrels of somebody else's tea into the harbor.

            Okay, now, because in the words of that great (Pan)American philosopher Bob Marley, "a hungry mob is an angry mob," this "mob rule of one" is famished and I'm going up the street for some lunch. Will check back in afterwards to see if you have been able to sort out your thoughts a little better, jefe.

            Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

            by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 03:52:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not my position (none)
              but it is Constiutional law - acquired rights.  To take it away, you must compensate.

              That is the practical problem.  And more than a bit off topic.

              My theory of democracy does not require it, nor do I necessarily feel it is good constitutional law.  But it is the prevailing doctrine.

              •  clarifying (none)
                So I understand your position.
                1. You do not believe that the doctrines acquired rights and compensation are necessary for a democracy.
                2. Nor do you believe that direct access by the citizenry to the means of expression is necessary for a democracy.
                Although I agree with you on one point, and disagree on the other, there is nothing inconsistent with either of our positions.

                So have we thus reached an agreement that there are different versions of "democracy" that are still within the definition of democracy?

                Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

                by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 05:03:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  So, Al... (none)
    As my first salvo and demonstration that democracy belongs to the majority that gets up earlier in the morning and works harder for what it wants

    You're trolling for the Puritan vote here?

    A liberal is a conservative who's been through treatment. -- Garrison Keillor

    by ogre on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:59:09 PM PDT

  •  damn lawyers (none)
    an hr. late as usual .lol

    WE LOST, GET OVER IT

    by ctkeith on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 01:59:35 PM PDT

  •  What's wrong with Chavez (none)
    In my view, I don't trust him as committed to democracy.  But his deeds are what to judge him by.

    You argue that Chavez in putitng in place a system to insure authentic democracy.

    I believe he is putting in place, or trying to, a system that insures his power.  This makes him no better or worse than most I suppose.  But it doesn't make him an authentic defender of democratic principles, as you cast him.

    •  Okay, let's get down to business (none)
      We've each done our "fair and balanced" opening rounds, established our basic philosophical positions... now let's get down and dirty.

      You say about Chavez:

      In my view, I don't trust him as committed to democracy.  But his deeds are what to judge him by.

      You argue that Chavez in putitng in place a system to insure authentic democracy.

      I believe he is putting in place, or trying to, a system that insures his power.  This makes him no better or worse than most I suppose.  But it doesn't make him an authentic defender of democratic principles, as you cast him.

      I reply:

      We agree that his deeds are what to judge him by, which is why if you are going to accuse someone of not being committed to democracy, I should think, kind barrister, that you would offer some evidence to support your claim.

      Pretend this is a courtroom and the judge and jury want to see evidence, facts, proof. We'll pretend its a civil case so you only have to argue to "a preponderance of the evidence" and not even "beyond a reasonable doubt" as you would have to do on a criminal prosecution.

      So far, though, the imaginary judge would be on the verge of throwing your case out of court because your brief contains no substance upon which to base your charges.

      We'll take a short recess and give you time to prepare your argument better, counsel!

      Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

      by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 05:30:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Part 2 (none)
        His history, his associations, his words.  

        First and foremost, a leader who embraces Fidel Castro is AUTOMATICALLY suspect as being committed to democracy.

        Second, his willingness to use force in the past to secure power shows that he is willing to forego the ballot box.

        Third, his attacks on the opposition, both rhetorically and by government action, show not a leader looking to gain consnesus to achieve fundamental change - rather a power grabber willing to punish those in his way.

        That is the source of my suspicion.

        But that is not important - because he is the duly elected President, and if he survives the Referendum then everyone has to live with the consequences of their informed vote.

        •  Three Up, Three Down (none)
          First, re:

          First and foremost, a leader who embraces Fidel Castro is AUTOMATICALLY suspect as being committed to democracy.

          The headline in yesterday's national dailies in Mexico was, "México normaliza relaciones con Cuba." CNN had it in English: Mexico, Cuba, Normalize Relations.

          You see, it is only in the United States (and the Europeans make much fun of us) where "guilt by association" is a credible argument, and it really has to do with the neurosis of U.S. culture. At least in the U.S. Courts, it is an argument that still doesn't fly. Otherwise we'd be like, um, one of those bad authoritarian countries!

          Luis Derbez, the Secretary of State for Mexico's conservative, capitalist, President Vicente Fox said of the normalizing of relations with Cuba:

          "There can be differences among friends on certain issues, but these differences can be talked out," added Luis Ernesto Derbez, Mexico's foreign minister. "What we are doing now is working on all this to be able to move forward on the same road."

          Venezuela is a Caribbean country. It supplies oil to all the Caribbean islands. It is part of the Caribbean community. How can Chavez not be friendly to his neighbor? He's not some asshole like Jesse Helms or Jeb Bush!

          Furthermore, the differences in policy between Chavez and Castro are wider than those between Castro and U.S. presidents! Chavez has done what the complainers all demanded Castro do: lifted restrictions on the press and free speech that previous Venezuelan regimes had imposed, fight the revolution electorally, in fair and free elections, and expand human rights in a place where no administration had ever done that.

          Castro was even miffed at Chavez for not cracking down on the coup-plotters of 2002. But Chavez showed at that moment that he is his own man, despite whom he might be friendly too. And, man, I mean South of the Border being photographed with Fidel is like a U.S. politician being photographed with a baseball star. It wins votes! So what's the beef?

          You don't like Fidel so everyone else must shun him? Hey, I don't like Alvaro Uribe, the proto-facha president of Colombia, and Chavez did photo opps hugging him last week. It's called being a head of state. They are known, many of them, to not meddle in the affairs of other countries and to appear with foreign leaders. Do you hate the Pope because he did photo ops with Fidel, too? Or is there a double standard that doesn't apply to the head of the Vatican state?

          Now, onto slightly more serious claims...

          You write:

          Second, his willingness to use force in the past to secure power shows that he is willing to forego the ballot box.

          You are talking about, I take it, the 1992 rebellion by rank-and-file and mid-level Venezuelan military officers to overthrow a dictatorial regime that had, three years prior, massacred 1,000 people in one day on the streets of Caracas for the crime of simply protesting. Chavez was a participant in that rebellion. When it was clear the rebellion wasn't going to succeed in overthrowing the dictatorial regime, Chavez called it off and, in great contrast to the 2002 coup mongers who ran off to Miami and elsewhere to hide, he turned himself in to the authorities, peacefully, without a fight.

          I would call rebelling against a truly dictatorial regime a duty as well as a right, and an act of extreme heroism. But even if you don't share that opinion, you apparently don't believe in redemption or that once someone has "paid his debt to society" it's a clean slate. Chavez turned himself in, went to prison, spent his years behind bars reading books, thinking, writing, and emerged as a free man when a subsequent president pardoned the popular paratrooper.

          And he emerged as a man with a new plan, a plan that worked, to wash out the old corrupt regimes: Authentic Democracy! And he showed you and me and the world how to win fair and square at the ballot box and to mobilize the poor as never before in that effort. Again, would that Kerry be taking notes, November would already be a done deal for the forces of good!

          I think, once again, you put too much credence in the distorted Commercial Media versions of that story. The Commercial Media calls that 1992 rebellion a "coup" attempt. But coup attempts historically come from the military brass or branch of government against the civilian branch. Rebellions by low and midlevel soldiers against their superiors are not "coups," they are mutinies. Mutineer, yes. Coupster, no. You have to stop believing everything you read and consider the sources.

          To the contrary of showing willingness to use excessive force, that 1992 tale showed Chavez's willingness to refrain from using excessive force. You have it bassackwards.

          Finally, you say:

          Third, his attacks on the opposition, both rhetorically and by government action, show not a leader looking to gain consnesus to achieve fundamental change - rather a power grabber willing to punish those in his way.

          Oh, so now "democracy" means "consensus." Whoa, Nellie! I get off the bus there. Because you don't have my consensus that we are operating under consensus, or should try and "achieve consensus," and therefore consensus is blocked.

          Rhetorical attacks are the alternative to physical attacks. Often they are precisely what keep physical violence from occuring. The fact is that the oligarchs have had it coming for decades, even centuries. How lucky for them that he ridicules them rhetorically, and with great humor I might add, diffusing the potential for violence, not stoking it.

          As for your claims that he uses "government action" against his opponents, again, you really must be more specific, with details please. What? Like taking the national education budget away from private religious schools and bringing a renaissance to the public school system? Like streamlining the bloated state oil company which previously spent 80 percent of its profits on bureaucracy, and using those resources instead for health care, for housing, for basic human needs? Awwwww, those poor bureaucrats (who now have to find honest work) and clerics (who now have to take their vows of poverty seriously). I really cry a river for them.

          Chavez is doing everything the Democrats in the United States have always promised to do: Health care, public education, housing, meeting basic human needs, but that the Democrats haven't done since the 1940s! So, you see, suspicion can run both ways. I frankly suspect the sincerity of any self-proclaimed Democrat to favor health care, for example, if he hasn't studied the "missions model" of Chavez's government in Venezuela. And I suspect the Democratic Party's commitment to victory if its leaders haven't studied the political models constructed there.

          So, you see, in my case its not "guilt by association," but, rather, "guilt by cognitive disassociation" that seems much more outcome determinative when looking at leaders and comparing them.

          Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

          by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 07:13:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Come On (none)
            Particularly on Castro - Chavez has embraced him as a brother in arms - a Miami radio station caught him out good on this one - crank called Chavez as Castro and Chavez was FULL of LOVE.

            No reasonable person could doubt Chavez's embrace of Castro - no way no how.

            On 1992, Al, a coup is a coup, no matter how justified you think it is. How come he was able to win an election?  And if he could win an election, why a coup?  No sir your twists and turns are utterly unconvincing.

            On 3 - well if you are arguing that there has been no government action - I just don't think you're right.  You'll believe what you want to believe as will I. Apparently, there can be no objective truth on that point.

            And that is why my main argument is Castro. You quote some diplomatic mumbo jumbo from a Mexican government official - so what?  Who is Cuba's closest ally in the world?  Who is Castro's closest ally in the world?  You know who - Chavez.

            And I repeat - any leader who EMBRACES Castro is suspect.  And not protocol embraces, kindred spirit embraces.  And that is NOT spin. that's the truth.
             

            •  So you're entire argument comes down to... (none)
              ...that he doesn't shun Castro.

              You are so obsessed with Fidel that you are blinded by it.

              You admit as much, here:

              my main argument is Castro. You quote some diplomatic mumbo jumbo from a Mexican government official - so what?  Who is Cuba's closest ally in the world?  Who is Castro's closest ally in the world?  You know who - Chavez.

              And I repeat - any leader who EMBRACES Castro is suspect.  And not protocol embraces, kindred spirit embraces.  And that is NOT spin. that's the truth.

              Well, there are a lot of us who are damn sick and tired of our country's foreign policy in Latin America being dominated by this obsession with Cuba and Fidel.

              To you, there is no good that Chavez does because he plays with a kid that you don't like, so to you he is the devil.

              It's irrational and unmeasured.

              Castro, Castro, Castro, Castro, Castro, Castro, Castro! Cuba, Cuba, Cuba, Cuba, Cuba, Cuba, Cuba!

              Not Guantanamo, but Cuba!

              Sheesh!

              Then you offer us this little gem:

              if you are arguing that there has been no government action - I just don't think you're right.  You'll believe what you want to believe as will I. Apparently, there can be no objective truth on that point.

              The judge would now be threatening you with contempt if you didn't desist in that kind of frivolous claim.

              You made the claim: Show me your evidence! You "just don't think I'm right" but you have not a single fact, not a shred of evidence, to bolster what you "think." And because you have no proof, you then turn to the bench and say, "there can (therefore) be no objective truth on that point."

              Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. We have heard from the prosecutor. He has no evidence. He doesn't even offer a single fact. And then he mocks you by saying that therefore "there can be no objective truth," as if the supposed lack of objective truth is in and of itself an objective truth!

              You have heard, kind jurors, the entire weight of the prosecutor's "case" in this debate. Nothing, absolutely nothing, except that he saw one man "embracing" another man, and therefore he "thinks" that man can do nothing good.

              Well, members of the jury, I shall walk over and embrace poor Armando right now, because I think there is still good in him, despite the clear error of his ways, and, after all, losing this debate doesn't make him a bad person, and that someday he will see the light. But as for this debate, unless someone else wants to come sprinting in and save him, or he wants to start doing some of the kind of heavy lifting the defense for Authentic Democracy has offered to you today... I rest my case.

              Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

              by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 07:44:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What? (none)
                I'm not putting Chavez in jail, hell, I'm against the whole damn referendum, which I view is  a terrible process.  Undermines democracy.

                If Chavez wins he wins.  My evidence of Chavez's POTENTIAL as anti-Democratic is quite sound - he's trued to overthrow elected governments in the past AND his closest ally in the World is the most oppressive dictator in Latin America.

                Most REASONABLE person would think that is a fair basis for eyeing Chavez with suspicion. I know I do.

              •  Also Al (none)
                Consider this - if Chavez is attempting to do all you say, WHY jeopardize that effort by allowing yourself to be so closley associated with the one man who is CERTAIN to raise people's hackles, including in the US?

                It indicates one of two things - SUPREME stupidity, and I don't think him stupid, or a certain comfort with the way Castro does things.

                I'm inclined to the second explanation. Thus my suspicion.
                 

                •  I have a certain comfort... (none)
                  ...with the way that Castro does SOME things.

                  And ain't I a democrat?

                  I have a certain comfort with universal free health care.

                  And ain't I a democrat?

                  I have a certain comfort with a 99% literacy rate (after all, I'm a writer, more readers for me).

                  And ain't I a democrat?

                  I have a certain comfort with a land where anyone who wants to be a doctor can be a doctor if she has the talent for it, regardless of ability to afford medical school... where any musician can be a musician and make his living that way if he has the talent for it... where any kind of person can be any kind of professional he or she wants, without having to pay blackmail higher education fees, if that person has the aptitude for it...

                  And ain't I a democrat?

                  I have a certain comfort with a land that gave refuge to so many friends of mine who were hunted, tortured, had bounties placed on their heads, escaped assassination... in Brazil, in Mexico, in Chile, in Argentina, in Paraguay, in Colombia, in Bolivia, in Peru, in Central America and yes in Venezuela... Cuba took them when no one else would...

                  And ain't I a democrat?

                  I would love to meet Fidel Castro. I would embrace him if I met him. That doesn't mean I would do things as he does them on all counts. I don't, obviously. I have disagreements with the ways he does things. I don't like some of them. I really don't like others. But if some blind person out there wants to hold it against me because I would embrace him, or talk to him on the phone, or seek his experience and advice on a problem, that person can go fuck himself... because he is the one now threatening my freedom... threatening a very basic freedom... the freedom to embrace someone else... the freedom to dialogue... the freedom to speak with whomever I wish to speak.

                  And ain't I a democrat?

                  After all, I am guilty of exactly what you say Chavez is guilty of, and if that is guilt than I am proud of my crime, the crime of association, the crime of being able to learn from the good things someone does even as they do bad things.

                  Your statement above is telling:

                  WHY jeopardize that effort by allowing yourself to be so closley associated with the one man who is CERTAIN to raise people's hackles, including in the US?

                  Who cares whether people's hackles are raised? Especially in the U.S.? Why is the U.S. more important than any other land? Why should it be for someone in another country?

                  Sometimes that is exactly how one gains the support of the masses... by intentionally raising the hackles of the sanctimonious prigs who want to tell you who you can and can't "embrace"?

                  Clinton and Bush both have embraced Saudi Shieks responsible for far greater volumes of violence, repression, death, and attack on human rights than have occured over forty years in Cuba (not counting the U.S. controlled part in Guantanamo where more human rights violations have occured in 14 months than in 40 years on the rest of that island).

                  But you think Clinton is wonderful! You can forgive him for embracing some thug somewhere. But your obsession with Castro blinds you not only from thinking clearly about Venezuela (and the Venezuelan people, I might add) but also about the more fundamental questions we have been discussing here about democracy itself.

                  And this particular form of blindness is shared by the most authoritarian elements inside the United States too! You're embracing their argument for a Cuba-centric foreign policy! Does that mean you are embracing them? It is a slippery slope, isn't it, this "guilt by association" business.

                  It is precisely this kind of irrational overreaction that gives Chavez every incentive to embrace Castro as publicly as possible... to provoke this kind of loud, hyperactive, bile-filled, overreaction from the United States that ensures support from his own people.

                  You don't get it. It's politics. Nothing more. Nothing less. And it's good, smart, politics, which is why the guy has won seven elections in six years and is about win his eighth.

                  And ain't THAT democracy, too?

                  Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

                  by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 08:21:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  With due respect Al (none)
                    Not my kind of Democrat.

                    You know, Mussolini made the trains run on time.

                    I'd rather stop now, because this last post is nothing but pure nonsensical sophistry.

                    Embracing Saudi sheiks why Al?  Oil Al.

                    It's politics you say.  well I don't understand it - seems like idiotic politics to me.  He burnishes his anti-American image by  cozying up to Castro,?  Sorry, that dog won't hunt.  He didn't win by being anti-American, he won by being anti-oligarchy.

                    when did he embrace Castro AL? After WINNING Al.  No sir, you explain it all away all you want, but there is not one shred of sense in what you say.

                    Particulalry If he is trying to effect the type of fundamental change you say he is.

                    Honestly, your arguments are making more convinced that my instincts are right.  Because your explanations are so weak.

                  •  Why is the US more important? (none)
                    Because it IS Al.

                    Your denial of this fact reveals all.

                    •  Bzzzztttt! Approaching red zone on Godwin's Law! (none)
                      Armando writes:

                      You know, Mussolini made the trains run on time.

                      I mean, from an Italian immigrant who fled Mussolini, like Judge Guido Calabresi, there are clearly times to use that one. But it is completely irrational to just throw that out there, out of context, not even by a hair anchored to any statement of fact.

                      Well, at least we know what "your kind of democracy" is based on: fear, irrational fear, and hatred for a scapegoat. (Oops, did I just violate "goatwin's law"? Ha!)

                      It's been fun, Armando, but you haven't risen to the debate. You haven't really debated. I feel disappointed. Yesterday you were promising to give me a real fight. Sniff. You let me down.

                      This is all about your own personal echo chamber of Castrophobia. Your facts have been worse than weak, they have been non-existent. So I do think the "debate" has succeeded at least in demonstrating that when you bandy about a word like "democracy" you have a very fringe view indeed, which by itself would not make it wrong, you could be right and the whole world wrong, but the rest of your pitch leaves it quite hollow.

                      Your closing argument, and I quote, is:

                      Why is the US more important?

                      Because it IS Al.
                      Your denial of this fact reveals all.

                      Okay, I'll bite.

                      Why is, or should be, the U.S. more important to somebody from another land?

                      Oh, and Armando, what is democracy?

                      Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

                      by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 08:51:17 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Bullshit (none)
                        That is my answer to your rationalizing Castro - telling me all the good things he's done.

                        We've been down this road beofre - NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING justifiies tyranny EVER EVER EVER!

                        I heard the same knid of BULLSHIT form people supporting Pinochet and I SAID  the SAME  tHING to Them.

                        Godwin has nothing to do with it.

                        Democracy, Al, Democracy has everything to do with it.

                        Democracy is MY Religion. Above all else. you won't see me EVER justify tyranny with some list of accomplishments EVER.

                        So whose more of a smll d democrat. me or you?

                      •  Al (none)
                        What does it matter what democracy is if you set so little value on it?

                        Until you can defend it with the zeal it deserves, until you can stop your rationalizing in support of dictators, what does it matter how you define democracy?

                        My arguments for what democracy is are well laid out above. And you know it. We have differences on the questions of media control.

                        Our BIG FIGHT, as always, is because I express suspicions regaridng Chavez. For some reason, your emotional attachment to Chavez takes GREAT affront to that.  I'm not emotionallly attached to the position, the guys won, he's the President, he shouldn't be facing this referendum.

                        I see red when I read one more lame defense of the dictator Castro -as if that can excuse tyranny.

                        You see, whatever you make think Castro accomplished, and I'll grant it all, doesn't matter - because he has been a tyrant for 40 years denying DEMOCRACY, the point of this Debate.

                        JUST LIKE Pinochet - do you embrace his accomplishments? Because I have pure contempt for Pinochet and those who defend him.

                        •  You are welcome to your "suspicions" (none)
                          ...it is when you make untrue statements in the name of them, and then have no facts to back them up, that I have countered you.

                          You would never, I repeat, never get away with that in a legal proceeding. I thought we'd be "debating" more according to those standards. I guess I thought wrong.

                          This debating court needs an official judge and jury. Because, Ben is right, it's not a real debate anymore. You're reduced to arguing "my small d is bigger than you're small d" and you end up sounding like that famous SPAM about... well... never mind.

                          Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

                          by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 09:13:25 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  What factual statements (none)
                            What did I make up?

                            I brought up 3 factors - (1) Castro, well we know how that ended - I suggest we agree to disagree - that is not a factual error.

                            (2) The coup attempt - that is NOt a factual error.  You justify it.  I don't think coups can be justified as long as the ballot box is available. As his later victory proved - it was available.

                            (3) government actions.  I punted on that - but, at the least, there are conflicting reports. What misstatements Al?

                            Al, I am a hothead, and if I said something to offend you, I apologize.  But I will NOt be browbeaten into accepting any justification for tyranny and dictatorship - because there is no justification,  And that does not apply to Chavez - who won the votes of the  people and whose Presidency MUST be respected.

                  •  Embracing Castro (none)
                    You write about Castro  -"That doesn't mean I would do things as he does them on all counts. I don't, obviously. I have disagreements with the ways he does things. I don't like some of them. I really don't like others. But if some blind person out there wants to hold it against me because I would embrace him, or talk to him on the phone, or seek his experience and advice on a problem, that person can go fuck himself... because he is the one now threatening my freedom... threatening a very basic freedom... the freedom to embrace someone else... the freedom to dialogue... the freedom to speak with whomever I wish to speak."

                    You have all the freedom in the world to do what you want Al - But I am FREE to hold it against you. And if you did all those things with the brutal dictator Castro - I would absolutely hold it against you.

                    But you see, NOBODY in charge of a government ACTUALLY does that.  Castro has nothing to teach anybody.  He is a colosaal failure.  He is destined for the ash bin of history.

                    And for an "authentic democrat" to believe he has anything to learn from Castro - EXCEPT how to run a police state - then that person is unfit for office. Because he is an idiot.

                    Now tellme you know more about Cuba than I do. Because You don't.

                    •  Let's hear it (none)
                      Armando writes:

                      Now tellme you know more about Cuba than I do. Because You don't.

                      So what is your favorite province of Cuba? What is your favorite cuban food of those available in most towns under the embargo? How many hours from La Habana to Viñales? What theater does Chucho Váldez like to play at best?

                      You just said you know a lot about Cuba. I'm waiting to hear what you know.

                      How do you know that the Cuban universal health care system could not be applied to the United States?

                      How can the United States get its literacy levels up to those in Cuba?

                      Why is Cuba beating all United States institutions in progress on finding treatments for cancer and AIDS?

                      Which country - Cuba or the U.S. - recently prohibited a five year old girl and her mother from the other country a visa to visit her father, a political prisoner, there, against all International Law?

                      Yes, as you say above, Cuba doesn't have oil. But does it have another kind of resource that is in fact very valuable to Venezuela and potentially to other lands? What might that be?

                      We've heard your big boast. Now put your money down and prove it.

                      Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

                      by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 08:59:52 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  Not bad for a 1st round. (none)
    I'm certain, from what I've seen before, that a followup would improve the debate. Please.
    •  Quality of the debate (none)
      You guys were a lot more interesting to read when you were discussing the meaning of Democracy broadly. The Castro round is all canned material. Schedule a fresh round.
      •  You can't hold one debater... (none)
        ...responsible for the other losing his cool, Ben.

        I have offered facts, documentable and verifiable, on every claim I made. Then Armando, in lieu of offering facts or evidence for his claims, and shut down on any that he did make, just sums it all up with one word, "Castro," and now he's twirling like a top, and I'm just throwing the catnip out there because it's fun to watch him flop around.

        I can't control him. I am not responsible for him, just for me. Thanks.

        Participate in the Authentic Journalism renaissance at Narco News

        by Al Giordano on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 09:05:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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