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On How NOT to Keep a Republic

Last night, while correcting homework and cleaning up from dinner, I groaned as I heard, between these things and the general mayhem surrounding our children on a school night, a familiar and tired theme drumming out from the television in the other room where my husband was watching the nightly news.  Lots of folks in Congress are complaining about some rough calls and voice-mail messages left for them in the last few weeks.  I bet there were some!  Did they think they could conduct themselves in the way that they did and not stir up some angry and heated passions?  Some--both Republicans and Democrats--have even complained of death threats and requested security protection.  Of course, the focus of this "report" on TV was Democrat members and the dangers to them presented by "fringe" groups such as . . . "the Tea Partiers."  

So isn't it interesting that this news about a shooting at Eric Cantor's office is the actual news I woke up to hear about today? 

Fringies and unstable people abound in EVERY political movement and, sadly, they abound in nearly every permutation of every political movement.  Nuts should be called out.  But barring evidence of a clear-cut call to violence, it will not do if, in an effort to stave of the fringies (which, by the way, is a futile mission), we begin to condemn and call out for condemnation the larger political opinions and thinking that seemed--for whatever reason--to be a part of some particular nut's move to violence.  If we do that, we end all rational discussion.  We stifle debate.  But worse, we risk losing our Republic.

Both sides of this (and every) debate in American politics should do what they can to call back their dogs.  But they should also learn to hold their tongues and resist the too easy temptation to condemn the opinions of their opponents because of the insanity of a few of their fans.
Categories > Politics

Discussions - 16 Comments

I will submit to you that we have already lost our repbulic by allowing this to happen when the fringers were brown people in caves. It does not matter where so called fringers set politicaly because if you change laws and try to alter behavior based on them then you create a template for someone to get whatever they want by simply pulling off a false flag.

Julie, what would you say if some hardcore leftist (and from what I can surmise here at NLT, nearly any Obama voter would do for that) wrote on his/her blog:

"But barring evidence of a clear-cut call to violence, it will not do if, in an effort to stave of the fringies (which, by the way, is a futile mission), we begin to condemn and call out for condemnation the larger political opinions and thinking that seemed--for whatever reason--to be a part of some particular nut's move to violence. If we do that, we end all rational discussion. We stifle debate. But worse, we risk losing our Republic."

Quite frequently (well, constantly) I see from the right warnings that espousal of any left-of-center political opinions is tantamount to endorsing and encouraging a modern relapse of fascism, Stalinism (maybe both - haha) or worse. Or would you only draw such a distinction between RIGHT-sourced fringies, their violent acts, and their political opinions? Those on the left are actually, truly, politically incorrect and impermissible - so no such distinction can or should be made? I mean, after all, we are about to experience "death panels" and concentration camps at the hands of Obama. Road to serfdom and such, right?

I think you're not likely to succeed in calling out and staving off your nuts - or even starting to - if you deem it to be a "futile mission" from the get-go.

The problem, as I've noted with John Moser before, is in the percentages. Any honest comparison of the anti-war rallies (in response to our recent foray into Iraq) with the tea partiers will show that there WAS a fringe element within those Iraq War protests, but that the Tea Parties ARE primarily the fringe element - in and of itself - of conservative Republicans. It's a serious (read: high) percentage.

Regarding the violent reactions to HCR, this caught my eye - regarding the fellow who called for some brick-throwing (and who lives on government disability checks and has private insurance through his wife - is he manly???):

"Born in Michigan and raised in Ohio, Vanderboegh said he was not always a libertarian. He once was active in the Young Socialist Alliance and the Progressive Labor Party. "In my youth, I was a communist," he said. But in the mid-1970s, Vanderboegh read Friedrich von Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom," among other books, and had an epiphany.

"From that point on, I could never take Marxism-Leninism seriously again," Vanderboegh said.

He said he long opposed President Obama because he believed the president has "collectivism" tendencies. But he became especially energized during the health-care debate.

Vanderboegh said he advocates breaking windows only of Democratic Party offices, not congressional offices, and that he does not condone the death threats and other incidents of harassment that some Democratic lawmakers have faced.

"Obviously I not only deplore or decry that, but I denounce that vigorously because it has nothing to do with what I was advocating," he said. "

Full article here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032501722_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010032402500

Here's another Ohio man who seems to have been under the tea partiers' sick influence, but who pulled himself back from the brink, fortunately for him:

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/03/24/dollar-bill-throw.html?sid=101

Brutus ... what?

You trust this guy now Craig? He is just trying to save face now that he is famous for being a jerk.

Don, I interpretted Julie to be saying that we can't allow people to define movements based on the fringe elements and then legislate as if everyone is a nut. I was trying to suggest that we already made that mistake with DHS and the partriot act which I believe was for what is starting to take shape right now all along; ie, the organization and the legislation are to crush dissent at home not protect us from foriegn radicals. As horrible as the crimes radicals can commit they pale in comparisson to the day to day trouble caused by the reactionary policies trying to combat them. In that sense, all one must do is commit a terrible act and say it was a group of radicals then you get what you wanted all along and hide behind the reactionary part of it.

I don't entirely disagree with what you say, Brutus . . . or, at least, I don't completely dismiss it. There are parallels which are instructive and ought to inform us in the way we talk about Islam, for example. And in attempting to do what we can in a rational way to prevent danger, we have to be mindful that we might be doing more harm to our own liberty than good for it in preventing the danger. But these are all questions of scale and prudence and there are no easy answers or slogans that apply in all cases. Above all (and what Craig seems completely to miss): we will never be able to have perfect intelligence, perfect wisdom, or perfect justice on our side in the figuring out of these things. Some bad things will happen despite all of our best efforts. Some people will react badly to these things when they happen. Mostly, we are in a position of mitigating danger and injustice as we strive to protect our liberty. We should try to keep that in mind as we argue with each other about the best way to do these things. The idea that there are only two sides (right and wrong) in the debate over how to do that is absurd. And, anyway, even if we do everything "right" according to one view or another (or according to the cosmic sense of right in the heavens) events may still conspire to make us fail. This is not mathematics.

"...Of course, the focus of this "report" on TV was Democrat members and the dangers to them presented by "fringe" groups such as. . . "the Tea Partiers."

So isn't it interesting that this news about a shooting at Eric Cantor's office is the actual news I woke up to hear about today?...."

Well, what do you know, looks like the story about Cantor's office being "shot up" is largely a sham. So much for that sorry attempt at even-steven equivalence.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_03/023068.php

According to a statement from the Richmond Police Department, "The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room."

Additionally, Cantor was never threatened. Local police believe the bullet had been fired into the air, and ended up hitting a window at random.

It also wasn't Cantor's campaign office, as he claimed. In fact, the building isn't in Cantor's congressional district, it doesn't have any actual campaign posters or other markings to indicate that Cantor has an office inside it, nor is the building's address listed on his campaign website.

But going back, Julie, to calling out your "fringies" - I am STILL waiting for someone here at NLT to call out former Ashbrook-honored speaker Glenn Beck for his fear-mongering and hateful, inciting, yelling-fire-in-a-crowded-theater rhetoric. Will you do the honors?

Cantor's case does appear to be an act of random gunfire--but I have been unable to find any evidence demonstrating that Cantor knew this at the time of his news conference.

It is never a good idea to lie to people when trying to make a political point. So, if Cantor did that, then he will be justly decried. If, on the other hand, he was merely noting that Republicans have received threatening and over-the-top rude phone calls and verbal attacks (when doing a quick Google search on Cantor's name just now, I found plenty ONLINE) and was saying something like, "Hey, look . . . my windows were shot out!" without knowing that it had been deemed "random," then I hardly see how this qualifies as earth-shattering news or refutation. No serious person can be so naive as to think that there are not plenty of equally bad incidents to report on the GOP side of the aisle from this and many other battles in Congress. But I think it is stupid to get into a tit-for-tat discussion because that misses the point. What happened to Eric Cantor was not the backbone of my argument yesterday . . . I only pointed to it because it was in the news.

My real point (which holds whatever happens with Cantor) is that fringies and unhinged people abound all over the political sphere and they are not necessarily a reflection upon the larger political views and opinions they claim to espouse. (Just as hypocrisy to those ideas does not negate the ideas themselves.) Knowledge never guarantees prudence or judgment or moral strength. But I can understand why some people have a difficult time coming to terms with that concept. It's a hard one to swallow because it seems tragic. It is tragic. But that's the human condition.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and as a young child and into my early teens watched the hateful and unhinged Left/Liberal/Democrats of the sixties who were are basically in a drug-induced state of uncontrollable rage, reeked their havoc on the Bay Area. These whack-job left, liberal hippies and druggies destroyed property, induced hateful comments whenever possible and in some cases murdered those who did not agree with them. The left has the market on unhinged, radical crazies. Trying to tie this behavior to the right is another indication of the fact that these liberals - especially the likes of Nancy Pelosi, inhaled way too much poison.

I'm imagine Cantor takes money from the NRA so its at least ironic that he would make the anouncement based on his lack of knoledge about ballistics.
Another thing, the whole Ayers campaign. I don't know the story on he and the president, but it was a huge part of the republican campaign. That was another a bad thing to do because now what happens when someone comes around who can be linked to someone with a dudbious past. The point of that is that whatever movement you are part of you are bound to agree with radicals and become fellow travelers with them at some point. I do remember an obscure video of sean hannity going ballistic when someone brought up the fact that he could be linked to Hal Turner, said never heard of him then had to backtrack. Since Turner was a Fed mabye that was all on the up and up.

Julie, I'd still really like to know what you'd have to say if - from my first comment - some liberal made the exact same statement you made (about condemning the larger political opinions).

So, you won't call out Glenn Beck? So, who ARE the fringies on the right, if Beck isn't one of them?

"But I think it is stupid to get into a tit-for-tat discussion because that misses the point."

Riiiiiight. You had no interest in making it look like it's a 50/50 situation (which it obviously is not) when you wrote:

"Of course, the focus of this "report" on TV was Democrat members and the dangers to them presented by "fringe" groups such as . . . "the Tea Partiers."

So isn't it interesting that this news about a shooting at Eric Cantor's office is the actual news I woke up to hear about today?"

Maybe you should just deploy the old "I was just kidding" routine.

Calling out Glenn Beck, IF he is to be called out, ought to be left to people who have actually bothered to watch his program or listen to his radio show (does he still have one?). I am not one of those people and I try to make it a habit not to comment on people or things I know next to nothing about. The man simply does not fascinate me as much as he appears to fascinate you, Craig. But then again, I don't ask you to comment on what's-his-name from MSNBC either. I assume you have better things to do than to watch that much TV. But then, it appears that I am wrong . . . you like most people I know who do watch too much TV, are watching FOX!

Well, I watch Beck, and I think the man is serving a valuable function for the Right. He has systematically driven down the popularity of the Obama administration, and he has done so by revealing there socialist roots.

He's at his best when educating people about debt and about contemporary history (e.g., communism). He's right to believe that our educational system has barely taught some of this history, and people desperately need a reminder.

He's at his worst when he preaches about fundamental values, the Founders, and other touchy-feely subjects. Doesn't he know that the Founders understood the frailty of human nature, and that they set up this system not because people were good, but because people are corruptible? He's a libertarian, and they often miss this message.

On balance, however, he's a "good thing" (as Martha Stewart might say). I do fear he might let his popularity go to his head, however. I've seen some indicators of that. He needs to realize that his brand of popularity is fleeting -- stay on message, Glenn.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/35152.html

Still think Cantor's making it all up?

FBI Agent Discovered at the Center of Alleged Hutaree Conspiracy

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
March 30, 2010

The FBI had an informant inside the Hutaree group and he participated in the alleged conspiracy to kill law enforcement officers, according to The Wall Street Journal today.

In sworn testimony, Thomas William Piatek is described as a Cooperating Witness and an undercover FBI agent.

Thomas William Piatek is pictured at the bottom right. It is interesting to note that, unlike the other suspects, he appears not to be wearing a jail uniform.

“A spokesperson at the FBI’s Detroit office declined to comment on the undercover agent and any role such an agent may have had in the investigation. A spokesman at the Justice Department in Washington also declined to discuss specifics of the investigation,” the Journal reports.

It is not surprising that the FBI had penetrated the Hutaree group and an agent was apparently at the center of the alleged conspiracy. In fact, it is part of a well established pattern.

On March 20, Infowars.com reported on allegations that a federal agent acted as a provocateur in the New York synagogue bombing conspiracy case. Defense attorneys in the case argued in court that the plot was hatched and directed by a federal informant.

“They said the informant badgered the defendants until they got involved in the plot,” NBC New York reported. “They said the informant chose the targets, supplied fake bombs for the synagogues and a fake missile to shoot down planes. The motion said he also offered to pay the defendants, who attorneys alleged weren’t inclined toward any crime until the informant began recruiting them.”

“This whole operation was a foolish waste of time and money,” Terence Kindlon, a defense lawyer who represented a client in the New York synagogue case, told the Times Online. “It is almost as if the FBI cooked up the plot and found four idiots to install as defendants.”

A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Defendants in the New Jersey Fort Dix Army terror case painted a similar picture. “The only terrorist conspiracy was one planted and nurtured by the informant,” declared defense attorney Rocco Cip during the trial. The FBI’s role in the case was admitted by a provocateur. “The FBI informant paid to infiltrate a band of suspected terrorists in South Jersey said yesterday that he offered to organize their attack on U.S. soldiers, but only because he wanted to build trust and find out more about the group,” the Star-Ledger reported on November 11, 2008.

In Miami, the FBI case against the so-called Miami Seven came apart at the seams when it was discovered a government provocateur provided money, video cameras for conducting surveillance, cellphones, and suggested that the patsies target the Miami FBI office.

In 2009, it was discovered that supposed white supremacist and radio talk show host Hal Turner was a National Security Intelligence asset, a fact admitted by the third highest ranking FBI official in New York City. During a second trial held this year, Turner described how he was recruited in 2003 by the FBI’s Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said he was paid “in excess of $100,000” by the FBI during his almost five years as an informant.

According to research conducted by Alexandra Natapoff of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, the FBI maintains an army of at least 15,000 “confidential informants,” while the DEA admits to having 4,000 snitches. “But the number of informants working directly for the Feds is probably only a tiny fraction of the entire stukachi [a Russian epithet used to describe a secret police informant] population, given the uncounted masses of snitches working for state and local police agencies,” writes William Norman Grigg of the Pro Libertate blog.

Brutus, I'm not sure what your point is about Beck. Have you listened to some of those 9/11 families? They go far beyond "asking questions."

There have been times I've wanted them to go away as well. As always, Beck is telling us how he feels. You are free to disagree with him.

The larger point is that the Left "milks" tragedy and manipulates the country into doing things and making decisions that are not in our long-term best interest. Surely someone needs to point this out -- Beck is doing that pretty well.

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