Of course, it is a rather simple and transparent ploy to establish a basis for his broad brush defamation of the GOP (not that the GOP isn’t capable of doing that all by itself). He begins by calling the failure of the US and Barack Obama to secure the Olympic bid “a teachable moment”.
Of course, for 8 years I don’t recall Krugman et. al, ever once finding similar teachable moments in the invective or demonstrations aimed at the Bush administration. Anyway, he wanders on with:
“Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.
So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.
When, exactly, did the “Weekly Standard”, Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report come to comprise “the modern Republican Party”?
Conflation is a favorite device of those who are really reaching to make a point and Krugman is reaching here. I’m not suggesting that the three cites he gives don’t indeed act with the “emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old” at times, I’m simply wondering how Krugman managed to make the leap from those three to “the modern Republican Party”?
Of course he did it to try to suggest they are representative of the GOP today and, in fact, this is the way the GOP has always been – unlike Democrats. And for those gullible enough to swallow his premise whole, he then throws his rewrite of history out there in an attempt to make his point that unlike Republicans, Democrats are and always have been the adults:
In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against Social Security privatization, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.
In actuality, Democrats acted with “the emotional maturity of bratty 13-year-olds” by Krugman’s own standard:
* NW Progressive Institute, March 2005: “a boisterous crowd which frequently interrupted the discussion with shouts and hard nosed questions. … Democrats in the audience who were interrupting the panel…. the crowd erupted in anger… Democrats in the audience started shouting him down again.”
* Savannah Morning News, March 2005: “By now, Jack Kingston is used to shouted questions, interruptions and boos. Republican congressmen expect such responses these days when they meet with constituents about President Bush’s proposal to overhaul Social Security.”
* USA Today, March 2005: “Shaken by raucous protests at open “town hall”-style meetings last month … Santorum was among dozens of members of Congress who ran gantlets of demonstrators and shouted over hecklers at Social Security events last month. Many who showed up to protest were alerted by e-mails and bused in by anti-Bush organizations such as MoveOn.org and USAction, a liberal advocacy group. They came with prepared questions and instructions on how to confront lawmakers.”
Using Krugman’s logic above, the fact that MoveOn and USAction plus others shouted, heckled, disrupted and booed at these events (the “Weekly Standard”, Rush Limbaugh and Drudge Report equivalents on the left), his “bratty 13-year-old” characterization should easily extend to the Democratic party as well, correct?
Krugman then asks:
How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?
Why not ask the Democrats of the last 8 years? Ask them how calling the president a “liar”, a “loser”, “incompetent” and many other things did anything but “undermine the ability of any future administration to govern”?
Another “history began January 20th, 2009″ moment for the left.
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It starts with McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt saying that it would be a catastrophe in 2012 if the GOP picked Sarah Palin as their candidate.
My question is compared to what?
Which segues perfectly into the laugh of the day – John McCain has decided he’s going to remake the GOP:
Fresh from a humbling loss in last year’s presidential election, Sen. John McCain is working behind-the-scenes to reshape the Republican Party in his own center-right image.
Good lord … that’s like Jimmy Carter wanting to reshape the Democratic party. McCain stands for everything that is wrong with the GOP today. If ever there was someone who found the wrong message for presenting the GOP to the voters, it was John McCain. And the economic problems the country has gone thorough since his defeat have only made his message less acceptable. Schmidt can bellyache all he wants about Sarah Palin, but without her McCain’s election night returns would have been much more dismal than they were.
Smaller and less intrusive government, fewer taxes and much less spending is what the GOP must put forward as its platform. John McCain, despite his claims to the contrary, does not represent that platform. And he’s not much of a friend of the First Amendment either. He is a big government Republican.
John McCain was rejected because he was seen as a light version of the Democratic candidate. Why compromise when you can have the real thing? Well now we’ve seen the real thing and voters aren’t going to want anything to do with the toned down “moderate” Republican model. And the base certainly won’t be enthusiastic about him. This is not the time for the GOP to even consider someone like John McCain or a surrogate if the GOP is at all serious about 2012. It’s time for a principled stand to reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and to let the citizens of the US retain more of what they earn and more control over their lives than they now do. Find a candidate to articulate that and lay out the freedom and liberty platform and the GOP has a decent shot in 2012 if what I think is going to happen happens.
John McCain is certainly not the candidate for that platform. Thank goodness, his day has passed. Where and even if Sarah Palin plays into this for Republicans remains to be seen. To many, she’s yet to prove she’s ready for the job. But it certainly isn’t too early now for the GOP to say ‘no’ to John McCain. It’s time for the GOP to take a chance and stand up as the party to return us to our small government roots. Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like the timing is right.
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In all honesty, I don’t have a big problem with Obama’s impending speech, primarily for tactical reasons. If he gives the speech that the right is worrying about (i.e. indoctrination towards his policy preferences such as universal health care, cap and trade, etc.) then his political world will crumble. Obama is smart enough to realize this. And I, as I expect are most American parents, am vigilant enough not to let such a message get too far with my kids. However, it’s the fact that any of us have to be on guard to such a speech that makes it creepy. Well, that and the President’s track record of seeking to use children to advance his own goals.
However, there is a current of thought that thinks it’s hypocritical to challenge Obama’s address to the nation’s children while ignoring others:
All this over a video address to kids telling them to stay in school.
I’ve got to wonder how these people felt twenty years ago when a Republican did it:
President Bush pleaded with young people around the nation today to stop using drugs and ”not to look the other way” when others do.
In a 15-minute nationally televised plea from the White House library, the President presented the latest round of an anti-drug campaign that began a week ago with another nationally broadcast message announcing a $7.9 billion package.
In the speech, Mr. Bush said that saying no to drugs ”won’t make you a nerd.”
”Presidents don’t often get the chance to talk directly to students,” Mr. Bush said. ”So today, for each of you sitting in a classroom or assembly hall, this message goes straight to you.
”Most of you are doing the right thing. But for those of you who let drugs make their decisions for them, you can almost hear the doors slamming shut.”
Equating drugs with death and displaying the badge of a slain 22-year-old rookie policeman, Mr. Bush said, ”I keep this badge in a drawer in my desk to remind me of that.”
Yea, I’m guessing they were pretty quiet back then when Bush 41 was advancing his ideological agenda and fighting the War On (Some) Drugs.
While I understand Doug’s disaffection with the Republican Party and its die-hard adherents (with good reason), I really don’t understand this line of attack. Is it really the same thing for a president to encourage kids to stay off of drugs as it is for a president to encourage school children to contemplate the many ways that they can fulfill the government’s wishes?
When Bush 41 was delivering his speech to the nation’s youth, he was at least spreading a message that had individual importance. There’s no question that avoiding recreational drugs is healthy way to live one’s life. It doesn’t justify the War on (Some) Drugs, but it’s not necessarily a message advocating fealty to government authority. In fact, the quotes above speak more to individual responsibility rather than respecting the president’s wishes: i.e eschewing drugs won’t make you a nerd, don’t let drugs make your decision for you, etc.
Again, I’m not trying to condone the destructive policy pursued by the federal government with respect to certain drugs. But when a president encourages our children to stay off them, I’m hard pressed to see that as some sort of intrusion into the realm of the parent or individual, much less a blatant call for nation’s kids to ponder what it is they can do to further the president’s goals.
Therein lies the rub.
President Obama has already shown that he’s not above using children to advance his political agenda, so it’s not surprising that those opposed to his aims would be a bit skeptical of his speech. Adding to the wariness is the fact that he only seems to make these speeches when he needs help with bolstering his political capital (e.g. the “race speech” after Jeremiah Wright blew up in his face). After the battering his health
care insurance reform plans took in August, it almost seems too convenient that he would suddenly want to address all the school kids in the nation, right about when he’s planning to try and save the one program he truly wants to enact.
On top of all these legitimate worries is the fact that Obama’s administration has prepared lesson plans for the kiddies to absorb in the afterglow. Surely it’s not the first time that a president has done so, but have any other post-speech plans been so blatantly pro-subservience? I mean, look at these suggested lessons:
What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
What, no questions such as “do you agree with the President’s position? Why/Why not?” Or how about, “Why should you do anything the President says?”, or “What are the pros and cons of the President’s proposals?”
Some of these wouldn’t make any sense if all Obama is going to do is encourage kids to stay in school and try theor best. But, then again, neither do the administration’s lesson plans. Nor the fact that Obama intends to do a live address rather than a taped PSA of some sort. All of which, again, provides plenty of reason to be skeptical of Obama’s speech.
In light of all the above, and regardless of whether anyone is being hypocritical or not, shouldn’t we all be a bit skeptical when the President of the United States decides to address our children when, at the same time, he is politically vulnerable and seeking some means of righting his listing ship? Maybe Republicans who are complaining now should have had more to say 20 years ago (if they were even politically aware back then), but that doesn’t mean they are wrong now. Charging hypocrisy does not negate the potential ill that may result from being less vigilant to government indoctrination. It only make that ill more possible
The Republican Party is hopeless.
Given a meta-issue from heaven (smaller government, less intrusive government, less taxation, less spending) and a building mandate as exemplified by the anger at townhall meetings, they manage to fumble it completely.
Instead of actually addressing the problem (see meta-issue) they pander and play politics. Instead of talking about market solutions and less government, they decide to establish government health care as a civil right.
The Republican Party issued a new salvo in the health debate Monday with a “seniors’ health care bill of rights” that opposed any moves to trim Medicare spending or limit end-of-life care to seniors.
Intended as a political shot at President Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee manifesto marks a remarkable turnaround for a party that had once fought to trim the health program for the elderly and disabled, which last year cost taxpayers over $330 billion.
What Republicans would commit us to by making this guarantee is debt your grandchildren, and perhaps their grandchildren will have to pay to the tune of 58 trillion in unfunded liabilities. In other words, the promised benefits for Medicare are underfunded by 58 trillion in the outlying years and the Republicans have just guaranteed them. With what is anyone’s guess, but certainly not with “less taxes and less spending”.
The other thing they do, apparently unwittingly, is make health care a “civil right” (how else do you interpret something the Republicans would call a “seniors health care bill of rights?”).
That is all the opening the left needs to, at some point, throw it back in the Republican’s lap and ask why such a right exists for one group of citizens but not another. The “fairness” police will have a field day with this and the Republicans will have no answer.
If this move is indicative of the level of intelligence and leadership within the Republican party, I say go hire any random person off the street to run the party. They could not do any worse. They have a political opponent in the middle of self-destructing, and they make a dumb move like this.
As they say, you can’t fix stupid.
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I swear I have no idea what the left is smoking, but whatever it is, it makes them blind to reality. One of the more prominent examples of this condition is Steve Benen at Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal”.
He cites Kevin Drum who remembers what the Republicans faced when they too had both houses of Congress and the Presidency:
They wanted a revolution, but instead they got NCLB. And a wimpy stem cell compromise. And Sarbanes-Oxley. And McCain-Feingold. And a huge Medicare expansion. And complete gridlock on Social Security.
Not exactly what they signed up for.
Drum goes on to sarcastically point out that Reps did get a nice tax cut and a couple nice wars, but his point was that “Washington DC is a tough place to get anything done.” And at the time, Democrats were no small part of the reason.
Benen then adds his two cents about why Republicans found DC a tough place based on some rather dubious analysis. Then he adds this:
Obama is finding that D.C. is tough place to get anything done for entirely different reasons. The White House agenda is popular, but his obstacles are almost entirely institutional hurdles — the Senate operating as if every bill demands a supermajority, the Kennedy/Byrd illnesses, and the prevalence of center-right Dems in both chambers who look askance at the progressive agenda and who the president has no real leverage over.
A) As we’ve pointed out, the belief that the White House agenda is popular is not reflected at all in polling. Why Benen and the Democrats believe this can only be categorized as “denial”.
B) The Senate rules, something Senators agree too on their own, does require every bill have a supermajority. Benen wants those rules ignored for a simple majority that he’s sure they can squeak out. I understand his desire, but pretending that the “supermajority” is some artifice that isn’t required is BS.
C) The reason for the prevalence of center-right Dems reflects a majority center-right nation. Not a “progressive” nation. And, obviously if you pay attention to the polls, they’re not the only one’s who look askance at a “progressive agenda”.
The only thing Benen and I agree on is “the president has no real leverage” and he proves it every day.
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If this NPR poll has any validity, it removes, once and for all, the “I inherited this mess” meme from Obama’s rhetorical quiver. Americans see this as his mess now and they’re not particularly happy with how he’s handling it:
In another part of the poll, respondents were asked which of two statements on the economy came closer to expressing their view. The first statement: “President Obama’s economic policies helped avert an even worse crisis and are laying the foundation for our eventual economic recovery.” The second statement: “President Obama’s economic policies have run up a record federal deficit while failing to end the recession or slow the record pace of job losses.” A plurality preferred the second statement, 48 percent to 45 percent.
Another indicator of the point:
Greenberg and Bolger found that 38 percent considered the country to be going in the “right direction,” while 54 percent saw it on the “wrong track.” But that 15-point negative reading was the least negative of any NPR poll in more than year. The portion saying “wrong track” had been nearly 90 percent in the NPR poll done in the fall of 2008.
The principal reason for negativity appeared to be the economy. Asked to assess the current state of the economy, 49 percent called it poor while 42 percent opted for “not so good.” Only 8 percent said it was good and only 1 percent said excellent.
While NPR tries to soften the news, the fact remains that a solid majority think the country is on the wrong track. As mentioned above, there’s a 15 point difference between right and wrong track polling.
The so-called generic ballot question was also very close. Asked whether they would support a Democrat or a Republican for Congress in 2010 if the election were held today, 42 percent said they would choose a Democrat and 43 percent a Republican, a difference well within the poll’s margin of error (plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for each number in each question).
All three areas show a trend that has to be troubling to Democrats and the administration. In political terms, 2010 is right around the corner. And yes, it’s still early in the administration, but after the honeymoon, it appears those polled are not happy, for the most part, with what they’re seeing from either Congress or Obama.
When your political opposition is self-destructing (even while in the majority and in control of the legislative and executive branches), most political observers would advise stepping back and allowing them to do so.
But not the Republicans. They’re going to be the “significant other” that gives this president a win on his signature issue and help him maintain both his momentum and the viability of the rest of his agenda.
The “I told you so” part of this is, as I (and many others) have said, Democrats will eventually pass something they can call “health care reform” and save the viability of Obama’s presidency. What you didn’t figure is the Republicans would be both complicit and key to that:
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) confirmed that the three Republicans and three Democrats negotiating the Senate Finance bill are moving away from a broad-based mandate that would force employers to offer insurance. The senators instead are leaning toward a “free rider” provision that requires employers to pay for employees who receive coverage through Medicaid or who receive new government subsidies to purchase insurance through an exchange.
Snowe stressed the committee hasn’t reached a final agreement on any of the key provisions but said, “There is not a broad-based employer mandate. … There are approximately 170 million Americans that receive coverage through employers. That is a significant percentage of the population. We don’t want to undermine that or create a perverse incentive where employers drop the coverage because their employees could potentially get subsidies through the exchange.”
On the nonprofit insurance cooperative, Snowe also said no final decisions have been reached, but “it is safe to say it is probably one that will remain in the final document.”
This is what everyone who talks about it means when they say that Republicans “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”. Here is a group, and I’d bet there are more that will sign on, who are involved in one of the biggest expansions of government undertaken since the “New Deal”. And when November of next year rolls around, this is the party that is going to want you to believe they are all for less government, less spending and less government intrusion.
And they’ll have this to point to as proof. [/sarc]
The reason the GOP is a shrinking party isn’t because it is the party of the Southern white male. It’s because no believes their nonsense any longer. Sometimes being the party of “no” is the right thing to do.
[Welcome RCP readers]
Do you remember how we all laughed at the “truthers” and wondered how they could be so gullible as to believe all the nonsense being spread about (fire doesn’t melt steel, etc.)?
Well now you’re the one’s being laughed at. You’re just like the truthers and the leftist dead-enders who wouldn’t let the 2000 election go.
Birthers. Truthers. One in the same.
Barack Obama is from Hawaii, he’s the president, there is no “smoking gun” here and you need to get off of this before you further ruin your credibility. I mean think about it – you’re taking your lead from a ditzy lawyer who has become addicted to the media coverage she can generate and dimbulb’s like this Army Reserve Major who played the reserve system to allow him to make a political statement. The vast majority of Republicans know a stinker when they smell one.
Get over this stuff. This is the “Bush/AWOL” story for the right.
That’s the basic message of a post by Melissa Clouthier blasting those who voted for Bob Barr.
Here, let me quote her:
Don’t blame me!” Bellowed one of my redneck relatives,” I voted for Ross Perot!” Did ya now? And that vote wasn’t a “screw you” vote, that felt inwardly satisfying while it also served Bill Clinton the presidency on a nice, silver platter (the one taking a prominent position on a shelf in his sprawling residence out on Long Island)? Oh no! It was a vote of conscience. It was a morally superior vote. Sniff.
Have conservatives, libertarians, and other factions on the Right learned nothing from history?
So now, people are coming out of the woodwork saying, “Don’t blame me! I voted for Bob Barr!” I ask you, Is that something to be proud of?
You know, when you start something like this, it is usually best to have the facts at hand so you don’t say something silly like:
President Obama is a disaster for America and I hold those who voted for Bob Barr every bit as accountable as if the so-called principled person voted for Barack Obama himself. It was a vote that aided and abetted an enemy of freedom. How can a freedom-loving person be proud of this?
Bob Barr pulled all of 511,324 votes. Statistically that’s 0% of the electorate. Had every Bob Barr voter voted for John McCain, he’d have ended up with 58,854,995 votes instead of 58,343,671 to Obama’s 66,882,230.
Apparently Clouthier believes that libertarians are a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP and due a righteous lecture for their lack of support.
It may be time for a little reality check for the good doctor.
A) Obviously if every vote Barr got had gone to McCain, it wouldn’t have increased McCain’s final count by even a percentage point. So the attempt to blame your abysmally poor GOP candidate’s abysmally poor showing on Barr voters is technically a non-starter.
B) The reason the GOP sucked so badly in the last election has absolutely nothing to do with Bob Barr and/or libertarians. It had to do with how poorly your party governed. Like most libertarians I haven’t voted for a Republican since Reagan. And frankly what happened to the size of government under Reagan is one reason why. Bush compounded the problem (Medicare Part D? “No Child Left Behind”?) and the eternally squishy McCain promised more of the same.
C) The only reason libertarians even somewhat identify with your party is because it sometimes pretends to be concerned about less spending and smaller government. Unfortunately, as I imply above, the GOP mostly just talks the talk and rarely walks the walk.
D) The GOP picked John McCain, not libertarians. John McCain was the worst of all worlds and your party gave him the nod. He was a candidate who had once been considered as a VP pick for John Kerry for heaven sake! He proved he was an enemy of the 1st Amendment with his campaign finance bill. His definition of “compromise” was to give the Democrats what they want.
E) Libertarians don’t owe the GOP a damned thing. You want libertarian support? Then quit whining and lecturing and earn it! Put up candidates that actually do what you claim to want to do in terms of spending and the size of government. Yeah, that’s right – cut spending drastically and reduce the size of government radically and then you can start asking why libertarians aren’t supporting the GOP. Then you’ll have grounds to do so. But until then – we owe you nothing.
Barack Obama sits in the White House not because of Bob Barr or the libertarian vote. He sits there because the GOP has completely and totally failed to live up to its claimed philosophy and its word for decades. John McCain’s nomination told libertarians all they needed to know about the lack of seriousness within the GOP to remedy that situation.
If the GOP wants libertarian votes, then it had better mend its ways. We don’t do “tents” and we don’t do “plantations” and we don’t belong to the GOP. You want us, you’d better do what it takes to get us – and you’re not even close right now.
UPDATE: Melissa Clouthier graciously acknowledges my criticism and for the most part understands the reason for it. She does, however, ask a couple of questions that deserve an answer and make a couple off remarks that deserve comment.
A Barr vote did nothing except register discontent.
Really? So those who voted for Barr couldn’t conceivably have been voting “for” something, only “registering discontent”?
With that bit of disrespect as a preface, here are the questions:
What about the next election? You know, when there are more impure Republicans? Do the libertarians plan to vote for an independent or vote for a Democrat?
Well now that it is hopefully clear that libertarians will actually vote for something and not just “register discontent”, the answer should be obvious. So here’s a question for the GOP – who do you plan to run that will cause us to vote for you? The ball is in your court, not ours.
All I’m saying is that McCain WOULD be better than Obama and I don’t want to see the Right fracture into delusion that nets us socialists in charge. That is worse. Much worse. It is worse right now.
In the case of McCain, “would be better” is really a non-starter of an argument for him among libertarians. In defeat, of course, he’s suddenly sounding Republican again, but McCain is a Snowe/Collins “Republican” from way back. Frankly I think you’ll find most libertarians believe that Obama and McCain are equally awful, just in different areas.
But the Libertarians don’t help anything by flopping around at the edges and indulging in third party fantasies. Libertarians needs to put their formidable energy into the Republican party at the bottom and take the party back to constitutional greatness.
Fixing the GOP is your job, not ours – you need to quit trying to outsource it. Libertarians have no desire to be a part of the GOP per se because there is enough not to like to keep us away. But libertarians will support a GOP that commits itself to the principles of less spending, smaller government and less government intrusion. But only when the GOP actually does something about them – find and run a candidate who actually believes in those principles and elect Republicans to Congress who will help he or she act on those principles.
Until then libertarians aren’t going to support the GOP. You can call it “flopping around the edges” or whatever you wish, but that won’t change the fact that until the GOP actually does the hard work of recreating itself in alignment with its stated principles it can’t expect support from libertarians just because the GOP thinks the Democrat’s candidate is worse than theirs.
Obviously, as one with a severe bent towards freedom, I think it is always advisable to keep a close eye on what our government is doing. Especially when it comes to said government granting itself extraordinary powers over the conduct of our lives, and/or over our liberty, in light of particular opinions we might hold, or because of the people we hang around with. The danger in allowing the government latitude to impinge upon our liberty in such cases should be apparent. However, sometimes people start seeing a red under their bed, or a little yellow man in their head, and act just a wee bit paranoid about actions that the government has proposed.
… legislation quietly making its way through Congress would give the White House power to categorize political opponents as hate groups and even send Americans to detention centers on abandoned military bases.
Rep. Alcee Hastings – the impeached Florida judge Nancy Pelosi tried to install as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee until her own party members rebelled – introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that gives Attorney General Eric Holder sole discretion to label groups that oppose government policy on guns, abortion, immigration, states’ rights, or a host of other issues. In a June 25 speech on the House floor, Rep. Trent Franks, R-AZ, blasted the idea: “This sounds an alarm for many of us because of the recent shocking and offensive report released by the Department of Homeland Security which labeled, arguably, a majority of Americans as ‘extremists.'”
Another Hastings bill (HR 645) authorizes $360 million in 2009 and 2010 to set up “not fewer than six national emergency centers on military installations” capable of housing “a large number of individuals affected by an emergency or major disaster.” But Section 2 (b) 4 allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to use the camps “to meet other appropriate needs” – none of which are specified. This is the kind of blank check that Congress should never, ever sign.
It’s not paranoid to be extremely wary of legislation that would give two unelected government officials power to legally declare someone a “domestic terrorist” and send them to a government-run camp.
In support of author Mark Tapscott’s ipse dixit argument that this isn’t paranoia, he points to the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. That’s a fair enough point (i.e. it has happened before here), but the analogy between Hastings’ amendment and the WWII internment camps is still pretty weak. For one thing, the internments were not done on the sly, as Tapscott suggests is being done now, and secondly, rounding up a relatively small number of people during WWII, is a lot more plausible than attempting to imprison half the country.
Ed Morrissey also pours some cold water on Tapscott’s theory:
To be fair on the second point, most legislation includes phrases similar to the “meet other appropriate needs” as a means of allowing flexibility in using facilities commissioned by Congress. Under unforeseen circumstances even apart from creating concentration camps for abortion opponents, the six national emergency centers might need to get some use other than housing military personnel or civilians evacuated from a disaster area. That language allows the Pentagon and Homeland Security leeway to adapt for other issues without having to worry that lawyers will descend upon them like locusts for not strictly limiting use to the statutes.
Nevertheless, I decided to delve into the Hastings amendment that Tapscott referred to, and which can be read in its entirety here (pdf). This is the pertinent language that woke some people up feelin’ kinda queer:
‘(2) DEFINITION OF HATE GROUP.—In this subsection, the terms ‘group associated with hate-related violence’ or ‘hate group’ mean the following: …
(G) Other groups or organizations that are determined by the Attorney General to be of a violent, extremist nature.
First of all, note the qualifier “violent” in that definition. Just being pro-life or anti-tax would not bring one under the aegis of this provision unless you also advocated violence in support of the cause.
The other part that seems to have been missed by some, is that this entire amendment is aimed at rooting out hate-group supporters from the military:
(1) PROHIBITION.—A person associated or affiliated with a group associated with hate-related violence against groups or persons or the United States Government, as determined by the Attorney General, may not be recruited, enlisted, or retained in the armed forces.
In other words, the worst thing that can happen as a result of this bill is that someone could be unfairly kept out of the military. I don’t want that any more than I expect anyone else does, but it’s sure a far cry from rounding up Republicans and throwing them in gulags.
That’s not to say that there aren’t problems with the amendment. As many of you probably already know, the military already has several provisions on the books prohibiting associations with extremist hate groups. Moreover, as Rep. Franks noted in arguing against the amendment, when viewed in light of the recent DHS report, allowing unelected and unaccountable officials to determine on their own who is an extremist or not seems like a pretty bad idea:
I take extreme offense that the federal government – through a report issued under the authority of a Cabinet-level official – would dare to categorize people who are “dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition or abortion or immigration” as “right-wing extremists” and it begs the question of whether the Attorney General, under Mr. Hastings’ Amendment, can look to the Napolitano report to decide who is an extremist, or can make the same categorization of the majority of Americans as extremists who may then be kept from joining the military, or who may be discharged.
The desire to risk one’s life on foreign soil for one’s country may well be considered “extreme.” To spill blood on a foreign battlefield in the name of freedom requires extreme devotion.
This amendment could have been written in a way that is more consistent with current DOD policy, which prohibits military personnel from participating in “organizations that espouse supremacist causes; or attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, or national origin…”
So, not only is Hastings’ amendment redundant, it’s also an undesirable (and perhaps unconstitutional) grant of power to the Attorney General. Clearly the amendment as drafted could use some work, and it should be watched and commented upon. However, none of it suggests that Hastings is planning on helping the Obama Administration to unilaterally declare “groups that oppose government policy on guns, abortion, immigration, states’ rights, or a host of other issues” hate groups and then have them carted off to Guantanamo-on-the-Mainland.
heck, even Franks didn’t go so far as to suggest that Democrats want to literally wall off their political rivals. Instead, he claimed that the real intentions of the House were not being reflected in the amendment:
The military has many laws and regulations in place to counter racism and the enlistment of racist militants. Recruits must be thoroughly vetted, and must even explain the symbolism behind their tattoos, body markings and writings. I understand that there is concern that the rules and regulations governing vetting of recruits are not being followed as vigilantly as they could be, and this is a legitimate cause for concern. At the same time, this is a call for better enforcement of the laws in place, rather than a sweeping categorization of persons as “extremists,” as we saw in Janet Napolitano’s agency’s report.
I want to state unequivocally that I believe that it is not the intent of this Congress to label pro-lifers, federalism proponents, and pro-immigration enforcement groups and their affiliates as extremists under the bill. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle should make a strong effort to assuage these concerns and make our intentions clear.
Is this an example of poor legislative drafting? Sure. Is the Hastings amendment really necessary in light of existing military rules and regulations? Probably not. Is it a good idea to give unaccountable officials the power to label groups of Americans as extremists simply because of some opinions that they might hold? No, no it isn’t. Does this amendment represent an empowerment of the federal government to intern a large swath of conservative America? Don’t be so paranoid.
Calling the government to account for straying outside it’s bounds of power is always a good idea, but being paranoid about it doesn’t help your cause, and may in fact hurt it. You’re blowing it all with paranoia. You may be feelin’ guilty, feelin’ scared, seeing hidden cameras everywhere, but you’ve got to Stop! Hold on. Stay in control.
‘Cuz paranoia is the destroyer.