Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And then there were none

Today, a horrible crime was committed by an extremist who, in cold blood, gunned down a security guard at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. There is no excuse for such a crime, and I have no tolerance for anyone who thinks the same way or supports this act of hate.

I pray for the family of Stephen T Johns, the security guard killed in the attack, and that justice is served swiftly and coldly against this killer.

Within minutes of discovering the identity and possible onetime military affiliation of the shooter, Shepard Smith, of Fox News, made the following astonishing leap of logic: that this shooting validates the contents of the DHS report labeling veterans as potential right wing extremists. A good synopsis of Smith’s statements and their context to the DHS report can be found at Mudville Gazette. In one statement, Smith and Fox News advanced the damage already caused by the original report. Now, the leftist blogsphere is alight with the very kind of rhetoric that has spilled into every channel of media blovating, including now Fox.

Unfortunately for Smith and all of the other people out there who want to desperately believe that those who serve in the military, support the idea smaller government, and believe that people should be able to believe whatever they want even if it offends others, the murderer in this case proves nothing about the DHS report. The murderer was 89 years old, may have never served in the military (the only available confirmation of his service is his own claim that he served), but was an extremist in every other sense. The report, on the other hand, is explicit in its reference to modern veterans returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan:

(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

–from Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment (.pdf)

Now, it no longer matters what the facts of the shooting are and what the DHS report said. The cultural meme that veterans are dangerous extremists who murder people out of hatred has been created and will continue to persist. Now, people who do not bother to differentiate between those with legitimate philosophical disagreements about beliefs and politics will be even more invigorated in their intolerance of people with differing views.

It does not help that too many people out there in the ether of the internet take their disagreements to extremes when responding to such events on both extremes of political belief. People sending email to Shepard Smith today only reinforced the stereotypes too many people have of the conservatively minded as surely as liberals have done in past instances, only proving how uninformed and reactionary they are themselves.

We live in a time of strong, sometimes even radical, disagreements about the way forward for our nation and for the world. I have been a part of that debate for a long time, and it saddens me more than I can convey with these words that our national discourse has degraded into shouting and increasingly hostile accusations against one side or the other. Certainly, I believe that some of the things being done by liberals are destructive to our country, and I believe it is my place to argue against those actions with the hope that something like the middle ground–and often the best–solutions can be achieved.

However, I do not now, nor will I ever condone violence against those with whom I disagree either now or ever. The threshold for taking up arms in support or opposition is very high, something anyone who has sworn the oath to protect and defend the Constitution should inherently understand.

The distinction between this view and that of the murder in question is rapidly being lost, and with that loss comes the loss of the very things the veterans now being steadily maligned hold dear. I ask the same question now as when this idea first reared its ugly head: what happens when those who have decided that what their nation stands for is worth fighting for are no longer willing to do so because what they believe in has become criminal? How can any nation survive criminalizing a way of thinking? How can any nation survive criminalizing its defenders?

First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller

We are sliding down a very slippery slope. God help us all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Veteran+Conservative+Private firearm ownership supporter+Rough economy=New domestic terrorist

Hello. I simply wanted to reintroduce myself as the new face of terrorism in the United States. Because I am a veteran, politically conservative, support the private ownership of firearms, live in a country suffering from an economic downturn, and apparently have no mind of my own, I am now susceptible to recruitment by so-called "right wing" groups that support the violent overthrow of the United States government.

Granted, this new designation and susceptibility means that the government-working-against-its-citizens shoe is now on the other foot and that the very mechanisms of surveillance and operation that I still support will now be turned on me, but I am not concerned because, as a veteran, conservative, firearm owner now purportedly surrounded by like-minded extremists, I think I have a pretty good shot at resistance.

Which is probably a good thing considering that the same government that felt the need to create this new definition of terrorism also has plans to restrict the First Amendment, scrap the Second, and ignore the Fifth. Perhaps what this government fears is not terrorists, but citizens who dare to be the individualists the Founders envisioned.

Whatever the reason, I think I am comfortable with my new label. I think that it means my government fears me, and in my view, governments should always fear their citizens. It helps keep them honest.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

--Second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama: 1, journalists: 0

Perhaps the love affair between mainstream journalism and Obama has ended. After two days of snubbing the White House press corps, the corps get testy and so does Obama.

Obama's money quote:

"Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here."
Just wait until they start asking real questions, Mr. President.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change = free money

I don't know how to do a screen grab, so this will have to do.

To the right of a Google search, this was the sponsored link:

Obama Inaugural Speech
  1. Change is on its way with Obama.
    Start applying for free money.

Puppies and sunshine - random thoughts

Based on the collective swooning from my esteemed colleagues here at the university, I am fully expecting to see the sun break through the clouds, frolicking puppies and kittens as far as the eye can see, and the earth swallow all forms of evil.

Can any one of my esteemed colleagues really expect the new president to do all the things they have heaped in a pile in front of him? One blog I read stated that not since Jesus has one person been expected to do so much.

Does anyone really think that Barack Obama, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, or any president for that matter, wield so much power and sway that others will just bend to their wishes? Has anyone noticed how much all politicians change their tune when they start learning actual information and have to make hard decisions?

Consult a Constitutional Lawyer

A previous post asked "what happens when the court charged with determining the legality of warrantless searches for the purpose of intelligence agrees that the president has the right to order such searches after millions of people have invested themselves in the premise that such searches were immoral because they were illegal?"

If you are a Constitutional lawyer, like Glenn Greenwald, you read carefully and apply legal knowledge to the false claims of reporters who can't be bothered with little details like facts.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The rule of law

So what happens when the court charged with determining the legality of warrantless searches for the purpose of intelligence agrees that the president has the right to order such searches after millions of people have invested themselves in the premise that such searches were immoral because they were illegal?