Democrats & Liberals Archives

Untrue Patriots

See what you folks have encouraged? FOXNews lionizes these people, and all of a sudden, they think they can pull stunts like this. It’s not a coincidence. It’s consequence.

The building is empty. Nobody's held hostage. But this is a step up from what they did before, and as before, meant to provoke a reaction. They claim to be doing this in defense of people who committed a blatant act of Arson to cover up a blatant act of poaching.

There's freedom, then there's condoning anarchy. If these guys had been denied the positive press that the right gave them, they wouldn't have been bold enough to do this. They've been defining patriotism in terms of loyalty to their vision of America, but it's a funny one from my perspective.

Funny bad, not funny humorous.

For me, it's always been galling to see these people claim that they're more loyal Americans than myself, and then turn around and erode confidence in our democratic institutions.

There will always be people who believe their way is best. That's... well, close to everybody. The notion that one side or another just needs to absolutely cave in... well, we'd all like our rivals to do that, but can we be honest with ourselves, land our feet on the ground, and get that for the most part, people have pretty stable political attitudes?

Or put another way, that short of drastic action, you're not going to see liberals or conservatives go away. We still need to function, despite that.

Let's stop assuming that the people who talk about pushing liberals or conservatives out are really savvy customers, because that belief is pretty naive. It's something politicians say to people in pep rallies, not a realistic plan of action. If your idea is to just make over everything in your image, then you will be disappointed, because no matter how stronger your power becomes, you will always face opposition. If you're uncompromising, you will always face a fight, and you will wear out your strength in the process.

Movies and books love having protagonists that don't have to do this, in part because we love the notion ourselves. As adults that have to work and play well with others, the notion of getting everything we want over the objections of those we deem to be wrong is undeniably tempting.

We should ask ourselves two questions. The first is, are we never wrong? If we lock up the world in our own point of view, we might do well by it when we're good, but when we screw up things, and people don't have an alternative to us, there are two possibilities. The first is that we try to learn from our mistakes, the second is that we don't. The powerful don't like to be frustrated, so very often, they'll just keep going in whatever direction they began in.

The second is, are they never right? Much of the time, I don't think my enemies are right. But that doesn't eliminate the possibility that my bias is so strong that I'm blind to the fact that they have the right idea in a given case.

Think those two principle through, and you find that the certainty of partisanship doesn't necessarily help the parties. It leads us to close ourselves off in catechisms of policy. While it's inevitable that some degree of internal consistency develops, it's really something that needs to be broken up, stirred up alloyed with ideas beyond one's particular party, and beyond politics in general

Politics often gets locked into what we imagine the world to be, and we rarely imagine the world in any perfection. We become slaves to the imagined, and reality punishes our failure to get our head on straight.

The obligation to our beliefs is a yoke we lower on our shoulders ourselves, a burden we set down and take up as we choose.

I don't believe that violence in the name of politics is legitimate. I think that to honor what the framers wrought, we must exhaust all legal remedies, and if we choose to defy the law, we must start with civil disobedience and non-violent defiance. I also think we should do our best to educate ourselves about the situation before we start accusing people of undermining the Constitution or overstepping the separation of powers. Ignorant criticism of the the use of government power can be worse than silence, because no matter how well you win the argument, you end up being the one who distorts the system.

Too many revolutionaries out there, once they take power, fall prey to the same temptations of power that those who once ruled over them fell to. The revolution becomes a permanent emergency, an institution that has to be maintained forever, even as it ossifies and fossilizes into a mockery of its former idealism. The Revolution, as a force for good in its people's lives, dies and becomes just another movement of elites, sticking it to everybody else to keep their political and/or financial power concentrating in their hands. One of the most powerful illustrations of this idea is the book Animal Farm, and its iconic final scene, where all distinctions between the old tyrants and the new blur away.

How did we avoid this? Well not entirely, but there was something in the nature of how we set up power that meant that eventually we could grow beyond the corruption and stupidity our first choices as leaders sometimes demonstrated. The government could be dragged kicking and screaming back into doing good for the people.

Folks talk about the notion of a Living Constitution as if it's just a ploy to disregard what the Constitution meant, but that's not true. In part, it's allowing ourselves to take advantage of the freedom our Framers gave to us, in order to handle today's problems with today's solutions, while still maintaining coherence with the fundamentally good ideas that back, whether by intent or accident, what the authors of the Constitution wrote.

For example, we've had to update the law and the jurisprudence around the Fourth Amendment because new forms of communication and information storage have emerged. We've had to reconsider our whole scheme of how to deal with interstate commerce because telecommunications and transportation technology have made a much greater proportion of commerce not only interstate, but in some cases international.

Thing is, though, a lot of people profit by having things done the old way, or would profit if we went back to it. I mean, if you didn't have to do meat inspections, you could cut the cost of food considerably. You wouldn't need as complex of facilities, you wouldn't need people to pay close attention to what's going on. Nice, except in our modern world, where most people aren't slaughtering their own cattle and chickens, we can't exercise the self-preserving judgment in keeping that meat clean, or rejecting the bad stuff. No, we have to rely on somebody else's judgment, and the failure of that judgment will disproportionately affect other people, rather than the slaughterer themselves. In the old days, if you got some sort of foodborne illness from the meat, it was largely your fault, and you reaped the fruits of your mistake. Not so with the food companies out there. They're often clear of the physical consequences for their mistakes, with workers and customers taking the brunt of the error, and they themselves reaping the profit from their behavior.

I know the Republicans think of our ideas of accountability as new and radical. But it's not. If I sold a bunch of people bad meat in the old days, it would come back to me. But then, it could come back to you because you mostly likely could only sell to a few dozen customers at most. The market was more local, producers and customers in closer contact, with considerably greater freedom to haggle over prices. Try to do the same things today, and you'll fail to keep things together, because the markets lack that past accountability. Today just a few companies literally feed millions, and their mistakes can poison or infect millions. Same thing with pharmaceuticals. Same thing with a lot of products.

We can't pretend that we live in the world of the 1700s, that we have the same sort of rural, small/town village existence that was overwhelmingly the case in those days.

What we also can't pretend, at least in principle, is the ignorance of that time. In the two hundred and forty years since the foundation of our country, we have discovered the causes of many diseases, the nature of chemistry, the nature of physics. We have vastly improved our knowledge of the weather and its phenomena, and can see storms coming that once we couldn't possibly know of. There are things we have warning of and the capability of being warned of that no person in the 1700s could have possibly expected to be warned of. If we had the warning our Framers had for hurricanes with our populations, tens of thousands could die whenever a major hurricane hit a major city, or worse.

So, there are things today that our government is morally bound to do that they weren't bound to do in the 1700s because it couldn't be done. Since we know more about chemicals and their hazards, we shouldn't be turning a blind eye to them. Look at Flint, with the lead in the drinking water. They knew something was up, the tests told them. But they acted indifferent to that knowledge, and pushed ahead anyways. That's not working by old-fashioned values. Old-fashioned values would look at such behavior as grossly immoral.

Which brings me to another point: that sometimes to maintain old-fashioned values, to maintain the morality and the principles of the old days, you have to recognize that the new developments of this new world of ours are changing the actions necessary to express those values.

We are also learning other things. in the 1700s, the world wasn't even a percent as interconnected as it is now. We didn't just stigmatize based on color. We thought of people from other countries in those terms. We could talk about people from Italy and Germany, but there weren't actually nations by that name. Today's mainly generic notion of whites was balkanized even further into stereotypes about all different kinds of nationalities, about religions, too. It's painful to look at some of the illustrations of black people or Asian from centuries or even decades past, because we're confronted day in and day out with the untruth of those stereotypes. We've experienced equality and tolerance in a way the framers couldn't possibly have imagined, and might even balk at today. Just think what they might have thought about a black president, or the thought that a woman might be next.

The changes in such attitudes inevitably color, no pun intended, our notion of what real equality, real fairness is. There are some lost souls who want to take us back to the old days, and who knows, they might succeed. But their success would be a failure on America's part, a backsliding from the ideal we claim that all people are created equal, the constitutional promise that the law applies equally to all. We can continue to judge cases, judge situations, judge facts based on the prejudices of old, or we can look in that other person's eyes, and recognize them as equal stakeholders in the freedom and rights we all cherish and desire.

The Constitution needs to live, because we do. We live and learn. We change, we see truths beyond what our forebears could, and we experienced the consequences of different laws and doctrines that our founders could have never anticipated.

The Conservatives all too often treat the Constitution as if it prescribed the government of the Framer's time as the only legitimate form. That viewpoint, though, clashes with the reality of what they unleashed. There were things this government was meant to conform to, in what was laid out, and then there was the vast space of choices that were given to us as a people.

That's the value of that form of government. I've got news for those who think they have the perfect idea of how to govern: you don't. There will always be an learning curve, a man proposes, god disposes imbalance to something as big and complicated as running a nation like ours. It doesn't get any less complicated when you think you've figured it out. You just get less sophisticated, less able to comprehend the nuances of the situations you're dealing with.

Classical forms of government, the monarchies, aristocracies, and empires work off of the premise that if you centralize power permanently in the hands of a few, especially those you consider well-bred, then they will cut through all the garbage and rule more strongly. But that supposes that they've got a clue. Very often, these forms of govenrments don't, and it's very hard to force them to face reality.

Ours? Our form leaves open the door, either to kick the stupid morons out who haven't adjusted to reality or public sentiment, or to allow them to alter their policies to suit it. The lack of an absolute hold on power, and an inability to simply force that power on people regardless of what public consensus is, is a key aspect of our nation's governing philosophy, and an essential part of the reason why, after 220+ years of constitutional government, our nation's still going.

Part of the key to this is understanding that governments always live and die on the consensus of the people. Liberal democratic republics like ours, which grant people rights that ensure that they remain part of the political forum, the political process, just allow that consensus to wash through the system, relieving the pressures that might build up if it was defied. More autocratic or authoritarian governments always have to do this dangerous balancing act of pleasing the people and preserving their authority, and they can get into some pretty major self-deception and coverups in the process of doing this.

It may seem like our system is out of control in certain respects, but in truth, it's much more stable. You just don't get cushioned from the bumps in the road, the bumps that the system needs you to feel in order to have the feedback you need to make your decisions about how policy should work. Our system of government doesn't make it easy on the citizen, but in compensation, the fact it isn't easy on us can encourage us to take a much more responsible approach to policy.

Put another way, let's consider the Nazis and the Final Solution. How was this possible? I think, in part, that it depended on a certain level of "It's not my business." A lot of horrible things can happen when we come to believe that society and our government require us to look the other way in order to work for the greater good. It's not so much that authority can order us to look the other way, it's just that, having being primed with both anxieties about the forces that we might fear undermine our society, and the fear of authorities who we know can punish us harshly if we disobey or interfere, we compartmentalize ourselves, and let the more horrific and evil among us have their way, because we're sure there's nothing to gain by challenging their authority.

We're not taught so much to think that way. We're taught to react, to protest, to speak our peace. It's a surprising thing to many foreigners how open and vocal we are about our opinions. There is a flow in our national discourse that puts other nations to shame.

That's not what many on the right want these days. They've been primed to fear the notion that people might think differently, that only they have the key policies and beliefs necessary to save the country. They don't. We don't. Nobody is so perfect that we can set them up permanently in government, without accountability, without forcing them to pay attention to what's going on in the world around us, not just their own ideas and notions about things.

Of course, people aren't necessarily wrong, and we don't necessarily always realize it when people are right. That's why we've got a system based on elections, based on legislation, not some system where both the people and the system are set in stone. We're always going to be making course corrections, and the society we live in isn't going to sit still to let past legislation perfectly fit it. Even if your idea is to preserve this country's institutions, keep the peace, just calm everything down, our system is going to keep people on their toes.

That is what the Framers gave us. Not some ideosyncratic, self-indulgent system designed to give wish fulfillment to one set of partisans, but a collaborative, adaptive system which enables people not only to govern themselves, but be more responsive and adaptive citizens themselves, participants, not just subjects.

That is the spirit in which I have long blogged, really, and that is my notion of Patriotism. It's not just about flag-waving and song-singing. You'd see that in any country you could go to, from France to China. What we have here, what sets us apart, is a more active brand of citizenship, which says to us that the big policy matters are in our bailiwick to discuss and collaborate on... and if we make a mistake? Well, we're the ones who can change our minds, change our votes, change what we ask of government.

The people who can truly be called patriots aren't the folks who know absolutely, positively what to do, and who wrap themselves in the flag and sing God Bless America. No, the people who can truly be called patriots are the ones who keep their eyes open, their brains working, and their obligation to the nation they love, the cities and states they live in, in mind as they consider policies and the challenges that face their country. You are given individual freedoms and rights not just for your own sake, though you gain from them, but for the sake of your communities, your states, and your nation as a whole. The Framers made a bet that if they gave people the responsibility to care for their nation, to run it, that they would grow into that responsibility, and become better, happier citizens for it. Will you fulfill that vision of patriotism, the love of the country that flows from responsibility, stewardship, and the willingness to work with others, or will you simply indulge the more sensationalized, less exceptional side of patriotism, the kind you wouldn't have to come here to find?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 20, 2016 7:20 PM
Comments
Comment #402133

Stephen, your ‘See what you folks have encouraged?’ link still goes to Movable Type,’ but I am guessing it’s a link to the violence and destruction caused by the Ferguson or Baltimore riots? Maybe that of OWS or BLM?

I get your reference to the group of trespassers of that empty building in the middle of nowhere Oregon and have to say that I think they are in the wrong there.

What say we both talk to our respective sides about how we are all in this together?

Interesting piece, Stephen. A little unrealistic and hypocritical, but not bad.

Posted by: kctim at January 22, 2016 5:45 PM
Comment #402208

I’ll see about fixing the link.

However, hypocritical? Look, at best, I would say that unresolved issues will lead people to disrespect a law and order they don’t see as working to their benefit. But being able to explain it and empathize with the anger and contempt that starts these sorts of things doesn’t mean I think it ought to be encouraged or sanctioned.

Riots are what people resort to in places where they have no control. It’s a primal way to take back control, a way to say “screw this.” It’s what happens when people run out of reasons to say no to the people who are bad influences.

I look at the whole thing in Malheur, especially after recent events, and I see far too many people who just aren’t on the same page as the rest of the country about what Constitutional government means. You got people who think the Magna Carta and the Bible are meaningful legal documents to the modern American, and who have a rather schizophrenic (as in delusional and psychotic) notion of how the law works. People who think that they can make themselves judges and government officials by writing up documents with insane grammar and legal logic.

Yet these sort of radicals are given credibility and even made heroes on the right. Either they’re not looking close enough, or they’re not letting your folks see these people close enough to realize just how bad these people are.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2016 1:21 PM
Comment #402223

Stephen, you do realize that you just claimed one group has “higher standards or more noble beliefs” than the other group?

That, while you may not encourage or sanction the violence and destruction of groups like OWS and BLM, you do empathize with their anger and contempt, even when it is based on hyperbole and lies? That “you folks have encouraged” their lawlessness?

That those you label ‘radicals’ are nothing more than people who fall on the wrong side of your politics?

You don’t want people to understand that we are all in this together, you want them to dump their beliefs and embrace yours.

Posted by: kctim at January 28, 2016 10:37 AM
Comment #402224

kctim-
Look, the past few years have been a bitter bit of education for me in the fact that you can’t persuade everybody. I think it’s clear if you read the Federalist Papers that the Framers believed they had the same problem.

Question is, how do you create a functioning government, when no one group can, without violence and unrest, fully assert their views?

I think the Framers recognized that they didn’t have a solution to everybody’s differences. So, what did they do? They rigged up the system so that nobody could change the rules everybody had to live by except by gaining majority support, and for the most important stuff, like treaties, amendments, and veto overrides, supermajority support. They wanted to make it tough to impose your will on other people without considerable support in the land.

You talk about the violence and destruction of groups like OWS and BLM. I would point out that the evidence for those groups being violent is minimal at best. The Black Lives Matters charge is particularly pernicious, as it paints the activists as a violent threat who want the police to stand down so they can go on being lawless and out of control. Occupy Wall Street didn’t occupy the places with weapons, they occupied with their rear ends, for the most part. They just sat around, made speeches, etc.

Why are these groups portrayed as violent? Because somebody needs us to be the bad guys. I would argue that if you want proof of the radicality of the Oregon Militia members, I can show you that they went in there armed, threatened to and attempted to overthrow legal, elected governments by force and intimidation. I can show you beliefs so fundamentally out of alignment with even the GOP’s mainstream that it’s not funny. I mean, these are people who think that if you write things with the right grammar, you can vest yourself with all kinds of government power. Look up Sovereign Citizens and tell me what is mainstream or moderate about them.

I would, as a matter of fact, paint today’s Right Wing as the more radical of the two wings, less in sync with public opinion in general, less apt to respect the rule of law, less willing to cooperate and compromise with others. But I can tell you that I don’t believe most people are as far gone as those nuts in Malheur.

I’ll also say this: though it’s sad to me that they won’t be persuaded, I acknowledge both that they’ve elected the officials they want to represent them, and that they have a right not to agree with me.

I could pretend that I could save the country from itself by overthrowing their ability to exercise that power, but the reality would likely play out like this: deprived of their voice and their votes, they would revolt, and rightly so.

At the same time, I’m a strong believer that the s*** doesn’t make sense when you put getting what you want politically ahead of maintaining and supporting the system that keeps this nation strong and sound. There are some things we have to figure out ways to agree on, because they aren’t simply nice things we hope for, but responsibilities we have to take care of, even if our agreements aren’t what we idealize.

I have had to choke down a lot of compromise since I was kid, and I find it odd that Republicans think it’s so terrible, so much the end of the world that they can’t simply impose their will.

Let me let you in on a little secret: many Democrats think that Republican policies will, if not destroy this country, put us in a world of hurt. Just as you believe that we’re somehow ruining things, they believe quite the same thing about you. If you step back for a second, you realize that whatever your opinion about their opinion is, these people are not lacking in a sense of self-preservation. They want jobs, safe neighborhoods and nations to live in, and they want to be free and happy. Nobody is actively seeking their own miserable destruction.

So, despite the fact that you might be my rival, my adversary, I don’t think you’re the bad guy. I don’t think you’re evil. I might sometimes think you guys are jerks, and want to oppose you, but that doesn’t mean I think you’re doing this all out of malice.

Yes, I do want you to change your beliefs. Yes, I think I would be happier if you did. But don’t you want the same? But neither of us are going to get that. So, the question is, what can you and I agree needs to be done despite that. What will we settle for, if the process and the system denies us our ideal, if neither of us has the sufficient political support just to get what we want?

The Tea Party has failed to think that part through, the idiots in Oregon to a greater extent. Problem for them is that they don’t have sufficient power to get what they want. So, they’ve done a few things. They’ve stewed in their frustrations, become this anchor on a chain tied to their party’s majority, forcing many votes where the other Republicans have had to ask us for help. They’ve resorted to some pretty stark threats and schemes to get in the way of normal business, encouraging major disruptions.

And the most radical entertain fantasies like what the Oregon Militia, and Trump Supporters entertain, that they can somehow bulldoze everyone and everything else out of their way and make things how they’d like them to be.

Liberals, Democrats, and Progressives, though, aren’t going anywhere, so where do you think that leaves that?

I believe in America’s promises, so I don’t let its government off easy. I don’t look at the first Amendment and handwave folks discriminating against Muslims. I don’t look at the Fourteenth Amendment and consider trashing Birthright citizenship, or denying black people equal treatment under the law because I might think they’re more prone to violence (which I don’t, actually)

I believe that too often, people set up nice and noble rules, and follow them through only until it becomes uncomfortable for them. But we are not truly free until the exceptions are kept to the minimum, and not entertained lightly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 28, 2016 1:47 PM
Comment #402228

Stephen

OWS destroyed millions of dollars of public and private property. Lies perpetrated by BLM have encouraged riots where millions of dollars of public and private property have been destroyed and where innocent people have been threatened and assaulted for the color of their skin.
Those groups are portrayed as violent and destructive because they have been violent and destructive, not because anybody needs them to be for some political point.

I am aware of how things have played out in Oregon, I know why they did not receive the support they hoped for, and I understand why few of them would want to be said to be aligned with Republicans.
I know more about these groups than the SPLC or ADL propaganda could ever teach you, Stephen.

Of course you view those on the right as more radical, they are holding on to what you wish to change. Their desire to keep what they have, prevents you from fulfilling your desire to have what you want.
They don’t do that because they want something politically, they do it because keeping those freedoms are how we maintain and support the system that made and keeps this nation strong and sound.

In all fairness, Stephen, the ‘compromise’ you have had to choke down is with not getting all that you want all at once. From religion to abortion to guns to taxes, what people find so terrible is that you always want more.

“these people are not lacking in a sense of self-preservation.”

As I have said before, that depends on what one uses to define ‘self-preservation.’ For some, it is our individual rights, for others it is a sense of comfort and convenience that comes from material things. Both sides are human nature and have been around forever, but when you use force to take from another in order to achieve your comfort and convenience, the other guy will fight back.

“Yes, I do want you to change your beliefs. Yes, I think I would be happier if you did. But don’t you want the same?”

No, I do not want to change your beliefs, all I want is to respect your beliefs and for you to respect mine. That is the only thing that needs to be done.

“Liberals, Democrats, and Progressives, though, aren’t going anywhere, so where do you think that leaves that?”

It will lead us to where the lack of freedom always leads people: a police state full of internal violence.

Posted by: kctim at January 28, 2016 3:43 PM
Comment #402230

kctim-
Look, for the most part, I’m not even that comfortable with crimes against property. I’m very law and order. But I think there are two things at work here: one, you’re being fed propaganda about Black Lives Matter and OWS that makes them seem much more violent than they really were. Second, you’re being fed propaganda about these people in Oregon which vastly underestimates just how out there they really are.

I’ve read about these “Sovereign Citizens” and their legal bull hockey, the way they declare themselves judges, put liens on government and personal property, and generally make nuisances of themselves at best. I’ve seen the disturbing way they pile together word salads, and think that this somehow magically gives them legal powers.

Have you read about their Committees of Safety? Have you heard their own rhetoric, where they were talking about killing and threatening local, state, and federal officials if they came to dislodge them?

They’re sugarcoating things for you in the Right Wing media, in part because they made such heroes out of these people when they were refusing to pay their grazing fees and backing federal officials off at their gates.

You can talk about Ferguson effects, but if you look at the actual rates of violence, you won’t find them. They’re scare tactics. The disparity in violence and treatment that police are being accused of is backed by empirical evidence. Folks aren’t lying in the BLM movement, and violence is the last thing they want. You can recall the sentiments of Zeus Carver in Die Hard with a Vengeance, where he says he didn’t save McClain for his own sake, but because one cop dying in Harlem would mean a great number of cops descending on the neighborhood with itchy trigger fingers.

Apply the basic principle: most people, unlike those guys in Oregon, don’t want any trouble. They don’t want to get pulled over for no reason, they don’t want to get shot because they didn’t follow orders, they don’t want to get shot because some guy with an itchy trigger finger gets itchier. They’re not trying to get killed, and most of them have no higher an opinion of rioters than we do.

The folks in Oregon showed up armed. They deliberately took over the visitor’s center of a Public Park, and declared it liberated from the Federal government. They threatened the lives of any officers who came to dislodge them.

Stop me when I lose sight of established facts. Or start when you have some of your own.

Tell me what this whole “common law grand jury” is all about, and why the man appointed to lead it, Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, a Florida Tea Partier, , told reporters:

“The media, you cannot ask the question to them. That’s a felony,” he told reporters.

“So make sure (you know) what you are doing because if you ask me: How many? What they say? Why they vote? You’re committing the crime of felony and I will hold you accountable,” said DeMoreta-Folch.

Explain that.

I’ll explain this: I firmly believe what I do, and wish others would as well. That they have a right to believe otherwise… well, that means they have a right to disagree with me in return, so it evens out. I can go blue in the face asking, they can go blue in the face refusing. We don’t have a right in this republic to go unchallenged in our beliefs.

That may be where things get uncomfortable for you, and if so, I’m sorry. This Republic is not designed to spare anybody’s feelings, keep anybody’s sacred cows from getting gored.

We’re not going anywhere. You can’t insist that we all stand down, that we all respect your boundaries once we’ve gained enough support to change the laws or elect our officials. You can insist on your constitutional freedoms and liberties, but a court has to decide whether your interpretation is merited. The bargain is your people, once they’ve got the same thing going, make the decisions themselves, and if you have the numbers, we have to live with it, too.

If you want to change that… well, you have to get your hands dirty. You can’t sit on the sidelines and expect people to just do what you want.

By the way, if you really think about it, the whole point of emphasizing civil liberties and pushing against police brutality and the overstep of their authority, of opposing police militarization, is to avoid that police state you speak of. We like our freedoms, too.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 28, 2016 5:04 PM
Comment #402239

Stephen,

OWS and BLM have intimidated, threatened and assaulted police officers and innocent civilians. They are responsible for the destruction of public and private property. That is not propaganda, that is fact.

Again, I agree with you that the dudes in Oregon are handling the issue the wrong way and do not have the support of the American people.

As I said in my first post, Stephen, I am holding both groups of people accountable for their unlawful actions.
You however, seem to be stuck on trying to justify why you dismiss the unlawful actions of one group, but not the other, and it comes down to exactly what I first stated: You believe one groups beliefs are more noble than the others.

I really don’t know why you are going off about Sovereign Citizens and their beliefs. They are a very fringe group with very minimal support and absolutely no power. They are wrong and I do not support them or their actions.

What is with you guys and blaming all differing opinions and views on ‘right wing media’ brainwashing?
I have no idea what ‘sugarcoating’ you are talking about but it apparently it isn’t working because support for those guys in Oregon is basically nil.

“You can talk about Ferguson effects, but if you look at the actual rates of violence, you won’t find them.”

If you are willing to look for actual cases of violence, you will find them. To dismiss that violence simply because of its beliefs while at the same time condemning the non-violent actions of another group simply for their beliefs, is wrong.

BLM knowingly promotes the lie that Martin and Brown were hunted down and murdered in cold blood simply because they were black. They have lied about racist activity that did not exist.
Those lies have led to the intimidation, threats and assaults of innocent people, and the murders of police officers.
There’s some ‘facts of my own,’ Stephen.

“We don’t have a right in this republic to go unchallenged in our beliefs.”

That is not where you run into trouble, my friend. Your troubles occur when you fail and then resort to government to impose your beliefs onto others. And that is where things get uncomfortable for us all.

If you look at it, your lack of respect for those boundaries is really what this is all about. You believe a simple majority of voters or a stacked court can override those boundaries and force acceptance. You are wrong.

You see, Stephen, the people standing in the way of liberalism aren’t waiting for a new interpretation to give them some newly created right, they are fighting to protect what they already have. Not because they are ‘mean’ or ‘selfish,’ but because they genuinely believe.

To be honest, Stephen, the numbers game you guys are playing has created a huge divide and it is very possible that things are going to get a lot worse. People are tired of sitting on the sidelines and each year it seems as if more are willing to, as you say, get their hands dirty.

Posted by: kctim at January 29, 2016 11:36 AM
Comment #402327

kctim-
I think you’ve unjustly accused the BLM protestors of being violent, simply because they’re protesting amidst the unrest of their community. I think the OWS protestors did not threaten police officers with harm, the way the Oregon people have done, and continue to do.

I think this false equivalence is pernicious. The OWS protestors broke the law, obviously, left their share of messes, but you didn’t see any cops or federal agents get shot when they finally cleared them out, and I don’t think the organization as a whole ever made that threat. That is what made them an example of Civil Disobedience.

I don’t think you really understand our system. You have this hothouse flower of a philosophical idea that I’m pretty sure the Framers themselves disposed of, because in essence it would require us to live in Hobbes’ State of Nature. Ultimately, they found the government under the Articles of Confederation too close to that for comfort.

Look, nobody gets to have these nice and pure boundaries, if they want to live in a viable state. You have to accept some obligations, some enforcement of rules so that you gain the benefit of that enforcement yourself. You can’t tell the guy over there that he can’t kill you, and then say, “oh, but I can kill you.” The boundary can’t simply be yours to dictate, because your boundaries of what you want, what you want to be free to do, inevitably conflicts with somebody else’s.

Do you get that? Do you understand and respect that factor? Now think about trying to negotiate that among dozens or hundreds of people. Then extrapolate further. We see governments throughout history resorting to the use of raw power, raw force to do this, and inevitably power and the people who wield it get their own ideas, so we end up in situations where power is wielded with indifference to the popular will.

What happens when somebody takes your notion of boundaries and applies it with riches and power to enforce it on other people? In the hands of such people, what you think of as benign freedom becomes tyranny, oligarchy.

So, think about it, how do we balance it? We fail to balance it correctly, and people begin to entertain that delusion that things will be simpler and better if we take on a more centralized government that just forces things.

You disparage majoritaritan rule, but it works. It gets things to where enough law passes that we can actually run a government, adjust, correct, and respond to what’s going on in the country. Those judges? You might despise them, think they got no business on the bench… well, everybody’s got ones they don’t like. Scalia, Thomas and Alito for those on the left, Roberts and Kennedy for everybody alternatively, Sotomayor, Breyer, Kagan, and Ginsberg for those on the Right.

But the point isn’t to have them be popular. The point is to have a stable set of interpretations of the law. You say the court is stacked, but that’s just resentment at some of their decisions bleeding through. Heck, I wish we had a Democrat or two more on the bench, but those are the breaks. It makes people take the Presidency seriously, and the Presidency makes people take broad appeal seriously.

The numbers game isn’t perfect, but it’s better than the alternative, where the game is, you try to figure out which side of the boundary you are with some despot with whom you have no solid appeal or rule of law to constrain.

As for being tired of sitting on the sidelines, whose fault is that? One very clear decision I made as an American, as a writer here, was that I wouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines. I still write plenty on politics on Facebook, however absent I am here. I believe we are only as powerful in this country as we are willing to be. If we don’t show up to vote, if we don’t take public stands, then it’s nobody else’s fault than our own.

If there is one message I’ve tried to send about the nature of our government is that you have precisely the control of your destiny that you allow yourself. If you tell yourself the corporations or the liberals or the conservatives have all the power, and there’s nothing you can do… well, you’ve just disarmed yourself of that small but crucial bit of self-determination that this system allows you, that other systems don’t even give you a hint of.

The point of all this freedom isn’t for people just to bask in decadent disdain for everybody else’s opinions and interests, it’s to allow you and others the opportunity to shape the nature of the government and its priorities. Too many call themselves prisoners of a system when they are only truly shackled by the bonds they have forged for themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 31, 2016 10:00 PM
Comment #402330

Stephen Daugherty, would you be writing about this if the federal government simply ignored those people camping out in the woods in Oregon?

Think about it. The building was unoccupied and 30 miles from the nearest town. It’s in the middle of winter and they are huddled around campfires. They’re not even in the building. No one else is there, not even the birds that the refuge was created for.

If they were ignored I’d bet they wouldn’t be there now. But, no! The feds had to throw it’s weight around, throw a community into disarray, and now, kill someone.

When I was a kid and I threw a tantrum I was ignored. I didn’t get what I wanted. I wasn’t coddled. I wasn’t made the focus of attention, because that would only make things worse. These guys are getting what they want only because the government and the media and you are giving it to them.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 1, 2016 12:05 AM
Comment #402335

Stephen,
There is no false equivalence, let alone one that is harmful in some way. OWS, BLM and the Oregon folks are all protesting what they see as an injustice. OWS and BLM protests have led to destruction and violence. The Oregon protests may still lead to the same thing.

You say the OWS and BLM violence are isolated incidents by individuals and are not representative of the group, yet you state the Oregon folks are encouraged by the right and are representative of the right. That is nothing but partisan BS. You really should hold people to the equal standards.

“I don’t think you really understand our system.”

And I don’t think you understand it at all and we have gone back and forth about it, which is why I was trying to concentrate on your whole ‘all in this together’ part of your posts.

IF you really believe that we are all in this together and that we have to work together for the betterment of the country, you are going to have to learn to respect our differences. To respect the fact that some people cherish the boundaries you wish to change through simple majority rule and force.

Yes, I do not agree with a simple majority ruling over all, but that is because I believe in our individual rights and freedoms, not because I desire no form of government. The same is true of activist judges who place their politics above the Constitution.

“As for being tired of sitting on the sidelines, whose fault is that?”

It’s their fault, Stephen. They sat there and did nothing while the left kept taking whatever they could. Now they find their backs against the wall and that they must fight if they wish to keep what’s left of the country they once knew.
You may not like the wording of that, Stephen, but that is how it is and IF you are serious about us being in this together, you need to at least try to understand it.

Now, you and I both know that will never happen. You don’t care about why they disagree with you and you will continue to dismiss their beliefs as ‘racist,’ ‘sexist,’ ‘brainwashed’ or ‘to dumb to know their own interest.’

“Too many call themselves prisoners of a system when they are only truly shackled by the bonds they have forged for themselves.”

I totally agree. Those who envy others, the willfully dependent and the race hustlers are definitely ‘victims’ of their minds own creation.

Posted by: kctim at February 1, 2016 10:42 AM
Comment #402338

“You say the OWS and BLM violence are isolated incidents by individuals and are not representative of the group, yet you state the Oregon folks are encouraged by the right and are representative of the right. That is nothing but partisan BS. You really should hold people to the equal standards.

And:

“See what you folks have encouraged?”

Thank you kctim.

Posted by: George in SC at February 1, 2016 4:54 PM
Comment #402472

The siege of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge is over. I must say the FBI did the absolute right thing by not giving in to the screwballs. They just let time take it’s course, along with the mental instability of the participants, and the outcome eventually finished up with one fatality(suicide by cop). The FBI was able to pretty much take out the whole Bundy Bunch along with some other malcontents without damaging the refuge or harming any law-abiding citizens of Harney County. Well done to the FBI and other law enforcement involved in this siege. Hope those guys get locked up for a nice long time now. Maybe the next group planning something like this will stop and observe the outcome of this event and pause to reflect on the stupidity of this endeavor? I imagine the Paiute Indians are just shaking their damned heads at this, it was after all theirs in the first place.

Posted by: Speak4all at February 11, 2016 3:10 PM
Comment #403598

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