[personal profile] longhairedweirdo
Last entry, I suggested that the Republicans had taken a position of total opposition to Democrats. Today, I want to provide some support for this.

Example 1: While Bill Clinton was in office, many soi disant conservatives railed about how he could spy on Americans with nothing but a rubber stamp from the FISA court; this is most important because it shows that the issue was known, and was of concern, earlier. When George W. Bush violated FISA, by going around the court, many of those self-same "conservatives" insisted that his actions were lawful and necessary.

Okay, but in all politics, isn't there a kind of "well, sure, my side engages in a few pecadillos,but yours engages in major corruption"?

No, not in a healthy political society. In a healthy society, actual corruption is attacked and condemned from both sides, and actual pecadillos are blasted during election season as corruption, but afterward, it's admitted that they really weren't that bad.

Moreover, George W. Bush was supposedly an MBA President. If there was anything an MBA should be able to do, it's to simplify and improve a process, especially when the process is well understood (like generating warrant applications!). At the very least, there should have been some scorn, or from virulent Republican partisans, some admission that it doesn't look good that he presumably could have gotten warrants and didn't.

Ah, but Democrats were attacking a Republican, so the Republicans circled their wagons.

Example 2: Torture. Call it what you will, the US engaged in torture. People were tortured in black sites, in Guantanemo, and in Abu Ghraib. This is a non-partisan issue - everyone agrees that torture is stupid.

Wait, can't torture work? Sometimes?

Well - I'll grant you this. If you know that I know a specific fact - say, my password - and you can quickly check if that something I tell you is true or false - "password didn't work, he lied!" - then yes, you can probably break me and make me tell you that thing.

In reality? This doesn't happen. Interrogators are generally asking broad questions to a broad range of people. Torturing people is far more likely to get them to say whatever it takes to get the torture to stop... and that means false positives. False confessions, false leads, and blind alleys that intelligence is searching down.

Well, what about the ticking time bomb scenario? Doesn't that merit the use of torture?

I hope you mean "doesn't asking that question merit the use of torture?" :-) but even if so, the answer is still no! In fact, the ticking time bomb is one of the absolute worst cases for torture.

Where else can you imagine a situation in which a person should have a lie memorized, and hold out as long as they can, so when they finally "reveal" their memorized lie, it's too late to mount a second response if and when the real location is discovered?

Torture doesn't work, and only rank, immature, emotionalism leads one to think it's a useful tool.

And yet... when Obama brought down bin Ladin, it wasn't enough to downplay the achievement on the Republican side - they also had to trumpet that torture must have worked!


Seriously, the threat of torture trials was over. Ah, but again, we see the right wing strategy: draw a distinction, make the liberals bad, and the soi disant conservatives good, and hammer away. So they did.

This also illustrates one of the dangers of the strategy. Tactically, bringing up torture was a pointless exercise when bin Ladin was killed... a careful general would caution against it. Thing is, once you have people excited enough to be on the winning side, they're not all about tactics, they're about living that excitement, so of course torture comes bubbling back up!

Nowadays, FISA has been shown to be able to be violated with impunity - if it's a Republican in control. Nowadays, torture is seen as good, and tough, and strong. We can't walk these back... not easily.

For a third example, I'm going to go on a bit of a stretch. Bear with me.

Time was, the gun-rights folks were fond of saying "I should be able to own guns and use them peacefully and lawfully if I want to. Tell me: even if I had a fully automatic AR-15, what could I do with it that doesn't already violate the law?"

They also had a saying that I felt was a good one: "It is better to be judged by 12 (i.e., jurors) than carried by six (i.e., pallbearers)." It's better to go to court, and defend yourself against charges, than to be killed by an attacker.

Tell me: how can you go from there, to "stand your ground" laws?

The concept of "Stand Your Ground" is a nasty one: if you kill someone, and can claim self defense, and your story doesn't completely fall apart, you are to be presumed innocent. In fact, in Florida, if someone attacked me, if I then I wrestled them to the ground, pinned them, and popped them a good one in the nose to show them that, when I let them up, they don't want another tussle - that person is now legally allowed to kill me.

No, I'm not kidding. They are unable to retreat (pinned down), they are in fear for their life or great bodily injury ("how did I know he just wanted to give me a bloody nose, and thus, a good scare?"). The Florida legislature explicitly refused to change the law to emphasize that their attack on me removed their open-ended right to self-defense, once they wanted to retreat but were prevented.

Listen: I'm a reasonable person, but I'm also aware of reality. If I used a gun to protect myself, I'm fully aware that, unless someone sees the whole encounter, the police, the prosecutor, and the courts, don't know if I acted lawfully. I might go to jail - but I'll be alive.

Okay, but, but, if I defend myself, I shouldn't have to go to jail, right?

Sure, I shouldn't have to, not if it was self defense. But you know something? Let's pretend I'm not the man I am. Let's pretend I'm perfectly okay with killing someone in self defense. (I'm not opposed - but there's a lot of distance between "not opposed to" and "okay with".)

It might well be that the awareness that I might go to jail, even in a perfect, spot-on, textbook example of self defense, that causes me to flee an encounter if it's safe to do so, and that keeps me from escalating the threat until I'm fairly certain the risk is real. You see what I'm saying? If I'm just a bit scared of jail, then my first thought is "how can I get out of here, to stay both alive and free?"

If I know I'm covered by Stand Your Ground, and just have to say "Oh, I was afraid for my life and/or great bodily injury!" that fear of jail doesn't hold me back.

If Florida could show me a large number of generally good, innocent people who are in jail just because they used force, including lethal force, in defense of their lives or bodily integrity, then I'd say Stand Your Ground would make some sense. But it doesn't.

So: how does this tie into Republicans attacking Democrats?

Well, remember the strategy: draw a distinction, make it a clear distinction, and then say that the Democrats are the bad guys (for whatever reason).

The NRA has been successful to the point that even the most ardent gun-control supporter is going to be wary of attacking gun ownership for recreation or hunting. They've been attacking politicians who want to ban certain weapon types and accessories (guns modeled after military rifles, high capacity magazines, etc.), but the fact of the matter is, even the NRA is forced to admit that these bans are mostly about cosmetic features, not functionality, so it's hard to rile people up.

Ah: but Democrats are far more likely to worry about people killed needlessly in self-defense. For example, if a man walks away with really minor injuries, and says he had to kill his attacker, Democrats are more likely to be suspicious, especially if his story ("I was pinned to the ground, yet somehow managed to draw a gun kept over my left butt-cheek!") doesn't quite add up.

Democrats are more likely to see the world as less threatening - sure, they admit, you might run into a dangerous situation where an attacker is attacking, but it's awfully rare.

And they're far more likely to want justice. If a young black man is killed, they're less likely to assume he must have brought his fate on himself, and are far more aware that, since he can no longer speak for justice regarding his own life, we must speak for him.

So there is a distinction, and it can be hammered home hard, and loud. "We must be able to defend ourselves! Liberals don't want us to! Liberals are BAD!"

The law already allows self-defense; prior to Stand Your Ground, self-defense was an affirmative defense. "Sure, I shot him, but let me present a preponderance of evidence showing that it was probably self-defense!" Now, if a prosecutor can't prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was self defense, a killer can skate.

There was even a story of a person who recorded an encounter, and declared out loud that he was "standing his ground" before shooting someone. Officially, we're not supposed to find that suspicious!

Now, here's what I want you to think about. Maybe - maybe there was some reform needed of self-defense law. I don't know - I'm sure some people who deserved to be found not guilty were in jail; it's the nature of the beast. But to decriminalize killing, unless there's evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the killing wasn't self-defense, is not reform; it's insanity. So, what was Stand Your Ground?

I say it was an attack vehicle. A good law would not have gone so ridiculously far.

Keep looking around. You'll find other issues.

"Obamacare failed" - it insured 20 million people, costs are rising slower than before, Medicare is better funded than before, and yes, there are pain points, most of which can be fixed using the tools the law suggests.

"The Iranian deal is terrible" - experts at the time described Iran's actions as "capitulation". They gave Europe and the US everything they wanted - full inspections and monitoring, in return for an end to sanctions. Sure, the US would return frozen assets - that's why they're called "frozen", not "confiscated". Sure, after a time, monitoring would end; Iran is a sovereign nation, and no sovereign nation would permit monitoring endlessly. So, strangely, everyone, except the Republican party and fans, thinks it was a great deal.

And I'm sure you can keep going (I started listing others, but they weren't quite as supportive of my next point). The point is, these things not only draw distinctions, create soundbites, and electoral slogans.

They also set up ridiculous points of view, and ask people to support them.

1) FISA isn't a big deal.
2) Torture is actually a good idea.
3) If we can't kill people any time we feel scared, freedom is damaged.
4) Obamacare is bad, and failed, because it only accomplished its broad goals; so throw it out!
5) The Iranian deal was terrible, even though it gave negotiators everything they asked for.

While the Republicans are demanding support of nonsense, they're damaging the country - to the point that their own faithful couldn't see through the fraudulent, uninformed BS that Trump was taught by the right-wing.
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