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January 13, 2011

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We may ask ourselves

at this point, me and my wife and i looked at each other and each did the David Bryne arm-chopping thing from he Once In A Lifetime video.

good speech though.

but who were the idiots screaming through it all?

Not only was the speech incredibly moving, it seemed completely heartfelt. I'm so grateful that Obama is President.

@cleek:

"..."me and my wife and i..."

Interesting domestic arrangement you seem to have there, dude.... ;)

Seriously, Barack Obama has to be - even given the serious degraded standards prevalent these days - one of the best Presidential orators I can remember. Even better when one considers that he actually writes his own material ('tho I don't know for sure about the Tucson speech).

Moving, heartfelt, inspiring: of course it was all that, and more. Unfortunately, whenever President Obama is involved, there is inevitably going to be someone quick to p*ss in the pool, and try to drag his speeches down to the level (gutter) of mere "politics" - on whatever grounds: in this instance - the audience's response(s).

Steve Benen said it succinctly:

"I can only hope the talk today is about the uplifting nature of the event itself, not whether attendees were wrong to clap."

Yeah, good luck with that.....

College kids. But I am sure everyone involved knew that was going to happen beforehand. The other option would be to hold the service somewhere much smaller, which means the invitations would be restricted to the local worthies and not the general public in the area.

Most of the applause was directed at the people he was talking about.

I think it was important for him to address this one way or another. Regardless of the motivations of the shooter, the attempted killing of a national-level politician has national-level ramifications. And I don't think people are wrong to be afraid that this could be the beginning of something much worse and much wider, again, regardless of the original motivations. I think that's something that needed addressing, and I think the tone was right here.

at this point, me and my wife and i looked at each other and each did the David Bryne arm-chopping thing from he Once In A Lifetime video.

Confusing domestic arrangements notwithstanding, this cracked me up. Thanks for laffs, cleek.

i didn't mind the clapping. but there were a handful of people there constantly screaming in (apparent) adulation - as if it was a campaign rally, and not a memorial.

I appreciated Obama presenting his call for civility going forward as something we owe the folks who were killed.

We live in an open society. Giffords was one of, what, 535 people, out of a nation of 300 million, who make the laws we live under. And there she was, in a shopping center, for anyone to walk up to and talk to.

Sometimes it costs a lot of live in a society like that. On Saturday, it cost 6 people their lives.

So I agree with Obama. This country is, still, a big experiment, to see if the inmates can run the asylum. We owe it to those folks to not screw it up.

It's a difficult dilemna to call out rightwing violent rhetoric without being polartizing oneself. Peole havbe been trying that for years and the only result has been an increase in the forcefulness of the bullkyinng from the right. I expected a Democratic politician to get sho9t and I expect that it will happen again.

I'm supposed to be a Buddhist and to be committed to lovingkindness which comes from the absence of prideful judgement of others. i suck at it most of the time.

Turning the other cheek means get both cheeks slapped. I think that what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek was to not rtelatiate in kind--don't behave the way the person you object to is behaving. Even if it means that the person will keep on doing what ever bad thing they are doing for a while longer.

So that's the trick: stand up and call out uncivil behavior firmly clearly and forcefully while not engaging in the uncivil behavior myslef.

I will tgry to do better.

Re: the clapping. i went to a memorial a year ago and was really surprised by the demeanor of the particlipants. The memorial was for a thirteen yearold who died by suicide and yet the participants in the event ...well If I hadn't known it was a memorial I sure wouldnd't have guessed either by clothing or behavior. And the adults were nearly as inappropriate (to my way of thingki) as the teen agers who attended.

So maybe there is some kind of cultural change going on and I'm a few beats behind the music.

I make increasingly feeble attempts to observe the traditional liberal/progressive pieties, and I think the speech was fine and noble, as we once again mop up the blood and bury the dead.

But, no, we are most assuredly NOT an American family, 300 million strong.

This, from E.J. Dionne's most recent column regarding the ridiculous notion that conservatives of an increasingly certain stripe, or whatever they are, own guns to hunt elk:

"And at a Washington rally last year on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) linked this view to the current occupant of the White House.

'Fellow patriots, we have a lot of domestic enemies of the Constitution, and they're right down the Mall, in the Congress of the United States - and right down Independence Avenue in the White House that belongs to us," he declared. "It's not about my ability to hunt, which I love to do. It's not about the ability for me to protect my family and my property against criminals, which we have the right to do. But it's all about us protecting ourselves from a tyrannical government of the United States."

I guess, according to Broun, the senseless, insane, and only vaguely political motivations of the Tucson shooter WAS the problem.

Hat tip and a lock and load to Strife over at Redrum for the cite, and if any of your silhouettes happen to wander over there today without an extended silhouette clip in your semi-automatic silhouetted rifle then I'd stay away from Error Eradicate's and Vaster Bullshite's comment threads.

Mr. Broun and these Others are not part of my family.

Grover Norquist, who asked this question of the clown car of candidates running to head the RNC ("How many guns do you own?"), and who is not my brother, nor my uncle, nor my long-lost cousin, nor my neighbor, nor my fellow American, but rather my mortal enemy, nevertheless asked the most important question of the time.

Because that's what it comes to in this land of armed monads, all negatively charged with rights rather than positively-charged with rights.

How many guns do you own?

Why wasn't the Chairman of the DNC asked this question before he was given the position?

And if the answer would have been any less than 1000 heavy assault weapons, then the fool doesn't know anything about the so-called American family in 2011.

Family, schamily:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/an-unbelievable-video-of-political-madness/69530/

Oh, I'm thinking more the kind of family that ends up on Jerry Springer.

Well, I think every family is bizarre. The happy, well-balanced ones where everyone loves everyone else unconditionally all the time - those are the weirdest.

I don't care about a partisan advantage from this. I care about discrediting the use of violence and intimidation as routine political tactics, but I think that people are basically smart enough to connect the dots there themselves, provided they can be calmed enough and given enough time to think about it rationally.

There's nothing to be gained from "winning a news cycle" on this. There is no way to spin someone being shot through the head after she herself warned of the dangers of the barely-concealed threats of violence made against her. There's no way to spin the murder of a 9 year old child. It speaks for itself.

While everyone gushes over Obama sucessfully not taking advantage of an opportunity to score points against the right the right breathes a sigh of relief and prepares their 'knives'.

Democrats seem to have an odd habit of compromising whenever they have the advantage to show they are the better men and compromising when they don't have the advantage and thinking somehow that will get them everything they want....

Its almost as if the democrats don't really want to have progressive policies implimented.

You make a good point GNZ - I know that after I heard the news that six people had been killed and a US Representative had been shot through the head, my first thought was "How can I use this tragic event to get progressive policies implimented [sic]?" - but then I remembered that I don't really want to have progressive policies implimented[sic] because I'm a Democrat.

Countme--In, I think you may be trying to link to this video, transcript, etc.

Half the issues that are deal with involve people dying - some hundreds of thousands of people like the iraq war or healthcare.

Surely one expects if there are valid points for the reps to continue making those points even while tragic events are occuring, even if those valid points are critical of others. No wait that is exactly the opposite of what we expect...

"I guess, according to Broun, the senseless, insane, and only vaguely political motivations of the Tucson shooter WAS the problem."

Well, duh. Since that represented the one critical difference between him, and millions of people who didn't go on a killing spree, isn't that kind of obvious?

"No wait that is exactly the opposite of what we expect..."

Who is "we," and whom are you speaking for, besides yourself?

[...] Even better when one considers that he actually writes his own material ('tho I don't know for sure about the Tucson speech).
Drat. I'd have sworn I posted a comment here earlier, but my memory or attention must be failing, because now it isn't here.

Now I have to reconstruct it. Drat.

Roughly:

[...] Aides said Mr. Obama wrote much of the speech himself late Tuesday night at the White House.

The primary speechwriter was Cody Keenan. Keenan.

The primary speechwriter is Jon Favreau, not to be confused with the director/actor.

I'd have sworn I posted a version of this.

Oh, well. There's nothing like terrific pain to help focus the mind on a rewrite, and I must have been sufficiently distracted last time to have managed to miss actually posting, somehow. No harm.

Wish I could figure out how it was that I wrote up a whole comment, through major pain, and thought I posted it, and then apparently I didn't.

Must have been more distracted than I realized, which will happen when distracted. :-)

And I don't think people are wrong to be afraid that this could be the beginning of something much worse and much wider, again, regardless of the original motivations

Because Loughner's kind of insanity is contageous, you think?

The thing I find curious about this is that this shooting isn't really substantially different in nature than previous rampages, except that some elected officials were involved, this time.

Which isn't to say that people weren't hurt or killed, or that no one should mourn or empathize with the survivors. But it really boils down to someone deciding, again, that they could solve some problem by shooting a lot of people in a public place, doesn't it?

The subject of how to deal with crazy people came up on the other thread. The jist of it is that crazy people need to be told to "Stop it!"

The shooter in Tucson is probably crazy beyond the telling him to stop it stage, but he lived in a context of people who don't have schzophrenia as an excuse.

I works like this:

1. Since Repubican politicians can't win enough elections on the issues the party leadership decided to broaden their voting base by lying. Lee Atwater wanted to bring in the people who normally didn't vote, the militias, the relious extremists,the racists, the people on the fringe of our political life who could be susceptable to messages tht appealsed to hatefulness, self pity, and the desire to feel superior to others.

2. The lies (like death panels, bums on welfare, etc) are spread by politicans and others with public forums such as Limbaugh, framed in apocalyptic overheated language intended to incite people who don't normally vote to go out and vote Republican.

3. Pandora's box gets openned and all kinds of crazy comes flying out including people who decide to act on the infammatory language and the lies with more than just a vote.

It would be nice if we could just tell the Republican leadership to "Stop it!", but , at this point, they can't even if they wanted to.

They can't because their base, the people they riled up, won't let them.

For example, Kay Hutchinson is out of political life because her failure to vocalize extremist rhetoric has made her unaceptable to the people who vote in Republican primaries in Texas. A former staffer for McCain has resigned his position in the Arizona Repubican party because his lack of extremism has exposed him to death threats from his own party. He said that he loved the Republican party but wasn't willing to take a bullet. Of all the REpublican Senators, the only one to state that the Repubicans needed to tone down the rhetoric did so anonymouusly.

Now Repubican politicians are locked into a cycle of extemism where they have to compete with each other and newcomers from the Tea Party to see who can say the most stupid meanspirited hatefulled nonsense in order to get the support of the base. Hence Pawlwnty's pledge to reinstate DADT if he gets to be PResident.

The Current Republicans in Congress are of two tyes: the cynical ones that know Republican talking poiints on the issuues are mostly outright lies and the one who believe the lies. For example the Affordable Care Act is not a job killer and the Repulican leadership in Congress knows it, just as they know the Act will save money over time and willnot increase the defecit. The talking poinnts against the Actr are deliberatle lies. Those Repubican Congresspeople who actually believe the lies --well, what explanation can their be for that that doesn relfelct poorly on either their character or their intellect?

But there it is: another infammatory lie. The Affordable Care Act which will in truth create additional jbs is bing opposed by Republicans as a job killer, in fact named by the party leadership as the job killer act.

So they can all run about and shreik hysterically to their base abouut how they tried to kill the jobkiller bill but the evil Deoncrats are killing jobs..so their base will get riled up and sommeonne ouut there, someone even more mentally vulneralbe to messages about big government take overs than is normative for their base will do something mmre thanjust vote Repubican.

Telling them to "Stop it" is one step. It is a step that Obama did not take in his pseech and I believe he made the right choice. A memorial service for people who died because of the hyper partisanhip of the Repubican party is not thhe setting for assigning responsiblity.

But out side of the memorial service respnsibility needs to be assigned as one step to make the Republican leadersip and spokesperson stop it.

The othe step is tht people need to stop voting for them and listening to them.

I hope that jacob is right and that the dots will get connected.

Brett wrote: "Well, duh."

I'll rewrite, because the phrasing was off:

"It seems Broun believes it is the senselessness and insanity of the killing, and the vagueness of the killer's political intent that is the problem, not the murders themselves. But that if the six had been murdered and Giffords and the others wounded by a well-organized individual or group who were using Second Amendment remedies to thwart what they believed were tyrannical governance on the part of Giffords, THAT would have been just fine."

In the cite below, more advice for the undisciplined and more thoughtful and principled assassins among us:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2011/1/14/936256/-*UPDATED*-Right-wing-Massachusetts-businessman-applauds-AZ-shooting

A memorial service for people who died because of the hyper partisanhip of the Repubican party is not thhe setting for assigning responsiblity.

wonkie, I mostly agree with your comment, except for the excerpt above because of the part I bolded. As much contempt as I have for the current incarnation of the GOP, I don't think there's a sufficient basis for such a claim about the recent shooting.

"... what they believed WAS tyrannical governance on the ...."

Duh.

The thing I find curious about this is that this shooting isn't really substantially different in nature than previous rampages, except that some elected officials were involved, this time.

Actually, I think it is, though I'm still not sure about the logic of this, but Countme-in's link suggests this

We can make a simple division between assassinations and attempts in terms of distance. Most attempts have been at a distance, with multiple shots, and ones that have been at close range have usually been marked by poor planning and a restriction on the number of shots. John Hinkley is probably the closest one, and his revolver could only fire 6 shots. Yet Hinkley basically attacked a phalanx of folks escorting the president and had previously planned to kill Carter, so as to be famous and be accepted as Jodie Foster's equal so it doesn't seem like it was an animus against Reagan, but simply seeing him as a way to achieve the fame he wanted.

Loughner, on the other hand, with the extended cartridges, did not seem to be solely interested in killing the congresswoman, but wanted to shoot as many people as possible. It's been reported that a bag of ammunition was found near his home and, while I haven't followed the coverage closely, it seems that Loughner put in more preparation and thought into this. Previously, when crazy folks targeted a politician (or some other famous person, such as John Lennon), the aim was to kill that person and that was the end. In Loughner, you seem to have someone who looked to kill not just a specific target or targets, but any number of people she was interacting with. I'm not trying to make any claims about what caused this, but I'm thinking that if you look at the history of most assasination attempts, crazy people fail because of incompetence and a focussed target. If the trend towards unfocussed targets continues, incidents like this would be harder to stop because there is one less level of restraint. In a sense, if this incident represents the start of a trend, you may be looking at Charles Whitman like incidents, except with some sort of main target followed by anyone else who happens to be around.

Again, this depends a lot on what sort of things Loughner was actually thinking, and I'm not sure we will ever know that. But it seems that protecting people is going to be a lot harder if your assailant is unconcerned with how many others he (or she) kills in getting to that person. I'm thinking of Colombine like incidents focussed on political figures. Again, it is just late night thoughts, but I do see Loughner as a slightly different type of crazy.

Yes, that's a good point, lj. If it had been an assassination attempt alone, I'd say that your point carries.

But then Loughner just started shooting random other people. That's the part that I think is pretty much like, for example, Columbine, or Virginia Tech.

I don't think there's a sufficient basis for such a claim about the recent shooting.

That's pretty much my point. Evidence to date points to Loughner killed her simply because he was unhappy with an answer that she gave him three years ago.

But of course, it can't be that. It has to be right-wing rhetoric that's to blame. I mean, a Nobel laureate thinks that, so it has to be true.

This excellent speech is meant primarily for the real rulers of our country-- 0.1% ultra rich. They do not allow to be taxed to pay for the poor people health needs. They do not want to pay for deficit....
"We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved - and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better."

Let's say the Nobel laureate was presumptuous in his remarks.

Let's further stipulate that Loughner was in no way influenced by the atmosphere of political rhetoric in his district and the country at large.

Let's stipulate too that Loughner was not enabled in any way to purchase the large clip he attached to the weapon by current law and that current gun laws in no way reflect the political rhetoric of the right-wing in this country.

Fine.

In that case, I sense some further room between the innocent political rhetoric of the Right in this country (and in my book, Sarah Death Palin is a piker in this regard; there are many more egregious examples out there and besides I don't sense the necessary intelligence in Palin to believe she could make any more connection between her rhetoric and follow-up reality than a "hey look at me") and outright premeditated political violence, as espoused by Rep. Broun, at a memorial for the Oklahoma City Bombing victims, no effing less.

I wonder if the Tea Party Republican yelling "Jew" at the California Democrat (while the loser Tea Party Republican candidate stood by smiling) in Gary's link at 2:43 am would have made any connection between his rhetoric and the stuffing by me of the loser candidate's eye-patch up his ass.

I expect not.

I sense no connection between these remarks by Rush Limbaugh, nor any of his other incendiary remarks, and the rhetoric of the Republican Party candidates and officeholders None:

'On his radio show, Limbaugh declared,

What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He's sitting there in jail. He knows what's going on, he knows that...the Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he's just a victim....That smiling mug shot--this guy clearly understands he's getting all the attention and he understands he's got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he's not convicted of murder - but something lesser."

(This, from David Corn) Limbaugh was suggesting--no, make that stating as a fact--that the Democrats want to help Jared Lee Loughner escape full justice for allegedly murdering six people (including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl) and attempting to kill Giffords, a Democrat quite popular within her party. What could Limbaugh be thinking?'

And, by the way, the gap of causation between violent Right Wing rhetoric and outright and widespread political violence in this country still permits enough light through that I believe we should stand down and give them the chance to close the gap.

Let's wait until these people actually kill us before we ask that they quit threatening to kill us.

I'm patient.

Loughner is likely nuts. At a minimum, he's a profoundly disturbed individual.

There is a significant population on the right wing in this country who indulge themselves in violent fantasies and bullying, provocative rhetoric. Including openly carrying weapons to public meetings and professing a clear intent to shoot people if their point of view does not prevail.

Two dots. I feel no particular need to connect them. As far as can tell, there's likely no meaningful connection between them.

I have no idea what was in Loughner's mind. We may never know what was in Loughner's mind. There might not have been anything coherent whatsoever in Loughner's mind. The guy was a bomb waiting to go off, it doesn't really matter what pushed him over the brink. It could have been anything.

But I don't need to cite Loughner's actions to say that the "we're gonna start shooting if we don't get our way" horseshit really needs to stop, and in a hurry.

Enough is freaking enough. And IMO we're already way, way beyond enough.

I sense no connection between these remarks by Rush Limbaugh, nor any of his other incendiary remarks, and the rhetoric of the Republican Party candidates and officeholders

Via digby: Rush Limbaugh.

Hahaha. Get it? "Straight shooter". Edgy!

If you listen to Limbaugh's show, you enable this crap.

If you're represented by someone in Congress who uses this kind of language, and you don't call them on it, you enable it.

If you hang out on blogs and news groups where people like to talk about "Second Amendment solutions" and you don't call them on it, you enable it.

This crap has got to stop, and it has nothing to do with Loughner.

Loughner is demented. Creeps like Limbaugh, Beck, and all of their tough talking buddies in Congress and on the airwaves and blogs have no such excuse.

Evidence to date points to Loughner killed her simply because he was unhappy with an answer that she gave him three years ago.

I suspect that Giffords wasn't the only person who told Loughner something he didn't want to hear in the last three years, but so far she appears to be the only one of those that he's tried to kill. I would think there must be more to it than that.

Slartibartfast: Because Loughner's kind of insanity is contageous, you think?

Yes. But let me get to that in a second.

Because first of all, we have no idea what "Loughner's kind of insanity" actually is, assuming he is actually "insane" in any relevant clinical sense (he almost certainly is not in the sense that would be an effective criminal defense).

There has been a ridiculous - if understandable - rush to decide that he did this for one reason or another that happens to be convenient to the speaker. "Inspired by the Tea Party", "crazy", "really a liberal" But we don't know yet, because we're not the FBI, and they're not saying.

But we probably will know in the end, and then the group of people that got the most-right answer will look smart and everyone else will look like idiots. But all of them will have been guessing. So I'm not interested in playing that game. Loughner killed a bunch of people for reasons unknown.

However. Back to contagion. Because Loughner chose to try to kill a US Representative, and not just any Congresswoman but one who was a target of violent and intimidating political rhetoric over the last two years, one who warned about the dangers of that rhetoric, one whose offices had already been attacked, his actions have particular meaning and consequences regardless of his actual motivation.

Humans are imitators; they largely decide what is acceptable behavior based on what is done by members of what they perceive to be their peer group. Most of the time they consider killing other people to be unacceptable under all circumstances, but particular groups have in the past decided that it was acceptable or necessary. And the triggers for that shift in belief have often been prior acts of violence. Sometimes that's violence against members of their group, sometimes it's violence by members of their group. I don't need to get into the most famous examples of that for you to know what I'm talking about.

So yes, in a period where the rhetoric has implied that the stakes are literally as high as they could possibly be - that one party seriously intends to enact a murderous fascist regime - and where people have not-very-covertly been encouraged to arm themselves, to brandish weapons in public, to take their intimated threats of violence to the very limit of what is legal - yes, in that atmosphere, triggering acts of violence are something to be seriously concerned about.

I was concerned about smashed windows of campaign offices for just that reason. The acts of others give license to you to imitate.

I don't think this is an idiosyncratic view of the relationship between rhetoric and escalating violence. It has played out repeatedly over the last century all around the world and Americans are not immune to it.

"However. Back to contagion. Because Loughner chose to try to kill a US Representative, and not just any Congresswoman but one who was a target of violent and intimidating political rhetoric over the last two years, one who warned about the dangers of that rhetoric, one whose offices had already been attacked, his actions have particular meaning and consequences regardless of his actual motivation."

Except, from accounts by friends, she dissed him personally two years ago to become the object of his ire. This is you making it fit your desire to blame someone.

"Regardless of his actual motivation" is political speak for I will use it to make my point "Regardless of it's applicability to my point".

You mean "dissing", a form of rhetoric, caused the violence?

Except, from accounts by friends, she dissed him personally two years ago to become the object of his ire.

The friend (or possibly friends) say that's Loughner's account. None of them appear to have witnessed the exchange themselves.

"You mean "dissing", a form of rhetoric, caused the violence?"

Well, yes. But personal, not political.

I grew up in an era, and a place, where community leaders got dressed up in sheets and went to rallys where they passed around jugs. They gave a fiery speech about the dangers of certain kinds of people and then went home to have dinner with their families, while the drunken people from the rally went and burned crosses in peoples yards, or worse.

They denied any causal relationship between their speech and the result.

I get the dangers. This is a tragedy, but it doesn't have the direct or indirect causal relationship JD is drawing. Things were worse then.

Hogan,

From the information I have seen, that is true.

Are we talking about Loughner, or are we talking about whether violent and aggressive right wing rhetoric leads people to acts of political violence?

These two things are not necessarily related. We can discuss them separately.

I'm in agreement with folks who say we have no idea what makes Loughner tick. The guy might simply be psychotic.

Does aggressive, vitriolic right wing rhetoric contribute to acts of political violence? Yes it does.

David Adkisson.
Richard Poplawski.

The list goes on and on.

Are these guys more or less losers, taking out their personal issues on other folks? Yeah, they are.

Does the diet of reactionary propaganda they feed themselves on contribute to their actions? Yes, it does.

At a minimum, it helps them choose their targets.

If anybody's trying to make the case that violent rhetoric is harmless, or is found equally (or even in any significant way) on both sides, you have your work cut out for you.

Marty: This is you making it fit your desire to blame someone.

No, this is me saying that - regardless of why Loughner shot her, and you have no more evidence for your theory than anyone else for theirs - but that because of who she is and the pre-existing threats and intimations of violence that had been made against her, there was the potential for contagion.

You may not regard that as something worth worrying about. However, I do. It is not about assigning blame for what happened in Tucson. It is about whether it will lead to an escalating spiral of violence.

This is a tragedy, but it doesn't have the direct or indirect causal relationship JD is drawing.

But he's not drawing any such causal relationship. Jacob is saying that this event, regardless of the shooter motives, may make future events, though with different motives and violent right-wing rhetoric as a contributing factor, more likely because of the general pattern of the shooting.

The shooting looks at first blush to many people as someone taking certain talk a bit too literally, even if that isn't what actually happened. Some might asign some degree of blame for the shooting, perhaps wrongly, to high-profile conservatives' over-aggressive speech. Others, who may support such rhetoric and believe it means that people (liberals, Democrats) should be shot, might asign credit rather than blame, finding the shooting to be inspiring.

I don't know if he's right about that, but that's what he's saying, not that there was a causal relationship between violent, right-wing rhetoric and the latest shooting.

Jacob,

If you changed

"there was the potential for contagion."

to

"there IS the potential for contagion."

then I would agree with:

"It is not about assigning blame for what happened in Tucson. It is about whether it will lead to an escalating spiral of violence."

It is a simple change that makes the contagion possible from the confluence of a random act and the highly charged environment. Rather than an initial act of politically based aggression based on the rhetoric.

Because Loughner chose to try to kill a US Representative, and not just any Congresswoman but one who was a target of violent and intimidating political rhetoric over the last two years

Really? Did someone say that she should be put against the wall and shot?

Humans are imitators; they largely decide what is acceptable behavior based on what is done by members of what they perceive to be their peer group. Most of the time they consider killing other people to be unacceptable under all circumstances, but particular groups have in the past decided that it was acceptable or necessary. And the triggers for that shift in belief have often been prior acts of violence. Sometimes that's violence against members of their group, sometimes it's violence by members of their group. I don't need to get into the most famous examples of that for you to know what I'm talking about.

If any of this were true, we'd all have wound up exactly like one another millenia ago. I don't buy it.

yes, in that atmosphere, triggering acts of violence are something to be seriously concerned about

Sure. Which is why we seriously have to watch our "eat the rich" comments.

If any of this were true, we'd all have wound up exactly like one another millenia ago.

Really? Any of it? So, you don't believe this?

Most of the time they consider killing other people to be unacceptable under all circumstances,...

Which is why we seriously have to watch our "eat the rich" comments.

totally.

just yesterday, i woke, as if from a dream, to find myself standing near a gathering of rich people, drooling, ravenous. i was dressed in the attire of someone about to embark on a messy meal - lobsters with lots of butter, perhaps : bib, a set of forks, knives and crackers. a salt shaker in my breast pocket.

what woke me from my homo-prandial reverie i do not know. but i thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that it did. otherwise, there would be one or two fewer rich people left int he world. and one or two more rich people in my alimentary canal.

damn the rhetoric!

Alimentary, my dear cleek.

You never know, you might be just one bit of rhetorical violence away from becoming the next Jeffrey Dahmer. It might just be a movement, so to speak.

As far as violence and civility is concerned, I'd limit my criticism of political rhetoric to those specific cases where someone seems to suggest assassination or violent revolution as legitimate. That's partly because I believe some extreme things myself--I agree with Glenn Greenwald's latest piece about the lack of accountability in America when it comes to war crimes, for example. I'd love it if Glenn and people like him were regularly on the radio and TV talking about how our high-ranking officials and politicians can commit war crimes and get away with it. Now suppose we had that kind of media environment and some crazy person or some not-so-crazy violent leftist decided to take the law into his (or her) own hands. Would that make me wish that Glenn tone down his rhetoric? No.


So I make a distinction between "extreme statements" and "extreme statements that seem to urge violence". If Republicans want to say that Obama is leading us into socialism and start quoting Hayek, that's fine. Well, it's not fine--I think it's nonsense, but it's not pro-violent nonsense if that's as far as it goes. If they talk about "locking and loading", then that's bad.

Slarti's linked example is a good one for my purposes, in this case on the left. A Democratic congressman said that some Republican candidate for governor should be shot because he allegedly stole massive amounts of money, but there's no accountability in America if you steal billions of dollars. The congressman should have said that the candidate should be tried as a thief and imprisoned if found guilty and then made his general point about the lack of accountability. Saying the guy should be shot--well, who knows who might be listening?

Slartibartfast: If any of this were true, we'd all have wound up exactly like one another millenia ago. I don't buy it.

1. I said "largely". Sometimes people make decisions based on moral principles rather than just do what everyone else is doing, but not very often.

2. Imitation is not sufficient to ensure perfect homogeneity because imitation is imperfect, propagation takes finite time and is blocked by geographical barriers, new ideas continually originate in disparate places, and some ideas are incompatible with other ideas.

3. Notwithstanding 2, we are almost exactly like each other in almost all ways, especially within single cultures. Virtually everyone in America thinks that a young woman in a sundress is entirely inoffensive. Virtually everyone in Saudi Arabia thinks - or says they think - that it is horribly offensive. Did those consensus opinions develop through individual reasoning from moral first principles, or do we think that girls in sundresses are okay because everyone else thinks so?

Most Americans don't think that people going around naked is perfectly appropriate and essentially none of us does it. (I go to Burning Man and I've seen a lot of people's junk, and I think most people should keep their clothes on.) And yet there is no particular moral reasoning for that position except that everyone else thinks it and hardly anyone violates it.

That's what a culture is. It's mostly imitation and groupthink, and we flatter ourselves to think otherwise.

Like I said though, this isn't a hypothetical account. We have plenty of examples of cultures where the taboo on violence against certain groups of people was eroded initially through speech, and then through escalating types of violence beginning with vandalism and intimidation and rising to assault, murder, or genocide.

"Eat the rich" is funny but not mistakable for a serious suggestion. Crosshairs and candidates posing with M16s are hard to take for a joke in a country where political assassination has been commonplace and where people have been bringing guns to political meetings with the clear intent to threaten and intimidate.

Wonkie at January 14, 2011 at 10:56 AM: agree. Wise. Smart. Yes.

Countme--In, everyone:

This is a "dead link." It's the URL most folks know how to cut and paste. It's not clickble: http://werbach.com/barebones/barebones.html

This is the active link version:

Barebones Guide To HTML and Tags.

How To Link:

http://werbach.com/barebones/barebones.html#links

Link tags.

TEXT

< >

<A HREF="URL">TEXT</a>

< A HREF="URL" > TEXT < /A >

OR:

left angle bracket A HREF ="URL"right angle bracket
left angle bracket TEXT /A right angle bracket


[A HREF="URL"]TEXT[/A]

Substitute pointy bracket for rectangular bracket

Special characters = Special Characters, including pointy brackets.

< <
> >

You know know, or have access to, almost all the HTML I do. Today. And ever have. I know about eight tags, and that's it. That, and I use whatever logic I can.

Everyone: until such time as the template can be updated, which requires use of the SuperUser password, which I do not have, I'm again trying this kludge. I'll tweak it until I can get it until better form.

Until such time as I have access to the SuperUser password, if ever, I can't add software to allow for people to click, and add tags, as most blogs have allowed since 2005.

It's now 2011. I've been trying to get this done since 2005.

Meanwhile, this, and I'll try to help again as I can, with cut and paste and tweaking of this text. I encourage everyone to cut and paste whatever works here, learn it, repaste it whenever anyone pastes in a dead link and you think it would be helpful, but, obviously, not to the point of making anyone feel harassed.

That's a judgment call. Be forgiving of others, please, if you think they've overdone it.

This is only encouragement. Please don't interpret as anything other than my attempting to help provide information in an attempt to help. I'm not implying anything else in any way to anyone.

Thanks, everyone.

This text will be tweaked again, and made shorter. Yes, shorter; I know.

The whole question of political violence is difficult. I can't say I have any cut and dried answers, but yeah, eating the rich doesn't sound like such a bad thing....so how many Rockefellers were assassinated over the last say, 50 years?

In the good old days of rampant anarchism (say 1880-1916), at least a couple of them would have been subjected to bomb throwings by now. If it were like the old days Bill Gates would be lucky to be alive. Yes in the USA the left, much like the right, is no stranger to violence (see Bill Ayers threads at this very site for instance).....does that make the right, er, right? I would submit that they are right insofar as they, unlike the left, have controlled the media and the message pretty much throughout our history. Can you imagine a well funded SNN (Socialist News Network)? Is there a lefty media personality like Rush L. that Democratic Party pols genuflect to? But I digress, this is about political violence.

Consider: Only 1/3 of the population supported the violent revolution of our Founders. Was this "2nd Amendment remedy" justified? To hear most folks talk, it was just dandy to use violence to force their will on 2/3 of the population.

What is the goal here? Dismiss out of hand any or all justification for political violence under any circumstances?

Plus what Donald Johnson said. Our government consciously murders folks every day. Where is the outrage? Oh, that's right. That violence is justified. How neat. How tidy. As taxpayers are well collectively responsible for these murders?

It would be nice to write these off as an insoluable conundrum. The trouble is, people die as a result.

Time for another refresher course with that Rebel, Mr. A. Camus and take my positive rights out for a breath of fresh air.

In the good old days of rampant anarchism (say 1880-1916), at least a couple of them would have been subjected to bomb throwings by now.

The question of whether anarchism should be associated with violence is an interesting one. Check out the wikipedia article on Anarchism and Violence for a good starting overview. My reading of history suggests that anarchism was associated with violence because of media portrayals rather than because of any inherent violent tendencies. As anarchism led to violent acts (which really only began around 1915 or so thru the followers of Luigi Galleani and reached its peak in 1919) people who took up the banner of anarchism were prone to violence, but initially, violence was more for strike breakers rather than strikers. (You can probably guess who I think was responsible for the Haymarket bombings)

So while it is probably hopeless to try and resuscitate the true meaning of anarchist, it is worth noting that 'bomb-throwing anarchist' is probably more propaganda than fact.

I don't think the extreme speech would be as influential if it isn't linked to lies that are more concrete. I think the level of politically motivated violence in this country would drop even if politicians and radio blowhards hyperventilated the need for armed risistrance or Second Amendment solutions rhetoric wasn't attached to some particlular fear that people can relate to. One of the lies of the rightwing over the last two years has been the lie that "they" are going take guns away. Another is that big government will get between peolpe and their doctors, another that the health reform bill would have increased abortions. Without those specific lies I don't think the irresponsible language about reloading, targetting, shooting etc would be effective. It would just sound nuts.

In other words I am less concerned about the violent metaphors than the lies spread for the purpose of upsetting people.

Telling inflammatory lies a top down policy of the Republican party.

Thanks, LibJ. That warms my heart, and I retain my ambivalence with respect to political violence. Everybody else seems to.

Like I said, the Left (professional or otherwise) has never controlled the frame in the US--so who who DID take out governor Steunenberg anyway?

Don't mourn. Organize.

we are almost exactly like each other in almost all ways, especially within single cultures

Alike in some ways; different in others. Different enough that we have some (MOST!) people who can resist the clarion call to violence that is marbled through right-wing rhetoric like fat through a juicy roast. I feel the pull, yet I resist.

I don't even have a concealed-carry permit, yet.

Yet.

I used to have one. Then I realized that I didn't need a gun and I threw mine off a bridge.

Not the Tallahatchee Bridge, I hope.

You know what's a good hint that somebody might be crazy? The fact that he wants a 30-round clip for his Glock, that's what.

It's not a dispositive sign, of course. I suppose there are some sane people who NEED to mow down five six-packs of empties in ten seconds, out back. We all have ... well, needs.

--TP

As anarchism led to violent acts (which really only began around 1915 or so

Huh? Look at this list of assassinations. It includes the following, all performed by anarchists:

#May 11, 1878. Failed assassination attempt of Max Hödel against Kaiser Wilhelm I.

# July 23, 1892. Alexander Berkman tries to kill Henry Clay Frick in retaliation for the killing of workers by Pinkerton detectives during the Homestead Steel Strike.

# December 9, 1893. Auguste Vaillant throws a nail bomb in the French National Assembly, killing nobody and injuring one.

# February 12, 1894. Émile Henry set a bomb in Café Terminus, killing one and injuring twenty.

# June 24, 1894. Italian anarchist Caserio stabs to death French president Sadi Carnot seeking revenge for Auguste Vaillant and Emile Henry.

# November 3, 1896. In Patras, anarchist shoe-maker Dimitris Matsalis attacked with a knife two figures of the city.

# August 8, 1897. Michele Angiolillo assassinates Spanish Prime minister Cánovas,

# September 10, 1898. Luigi Lucheni stabs to death with a needle file Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress consort of Austria and Queen consort of Hungary due to her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph

# July 29, 1900. Gaetano Bresci shoots dead Umberto I of Italy,

# September 6, 1901. Leon Czolgosz shoots at point-blank range on U.S. president William McKinley, killing him.

# October 1902. Gennaro Rubino attempts to murder Leopold II of Belgium.

# May 31, 1906. Catalan Anarchist Mateu Morral tries to kill Alfonso XIII of Spain and Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg after their wedding.

# March 28, 1908. Anarchist Selig Cohen aka Selig Silverstein tries to throw a bomb in New York City's Union Square;

# November 12, 1912. Anarchist Manuel Pardiñas kills Spanish Prime Minister José Canalejas in Madrid.

# March 18, 1913. Aleksander Schinas assassinates king George I of Greece.


I'll cop to being overly broad in saying 'violent acts', but I was specifically addressing bobbyp's term 'bomb throwing anarchists' and you also omit the note before the list that reads

Numerous heads of state were assassinated between 1881 and 1914 by members of the libertarian socialist movement. Regicides were for obvious reasons celebrated as popular victory over counter-revolutionary forces, which remained strong a century after the 1789 French Revolution. The first assassinations were carried out by Russian anarchists, which would lead to the creation of the term of "nihilism". For example, U.S. President McKinley's assassin Leon Czolgosz claimed to have been influenced by anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman. This was in spite of Goldman's disavowal of any association with him, his registered membership in the Republican Party, and never having belonged to an anarchist organization. Bombings were associated in the media with anarchists because international terrorism arose during this time period with the widespread distribution of dynamite. This image remains to this day. This perception was enhanced by events such as the 1886 Haymarket Riot, where anarchists were blamed for throwing a bomb at police who came to break up a public meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

Anarchism as an organized movement eschewed violence for the most part, if only because they were fighting against a much stronger opponent and this was even more true among American anarchists. Furthermore, assassination is not bomb-throwing and the question of regicide was one that had been raised in Europe since Charles I and Louis XVI.

Of the list, only three incidents are in the US, and you have Czolgosz, who was refused membership in anarchist organizations because it was assumed he was a government plant, Berkman, who committed an act of revenge, which I admit is a violent act, but it isn't bomb throwing, and Selig Cohen, is the only actually 'bomb thrower' on the list. The NYTimes article about the event is quite interesting (pdf), (though the title 'The Bombmaker was an Anarchist Crank' probably suffers from some semantic shift)

If you think about it, the notion of bomb throwing at a rally filled with people supporting your goals is a bit ridiculous on its face. Given the previous problems in trying to tie anarchists to the actions of bomb throwers (the Steunenberg assassination and the trial that bobbyp or more importantly the labor problems in Coeur d'Alene to see what they were facing) it's not surprising that there was no trial to try and link other anarchists to the incident.

It's interesting that the list doesn't include things like the 1919 anarchist bombing campaign or the Wall Street bombing of 1920 by the Galleanists and the most interesting attempt, that by Nestor Dondoglio, who tried to poison 100 banquet guests in 1916 by putting arsenic in their soup (not eating the rich, but close)

I'd still argue that the notion of 'bomb throwing anarchist' owes more to the media of the time (and perhaps Joseph Conrad's novel Secret Agent) than to any intrinsic notions within the anarchist movement.

Not to forget that anarchists invented the car bomb before the motor car actually became widespread so the first examples (starting in 1905) were horse-powered.
---
When I listen to certain figures on the right* I feel a physical urge to commit violence - against them. And it is not the clean headshot I fantasize over but something extremly violent and graphic including different forms of strangling, blunt objects etc.
It's not even primarily what they say but the tone, be it hysteric hyperventilation or extreme smugness. The Robert Ley imitators are not the worst by any means.
So, I should avoid getting into a situation where I could live out these fantasies. I am not sure that I would not use such an 'opportunity'. I am a conscientious objector and consider myself as reasonably civilized but know what uncontrollable rage feels like and that it can come at a moments notice (as some who went to school with me can attest to that suddenly found an umbrella making contact with their heads at great speed). I, certain people, and axes** should not be in the same room together or something unfortunate might happen.

*There were some leftists over here that elicited similar reactions but they have become much rarer and are less prominent.
**I always found axes more appealing than swords (or saws for that matter).

That's partly because I believe some extreme things myself--I agree with Glenn Greenwald's latest piece about the lack of accountability in America when it comes to war crimes, for example.

I'm not sure if you're being ironice here, Donald, but I can assure you that your or Glenn Greenwald's beliefs are only considered "extreme" in the US, while most of the rest of the world considers US exceptionalism, militarism and imperialism to be extreme.

The "conservatives" in the US have won the battle for public opinion by successfully shifting the center of public discourse to the right and marginalizing any views outside this rhetorical bubble. They have also succeeded in dumbing down most political discourse to tabloid level and slandering any attempt to introduce a more thoughtful and critical approach as effeminate, unpatriotic and, good forbid, intellectual.

You know what's a good hint that somebody might be crazy? The fact that he wants a 30-round clip for his Glock, that's what.

It's not a dispositive sign, of course. I suppose there are some sane people who NEED to mow down five six-packs of empties in ten seconds, out back. We all have ... well, needs.

Our own beloved Brett Bellmore has been arguing exactly that over at The Reality Based Community: He needs those clips so he can "plink in the backyard" without reloading as frequently, and he'll be damned if he'll be "impacted" or "inconvenienced" by any Commie laws against those clips just to stop infrequent mass murders.

He also needs a silencer for ear protection, apparently, despite the fact that silencers and suppressors cost several hundred dollars (or more than $1,000 in some cases) while a set of ear protectors like airport runway workers use costs less than $100.

Jacob, if you wish to delete my comments, please discuss this issue with me in email or telephone, or otherwise.

Thanks. We need to talk.

Jacob, if you wish to delete my comments, please discuss this issue with me in email or telephone, or otherwise.

Thanks. We need to talk.

Failing that, please talk to Eric, and have Eric talk to me.

That would work fine. Failing that, ask me what you'd like me to do, but a two way exchange would be, I think, most useful. I'm just guessing here, though.

"'not sure if you're being ironice here, Donald,"

Sort of ironic. I think Glenn's views on this are obviously right, but also realize that in the US the notion that high government officials should be held to the same standards as anyone else (including foreign war criminals) is regarded as borderline insane--the views of that nitwit from Brookings that Glenn was mocking is what passes for sanity in the US.

Wonkie:

'But there it is: another infammatory lie. The Affordable Care Act which will in truth create additional jbs is bing opposed by Republicans as a job killer, in fact named by the party leadership as the job killer act.

So they can all run about and shreik hysterically to their base abouut how they tried to kill the jobkiller bill but the evil Deoncrats are killing jobs..so their base will get riled up and sommeonne ouut there, someone even more mentally vulneralbe to messages about big government take overs than is normative for their base will do something mmre thanjust vote Repubican.

Telling them to "Stop it" is one step. It is a step that Obama did not take in his pseech and I believe he made the right choice. A memorial service for people who died because of the hyper partisanhip of the Repubican party is not thhe setting for assigning responsiblity.'

Novakant:

'The "conservatives" in the US have won the battle for public opinion by successfully shifting the center of public discourse to the right and marginalizing any views outside this rhetorical bubble. They have also succeeded in dumbing down most political discourse to tabloid level and slandering any attempt to introduce a more thoughtful and critical approach as effeminate, unpatriotic and, good forbid, intellectual.'

How, exactly, are these unthinkable results being achieved, given our modern communications environment? Much of the 'extreme' derision on this site is directed at republicans, and my guess is that much of that is intended for the national level republicans and their influence in recent years. I have a certain level of agreement with the notion that a great deal of lying has been going on, especially by republicans at the national level. It is noteworthy that in this last election cycle the RNC raised from major donors less than 20% of the sum reported in the previous cycle, while the DNC increased theirs by sixfold. This also reflects my personal behavior of declining to contribute to the RNC, although I continue to make my own decisions regarding local candidates, and do contribute if their behavior meets my 'conservative' standards. But this still leaves the question, how did the 'conservatives' dominate the midterm election so thoroughly? Not with money, apparently. How is this marginalizing and dumbing down occurring? Is our educational system, with such dominate support at the Federal level, just not producing voters who can think for themselves?

I'm looking for some insight here, since I cannot accept statements like Wonkie's and Novakant's without some solid explanation as to how such incongruous results are achieved.


"There is a significant population on the right wing in this country who indulge themselves in violent fantasies and bullying, provocative rhetoric. Including openly carrying weapons to public meetings and professing a clear intent to shoot people if their point of view does not prevail."

Yes, and no. If by "their point of view", you mean extremely restricted subsets of their point of view, sure. I for example, will candidly admit that, unless my point of view on the undesirablity of herding people into death camps continues to prevail, I will start shooting people. The government setting up death camps will cause me to go postal. You have a problem with that? On the other hand, I've got absolutely no intention of shooting people as a result of my point of view as to the appropriate maximium tax rate.

If you set aside the convenient stereotypes, and actually bother to learn what people on the right wing who indulge themselves in violent fantasies actually say would cause them to start shooting people, you might find that you don't disagree with a lot of it. Just with how likely it is that those just causes would actually occur.

To be sure, you certainly will find some major points of disagreement, mostly relating to gun control. This is in large measure because a major faction of the right reason that, in order BE ABLE TO go postal when the government starts herding people into death camps, you have to be willing to go postal when the government sets out to deprive you of the ability to go postal, some time prior.

"You know what's a good hint that somebody might be crazy? The fact that he wants a 30-round clip for his Glock, that's what."

You know what's a good hint that somebody might be crazy? The fact that they think tens of millions of OTHER people are crazy, that's what.

"Our own beloved Brett Bellmore has been arguing exactly that over at The Reality Based Community: He needs those clips so he can "plink in the backyard" without reloading as frequently, and he'll be damned if he'll be "impacted" or "inconvenienced" by any Commie laws against those clips just to stop infrequent mass murders.

He also needs a silencer for ear protection, apparently, despite the fact that silencers and suppressors cost several hundred dollars (or more than $1,000 in some cases) while a set of ear protectors like airport runway workers use costs less than $100."

Who said anything about "needing" these things? I was quite explicit about their being convenient, which is rather different from "necessary", and, in fact, I get by quite well without $1.25 noise suppressors subject to $200 taxes, having a set of ear muffs which helped with the lawn mower, too, when I HAD a lawn.

My position is that that I don't think you should impose on vast numbers of people, when a problem is caused by few people. For every life you might save with a 30 round magazine ban, you'd be imposing on millions who manage to own them, and use them for perfectly legitimate ends.

Italics off!

Anyway, 'silencers' are just mufflers for guns, you shouldn't freak out about them.

how did the 'conservatives' dominate the midterm election so thoroughly?

GOB, there is an entire field that studies elections and campaigns called Political Science. They've got professors who publish papers in journals, attend conferences, argue with each other, etc. Within this field, there are lots of controversial notions that people disagree on, but there are also lots of ideas that have universal support, sort of like how in medicine everyone agrees that the germ theory of disease is true.

Now, one of those things that is almost universally agreed upon is that (1) national election outcomes (in the US) are largely determined by the state of the economy, and (2) the President's party tends to lose seats in midterm elections. Political scientists agree with these ideas because they have tremendous predictive power: they successfully explain many of elections that have happened in the last century or two, despite the fact that all those elections were unique and had individuals trying all sorts of different things in radically different times.

In addition, because the Dems had won so many seats in the 2006/2008 cycle, they had a lot more vulnerable seats to defend. In other words, Dems won a lot of marginal seats in 06/08, which means that there were a lot of Dem seats where Republicans didn't have to do much to win.

So there is no mystery about the Republican gains in the last election. It would be extremely surprising if they didn't make significant gains. In fact, if you go back six months before the election, you can see folks like Josh Marshall writing about these exact issues predicting that November 2010 would be a blood bath for Dems.

Is our educational system, with such dominate support at the Federal level, just not producing voters who can think for themselves?

First, in the US, there is relatively little support for education from the federal government.

Secondly, consider this question: why do people have favorite sports teams? Why doesn't everyone agree on which team is best? Is it because people are stupid? Of course not. Picking a team to root for isn't a rational calculation, its a decision based on history and aspirations and personalities and locale. For most people, voting is the same way.

Is our educational system, with such dominate support at the Federal level, just not producing voters who can think for themselves?

You know, I've pointed out to you before that funding for schools in the United States is done primarily at the local and state level via property taxes and state education funds; and that on average less than 8% of school funding comes from the Federal Department of Education or any other federal source.

And school curricula are determined by local school boards with, again, state input into standards for each grade level.

So just what "dominate [sic] support at the Federal level" are you talking about here?

But this still leaves the question, how did the 'conservatives' dominate the midterm election so thoroughly?

I'd give you a hint, but you're not gonna like it. Let's start here: You sure heard an awful lot about illegal immigration in the weeks leading up to the election, huh?

I for example, will candidly admit that, unless my point of view on the undesirablity of herding people into death camps continues to prevail, I will start shooting people. The government setting up death camps will cause me to go postal.

Yes, but see, the problem here is that there is a nontrivial portion of the US population listening to right-wing nutbag radio hosts and being convinced that the government is about to start herding them into death camps.

For every life you might save with a 30 round magazine ban, you'd be imposing on millions who manage to own them, and use them for perfectly legitimate ends.

So what? The Constitution says nothing about not being imposed upon. Having to pay for commercial time on television stations -- which are, keep in mind, licensed to serve in the public interest -- is an imposition as well. Should we make all television stations operate as nonprofits so you aren't imposed upon?

Anyway, 'silencers' are just mufflers for guns, you shouldn't freak out about them.

Who, besides you, is freaking out about anything?

I just think it's funny, Brett, how the government -- and everybody else! -- has to be held to the strictest semantic and structural standards, but when it comes to your life, suddenly you're all about weasely, undefined things like "impact" and "imposition" and "inconvenience." Your mendacity has no bottom, it seems. Ain't no right not to be inconvenienced.

You know what's a good hint that somebody might be crazy? The fact that they think tens of millions of OTHER people are crazy, that's what.

Tens of millions of "OTHER people" voted for a commie fascist Muslim Kenyan for president. What a crazy thing to have done, eh? No sane person NEEDS a commie fascist Muslim Kenyan president, after all.

My position is that that I don't think you should impose on vast numbers of people, when a problem is caused by few people. For every life you might save with a 30 round magazine ban, you'd be imposing on millions who manage to own them, and use them for perfectly legitimate ends.

I have no idea whether "millions" of people own 30-round clips, but that's beside the point. What's more relevant is that the "few" people who do fire off 30 pistol shots in 10 seconds at a crowd of strangers are a subset of the "millions" who possess 30-round clips and NOT a subset of the millions who DON'T.

Brett, you say: I for example, will candidly admit that, unless my point of view on the undesirablity of herding people into death camps continues to prevail, I will start shooting people.

I take you at your word on that, but I have to ask you something. If the government barged into a political meeting, or a school, or a church, or a post office, every few months and shot a few people to death without warning, would that get your righteous dander up? Would that come close enough to "death camps" for you to make good on your promise to "start shooting people"? Would you, at the very least, call for some additional restrictions on "government", even though "government" serves legitimate purposes most of the time?

Look: heroic fantasies about opposing tyranny aside, you either acknowledge that widespread ownership of guns has unavoidable COSTS, or you don't. You can argue that the benefits outweigh the costs, and I might even agree with you. We might even agree on sensible measures to reduce the costs while preserving the benefits. Or maybe we won't.

But any pretense that periodic mass shootings have nothing to do with YOUR 2nd-Amendment rights (or mine!) is ridiculous, if not outright crazy.

--TP

'In addition, because the Dems had won so many seats in the 2006/2008 cycle, they had a lot more vulnerable seats to defend. In other words, Dems won a lot of marginal seats in 06/08, which means that there were a lot of Dem seats where Republicans didn't have to do much to win.'

And this concept can go a long way toward explaining Obama's win of the Presidency in 2008. Bush had been there for eight lying years so the Republicans were vulnerable.

I suggest those who prefer Democratic Party governance to Republicans might do better to logically present their arguments to the electorate and refrain from calling the opposition hysterical and liars, since doing so is largely a waste of time and effort.

'First, in the US, there is relatively little support for education from the federal government.'

Does this mean American taxpayers won't have to eat higher education student loan defaults?

'You know, I've pointed out to you before that funding for schools in the United States is done primarily at the local and state level via property taxes and state education funds; and that on average less than 8% of school funding comes from the Federal Department of Education or any other federal source.

And school curricula are determined by local school boards with, again, state input into standards for each grade level.'

Does this mean we can shut down the Department of Education? We really need to find places to cut that won't hurt.

Good Ole Boy, I was careful to define the purpetrators of neferious behavior as the national Republican party leaders. I think that rank and file Repubicans or people who might vote for Republicans are resonsible for cleaning up the party they wish to support but i do not think they are responsible for creating the problem in the first place.

I am assuming that the incongruous results you mean are the acts of violence. I hope this is not a misunderstanding.

So... to link the policy the national R party has of telling lies in the context of inflammatory language to incongruous results:

The man who is charged with making death threats against Senator Patty Murray was a Beck fan who believed Beck's paraniod lies. This is not my inteepetation. It is is sister's intepetation; she watched him morph from an inoffensive individual to a person who was obsessed with notion that he had to defend himslef and America fomr the enemy (Democrats inCongress) that Beck identified for him.

The man charged with the crime of making death threats agsint Cngressman McDermott said that his motive was fear that Democrats would not support the tax cuts for rich people. He was a trust fund baby.

The man who shot Dr, Tiller was a Faux watcher and an O'Reilly fan and herad O'Reilly's repeated denuncioations of Dr. Tiller as a killer.

The man who shot the police officers in Pennesylvannia was a beck fan and thought that "they" were going to take away his guns.

The man who shot up the Unitarina church in Tennesse kept a diary full of beck quotes.

In Tucson the local rightwing hate radio personality's central theme was that big government was going to take away everyone's rights and that Congreswoman Gifford in specifc was part of tht conspriracy. The locl Tea Party picketed her office weekly with the same message. Her opponenet in the race had the same message. he also depeicted himslef in his campaing literature as a warrior (his word) wearing black and carrying an assualt rifle. he had media events at a gun range and shoke of trgettinng Giffords. The shooter acted wityhin that context. It is probably not provable in a court of law tht he acted on the rightwing hate that suffused the atmosphere in her district but it is enablinng rightwinng hate to rationalize away as a mere coincidence his decision to act on his fear of big government mind control to shoot the woman who was presented over and over and over as beinng part of a big government conspiracy.

The inatitute n San Francisco that ws attacked by an armed man shortly after Faux did a story--a made up story!-about what a terrible awful organization the institute was. Perhaps someone who reads this can remember the details.

A little story from my own experience: I was driving home on a stretch of higway tht has two lanes on one side, one for through traffic and one for an exit. I had an Obama sticker on my bumper. A pickup pulled up next to me and the two men inside rolled down their window and shouted obscenties and called me a traitor. Since I was just about to exit i rolled my window down and flipped them off. I would not have done that if I had not been about to exit becauss they had gun rack in their truck and might have been armed.

Every Democrat, liberal, progressive or citizen who is not a rightwinger is a potenntial target of rightwing violence.

We must stop makinng excuses, minimizing, ignoring or rationalizing away the link betwenn violent acts and violent talk.

And also pointing fingers at the other guys because it makes us feel like better people.

I simply cannot fathom the insensate hatred expressed by GOB and other self-styled "homespun" conservatives for the Department of Education, a federal agency that mostly recycles tax dollars to local school districts that certainly could use the funds and provides loans to those students who wish to expand their career opportunities (i.e., go to college) and consumes LESS THAN TWO PER CENT OF FEDERAL EXPENDITURES (conservaspeak all caps for emphasis).

Does the DOE engage in some kind of nefarious activity that is out of all proportion to the resources devoted to it?

It's as if the mere mention of the DOE is the Viagra of political debate that gives conservatives the vigor to go yell at their Congressman demanding "their" country back.

What, has foreign aid lost its potency?

Slarti, do you recognize any value at all in "pointing fingers" not at "the other guys" but at one's OWN guys?

Maybe nobody, ever, deserves to be finger-pointed at. So how exactly should polite, non-finger-pointing people respond to somebody who says:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.
In particular, would it not perhaps improve our national discourse if we could count on such a person's ideological allies to point the finger back at him, rather than sitting quietly by and leaving the job to his opponents?

--TP

What's so hard to understand? The DOE doesn't have any Constitutional justification. Whether or not it's activities are positive, it's a usurpation of power.

I could say I don't really understand the liberal conviction that it's ok for the government to usurp power, and violate the highest law of the land, as long as you're generally in favor of what they're unconstitutionally doing. But I'd be lying. Are you so lacking in the ability to put yourself in the other guy's head, that you can't figure out why somebody might want the rule of law to prevail even when there's no immediate damage from it falling?

Myself I don't think that pointing fingers is anywhere near as bad as encouraging the pi9nting of guns.

Sure. And nowhere near as bad as, for instance, saying that someone should be put up against the wall and shot.

Slarti, do you recognize any value at all in "pointing fingers" not at "the other guys" but at one's OWN guys?

That is an excellent point, Tony. If only more people would do that.

And I was wrong in listing liberals etc as the only targets of rightwing violence. There's the former McCain staffer who resigned his position in the Arizona Republican party because he ws afraid of being shot by Tea party fanatics. he said he loved the Republican party but it wasn't worth taking a bullet.

'I simply cannot fathom the insensate hatred expressed by GOB and other self-styled "homespun" conservatives for the Department of Education'

I didn't express any hatred, just a sense that the dollars spent by the Department of Education involve the Federal government in a function more than adequately carried out by States (as superbly expressed by Phil) and not among the enumerated powers delegated to the Federal government, so it's an unneeded waste of money and human effort. It's something like a poster child for Constitutional issues. If it disappeared from the Federal scene, no member of Congress or the White House would ever spend effort or money on education issues, thus allowing them to focus on their Constitutional responsibilities. The responsibilities of the Federal government are very complex and we should do all we can to remove from that level all things that do not need to be there.

And nowhere near as bad as, for instance, saying that someone should be put up against the wall and shot.

Did that person actually get shot?

What's so hard to understand? The DOE doesn't have any Constitutional justification.

Are you retarded? The President has the power to create and appoint heads of "executive Departments" under Article II, Section 2.

The President s . . . may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices . . .

. . . he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Here is the law passed 72-21 in the US Senate, and 215-201 in the House, which established the Department of Education, an executive department, to be headed by a Secretary of Education to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Just because you don't like something doesn't make it unconstitutional.

I didn't express any hatred, just a sense that the dollars spent by the Department of Education involve the Federal government in a function more than adequately carried out by States (as superbly expressed by Phil) and not among the enumerated powers delegated to the Federal government

You're going to get whiplash switching direction that quickly. I take it this is a tacit concession that the "such dominate support at the Federal level" line of argument was a bunch of horse crap?

Since this is your bugaboo, GOB, tell us: What does the Department of Education do? As in, what do they actually do, such that they can be eliminated so painlessly?

'Here is the law passed 72-21 in the US Senate, and 215-201 in the House, which established the Department of Education, an executive department, to be headed by a Secretary of Education to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.'

Phil:

Is it your view that the mere passage of legislation by the Congress and Presidential signature makes a law constitutional? And, even if constitutional, it is still inappropriate if the functions are adequately dealt with by states. The objective of a federated republican government is to divide governing responsibility, not push everything to the highest possible level.

'You're going to get whiplash switching direction that quickly. I take it this is a tacit concession that the "such dominate support at the Federal level" line of argument was a bunch of horse crap?

Since this is your bugaboo, GOB, tell us: What does the Department of Education do? As in, what do they actually do, such that they can be eliminated so painlessly?'

The 'horse crap' would be the federal government student loan programs, which will be our next financial bubble to burst. And as to what the DOEd actually does, I'll let you justify it since I don't see anything they should do. Why should cuts be painless?

Beat me to it, Good ol boy; What's the fact that a bill passed Congress got to do with whether or not it's constitutional? Talk about your non sequiturs.

GOB..."it is still inappropriate if the functions are adequately dealt with by states"

Aye,there is the rub. And if you assert that the federal government has no power to establish machinery to see to it that the laws of the land are executed fairly and faithfully then you live in some Antebellum la la land; if you believe that the federal government does not have the power to collect data, then you occupy a place in space outside the solar system; and if you think that the Congress cannot spend money to assist schools and their students to promote the public good, then you live in a different universe.

... and if we disagree with you about anything else, we must be works of fiction?

The federal government has power to establish machinery to see to it that the laws of the land, adopted pursuant to the Constitution, are executed fairly and faithfully. If a law presumes to extend the reach of the federal government into an area where that government isn't delegated any authority, then it is not a constitutional law, and the agency created to enforce it is not a constitutional agency.

The notion that the Dept of Ed is unconstitutional is a silly fringe idea, nuttier than astrology. That's why there's zero political support for defunding it and that's why there's been zero success in getting courts to eliminate it. Americans refuse to elect congressfolk or a President who would work to eliminate the Dept of Ed; they refuse to nominate judges who think the Dept of Ed is unconstitutional.

Conservative politicians never do anything to eliminate the Dept of Ed because they don't want to. Conservative judges, people with lifetime appointments to the courts, also refuse to touch it. And there's been no popular backlash against those politicians or judges, because the belief that the Dept of Ed is unconstitutional is a nutty fringe idea, held by a tiny minority of people who don't matter politically.

The bizarre thing is that I don't think Dept of Ed hatred is even fashionable as silly conservative propaganda these days; after all, we're not talking about the Fed or FEMA.

For my part, I maintain that the US Air Force and the Strategic Air Command are clearly unconstitutional. Eliminating them would save real money.

The 'horse crap' would be the federal government student loan programs, which will be our next financial bubble to burst.

Can you point me to some reputable economists who are writing that?

'US Air Force and the Strategic Air Command'

If you insist, we can clean up this redundancy by making them a brigade within the US Army.

If you insist, we can clean up this redundancy by making them a brigade within the US Army.

That won't do for the SAC. After all, the framers refused to trust the President with the power to select his own ambassadors, so the notion that they'd entrust him with the power to push a button and eliminate any American city he didn't care for is just daft.

Every other OECD country has a Ministry or Department of Education. While I don't believe that this makes it correct, it indicates that other countries consider education challenges to be national in scope, so maybe the US should as well. And it makes perfect sense to have some sort of movement from local control for early education to a more national basis as you move to secondary and tertiary education. I've no idea what the conservative common wisdom is towards DOED, but the conversation thus far strikes me as a Grover Norquist-like strategy, picking on the smallest and less funded portion of the Federal government as a starting point and then moving on to other departments.

'Can you point me to some reputable economists who are writing that?'

Not an economist, but here's a report from last month.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/10954394/1/student-loan-defaults-could-cost-taxpayers.html

"Not an economist, but here's a report from last month."

The article doesn't support, in any way, whatever point it was you were trying to make. You might try restating it.

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