Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Common Sense says....

Mirriam-Webster defines "common sense" as "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts."

The term "common sense," as it is used in the general population has always fascinated me. My late friend, Chuck Schulz, was a race car driver, a Navy demolition diver, MENSA member, and diesel truck mechanic. We became friends at a local bar, played on a darts team together and generally enjoyed each others company. He would joke about my level of formal education, explaining to anyone who would listen that "Ph.D." stood for "post hole digger."

"You may be smart, but you don't have any common sense."

"Charles, common sense tells you that the Earth is flat and that the Sun revolves around it. And common sense has next to nothing to do with pulling the transmission out of a Peterbuilt. I'm thinking that that takes some uncommon sense."

"Shut up and throw the damn dart."

Common sense, of course, has some serious limits. Even more, common sense often describes political structures mistaken for the natural world, a phenomenon well worth your time to read up on in places like here and here.

But all of that aside, common sense can represent a starting point in some discussions taking place in and around current US politics [and hey, why HAVE a blog if you can't rant from time to time?].

In no conceivable order.....

The Nixon Tapes

Earlier this morning, the National Archives made public about 125 hours of tape and about 30,000 pages of documents from former President Richard M. Nixon’s administration. These documents are from 1973-74, thirty-five years ago, and they're just being made public now. There are countless more tapes and documents yet to be released.

I'm sorry, but Common Sense suggests that there's no possible reason to dribble this stuff out over the past three and a half decades. Are there sensitive national security concerns? Probably. But Common Sense suggests that the question ought to be: Are there really sensitive national security concerns that couldn't have been identified and addressed in thirty five years?


Common Sense suggests that the "war on drugs" is over. We lost.

Common Sense also suggests that terms like "drug legalization" and "drug decriminalization" are empty and mean next to nothing and will continue to be empty of meaning until we have a rational national conversation about what they might mean.

Common Sense also says that if sanitation workers and police officers have to pee in a cup to do their jobs, so should mayors, police chiefs, judges and prosecutors. Common Sense imagines that if the law worked that way "drug test" would assume a position between "cassette deck" and "rotary phone" in the lexicon.

Same Sex Marriage

Miscegenation laws, were laws that banned interracial marriage and sometimes interracial sex between whites and members of other races. In the United States, laws against interracial marriage and interracial sex existed and were enforced in the Thirteen Colonies from the late seventeenth century onwards, and subsequently in several US states and US territories until 1967. Common Sense would suggest that the current brouhaha over same sex marriage is little more than the extension of this.

Common Sense also says that the fact that similar laws were also enforced in Nazi Germany, from 1935 until 1945, and in South Africa during the Apartheid era, from 1949 until 1985 ought to tell you something.

Health Care

Common Sense says that designing health care as a "for profit" enterprise makes no more sense than designing law enforcement and all other emergency services as for profit enterprises as well.

[RING... RING... RING... CLICK] 911 emergency, what credit card will you be using today?

Common Sense also says that if a national health care system is "socialist" then so is the United States Marine Corps. And, following the path of a popular conservative argument, if we can't trust government to run health care why do we entrust the largest nuclear arsenal in the history of the world to it? Wouldn't we be safer if Blackwater had all the nukes?

Common Sense says "Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200."

Credit Cards

Common Sense says that if you borrow $2,000 at 6% interest and then the credit card company raises your interest rate to 14%, that 14% can only apply to any money you borrow AFTER the rate was raised. Common Sense says that it can't retroactively be applied to the original two grand. Common Sense may not have a Post Hole Digger, but Common Sense wasn't raised by fools.


Common Sense says every problem that is faced by educators in secondary school and college are problems that can best be addressed in primary school. It's nice that a mildly autistic fellow who lectures on Elizabethan footwear at Yale pulls down $80,000 a year; but Common Sense believes that, in a more perfect world, a third grade teacher in North Philadelphia would be making $200,000.

Common Sense also says school boards should be stripped of any power to do anything but issue collective suggestion slips. It denigrates the entire profession of education that people with no discernible skills other than an ability to pop out a kid can run roughshod over decisions educators make regarding curriculum, text books, and so on. Common Sense asks that we consider for a moment how absurd such a system would look if it were applied to any other professional setting.

Neo-Con Jerk Weeds

Common Sense believes that talk radio dirt bag Rush Limbaugh's current campaign to boycott GM products because "Barack Obama cannot be allowed to succeed" will magically transform hundreds of thousands of "Reagan Republicans" into a generation of "Limbaugh Democrats."

It's things like this that makes Common Sense tingly all over.

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