Grade School Politics
A regular reader from the left side of the aisle recently made an observation that I fully agree with - he said that pundits on both ends of the political spectrum push the envelope on rational thought.
Take the right's ingrained hatred of all things ACLU, for instance - now personally, I think that the ACLU does more good than they do harm, but I can accept that that's debatable. In any event, whenever the ACLU attaches itself to a cause the right blogosphere inevitably erupts with venom, while the left always erupts in applause. But neither of the sides takes the time to fully understand the issue, nor do they care about their lack of understanding. Why?
Part of it is the ACLU's own fault - they've intentionally positioned themselves as a wing of the Democratic party. Believe me, I get more than my fair share of mailings from the ACLU, and more often than not, all they do is slam the President. They urgently declare that I must or that it's imperative that i send money A.S.A.P. so they can "stop the President and his cronies from steamrolling over the Bill of Rights." Give me a break - clearly, this is a simple marketing trick. Yet it works - some people really believe this stuff.
But that's not the biggest reason that people react to things like this without thinking - the real reason is that emotionally, most people in the U.S. are still stuck in third grade, and they all do and say whatever the popular kids tell them to do and say. Armchair pundits like to carry a banner, and they like it to announce to the world, "There is a group that i'm a part of, and that makes me better than other people." For many of these people, their membership lifts them out of their everyday life. For many of these people, their membership takes them away to a fanciful distant land, just like a soap opera or a romantic movie.
Where the left differs - drastically - from the right is that the left has spent most of its time since the late 70's just trying to get people to hate the Republicans. They don't have issues, they have scare tactics. And most of them are conflicting.
"All Republicans are rich fatcats!"
"All Republicans are dumb rednecks!"
"All Republicans are Jesus freaks!"
"All Republicans are evil and greedy!"
"All Republicans want to do away with government programs!"
"All Republicans want the government to be huge and to be big brother!"
It's so inane that I can hardly bring myself to even read anything political anymore, much less write it. But many, many people seem to find a message somewhere in there that they agree with, and they ignore the messages that they don't. So they adopt the label and proudly hoist the banner, "Look at me, I'm a part of this group. Look at me, we know better."
As a group, these people are so tragically uninformed that a couple of years ago thousands upon thousands of them wrote essays about whether John McCain would "switch sides and become a Democrat." How mindnumbingly dense does one have be to even consider that as a possible scenario? My god, George Bush is ten times the Democrat that John McCain is. John McCain is probably the most un-Democrat-like person in the entire Congress, with the exception of Ron Paul.
And the Dem-leaning commenters just keep parroting the same Democratic Party slogans - "Bush lied, people died! Bawk!" To hear them talk, 2005 America is worse than 1940 Germany, and Guantanamo Bay is the modern incantation of Auschwitz. These ridiculous comparisons and allusions should be offensive to any person with even a minimal understanding of 20th century history. They're certainly offensive to me.
I don't normally discuss politics in my everyday life; I prefer to instead confine my opinions to the internet where heated arguments don't cost me friendships. Nevertheless, my friends do think of me as a Republican. (and I am definitely in a small minority in that regard.) The other day a left wing Lib friend said something about the President's approval rating. I replied that I didn't especially approve of the President's job performance, and started to explain why. But before I could even finish my sentence I was treated to a barrage of self-righteous "Haha! I told you so! Don't you feel stupid for voting for him now! hahahah! You righties are such fools! I told you so!! I told you that George Bush was evil! You now see that you helped to ruin the country!"
It's as if my friend thinks that a person is either 100% in favor of everything that President Bush does, or they're a Democrat.
And to think, this person is a lawyer. With a law license. And a degree. From a good school. I'm trying to say that he is a smart guy. Is it his fault that he can't see the flaw in his thinking? Or has he been brainwashed by the never-ending "anybody but Bush, anybody but Bush" style rhetoric that's been flowing freely and topping off the glasses of those-who've-already-had-too-much for the past 25 years? (bawk!)
It's more likely that he's stuck in 3rd grade, and that he just likes being part of a group. He picks on the kid that everyone else picks on without even thinking about it anymore, mostly because everyone else does it. And, well, it's what all the cool kids do. He joins in because it's a chance for him to be accepted by the rest of the group. "Hey guys, look, I called him a commie too! Look, I made him fall down! Isn't he so dumb for falling down? Hahaha! Look - I put gum in his hair!"
Look at how much I am like the rest of you.
It's all so tired and juvenille.
Adults look at and consider facts before forming an opinion. In theory, anyway. The facts are that George Bush is not a war criminal, Dick Cheney is not an incarnation of evil, Haliburton does not control the country, playing Britney Spears music is not torture, Diebold didn't rig the election, whether you know about a WMD find is wholly irrelevant to the issue of the Iraq war, and repeating ridiculous notions again and again, while an effective political tactic, doesn't make them true. (bawk!)
And as those in-the-biz say, "I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me, and sticks to you!"
nya-nya-nya nya nya, nah. :-P
Posted by jkhat at December 19, 2005 10:55 PM
The trackback entry for this page is : http://www.inthehat.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1207
|# December 20th, 2005 6:48 AM Daddy|
|I've thought this for a long time. Thanks for articulating it.
RE your lawyer friend: simply graduating from law school does not make one intelligent. Somebody had to be last in the class. Know what I'm sayin'?
Defend 'em all you want, the A.C.L.U. still B.L.O.W.S. When they stop defending burglars who get shot trying to rob somebody, and start sticking up for people who have actually had their civil liberties violated, I'll change my tune.
|# December 20th, 2005 6:50 AM TheUnabrewer|
|"It's as if my friend thinks that a person is either 100% in favor of everything that President Bush does, or they're a Democrat."
Amen to that sentiment.
|# December 20th, 2005 6:52 AM Daddy|
|BTW, whatever happened to John Tant? |
|# December 20th, 2005 8:26 AM kris|
|John still comes around and post occasionally. I think a lot of us have political burnout. I know I do. I'm more inspired to post about music or tv or anything other than politics, at least right now. That might change as the times warrant. |
|# December 20th, 2005 9:15 AM Laura|
|I don't have political burnout - just Katrina burnout; no part of life is free from Katrina. And a lot of my political time lately is local - I'll have a post on that after Christmas on our efforts to recall Aaron Broussard, for example. (Remember that crying, lying SOB on Tim Russert? "...and she died on Friday! (sob)" To politicize the death of that woman was inexcusable, but aside from that he's directly, personally responsible for about a billion dollars worth of flood damage in my parish.
Also, we're about to be subject to a land grab - the likes of which has not been seen since we stole all that land from the Indians. So I'm not writing yet, I'm doing. But I must say, I'm enjoying all the non-political posts - it's a nice break.
|# December 20th, 2005 10:23 AM JohnTant|
|I'm still lurking, but Kris is right. There are only so many times a fellow can express outrage at the Left's antics before it starts getting repetitive. My philosophy has always been "if it's boring to write, it's gotta be boring to read" and complaining about Nancy Pelosi has become boring for me to write. |
|# December 20th, 2005 5:52 PM Daddy|
|John, Laura, good to see you both!
JT, you underestimate us. Or, some of us. I have a large appetite for Nancy-bashing, and most of that could be transferrable to Barbie Boxer.
As far as something being boring to write--how good are you at photoshop? :) Funny pictures don't get old.
And neither do fart jokes. You can always bring out the fart jokes.
|# December 21st, 2005 5:57 PM stein|
|How can you tout being intellectual? There is a vast spectrum of intelligence on both sides of the political system. You develop your arguments by pointing out the most extreme left perspectives, and obvious conclusions of irrelevant premises. At the same time you claim liberals are over generalizing your position.
Instead of forming a coherent argument you basically assert that anyone who disagrees with your skewed pop-driven version of reality, with an occasional insight, is a third grader. I do not believe you are stupid, but I do think you need to open your eyes and scrutinize what you’ve been sold. We all get ripped off from time to time.
|# December 25th, 2005 7:58 PM mbrlr|
|I wasn't last in my class, btw.
I'll just point out that those of us on the left tend to view the right and its tactics as a violation of the "gentleman's agreement" the founders reached when it came to political differences. To be blunt, we think the right is composed of a bunch of bullies who won't take the time to argue rationally and instead push panic buttons they think the populace will respond to --- now, most of y'all are nice folks, but my perspective on that tendency of the right hasn't changed a bit. If in trouble, reach for the flag or God or whatever button will cease all rational argument.
And the emphasis on Bush? Look at the listening sans warrants, even though we have a system to obtain warrants secretly (one that bother me, but nonetheless it involves obtaining a warrant after presenting a reasonable case for one) that would have been no trouble for the administration to follow. Instead, we have claims of wartime needs and other claims that test reason. I've not wanted an impeachment because the result might be President Cheney, God help us, but with this information...can it reasonably be argued that impeachment shouldn't be considered?
2009 can't come too soon.
|# December 25th, 2005 8:07 PM mbrlr|
|The ACLU? They represent those who generally have no representation, keep bringing up troublesome issues, and are dedicated to maintaining the Constitution --- they see it as a living thing, not a museum piece. Do I agree with them on everything? Of course not. But I'm damn glad they're around. |
|# December 25th, 2005 8:21 PM mbrlr|
|Here's a very adult analysis of our current situation from Sen. Byrd on the 21st:
"Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous president. It has become apparent that this administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.
We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is to choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the administration's flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this administration as 'domestic terrorists.'
We now know that the FBI's use of national security letters on American citizens has increased 100-fold, requiring tens of thousands of individuals to turn over personal information and records. These letters are issued without prior judicial review, and provide no real means for an individual to challenge a permanent gag order.
Through news reports, we have been shocked to learn of the CIA's practice of rendition, and the so-called black sites, secret locations in foreign countries where abuse and interrogation have been exported, to escape the reach of U.S. laws protecting against human rights abuses.
We know that Vice President Dick Cheney has asked for exemptions for the CIA from the language contained in the McCain torture amendment banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Thank God Dick Cheney's pleas have been rejected by this Congress.
Now comes the stomach-churning revelation through an executive order that President Bush has circumvented both Congress and the courts. He has usurped the third branch of government -- the branch charged with protecting the civil liberties of our people -- by directing the National Security Agency to intercept and eavesdrop on the phone conversations and e-mails of American citizens without a warrant, which is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. He has stiff-armed the people's branch of government. He has rationalized the use of domestic, civilian surveillance with a flimsy claim that he has such authority because we are at war. The executive order, which has been acknowledged by the president, is an end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which makes it unlawful for any official to monitor the communications of an individual on American soil without the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
What is the president thinking? Congress has provided for the very situations which the president is blatantly exploiting. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, housed in the Department of Justice, reviews requests for warrants for domestic surveillance. The court can review these requests expeditiously and in times of great emergency. In extreme cases, where time is of the essence and national security is at stake, surveillance can be conducted before the warrant is even applied for.
This secret court was established so that sensitive surveillance could be conducted, and information could be gathered without compromising the security of the investigation. The purpose of the FISA court is to balance the government's role in fighting the war on terror with the Fourth Amendment rights afforded to each and every American.
The American public is given vague and empty assurances by the president that amount to little more than "trust me." But we are a nation of laws and not of men. Where is the source of that authority he claims? I defy the administration to show me where in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the U.S. Constitution, they are allowed to steal into the lives of innocent America citizens and spy.
When asked yesterday what the source of this authority was, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had no answer. Secretary Rice seemed to insinuate that eavesdropping on Americans was acceptable because FISA was an outdated law, and could not address the needs of the government in combating the new war on terror. This is a patent falsehood. The USA Patriot Act expanded FISA significantly, equipping the government with the tools it needed to fight terrorism. Further amendments to FISA were granted under the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. In fact, in its final report, the 9/11 Commission noted that the removal of the pre-9/11 'wall' between intelligence officials and law enforcement was significant in that it 'opened up new opportunities for cooperative action.'
The president claims that these powers are within his role as commander in chief. Make no mistake, the powers granted to the commander in chief are specifically those as head of the armed forces. These warrantless searches are conducted not against a foreign power, but against unsuspecting and unknowing American citizens. They are conducted against individuals living on American soil, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is nothing within the powers granted in the commander-in-chief clause that grants the president the ability to conduct clandestine surveillance of American civilians. We must not allow such groundless, foolish claims to stand.
The president claims a boundless authority through the resolution that authorized the war on those who perpetrated the September 11 attacks. But that resolution does not give the president unchecked power to spy on our own people. That resolution does not give the administration the power to create covert prisons for secret prisoners. That resolution does not authorize the torture of prisoners to extract information from them. That resolution does not authorize running black-hole secret prisons in foreign countries to get around U.S. law. That resolution does not give the president the powers reserved only for kings and potentates.
I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the legislative and judicial branches. The president has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed to Americans by the U.S. Constitution.
We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the president speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election "a landmark day in the history of liberty." I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled.
These renegade assaults on the Constitution and our system of laws strike at the very core of our values, and foster a sense of mistrust and apprehension about the reach of government.
I am reminded of Thomas Paine's famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls."
These astounding revelations about the bending and contorting of the Constitution to justify a grasping, irresponsible administration under the banner of "national security" are an outrage. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. It is time to ask hard questions of the attorney general, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the director of the CIA. The White House should not be allowed to exempt itself from answering the same questions simply because it might assert some kind of "executive privilege" in order to avoid further embarrassment."
|# December 25th, 2005 9:15 PM BVBigBro|
|Actually, adult America is yawning. |
|# December 25th, 2005 11:37 PM mbrlr|
|We apparently live in different Americas. |
|# December 25th, 2005 11:53 PM mbrlr|
|Does the right subscribe to some sort of Bush-al infallibility doctrine?
This president is --- and this accounts for much of the "Bush is Satan" talk you hear from the left and then can't quite seem to grasp why we're so upset --- completely convinced he's been put here by the almighty to do whatever the hell it is he's doing, bad or...well, just bad...and the hell with the Constitution or the well-being of our country, our allies, or anyone not contributing to the Republican party and making more than 6 figures. I didn't trust Nixon, but respected his skills. His actions were tragic. I didn't trust or respect Reagan, but I always thought he meant well, God help us. I didn't vote for the first Bush, but I generally thought he tried. This one? He's surrounded by bad people and he's proving himself one of the worst we've had, if only because he doesn't quite grasp that we've never given our presidents the powers he wants. Well, at least until now. This isn't Rome and we don't have dictators. We have generally had presidents and others in their administrations who had at least a basic grasp of how the president and all of our entities are bound by law and aren't allowed to just do what the hell they want. Even Nixon knew what he was doing when he broke the rules, but this man, this vice president, all of the lot now in Washington...these folks embraced by the Christian right and yet seeming downright satanic to these catholic eyes...seem quite willing to ignore the law to do what they want to do, and to hell with the constitution. And he's appointing strict constructionists to the supreme court? Please.
Just explain to me why his actions in bypassing even the ultrasecret federal warrant process, a process that bothers me greatly but at least was an attempt to follow the rules and the law, is okay. I'm serious; what's the excuse for that behavior that not only is legitimate but makes any sense?
|# December 26th, 2005 11:46 AM BVBigBro|
|I have actually yet to hear a single individual mention the subject of domestic spying at all. Anyone who suggests that they expect the president to obey every law is lying. Presidents are expected to defend the country's interests regardless of the law, hence the general disinterest in the domestic spying case.
The country is perfectly willing to ignore incidents like Iran-Contra or the Bay of Pigs precisely because they were done in our interests. You may argue that they were poorly conceived or poorly executed, but they were done in the name of the country, and not to the personal benefit of the president. The same is true of the lastest spying incident. What are the democrats arguing? Would they allow suspicious individuals to enter the country unchecked, or do they just want to saddle the FBI with a process that guarantees it won't be done quickly, efficiently or secretly? As of yet no one has produced one single bit of evidence or argument that Bush has acted in self interest. The president can't lose on this issue.
As to the rest of the comment, this is precisely the rhetoric that the original post addressed.
|# December 27th, 2005 10:51 AM mbrlr|
|"I have actually yet to hear a single individual mention the subject of domestic spying..."
Okay. It's official. We do live in different universes, because I've heard it mentioned a great deal here, both from the left and the right. I suppose I have to conclude that Arkansans of both parties are a bit more up to date on things, even with the Gazette gone, than the rest of the country.
As for whether these were done in the name of the country and for the benefit of our president, we differ --- my answers would be "no" and "yes" in that sequence --- although we agree on the poor conception and execution of the projects mentioned. As to the latest problem, we have processes and procedures specifically designed to allow for investigations of people who might be dangerous and we have even instituted a sort of secret court (United States District Court, Star Chamber Division?) to deal with such requests for those situations where the national interest supposedly won't allow an open request. That court has granted those requests, btw, about 99.9% of the time. But this was in the national interest with the need to keep things quiet...but that's one of the situations the "silent" court was set up and it has worked until this administration decided it just didn't want to bother.
What would make us safe and is definitely in all our interests is for the FBI, the NSA, and the administration to follow the law. They didn't. I'm not sure if the President and his lot felt it was somehow infringing on his supreme authority (read sarcasm there, please, although scorn would be closer to the truth) --- hey, just imagine George and Rumsfield and Rove decked out as the Supremes; what song would they sing? --- or he just didn't want to be bothered, but the law was not followed. It was scorned by this band of brigands. As for safety, I would feel much safer if the administration followed the law, both inside and outside our borders. This administration apparently doesn't see the need to do so, either within or without. Our system of safeguards is designed to protect the public in several ways, but primarily to make certain that our government follows the rules and that we have presidents rather than dictators. If Bush & Co. intentionally and knowingly ignored those safeguards on the level it seems they did, my first reaction would be that they've crossed the high crimes and misdemeanors mark, and my second reaction would be to simply ask why they went to all that trouble given the apparently rubber-stamp aspect of the judicial review process in these sorts of cases.
So, impeach him. Illegalities this blatant shouldn't be ignored.
Whatever happens regarding the president/Cheney/Rove and that lot, this term can't be over too soon. God help the Republic and may he save us from that lot now in Washington.
Just ask yourselves two questions ---
(a) Why did those 2000+ die in Iraq and, if it was based upon a structure of lies, was it worth losing those folks?
(b) Since the process was already set up to get quick warrants for these snooping sessions, what reason did the administration have for ignoring those processes?
(a) Those 2000+ dies in Iraq because Bush and Co. thought it would be a quick and painless war. Remember his landing on the deck in the flight suit? Ah, George, those were the days. The lies were used because they have absolute contempt for the public, their devoted followers included. And no, it wasn't worth losing those people.
(b) In a nutshell, pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit goeth before a fall. That sums it up pretty well, I think.
2009, 2009, 2009
|# December 27th, 2005 7:14 PM TheUnabrewer|
|James: "It's as if my friend thinks that a person is either 100% in favor of everything that President Bush does, or they're a Democrat."
mbrlr: "Does the right subscribe to some sort of Bush-al infallibility doctrine?"
James is psychic.
|# December 27th, 2005 8:42 PM BVBigBro|
|First of all the president didn't need a warrant, and secondly getting one would merely set a precedent that one was required, crippling future presidents. In matters of national security the executive branch of government has enormous leeway to do as it sees fit, and it damn well better do so.
There has yet to be one single piece of evidence to suggest that the domestic spying going on was other than anything but an attempt to thwart terrorism. As long as that remains the case, this story helps Bush immensely. Bush has been very fortunate in this regard; every time his admimistration is in a funk, the democrats give him a freebie.
We have a choice, we can have a president who will do what he can with whatever he has available, or we can have someone who looks for reasons why something can't be done. For all his faults, Bush falls in the former category with respect to terrorism and national security.
|# December 28th, 2005 12:43 AM mbrlr|
|"First of all, the president didn't need a warrant." Nice declarative statement there, but unsupported by our history or the law.
We have a president who does whatever the hell he damn well pleases --- law, lives, or consequences be damned. The result is that we're in a war that we didn't need to fight, more than 2000 of our troops are dead because of those falsehoods, and now we've broken not only treaties and international law but our very own law and procedures, but hey, if we're concerned about that, then we should just trust old GW, right?
In a word, no. Throw "hell" in front of that and make it two words. This yahoo we have in the oval office is a brigand, he's trashed our constitution in a number of ways, and he's trying to ride this one out by saying that "OF COURSE, THE PRESIDENT HAS THE AUTHORITY"... Well, no, the president doesn't have that authority and never has. There's a procedure to go through in these cases and it's now a very easy procedure where the courts just lie down and spread their robes for the executive branch --- a 99% approval rate on requests is...absurd, but that's the approval rate and at least we've in the past made some effort to keep all this within the boundaries of the constitution. But not this president, who seems to view himself as above not only reason and honor, but above the constitution itself; that's precisely why this latest shot he's aimed at the balance of power and the constitution in general needs to be pursued constitutionally.
Some Christians look to some specific event as a signal of the end times --- the second coming of Christ, for example --- but I'm considering forming a breakaway branch of catholicism that just focuses on January 2009 as the date of deliverance from our Texan antichrist. We'll take up the Jesus timetable when our current anathema has been unseated and reason has returned to the modern world.
Jokes aside, the president has made a severe error in this situation and it actually is one severe enough that he could and should be impeached on if Congress had the cojones to do it. It beats the grounds last time around when Bill lied primarily out of fear of his wife --- and most Arkansans, even the liberal democrats amongst us, view it that way. This is absolute disregard for even the appearance of acknowledging the limits of the president's powers. If we're going to adopt the Roman dictator model, let's at least amend the constitution to put that in there. Currently, the Bush explanation (put forward quite well by BVBigBro: "First of all the president didn't need a warrant, and secondly getting one would merely set a precedent that one was required, crippling future presidents. In matters of national security the executive branch of government has enormous leeway to do as it sees fit, and it damn well better do so.") is just a bunch of Bush-It. Where is the legal basis for that theory and why doesn't the early '70s work that went into creating the court that can't say no take care of any such argument?
I know that GW almost certainly won't be impeached, reasonable basis or no, so let 2009 come asap and let our long national nightmare end peacefully, both here and abroad, while there's still a Constitution to salvage. I'm not really joking. Believe it or not, there are those among us, both lawyers and nonlawyers, who are sincerely worried about the future of the Republic under this current lot in power.
|# December 28th, 2005 12:47 AM mbrlr|
|I respect almost all here and regret the differences in our opinions on many matters. This president and the course on which we're now stuck is divisive and opinions are strong. I used to be of the "there's no there there" view of GW; I now believe him to be both smarter than that and one hell of a lot more dangerous. I haven't wanted his impeachment because of VP Cheney, but this last bit is just too much. Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. This administration has a surplus of both qualities. |
|# December 28th, 2005 8:18 AM BVBigBro|
|Well, you've now referred to Bush as the antichrist. That rhetoric usually helps him and I am sure the president will thank you for your support. |