Letters to the Editor: November 1, 2013

West Valley View's picture

We are a Republic


Mr. Azzarello: Thanks for your October 18th letter where you mentioned our nation was founded as a REPUBLIC. For some reason, Progressive leaders keep insisting we are a Democracy.

But I’m also the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.” — President Obama 9/10/13 whitehouse.gov

Because we understand that this democracy is ours.” — President Obama 9/6/12 DNC Speech

And after we won our independence, it was activists who helped establish our democracy.” — Hillary Clinton 7/3/10 state.gov

We must uphold our Founders’ vision of a democracy” — Nancy Pelosi — 5/17/13 democratleader.gov

Our founders were smart and knew that a system where mob rules (a democracy) is bad for our country.

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.” — Thomas Jefferson

Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” — John Adams

...there cannot be found a single instance of any Nation’s enjoying Peace, Liberty, and safety, under a Democracy” — Ben Franklin

Federalists supported the Constitution and anti-Federalists opposed it. Anti-Federalist claimed the territory of the 13 states was too extensive for a representative government.

James Madison insisted that the vastness of the country would itself be a strong argument in favor of a republic. He wrote, “ Extend the size of the republic, and the country would be less vulnerable to separate factions within it.”

Just after the signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman’s inquiry as to the type of government the Founders created, Benjamin Franklin said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Why do our Progressive leaders keep insisting we are a Democracy? Are they trying to resurrect the anti-Federalist party?

Thanks to Gordon Posner, whose comments and questions helped me fine-tune this.

Patrick Orr

Good schools raise home values


In response to Mr. Kouris’s letter of October 22: an independent political committee (Continue the Quality) is responsible for the mail piece he received. CTQ is entirely funded by members of the community who contribute their own money to help us inform voters there is an election and to ask them to vote “Yes.” No tax dollars whatsoever are spent on the campaign.

Sadly, an organized campaign is essential to success these days because many voters do not seem to understand how our public schools are funded: even those who have lived in Arizona for 12 years.

School funding in Arizona is complex; unfortunately, all most voters see is the part that allows local schools to raise funds directly from their local communities. For decades, this was limited to 10% of the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) portion of the funds allocated by the Arizona Legislature. When the state cut overall public school funding by 22% between 2008-2012, they allowed schools to increase that to 15%, with voter approval.

The reason you see these elections so often is because the Arizona Legislature also requires schools to go back to voters every 4-5 years and ask, again and again and again, for exactly the same funds. For instance, Litchfield ESD is just asking to renew funding that was last approved in 2008. A “Yes” vote for LESD will not change your taxes.

Bond elections are essential because despite old agreements that the state would fund all school construction projects, the state eliminated all funding for new schools or repairs for old schools more than 5 years ago.

Quality schools help attract new growth and enhance property values. If you care about living in a vibrant and highly desired part of town, support the schools that make this type of community possible.

Angela Cotera

Unacceptable is right!


I just finished listening to Obama’s Rose Garden speech on his personal propaganda department, NBC News. As usual the president was surrounded by smiling Americans who applaud at his every statement. Sort of like rats following the Pied Piper over the pier into the murky waters below that will devour them. I think I just described this long winded, self centered Presidents health care policy in a nut shell.

That is, if the rest of the Obamacare system runs like the website which the president just described as unacceptable. What he failed to mention was that this FAILED website has already cost the American taxpayer 400 million dollars. Imagine that. If thats any indication of what’s to come, we better get ready for a real train wreck. But hold on, the story gets better.

Now we find out that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathlenn Sebelius, who was in charge of implementing this website into use, refuses to testify at a congressional hearing to explain the problems Americans are encountering trying to access this website and how this 400 million dollars was SQUANDERED. I know, lets change the name from WEB-site to DEBT-site!!!

I urge all Americans to BOYCOTT Obamacare until every American citizen has a chance to vote on its passage just like a presidential election. Instead of having it forced down our throats by an American congress which all Americans agree is DYSFUNCTIONAL at best.

In closing did anyone notice Mr Obama’s nose growing during his press conference like PINOCCHIO’S.

Jim McLaughlin

There is a difference


Is there a difference? …

Media chatter is all about Hillary Clinton’s “first campaign appearances,” — starting with her speech in support of Terry McAuliff this past weekend.

I listened to that speech, and took away from it something larger and more important than just passion for someone seeking high office. In praise of Mr. McAuliff, there was the to-be-expected talk of his political background, his education and competence, etc. But prominent in either Clinton’s direct words, or simply impressions given as she talked about the the man personally, were traits such as humility, generosity of spirit, empathy for the less fortunate, and more. In contrast, supporters of Republican candidates seem mostly to tout their backgrounds fighting for lower taxes and smaller government. Basic concern for humankind? Not so much.

Yes, Virginia, There IS a difference.

Steve Berliner

Obama’s faulty foreign policy


Obama has angered Germany, UK, France, the European Union, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Mexico but he makes nice with Iran, Syria, and Russia. What does that tell us about his foreign policy? It is upside down. Joe Biden must be giving him advice.

Ed Goettl

Vote ‘no’ on overrides


Please vote “NO” on school overrides!

The shiny signs and brochures asking us to approve school overrides are on display again.

The same tired half truths are paraded by the same tax and spend liberal forces.

We are warned again of dire consequences if we don’t continue to approve over spending by local schools.

We are told “Our taxes will not be increased by approving the overrides.”

I urge all of us to look at just a few things:

1. Over 70% of our property taxes already go to the schools. Enough is never enough for the proponents of these taxes.

2. The schools have had the funds to build several new, multi-million dollar, gymnasiums in the West Valley. Why was this money not spent on avoiding the “dire consequences” rather than unnecessary infrastructure?

3. Overrides are meant to be used as an emergency mechanism to provide extra funding for a limited period of time. That’s why they are called “overrides.” They expire for a reason.

4. Our schools have become “addicted” to the extra money provided by the overrides.

5. Our property taxes will “DECREASE” if we vote down these over rides. Call your mayor and verify the truth of this statement.

Please vote No! You deserve to choose where your hard earned money is spent.

James P. Mayfield

Sen. Ted Cruz is a liar


The recent government shutdown put Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) in the spotlight. He seemed to welcome the publicity even though it exposed him as a dangerous fool at best and a self-serving anarchist at worst. Case in point: his attacks on the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare”.

A check of sites such as Politifact and FactCheck shows 25 Cruz statements researched. He is rated True/Mostly True on 4, Half True on 4, and False/Mostly False on 17. That suggests he lies or distorts the truth about 75% of the time. Some examples: (1) Congress was given an exemption from the ACA = False. (2) Obamacare will cost nearly twice what was expected = False. (3) Health care premiums are going up for virtually everyone = False. (4) More people are being put on part-time work status because of the ACA = False. (5) 15,000 UPS workers’ spouses will be without health insurance due to Obamacare = False.

Sen. Cruz does not speak for “the American people” who are concerned with federal spending. In fact, the shutdown he wanted cost American taxpayers $24 billion. The CBO anticipates future Medicare/Medicaid costs to be lower under the ACA than the current structure. The deficit has gone down the last two years and the stock market has gone way up. No, Cruz represents far-right zealots who oppose government in general, and he is the front man for wealthy investors who are making millions off our expensive and inefficient health care system.

I went on HealthCare.gov easily last night. A plan that cost my wife and me $1,100 eight years ago now costs $560. And Arizona has 119 plans offered by many private insurance companies. None are “government plans”. Cruz is wrong again.

John Flynn

Litchfield will be overcrowded


I would like to enlighten individuals such as Bob Musselwhite whose editorial letter appeared in October 25th’s View regarding Litchfield Park’s development. The people of Litchfield Park need to understand that the land around Litchfield’s “downtown,” including the area around the city hall, is not owned by the city. Most is owned by the previous owner of the Wigwam. There is a small area that is owned by a Phoenix politician. That dirt is privately owned and cannot be developed unless the city purchases it, or a company, like JDM, which currently owns the Wigwam, steps in and buys it. Neither option is likely.

When the words “developing Litchfield” are used, it is in reference to two main areas: the Blue/Patriot golf course and the land located on the northwest corner of Litchfield Road and Wigwam extending north toward the Red/Heritage course. JDM’s plan is to add an additional 300-400 rooms to the Wigwam. The driving range will be moved and the lake on the course will be eliminated so “residential units” can be built.

The corner of Litchfield and Wigwam is planned for retail businesses. The walkway that is nearing completion under Litchfield Road was built to accommodate people wishing to frequent those future shops. The land north of Village Parkway is to be developed as high density housing, 600 units. That is 600 apartments, condos, townhouses, with some single family homes along the edge of the Red/Heritage course.

Residents of Litchfield Park, “developing” Litchfield is not simply adding a few new restaurants across the street from the Wigwam. It means astronomical traffic compared to now. It means our school system will be overcrowded and underfunded. Litchfield, will become an extremely crowded city with a large number of nonresidents. Do you want that?

Vickilyn Alvey
Litchfield Park

We welcome development


In response to a previous editorial letter, I want to voice my family’s opinion regarding the planned development by JDM Partners at Wigwam and Litchfield.

As residents of Litchfield Park for 10 years, and soon-to-be residents of The Village at Litchfield Park, we are looking forward to a place to be proud of, a place we’re excited to show our guests when they visit from out of town, or from across the valley. We don’t want to be considered the people on the “West Side,” as if it was a negative thing. If we can put Litchfield Park on the map with an attractive and appealing development similar to Kierland Commons, we say, “Start digging now!”

Naturally, LP can still be the “urban oasis” with green parks and friendly neighbors, but now with an identity and a place to go with things to do. Our children would love a yogurt shop, market, and/or restaurant to ride our bikes to as a family for a pleasant afternoon or evening together, right in our own backyard…not down by I-10, or up in Arrowhead, or waiting forever for Estrella Falls on McDowell.

As for the re-development of the Wigwam, I’ve never heard anyone say they were not impressed. JDM Partners has taken every effort to preserve and beautify the history with hundreds of historic photos throughout the resort and even redesigning the lobby entrance to be more like it was originally. I give them kudos for a job well done; and my family can’t wait until the developers (whom I know to have the highest integrity, not only from personal experience, but from their track record) can start building. Clear the hurdles and let them get shovels in the ground today!

Sean Currie
Litchfield Park

Vote in Marilyn Vollmer


Please take the time to write in Marilyn Vollmer on the Sundance Residential Board voting ballot. Marilyn has done a great job in the past as a board member. Volunteers like Marilyn that attend all the meetings and have an interest in the community are hard to find.

Don Bishop

On judicial review


My, so much “conservative” nonsense to deal with. But we’re limited to one letter every week (or so), and a mere 300 words, so let’s start with the most important. Various writers have denounced the idea that Supreme Court decisions, and interpretations of the Law, are binding. What they are denying is a very basic concept of our system of government, and Constitution, known as Judicial Review.

This concept wasn’t dreamed up by the courts. It was expected and endorsed by both supporters and opponents of the Constitution. In the Federalist Papers (a statement of the “original intent” of the Founders) Alexander Hamilton (no flaming “progressive”) said it was necessary to guarantee a limited government:

Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through . . . the courts of justice; whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the . . . constitution void. Without this, all . . . rights or privileges would amount to nothing.

The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges as, a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning . . . .” (Number 78, emphasis added.)

The courts, not the Congress, not the President (and certainly not people writing letters to the editor) decide the question of what is or is not constitutional. There could be no clearer expression of the “original intent” for judges to have such power.

There is much more I could add, but lack of space here requires I provide it in an on-line Comment accompanying this letter. But, for anyone who doesn’t want to wallow in ignorance, Federalist Paper Number 78 is a start.

Gordon P.R. Posner

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Gordon, I'll put my track record next to yours any day you'd like. Thanks and Happy Hanukah to you!

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Judy:

   Coming from someone who's track record in "accuracy" leaves much to be desired, I'd call that chutzpah!  Plus, I'd caution skepticism before accepting the hyperbole that floods the media and the Internet.

  Of course, given how hyperbolic Mr. Compton tends to be, you can be forgiven for a hypbolic response.

   Hope you have a Happy Hanukah on November 28th!



Continuing from the Oct. 25 page...

Mr. Compton,

You said, "Your Precious President 'W' incurred most of the $6 Trillion with an illegal war on the nation's credit card in Iraq."

True or not, it appears we're going to increase our spending limit (to continue that "illegal war") at YOUR Precious President O-you-can't-believe-a-word-I-say's call.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. McLaughlin:

   Let's apply facts and reason to other parts of your letter, using the simplest form of Logic - the syllogism.

Premise One: A person who gets their facts wrong doesn't know what they're talking about.

Premise Two: You claimed Ms. Sebelius "refuses to testify at a congressional hearing" to explain the problems with the "Obamacare" website.

Premise Three: In fact, she did testify! (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2013/1030/Obamacare-on-trial-You...)

CONCLUSION: You don't know what you're talking about.

   In less rigorous fashion, it's easy to see what's wrong with the rest of your diatribe about that website.  Yes, the site is a mess, and a great embarrassment.  But it's hardly the "failure" you scream about (see Mr. Flynn's letter about that), nor does it "prove" that "Obamacare" is (or will be) "a real train wreck".  Tell me, sir, have you ever heard of Windows NT, 2000, or Vista?  They were disasters when first sold, but we didn't shut down Microsoft because of it, or declare the computer industry a failure (the money spent on it wasted).  No, the programs were revised, reformed, and improved, and we got Windows XP, 7 and 8.

   And have you ever considered the waste produced by our military, or the "train wrecks" produced by our criminal justice system (where hundreds of people were wrongly convicted of murder, not to mention numerous other problems).  Why aren't you calling for elimination of all that?

   Funny, too, how you can complain so loudly about the millions spent to design a mere website, but ignore the billions Senator Cruz and the Republi-Cons are estimated to have cost this nation with their shutdown stunt.

   Why the double standard, sir?  Why do you demand instant perfection of programs you oppose, but are willing to tolerate all manor of waste, fraud, abuse, and injustice in things (the military, criminal law) that you support? CONCLUSION: sheer, mindless, partisan and ideological hypocrisy!

   Finally, I suggest you consider one fact before laying blame for the poor opinion of Congress (not that polls are worth regarding as oracles): its standing (never high to start with) has been going down ever since the Republicans took control of the House.  And its ratings, along with their own, plummeted during that same shutdown stunt.  Perhaps "all Americans agree" the Congress is DYSFUNCTIONAL because there are too many Republi-Cons in it!

porr000's picture

Some 10 million Americans are going to lose their health insurance as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act.

On June 15, 2009, Obama said, in one of hundreds of similar statements, “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Kindly explain how what you wrote relates in any way to what I posted?  (Aside from the fact that both involve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - a.k.a. "Obamacare")?  Neither I nor Mr. McLaughlin discussed any of that, so how does your Comment constitute a "reply"?

   As for "bull", I'd say that describes the article you linked to perfectly.  In the first place, note the date of the promise it attacks Obama for making (and allegedly breaking): June 15, 2009.  Sorry to break it to you, but at that point the Patient Protection Act didn't even exist!  There were, instead, a number of proposals, some of which had been introduced in Congress, but none of which had even been voted on yet.

   (You do realize Presidents can't pass statutes by decree.  There's a little thing called the legislative process which comes first.)

   Now, this wasn't the first time he'd made a "promise" about what he intended to do, which it turned out he couldn't.  Nor is it the first time any President has done that.  (Remember Bush's promises to be "a uniter, not a divider", and to pursue "a humble foreign policy".)

   As for those 10 million Americans you speak of, I'd like to see some proof for that figure, as well as full details about their "plight".  I've already supplied this before, but let me give you links to various reports which (at the least) caution skepticism before accepting those hyperbolic charges.








  But in reviewing this remember one pertinent fact the critics are ignoring.  "Obamacare" only "grandfathered" plans created prior to its existence.  Insurers who offered plans after that date knowing they didn't meet the new standards, also knew those plans would have to end!  So, who's fault is this really?  The government's or those insurers?  I prefer to wait until all the facts are in before forming an "opinion".

See: http://www.bcbsm.com/content/microsites/health-care-reform/en/reform-ale...

P.S. - I received one of those "your insurance plan won't continue" letters. But instead of panicking, I'm investigating what the Exchanges (created by "Obamacare") will offer.  It looks like I'll be able to get an even better plan, at $100/month less!  There's even one offered by my present insurer.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. McLaughlin:

    Don't let Roy Azzarello or Mr. Orr read your letter.  Calling for a vote on the passage of "Obamacare" by "every American citizen" is precisely an example of direct and pure democracy they'll denounce you as a "Progressive for advocating!

   This, of course, demonstrates the need for facts and reason in forming opinions, along with the need to know the proper definition of words.  Ignoring those things, and only looking at the surface, creates all kinds of confusion.  For example, is Mr. McLaughlin a good "conservative", or actually one of those dreaded "Progressives"?

   Since he opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (to use its legal name), despises the President, and compares the majority of Americans who voted for Obama to rats, we should consider him a good "conservative".

   But if you believe that democracies and republics are complete opposites, that the latter is not simply one version of the former (never mind what dictionaries, or the Founders, actually say), and you believe that government by the majority is mere "mob rule", then he's definitely a "Progressive"!

   Of course, this isn't the first time "conservatives" have abandoned their "principles" when convenient (often without even knowing they're doing so).  Pure democracy (which the Founders disliked) consists of the direct rule by the people.  A prime example are public referendums (such as McLaughlin is calling for), where the people directly vote on the laws that will govern, instead of electing representatives to do it.  (That's the one true distinction between pure democracy and a republic - which is merely a form of representative democracy).  Thus, opposing such referendums would be very "conservative".

   Furthermore, since our Constitution provides no mechanism for such a direct vote on our laws, Mr. McLaughlin also "gives the lie" to the "conservative" claim that they "respect the Constitution", and the founding principles of this nation.  A trait he shares with others who call themselves "conservatives".

   Look around the country, or even here in Arizona.  Whether the issue is abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration, or taxation, time and again "conservatives" resort to a public referendum to impose their will on everyone!  It gets worse.  Since for a referendum to pass only requires a majority vote of those who bother to come to the polls, all that's really required is that more people come out for it rather than against.  What the rest of the public thinks doesn't matter.  Talk about "mob rule"!  The side which produces the biggest "mob" wins.  Funny, then, how often "conservatives" favor such a "Progressive" approach.

   By the way, that last sentence isn't just a bit of empty rhetoric.  Arizona was founded, it's constitution written, by members of the original Progressive movement, and of the actual Progressive Party (also known as the "Bull Moose Party", founded by Teddy Roosevelt for disaffected liberal and moderate Republicans dismayed by the conservative turn President Taft was taking their party on).  They were the ones who gave us the process for legislation by direct public initiatives and referendums.  Thus, that's something which can truly be called Progressive!

   So, what are we to make of people like Mr. Mclaughlin, who vote Republican, endorse the Tea Party movement, oppose the President, and anything else they perceive (rightly or wrongly) as being "progressive", yet are quite willing to use direct democracy to achieve their ends?  Perhaps we need a new label to throw around: "Progressive conservatives"!

porr000's picture

This quote is properly attributed to John Adams (not to Samuel Adams) on the official John Adams website.


Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Been there, done that.


   (I'm assuming you accidently hit the "Save" button twice.  It happens.)

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Goettl:

  Not that I agree with the rest of the drivel you wrote, but I have to ask about one part.  Kindly explain how Obama is "making nice" with Syria?  I'm sure Assad doesn't think so!

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   In our prior exchange on this topic (October 18th issue), you and Roy sneered at the notion of majority rule, which you obviously equate with "mob rule".  Sorry to disillusion you, but the Founders didn't agree.  (Okay, I'm not "sorry" at all.)

   Aside from what I wrote above (and on that other occasion), there are a few other quotes from The Federalist Papers you should chew on.  In Number 22 (page 142), Alexander Hamiliton speaks of:

that fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.

   Next, in Number 58, Madison "chimes in" on the subject (page 359), objecting to the idea of requiring super-majorities (thus allowing a minority to block action - as with the filibuster).  Why?

the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would no longer be the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority.

   Oh dear, Hamiliton and Madison support the basic principle of democracy: "mob rule" (I mean majority rule).

   Finally, to return to a point made in my other Comment, you should take a look at Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution, which provides that "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government".  Note the word I emphasized: the guarantee is to the republican form, which implies there are many different forms a republic can take.  How do you imagine Madison interprets and explains that provision?  The answer is in Federalist Paper Number 43 (age 271):

In a confederacy founded on republican principles, and composed of republican members, the superintending government ought to clearly possess the authority to defend the system against aristocratic or monarchial innovations.

   Gee, I guess he forgot to add "against democratic mob rule"!  Or, maybe, like Franklin, he thought those were the only things a republic should be contrasted with.


porr000's picture

Government under the Articles of Confederation had problems due in part to mob rule.  

Federalist 10 - Complaints are everywhere heard...that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interest and overbearing majority. (MOB RULE) 

I call it mob rule, Publius calls it a faction.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of intere, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interest of the community.

Mob rule is essentially tyranny (not just a majority rule), and the propensity toward tyranny is within every person. The founders recognized this problem with not only the current form of government they had under the Articles of Confederation, but also in all the governments that came before them.  

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.  

People are flawed, in other words.  Legislators are flawed.  LAWYERS are flawed =P  Therefore restraints are needed to protect the liberty of the people.

Since majority factions (MOB RULE) can dominate easily and since democracies are succeptible to the passions of the people, a republican answer was sought.  Therefore Publius concluded that by making a large republic, it would be difficult for any one faction to dominate.

Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic.



Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   You can call it "tiddlywinks" for all I care.  What matters in this case isn't what you call it, but what Madison (and by extension Hamilton and Jay - who collectively are "Publius") calls it.  And as the second quote you employ demonstrates (which I used earlier), a faction can consist of a tyranny of the minority as much as a majority.  That's not what's usually meant by "mob rule".  (It's certainly not what was meant by the bogus "Jefferson quote" you used in your original tirade.)

   And the rest of what you wrote deliberately evades and avoids what Madison wrote, thus creating a diversion to suit your purposes.  Once again you completely ignore Madison's own definition of the term "democracy", the very one I previously supplied you with.

a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and adminster the government in person,

   Is the U.S. a pure democracy?  Of course not.  Is it, instead, a representative democracy?  Absolutely.  Ignoring Madison's own words (as you keep doing), and taking what he writes out-of-context (as you keep doing) is simply dishonest!  Knock it off, if you hope to have the least chance of convincing me.

porr000's picture

Looks like I am not the only one who feels this way...



Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   I prefer to rely on the actual words of the Founders, not on the words of a poser, like Mr. Peterson.  Just because you found someone who put the initials "Ph.D." next to her name (in what subject, I wonder) who also spews the same sophistry as you do, doesn't lend your arguments any greater weight.  It simply proves you're not the only one who doesn't know what he's talking about!

   By the way, it turns out Ms. Peterson's field of "expertise" is behavioral science research methodology, and statistics, not law or political science.  She also thinks NAFTA (and similar treaties) are all part of a sinister conspiracy to turn North America into "a totalitarian police state"!

Source: http://www.stopthenorthamericanunion.com/AuthorBio.html

   Might I suggest that before you rely on her "opinion", you invest in a tin-foil hat!

Gordon Posner's picture


Oops, that should have been Ms. Peterson in the first sentence, of course.

porr000's picture

I have been reading and enjoying some of the Federalist papers and supporting texts/websites .

They do discuss some problems with a majority rule system of government when they were constructing the Constitution.

I can get into that later but felt this was a diversion from the point of my opinion, which you have completely avoided - or try to write off as merely a dichotomy that doesn't exist.

I'll get into that in greater detail when I can sit at a computer instead of researching and typing on a little cell phone.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   The only one engaging in diversion (or as I prefer to call it "evasion and avoidance") is you, sir.  I've addressed your points "head on".  Your argument is mere sophistry, based on a supposed dichotomy between the term democracy and the term republic which doesn't exist.  Since a republic is one form a democracy can take, your entire argument collapses.

   It's a little like saying that because the Legislative branch of our Federal government is called the Congress, and that of Great Britain is called Parliament, we can't say either government has a legislature!  It's complete nonsense, and a torturing of logic, reason, the facts, and the English Language.

   And since the basic principle of democratic government is majority rule, that discusison in The Federalist Papers is highly important.  Pay particular attention to where they discuss departures from that principle (such as the super-majority vote required to ratify treaties, not to mention for amending the Constitution itself).

   What you call "diversion" (or a "tangent") is simply my attempt to force you to apply your "principles" and arguments consistently, instead of using them on an ad hoc basis whenever it suits your immediate purposes, while ignoring them when it does not.  After all, for something to truly be principled it must be employed in a consistent fashion, if not universally!

porr000's picture

I sneered at majority rule? No, I did not.

Can you provide me the comment in which you interpreted as me sneered at the notion of majority rule?

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Why bother going back in time, consider the meaning of that bogus Jefferson quote you relied on. 

Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.

   Correct me if I'm wrong about this, but isn't 51% a majority, and doesn't the phrase "mob rule" constitute a sneer?

   Meanwhile, nice try evading and avoiding the point!

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   I see you've learned nothing from Mr. Moore - that is: that you shouldn't go using quotes you haven't confirmed, especially in support of a topic you know nothing about!

   Sorry, sir, but according to the historians at Monticello (the museum of Jefferson's home) that quote is spurious.  There's no evidence he ever said or wrote such a thing, and the earliest known appearance in print was in 2004!  (I may be mistaken, but I believe he was long dead by then.)

Source: http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/democracy-nothing-more-mob-rule

   The John Adams quote has similar problems.  It appears in various forms on the Internet, and one site attributes it to both John and Samuel Adams.  (Who plagarized from whom I wonder?)

Source: http://www.iwise.com/WLpJt

   But the real problem with quoting Adams is that he was a most inconsistent thinker.  In one sentence he could proclaim the world would be better off without religion, and in the next that the world would be Hell without it! (Letter to Jefferson, April 19, 1817)

   So, what did he think of republics?  Well, it depends.  On at least one occasion he praised the Roman monarchy as superior to the republic that replaced it!

. . . Rome was never so well governed or so happy. As soon as the monarchy was abolished, and an ambitious republic of haughty, aspiring aristocratics was erected, they were seized with the ambition of conquest, and became a torment to themselves and the world.

Source: A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, printed at page 50 of Volume 6 of The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States (edited by Charles Francis Adams, Charles C. Little and James Brown, publishers, Boston, 1851) copy obtainable at http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2104.

   Clearly, then, Adams was skeptical (to say the least) of the supposed 'inherent superiority' of republics!  It's also worth noting, as a search of that volume will demonstate, that Adams distinguished between a simple democracy, and a representative democracy - also known as a republic.  That's a distinction you deliberately ignore in your campaign of sophistry.  Indeed, Adams may even have had people like you in mind when he wrote (on page 56):

There is an extravagance in many popular writers in favor of republican governments, which injures much oftener than it serves the cause of liberty.

   No, I wouldn't rely too much on John Adams, if I were you.  He notes (on page 148) of the "longevity" of such forms of government during the Middle Ages, in words strangely similar to those you rely on:

During this term, republics without number arose in Italy; whirled upon their axles or single centres; foamed, raged, and burst, like so many waterspouts upon the ocean. They were all alike ill constituted; all alike miserable; and all ended in similar disgrace and despotism.

   Indeed, Adams goes on to make the very point I have made, that it is the existence of our Constitution which preserves liberty, not the republican form our democracy takes (page 149).

The best republics will be virtuous, and have been so; but we may hazard a conjecture, that the virtues have been the effect of the well ordered constitution, rather than the cause.

   Turning to your Franklin "quote", all I can say is that I haven't "found a single instance of" him actually saying or writing that.  Very odd, given how the Internet is a "treasure trove" of quotations attributed to the Founders.  (Usually falsely!)  Perhaps you can tell us where you found it (the reference source), and where it supposedly comes from (the original source)?

   You're on firmer ground with your Madison quote, but not by much.  In the first place you got the quote wrong (though as a paraphrase of his words it's not bad - so that's an improvment).  The problem is that you ignored the critical question of context, and what else he might have said on the subject.  The answer can be found by knowing the source of those words: The Federalist Papers, number 10.

   (There are so many versions of that work, I trust you'll forgive me if I use the paperback edition I have beside me as I write, published by Signet Classic in 2003.  You can look for an on-line copy if you like, though the pagination will differ.)

   In that paper Madison is discussing why binding the States into a more powerful Union than existed under the Articles of Confederation is a good idea.  He focuses on how this will tend to "break and control the violence of faction" (page 71).  He wasn't (as you appear to believe) simply concerned about "mob rule", but stated (page 72):

By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion or interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

   Hmm, sounds a little like the Tea Party to me, but it's clear that factions can constitute minority rule, not just "mob rule".

   Having stated the problem, he then considers various ways to avoid, diminsh, or guard against it.  And here he supplies a most important definition, one which must be borne in mind whenever considering what the Federalist Papers have to say on the subject of democracy, for this (page 76) is indeed the first time the word appears in the entire work!

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.

   Do those words sound familiar?  They should.  They are, essentially, one of the dictionary definitions for that word I previously supplied you with (and you sneered at).  Remember? (http://www.westvalleyview.com/comment/312#comment-312)  Yet here is Madison using that same definition, and using it, not for democracies in general, but for just one form of a democracy: the pure democracy.

   It is precisely because such direct rule by the people (as is found in a pure democracy) is only practicable in small numbers, and over a small area, that it is not only vulnerable to factionalism, but would also not work for a territory as large as the U.S. encompassed (even in 1787).  That, alone, mandates the use of a republic, which is defined by Madison as "a government in which the scheme of representation takes place".  That, of course, is consistent with the dictionary definition I previously supplied.  Pure democracy is direct democracy.  Representative democracy is known as a republic!

   You may take refuge in "word games", and quotes (many possibly bogus) taken out of context, but Madison's definitions control what he wrote, and they're closer to mine than yours.

   And the larger territory a represenative government may embrace, in contrast to a direct one, is the reason for the words you paraphrased.  Madison begins the paragraph they appear in (on page 78) thus:

The other point of difference is the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter.

   He then continues:

The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; . . . and . . . the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; . . . .

   That, then, is the "magic" of republics (representative democracy) over pure democracy: that by allowing for greater conflicting interests you lessen (but do not eliminate) the formation of a faction able to override all others.  On the other hand, of course, should such a faction arise, since it must be composed of "a majority of the whole", that means the "mob rule" in a republic will be greater than in a "smaller" democracy!  You take Madison's words out-of-context at the peril of your shrinking credibility, sir.

   Which brings us to your final quotation.  You left out part of the story.  Franklin was answering a question a woman asked him as he left the Constitutional Convention (which had just completed drafting the document).  According to the anecdote, the question was:

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

   To which, of course, Doctor Franklin was said to have replied:

 “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Source: http://www.bartleby.com/73/1593.html

   Kinda puts things in a different light, doesn't it?  The contrast isn't with democracy (pure or any other kind), but but between a monarchy and a republic.

   By the way, if you bother to read The Federalist Papers (or history), you'll know that the Anti-Federalists weren't fans of pure democracy either.  They also weren't fans of the more powerful Union the Constitution would create.  They actually preferred dividing the nation up into several smaller confederacies of States (say the New England "confederacy", the Mid-Atlantic "confederacy", the Southern "confederacy").  They preferred to have a weak Federal government, and a loose alliance of the States.  (Sound like anyone we know today?)  Oh, and Patrick Henry was a leading Anti-Federalist.

   There's more to making an argument than stringing together a loose collection of quotes (some of them dubious).  No matter how often that lesson is repeated you seem incapable of learning it.  Perhaps you're just tone deaf!

P.S. - And here's one more "internet quote" for you to consider.  I freely admit it's of dubious parentage - which is the whole point.

The problem with the Internet is that you can't always validate the quotes which appear there. - Abraham Lincoln

porr000's picture

From the founding of our Constitution,everyone from the Founders, early Americans, and foreign leaders have called our country a Republic - that is until the recent resurgence of the progressive movement under Obama.  

Many have discussed our democratic process, or made reference to our democracy, but not used the word Democracy in replacement for the name of our country - until recent times.  If you google "Constitutional Democracy", you will find a lot of hits.  If you scroll down to the bottom of page on them, you will find the majority of their copyright dates are newer than 2009. There has been a surge of these types of websites since Obama has been in office.

Why is there all of a sudden a shift away from calling our country a Republic to calling it a Democracy by progressives? That is the main question and theme of my entire opinion.

While I understand you would rather argue semantics because it is fun, and take great pleasure in discrediting parts, it is all very distractive from the main question.  

Some more links below for your reading pleasure:  

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 18 October 1780
The present crisis of our affairs appears to me so serious as to call upon me as a good Citizen, to offer my sentiments freely for the safety of the REPUBLIC.
From George Washington to John Hanson, 27 December 1781
Humanity and policy point out the necessity of administring to the present pressing wants of a Number of the most valuable subjects of the REPUBLIC...

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 12 August 1786

Ever since I have been out of Congress I have been inculcating on our assembly a confidence in the equal attention of Congress to the rights and interests of every part of the REPUBLIC and on the western members in particular...

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 24 January 1814
shall we build an altar to the old paper money of the revolution, which ruined individuals but saved the REPUBLIC, and burn on that all the bank charters present and future, and their notes with them? for these are to ruin both REPUBLIC and individuals.
From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, 20 December 1798
yet should any thing unexpected embarras them I must just give you the Consular commission ‘to see that the REPUBLIC recieves no damage.
From Alexander Hamilton to James Duane, [3 September 1780]
The manner in which Congress was appointed would warrant, and the public good required, that they should have considered themselves as vested with full power to preserve the REPUBLIC from harm. 
From Alexander Hamilton to Marquis de Barbé-Marbois, [7 February 1781]
The late disturbances in the army, and disquietudes in the state of New York which are with difficulty diverted, show that the REPUBLIC is sick and wants powerful remedies. 
To James Madison from John Quincy Adams, 7 January 1811
it has allowed every arrangement of a domestic nature which decency requires, and which from the representative of a frugal REPUBLIC, ought to be expected
From Robert R. Livingston to Thomas Jefferson , 4 June 1800
I sincerly congratulate you upon the returning good sense of our Countrymen. I am almost asshamed to own that I began to dispair of the REPUBLIC,

From the Marquise de Lafayette to George Washington , 8 October 1792

I would ask of them, through you, an Envoy who shall go to reclaim him in the name of the REPUBLIC of the U.S. wheresoever he may be retained



Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Given your "track record" with quotations (two of them were bogus, or at least misattributed, the rest were either taken out-of-context or your use of them is contradicted by other things their authors said), forgive me if I don't take the time right now to review your latest exercise in destroying fact, reason, history, and the English language.  I may get back to you on this later (though I suspect some of it will find response in the letter I'm busy composing in reply to your latest missive).

   However, if you want proof that recognizing a republic is a form of democracy isn't some "recent" invention, I suggest you go back to the Oct. 18th issue and note the publication date of the dictionary I got my definitions from.  It was 1967, a mere six years after the President was born (in Hawaii).   I doubt he had much to do with that!

   You will also find similar definitions in the Revised Fourth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary (the standard reference work for the legal profession), which was published in 1968.

  By the way, if you'd like a more recent reference (but still before Obama's presidency), you should know that the venerable (and decidely "conservative" Virginia Military Institute) states its mission as:

to produce educated and honorable men, prepared for the varied work of civil life, imbued with love of learning, confident in the functions and attitudes of leadership, possessing a high sense of public service, advocates of the American democracy and free enterprise system, and ready as citizen soldiers to defend their country in time of national peril.

- Mission Study Committee of the VMI Board of Visitors, Report, May 16, 1986, quoted in United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) - also before Obama's time, but getting closer.

   Or consider the decision in Bush v. Vera, 517 U.S. 952 (1996), where Justice O'Connor (surely no flaming "Progressive") refers to "our system of representative democracy"!

   Going back further in time (1944) we find the Modern Library publication The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Random House) referring to the "democratic principles" contained in his First Inaugural Address (page 291).

   Better yet (since you like quotes from Jefferson) turn to page 529, where you will find an excerpt from his Letter to James Madison (December 28, 1794).  He is discussing the democratic societies (which he and Madison were encouraging), proclaiming that their:

. . . avowed object is the nourishment of the republican principles of our Constitution, . . . .

   Good golly, miss Molly, how could a democratic society possibly nourish republican principles if the two are in opposition to each other?  It's like saying the Confederate States had the "avowed object" of abolishing Slavery!

   (They didn't.)

   Finally, let's not forget the title of one of the most famous and respected books about our nation ever written: Democracy In America.  That was written in 1838.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that "slightly" before Obama's time?

   Give it up, sir.  Not only are you engaging in sophistry and word games, but you're very bad it!

porr000's picture

 I said:

 Many have discussed our democratic process, or made reference to our democracy, but not used the word Democracy in replacement for the name of our country - until recent times. 

Another example of this would be:

"The Bible is the rock on which this Republic rests." - Andrew Jackson

"...this Republic" refers to the United States Of America  


All of your quotes above describe the process or refer to democracy, but none use the word Democracy in replacement for the name of our country like the exerpts from the writings I linked above where REPUBLICAN was used as the replacement for the name of our country.

You keep arguing the definition of the words as if I do not believe you or I think you are wrong.  That is not what I am doing.  I am discussing the usage of them, which you refuse to do. You are completely avoiding the point of what the Progressive leadership in this country is doing.

There is nothing further to say if you are going to do that - I am not into arguing for arguement's sake with someone who changes the topic as fast as his fingers can type.  My time is much better suited writing my next opinion on Democracy and Socialism in America. 

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   You are now the living incarnation of the defintion of insanity, you keep repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result!

   In the process you evade and avoid what I've written, instead of addressing it head on (as, in contrast, I usually do with your inanities).  So forgive me if I'm brief this time.  (Well, brief for me.)

   I've already told you one little problem with relying on Andrew Jackson, but let me give another.  In a Comment to the November 12th issue I noted that the second great political party in our nation's history (the Democratic - Republican Party) later had its name shortened to the Democratic Party, and that's the same party which exists today.  Guess which President (and party candidate) was responsible for the change?  Andrew Jackson!

   And the quotes I employed equate democracy with our republic, indicating that the words are almost synonymous. (I say "almost" because the term "democracy" is broader than the term "republic".  But the latter can be included in the former.)

   Since this usage of the term predates modern "progressives", and even the original "Progressive Movement" (of the early 20th Century), the facts refute your claims about "what the Progressive leadership in this country is doing".  What they're actually doing is using that term properly, something neither you, Roy, or other "disciples" of Glenn Beck seem capable of doing.  (He's the source of Roy's nonsense, if not necessarily yours.)

P.S. - Last I checked "the name of our country" was The United States of America".  Neither the words "republic" or "democracy" are there.  Give it up, sir.  Not only are you engaging in obvious sophistry, but you're very bad at it!


porr000's picture

Errr...I meant REPUBLIC above.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   But allow me to reference a true progressive.  One who had no trouble referring to "the sacred name of Democracy, and who excoriated the Democratic Party of his time for departing from the principles of Jefferson.  (Which he held to be "superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior."  Emphasis in the original.)

  Not only that, but this progressive gave us the first Federal Income Tax, greatly increased the size and power of the Federal government, and fought a war against the ideas of "States' Rights", Nullification, and Secession.

   I'm sure you've guessed by now that he pre-dates "the recent resurgence of the progressive movement under Obama" by more than a century!  He had no problem using the term "democracy" to describe the principles of this nation.


Speech on the Sub-Treasury (Decmeber of 1839), printet at page 162 of Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1 (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln1/1:193.1?rgn=div2;singlegenr...).

Letter to Henry L. Pierre and Others (April 6, 1859), printed at page 18 ofAbraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings (1859 - 1865), (Library of America, 1989),

porr000's picture

This shows our founder considered our government as a Republic.

He did not say that word because he was given only two choices ( a Republic or Monarchy) by the question posed to him by the woman. He said it because that is the right answer.

If neither of the choices given him were the right answer, he would surely have corrected the woman.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Piling sophistry on top of sophistry, and adding sheer speculation, is no way to win an argument.

   The plain fact remains that, when taken in context, Franklin's statement that we were to have ("A republic, if you can keep it.") doesn't support your contentions.  He used the word "republic" because the question was (allegedly) phrased that way.  If you want speculation, consider what his response might have been had the conversation gone differently, something along these lines perhaps?

Well, Doctor Franklin, are we to have a democracy or a monarchy?

A democracy, madam, if you can keep it.

   By the way, you obviously didn't notice my choice of words about this "quotation".  I called it an "anecdote", and stated that (in answer to the woman's question) Franklin "was said to have replied", for a reason.  You see, it's not clear this actually happened.  But it's a great story, so I won't quibble over it.

porr000's picture

It is a very popular anecdote from that time period, which gives you a glimpse into the verbiage used by the people at that time.

The storyteller used the word Republic in reference to the new government. He did not use the word Democracy.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Once again we see your inability to read carefully.  I called the story an "anecdote" because it's not certain it didn't take place.  But that doesn't mean it's made up.  The incident may very well have happened.

   As for showing "the verbiage used by the people at that time", what it actually shows is what they were concerned about: whether the new government was going to be a monarchy!  This is confirmed by the passage of The Federalist Papers I previously quoted for you (and which you, typically, evade and avoid) - Number 43 (age 271).  The U.S. doesn't guarantee a State won't be a democracy, only that it won't engage in "aristocratic or monarchial innovations".   Why no guarantee against democracy?  Because a republic is a form of democracy!  Use of the latter word (either as something to oppose, or something to support) would be nonsensical and redundant.

porr000's picture

Here is the link for the paraphrase and narrative about the Federalist and anti-Federalist. It comes from our government's website


It is in my opinion letter to show our Founders referred to our government as a Republic.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   One thing I've always "admired" about you is your infinite capacity to miss the point!  We may now add your poor reading comprehension.  The words you "quoted" aren't by Madison, they're a paraphrase by the author of the website you relied on.  And what was being paraphrased?  Why the words from The Federalist Papers I quoted at greater length.

   Moreover, even that article reveals the context of those words (something you still don't get).  The Anti-Federalists weren't arguing for a pure democracy (the critical term - remember).  They were arguing (in the words of the article itself):

One anti-Federalist argument gave opponents some genuine difficulty--the claim that the territory of the 13 states was too extensive for a representative government. In a republic embracing a large area, anti-Federalists argued, government would be impersonal, unrepresentative, dominated by men of wealth, and oppressive of the poor and working classes.

   The issue (as I said before) wasn't whether America should be a republic, but whether it should be a single republic or a loose coalition of several republics.  Madison was arguing for the former.

   Furthermore, as I keep telling you, the term "democracy" includes the term "republic".  The dichotomy you claim simply doesn't exist.  And you've provided nothing to refute that point.  Instead you flail around, relying on bogus "quotations", statements made in letters sent to Franklin (not from him), and take Madison's words out-of-context so that you can "spin" them anyway you choose!

   But that's okay.  Keep setting them up and I'll keep knocking them down.  I know how to play "the game of battling quotes", and remember - for me this is fun!

porr000's picture

The only point I was making with Madison is that the founders called our government a Republic, not a democracy.

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   But the critical point you keep evading and avoiding is that the distinction isn't between democracies (in the general sense of that term) and republics, but between pure (or direct) democracies, and representative democracies (a.k.a. republics).

   To continue your malarkey you ignore the standard dictionary definition of those terms (which are also the legal definition - see Black's Law Dictionary, Revised Fourth Edition), and you ignore Madison's own words!  Sorry, sir, but you can't just quote the part of Federalist Paper Number 10 you (mistakenly) think supports your view, and ignore the rest.  I repeat, Madison was contrasting pure democracy with republics - not a representative democracy (which is what republics are - at least in their ideal form).

   You should go back and re-read all of that piece by Adams you so selectively quoted from.  One of the reasons he despises republics there is because (by our standards they weren't really republics at all).  Ancient Rome was more of an aristocracy or an oligarchy with most of the power in the hands of select families.  The same could be said of Venice during the Renaissance.  Althought called "the Most Serene Republic", it had little in common with our form of government.

   So spare me interminable use of the word "republic" (such as in your idiotic invocation of the Pledge of Allegiance), you have to look beneath the surface of things, you have to learn the true meaning of words (it's not just whatever you or your favored "group" think), and you have take the Founders words in context.  Otherwise, you end up with absurdities like thinking East Germany was truly a "Democratic Republic", simply because that's what it called itself!

P.S. - It wasn't.

porr000's picture

This quote is properly attributed to John Adams (not to Samuel Adams) on the official John Adams website.


Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   Thanks, but I already knew that.  Go back and read my original Comment carefully.  I never denied the authenticity of that particular quote, I only demonstrated the dangers in relying too much on the Internet by noting that one webpage attributed it to Samuel Adams.  (Actually, there were others that made the same error.)  Which is why I went on to note the real problem with quoting Adams: his inconsistency.  If you want to rely on quotes denigrating democracies, then I can invoke those despising republics and praising monarchies!

   (By the way, they all came from the same source.)

   But thanks again for another link to add to my bookmarks!

P.S. - Isn't this fun?

porr000's picture

Mr. Posner:  The Franklin quote was taken directly from the Franklin papers sponsored by the American Philosophical Society and Yale University.  You have to do a search of them for the word Democracy to find it.  


Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   First, my thanks for providing that link to the Franklin Papers website.  I've added it to my bookmarks of reference sites on the Founders.  (What?  You thought I research this "on-the-fly"?)

   Alas, though, it only demonstrates another instance of your failing to read the webpage completely.  You see, as stated both at the top and bottom of the page, Franklin never wrote that!  The words are from a letter to Franklin by one Silas Deane.

   Even more interesting is who Deane was.  According to Wikipedia (a source, I repeat, to be used with caution) the "worthy" man:

was an American merchant, politician and diplomat. Originally a supporter of American independence Deane served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and then as the United States' first foreign diplomat when he travelled to France to lobby the French government for aid. Deane was drawn into a major political row over his actions in Paris, and subsequently endorsed Loyalist criticisms of American independence and lived on a modest charity provided him in London.

   Apparently, among the reasons for his change of views was:

the publication in [while he was in Paris] of private letters to his brother in which he repudiated the Revolution as hopeless and suggested a rapprochement with Britain, [which] led to his being barred from entry [back in America] and branded a traitor at home.

   Gee, you don't think this might have influenced his cynicism about democracies, do you?  (His letter to Franklin was written in 1782 - a year after these events.)

   If you insist on playing "the game of battling quotes", you'll have to do better than this!

porr000's picture

@#$%&*?/!@#$% -retracted with apologies

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   At the risk of being graceless, let me just reply: Don't apologize, just do better!

porr000's picture

Mr. Posner:

EEEK!!!!  The link you provided is the exact one I used when I was verifying the Jefferson quote I found on the internet.  

I FAILED to read further down that page to discover it was not a true quote by him.  

My bad, I will endeavor to do better in the future.  Thank you for bringing that to my attention.  

Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   You're welcome.

   Trying to do better is really all I ask.  I don't mind the positions you take so much as the bad arguments you make in "support" of them.

   On the other hand, it's worth reflecting that none of us are infallible (including yours truly).

Gordon Posner's picture

(Part One - Supporters of the Constitution)

    In my letter, I laid out part of the case for Judicial Review: the authority of the courts to interpret the Constitution, and to strike down laws contrary to it. As I said, it wasn't dreamed up by the courts. I quoted Alexander Hamilton to illustrate this, and to demonstrate it was part of the “original intent” of the Founders. But wait, there’s more!

    Many have complained that there was no such power given to the Supreme Court in the Constitution. Hamilton provides a ready answer:

    . . . the Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of the [constitutional] convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution. . . . [Emphasis added]

    The Federalist Papers No. 81, printed at pages 481 - 2 of the Signet Classic edition (New American Library, 2003), and at page 484 of The Debate on the Constitution, Part Two (The Library of America, 1993).

    Thus the power of judicial review stems from the very concept of a government limited by a written Constitution. It is essential.

    As also I wrote in my letter, judicial review was expected and endorsed by both supporters and opponents of the Constitution. During the ratification debate in Pennsylvania, James Wilson (one of the drafters of the Constitution) declared:

    . . . the legislature may be restrained, and kept within its prescribed bounds, by the interposition of the judicial department. . . . For it is possible that the legislature, . . . , may transgress the bounds assigned to it, . . . ; but when it comes to be discussed before the judges . . . and find it to be incompatible with the superior power of the constitution, it is their duty to pronounce it void; . . . .

    The Debate on the Constitution, Part One, pages 822 - 3 (The Library of America, 1993).

    Oliver Ellsworth (another drafter), speaking at the Connecticut ratification convention, stated:

    This constitution defines the extent of the powers of the general government. If the general legislature should at any time overleap their limits, the judicial department is a constitutional check.

    Debate, Part One, page 883.

    Other drafters agreed. Luther Martin (of Maryland):

    And as to the Constitutionality of laws, that point will come before the Judges in their proper official character. In this character they have a negative on the laws.

    The Anti-Federalist Papers, page 123, Signet Classic Edition (New American Library, 2003).

    While George Mason (Virginia) observed that the judges could declare an unconstitutional law void. The Anti-Federalist Papers, page 124.

(Part Two - Opponents of the Constitution)

    The opponents of the Constitution also recognized this power in the judiciary. One of them feared it. Speaking of the Supreme Court, “Brutus” (anonymous author of letters to newspapers during New York’s ratification debate) cautioned:

    The power of this court is in many cases superior to that of the legislature. . . . this court will be authorised to decide upon the meaning of the constitution, and that, not only according to the natural and obvious meaning of the words, but also according to the spirit and intention of it . . . . The supreme court then have a right, independent of the legislature, to give a construction to the constitution . . . . If, therefore, the legislature pass any laws, inconsistent with the sense the judges put upon the constitution, they will declare it void; . . . .

    Debate, Part Two, pages 375 - 6 (emphasis added).

    But another opponent, Patrick Henry of Virginia, endorsed this power, fearing only that it would not be used!

    Yes, Sir, our Judges opposed the acts of the Legislature. We have this land mark to guide us. - They had fortitude to declare that they were the Judiciary and would oppose unconstitutional acts. Are you sure that your Federal Judiciary will act thus?

    Debate, Part Two, pages 684 - 5 (emphasis added).

    So the idea that the courts will interpret the Constitution, and declare void all laws contrary to that interpretation, was not something dreamed up by Chief Justice John Marshall out of thin air. It was debated, accepted, and expected by those who gave us the Constitution (and by its opponents too). As he wisely and correctly declared:

    It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.

    Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 at 177, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803).

   Those who would truly understand the Constitution, and the principles this great nation was founded upon, should read that decision, heed Marshall’s words, and ignore those who know nothing of this!

porr000's picture

Mr. Posner:

What do you think about Chief Justice Robert's opinion that rewrites the word "penalty" into a "tax" in order to make the healthcare legislation Constitutional?  Aren't justices supposed to rule on legislation as written?  Has there been any precedent of justices doing this?  Is this not an expansion of judicial powers?  


Gordon Posner's picture


Dear Mr. Orr:

   I suggest you read the opinion before commenting on it.

   While I have my own problems with invoking the taxing power to sustain the individual mandate, the issue doesn't turn on whether we call the thing a penalty or a tax.  (That's only a concern for people like you, who believe empty rhetoric, and torturing the English Language, is the way to have an intelligent debate.)  The question is whether creating such a penalty is a valid use of that power to tax.

   I'm afraid that boat sailed a long time ago.  There are innumberable examples of "social engineering" in our tax code.  Do you have a mortgage, and if so do you deduct the interest you pay on it?  Where does Congress get the power to encourage home ownership in such a fashion?  Do you donate to charities, and deduct the amounts from your taxable income?  Where is the authority for Congress to promote such generiosity?  What about discouraging smoking by taxing cigarettes (thus making them more expensive)?  What about a thousand and one (almost literally) similar provisions of the tax code?

   The answer is that Congress has the power "to lay and collect taxes" (Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 1), and to do so "on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment"  (Sixteenth Amendment).  How it goes about exercising that power is largely a political question, not a legal one.  Thus, if Congress chooses to lessen the amount of taxes it collects (through those deductions), that's its affair, not the courts.  Ditto, if Congress choses to increase its revenue by taxing disfavored activities - such as smoking, drinking, or being without insurance.

   So whether it's called a "penalty" or something else, as far as the Constitution is concerned the only question was whether the mandate was a valid exercise of that taxing power.  The answer was yes.

P.S. - But if you really want to see an example of judicial rewriting, read the decision in D.C. v. Heller, in which Justice Scalia (in the name of a phony "origininalism") removed the first 13 words of the Second Amendment (or, more precisely, said they mean nothing and have no force or effect)!

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