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April 11, 2014

Comments

I think one thing that makes it easier to accept a change of heart is when people are born into and raised in situations where there are established norms that are problematic, particularly when those norms are reinforced through indoctrination by family and community. In such situations, it's much easier to understand people holding offensive views that they later change, after coming to understand better the world outside the immediate circumstances of their upbringings.

Without such a compelling context, where someone can be seen to have come upon an offensive idea and embraced it on his or her own, simply based on the preceived merits, it's more difficult to forgive - not impossible, but certainly more difficult.

My apologies. I should have found time yesterday to give LJ a little more expanded piece to start things off. Well, here goes.

I think the first question as we approach this is: is the person wrong in their original opinion, or evil? (And note that just because two people hold the same view, that does not necessarily mean, when you disagree, that both are wrong, or both are evil.)

The difference, as I see it, is this. Anyone can be wrong. And someone who is wrong can be persuaded, by argument and/or evidence, to change their mind. Whereas someone who is evil will not change their mind, no matter what evidence you present; they have made a moral committment, and evidence is irrelevant. Indeed, they will tend to say that evidence which conflicts is either fabrication and lies, or merely something which appears to conflict that has been put there as a test of faith.

Not to say that someone who has evilly taken a position may not say that they have changed. But that is a matter of expediency, rather than a change of belief. There is no point in arguing with someone who has taken an evil position; all you can do is shame them, so that few people will be willing to consider adopting the same position.

But someone who is wrong, whether they were wrong enthusiastically or reluctantly, will consider evidence. And if the evidence conflicts with their position, they can come to change it.

Consider two people, one of whom thinks that gay marriage ought to be allowed, and the other thinks that it should not. Either one might be wrong. One test is what happens when gay marriage gets allowed somewhere. After Massachusettes allowed gay marriage, either of two things could have happened. (And probably somewhere inbetween, but ignore that for the sake of discussion.) Those who supported gay marriage could have discovered that the rate of heterosexual marriages fell of (from the trend, rather than in an absolute sense), and that the number of cases of homosexual child molestation jumped up. Those who had been wrong would have said, however reluctantly, "OK, this was a bad idea. Let's back it off." Or it could have been that there was no impact on heterosexual marriage and no change in the rate of child molestation. And those who had been wrong would have said, again however reluctantly, "Well, I still may not like it, but it isn't the disaster I thought it would be." Those, in either case, would be the people who were wrong.

Then there are those who, in either situation, would say "The facts are irrelevant! It is still just wrong to/not to allow this to happen!"

But it is hard to decide, from the outside, whether someone is evil, or merely wrong. Because it comes down, essentially, to knowing why they hold the position that they do.

OK, from there, for me it becomes a matter of both what the overall situation is and what someone does about it. If someone's entire culture believes one thing, and all the evidence that they see supports that, there is no real way to tell which is which. But when a society is in the midst of changing, lots of people are changing their minds -- that's how a society changes, after all. And lots are not changing, or at least have not changed yet. I would contend that, in that latter circumstance, anyone who changes their mind should be given the benefit of the doubt. Whereas if a society changed decades ago, someone who refuses to change has to be considered someone for whom evidence is irrelevant.

And then we get to the question above. If someone does, in word or even in deed, appear to change, how much to they have to do to convince us that the change was real?

And while I was typing, hsh makes one of my points more succinctly, and probably more clearly.

Maybe like what a saint has to do to tarnish his/her rep?

Checking the list of official saints, I spot quite a few absolutely despicable characters there and a lot of others that I would prefer never to meet in person due to their general dislikability. At least four of them were even made Fathers of the Church. In other words being a genocidal maniac is no fundamental obstacle to sainthood.

wj:

I thought these two thoughts were worth associating:

But it is hard to decide, from the outside, whether someone is evil, or merely wrong.

and

There is no point in arguing with someone who has taken an evil position; all you can do is shame them

I think these two concepts are major drivers of the political discord in this country. Probably other countries as well, I'm just not well informed.

It's really hard to know what people are thinking and why they think it. Unless they are incredibly eloquent (most aren't) and spend a lot of time talking about their thoughts (most don't), its basically impossible to understand where someone is coming from, without spending A LOT of time with them.

Even in a discussion, people get caught up in being right, get caught up in their own words, poorly express one thing, or poorly understand another's point. It can give you insight into why someone thinks the way they do, but its rarely a clean picture.

I've noticed, anecdotally of course, its generally far easier and more rewarding (for the id, at least) to think 'evil' than to think 'misguided' or 'different opinion'.

Which brings us to shaming. It's a cheap and easy social/political tool. But shaming only works if you have a strong majority, and even then I question its value.

Without a strong majority, it only serves to reinforce echo chambers, harden peoples minds, and make it harder for people to question themselves.

And questioning yourself is probably the most productive thing people can do. And creating an environment where people can question themselves is hard to do and not as viscerally appealing as snark and shame.

My two cents.

Assuming that someone with a different view is evil, and shaming them, may be easier. But it also guarantees that, even if they were open to argument and evidence before, they will cease to be open to it from you. And quite possibly, cease to be open to it from anyone who agrees with you. People can accept someone thinking that they are wrong. They will not, in general, accept someone saying that they are evil.

It can, if you are trying to change a society, become very much a matter of "win the battle but lose the war."

wj:

Dead on.

wj's original comment came, IIRC, from the discussion of Andrew Sullivan in the other thread. since I was probably the most critical of Sullivan there, I'll offer a couple of thoughts.

First, I have no interest in painting anybody as evil. I certainly wouldn't put Sullivan in that camp, and I'd be hard pressed to think of anyone else I might include there.

So, "wrong" vs. "evil" is not really the issue from my point of view.

"Wrong" doesn't quite capture the issue for me either, at least in terms of factual rightness or wrongness, because in the cases we're talking about I don't think the facts on the ground are really the nub of the disagreement.

What was wrong about Byrd being in the KKK was that the KKK was an organization dedicated to preserving white supremacy, including through violence and the denial of civil rights.

What was wrong about Sullivan's (and many many others') support for the wars of the 2000's, and especially the Iraq War, was that it was in very large part motivated by the basic desire to avenge the 9/11 attacks by kicking the living shit out of somebody, without much regard for whether that was just, or made sense, or for what the consequences of that might be for us or anybody else.

There are lots and lots of facts involved in both of these cases, but they're sort of beside the point.

And much evil was done in both cases, but it's not necessary to conceive of the people involved as being personally and inherently evil to say that their actions and statements were wrong.

As far as "shaming" goes, I agree that it's not a particularly useful motivational tool, but I also think that there are things that people quite rightly ought to be ashamed of.

There are many errors one can make where "Oops, sorry, my mistake!" is a perfectly adequate remedy.

Other forms of being wrong require you to not only misunderstand what's right, but to refuse to understand what's right, and in fact to embrace a position that is wrong on a level that goes far beyond mere questions of fact.

Believing that white people are innately superior to black people, and that whites therefore deserve to visit any and every form of humiliation and punishment on blacks, is not wrong because it misunderstands a point of fact.

Thinking that powerful nations can respond to disturbing acts of terror by laying waste to other nations at will is not wrong because it misunderstands a point of fact.

What is wrong about those positions goes much deeper than that.

I don't really see an apology as being a sufficient remedy for stuff like that. What's needed is, for lack of a better word, a repentance, a metanoia, an acknowledgement of *what it was that your were wrong about* and a turning away from that.

Especially when the matter under concern involves the levels of damage and destruction that we saw in Iraq and elsewhere.

There's more at stake in these questions than abstract points of political philosophy.

What's needed is, for lack of a better word, a repentance, a metanoia, an acknowledgement of *what it was that your were wrong about* and a turning away from that.

Just out of curiosity, how is that different from what Sullivan has done?

If thinking was all the Klan ever did, that would have not been so bad.

There's the proseletyzing, and also the persecution and intimidation to be considered. Not to mentin the occasional horsewhipping and lynching.

Just out of curiosity, how is that different from what Sullivan has done?

Prior to yesterday, I hadn't read Sullivan in something like ten years. So, I can't really comment on the quality of Sullivan's turnabout.

I'm not really Sullivan's judge, in any case.

I'm just not that interested in reading him. Same for any number of folks who held similar positions at the time.

If he's a different guy now, good for him.

A psychologist at the Nuremberg trials defined evil as lack of empathy - so I think it's fair to say that the old man in this video is evil:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGNTCde1Vw4

and so were Bush, Cheney and all the US citizens out for revenge after 9/11 - they lacked empathy.

The problem with Sullivan - apart from him being evil - is that his case proves that there is no accountability whatsoever.
There was a study about journalists who opposed the Iraq war vs. those supporting it and what subsequently happened to their career: predictably the latter continued to thrive while the former struggled.

If Sullivan had really been serious about repenting he would have STFU forever and become a plumber or something.

I think Sullivan has changed tremendously since the early 2000's, and I read him regularly now, though I thought he was beneath contempt back then. He still says incredibly stupid things (IMO) from time to time, but as the Count said in the other thread, he has a wide range of interests.

It happens that at the moment I'm a little disgusted with him for what he wrote yesterday defending his pal Hirsi Ali, who was to be given an honorary degree at Brandeis before they changed their minds. I don't think universities are obligated to grant degrees to people who say we should be at war with an entire religion, but Sully felt that it was horrible pc correctness not to grant her a degree simply because she might have made a few intemperate remarks about Islam. Presumably, in the name of discussing ideas, Brandeis could host a series of talks, with each week having a different speaker declaring war on a different religion. It might get touchy as we go down the list of monotheisms.

But he is pro-Obamacare and turned against his early post 9/11 imperialist views, so he isn't the same jerk he used to be.

Now to be fair to Sullivan, he does print some of his harshest critics on his own blog. Here are few reactions to his Hirsi Ali apologetics--

link

With Brandeis and Ali, as with Mozilla and Eich, there appears to have been a serious lapse in due diligence.

If you are going to do somethin ghigh profile (and CEO positions and honorary degrees are exactly that), and you care about your public image (as apparently both do), then why would you not do at least the minimal checking to determine that the individual you are honoring or hiring will not be a problem? It's not like the information which caused them to reverse themselves was hard to find. It's just that they (apparently) did not bother to look.

If those in charge really want to address their public image fiascos, they ought to start by firing themselves. And getting someone in, on their Boards, who will actually do the job -- rather than just be decorative figureheads most of the time.

So not on the specific open thread topic, but since I am reluctant to slap this on top of LJ's open thread, McClatchy got ahold of the Senate Intelligence Committee's conclusion on the CIA torture program. Not pretty, to say the least.

McClatchy story here.

And here are the conclusions themselves.

Also, too, apparently the NSA knew about the Heartbleed issue and... exploited it rather than tell anyone.

What benefits do we receive from them again?

What benefits do we receive from them again?

they keep thousands of sociopaths and all-around assholes employed. better squirreled away in MD than sitting in the cube next to me.

Sullivan explains where he went wrong.

This guy really really doesn't like Sullivan.

This guy says hey, give the man a break.

Sullivan's mea culpa in the Slate piece is orders of magnitude better than the average "yeah, I was wrong, but I was wrong for the right reasons!" line of bull that usually gets trotted out.

I just don't see why I owe the guy anything. I think he should be ashamed of the things he said and wrote at the time, just as I think he should be ashamed of pimping Charles Murray's stuff (which, to my knowledge, he has never disavowed).

As best as I can tell he's still a freaking Thatcherite. I'm sure he's an interesting and erudite Thatcherite, but I'm just not that interested in reading Thatcherites. I don't think they have anything to offer me, on any topic I can imagine.

Call me closed-minded.

russell, nobody is saying that you should subject yourself to Thatcherite writings. Or anybody else whose opinions you find offensive.

But I would say that, however little you owe Sullivan (or anyone else), you do owe it to anyone with whom you disagreed to acknowledge when they have, however belatedly, come around to your point of view. (As you have done here.)

More to the point, I would say that you owe making that kind of acknowledgement to yourself. Refusing to accept that anyone who ever disagreed with you can possibly have had a sincere change of heart is not good for you.

Responding to wj's opening comment, I don't think "evil" is the only type of person who refuses to change. First are the "set in their ways" grandparents, over the age of-- who are given a pass for refusing to change. Second are those whose opinions are the product of expedience- many politicians are probably in this group. As the winds of the world change so will their votes.

As detailed in http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/apr/24/iran-new-deal/?insrc=toc
ruthless politicians can wind up on the side of the angels. The author argues that the overwhelming severity of the suppression of liberal democrats in Iran in 2009 using prison and torture allowed Ayatollah Khamenei to cement his hold on power. This strength allowed him to open negotiations over nuclear weapons, surely a good thing.

Refusing to accept that anyone who ever disagreed with you can possibly have had a sincere change of heart is not good for you.

I appreciate what you're saying here, and in general I agree.

And, I absolutely do not think that there is anyone anywhere who is incapable of changing their mind or seeing things in a different way.

Basically, Sullivan came up in discussion because McK cited him as somebody who had an appropriate level of outrage about the Mozilla / Eith thing.

My reaction to that was, basically, why should I care what Sullivan says? And, who made him a spokesperson for "the left", anyway?

Sullivan actually has a pretty long history of saying and doing things that I find really objectionable. His writings during the Iraq period were sort of just a particularly bad part of the total package. IMO.

So I appreciate that he changed his position on Iraq, and I appreciate that he is interested in lots of issues, and I appreciate that he presents points of view other than his own on his website.

But I don't find him a particularly compelling example of somebody whose point of view I need to entertain or respect.

I guess I basically just don't like the guy.

The question I guess I have for you, wj, and maybe also thompson, is whether there ever is a place for shame in public discourse.

Are there any positions that someone can take that we can find simply morally wrong?

Should we respond to that by carefully trying to walk them back from their point of view, point by carefully argued point?

Or is there a time to say, I'm sorry but you are wrong. Not factually wrong, but coming from a fundamentally wrong stance, overall.

During the Army-McCarthy hearings, Joseph Welch asked:

Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Isn't there a time and place to ask that question?

My reaction to that was, basically, why should I care what Sullivan says? And, who made him a spokesperson for "the left", anyway?

Fair enough. Certainly Sullivan wouldn't say that he is even a member of "the left," let alone a spokesperson for it. To believe that he is generally anywhere left of center takes a wild misunderstanding of what the center is. On of what "liberal" and "conservative" actually mean -- outside the fevered imaginations of those on the extreme of either.

To your question, I would say that certainly there is a place for smaing someone during public discourse. I would say that it comes when someone is not only holding a wrong position, but using that position to deliberately harm others. And fabricating "evidence" to justify doing so. Anyone putting on show trials, whether actually court proceedings or simply in thepublic square, should get shamed, and vigorously.

But someone who merely disagrees, however vigorously? Even to the point of supporting (monitarily or otherwise) efforts to convince others of his position? I don't think that warrants shaming . . . unless he is distorting evidence as part of that effort.

To peggy's point, I think it is a matter of those who are evil are a subset of those whose minds cannot be changed. But there are certainly those who are not, but are simply unwilling or unable to change. Whether thru age, religious belief, or otherwise.

russell:

You asked a few different things and I'd like to unpack it a little. To be clear, I use "you" and "your" etc a lot below. I mean that in the general sense, not you specifically.

whether there ever is a place for shame in public discourse.

In my mind? Rarely. Just from a purely pragmatic point of view. I don't think its a useful form of persuasion. I view it as counterproductive.

At best, it might have some deterrent effect. But even that I'd like to see data on before believing entirely.

I think *internal* shame is a powerful motivator. And I think clearly voiced disagreement, without harshly condemning someone, can be motivating. But shaming like: "how can anybody be ok with this? What sort of a**h*** are you?" is...unproductive.

I have altered my opinions a great deal throughout my life because those around me, people I respect, disagreed with me. Over time, that causes me to question myself and reevaluate my beliefs.

I've done the inverse as well. Respect, disagree, and advocate. It's gotten me far more traction with people then sarcasm, snide answers, and shame.

Are there any positions that someone can take that we can find simply morally wrong?

Of course. But there are different levels of wrong, and the approach you take at those different levels should be appropriate for that level.

Should we respond to that by carefully trying to walk them back from their point of view, point by carefully argued point?

I would say yes, in general. Although, I'm probably not going to try it with a serial killer, frex.

But there is only so much time in the world, and you can't convince everybody.

But often people resort to blanket statements, broad shaming of groups, complete bypass of any nuance in opposing arguments and attempt to browbeat people into submission.

It's not productive. If you're going to talk with someone on the other side of an issue, you might as well be respectful and careful, in my mind. If you're not interested in being respectful and careful, it seems likely you're out for a cheap thrill of ragging on someone that disagrees with you.

But no, I don't think people have a moral imperative to have calm reasoned discussions with the Westboro folks, frex.

But rather than 'shame' them, I think it would be better to ignore them. But again, from a pragmatic sense. I think they thrive on the attention.

During the Army-McCarthy hearings, Joseph Welch asked

It's interesting that you bring up the Army-McCarthy hearings, because I view McCarthyism as one of the prime examples of the danger of shaming and related phenomena. McCarthyism was more than just McCarthy, there was broad social support.

Being "unamerican" or investigated by the committee lost people their jobs, ruined lives, etc. It seems that the shunning communists/socialists/liberals suffered at that time was very much akin shaming.

There were governmental overreaches, absolutely (and I'd love to talk about the eeeeevvvil big government), but this was more than the government. It was supported by "men of good will and stern morality" to quote Buckley (A man that I find lacks both good will and stern morality).

Shame is a powerful tool. Not for persuading people, but for marginalizing them. Shame is poorly controlled and does not allow for nuance, or shades of gray. It does not allow you to reach out to the shamed, or offer any defense of the shamed, lest you become shamed yourself.

Because it seems appropriate, I'll close with Murrow:

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.

I'd also mostly agree with wj's 2nd paragraph. That's probably about when I'd say employing shame as a weapon becomes an option in my mind.

This post and thread has sent me off in twelve directions (hysterics is one) at once, which I'm not ready to articulate yet, but I'd just like to say that McKT is over at Redstate just now spreading love and tolerance and their Board is convening an emergency meeting to organize their forgiveness campaign of those they find EVIL.

Streiff is sending forgiveness singing telegrams to every RINO sent into the wilderness during the past ten years, Erick Evilson is coming out as a gay transgender female and and just admitted that he signed up his family for Obamacare on the first day the thing started, having made it to the front of the queue through his connections in Ted Cruz's Congressional delegation before smoke started coming out of the back of the website, and Moe Lane up and quit and will be over here shortly to resume moderating bipartisanship like nothing ever happened.

Trevino/Tactitus/Topsy the ClownBoy will make a one-time cameo appearance here to kiss Gary Farber's a#s, while simultaneously studying his nails in abject boredom and then he'll be off to join a monastery to continue his penance ad infinitum, just for the attention.

As for Andrew Sullivan, word has it he's waiting with bated breath as he reads every line of this post and commentary to see if the OBWI commentariat can persuade Russell to give up and return to the fold, while meanwhile looking up and asking his assistants repeatedly, "Who is this Russell person and tell me again why I should care what he thinks?"

That's enough for now, except to provide this link from .... SULLIVAN!!! .... which I saw three minutes ago, which kind of illustrates, musically with dueling chamber music acrobatics, one of my views of political blogging, which is that it's endless oneupmanship, oh- yeah-watch-this-chest-bumping, etc (which I'm happy to engage), the other main view being that we are in a political war in this country (OBWI being a very small skirmish a long way off from the epicenter) and the only thing to do is win it all by any means and then I fully expect the answer to a forgiving hand extended to the other side, yeah, that side, to resemble John Wilkes Booth's thank you note to Abraham Lincoln.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HtrbMy4mU4

But, meanwhile, MCTX and Yoko are having a bed-in, singing Give Peace A Chance, and I'm all for it. However, if the conservative Republicans who once frequented this place (not the reasonable few who remain; and by the way, how did we get stuck with the half-dozen reasonable ones left in the country? Alright, Brett, but I hold nothing against him, after all, he's me muse, as someone pointed out) showed up right about now, they would behave pretty much like Al Capp did at the real John and Yoko deal --- rude and insulting --- and McKT/Lennon would have to throw back the bed covers, say excuse me kids, we'll give peace a chance here in a second, and leap out the bed in his pajamas and cold-cock Capp.

By the way, the more I read Russell's reasons for giving up Sullivan, the more he's convincing ME to give him up again.

I'd like to take this opportunity to exchange air-kisses with Joseph McCarthy, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Spiro Agnew, Mary Matalin, the denizens of the reptile house at the San Diego Zoo, (this is not in order of preference) Lee Atwater, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Wayne LaPierre, and the cast of hundreds, too numerous to mention, who despite being wrong, and knowing they were wrong the stinking lying filth about EVERYTHING, and viciously and cold-bloodedly so, over the past 30 years who maintain their media gigs and still outnumber liberals on every Sunday news-talk show and are trotted out to spew on every single domestic and international issue facing this nation and every single time question the loyalty to America and the American way of life of not only liberals and Democrats who differ with them but of any halfway decent republican who makes a gaffe of showing bipartisanship.

Air kisses done, now move the furniture to the walls and roll back the carpet because now its time to resume the fist fight with the above-listed shameless ones.

The IRS is awaiting, not very expectantly of course, for MCKT's understanding and apologies. ;)

Hey, open thread. Let it all out.

I forgot to name Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Tom Delay, and Grover Norquist.

Here hold my hor d'oeurves plate while i kick them in the nuts.

Well, started reading Sullivan post change of stance, or, really, mid change. I quit reading him for the same reason I quit watching Letterman.

Whether I agreed or disagreed with him, they just got tiresome on any subject they thought would get a reaction. Months after I quit caring he would be ranting on about the last thing some nobody said about a barely related subject.

Then I realized I was reading him just to see when he would finally let it go, so I let him go.

Letterman was the late night version of that, only his bits also got less funny the first time.

Wrong link in my 7:34 pm, although who doesn't like Puddles the Clown.

This:

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/11/mental-health-break-492/

Sincerity is key.

Once you can fake that, you've got it made.

I thought Letterman's stupid republican tricks and that thing where he threw republican notables off the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater and examined the remains of their landing in slo-mo were both classic funny bits, but I tired of him too.

Irony 100% of the time is not even ironic anymore.

I notice both Limbaugh and this guy:

http://gawker.com/conservative-writer-calls-stephen-colbert-political-bl-1561972751

... are in full forgiveness, tolerance, and understanding mode toward Colbert for acting just like THEM and getting the Late Night gig.

I have mixed feelings about Colbert, but Fallon fills the insomnia void fine if Colbert can't be funny about any thing but politics.

wj: People can accept someone thinking that they are wrong. They will not, in general, accept someone saying that they are evil.

I wonder whether that applies in reverse to Dick Cheney.

Whatever "accept" means, I think the likes of Cheney (whatever that means) would prefer to be widely thought of as "evil" over being widely thought of as "wrong".

With the possible exception of Cheney again, most people don't think of themselves as evil, I suspect. They might advocate cannibalism, or slavery, or gun control (McKinney's list from the other thread) but do so on the grounds that those are good things. Good things by their definition, I mean. Other people might, possibly, consider those things "evil". These opposite value judgments lie outside the domain of reasoned argument in which "evidence" plays a role.

Clinton raised taxes, Dubya cut them, and we thus have 16 years of "evidence" for such propositions as "Tax hikes stifle the economy" and "Tax cuts create jobs". Has the evidence changed anybody's mind? It doesn't seem like it. Evidence, schmevidence: higher marginal rates at the top are unfair, which has nothing to do with statistics about GDP or unemployment.

I have just spent a half hour watching C-Span, which is either more conservative than Fox or more subversive than Rolling Stone, depending on whether you think that giving lots of air time to idiots promotes idiocy or immunizes the audience against it. The half hour was a broadcast (C-Span doesn't "cover" things; it just puts them on the air) of a speech by zombie-eyed granny-starver and most recent VP runner-up who will never be President Paul Ryan at some Iowa Republican fundraiser. When I think about how I would argue with Ryan if I ever had the chance to do so, my first question would be "Are you stupid or evil?"

I forgive American corporations (no, I don't) since they have the souls of actual people and the bankrolls to prove it, for whining about the 39% corporate tax rate forever and then torpedoing EVERY attempt to fix the system, even half-way reasonable Republican ones, because to fix the system and lower the rate would mean that overall they would pay more in taxes under a new lower rate than they do now by off-shoring their profits ($2 trillion) abroad.

From a business website, probably communist.

http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post--why-taxing-corporate-america-is-so-hard-to-do

Of course it's the unAmerican, disloyal liberals who are to blame for this impasse.

They have next til Friday to get their money back here or I'm going to instruct the government to confiscate every cent of it and place it in Russian oligarchs U.S. bank accounts, where at least it can be labeled patriotic to American ideals and then frozen.

We're full of sh*t.

But there is only so much time in the world, and you can't convince everybody.

And that is a natural fact.

I don't think people have a moral imperative to have calm reasoned discussions with the Westboro folks, frex.

It's been done before.

Open threading....

Just wanted to add that Puddles is my hero, that all of the Post-Modern Jukebox videos are nothing but fun (even if also nothing but ironic), and I'd watch Fallon just to watch Questlove.

I do miss Carson.

Sorry, here is the Westboro link.

Paul Ryan.

We now have 7.5 million people with health insurance, most of whom did not have it before, and another 2 million who gained Medicaid coverage.

The state of Kentucky's uninsured rate has dropped 43% in 6 months because of Obamacare.

Ryan is a killer who stands up in public and tells you exactly how he's going to murder tens of thousands of people, more than that, by ruining their health insurance and denying care to those with pre-existing conditions.

How many World Trade Centers full of Americans did Osama bin Laden murder before we sent Navy Seals on their forgiveness tour to Pakistan to put a bullet in his eye.

Just two buildings worth? Ryan shows you the murder plan, the detailed diagrams of the murder plot, displays the murder weapons, and even tells you where the money is coming and going to carry out the murders of his fellow Americans, and no one lifts a finger.

It's like finding out John Wayne Gacy announced every chance he got at kid's birthday parties his plans to murder dozens of gay men and others, and bury them in his crawl space, putting the confessions on C-Span, and sending money to his clown charity.

Under Ryan's plan, most of lower Manhatten is liquidated. Slowly, painfully, accompanied by bankruptcy, some would say the ole American way, but just as dead as Osama's victims.

Sorry, is this the forgiveness and understanding thread?

I'm always in the wrong place at the right time.

To peggy's point, I think it is a matter of those who are evil are a subset of those whose minds cannot be changed. But there are certainly those who are not, but are simply unwilling or unable to change. Whether thru age, religious belief, or otherwise."

To quote Cromwell, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

Which is to say, one should always consider, no matter how unlikely it seems, the possibility that they are the ones in need of a change of opinion.

Neither the left, nor the right, has a monopoly on truth and justice.

Just as, a couple of centuries ago, views were widely held that are today considered anathema in polite society, we should reflect that, a couple centuries hence, the same will be said of us.

Anyway, I don't think the big problem today is the refusal to believe that anyone who once disagreed with you could have sincerely changed their mind. Rather, the big problem is the refusal to believe that anybody who TODAY disagrees with you, is sincere. From whence the belief that political disagreements are rooted in evil?

It stems, I think, from the premise that the people who disagree with us about policy agree with us about policy's consequences.

The liberal thinks that conservatives must believe that affirmative action is good for blacks, and harms nobody else, and opposes it because they want to hurt blacks.

The conservative thinks that liberals must believe that gun control disarms the innocent, and empowers the guilty, and supports gun control because they want to disarm the innocent, and empower the guilty.

We all like to think that our conclusions are obvious, and evil motivates people who agree with them to express disagreement. This is a tendency we all need to fight.

From whence the belief that political disagreements are rooted in evil?

Norman Vincent Peale?

Quoting Cromwell about changing one's mind is... interesting, and I'm not surprised that Brett would be the one to do it.

Yes, but the Irish and Scottish Catholics thought Cromwell deeply sincere.

If you are beseeching in the bowels of Christ to change hearts and minds, methinks you've entered the Kingdom of God through the wrong orifice.

"Norman Vincent Peale"

That cracked me up. But, I graduated from his alma mater.

Just want to say that I appreciate Brett's 8:08.

Yes, Cromwell is an odd choice to go to for a quote about peace and tolerance, but we converse with the quotes we have, not the quotes we wish we have.

As far as shaming as a useful means of public discourse, I'd be pleased to see John Yoo kicked out of the Berkeley law faculty, and I'd like to never see the scowling death's head of Dick Cheney on my TV ever again.

IMO those would be appropriate public gestures.

I'm all for dialog, but I also think there is a point when you just have to draw a line in the sand. There is a point where dialog is no longer useful.

Bowel:
(in pl.): the heart, pity, tenderness (the emotions being supposed to be seated in the bowels) (obs., B. and Shak.)

O.K., then. A very good orifice it is.

As far as shaming, I'd like to see gun control advocates own Leland Yee, the one advocate of gun control I'm moderately certain DID mean to disarm the innocent, and empower the guilty.

Anyway, the problem with shaming as a way of changing minds, is that it doesn't work for people whose views are common, and commonly accepted. Why would Eich be susceptible to shaming for supporting a ballot initiative which had won just a few years earlier? He's completely aware that his opinion isn't some kind of bizarre aberration, that many people agree with him, and regard the opposing view as shameful.

Shaming doesn't change the mind of somebody who thinks YOUR position is shameful. You can only shame somebody who is already fundamentally in agreement with you, and accords your view of them some weight.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/from-someone-who-was-right-in-middle-of.html

Despite Vietnam, but for changing his mind and pursuing the domestic efforts that he did, I believe the bowels of Lyndon Baines Johnson should be carved into Mount Rushmore.

Of course, for his sins, the pitiless, gutless southern Democrats then dragged their heartless entrails into the Republican Party and here we sit under constant threat of evisceration.

Shaming doesn't change the mind of somebody who thinks YOUR position is shameful.

When I talk about publicly shaming a guy like Yoo, (not YOU, YOO), I'm not thinking in terms of what the effect will be on him. I.e., I doubt it would change his mind, and I don't care either way.

I don't give a single solitary crap about John Yoo or what he thinks.

I'm talking about the corrosive effect on all of the rest of us of having a guy who thinks, and publicly states, that crushing the balls of small children is perfectly justifiable if the President says it's OK teaching law at a fairly prestigious university.

Is juvenile ball crushing something we need to have a "dialog" about? Or can we just say we are against it, without parsing the fine points pro and con?

I am tired of listening to the juvenile ball crushing crap. He was asked question as a point of law, he answered it as a point of law. He didn't make any moral judgment on it. Nor did he make up the scenario.

The president can launch a nuclear strike on just about anyone as a point of law, I am sure we don't have to have a long discussion about the pros and cons of that either.

"As far as shaming, I'd like to see gun control advocates own Leland Yee, the one advocate of gun control I'm moderately certain DID mean to disarm the innocent, and empower the guilty."

As soon as you tell us which part of the mess of his life he was truly sincere about, gun control advocacy or arming Chinese street gangs in LA or wherever with shoulder-mounted weaponry from the Philippines, I'm sure we can parse out the ownership issues.

Aren't shoulder mounted weapons covered by one or the other commas in the Second Amendment?

This must put the bowels of the NRA in a tight spot.

I suspect Yee in five years or so, if he beats the rap or does his time, will re-emerge for Act II of his political life as a grass-roots, NRA funded Tea Party Libertarian candidate somewhere running against a RINO Republican who went squish and drew the line at carrying shoulder-mounted weaponry into shopping malls.

I see an interactive reality TV show in his future at the very least, maybe co-starring with Ted Nugent, Gary Busey, and Victoria Jackson in FOX's "Shoot The Fag At The Urinal Target Practice", produced by Tucker Carlson, in which middle-aged men with prostate problems and a wandering eye are played by Hillary Clinton lookalikes.

Next up, who owns John Wilkes Booth, Ted Nugent, and the Connecticut elementary school shooter?

I'll take full responsibility for the Pittsburgh school stabber the other day because after all, I helped prevent him from using a machine gun to clear his grievances, and I guess I prevented the other innocent kids from carrying broadswords on their corporate persons.

It's as if I placed the kitchen knives directly into his hand.

By the sweet regular bowels of Christ, my incontinent sincerity has backfired again.

Brett:

Mostly agree with your 8:08.

russell:

As far as shaming as a useful means of public discourse

I'd agree there is a time and place for lines in the sand and an end to reasoned debate.

I'm not saying we should tolerate any view, no matter how heinous.

I guess my point was more that I don't view shaming as an effective means of discourse. It's for when the damage is done and a person needs to be marginalized.

FWIW, I think that line should be far out. Of course, people are clearly going have different lines at different points for different subjects.

The president can launch a nuclear strike on just about anyone as a point of law, I am sure we don't have to have a long discussion about the pros and cons of that either.

Maybe you didn't participate in the thread on dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And maybe Yoo's just flat-out wrong - as a matter of law - about crushing little boys' testicles, despite the potential legality of a nuclear strike - following congressional authorization, of course. (I wonder if he thought the proposed crushing was okay only if congress declared war on some kid's nuts.)

What makes a law professor go the wrong way on an issue such as that, I can only wonder.

Yee, for the whom the Yoo tolls.

Marty, I'd be more confident of your weariness with the ball-crushing crap if I didn't believe Yoo's compatriots would now use this opening against the regulatory nanny state to get rid of child (only those with testicles; those without belong at home with the cakes) labor laws and OSHA's 2000-page unread regulatory treatise on preventing testicle crushing in the manufacturing workplace.

I, too, agree with most of Brett's 8:08. Especially:
We all like to think that our conclusions are obvious, and evil motivates people who agree with them to express disagreement. This is a tendency we all need to fight.

@marty The president can launch a nuclear strike on just about anyone as a point of law

No doubt the lawyers will correct me, but I don't think that actually is correct. As a point of law, the President can launch a nuclear strike on anyone who has attacked us, that is, in defense of the nation. (Or, I suppose, anyone who has attacked someone with whom we have a defense treaty.) But otherwise, doing so would, legally, require a Declaration of War by the Congress.

Not that lack of a Declaration of War has kept Presidents from sending troops into battle numerous times over the past half century. But the legal justification for a lot of those action is . . . (dare I say it) tortured.

But the legal justification for a lot of those action is . . . (dare I say it) tortured.

I see what you did there.

Tangentially relevant to the "original" discussion:

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/dropbox-rice-controversy/

People are trying to push Rice off of the board of Dropbox. Again, I can't really make myself care too much one way or the other.

But in terms of really, really stupid publicity, this probably takes the cake. A cloud based storage group giving the former NSA a board position *during* the Snowden fallout?

Tone. Deaf.

Hairshirt, I'm glad you brought up the Hiroshima thread, because McKT voiced a more or less similar sentiment in that thread to the one he made in the Eich discussion, and they were good and wise words as a general rule to follow, that we need to be cautious about condemning actions or opinions made in a certain context that we might not have either experienced or thought more deeply about and then holding those actions and opinions against the party.

Except for this: America and its democracy are the home of free-range second guessing. Our forefathers came here to exercise the full freedom of second guessing against despots and kings (yes, but try to second guess Thomas Jefferson or Andrew Jackson and see where that gets ya) You might say second guessing is our second nature, now amplified by the internet, the foghorn of second guessing.

In fact, America is the only place wherein we elect leaders who, the split second before they are elected, know everything (like the rest of us) about what to do about everything and then the split second they are elected they know absolutely nothing about what to do, and we the unelected, who still know everything by virtue of not being designated a leader by election, second guess their know-nothingness, only to be told, well if you know everything, gets yourself elected and then we do and we're instantly clueless and the guy who was elected before who knew nothing while elected is suddenly back in the in crowd of knowing everything on the op-ed page.

Has it occurred to anyone but me that the name Snowden is an alias, taken after the "Snowden" in Catch-22 -- he who spills his guts?

I am tired of listening to the juvenile ball crushing crap. He was asked question as a point of law, he answered it as a point of law. He didn't make any moral judgment on it. Nor did he make up the scenario.

Yeah, and as a point of law, without commenting on or apparently considering the moral aspect of it, he thought it was fine.

Which is my freaking point.

Nor, since Yoo was one of the principal authors of the legal opinions justifying the regime of torture as practiced by the CIA and US military, was it an academic question.

Is there a point where we're entitled to say "are you f***ing kidding me?". If it's not crushing the balls of young boys, how about burning people alive? Running over pre-schoolers with a bulldozer?

Just, you know, as a point of law?

And without kicking off any kind of extended debate on the pros and cons, I think you'll find that the President can't "launch a nuclear strike on just about anyone", as a point of law or otherwise.

Then perhaps you should complain to the a$$ that came up with the stupid hypothetical question. He was, in fact, the one warped enough to consider it.

Yeah, it's the fault of the guy asking the question, especially since he put Yoo in a position where he couldn't have said anything but that it was okay, as a matter of law. I'm sure there's no law professor in the world who would have responded differently in such a tight spot as that.

I actually am sure if that, but if you aren't you gave to admit it was the classic when did you stop beating your wife question. He knew the answer couldn't be no, si he thought up the most horrific mental picture he could use. More important to my mind us the fact that no one in an official capacity has said Yoo was wrong. In fact, Ibama had reinfircd the finding by picking and choosing which of those things he would declare to be "things we don't do". But he didn't say "I can't approve ir" he just said I don't.

fuck Yoo.

the proper response to that question is not a fine legal parsing, it's The US Would Not Do That.

He knew the answer couldn't be no

Why the hell couldn't the answer be "no"?

That's Younotyoobama, not Ibama.

As a point of law, I don't believe there is anything but very hazy and therefore inadmissible wording in the Bible or the Constitution about preventing a pack of crazed wolverines from gnawing the balls off of Dick Cheney, and until there is, I remain neutral on the issue.

crazed wolverines

I think you mean "enhanced" wolverines.

More important to my mind us the fact that no one in an official capacity has said Yoo was wrong.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but that's precisely what I'm talking about.

Not only has nobody in any kind of official capacity said he was wrong, he's out in Berkeley teaching young people the freaking law.

Yes, nobody in any official capacity has ever said that Yoo was wrong. That is even more important to *my* mind also.

Who in a position to matter is telling the Prez he can't bomb weddings? It's not like Yoo doesn't have his counterparts today.

A different topic. Seymour Hersh has a piece in the London Review. Not sure what to think--

red line and rat line

The claim is that Turkey and the US had been arming the Syrian rebels, the rebels were obviously losing, and Turkey and the rebels wanted to drag the US into the war. The rebels, apparently, had already been using poison gas and so it was thought that maybe a really big attack would force Obama to act. Supposedly the US military isn't convinced that it was Syria, but having made a claim of certainty that it was, the Administration is in no position to back down (since admissions of error on this scale are apparently impossible for governments). But that's why we decided on the face saving and hopefully successful move to have Syria rid itself of its chemical weapons.

If true, on the bright side at least we didn't do start another war on hyped and inaccurate WMD charges. If false, some people in the government apparently have an interest in playing Seymour Hersh or attacking Obama or both.

Yes, nobody in any official capacity has ever said that Yoo was wrong.
and
It's not like Yoo doesn't have his counterparts today.

Yoo is someone I'd like to marginalize. But it's basically impossible in any official sense, because marginalizing him would call into question the methods we still use to conduct the war on terror.

Oddly enough, I think the use of shaming is the cause of this problem.

With both the former and current presidents, there is a contingent of people that believe that *admitting* or *questioning* the official stance is tantamount to committing political suicide.

I think we use shame like a cudgel in political discourse. Admit any weakness or faults on your part, or on the part of a politician you support, and be prepared for it to be used like a weapon against you.

Refusing to acknowledge any fault seems like a natural result of that.

Donald:

Thanks for linking that. That is...awful.

Thanks all for sorting through that typing nightmare, ibsma almost always corrects. But mostly the autocorrect has made me skip previewing out of laziness too often.

I think we use shame like a cudgel in political discourse.

I'm not sure we're all clear on what the word "shame" means.

The political consequences of "marginalizing" Yoo, whatever that means, would be that Obama and/or the DOJ and/or whoever was doing the marginalizing would be accused of engaging in a partisan witchhunt. It would be intensely polarizing.

That's not the same as shame.

In terms of the torture regime in particular, what I think would be really good for the United States would be for there to be a clear statement that what was done was, straight up, morally reprehensible and legally wrong. And just a statement, but a recognition, an acknowledgement, an acceptance of the reality and the responsibility for the reality.

I don't really care if names get names, or if anyone goes to jail. I would just like a frank acknowledgement that we engaged in practices that are, frankly, abhorrent.

There are a number of practical impediments to that, not least the possible criminal and civil penalties that could flow from it. Not all of those are under the control of the US.

But as long as we blunder along pretending that it wasn't plainly and obviously wrong, we're never going to get past it.

Instead, Yoo teaches law at Berkeley, and Cheney pops up on TV now and then to tell us all how pleased and proud he is of the programs he put in place, and nobody has the stones to simply tell them, to their face, that what they did was wrong.

We chat away at it here on blogs, but don't expect to see anything of the sort on the Sunday shows, or the newspapers, or any other broadly public venue.

The Senate report, should we ever be allowed to actually see the damned thing, might be a useful first step in at least having some kind of public recognition of WTF went on.

I don't really expect anything more to come of it.

In any case, I absolutely disagree that the reason we haven't had a candid accounting of what went on under Bush is because the folks involved are afraid of being shamed. I don't see any evidence that they are susceptible to it.

If false, some people in the government apparently have an interest in playing Seymour Hersh or attacking Obama or both.

Honestly, who cares. Obama probably felt that there was something that we could do, then saw that there was little we can do. It's heartbreaking, and my belief is that there are probably many people there who are heroic, who are worth helping. But we can't sort it out and, even if we could, our country wouldn't support a leader who intervened.

Then perhaps you should complain to the a$$ that came up with the stupid hypothetical question. He was, in fact, the one warped enough to consider it.

I think it's worth remembering when this question was asked.

I recall thenabouts Serious People sagely discussing amongst themselves - with a great deal of carefully measured chin stroking and glances pregnant with significance - an anecdote about Russians in Beirut in the '80s. This sort of thing was being publicly mooted as the proper way to deal with those people, if you don't recall. See, when remembering all this you have to do so with an understanding of the Arab mind; the only thing they understand is force - force, pride and saving face. So we all were asking these sorts of questions - it's what Serious People did! - and frankly you were an @$$ if you weren't considering it. And while we may now live in a strange and hopey-changey world, where everything has changed again, and complacency has stripped us of our resolve, gumption, and purity of essence, in the old world that asker was certainly not the first, last, or only one to publicly voice that oh-so-important question, nor to give it the careful, measured consideration it so plainly deserved.

DKos runs a weekly summary of the mail he receives from the Understanding and Forgiveness Caucus among the Christian Republican American murderous subhuman verminous family values voter.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/12/1291395/-Saturday-hate-mail-a-palooza-Back-for-a-one-time-engagement?showAll=yes

Eich should be so lucky.

Hey Range War coming just in time to hot up the antigovernment antiAmerican filth to get them to the polls to vote for lawlessness this Fall.

Kind of like when Republican arsonists burned down the national forests in the 1990s to blame Clinton and the Feds for not properly weeding the National Parks.

Drudge is on it:

http://www.drudgereportarchives.net/Article.php?ID=488328&

Here's my declaration to the rancher in question, his supporters and the BLM.

Since he won't pay his grazing fees, and since the BLM has backed down (F*ck the BLM), and the land doesn't seem to belong to anyone in this lawless piece of sh*t, Potemkin country Republican vermin are ginning up for the mid-terms, I declare the land, by personal Manifest Destiny, to be MINE.

Anyone steps one foot on that land, maybe a Drudge correspondent, without my permission, and I will hunt you and your children down and kill you like a Comanche squaw, or maybe instead I'm the Comanche and YOU are a dead piece of sh*t Texas Ranger, perhaps barbecued for lunch on and that is not yours.

Alex Jones and the usual rabble are on this.

I expect republican zombie filth to be intoning their usual vague threats of insurrection from their cosseted positions in the f*cking vermin House of Representatives.

Come and get it.

You're dead vermin meat, Alex.

It's my land now.

Please, please, come and get it.

"on land that is not yours"

It's tough translating from the Comanche dialect.

Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870

That's not gonna be a very tender steak.

The lying about Ike must stop.

My sentiments, exactly.

...we might profitably have a discussion of whether or not it is even possible for someone to take a wrong position and later change it.

We might profitably first inquire what, exactly, is a 'wrong' position to begin with. Then we need to ask, "Well, so what if they changed their mind?"

The topic brings to mind the Founding Fathers (doesn't everything?). There they are, the victors of '83, the authors of our Constitution, the embodiment of revolutionary virtue, a small and utterly victorious, class. By 1800 they are at each other's throats in one of the fiercest and ugliest partisan elections in our nation's history, an election where the term "take it to the house" had some real meaning.

So who was right, and who was wrong in that epic battle? Does anybody remember?

The Jeffersonian victors asserted many of the ideals of the French Revolution but their arguments were also the precursor of states' rights neo-confederatism. Ironically, today's Tea Party, which is hardly revolutionary, embodies a good deal of that same message. The Federalists, backed by the nation's financial and merchant elite, advocated a strong and activist federal government...a position our current economic elite claims to abhor (they are liars, but that is a topic for another day).

My take from this is nobody changed their minds. Somebody won. Somebody lost (Hamilton paid with his life). The struggle was about political power. And who wields political power is important. This is self-evident.

And then, as always, times changed.

Nonetheless, the outcome of that struggle has reverberations to this day. So when somebody pulls the old "you're just a partisan" card, I just chuckle.

We all are. You will change my mind over my dead body or dance on my grave, or time itself will make my "mistake" irrelevant.

The question for today is, as it is always in the present, "Whose side are you on?"

"Honestly, who cares."

Well, it actually matters if our government was lying to us about what it knew. Or alternatively, if people in the Pentagon are lying to Hersh to make Obama look bad. As for Syria, of course there are plenty of good people there--unfortunately, many of them are on opposite sides of the civil war, and many of those on both sides who are actually doing the fighting are murderers. The Assad forces have probably killed more civilians, but some of the rebels would probably be worse if they won.

Syrian secular uprising hijacked by jihadists

russell:

what I think would be really good for the United States would be for there to be a clear statement that what was done was, straight up, morally reprehensible and legally wrong.

I think so too. It can't happen. Because we still employ many, if not all, of the same techniques. If you'd like to have an adult conversation about where we, as a country, draw the line, its going to involve discussions of current methods, and some of those methods are beyond what I would call reasonable.

As great as I think that would be, there are too many political careers at stake for any of the stakeholders to want that conversation to happen.

It's sad, but I think for the moment the discussion will stay on the blogs.

because the folks involved are afraid of being shamed.

You miss my point (probably not your fault). I think shame is used as a cudgel in public discourse:

You don't support our troops! You don't support our president! You don't support X group! How could you support a criminal! You're increasing the deficit! You don't care about the poor! The middle class! The hardworking!

etc etc etc

Maybe none of that matches your picture of shaming, but to me it is a striking way of making the political opposition out as immoral/evil. In other words, shaming them.

And there's not much room for nuance in that discourse.

How does this tie to Yoo? I think that some conservatives, who might broadly support the GOP policies or what not, feel they have to also support Yoo. Or more accurately, deny wrongdoing by Yoo. Because he's "their guy" on "their team".

And I think they are mirrored by partisans that likewise defend the drone death of minors because Obama is "their guy" on "their team".

I doubt it even enters the level of careful consideration until the rationalization stage.

I'm not saying Yoo is personally afraid of being shamed, I'm saying the polarization caused by shaming in public discourse gives people like Yoo political cover.

"Since he won't pay his grazing fees,"

The BLM claims they had to collect the cattle to protect an endangered desert tortoise. They were protecting it by killing it themselves. Somehow I doubt the cattle were going to kill them any deader.

And they spent more than the grazing fees they claimed were owed on this attack. Rather than proceeding through the courts to the end.

I recall the militia attempting to save the Davidians in the same way. In that case, it just resulted in the feds burning the Davidians out before the militia, who were assembling nearby, could march on Mt. Carmel. I'm glad it turned out better this time.

If only for a little while. The feds hold a grudge forever. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, they'll kill him eventually.

About the only thing going for Bundy is that the whole thing was threatening to expose one of Reid's big money schemes, the local press were starting to report on exactly why the BLM was suddenly interested in that land. And why they were in such a big hurry they had to go paramilitary. They might have to leave him alone for a while to make that story disappear.

But, you know, this sort of thing wouldn't be happening if the feds hadn't demanded 85% of the land in return for allowing Nevada to become a state. It looks like a large state, but after you subtract the federal land you've got something closer to the size of Maryland.

But, you know, this sort of thing wouldn't be happening if the feds hadn't demanded 85% of the land in return for allowing Nevada to become a state.

This claim strikes me as dubious. What would it take to change your mind regarding this "factoid"?

What exactly are you claiming is dubious? That the federal government owns about 85% of the land in Nevada? That accepting this was a condition of statehood?

Or that cattle ranches in Nevada wouldn't have to run their cattle on federal lands in the first place, if most of the land in Nevada wasn't federal?

I think this is a fairly even-handed account of the situation. The Bundys are likely in the wrong legally, a common situation where the other side in a conflict gets to write the laws. OTOH, they are the only remaining cattle ranchers in the area, because the government seems determined to abolish cattle ranching in the area. And apparently is doing so in this instance so that they can advance a Chinese solar plant Reid's family stands to make money off of.

Not that the ranch is near the plant, only that the protection zone for the tortoises was expanded to cover the area he ran cattle, so as to make room for the solar project, precipitating the immediate crisis.

And the whole conflict would not exist, were 85%, (Ok, 84.5%) of Nevada federal land, creating a situation where it's impossible to have a cattle ranch without using land owned by the federal government.

And THAT is, I think, the heart of the problem: Because the federal government claimed so much land in the West, especially in Nevada, people in Western states regularly come into conflict with the federal government, in a way where people living in most states, where federal land ownership is minimal, will not.

You wouldn't see the Bundy fight going on in Nebraska, where a cattle ranch can be big enough to be economical without using any of the 1.4% of the land owned by the feds.

So, yes, I think that is the real cause of the problem.

Some western states are so "land poor" that local governments have difficulty raising enough funds to provide basic services like law enforcement.

And the whole conflict would not exist, were 85%, (Ok, 84.5%) of Nevada federal land, creating a situation where it's impossible to have a cattle ranch without using land owned by the federal government.

sounds like the ranchers need to take a hard look at their business model.

I absolutely disagree that the reason we haven't had a candid accounting of what went on under Bush is because the folks involved are afraid of being shamed.

Quite. The reasons appear to be twofold:
- On one side, the folks involved may not be afraid of being shamed. But they are definitely afraid of being tried and convicted. And apparently increasingly afraid that the Senate report will inevitably lead to that.
- On the other, the folks in the current administration were afraid that, had they tried immediately to launch a criminal investigation, screams of partisanship would have made governing neigh impossible. (Of course, they got that kind of partisanship anyway. But they clearly didn't expect it going in.) And now, having to explain why they didn't act already would be . . . awkward.

In the end, it appears that what will bring the whole ediface crashing down is hubris. The folks involved were so sure that they could do anything that they wanted without consequences that they stomped on the toes of a Senator who was one of their strongest supporters. And nothing is more dangerous to a Federal bureaucrat than a Senator who feels disrespected.

"As great as I think that would be, there are too many political careers at stake for any of the stakeholders to want that conversation to happen."

I think that's true. I also think that your point later on is valid--

"I think shame is used as a cudgel in public discourse:

You don't support our troops! You don't support our president! You don't support X group! How could you support a criminal! You're increasing the deficit! You don't care about the poor! The middle class! The hardworking!"

The problem I have, though, is that shaming is sometimes appropriate. People should be ashamed of supporting torture or of a drone policy which sometimes blows up wedding parties or an old woman working in a field. We have no idea how these decisions are made. They should be ashamed if they oppose food stamps or health care for the poor and don't have an alternative policy that would plausibly accomplish the same goals. In some of your examples, though, shame is being applied for illegitimate reasons. "Supporting the troops" really means "lining up behind whatever war we are engaged in now". One should start with the presupposition that war is wrong, and can only be justified under a tight set of circumstances, and not argue for a war because otherwise you're not supporting the troops.

In contrast, when we liberals say Republicans should be ashamed when they refuse to expand Medicaid, the point is that the Republicans aren't proposing some alternative and more effective way to deliver health care to the poor. It looks for all the world like spite, as Krugman said in a recent column. If it was just a matter of competing ideas on the best way to help the poor receive health care, then I'd agree that "shame" shouldn't be part of the discussion.

I haven't followed this Nevada grazing issue and have no comment on the merits of Brett's claims, but digby had an interesting take on one aspect of it--the use of tasers on conservative protestors apparently has them outraged. As she says, good, even though it'd be nice if they were also outraged when non-Tea Party types are tasered.

it's not about cows its about freedom

"Some western states are so "land poor" that local governments have difficulty raising enough funds to provide basic services like law enforcement."

Bundy's ranch (how did his ancestors get that land without the earlier thuggery of the federal government working in their favor) and MY land are in Clark County -- county seat: Las Vegas.

I suspect they have a rainy day fund. And they rarely use it because, you know, no rain.

Moreover, both Las Vegas and I suspect, Bundy use water stolen from ME. That's my f*cking water.

I don't recall giving my personal permission for any of those fat black welfare parasites in their Cadillacs to take my water.

Like Bundy, I no longer recognize any long-standing arrangements, compacts, silly laws that any pieces of sh*t government at any level, reach in this land, which is my land.

I am Comanche, by which I mean I'm whomever lived on that land first, and I know it's not the Spanish, and I know it's not the U.S. Government or any local government, and I know it's not Bundy, and I know it's not the Calvary who secured the land for Bundy, and I know it's not the ranchers and their barbed wire, and I know it is not, and I know it's not, and that's all I know.

If you want to go back to original causes of this, let's go back. Let's go way back, unless your prefer your "way back", which is just sh*t made-up by armed white thieves, I mean if you really want to get down to the bedrock truth.

Bundy's cattle drank my water on my land. Some armed militia c*cksucker from Florida, or Texas, or wherever these murderous crackheads come out of the woodwork with their weapons to once again f*ck up my country, drank MY water.

Out of a cup, also stolen from me.

I'll stop there. I have more to say and more to threaten since this is the way we're being trained to do it by armed filth, and believe me I'm going to disarm all parties involved in this mess, OR they can choose to die.

But, in the meantime, so that you get the Comanche out-of-control drift with which I'm going to finish this country, I would practice your Christopher Walken imitation with his distinct cadence and modulation from emphatic goofball to where his voice goes into the lower registers and he tells you the bottom line - that he is the Angel of Death come to dispense Cormac McCarthy justice on the so-called open range.

Here's a sample for the practicing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNEE8Hza6lU

Maybe you'd like to dance with me instead.

I don't think you can keep up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNEE8Hza6lU

By the way, I'm glad this has ended peacefully, for now, but remember, my land is my land now and my water is my water now and their are no laws that can be enforced on me.

Also, there was some tasering and scuffling going on at the site, which I highly disapprove of, but the rancher's family and supporters started the shoving, and since Treyvon Martin, the little nigger kid who several here feel deserved to be murdered for defending himself as well on public property, got his for grazing his skittles without paying proper tribute to self-appointed armed militia filth, and tried to defend himself, like a man, with his fists, instead of like a pussy, with a gun, then I'm sure you appreciate the new rules.

"On the other, the folks in the current administration were afraid that, had they tried immediately to launch a criminal investigation, screams of partisanship would have made governing neigh impossible."

More realistically, they understand that, if they ever breach the rule that administrations do not try prior administrations, THEY can be tried for the criminal acts THEY are today doing.

The second link should be:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wbaAV01qG8

uh one, uh two

That may be (part of) their motivation now. But going in, I doubt they anticipated doing criminal acts.

(Note, that doesn't mean doing stuff that you consider to be criminal acts. It means doing stuff that they considered, going in, to be criminal acts. Because that is what determines their motivation.)

In contrast, when we liberals say Republicans should be ashamed when they refuse to expand Medicaid, the point is that the Republicans aren't proposing some alternative and more effective way to deliver health care to the poor. It looks for all the world like spite, as Krugman said in a recent column. If it was just a matter of competing ideas on the best way to help the poor receive health care, then I'd agree that "shame" shouldn't be part of the discussion.

What a crock. "You" liberals don't have a solution for anything that ails this country that doesn't include expanding the dependent class to ensure your reelection. Defining ever greater numbers of people as poor, while ensuring they have no way to not be, is just cynical bs. You should be ashamed that during 5 years the number of people redefined as poor enough for food assistance has reached 47 million while over 10 percent still can't find a job. Krugman is the most pompous of the current class of self aggrandizing liberals set on solving every problem by just stealing from everyone, not just the rich.

I am NOT ashamed that I believe we should be making fewer people need Medicaid rather than putting everyone on it. That is what "those" people offer as an alternative and its better.

Shame my a$$.

You miss my point (probably not your fault).

Quite likely, and if so, it equally likely is my own mis-reading and general slowness of comprehension.

I think I also have not completely thought through or expressed very clearly my own point here.

Long story short, I find nothing to argue with in your 12:21.

I recall the militia attempting to save the Davidians in the same way.

Because what was really needed at Waco was another couple hundred people running around with guns.

From your Breitbart link:

“I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy recently told a radio reporter. “…I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But, I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing.”

Bundy is a nutjob.

Bundy's pissed off because the BLM restricted the acreage he could ranch on. That's understandable.

But it's not his land.

I give the BLM props for standing down and not provoking a freaking stupid pointless shooting war with a bunch of delusional nutjobs who think this is going to be their big opportunity to shoot some feds.

Everybody should take a big step back, cool off, and come back at this issue when they've calmed down.

Framing it as some kind of big "our precious liberties" thing is stupid irresponsible crap, and is just going to end up getting somebody killed.

The land doesn't belong to Bundy, he has no particular right to use it free of charge, running cattle is actually not a harmless use of the land in the first place.

If you want to walk back the history of how Nevada became a state, why stop there? Just give it back to the Indians, they were there first.

"You" liberals don't have a solution for anything that ails this country that doesn't include expanding the dependent class to ensure your reelection.

Pay people more. That's my big plan. Distribution, not re-distribution.

See how simple?

I am curious what is considered a harmless use of land if 900 head of cattle on a million acres isn't.

Donald:

In some of your examples, though, shame is being applied for illegitimate reasons.

That's my issue with using shaming. It's a great political weapon, when it works. It completely shuts down or marginalizes dissent.

It turns political discourse into who can get the momentum on their side first.

You picked on "supporting our troops", and I'd agree, that's a prototypical example of what I'm talking about. It's been used in the past as a short circuit to the debate on the use of force. Our soldiers are there, using force, any debate of that leaves you open to 'well don't you support our troops?'

Discussions about 4A rights often degenerate into, 'why do we want criminals to get off on technicalities?'

etc etc The "illegitimate" examples abound.

But you contrast with people should be ashamed of X, and you list some examples of X. I agree they should for many of those examples.

I don't agree "shaming" is the best mechanism to make them ashamed, nor the best mechanism to affect policy change.

I think it feeds into further polarization. And polarization provides political cover for...whatever. Where whatever is often handouts to large donors, eroding liberties, and bombing foreign countries.

As an example, take healthcare for the poor. I'm not going to defend republicans in congress, I don't think they've proposed viable mechanisms to address the problem. Maybe a smattering of small steps that I would like, but nothing that addresses the whole problem.

They have been hammered with shame on healthcare for what, like 6 years now? Nothing has changed. Nate Silver is even predicting they might control the senate (http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/fivethirtyeight-senate-forecast/ ).

Shaming doesn't work. It'll swing the pendulum one way, then the other. Both sides spend time and energy solidifying their base, polishing their sound bites, trying to capture the news cycle, and generally ignoring petty things like law and policy.

McArdle discusses something similar with regards to sexism. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-01-13/you-can-t-have-a-conversation-about-sexism-at-gunpoint

Hard to day. Land management is not my field. I defer to the BLM on the topic.

Long story short, it's not Bundy's land.

He apparently considers Nevada to be a sovereign entity and the government of the US government to simply not exist. He's wrong on both counts.

I'll also offer my opinion, FWIW, that tasering Bundy's son was an asinine move on the part of the feds, and I'm glad they've decided to step back and not escalate things further.

But it ain't Bundy's land.

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