Monday, October 01, 2007

Bushophobia

I. At one level, it’s irrelevant at this stage of the game what anyone thinks of Pres. Bush. He’s a politically enfeebled, lameduck president who, for better or worse, blew on his political capital on an unpopular war. On top of that he decided to burn his base on other issues like bloated budgets, open borders, and censorship of political speech.

He’ll be out of a job next year. So, at this point, both he and we are playing out the clock.

But the value of doing a postmortem on the Bush presidency is that how we measure Bush will carry over into the next election and the next administration. Many of the issues are the same issues, at least for the time being, and the yardstick is the same.

I happen to think that Bush was a pretty decent first-term president, and in many respects he might be better off had he remained a one-term president. On the one hand, he made some excellent judicial appointments, pushed through tax cuts, opposed abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem cell research, promoted school choice and faith-based programs, opposed the Kyoto and ABM treaties, and conducted a counterterrorist campaign that has, thus far, forestalled another 9/11.

For some reason, he seemed to lose his nerve after he failed to reform Social Security. It may also be that the war effort and relentless criticism have worn him down. He’s become risk-averse.

But it’s important to remember the good things he did because politicians don’t have much incentive to do right when their good deeds are so quickly forgotten.

II. It’s been fascinating to see the ease with which urban legends about the Bush administration have found fertile soil and become deeply rooted. This is all the stranger because we’re not talking about some poorly documented event from the distant past, but about recent events in our own lifetime, which we’re living through in real time, on live TV, at a time and place where the primary source documentation is only a mouse-click away.

Yet, despite all that, the legends abound. Bush stole the 2000 election. He stole the 2004 reelection. Bush is responsible for global warming. Bush is responsible for Hurricanes. Karl Rove outed a covert, undercover operative. We systematically torture detainees at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. Bush “lied” us into war by predicating an “imminent threat.” Bush “lied” us into war by predicating a direct, Iraq-9/11 connection. 9/11 was an inside job. The Neocons staged a coup d’etat. And so on and so forth.

So many of the attacks have been directed, not against Bush the man, but Bush the legend. And in many ways, the legend is far more impressive than the man. Unfortunately, this sort of thing makes it very difficult to sort out rational criticism from irrational criticism.

For example, Popular Mechanics has attempted to debunk some of the 9/11 conspiracy theories. Now, I don’t think Popular Mechanics has the same editorial bias as the Weekly Standard or the National Review, yet—to judge by reaction in the combox—you’d suppose its science writers were on the White House payroll.

One has to peel away so many layers of legendary embellishment that there’s not much time left over to level genuine criticisms against the Bush administration.

III. If the tinfoil punditry were confined to the leftwing spectrum, it would be easier to discount, but, unfortunately, some of this is also infecting segments of the rightwing spectrum.

Many conservatives act disillusioned. They act as if Bush betrayed the conservative cause.

But Bush didn’t run as a libertarian or Reaganite. Bush is not an ideologue in the sense that Newt Gingrich or William F. Buckley is an ideologue. He’s not enough of an intellectual to be an ideologue.

We need to hold our candidates to realistic expectations. Otherwise, we become bitter and demoralized when they don’t live up to our ideals.

Some of the attacks on the Bush administration have simply been petty. Bush originally advocated a “humble” foreign policy. He was originally opposed to “nation-building.”

And it’s true that his subsequent policy has been inconsistent with his original, campaign rhetoric. He changed his mind. Why? 9/11.

In light of 9/11, he decided that the status quo was a failure. That kind of reversal is not, of itself, something to attack.

A reasonable man should be free to change his mind in the light of new evidence. Change policy if the old policy failed.

Many policies are shortsighted. As long as the potential threat is only an abstraction, we don’t focus on the threat and consider every logical implication or unforeseen contingency.

This is not to say that the new policy is above criticism. Maybe the new policy is just as impractical, in its own way, as the old policy.

The point, though, is to distinguish rational criticisms from irrational criticism. To attack Bush simply because he changed course in response to an unprecedented national crisis is not, in and of itself, a rational criticism. Do we want a commander-and-chief to be consistent if the policy is unsuccessful?

Let’s take some other examples. We’re told the Iraq war was illegal. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that this charge is true.

What are laws for? Are laws a means to an end, or an end in themselves? Do laws exist to protect the innocent from the guilty, or to protect the guilty from the innocent?

If a law keeps us from defending ourselves, then isn’t that a bad law? Isn’t the problem with the law? Don’t we need to change the law?

What kind of counterterrorist legislation should we have? Laws that protect terrorists from us—or laws that protect us from terrorists?

Take the specific question of “torture.” Of course, this way of framing the debate is already prejudicial. Indeed, it’s means to be prejudicial.

But what are we supposed to do with a “high-value” terrorist suspect who may have actionable intel? He’s not going to volunteer the goods. He’s not going to voluntarily tell us about sleeper cells and budding plots.

Are we not allowed to use any methods at all that would force the information out of him? Why does he have the right to keep this information to himself? Why does he have the right to put us all in mortal danger?

Or take the controversy over warrantless wiretaps. What’s the real issue? To obtain a warrant, you have to satisfy a legal burden of proof—probable cause. Now the question is whether we should apply this legal standard to the interception of overseas, enemy communications in time of war? Shouldn’t the question answer itself? Should a foreign jihadist be accorded the rights of an American citizen?

Or take the status of the detainees. They pose a dilemma. On the one hand, we know they’re dangerous. On the other hand, we don’t have enough legal evidence to convict them.

Should we be releasing terrorists, whom we know to be dangerous, because our judicial system is not adapted to deal with unlawful combatants whom we pick up on the battlefield?

Once again, what’s the rule of law for? Do we have a rule of law for the sake of following the rules. Or is it supposed to serve a purpose? If laws are meant to be functional, shouldn’t we change bad laws? Or should we cite the rule of law as a mushroom cloud is forming in the background?

People turn to vigilantism when government doesn’t do its duty. They take the law into their own hand when the state either refuses to enforce good laws or chooses to enforce bad laws.

Or take the doctrine of preemption. There are folks, on both sides of the political spectrum, who oppose the very idea of preemption—under any circumstances.

If the police saw a sniper position himself across from a playground, the war protesters would tell the SWAT team to wait until the sniper got off the first few rounds—with a few dead women and children lying about—before the sharpshooter was allowed to pull the trigger.

Now, there’s no doubt that preemption is risky. Preemption can backfire. There are unforeseen consequences.

But both action and inaction entail unforeseen consequences. So it comes down to a question of risk assessment and risk management.

Some folks are more fearful of a potential evil than they are of an actual evil. They are so haunted by the prospect of a possible abuse that they would rather follow a set of rigid, man-made rules right over the cliff than allow for any element of human discretion.

It’s like those doomsday scenarios in which we design artificially intelligent military computers, and then turn our missiles over to the supercomputer—with no manual override.

Or, to take a final example, what about “racial” profiling? On the one hand, libertarians are concerned with the dragnet approach to counterterrorism, in which everyone is a suspect. And I happen to share that concern.

On the other hand, these are the same critics who take the position that no one has rights unless everyone has rights—the very same rights. Therefore, we should treat jihadis like POWs and American citizens.

But, if that’s your position, then it puts everyone under suspicion. After all, we mustn't “discriminate.”

Speaking for myself, we ought to profile Muslims. So here I happen to think the libertarians are half-right. Unfortunately, where they’re wrong directly negates where they’re right.

The Bush presidency has failed in many respects, but unless we ourselves bring some ideological clarity to the table, even a “dream” candidate like Huckabee would be doomed to fail.

31 comments:

  1. "Speaking for myself, we ought to profile Muslims."

    Interesting. How would you respond to the charge of "Racist!"? Would you argue, as you've already somewhat suggested, that it's either treat everyone with suspicion or treat some with suspicion?

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  2. I happen to think that Bush was a pretty decent first-term president, and in many respects he might be better off had he remained a one-term president. On the one hand, he made some excellent judicial appointments, pushed through tax cuts, opposed abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem cell research, promoted school choice and faith-based programs, opposed the Kyoto and ABM treaties, and conducted a counterterrorist campaign that has, thus far, forestalled another 9/11.

    Not a bad list of accomplishments, considering the pressures that are out there.

    However, I have to admit to a disillusionment about George W because I am concerned about his bloating the size and power of government in the lives of everyday Americans.

    I am concerned that, in our fight against terrorism, we will significantly undermine the principles of the Constitution other soldiers shed blood to establish.

    Regardless, when all is said and done, I can't imagine the horrors of an Al Gore presidency...

    JR

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  3. Interesting. How would you respond to the charge of "Racist!"? Would you argue, as you've already somewhat suggested, that it's either treat everyone with suspicion or treat some with suspicion?

    Steve can answer for himself, but I should think that the obvious flaw with the charge is simply that "Muslim" is not a "race."

    It is a common fallacy that "Arab" and "Muslim" are synonymous - which I would think speaks to the shallow, surface level thought processes lurking behind the eyes of far too many people. Muslims come in many flavors, like Popsicles.

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  4. I need to learn the new Bushonomics- you know, cut taxes while increasing spending even more than Clinton! Amazing! His tax cuts are a facade...

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  5. I will admit that I try to avoid politics. Seems too corrupt for me. However, I agree with much of what you have written about the Bush era. I voted for him twice but both times felt that he was not the greatest choice but the best between Gore and Kerry.

    It will be interesting to see how the 2008 election turns out. Liberals love to say that Bush stole the elections (as you point out) but if a liberal wins in 08, will they cry the same? Not likely.

    One final thought. I agree that the Bush administration's spending and enlarging of the federal government has been very dissappointing to me. I agree with Bush's tax cuts and hope that they remain in place once he leaves office. However, I would love to see the government decrease.

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  6. I can't really agree that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of President Bush at this point. I'd like to, but he seems determined to make sure he goes down in flames. (cf. his most recent announcements of his intention to implement national health care before he leaves). I do agree that doing postmortem is important in terms of what we do next. What we look for in our next presidential candidate.

    You list good things, but I have to question some of them. I strongly disagree about the quality of his appointments. His opposition to abortion was no more than most republicans (mostly show). His promotion of faith-based programs was questionable at best given the nature of them. And, of course, I don't agree that you can connect correlation and causality the way you do. Just because we haven't had another 9/11 doesn't mean his actions prevented it. I haven't eaten brussel sprouts since 9/11. Maybe that's why we haven't had another one.

    I understand what you're saying about not too quickly forgetting the good things a president does, but sadly it sounds to me a little bit like Mussolini's "at least the trains ran on time."

    Under this administration we have had scandal after scandal. There have been constant legitimate questions regarding their dealings as if they were above the law, and not under it. They have grown the size of our government exponentially. They have failed, utterly, to cut government programs. They have failed to bring about most, if not all, of the promises they made regarding our efforts overseas. They have failed to care for our veterans in the manner they deserve. They have utterly destroyed our economy. They have grown our debt. They have brought the value of our dollar so low it is worth only pennies compared to what it was worth in the early 1900s. In fact, just the other week we actually dipped below the value of the Canadian dollar. Despite his tax cuts, we still pay unbelievably high tax rates, and it hasn't done a lick to curb our spending.

    Instead of recognizing the futility of trying to manage education at the federal level, he has implemented such terrible programs as "no child left behind". Rather than increasing freedom and personal responsibility, he has implemented yet another huge agency prying into the lives of American citizens. This administration tried to push the RealID on us, something so onerous even our state governments rebelled and stood up to say "NO!".

    Under his administration, and his appointees we have seen the supreme court approve of government entities seizing private property, to give to other private property owners. Not for public use, but for a preferred private entity. The poor are most frequently hit by this, losing what little they have.

    Under his administration the use of powers given under the patriot act have been routinely abused. Even the people involved have confessed that. There was no oversight as there should have been.

    We have seen the militarization of our police departments. This one is mostly Clinton's fault, but the Bush administration has done nothing to stop it. Through Clinton's federal programs, military weapons and equipment are routinely made available to local police departments. These departments then form swat teams, frequently made up of the the worst possible people. I've read many SWAT trainers who have tried without much success to convince departments to ask people to apply, and then everyone who applies exclude by default. These departments rarely have the money to hire these sorts of trainers though. They are small departments. Often in small towns who at worst get a murder every few years. And they have armored vehicles and automatic weapons.

    These have led to constant abuses. Innocent people terrorized in the middle of the night by wrong-door raids. People's homes being burned down by careless use of flash-bang grenades. Raids on homes of people running neighborhood poker games under anti-gambling laws. And other such absurdities.

    Further, our government has prosecuted to ensure the police maintain these rights. Any attempt to question their excessive use of no-knock warrants against non-violent offenders has been fought against by this administration's justice department tooth and claw.

    The courts have repeatedly given the police departments immunity from prosecution when these things go wrong. Kill an innocent person? Burn down someone's home? Kill their pet? Traumatize their children? Here, take some time off with pay while we look into it and then let you come back to work. Because the courts have refused to punish, the number of incidents is increasing. There is no negative reinforcement, no penalty for carelessness, and it shows.

    Speaking of the justice department, they've escalated the drug war now to go after people taking otherwise legal drugs in a fashion they don't approve of. People legitimately in unbelievable amounts of pain are arrested for taking too many painkillers. One of them spent years in prison, receiving more drugs in prison than he was accused of taking in his trial, just to survive. At least there, after several years in prison, he has finally been released. Others have died there, or still remain. Our government is unapologetic about this.

    That's just the tip of the iceberg. This is just what I can think of sitting here running it off into this little window. So yeah, the american people are disillusioned with the Republican party. Worse, they have nowhere to go to.

    That said, I'm reticent to get into your series of posited claims against Bush, since most of them I don't even hold to - especially not in the manner you are presenting them. So, at least for the moment, I'm going to let them lie. It is my hope that I can tackle some larger, more base issues that perhaps we can have a more productive discussion about. As such, please understand that I am defending my own position, and the position of rational people within the party, and don't lump me in with the most crazy person you've ever met and assume we're the same person.

    Many conservatives act disillusioned. They act as if Bush betrayed the conservative cause.

    But Bush didnt run as a libertarian or Reaganite. Bush is not an ideologue in the sense that Newt Gingrich or William F. Buckley is an ideologue. Hes not enough of an intellectual to be an ideologue.


    In my involvement with the party, I have found that Bush is a lightning rod for general disillusionment. He is the symbol of all that is wrong with it. People aren't just unhappy with him. They are unhappy with pretty much everyone since at least the 1996 era. That republican congress utterly failed people, and they kept believing, kept hoping. I think people simply don't have it in them to hope in the party anymore.

    However, the bottom line is, Bush ran as a republican. Ideologue or not, he ran on a platform of smaller government, fiscal conservatism, and personal responsibility. Further, nothing the american people did, particularly the republican party, could sway him from thinking he was in the right. He has gotten to a point where he doesn't care what the people want. His actions at least suggest that he has no sense of being accountable to the people.


    Some of the attacks on the Bush administration have simply been petty. Bush originally advocated a humble foreign policy. He was originally opposed to nation-building.


    Ok, I can't be sure who you're referring to specifically here. Yet if it's who I think it is, the point has never been that he was wrong to stray from those points at all. The point is that it's absurd to castigate someone for holding what are really the same points that Bush held when he ran, as if it has no place within the party.

    But maybe you're thinking of someone else who actually did make those points..I can't be sure.

    Lets take some other examples. Were told the Iraq war was illegal. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that this charge is true.

    What are laws for? Are laws a means to an end, or an end in themselves? Do laws exist to protect the innocent from the guilty, or to protect the guilty from the innocent?


    Laws are there to maintain law and order. They are there to protect the innocent from the guilty. And that includes protecting the American people from their government. In fact, that's pretty much the entire reason for our original laws, as stated by those who wrote them. They are a fence around the government for our protection.

    What you seem to be suggesting here is that we let the lion out because there's a bear on the prowl. Sure, he might kill the bear, but it hardly matters to us whose stomach we end up in does it?

    And yes, we can change the law. But it needs to be changed, not simply ignored. Somehow I doubt you would take this position on other things. I don't like most traffic laws. If I decide the law needs changing, am I free to simply disregard it?

    (At this point, you take the post into torture. I do want to address this, because I have some points I'd like to make that I did not have available to me in our past exchanges that I think could bring some fresh thoughts to the discussion. However, it's such an inflammatory topic I'd rather address it in a seperate post later on.)

    Or take the status of the detainees. They pose a dilemma. On the one hand, we know theyre dangerous. On the other hand, we dont have enough legal evidence to convict them.

    (Real quick, it seems to me like you answered your own question. How do we know they are dangerous, and simultaneously not have enough information to convict them? Does that by definition mean we can't know for sure?)

    Once again, whats the rule of law for? Do we have a rule of law for the sake of following the rules. Or is it supposed to serve a purpose?

    Again I wonder if you would follow this consistently. I mean, we have the rule of law for the sake of the innocent right? So why can't we set it aside whenever we think it's right? I mean, we were all sure OJ did it right? So wouldn't it have been ok for us to just form up a posse and make sure he saw justice? If a judge knows a defendent is guilty, why go through the sham of a jury trial? Can't he just forego all that and lock him up? I mean, what if the man goes free? Are we going to cite the rule of law while he goes free to maybe commit more crimes? WHy take the chance?

    If the police saw a sniper position himself across from a playground, the war protesters would tell the SWAT team to wait until the sniper got off the first few roundswith a few dead women and children lying aboutbefore the sharpshooter was allowed to pull the trigger.

    The swat team taking him out would not be pre-emption. However, if that same man was sitting at home drinking coffee with a gun in his closet, and because he had the gun, the police assumed he'd use it against schoolchildren they decided to take him out at his dinner table - then yeah, that'd be pre-emption. And yes, I would be against that.

    Some folks are more fearful of a potential evil than they are of an actual evil. They are so haunted by the prospect of a possible abuse that they would rather follow a set of rigid, man-made rules right over the cliff than allow for any element of human discretion.

    I don't know about those people. But I do know about me. What I'm afraid of is inevitable abuse. And yes, I'd rather ride it right over the cliff than willingly put on a set of chains.

    Or, to take a final example, what about racial profiling? On the one hand, libertarians are concerned with the dragnet approach to counterterrorism, in which everyone is a suspect. And I happen to share that concern.

    Good! We agree!

    On the other hand, these are the same critics who take the position that no one has rights unless everyone has rightsthe very same rights. Therefore, we should treat jihadis like POWs and American citizens.

    Bad, we disagree. :-)

    I don't agree with your logic here either. The fact that all people should be treated fairly under the law hardly translates to requiring that everyone be treated with equal suspicion. It doesn't work that way in our criminal justice system now - why would it have to when applied to enemies foreign?

    The fact that our police have to presume we are innocent until proven guilty, and treat us all equally, hasn't led to them assuming EVERYONE is guilty whenever a crime is committed. And most of us recognize that being overly focused on even valid trends can cause bad results.

    Not all muslims are of middle eastern descent. Not all of them that are are obviously so. If we become overly focused on the appearance as a means of identifying particular suspects then we run the risk of overlooking what is right in front of our face.

    But what I'm really interested in is this all too common assertion that if you are not an american you have no rights. I don't know where you get this from. I quote from our own Declaration of Independence:
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    At the risk of sounding like a certain strain of evangelicals - that says ALL men. And I don't see ANYTHING in the context to suggest it would mean "All Americans", quite the contrary.

    When you read the writings of the framers, particularly in the federalist and anti-federalist papers, it is quite clear that they saw the rights ennumerated in the Bill of Rights (and others) to be natural rights. Rights posessed by all men. They were not granted by governments, nor could they (rightly) be taken away. So yes, we should respect the image of God as found in all men. We should respect the rights of all men, and do it by example. We do not justify our evil by the evil (real or potential) of others.

    Does that come with a risk? Yes, of course it does. But it is part of the very core of what it means to be free. I will gladly accept the relatively small risk of death at the hands of a terrorist for myself and my children over the relatively high risk of tyrrany and chains at the hands of a future government.

    And don't tell me I'm being crazy. You look at this history of our government, the history of governments around the world. They do not grant themselves powers that do not get used. Frequently in manners that were never intended.

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  7. George W Bush10/02/2007 12:07 AM

    Yeah, you're not a conspiracy theory whacko. And I'm George Bush.

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  8. Criticism of President Bush has gone from somewhat intelligent disapproval of his policies to an outright social phenomenon. Were you to ask the soccer mom with the "countdown" bumper sticker on her Honda Odyssey to articulate her political position on the President, you'd be lucky to eek out a "well, Iraq and WMD and lies and stuff."

    Unfortunately, intelligent critics of Bush can no longer be heard amongst the uninformed masses of social Bush-haters.

    While a man like Huckabee would be a welcome addition to the White House, checks and balances would prevent him from enacting any real change to abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. I, for one, would like to see "religion" out of the White House, so anyone I engage in conversation (knowing my faith) won't ascribe to me the label of Republican.

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  9. Unfortunately, intelligent critics of Bush can no longer be heard amongst the uninformed masses of social Bush-haters.

    I agree. Worse, they tend to all be written off together, making progress all the more difficult. (I'm not necessarily referring to this blog, but rather to Fox News et al)

    While a man like Huckabee would be a welcome addition to the White House, checks and balances would prevent him from enacting any real change to abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.

    Why would he be a welcome addition? Less onerous than Rudy, Mitt, or McCain? Yes, absolutely. But that's like getting to choose between electrocution or lethal injection.

    Further, why would we want a president to be able to enact the changes you mention? We want the changes yes, but if any president can just come in and make them, then all you end up with is dueling presidential terms. You end up with the same sort of scenario we had with kings during the reformation.

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  10. Shamgar,

    If you're concerned about not being seen as "the most crazy person you've ever met", as you put it, then I don't think you should keep making comments like:

    "They have utterly destroyed our economy."

    "His [George Bush's] actions at least suggest that he has no sense of being accountable to the people."

    Terms like "utterly destroyed" and "no sense" might be justifiable as hyperbole in some contexts, but given the large amount of opposition to Bush that exists today, much of it unjustified, I think it's better to avoid that sort of hyperbole. It's not as if few or no people are criticizing Bush, and we need somebody to speak with hyperbole in order to awaken people to his faults.

    I also think it's counterproductive to make comments like the following:

    "So yeah, the american people are disillusioned with the Republican party. Worse, they have nowhere to go to."

    I doubt that many Americans follow politics as much as you do or read the sort of sources on political matters that you read. Think about what television programs and movies are popular, what you hear people talking about in social settings, what clothes they wear and what language they use, what magazines line the grocery store aisles, etc. As bad as the Bush administration has been on some issues (I agree with some of your criticisms), in many ways the American people want and deserve worse. Many millions of people voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry. Hillary Clinton is leading in the current polling. I think she'll lose the election, but the fact that she would be leading in any poll at any point in time is ridiculous, and it reflects poorly on the American people. Recent Republican victories probably have been a result of a mixture of good and bad motives on the part of the voters. It seems that a lot of people keep going back and forth between the parties, voting for one party at one point and the other at another point. Both parties have a lot of problems (though the Republicans are significantly better), but there's also a problem with the immaturity of voters and the American people in general. The Bush administration has been bad on some issues, but the American people deserve even worse. You have to take the societal context into account in any election, and we should be grateful that we haven't had an administration far worse than the Bush administration these past several years. Nearly half the voters wanted Al Gore or John Kerry instead, and I suspect that many of the people who voted for Bush did so for some bad reasons. I think you're being too critical of the Bush administration and not critical enough of the American people.

    I also think that you should reconsider what Steve wrote and how you responded to some of his comments. For example, I don't think that anything he said suggests that he wouldn't apply the principle of human rights in the Declaration of Independence to non-Americans.

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  11. SHAMGAR SAID:

    “Just because we haven't had another 9/11 doesn't mean his actions prevented it. I haven't eaten brussel sprouts since 9/11. Maybe that's why we haven't had another one.”

    His administration has foiled many terrorist plots:

    http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson091007.html

    “Under this administration we have had scandal after scandal.”

    We’ve had pseudoscandal after pseudoscandal, trumped up by the liberal media.

    “Under his administration, and his appointees we have seen the supreme court approve of government entities seizing private property, to give to other private property owners.”

    It’s irrational to blame SCOTUS on Bush.

    “Under his administration the use of powers given under the patriot act have been routinely abused.”

    “Routinely?” Another reckless charge.

    “Through Clinton's federal programs, military weapons and equipment are routinely made available to local police departments. These departments then form swat teams, frequently made up of the the worst possible people.”

    Would you rather see the police outgunned by the criminal element?

    “These have led to constant abuses. Innocent people terrorized in the middle of the night by wrong-door raids. People's homes being burned down by careless use of flash-bang grenades. Raids on homes of people running neighborhood poker games under anti-gambling laws. And other such absurdities.”

    You’re now mushing together all three branches of gov’t (legislative, executive, judiciary) at all three levels (local, state, federal), and pinning all that on Bush. This is an example of your irrationality. You jumble valid criticisms with invalid criticisms.

    “The courts have repeatedly given the police departments immunity from prosecution when these things go wrong.”

    Which is Bush’s fault?

    “In my involvement with the party, I have found that Bush is a lightning rod for general disillusionment. He is the symbol of all that is wrong with it.”

    Which is irrational.

    “That republican congress utterly failed people.” True. Is Bush to blame?

    “However, the bottom line is, Bush ran as a republican. Ideologue or not, he ran on a platform of smaller government, fiscal conservatism, and personal responsibility.”

    You illustrate my point about urban legends, even though the primary source documentation is readily available. This is what Bush actually ran on:

    http://www.2000gop.com/convention/speech/speechbush.html

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/09/20040902-2.html

    “Laws are there to maintain law and order. They are there to protect the innocent from the guilty. And that includes protecting the American people from their government. In fact, that's pretty much the entire reason for our original laws, as stated by those who wrote them. They are a fence around the government for our protection.”

    Well, that’s a pity, because gov’t is the enforcement mechanism—so if you can’t trust gov’t, you can’t trust the gov’t to enforce the laws that are designed to protect us from gov’t. So you have a real quandary here.

    “(Real quick, it seems to me like you answered your own question. How do we know they are dangerous, and simultaneously not have enough information to convict them? Does that by definition mean we can't know for sure?)”

    No, it means there’s a difference between a legal standard of evidence and common sense.

    “The swat team taking him out would not be pre-emption.”

    Yes, it would be preemptive if they take him out before he pulls the trigger.

    “I don't agree with your logic here either. The fact that all people should be treated fairly under the law hardly translates to requiring that everyone be treated with equal suspicion.”

    You’re assuming that it’s “unfair” to profile Muslims.

    “The fact that our police have to presume we are innocent until proven guilty, and treat us all equally, hasn't led to them assuming EVERYONE is guilty whenever a crime is committed.”

    No, the *police* don’t have to presume any such thing. The presumption of innocence is a judicial standard of proof that only applies to jurors.

    “Not all muslims are of middle eastern descent. Not all of them that are are obviously so. If we become overly focused on the appearance as a means of identifying particular suspects then we run the risk of overlooking what is right in front of our face.”

    Now you’re attacking a straw man argument.

    “But what I'm really interested in is this all too common assertion that if you are not an american you have no rights.”

    Now you’re waxing hyperbolic.

    “At the risk of sounding like a certain strain of evangelicals - that says ALL men. And I don't see ANYTHING in the context to suggest it would mean ‘All Americans’, quite the contrary.”

    Now you’re confusing human rights with civil rights. For example, the right to vote is a civil right, not a human right.

    “When you read the writings of the framers, particularly in the federalist and anti-federalist papers, it is quite clear that they saw the rights ennumerated in the Bill of Rights (and others) to be natural rights. Rights posessed by all men. They were not granted by governments, nor could they (rightly) be taken away.”

    Now you’re anachronistically reinterpreting the Bill of Rights in light post-Warren court judicial activism and revisionism.

    As a libertarian, you, of all people, ought to be aware of how original intent is routinely flouted by SCOTUS. Do you think there’s a Constitutional right to abortion? Do you think there’s a Constitutional right to sodomy? Do you think there’s a Constitutional right to reverse discrimination (e.g. “affirmative action)?

    “So yes, we should respect the image of God as found in all men.”

    The imago Dei is not a Constitutional category.

    “We should respect the rights of all men, and do it by example.”

    You’re begging the question of what constitutes a natural right,.

    “We do not justify our evil by the evil (real or potential) of others.”

    Once again, you’re begging the question of what is evil—as if intercepting enemy communications in time of war is evil.

    “I will gladly accept the relatively small risk of death at the hands of a terrorist for myself and my children over the relatively high risk of tyrrany and chains at the hands of a future government.”

    You’re welcome to put your own family in harm’s way. But you don’t have the right to endanger my family in the process.

    “And don't tell me I'm being crazy.”

    You’re being crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jason,


    Terms like "utterly destroyed" and "no sense" might be justifiable as hyperbole in some contexts, but given the large amount of opposition to Bush that exists today, much of it unjustified, I think it's better to avoid that sort of hyperbole. It's not as if few or no people are criticizing Bush, and we need somebody to speak with hyperbole in order to awaken people to his fault


    I'm not sure what you mean by quoting 'no sense' like that. It would be 'no sense of accountability'. And I think I can back that up, it wasn't intended to be hyperbole. He refuses to comply with court orders. He writes notes on bills that get passed that he has the clear intention of not abiding by them. He has repeatedly been found to be operating outside the law as written. Even if you don't agree with the law - you change it, you don't just ignore it.

    I likewise meant no hyperbole to destroying the economy. Look at the value of the Dollar since 2000, and particularly since 2004. Look at the actions of the FED. Even mainstream economists are concerned at this point with the last FED rise. Some looking at our current numbers and the impending correction at the end of this business cycle as being the worst recession of the last 25 years.

    And, I noted that this was not just conjecture when I said that people are disillusioned with the republican party. I'm involved in the party. Even hardline party supporters who have held the line through all of this are upset. They are frustrated. Republican clubs and events do not even draw a fraction of the people they used to. These people who have defended Bush and others to the hilt "for the sake of the party" are even frustrated, and recognize the source of the problem to be the party's failure to adhere to its own principles.

    You think I should be more critical of the american people because they have voted for people like Gore and Kerry. I don't think they would've been worse. Different, but not worse. The problems would change, but we'd be just as bad off. You want to know why Americans keep going back and forth on the parties? It's because they want something different and they're not getting it. No matter who they elect the government grows bigger and more intrusive. Not that everyone can articulate what they want, but they (more or less) know what they don't want, and that's more of the same. So they vote the other guy and .... get more of the same.

    As for Steve, yes, he did. He openly advocated, and has openly advocated in the past, the position that people who are not americans have no rights that should be recognized under our system of government. In particular those recognized by the fourth and fifth amendments to our constitution.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Steve,

    Yeah....and I've foiled my children's attempts to fly their
    little brother to the moon too. Most of those are either
    completely unworkable plots, or had way too much undercover
    involvement and prompting to be credible. But, given your
    general stance on these things, I'm guessing that is going
    to be utterly dismissed by you, regardless of available
    evidence. (Otherwise, you wouldn't be bringing this up)

    Weve had pseudoscandal after pseudoscandal, trumped up by the liberal media.

    Ah yes, I seem to have heard this cry before...oh yeah, during the Clinton adminsitration. Only then it was a vast right-wing conspiracy. When the president or the people he is responsible for break the law, it's actionable. I'm not denying that there were some really dumb things to get up in arms about that people made a much bigger deal over than was warranted. But there have been no small number of serious problems within this administration.

    Its irrational to blame SCOTUS on Bush.

    Not really, when he appointed some of the justices. They take their
    queue from him, that much is clear. Not that they're willing to allow
    anything, but they give him quite a bit of leeway. You wanted to credit
    him with appointing the justices, which means their bad decisions are
    fair game. ANd since his appointees were a big part of the problem in
    the things I mentioned, they're valid.

    Routinely? Another reckless charge.

    Ah, so you haven't read the statements and reports of past and current heads of our TLA agencies? Or the audits by various government entities? Yes, routinely. THat's a big, very big, law. There are lots of things to abuse in it.


    Would you rather see the police outgunned by the criminal element?

    Right. I'm sure there are large heavily armed criminal organizations in a town of 200 people in the middle of nowhere in KS. This is the kind of malarky I expect from the VPC. The use of highpowered weapons by criminals is exceedingly rare. The standard equipment is more than sufficient even in large cities. It certainly is in a small town with little or no violent crime. That's a lot of taxpayer money being spent on unneeded hardware that will then be used to the detriment of the taxpayer. Further, I am particularly noting their excessive use against NONVIOLENT offenders. Often against people who have nothing more dangerous than kitchen knives, and that in their kitchen, not even on their person. That's assuming they even have the right house, which frequently they do not.

    Youre now mushing together all three branches of govt (legislative, executive, judiciary) at all three levels (local, state, federal), and pinning all that on Bush.

    More accurately, I'm pointing out the problems within the republican party in general. I'm not trying to pin every bit on Bush, though given that he is currently the president, I'd say the buck stops with him. In particular, the judicial branch in the things it prosecutes and defends takes its direction from him. He is capable of reigning it in and does nothing.

    I mentioned that Bush is the lightning rod for all that is wrong with the party. You say this is irrational. First, it seems from statements that follow you think I was holding this position or defending it. That was merely an observation about the state of things. It was not an attempt to defend it, only to state it. I will say that I understand it. Personally, I also lay responsibility for each of these things at the feet of the individuals that perpetrate them. However, they each do what they do because their environment suggests its a good idea. They receive direction. They observe the behavior of others and see the results.

    I never blamed Bush for the 1996 congressional failure. My intent was to say that this is where things started for people. They tried to keep a stiff upper lip about things, and under the surface were growing more and more dissatisfied. Now that it's all coming apart, all of their ire has one target. That may not be fair, but it's where we are.

    You illustrate my point about urban legends, even though the primary source documentation is readily available. This is what Bush actually ran on:

    You misunderstand my point. Bush ran as a republican. Running as a republican has certain expectations. The things I listed are basic and core to the RP plastform.

    Well, thats a pity, because govt is the enforcement mechanismso if you cant trust govt, you cant trust the govt to enforce the laws that are designed to protect us from govt. So you have a real quandary here.

    Not really. That's why we have free speech, free elections, jury trials, and if it comes to it, the second amendment.

    The swat team taking him out would not be pre-emption.

    Yes, it would be preemptive if they take him out before he pulls the trigger.


    That is a different definition of pre-emptive than what is being discussed in reality (vs the metaphor). Iran does not have a weapon aimed at the united states with their finger hovering over the button.

    No, the *police* dont have to presume any such thing. The presumption of innocence is a judicial standard of proof that only applies to jurors.

    Not sure how you get that. There's a reason police have to obtain warrants and prove just cause. You can't just arrest someone on a hunch and put them on trial, you have to have just cause.

    Now youre confusing human rights with civil rights. For example, the right to vote is a civil right, not a human right.

    To some extent I agree the right to vote is a civil right. As far as the specifics go. But I am not confusing civil and human rights.

    Now youre anachronistically reinterpreting the Bill of Rights in light post-Warren court judicial activism and revisionism.

    Um...no. I'm interpreting their writings in light of the people who influenced them, and in light of their own words. This has nothing to do with Warren. I actually expected you to be familiar with these writings - but if you want I can try to dig up some specific content for you if I can set aside some time later.

    As a libertarian,

    I'm not a libertarian.

    you, of all people, ought to be aware of how original intent is routinely flouted by SCOTUS.

    Yes...I am.

    Do you think theres a Constitutional right to abortion?

    Absolutely not. I'm not sure where you're going with this, or the rest of your questions though. I never mentioned a "constitutional right" to anything except that which the constitution explicitly mentions.


    Youre begging the question of what constitutes a natural right,.

    Comeon. You can't dismiss my arguments defining what constitutes a natural right and then claim I never provided supporting arguments to demonstrate what they are.


    Once again, youre begging the question of what is evilas if intercepting enemy communications in time of war is evil.

    Well, in terms of evil I had more in mind the indefinite imprisonment of suspects without any right for them to have their case heard by an impartial judge as to whether we even have cause to hold them.

    Youre welcome to put your own family in harms way. But you dont have the right to endanger my family in the process.

    So then we find ourselves at an impass. One of us wants to take the road of tyrrany in exchange for the illusion of safety. The other is willing to risk death in the cause of liberty. For my part, I think I have the better company.

    ReplyDelete
  14. shamgar said...

    “As for Steve, yes, he did. He openly advocated, and has openly advocated in the past, the position that people who are not americans have no rights that should be recognized under our system of government. In particular those recognized by the fourth and fifth amendments to our constitution.”

    i) You’re equivocating between human rights and civil rights.

    ii) You’re also disregarding the fact that it was the Supreme Court which universalized the Bill of Rights by applying the 14th Amendment to the first 10 Amendments. So this hardly represents original intent.

    “Ah yes, I seem to have heard this cry before...oh yeah, during the Clinton adminsitration. Only then it was a vast right-wing conspiracy. When the president or the people he is responsible for break the law, it's actionable. I'm not denying that there were some really dumb things to get up in arms about that people made a much bigger deal over than was warranted. But there have been no small number of serious problems within this administration.”

    You’re not offering any specifics or specific supporting evidence.

    “They take their_queue from him, that much is clear.”

    Judges don’t take their cue from the president. Once confirmed, they can do as they please—and often do.

    “You wanted to credit_him with appointing the justices, which means their bad decisions are _fair game. ANd since his appointees were a big part of the problem in_the things I mentioned, they're valid.”

    Now you’re being simple-minded. A president can’t predict for a fact what a nominee will do. He gets credit for attempting to appoint a responsible candidate to higher office, but if the appointee later goes off the reservation, that’s not the president’s fault.

    “Ah, so you haven't read the statements and reports of past and current heads of our TLA agencies? Or the audits by various government entities? Yes, routinely. THat's a big, very big, law. There are lots of things to abuse in it.”

    Once again, you refuse to back up your charges with specific documentation. And I’ve already seen how you mishandle sources.

    “Right. I'm sure there are large heavily armed criminal organizations in a town of 200 people in the middle of nowhere in KS.”

    i) It all depends on what example you use. If you use the example of the North Hollywood shootout, then that’s what SWAT teams are for.

    http://www.emergency.com/lapdbank.htm

    ii) Anyway, policing is a functional of local gov’t, not the Feds. Bush isn’t to blame.

    “I'm not trying to pin every bit on Bush, though given that he is currently the president, I'd say the buck stops with him. In particular, the judicial branch in the things it prosecutes and defends takes its direction from him.”

    Tell that to Justice Stevens. Tell that to the Ninth Circuit.

    “That is a different definition of pre-emptive than what is being discussed in reality (vs the metaphor). Iran does not have a weapon aimed at the united states with their finger hovering over the button.”

    My post was not about little ol’ you. If you think that in some cases, preemptive measures are warranted, fine.

    “There's a reason police have to obtain warrants and prove just cause.”

    You don’t get a warrant for someone presumed innocent. Rather, a warrant presumes probable cause.

    “Um...no. I'm interpreting their writings in light of the people who influenced them, and in light of their own words. This has nothing to do with Warren. I actually expected you to be familiar with these writings - but if you want I can try to dig up some specific content for you if I can set aside some time later.”

    i) Let’s see…I’m familiar with the fact that they didn’t think men and woman had equal rights, and they didn’t think blacks and white had equal rights. So they clearly defined universal human rights very differently than you (or I) might do.

    ii) BTW, the Constitution is a consensus document. It doesn’t correspond to the private opinion of each Founding Father.

    “I'm not a libertarian.”

    Fine. If you don’t like that category, I can use a different classification for you. How about “card-carrying member of the lunatic fringe”?

    “Absolutely not. I'm not sure where you're going with this, or the rest of your questions though. I never mentioned a "constitutional right" to anything except that which the constitution explicitly mentions.”

    Fine, the Constitution doesn’t explicitly apply the Bill of Rights to Muslim holy warriors.


    “Comeon. You can't dismiss my arguments defining what constitutes a natural right and then claim I never provided supporting arguments to demonstrate what they are.”

    You’re posing a very specialized question about the range of acceptable techniques to interrogate a terrorist. The Constitution doesn’t get that detailed.

    “Well, in terms of evil I had more in mind the indefinite imprisonment of suspects without any right for them to have their case heard by an impartial judge as to whether we even have cause to hold them.”

    You’re welcome to bleed to death for the jihadis. Perhaps we should lock you up in a cell with them overnight while you explain your jurisprudence to them.

    “So then we find ourselves at an impass. One of us wants to take the road of tyrrany in exchange for the illusion of safety. The other is willing to risk death in the cause of liberty. For my part, I think I have the better company.”

    According to your tendentious way of framing the alternatives—which doesn’t amount to a serious argument.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Shamgar writes:

    "I'm not sure what you mean by quoting 'no sense' like that. It would be 'no sense of accountability'. And I think I can back that up, it wasn't intended to be hyperbole. He refuses to comply with court orders. He writes notes on bills that get passed that he has the clear intention of not abiding by them. He has repeatedly been found to be operating outside the law as written. Even if you don't agree with the law - you change it, you don't just ignore it."

    Even if we were to assume your interpretation of each incident you refer to above, those incidents wouldn't lead us to the conclusion that Bush has no sense of accountability. Our system of government allows for Presidents to be removed from office or be elected out of office after their first term. Bush is aware of those possibilities. He's known that he's had some level of accountability to the voters. The fact that he disagrees with you on issues like the ones you describe above doesn't demonstrate that he takes those positions because of a belief that he has no accountability, much less do such incidents prove that he has no sense of accountability in other contexts.

    You write:

    "I likewise meant no hyperbole to destroying the economy. Look at the value of the Dollar since 2000, and particularly since 2004. Look at the actions of the FED. Even mainstream economists are concerned at this point with the last FED rise. Some looking at our current numbers and the impending correction at the end of this business cycle as being the worst recession of the last 25 years."

    Why are we supposed to think that any of those things, or all of them combined, are equivalent to an economy having been "utterly destroyed" by George Bush? There wouldn't be an upcoming "end of this business cycle" if the economy had been destroyed. And why are we supposed to think that your concerns about the economy are entirely Bush's fault?

    Later on, in a reply to Steve, you comment that "Personally, I also lay responsibility for each of these things at the feet of the individuals that perpetrate them." But this thread began as a discussion about Bush. And you initially wrote many of your arguments as if they were directed at Bush and his administration. You're now expanding the discussion beyond where it began, and you're adding qualifiers you didn't mention earlier.

    You write:

    "You think I should be more critical of the american people because they have voted for people like Gore and Kerry. I don't think they would've been worse. Different, but not worse."

    That's an unreasonable claim. Do you think Gore and Kerry would have nominated judges like Roberts and Alito? Would they have supported the pro-life measures Bush has supported? Why do people like Gore and Kerry criticize Bush for taxes he cut or for government programs he allegedly didn't support sufficiently if what they would do in office would be "no worse"? Why do you think that organizations that are pro-choice, support gun control, want higher taxes, etc. tend to be more supportive of the Democratic party? Why should we think that having a pro-choice President in office, for example, is "different, but no worse"? Is Ruth Ginsburg just different from Samuel Alito, but no worse?

    You write:

    "You want to know why Americans keep going back and forth on the parties? It's because they want something different and they're not getting it."

    That's a vague assertion, and you aren't giving us reason to agree with it. Do you think that most Americans have views similar to yours?

    You write:

    "Not that everyone can articulate what they want, but they (more or less) know what they don't want, and that's more of the same."

    If they're so incompetent that they "can't articulate what they want", then how do you know what they want? People can want some sort of change without wanting the sort of change you're seeking. I doubt that many families are expressing your sentiments over the dinner table in-between reading The Da Vinci Code and watching "American Idol".

    ReplyDelete
  16. Steve,

    ii) Youre also disregarding the fact that it was the Supreme Court which universalized the Bill of Rights by applying the 14th Amendment to the first 10 Amendments. So this hardly represents original intent.

    No, you're looking at everything backwards. Congress and the SC used the 14th amendment to universalize the bill of rights to the states, as restrictions on their forms of government. The rights enumerated as protected from the federal government in the Bill of Rights are enumerated there because they were seen as the most critical that no-one should ever be confused about. The states had their own constitutions for recognizing these rights. The people already held these rights. The SC action here was an attempt by the federal government to force its restrictions upward on the states.



    Judges dont take their cue from the president. Once confirmed, they can do as they pleaseand often do.

    Once confirmed, they can do what they please and often do -- yes, I agree. That doesn't mean they DON'T
    take their cue from the president, only that they don't HAVE to.

    i) It all depends on what example you use. If you use the example of the North Hollywood shootout, then thats what SWAT teams are for.

    Ah yes. The classic exception that proves the rule.

    ii) Anyway, policing is a functional of local govt, not the Feds. Bush isnt to blame.

    Yes...because the local police forces don't take direction from the federal government at all. Except...federal
    funds are tied to going along with their programs and ideas. And when you reject them there are..repercussions,
    for your state/locality.

    Tell that to Justice Stevens. Tell that to the Ninth Circuit.

    What? What does the choice of positions and cases taken by lawyers prosecuting or defending cases on behalf of the US government have to do with Justice Stevens and the ninth circuit court of appeals?

    Fine. If you dont like that category, I can use a different classification for you. How about card-carrying member of the lunatic fringe?

    -sigh- Once again, civil discourse with you was simply too much to hope for.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jason,

    I doubt there is much I can do to convince you regarding Bush's lack of accountability to the american people. He may be aware that he ran the risk of not winning re-election in 20004 - but that doesn't translate to a sense of real accountability, as one who derives his power from the consent of the governed. Not just "I won't get elected" but a realization that he is there to serve, and not to rule.

    This has very little to do with whether he agrees with me or not. There have been other presidents with whom I have had disagreements. They did not fall into this category. Bush/Cheney have a strong belief that is fairly openly held that the president has far more power than he does. They recognize too that he doesn't actually hold it under our current laws, but he SHOULD hold it, and they act like he already does. When called to account for it, they behave as if the structures in place to keep them in check are beneath them to comply with.


    Why are we supposed to think that any of those things, or all of them combined, are equivalent to an economy having been "utterly destroyed" by George Bush? There wouldn't be an upcoming "end of this business cycle" if the economy had been destroyed. And why are we supposed to think that your concerns about the economy are entirely Bush's fault?

    Well...if I thought for a moment you'd listen I'd be happy to give you a lesson in economics. However, that's a lot of time and effort just so I can be misconstrued and mocked. All of those things combined pretty much define the destruction of an economy. Your comment about the business cycle demonstrates you don't actually understand what a business cycle is. The end of a business cycle is a crash due to an artificially inflated economy. Why is it artifically inflated? Why is the dollar so low? Because we had to expand credit, print money, and sell debt to other countries to finance this war.

    You're now expanding the discussion beyond where it began, and you're adding qualifiers you didn't mention earlier.

    No, I fully articulated my position the first time around. Just nobody really cared to give it a fair reading. Standard Operating Procedure.


    That's an unreasonable claim.

    No, not really.

    Do you think Gore and Kerry would have nominated judges like Roberts and Alito?

    I certainly hope not. They'd definitely be different, but no, they probably wouldn't have been much better.

    Would they have supported the pro-life measures Bush has supported?

    What pro-life measures? You mean the essentially meaningless ones that do absolutely nothing to actually impact the problem? Whose obvious goals were merely to throw single-issue voters a bone to make sure they stay loyal in the next election cycle?

    Why do people like Gore and Kerry criticize Bush for taxes he cut or for government programs he allegedly didn't support sufficiently if what they would do in office would be "no worse"? Why do you think that organizations that are pro-choice, support gun control, want higher taxes, etc. tend to be more supportive of the Democratic party? Why should we think that having a pro-choice President in office, for example, is "different, but no worse"?

    Because we have fundamentally different priorities. You are interested in trivial distractions that for the most part shouldn't even be issues under discussion. Just look at the way you frame your questions. "cut taxes" "government progrems he allegedly didn't support sufficiently" "pro-choice" "[more or less] gun control". The question is really, should there BE taxes at the federal level. Should those government programs even exist? The issue of abortion shouldn't even be an issue under discussion in national politics. Murder laws are state level, not federal. Under the second amendment, the question should be why we have gun control at all, now how much.

    The ultimate questions are about the role of the state in your life. The question you have to answer for yourself, is how much government intrusion is allowable before we're no longer free? How much of my money can be taken by the government for redistribution of wealth? (Not for legit govt purposes, but for failed national programs) How much can the govt run my life "for my own good" or "for the children" and I can still be free? Can they prevent me from taking (some) drugs? From drinking Alcohol? From smoking cigarettes? From eating foods high in cholesteral? Trans-fats? Make me wear my seat belt? Wear a helmet?

    In the last ~20 years, our candidates have not had a fundamental difference in these areas. The debate in national politics between the major parties is no longer about free enterprise and individual liberty vs central planning. It's about which central plan you want. The repulican one, or the democratic one.

    Under Bush, again, we have had a huge increase in entitlement spending. Probably the largest since LBJ. Our budget is several times larger than it was under Clinton. He has repealed the Posse Comitatus act. He has issued executive orders that lay the groundwork for abuse of power under martial law. (Whether he will abuse it or not is not the real question there - there will be other presidents after him.) He has worked to ensure that the US government can hold U.S. citizens indefinitely without right of habeus corpus by simply declaring them enemy combatants. Again, his abuse or lack of it is not the argument here. It's the ripe potential for abuse by others later at the very least. Then you have the monetary issues I mentioned before, and of course the massive new federal agency known as "Homeland Security" and of course the other fiascos mentioned by one or more of us during this discussion.

    I'm sorry, I don't see Gore being worse than that . Different? Yes. I'm sure some of the things I would list would be different, maybe even most, but the end result would not be substantively different in the areas that matter. But maybe you can tell me what Gore would've done that would've been worse?

    Is Ruth Ginsburg just different from Samuel Alito, but no worse?

    I'd have to go back and research Ginsburg a little about the decisions she's been a part of - she might actually be better.

    Do you think that most Americans have views similar to yours?

    Yes, at the most generic level. Not in the specifics necessarily. They want to be free. I'm quite involved politically this time around. Not only have I talked to people locally, but also to those involved in national campaign efforts in every state who are also talking to rank and file folks. I think it's fair to say most people fall into this category. Both democrats and republicans. People who are often on a rather different track than me on the specifics still want the federal government to abide by the rule of law, and to limit themselves to constitutional powers. They might want radically different things from me at the state level, but at the federal level we're on the same page.

    Have I talked to most americans? No. I'm saying this is a significant statistical sample. I'm saying that when I sit down and talk to average Joes about these exact things, they get excited. Americans, at their heart, yearn for the "animating contest of freedom". Or at least, some of them do. I believe that's the majority. I hope it's the majority. They've just been lulled into a stupor by what has happened to our political system and the path it has taken.

    If they're so incompetent that they "can't articulate what they want", then how do you know what they want? People can want some sort of change without wanting the sort of change you're seeking. I doubt that many families are expressing your sentiments over the dinner table in-between reading The Da Vinci Code and watching "American Idol".

    I never said they were incompetent. I said they may not be able to articulate it. They can tell you about what they want, and what they want is less government. They may not be able to articulate the hows and whys, but that doesn't mean they don't know what they want or that they're incompetent.

    The average Christian can't articulate the doctrine of the trinity, that doesn't mean they're incompetent. It doesn't even mean they don't believe it. It just means that they don't have sufficient rhetorical grasp of the concepts to explain it to others. It also doesn't mean that someone who DOES understand the trinity, can't understand what they're talking about and getting at.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Shamgar said:
    ---
    I doubt there is much I can do to convince you regarding Bush's lack of accountability to the american people.
    ---

    Yes, it is difficult convicing people of something you just make up and pretend is true.

    ReplyDelete
  19. shamgar said...

    “No, you're looking at everything backwards. Congress and the SC used the 14th amendment to universalize the bill of rights to the states, as restrictions on their forms of government. The rights enumerated as protected from the federal government in the Bill of Rights are enumerated there because they were seen as the most critical that no-one should ever be confused about. The states had their own constitutions for recognizing these rights. The people already held these rights. The SC action here was an attempt by the federal government to force its restrictions upward on the states.”

    You’re not being true to your own argument. If, according to you, the Founders already regarded the Bill of Rights as codifying universal human/natural rights, it would be unnecessary for SCOTUS to universalize the original Bill of Rights via the 14th amendment to impose it on the states.

    “Once confirmed, they can do what they please and often do -- yes, I agree. That doesn't mean they DON'T _take their cue from the president, only that they don't HAVE to.”

    And there are many examples of judges and justices who don’t take their cue from the president who appointed them (e.g. Brennan, Warren, Sooter, Kennedy, O’Connor). So you’re guilty of a factual overstatement.

    There are three kinds of “conservative” nominees:

    i) Genuine ideologues. These nominees don’t take their cue from the president. Rather, they’re nominated because they’re a known quantity (e.g. Rehnquist, Scalia).

    ii) Closet moderate/liberals who talk a good game to get the job, then vote their liberal conscience once they’re in office (e.g. Sooter, O’Connor). They don’t take their cue from the president.

    iii) Nominees who (apparently) start out more conservative, and drift leftward in the course of their tenure (e.g. Kennedy). They don’t take their cue from the president.

    “Ah yes. The classic exception that proves the rule.”

    I used an illustration, not an exception. I could use other examples to illustrate the same point.

    You yourself are cherry-picking the exceptional horror stories.

    “Except...federal_funds are tied to going along with their programs and ideas. And when you reject them there are..repercussions,_for your state/locality.”

    That isn’t limited to the executive. Congress is responsible for appropriating funds, as well as stating the conditions under which the funds are distributed.

    “What? What does the choice of positions and cases taken by lawyers prosecuting or defending cases on behalf of the US government have to do with Justice Stevens and the ninth circuit court of appeals?”

    I see you can’t remember your own argument. You originally said:

    ““I'm not trying to pin every bit on Bush, though given that he is currently the president, I'd say the buck stops with him. In particular, the judicial branch in the things it prosecutes and defends takes its direction from him.”

    You are now conflating the judicial branch (i.e. judiciary) with the executive branch (Dept. of Justice).

    “Once again, civil discourse with you was simply too much to hope for.”

    That’s what you get when you side with the enemy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Steve,

    I'm being perfectly true to my own argument. The fact that those rights are natural rights held by the people in no way protects them from being infringed on its own. The states which once were the primary protectors of the rights of the individual came to encroach on them, and as a result, the Supreme Court tried to rectify it by pushing those restrictions onto the state governments as well.

    There being examples of judges and justices who do not (or did not) take cues from the president does not make me guilty of factual overstatement. I said that currently sitting justices (particularly those Bush appointed) are taking their cue from the president, and the direction he wants to go.

    You forgot the fourth kind. The kind that gets appointed because he already generally agrees with the president (Alito, Roberts) and who the president knows will be loyal to him, and who then proceed to demonstrate their loyalty in cases vs the government that come before their court.

    You are right that responsibility for the state and local police forces still doesn't lie ENTIRELY with president Bush, but then, nothing lies entirely with him. There are actions that could have been taken (and could now be taken) by the SC, and the legislature, to correct things. Their lack of action makes them partly culpable.

    However, as I said before, ultimately this is Bush's administration and the buck stops with him. He has the responsibility of leadership, and that includes for congress. He has not done so.



    What? What does the choice of positions and cases taken by lawyers prosecuting or defending cases on behalf of the US government have to do with Justice Stevens and the ninth circuit court of appeals?

    I see you cant remember your own argument. You originally said:

    I'm not trying to pin every bit on Bush, though given that he is currently the president, I'd say the buck stops with him. In particular, the judicial branch in the things it prosecutes and defends takes its direction from him.


    You are correct. In my original statement I said Judicial when I meant executive. (As demonstrated by my focus on prosecution and defense - not something the court itself usually engages in.)

    Once again, civil discourse with you was simply too much to hope for.

    Thats what you get when you side with the enemy.


    That's truly sad. I have many Christian brothers that I disagree with on various topics - including politics. Thus far, I haven't seen anything in Scripture which teaches me that I have the leeway to treat my brother's with contempt because we disagree on such non-essentials.

    I see no point in continuing this discussion with you if this is going to be your attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Note that Shamgar has alluded to this wide body of evidence that proves his position, yet he has never once offered any specifics.

    Who specifically has had his or her rights trampled by Bush?

    Who specifically has been targeted by police using too military-like weapons?

    What specific freedoms has Shamgar lost?

    We get no answers to this. But we're told that these abuses are happening all over the place.

    This reminds me of the "evidence" for Darwinism. "It's out there and it's overwhelming," we are assured...yet no one ever presents it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. (Sorry about the deleted ones, the formatting was off and hard to read in places)


    Who specifically has had his or her rights trampled by Bush?

    Everyone. Of course, this whole line of questioning is a trap. I can offer you specifics, and I"m going to offer some, but they won't be enough. No matter how much time I take it won't be enough. Because you have a preconceived notion. If I list no-one of course, then you will simply say what you're saying now.

    I stand by 'everyone' though. Whether any one of us have been active targets or not is unknown, but the very fact that we can be means that it's an unacceptable situation. You'll dismiss it, but you'd dismiss it if I listed people (like I will the next one) or not.

    Who specifically has been targeted by police using too military-like weapons?
    Andrea Barker and family.

    This one is a great one, and I'll take time to talk about it because while all of the people I list below have been harmed by the militarization fo the police, this one is simply unbelievable.

    In this raid, they used an armored personnel carrier. They smashed a car. They burned down the house they were raiding. When their family dog tried to escape they chased the dog back inside where it died in the fire.

    They made one arrest. For an outstanding traffic violation.

    Below you'll find a wide variety of situations. Elderly men and women harrased, abused and/or killed. Young children wounded or killed, or if they're lucky only terrorized. Innocent victimes killed, wounded, or likewise terrorized. In some cases, people guilty of misdemeanor offenses in the same position.

    Kathryn Johnston, GA
    Isaac Singletary, FL
    Frances Thompson, GA
    Derek Hale (Marine), DE
    Billy and Julie Peterson, KS
    Michael Meluzzi, FL
    Cheryl Lynn Noel, MD
    Alberta Spruill, NY
    Jose Colon, NY
    Virginia Herrick, CO
    Tony Martinez, TX
    Dr. William Hurwitz, VA
    Dr. Daniel Maynard, TX
    Cheryl Ann Stillwell,FL
    Steven Blackman, TX
    Salvatore Culosi, Jr, VA
    Carl Keane and Chieko Strange, CA
    Williams Family, CA
    Gerald Mungo (7), MD
    Lisa Dinkins, MD
    Alisaleh Moshad Ali, NY
    A bunch of guys playing poker, TX, GA, NC
    Catherine Capps and James Cates, NC
    Nicole Thompson, MN
    Willie Davis Sr, FL
    Georgette and Davonte Prince, OH
    Cory Maye, MS
    Barbara Davis, TX
    Jarrell Walker, FL
    Ismael Mena, and others in Denver, CO
    Clayton Helriggle, OH
    Kari and Hayley (5) Bailey, CA
    Jeffery Robinson, TN
    Carol Wallace, IL
    Mike and Thelma Lefort, LA
    Peyton Strickland, NC
    Harm Reduction Center, CA
    Jesse Lee Williams, MS
    Anthony Diotaiuto, FL
    The present members of a gym in ALbuquerque, NM on July 11, 2006
    Daniel Castillo, TX
    Steven Blackman, TX
    Patricia and Curtis Pojar, MD
    Gilbert Rush, OH
    The residents of at least 36 homes in in Buffalo, NY, and 72 people - most of whom were falsely arrested and released within days - who lived in that area.
    Kenneth Jamar, TN
    Six Tibetan monks in Nebraska
    Sharron Cummings, VA
    Diners at two Aspen Colorado restaurants
    1500 people at an outdoor party in Utah
    A series of people in PA, before the complaints caused the local police force to shut down the swat team
    Ronnie Goodwin (13) in NY
    Rhiannon Kephart, NY
    Linda Florek, IL
    David Ruttenberg, VA (This is a very large scale bit of corruption, but there was specific police abuses)
    Dennis and Angela King, KY
    Norma Saunders, PA
    Donald and Amber Mundy, CA
    James Hoskins, PA
    All of Stratford High School, SC
    Marion Waltman, MS
    Krystal Sutton, NY
    Bob Lazar and Joy White, NM
    tion family, LA
    Members of a Rave party, WI
    John Rasanen, NY
    The entire Cheek Road neighborhood, NC
    William PLemons, TX
    Julius Powell (11), MN
    Scott Wardlow, MI
    15% of Hearne, Tx' male black population
    Suzanne Pfeil, CA
    Michael and Valerie Corral, CA
    Lisa Swartz, CA

    What specific freedoms has Shamgar lost?

    The right to peaceably assemble (in places or times where it's inconvenient for the president)

    (Yes, I do mean that. Protestors are frequently moved to "free speech zones")

    General Freedom of speech. This is particularly surrounding election rules, ala the McCain-Feingold bill. Further, the dept of homeland security does keep track of the things read by people. When they are not popular with the administration you find yourself on lists. They also track the things you write. People have been stopped in airports and "interviewed" with copies of their writings present. Others have requested their files, and once they finally managed to spend enough money to force them out, found that reading material that is unpopular with the administration was included. This seems to be focused particularly on what's read on flights. However, the government has the ability to look at your old library records and/or your purchasing history without notifying you under the PATRIOT act, so more is possible. Not knowing if you're in that category or not definitely has a chilling effect. It may not seem like it, but I am actually careful about what i say, for my family's sake.

    The right to keep and bear arms. Yes, it's still not complete. And further, the people I listed above were often targeted for more dangerous high-stakes raids because they complied with the law so the police knew they owned guns. Simply owning them puts your family at greater risk. Even if the law hasn't been changed, the chilling effect is undeniable.

    I have no freedom to own various things, like Gold for example. Bush didn't start most of them, but he isn't doing anything to stop it either.

    I have lost my right to be secure in my person and effects. Both because of the above mentioned PATRIOT act, and because of the rulings of SCOTUS (in part because of Bush's appointees). Warrants are easily obtainable for barging in my home at any time. If they fail to obtain the warrant properly, the courts have upheld that any evidence obtained can still be used. So they don't even have to bother with that. It matters not if it has actually happened or not, the reality is that the fourth amendment rights have been gutted by the current court.

    I have to some extent lost the right to habeus corpus, and a right to a speedy and fair trial. For most things I'll probably still get it (or some rough approximation of it, depending on the court) but if I make the administration angry enough, I can lose it in a heartbeat.

    This reminds me of the "evidence" for Darwinism. "It's out there and it's overwhelming," we are assured...yet no one ever presents it.

    And your comments remind me of the mockers of 1 Peter 3. Just because you're ignorant of the truth, doesn't make it false.

    Three caveats to this post to consider in your reply:

    1. This is just what I found with a few hours of searching. Moreover, it doesn't include a lot of others I found that were ...questionable. I did my best to pick clear cases of militarization's negative impact on the police forces.

    2. This obviously only includes reported incidents. From the research that has been done on this (Yes, actual research) most of these incidents go unreported. When there are major incidents and a town meets to discuss the problem people come out of the woodwork with their experiences.

    3. If you feel there is not enough here, I ask you what I consider a critical question. How much is too much? What is your line in the sand? Are you sure you even have one? If you've never considered for yourself that question, are you certain you're not just backing up the line all the time without even realizing it? What are you willing to accept? What will it take before you are willing to say that something is really wrong and we need to do something?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Shamgar keeps changing his arguments. Apparently, he recognizes that some of his earlier claims were erroneous.

    He writes:

    "I doubt there is much I can do to convince you regarding Bush's lack of accountability to the american people. He may be aware that he ran the risk of not winning re-election in 20004 - but that doesn't translate to a sense of real accountability, as one who derives his power from the consent of the governed. Not just 'I won't get elected' but a realization that he is there to serve, and not to rule."

    You still aren't giving us any reason to agree with your conclusion. You initially told us that Bush has had "no sense" of accountability. In your comments above, you tell us that he "may" have been aware of the possibility of losing reelection. Given the history of past Presidents failing to be reelected, including his own father, I doubt that he was unaware that he was "running the risk". He had to carry out a lengthy campaign, involving a lot of work, to defeat John Kerry in a relatively close election that came down to a close vote in one state. And given what happened to Bill Clinton in recent history, he surely would have been aware of the other possibility I mentioned, removal from office.

    There's no way for you to know that Bush allegedly has no sense of "serving, not ruling". You're making an assumption based on insufficient evidence. And the assumption is one that's highly unlikely. Instead of making the more reasonable argument that Bush sometimes has less of a sense of accountability than he ought to, you claim that he has no sense of accountability.

    You write:

    "Bush/Cheney have a strong belief that is fairly openly held that the president has far more power than he does. They recognize too that he doesn't actually hold it under our current laws, but he SHOULD hold it, and they act like he already does."

    Is that how they frame the issue? No, that's your framing of it, and that framing that you've chosen assumes something that they would dispute. They don't claim that they're above the law. Rather, they dispute how you and others interpret the law. Even if they are wrong on some such issues, they can be wrong for reasons other than thinking that they have no accountability to the general public. You keep making dubious assumptions that you don't event attempt to support with an argument.

    You write:

    "Well...if I thought for a moment you'd listen I'd be happy to give you a lesson in economics."

    I don't think you're qualified to be giving me "a lesson in economics". Somebody who thinks that the economy is "utterly destroyed" isn't somebody I want to consult as a reliable instructor on economic matters.

    You write:

    "All of those things combined pretty much define the destruction of an economy."

    No, you referred to what you consider some negative elements of the current economy and what might happen, in the form of a recession, in the near future. An economy doesn't have the risk of taking a further downturn in the future if it's already been "utterly destroyed". Look up the words "utterly" and "destroyed" in a dictionary. I initially gave you the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that you were using hyperbole. But you denied it. And if you weren't speaking hyperbolically, then you made a remarkably absurd claim.

    You write:

    "Why is the dollar so low? Because we had to expand credit, print money, and sell debt to other countries to finance this war."

    I doubt that you're as knowledgeable of all of these issues as you profess to be. But even if we assumed the correctness of your assessment above, why should we think that the current value of the dollar is equivalent to "utter destruction" having already occurred?

    You write:

    "They'd definitely be different, but no, they probably wouldn't have been much better."

    You're changing your argument. Initially, you made the highly unreasonable claim that Gore and Kerry would be no worse. Now you're claiming that they wouldn't be much worse. The second argument is an improvement, but it's still unreasonable.

    If you're going to make such unreasonable claims, and keep changing your arguments in the middle of the discussion, you should refrain from repeatedly telling us about how well informed you are on political issues and how ignorant we are. I don't claim to be highly informed on political issues. These issues are important, but I'm much more concerned about theology. Still, even somebody as ignorant of politics as I am can see many problems with what you're arguing. To claim that Gore and Kerry would be no worse than Bush, then change the argument to whether they would be much worse (or much better) when you're challenged, doesn't suggest that you've given your assessment much thought.

    You write:

    "What pro-life measures?"

    Didn't we discuss this during our exchange in 2004 on the New Testament Research Ministries boards? As I recall, I gave you multiple links to web sites documenting the conservative nature of the judges Bush appointed, and I gave you links to some material from National Right To Life.

    Here's an article at the National Right To Life web site:

    http://www.nrlc.org/news/2004/NRL08/planned_parenthood_war_on_george.htm

    It discusses Planned Parenthood's view of George Bush and John Kerry. Apparently, somebody needed to inform Planned Parenthood (and pro-life groups like National Right To Life) that Bush and Kerry were no better or worse than each other (or, according to your latest argument that contradicts your earlier one, neither of them is much better or worse). Notice, in the article linked above, the sort of money Planned Parenthood spent and the sort of language they used. Notice the examples of action Bush had already taken, mentioned near the end of the article: the appointing of conservative judges, the signing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, the Unborn Victims Of Violence act, etc. Planned Parenthood refers to how Bush "has supported some fifty initiatives to curtail the reproductive rights of women and men, both in the U.S. and around the globe". And that was just during a portion of his first term. He's done more since then. Has he been as pro-life as he could and should have been? No, but he has been significantly better than Gore or Kerry likely would have been.

    You write:

    "You mean the essentially meaningless ones that do absolutely nothing to actually impact the problem? Whose obvious goals were merely to throw single-issue voters a bone to make sure they stay loyal in the next election cycle?"

    I think that groups like National Right To Life and Planned Parenthood know the issues better than you do. I don't trust your unargued assertion that everything Bush did was "essentially meaningless" and was done "merely" to "throw single-issue voters a bone". The large majority of pro-life voters probably had never even heard of most of the dozens of actions of the Bush administration that Planned Parenthood objected to. And how can you claim to know that Bush's pro-life activities are insincere? You keep complaining that we aren't treating you charitably enough, yet you're highly uncharitable toward George Bush.

    You write:

    "Just look at the way you frame your questions. 'cut taxes' 'government progrems he allegedly didn't support sufficiently' 'pro-choice' '[more or less] gun control'. The question is really, should there BE taxes at the federal level. Should those government programs even exist?"

    That's an assertion, not an argument. But even if we accepted your assessment of which portion of the government should address particular issues, the fact would remain that the differences between Democrats and Republicans are significant. Even if it's wrong to have a particular federal tax, for example, it's significant whether that tax is 5% or 25%. Even if it's wrong for federal legislation to be passed on a matter pertaining to abortion, it's better to have a President who will veto federal legislation that furthers abortion than it is to have a President who would sign that legislation. Something can be wrong in some sense, yet also be significantly better than an alternative. It doesn't make sense to claim that a 25% federal tax is "no worse" than a 5% federal tax just because you don't think that the tax should exist at all.

    Even if we were to ignore the difference between 25% and 5%, you would have to take into consideration why a particular elected official or political party is supporting the 5% position. Is it because they believe that the 5% tax is acceptable and should be our ultimate objective? Or is it because they think that the 5% position is the most plausible path forward in our present societal context, on the way to the ultimate objective of eliminating the tax altogether? As I said before, you have to take the societal context into account. People often take measures that they perceive as progress, even if they'd prefer something more. Even if they're wrong in their judgment about what the best course of action is in a given context, you can't assume that every piece of legislation they support, every judicial judgment they make, etc. represents their ideal.

    You write:

    "The issue of abortion shouldn't even be an issue under discussion in national politics. Murder laws are state level, not federal."

    But elected officials can inherit a situation in which previous elected officials made it a federal issue. Thus, even if the issue doesn't belong at the federal level, federal officials can have a significant influence on the issue, whether in legislation they pass, in removing the issue from the federal level, or in some other manner. And all elected officials, at any level, have an influence on issues like abortion by means of what they say, what organizations they support, etc. Even if all abortion matters were handled at the state level, the moral leadership of a President, for example, would have some significance.

    You write:

    "In the last ~20 years, our candidates have not had a fundamental difference in these areas."

    As I recall from our discussion in 2004, you think highly of Ronald Reagan. As I told you then (or told somebody else, but I think I said this to you), the fact that the Republican party had a President like Reagan less than 20 years ago, whereas the Democratic party has gone far longer without any such President or Presidential candidate, suggests a significant difference between the parties. And the Reagan administration had some of the characteristics you've criticized in the Bush administration. Reagan didn't eliminate federal taxes. He didn't realign the government to operate the way you've suggested. And as I documented in our 2004 discussion, Bush has been better than Reagan in some contexts. At that point in time (I haven't seen any more recent studies), the judges appointed by Bush tended to be more conservative than the judges appointed by Reagan. As I recall, when I discussed that issue with you in 2004, you didn't criticize Reagan in the manner you've been criticizing Bush. You weren't as uncharitable toward Reagan as you have been toward Bush. You didn't assume, without offering any evidence, highly negative motives on Reagan's part, as you've done with Bush repeatedly. You didn't apply careless terms like "utterly destroyed" and "no sense of accountability".

    You write:

    "Yes, at the most generic level. Not in the specifics necessarily. They want to be free. I'm quite involved politically this time around. Not only have I talked to people locally, but also to those involved in national campaign efforts in every state who are also talking to rank and file folks. I think it's fair to say most people fall into this category. Both democrats and republicans. People who are often on a rather different track than me on the specifics still want the federal government to abide by the rule of law, and to limit themselves to constitutional powers."

    A phrase like "they want to be free" is too vague to have much significance. And people like George Bush don't deny that they should "abide by the rule of law". And what constitutes "constitutional powers" is defined in significantly different ways by different people. As I said before, you're framing the issue in a manner that assumes your perspective.

    How many Americans have even read through the Constitution? Among those who have, how many remember much of what they read? How many agree with your assessment of how the government should be structured? If the two major parties are so far from your perspective on these issues, and the voters keep selecting such people to hold office and keep reelecting them, why should we believe that most Americans agree with you?

    You write:

    "I'm saying that when I sit down and talk to average Joes about these exact things, they get excited."

    Have you considered the possibility that some people might be telling you what they think you want to hear? Have you considered the possibility that some people are highly ignorant of the issues, so that it's not too difficult for somebody to seem well informed to them and thus "excite" them? Have you considered the possibility that the people who are willing to sit down and talk with you about politics, for a long enough period of time for you to express your views to them in sufficient depth, are people who might be unusually interested in politics to begin with? They might not be as "average" as you think. If "the average Joe" agreed with you, I doubt that we'd be getting decade after decade of people like Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Rudy Giuliani at the forefront of politics.

    You write:

    "Americans, at their heart, yearn for the 'animating contest of freedom'."

    I'd prefer more than your anecdotal stories before accepting your assessment of what "yearning" is in the heart of Americans. I agree that some desire for some type of freedom is common, but I doubt that many Americans are defining the concept as you define it.

    You write:

    "Or at least, some of them do. I believe that's the majority. I hope it's the majority."

    Which is it? You keep giving us a moving target. Your "hope" doesn't give us much reason to think that a majority agrees with you.

    You write:

    "They've just been lulled into a stupor by what has happened to our political system and the path it has taken."

    If they're "in a stupor", and have been "lulled", whose fault is that? I don't think they're "in a stupor" they aren't accountable for when they go to the voting booth year after year, decade after decade, and keep electing people like Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton. For somebody who professes to be a conservative Christian, you're remarkably willing to make excuses for obvious sins. Keep criticizing George Bush, as long as the criticism is accurate. He does deserve some criticism. But so do the American people. You're far too critical of Bush and far too uncritical of the American people who keep electing people like Bush and many others who are significantly worse (Kennedy, Clinton, etc.).

    ReplyDelete
  24. SHAMGAR SAID:

    “In this raid, they used an armored personnel carrier. They smashed a car. They burned down the house they were raiding. When their family dog tried to escape they chased the dog back inside where it died in the fire.”

    i) It’s irrational to blame a US president for what local SWAT teams do. Indeed, it’s contradictory. You whine about the “tyrannical” power of the executive branch, then you whine about how the executive branch isn’t doing enough to monitor and regulate what local law enforcement does.

    ii) In addition, it’s very misleading to cherry-pick examples of excessive policing without also bothering to ask how much harm would be done in the absence of SWAT teams. You’re not giving SWAT teams any credit for the success stories. For the amount of crime they prevented.

    “This is particularly surrounding election rules, ala the McCain-Feingold bill.”

    i) Yes, Bush shares some of the blame for that. But this was an act of Congress, remember?

    ii) In addition, a president will sometimes sign a bill he doesn’t like to get another bill he does like, or sign a bill with something he doesn’t like to get something in the same bill he does like.

    Presidents are not omnipotent. It’s a quid-pro-quo between Congress and the White House: you do something for me, and I’ll do something for you. You give me what I want, and I’ll give you what you want.

    “When they are not popular with the administration you find yourself on lists.”

    This is very vague. Care to get specific?

    If you’re that afraid of Big Brother, why are you attacking Big Brother in the public domain? Aren’t you afraid that Big Brother is monitoring your online communications, Shamgar?

    Apparently you’re not that fearful that guys in trench coats are going to bust your door down at four in the morning and haul you off to a secret prison.

    “I have lost my right to be secure in my person and effects. Both because of the above mentioned PATRIOT act.”

    i) The Patriot Act is called the Patriot *Act* because it’s an act of Congress, remember? Yes, Bush wanted it, but this is not an executive order. Our elected representatives voted for the Patriot Act.

    ii) And, once again, you rattle off what you consider to be abuses of the Patriot Act without bothering to ask what terrorist plots the Patriot Act may have helped us to foil. Your analysis is very one-sided.

    “Warrants are easily obtainable for barging in my home at any time. If they fail to obtain the warrant properly, the courts have upheld that any evidence obtained can still be used.”

    Yes, that would be the Judiciary. Now you’re blaming both the legislative branch and the judicial branch on Bush. Bush has become your great White Whale. He has assumed mythical proportions.

    Are you saying that a president should exercise more control over the executive and judicial branches of gov't? Do you now reject the separation of powers?

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  25. Jason,

    I'm not even going to bother trying to reply to all of that. While you are least are respectful in our discussions (and I appreciate that) it is still eminently frustrating to try to communicate with you.

    What you all have in common is a severe desire to focus on the minutiae in a discussion. I'm not writing a dissertation here, I'm trying to simply have a discussion.

    I didn't realize it was necessary I use exactly the same terms to describe the same thing. Rather I'm trying to avoid being repetitive anymore than I have to be. Instead of recognizing that and dealing with the things I say charitably you latch onto these tiny changes and blow them out of proportion.

    I don't know, maybe the lot of you are so used to dissecting the arguments of Atheists that you've forgotten how to communicate with normal people. How to interpret the english language with a little flexibility and context.

    Nothing in my arguments has changed other than the way I chose to express it. I chose some softer terms, probably out of a misguided attempt to avoid prejudicial language that would keep us from focusing on the real issues. Obviously, that was a waste of time.

    When I say 'utterly destroyed' I obviously don't mean past tense, give me a little credit. I refer to it as a foregone conclusion given our current course. (To be absolutely clear, that means, assuming we continue our current course.)

    You ask me for information and I give it to you. I communicate to you my experiences with everyday people. I'm not giving them a 3 hour lecture in political science, they're just fairly brief conversations. I know they have an impact, because they then get involved. Something most of them have never done before.

    As to the opinions of the party in general, no I don't think they're telling me what I want to hear. Most of them don't know what I want from the party or where I am politically other than that I'm a republican. These things are generally said in expressions of frustration, and in explaining why they themselves are either not as active as they used to be, or in some cases why they're leaving their work in the party entirely. But you believe whatever you want.

    I never claimed what other people want, and how they define freedom is exactly the same as mine. I said that they hold in common the base reality of freedom - less government.

    Yes, we have discussed the right to life issue before. And yes, you put up the "National Right to life" group before. I again utterly reject them as a source of any value. The NRtL is a worthless organization. You don't have to take my word for it, talk to organizations that are actually making a difference. If you give them a sympathetic ear, they'll fill it with their frustrations with the NRtL group.

    As for my earlier assertion, I'll offer an example of someone else's opinion since you don't like mine and find it unqualified.

    Which is it? You keep giving us a moving target. Your "hope" doesn't give us much reason to think that a majority agrees with you.

    See, again, you want to paint me into a corner. If I had not said that, you would've blasted me for daring to suggest that the majority want X when I can't have possible talked to the majority of americans, and even if I had I certainly am too incompetent to be sure right? A nice catch-22.

    As for the american people, they do have responsibility in this. But the american people are not the topic of discussion in this post. I guess I didn't realize I need to make sure I listed every person and/or group in this country who might have some amount of blame in this or that problem.

    It's funny, you call it sin that the American people have voted for bad democrats, but apparently you don't feel the same about bad republicans.

    Myself, I put a lot of blame at the feet of people who repeatedly told everyone to vote for evil. Those who abdicated their responsibility to think for themselves, and went for the "electable" candidates, and encouraged others to do the same. Through their influence, our politicians have gone from bad to worse. They've had no incentive to do right, when all they really have to do is be less wrong than the guy in the opposing party.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Shamgar gives us a list of names but without any details of the events that occured. What am I supposed to do, Google all of them?

    How hard would it be to give specific EXAMPLES. I only see one example here: "Andrea Barker and family."

    By the way, I did Google "Andrea Barker" and came up with...a whole bunch of nothing. I finally found a story by including the word "SWAT" in the search.

    By the way, Shamgar stated:

    ---
    In this raid, they used an armored personnel carrier. They smashed a car.
    ---

    Here's the Phoenix New Times editorial of the event: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2004-08-05/news/dog-day-afternoon/full

    Note the editorial isn't sympathetic toward Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the actual guy who lead the raid (not the FBI, not Bush, not the Feds at any level--the local Phoenix sheriff). Yet they say: "The armored personnel carrier careened down the street and smashed into a parked car after its brakes failed (emphasis added)." Some conspiracy there. A guy forgot to set the brakes on the vehicle. That individual should be held accountable for his carelessness, but that's not something the entire SWAT team had something to do with.

    Anyway, even though the editorial is very anti Arpaio, the story that emerges isn't the horrific abuse of power that Shamgar has made it out to be. The only possible morally questionable activity in the event was when police used a fire extinguisher and forced the dog to run back into the house. Assuming those allegations are true, we're still left with the fact that the house was burned down apparently because a candle was knocked over.

    Reading Shamgar, you'd think they did this for the sole purpose of busting someone for traffic violations. But this is just another way Shamgar distorts the truth, for we read: "MCSO stormed the house believing there was a cache of stolen automatic weapons and armor-piercing ammunition."

    Further, the anti-Arpaio editorial specifically points out: "There are clear indications that these young people living in an upscale rental home might have been engaged in some serious criminal activity."

    And just how did all this start?
    ---
    Gabrial Golden, 28, has a history of felony arrests dating back to 1996. He is on probation for an armed-robbery conviction. In July, he became the focus of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigation in connection with the theft of automatic weapons and armor-piercing bullets.

    Early on the morning of July 23, hours before MCSO rolled into Ahwatukee, Gabrial Golden was lured to a meeting with his probation officer, where he was arrested. He remains in custody.

    According to press accounts, upon his arrest, Golden told MCSO that Kush was acting erratically and was armed. Kush, however, had no felony record, and his only legal ding was failing to appear in Tempe Municipal Court on a traffic warrant.

    ...

    [When the warrant was being served] "They started yelling, `This is the sheriff's department! Eric, come out with your hands up!'" Barker says.

    But Eric [Kush] didn't come out. Initially, he holed up in the attic.
    ---

    Hmmm...so, when you arrest someone for automatic weapons violations and illegal ammunition, and that person implicates another person who, when confronted WITH A WARRANT, decides to hole up in the attic of his house rather than surrender......

    It's an obvious case of police over-reaction.

    Yeah.

    I think one can easily make the case that the cops did the safest thing possible for them. If you're confronting someone who you suspect has armor piercing rounds, you're going to need flak jackets and military gear. Likewise, one of the complaints was that the police didn't notify neighbors before serving the warrant. As if neighbors have never been known to tip off criminals.

    And there's something else that has to be pointed out for Shamgar. Sheriffs are elected officials. This incident happened in 2004. If Arpaio is as bad as Shamgar and this editorial make him out to be, then why is he continually re-elected? The people of Phoenix could simply elect a different Sheriff and be rid of him. Instead, Wikipedia reports: "Arpaio successfully campaigned for the office of Maricopa County Sheriff in 1992. Since then, he has successfully won re-election in 1996, 2000, and 2004 with considerable support of the county voters (emphasis added)."

    Once you look at the context of these huge abuses that Shamgar points to, they're not so black and white as he'd like to make them out to be.

    Police forces aren't perfect and they make mistakes; but they aren't out there trying to trample your freedoms either. And in this specific example Shamgar gave, Sherrif Arpaio is being held specifically accountable by the people of Phoenix...and they are continuing to re-elect him. Therefore, if he's a bad apple, it's a bad apple the majority of Phoenix residents have chosen for themselves. This is how representative government works, Shammy. They got the sheriff they voted for.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Shamgar writes:

    "I didn't realize it was necessary I use exactly the same terms to describe the same thing. Rather I'm trying to avoid being repetitive anymore than I have to be. Instead of recognizing that and dealing with the things I say charitably you latch onto these tiny changes and blow them out of proportion."

    I didn't suggest that you have to use "exactly the same terms". But you should use similar terms. Words have meaning. Saying that a Democrat is "no worse" than a Republican has a significantly different meaning than saying that a Democrat "isn't much worse". If one is better than the other, then preferring one over the other makes sense. (And I've explained why I think that the Republicans are significantly better. You haven't made much of an effort to interact with those explanations.) I've also given other examples of how inaccurate you've been in your choice of words. I think the problem is more with your carelessness than with a lack of charity on my part. How much charity have you shown in your comments about the Bush administration, the Republican party, and others you disagree with?

    You write:

    "When I say 'utterly destroyed' I obviously don't mean past tense, give me a little credit. I refer to it as a foregone conclusion given our current course. (To be absolutely clear, that means, assuming we continue our current course.)"

    If you "assume we continue our current course" when there's a downturn in the economy, then you can claim that the economy has been "utterly destroyed" many times. Bush isn't the only person or entity influencing the economy, and the decisions he makes aren't necessarily ones that he thinks should be made "continually". As I explained in my last response to you, people sometimes make decisions within a given context that they wouldn't make in another context. And some misjudgments can't plausibly be avoided. You're making a lot of assumptions that you aren't even attempting to justify.

    You write:

    "I never claimed what other people want, and how they define freedom is exactly the same as mine. I said that they hold in common the base reality of freedom - less government."

    You still aren't giving us much reason to agree with you. Your descriptions of what people have told you aren't much of a reason for us to accept your assertions about the American people in general. It's not as if your accounts of discussions you've had with people are all that we have to go by. I've been citing the results of elections, as well as other data relevant to where our society is at this point in time. That sort of data is much more representative of the general population than your anecdotal stories are.

    And when a person does express interest in "less government", you have to ask some other questions. How much interest does that person have in less government? As much interest as you have? If he agrees with a general principle of less government, but thinks that other issues are more important, and he's willing to have more government in order to attain other objectives, then what's the significance of the fact that he sometimes expresses interest in "less government"?

    You write:

    "I again utterly reject them as a source of any value. The NRtL is a worthless organization."

    Is that the sort of charity you want us to exercise when we respond to you?

    You write:

    "As for the american people, they do have responsibility in this. But the american people are not the topic of discussion in this post."

    You've repeatedly made assertions about the American people. And the American people are relevant to what's been discussed in this thread.

    You write:

    "It's funny, you call it sin that the American people have voted for bad democrats, but apparently you don't feel the same about bad republicans."

    I didn't limit my comments to voting, and I've repeatedly said that there are problems with the Republican party as well.

    You write:

    "Myself, I put a lot of blame at the feet of people who repeatedly told everyone to vote for evil. Those who abdicated their responsibility to think for themselves, and went for the 'electable' candidates, and encouraged others to do the same."

    A vote isn't equivalent to supporting everything a candidate believes or does. Voting is done in a context. You vote with other people. And there are circumstances in which choosing a candidate who's less than your ideal makes sense. Should people have refrained from voting for Ronald Reagan because he was sometimes wrong? We often make decisions in life that involve choosing the best of some imperfect possibilities. If electability is as insignificant as you suggest, then why are you a Republican? Why not start your own party?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Out of curiosity I picked a name from Shamgar's list. I found a white paper at the CATO Institute. It's entitled Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America and you can read the executive summary here.

    It starts, Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  29. johnMark said...
    Out of curiosity I picked a name from Shamgar's list. I found a white paper at the CATO Institute. It's entitled Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America and you can read the executive summary here.

    ***************

    Always nice to see you drop by.

    Part of the problem is that we have a vicious cycle. SWAT teams exist in reaction to something else.

    For example, back when I attended suburban public schools, from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, we didn't have schoolyard shootings. So we didn't have metal detectors, security cameras, security guards, zero-tolerance policies, random drug testing, and random locker searches, &c.

    This was unheard of and unthinkable. SWAT teams are a response to social decay. They're symptomatic of an underlying problem.

    And I think it has a lot to do with the militant secularization of our schools as well as the public square in general. We're raising kids in a moral vacuum, and filling that vacuum with MTV.

    It isn't good enough to blame the police. When the police are outgunned, what are they supposed to do? Surrender and retreat?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Steve,

    You said, "Part of the problem is that we have a vicious cycle. SWAT teams exist in reaction to something else.

    For example, back when I attended suburban public schools, from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, we didn't have schoolyard shootings. So we didn't have metal detectors, security cameras, security guards, zero-tolerance policies, random drug testing, and random locker searches, &c.

    This was unheard of and unthinkable. SWAT teams are a response to social decay. They're symptomatic of an underlying problem.

    And I think it has a lot to do with the militant secularization of our schools as well as the public square in general. We're raising kids in a moral vacuum, and filling that vacuum with MTV.

    It isn't good enough to blame the police. When the police are outgunned, what are they supposed to do? Surrender and retreat?"

    Quickly:

    I would say that many of the underlying problems lay (or at least greatly exacerbated by) with certain legislation/laws. When problems arise from specific legislation, the government will legislate more in order to combat the deleterious effects the previous legislation brought about. Once the negative effects of the new legislation are discovered, even newer legislation is needed. Frederick Bastiat wrote an essay about this in “What is Seen and What is Unseen”.

    For instance, the subsidization of failure through welfare and other gov handouts creates more failure (considerations of your market price for labor vs your handout from the government, paying women to have babies, et al) and the war on drugs, which has created a market for 'drug dealers' by restricting supply driving prices sky high.

    The myriad of market regulations are another example, which can increase the price of consumer goods, making it more profitable for a company to relocate internationally. Price controls which affect the supply of a particular good/service that the control is applied to (gas shortages that were caused by the price controls instituted by Nixon in the 1970s). George Reisman, in his book “Capitalism”, argues that OPEC was practically created (or at least given a much needed boost) by our price controls, restricting American oil companies from expanding their supply by environmental regulations, and similar regulations.

    One of the best examples is our monetary policy. We currently have a fiat currency that enables politicians to inflate the money supply, increasing prices (though not uniformly) throughout the economy by creating artificial demand. The ones who benefit from this inflation are those who receive the money first. An inflation tax is created which hurts the poor and those on fixed incomes among others. Without our dishonest monetary policy, chances are we wouldn’t be fighting so many wars. Also, our monetary policy and the Federal Reserve are responsible for the ‘business cycle’, as explicated by Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, who won the Nobel prize for this.

    These same considerations apply to our foreign policy as well.

    I do think it’s quite interesting how we have more government than ever and yet we have more crime…

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anonymous said:
    Steve,

    Quickly:

    I would say that many of the underlying problems lay (or at least greatly exacerbated by) with certain legislation/laws. When problems arise from specific legislation, the government will legislate more in order to combat the deleterious effects the previous legislation brought about. Once the negative effects of the new legislation are discovered, even newer legislation is needed. Frederick Bastiat wrote an essay about this in “What is Seen and What is Unseen”.

    ***********************************

    I happen to agree with most of what you say in your reply. Yes, there's a vicious cycle in which the gov't creates a problem by passing a bad law, then tries to "fix" the problem by passing another bad law, which only exacerbates the problem, and so on and so forth.

    ReplyDelete