Friday, March 02, 2012

AMERICAN BOB: "Lost & Founders"


Lido said...

I like the way you slip into a Boston accent on occasion in this episode, I'm not sure if this is because of recent illness or because of how passionate you are about the source material...probably both

cassidy said...

I am really, really glad that this tendency bothers someone else as much as it bothers me. Constitutional worship has got to be one of the most counterproductive political rallying points in the modern discourse.

The last Framer to die (James Madison) did so at a time when the theory of evolution was barely more than a few scattered notes in Charles Darwin's journal, light was believed to be waves in the luminiferous aether, and economists still subscribed to the labor theory of value, not to mention the fact that, y'know, FUCKING SLAVERY. So why in the name of all that is rational should I take the words of this man and a bunch of other men who died even earlier as gospel?

Good episode, Bob. Big fan.

James said...

Question: when are you ever going to do an American Bob episode on how Obama is as bad as Bush?

The Beard said...

"Here are some things they didn't have: a time machine, a crystal ball, precognition..."

You can't know that for a fact! I mean, you can't prove they didn't have a crystal ball can you?

Chris said...


Lets try a little logic here

Bush was a (-) negative on the economy. If Obama was also a (-) on the economy, the two would add up to a bigger (-) negative.

Since the economy is improving (unemployment is down, DOW is up, etc.) that must mean that Bush's (-) is being offset by a (+) positive.

Now, where republicans get confused and angry is that the (+) positive hasn't offset the (-) fast enough. For that, I would use a train analogy. The U.S. ecomomy is a massive locomotive. It takes the movement in the front (retail sales) a while for the effects to be noticed by the last few cars (employment). Trains do not go from 0-60 in 20 secs. And the economy doesn't go from Bush recession back to Clinton good times in 3.5 years.

(Tangent) I also love how Republicans demand war after war and endless tax cuts, then blame the Democratic President for budget deficits. Republicans run up such a bill on the things that help the rich; get run out of office only for the Democratic successor to have to clean up the mess with the restrictions that he can't reduce military spending or raise taxes. Therefore leaving his only option to cut safety net programs, education, environmental protections, etc. And then he doesn't do it fast enough they try to vote him out after four years so they can start the whole game back up again.

Sofie Liv Pedersen said...

It's kind of funny how the tables has now been turned.
That it is us here in Europe, whom used to have monarchs, that is all about "The ever changing way of doing things." and well. "Screw you America, we want to do our own thing."

Or at least the people is like that, government representation can be kind of different, because well, the US got the power.
But still, we are much more about "The individuals right." and "Changing what we have." than the monarch kind of steering where we try to do as past government people ''Intended'' ... we actually don't care about that.

antecedentless said...

@Chris, labor participation is down, so the unemployement numbers are skewed. The growth of our economy expands geometrically, not linearly, so the Dow being "higher" than Bush is not a good measure. The rate of growth is.

Back on topic: Yet another suprisingly unpartisan video with an excelent thesis. This has been an great video series and I hope to see more of it.

antecedentless said...

>an great
Best get back to my studies.

Blue Highwind said...

Um... do you have any specifics as to what's not working? Yeah, the Founding Father's weren't infallible, but the Constitution they've written is actually a pretty damn stable political structure that has steered this country from an agrarian half-slave economy to a post-industrial superpower. Its also one of the oldest Constitutions still in use in the world, a remarkable feat.

Thanks to Checks and Balances, the federal government can take on the disputes of all kinds of individual groups and thanks to its very nature, be forced to come with some kind of compromise for everybody. Yeah, the Presidency has grown rapidly in power, but in the 21st century, especially with our long-reaching power across the world, we needed that strong executive.

The Constitution works because its flexible. The systems its built can change on our needs. In the beginning only White men with land could vote, thanks to the Found Father's system, that has changed.

So Moviebob, what in the Constitution needs to go? I'm curious. Because that document has worked pretty damn good so far.

biomechanical923 said...

"breaking out the red pens and the white-out"
I really don't know of any elected officials that I would feel comfortable making alterations to the constitution.

There are far too many people on both extremes of the political spectrum who would love to get their claws into it, and far too many interest groups on both sides who would love to make it illegal for citizens to say or do things that they don't like

Pat said...

@Blue Highwind

The Second Amendment springs to mind as something that's held up as way more sacred than it should be. Should there be laws protecting the rights of citizens to bear arms? Sure, but I really don't see why it needs to be an amendment. The amendment existed to ensure that the people could fight back against imposed martial law, but at this day and age, that seems like a ridiculous concept to the point where if the American government ever got so singularly corrupt that martial law was ever a remote possibility, they would have no trouble overturning a silly constitutional amendment. All it does in the real world is prevent gun laws from actually doing good. I mean, would banning guns really be so bad? It's worked out pretty well for the UK.

The Third Amendment is basically an anachronism, but it's not really causing any harm, so there's no reason to get rid of it I guess.

But I think Bob is talking more about people who say the founding fathers "intended" the U.S. to be a Christian nation or that they "intended" a free market or they "intended" low taxes, etc. etc.

Basically using the argument of "this is what our nation was founded on" as an excuse to not have to make a valid argument. Using tradition as an excuse to prevent change.

Dmman said...

Minor thing, Bob. Like most discussions of the period from Americans, this video contains a lot of needless Anglophobia. The ideas you're saying are right, but the British did not make use of 'divine right' stuff; they HAD a legislature! Admittedly, only the 1% could actually get involved and it notoriously corrupt, but the founders weren't revolting against 'divine right.' Heck the ALLIED with the major supporters of Divine Right: the French Monarchy! Also, the Constitution was devised AFTER the Revolution. The first constitution, formed during the Revolution, was the Articles of Confederation, which the current Tea Partiers would have liked loads more: less central gov't--heck no central currency!

v_opposition said...

I think what Bob was saying about changing the constitution is that today, we are stuck having 9 septegenarians determine what the 1st amendment means in relation to the internet or modern technology. Or what the second amendment actually means.

However, I think he may be promoting the idea of a new constitutional convention, which is the scariest idea ever. Having 200 or so delegates determine the laws for 300 million people is scary scary scary. We are worried about corruption of coporations and the wealthy now, in a constitutional convention would be a blood bath.

Darren said...

Wow I think this was one of the only American Bob videos I agreed with 100%. Good job Bob :D

Anonymous said...

Um... no... just no. If the Constitution needs altercation, as you yourself said in your video, there is a process for that. That process of "Amedinding" the Constitution is the best assurance we have that we do not get rash and harmful changes. "Busting out the red pens and white out" is a VERY bad idea.

Xyshom Avazax said...

While many might agree the Constitution needs some refinement, what those refinements should be is a tremendous problem to overcome.

The Founders were all of the same general mindset regarding rights and the role of government - yet they debated at great length over these ideas and their applications. Right now we have no one remotely equal to the Founders - not just in political views, but in intelligence, philosophic insight, ability to communicate, or principled thinking.

On one side you have authoritarian theocrats; on the other, authoritarian socialists; and in the "middle," a hodge-podge of contextless ideas that would defy any court's ability to merely interpret laws. Can you imagine - if a group of men as bright, eloquent, educated, principled, and like-minded as the Founders couldn't come up with an airtight Constitution - what would come out of a room with both the likes of Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Charlie Rangel, and Barney Frank in them?

I don't agree with conservatives' and libertarians' seeming religious worship of the Founders, either - they were flawed men. But they were the best America ever had, and their principles - even if the Founders couldn't live up to them - were sound, rational, and are as applicable today as they were 240 years ago.

1337pete said...

An excellent article about the original intention of the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Agreed wholeheartedly. I can never truly understand people who treat the constitution as some sort of religious document rather than something to be built upon (seriously, for years I've counted more than a few of these folks as close friends and still haven't figured it out).

OT: Really enjoyed the B$M review. I'm sure you're more up-to-speed on this sort of thing than I am, but on the off-chance that you missed it the duo will also be starring in the upcoming drama "The Comedy." Should be interesting at the very least.

Kodra said...

We need to have the ability as a people to revisit the way our government works. Humorously enough, Washington himself foresaw what has ultimately become the downfall of our system of government. The parties to which all politicians belong is crippling to our system of government.

Ideally, the people elected the most competent individual to act as their representative in Congress. Those individuals worked in collaboration to better evolve our system of government.

Thanks to the joining of politicians to one party or the other, we find ourselves in a position where we vote for one party or the other, and they send who they feel best represents their interests to congress. These parties are diametrically opposed, and their jobs rely on them proving themselves superior to their opponents. Congress becomes a bickering mess where collaboration doesn't happen.

George Washington, father of our nation, Lord Almighty of America, said that this would be an undoing to the american system of government.

It wasn't designed to deal with this situation.

That's why we need to be able to fix the problem.

Good luck getting 75% of the people who benefit from this flaw to fix it.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

I completely agree with you on this... and I'm generally much less polite about it. The US constitution is an incredibly archaic document (one of the oldest legal documents in the world still pretty much entirely in effect) and in is need of a massive overhaul.

The issue I have with making any sort of major changes to the constitution now is that with the current political climate, both sides are far to happy to take away the other side's rights. I couldn't imagine anything even resembling freedom of speech surviving.

And on that note, one point of contention I have to bring up is that the left is absolutely just as bad about the whole "what the founding fathers intended" as the right is. Seriously, Just ask a far leftest if corporations qualify for 1st amendment protection and they'll break out the obscure Jefferson letters before you even finish the question.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nobody said...


The problem with untangling the interests of the political parties from the process is the clause in the first amendment: the right to assemble. Sadly it's also why criminal organizations are so difficult to take down quickly.

If we could amend it to say "the right to assemble, except in the event of taking public office to organize a political party under penalty of death."

That'd put the fear of god in both sides and get them to vote for common sense laws only for once. And on that note, we need more laws to punish public officials when they screw up and real people are dead (aka Eric Holder and Operation Gunrunner that son of a bitch) or where money would be considered laundered for returning campaign favors (aka Solyndra, et al).

T4_was_here said...

And I was just in the mood for more AMERICAN BOB. Awesome.

Mirthor said...

Thanks Bob. seriously if shit never changed in this world we would all be unlearned farmers living in huts. Our founding fathers demanded change and so should we.

Anonymous said...

Can we hold off on changing the constitution? At least until all the morons die off or get kicked out?

No seriosly, we are not in the correct political climate right now to start changing the constitution. It sorta works right now, and sorta works is better then having the right wing crazy nuts and the left wing crazy nuts drafting a new constitution that is worse then the old one.