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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Stuck On Thought

I have been thinking very intensely about a couple of things, and since I am not sure of my conclusions I'm not writing much. One of these ponderings is about consciousness and epistemology (how we know what we know), and the second brooding concerns whether the media is helping the parties' spinmeisters lead us all around in a circle so that the public is unable to bring pressure on lawmakers about issues on which the public does have a consensus.

But I do want to point out that this very sad post of The Anchoress' about a Vermont judge who gave a 34 year-old man who raped a little girl multiple times a sentence of 60 days, and had the nerve to lecture the courtroom and her family that anger doesn't help anything. To which The Anchoress responds:
The judge is quite wrong. HATE corrodes the soul. Anger, when it is righteous anger, is a force for justice and reform and even redemption.
I'd also add that in order to change one must want to change, and a sentence of 60 days does not provide much impetus for that desire. Can we excuse such heinous acts on the grounds that they are committed out of deep-rooted perversions? If we assume that such people have great difficulty in changing their behavior (which seems to be the accepted theory), then the only logical conclusion is that the harm that they do should be prevented by all possible means.

But this incident again demonstrates another fact of American life which is highly relevant to the debate over NSA's electronic screening of phone messages. Americans don't trust judges. We don't trust their judgments. We don't trust their agenda, and we are unlikely to feel more secure if they are making the decisions. Americans also don't trust Congress, for obvious reasons.

And this one fact infuses the entire debate over the electronic screening of phone messages: If you are unwilling to take the stance that we should not try to prevent terroristic acts but you are concerned about civil liberties, the natural remedy is to demand either Congressional or judicial review. But both those institutions have proven unreliable in protecting our basic rights very recently. And this is why the left is unwilling to talk about what we should do. There are no good answers at all to that question.

This is why the issue will not take catch fire in the American public mind. Americans do care greatly about their civil liberties, but they don't see the way forward. The long and the short of it is that the average person will look at such measures as potentially dangerous to civil liberties but definitely aimed at averting a much more pressing and immediate danger NOW. Furthermore, any court case on this issue now is likely to end up expanding the scope of presidential powers for all time, which is not really the outcome desired by those who are concerned about controlling the power of the government..

And in the meantime, the left in this country continues fawning on dictators and drooling over anti-Semitic strongmen, while ignoring the plight of the weak and helpless in this country and around the world. If we don't develop a solid core of people who do care about the plight of individuals and do care about civil rights and do care about reason and justice, we are in deep trouble.


Comments:
The Idiot Brigade rides again.
 
I deeply agree with you here, esp. "If we don't develop a solid core of people who do care about the plight of individuals and do care about civil rights and do care about reason and justice, we are in deep trouble."

My own conviction is that this is best encouraged by those who are brave about standing on their convictions rather than those running scared of the opposition.

But that's just me;)
 
SC&A, every country and every era has its own group of idiots. But in a healthy society they do not control the debate.

Ilona, to me the real split is not between left and right but between those who do have that basic regard for the rights of others and those who don't. Most of the people I know don't fit neatly on the right or left anyway.

We see in our government today staggering levels of political corruption, issues floated that are plainly attempts to misdirect the public's attention, total inattention to the public welfare, a devotion to needless controversy and an unwillingness to even address basic but difficult issues.

Furthermore you have clear examples of situations in which the American people do agree on an issue, yet we are not getting action from Congress. One example is the failure to cut all discretionary spending in order to funnel aid to the hurricane victims. Another is the failure to address the Able Danger allegations, which appear highly credible. A third is Kelo and the odd legal doctrine that an entity that can be expected to pay more taxes on your property than you may be entitled to your property.

Instead we have this fandango over issues that simply are not significant in the minds of the citizens. Clearly we are being poorly served by Congress. It will do us no good to get a President with whom we feel comfortable if we cannot get Congress to use its far more massive powers in the public interest.
 
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