Smearing Conservative Bloggers with the Truth

true_liesFor some reason, I didn’t get the TrackBack and thus missed Dan Riehl‘s reply to my “Congress Receiving Death Threats” post.   Given that 18 hours have passed, I’ve decided to write a new post rather than bury my response as an update.

He’s right that I mistakenly attribute a post with Doug Powers’ byline at Michelle Malkin’s site to Michelle Malkin.  I’ve corrected the original post in brackets.  My apologies to Michelle if she disagrees with Powers on the matter.

As to his larger point that I’m “smearing” conservative bloggers:  Hogwash.   I simply linked three prominent blogs, representative of plenty of others, arguing that the Republican leadership has no responsibility to do anything since any violence isn’t their fault.   I agreed that Republicans aren’t at fault but argued that, given the heated rhetoric of the campaign against healthcare reform, responsible leaders should do what they can to calm people down.   This is a minor point of disagreement, frankly, and in any case my linking to their posts as exemplars of conservatives holding the contrary view hardly constitutes a “smear.”

Amusingly, the post of Dan’s that I linked is filled with said overheated rhetoric:

What’s a matter, Steny? You folks were high-fiving it all around immediately after acting like complete tyrants forcing a bill down the throat of Americans who told you repeatedly how much they didn’t want it. You certainly looked and sounded tough enough then. Now, you cowards are afraid to go back to your districts and face the voters? Why am I not surprised.

[…]

You really thought making America over in the image of socialist Europe was going to be that simple? I swear, sometimes these Leftists are just soooo dumb! It’s hard to be a man of the people when you’re afraid of them, Steny. Come out, come out, wherever you are. I can’t wait to see some of their townhall events.

And, no, people should not embrace violence of any kind. But making yourself be heard is an American right. Use it while you still can, America. At this rate, I’m afraid it won’t be too long before you won’t. Pelosi says she thinks they found just the model they need to bring change about. Who knows what these two-bit tyrants have in mind for us next. Obviously, they don’t care what we think, anymore. So, why should we care about them not wanting to hear us out? Let your voices be heard while you still can!

This is just ridiculous.  Yes, it’s true that we’re slightly more socialist than we were Monday.  But we’ve been moving inexorably in that direction since the 1930s, under Democrats and Republicans alike.   Otherwise, it’s absurd to argue that a party that won the White House and overwhelming control of both Houses of Congress in fair and open elections — even winning a plethora of House seats deliberately drawn to elect the opposite party — is somehow tyrannical for pushing through its policy agenda using the institutional tools available.  And, seriously, there’s some sort of creeping limitation on free speech?  People have been writing and speaking out on this issue  in droves for more than a year.

Further, while Dan explicitly rejects violence in the post, it’s not hard to imagine someone who genuinely believes Congressional Democrats are “complete tyrants” (or is it “two-bit tyrants”?) trying to make “America over in the image of socialist Europe” and take away our inalienable right to free speech rejecting Dan’s rejection.  Hell, if I actually believed that, I’d be ready to mount up.

Instead, I believe my party controlled the reins of the Federal government for six years, pissed away the trust that had gotten them there, and we’re now paying the price.  Having policies you don’t like passed into law is what happens when your side loses and the other side wins.    Republicans fought an admirably tough rearguard action but didn’t have the votes to quite pull it off.

At this point, we can either rant and rave about how unfair it all is or try to leverage this loss into victory in November under the banner of “This is what happens when you elect Democrats.”  Given that the law frontloads the goodies and offloads most of the costs onto “the rich” and future generations, that might be tough.   But that’s nonetheless how one behaves in a Republic.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    I think the current brouhaha demonstrates that if you don’t care about re-election, you don’t need to take the will of the people into account. So, I’m doing my best to ensure that as many Democrats currently in Congress are not returned to office in November. That should satisfy their desires, as well as mine.

    Too, it will permit a bunch of burn-the-bridges Republicans to take office and repeal (or at least strongly modify) the current law that regulates health care.

    I do think the law a disaster and one that presents a very troubling future for the country. I’m not convinced that violence is the only way to fix the problem, though, so the ballot box gets first preference.

  2. sam says:

    Yes, it’s true that we’re slightly more socialist than we were Monday. But we’ve been moving inexorably in that direction since the 1930s, under Democrats and Republicans alike.

    No Conservative soup for you!

  3. john personna says:

    Yes, it’s true that we’re slightly more socialist than we were Monday. But we’ve been moving inexorably in that direction since the 1930s, under Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Interesting. What measure do you use?

    I’ve always considered government spending as a percentage of GDP to be the key, and I think growth did stall in the 80’s. It’s possible that ex-wars (and certainly ex-crises) we’d be in a downtrend now.

    We have certainly had a spike, but we all know that is unsustainable. It can’t be continued in a fiscal (don’t have the money) or a political (can’t raise the taxes) sense.

  4. James Joyner says:

    I’ve always considered government spending as a percentage of GDP to be the key, and I think growth did stall in the 80’s.

    I don’t consider spending on defense and the national security state to be “socialism,” even if much of it’s wasted. They’re primordial reasons for establishing government.

    It’s the welfare state that’s socialistic.

  5. john personna says:

    It’s the welfare state that’s socialistic.

    Well, “spending to GDP” captures that as well. In fact, I worry that if you don’t use percentage of GDP to gauge welfare commitment, you are just using some kind of “emotional weight.”

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    This is what comes of applying colloquial usage rather than definitions. We began drifting towards socialism when the 16th amendment was ratified in 1913. Anything that you can’t pay for via a head tax, which includes national defense and the security state, requires public control of the means of production, in this case money, and that’s socialism.

    But that’s nonetheless how one behaves in a Republic.

    Plato taught that the essential virtue of a republic, the quality without which a republic would inevitably transmute either into chaos or tyranny, was moderation.

  7. Franklin says:

    As a decent interview with Fareed Zakaria yesterday on CNN pointed out, there are basically two main paths to control health care costs. Market-based vs. price controls. The Republicans had a chance to do it their way when they controlled everything. They did jack squat, so the Democrats did something. Maybe next time Republicans will think about this when they have a choice between improving some domestic issue vs. invading a random country, but I somehow doubt it.

    BTW, to the people claiming that “the American people didn’t want this, it’s being rammed down our throats”: That’s a load of crap. You are projecting. We live in a democracy, and you lost this time (I don’t give a RAT’S ASS what the poll du jour says – it’s the ballot box that matters). Instead of crying and lying about whether people wanted this, just gain back the seats and make your tweaks. I have confidence that the bill can be improved, so let’s do it.

  8. john personna says:

    Really Dave, mechanism is all that matters? If 55% of the economy were running on a “head tax” that wouldn’t be socialism?

    No, spending as a percentage of GDP is the only thing that makes sense. Anyone running over half is more than half socialist.

    (The fact that we have been running 30-40% socialist is a bit at odds with our “free market” self-identity, but there it is. It certainly gives me pause. I wouldn’t want us to stay in the 40% range.)

  9. john personna says:

    (The wikipedia page on the Welfare State ranks countries by welfare spending as a percentage of GDP.)

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    How wonderful! odograph makes up his own definitions and then is kind enough to give us statistics.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Come clean Comrad Joyner. It was YOU who shot up Eric Cantor’s office…

  12. john personna says:

    Ah you make me a little sad, Dave.

    This is a thread about the power of rational discussion. You reject that and go emotional, not just on the fact, but on me personally.

    I have been honest, and not negative or vindictive, about my use of personnas.

    I’ve never attacked you, Dave. I’ve tried to make each post stand (or fail) on the power of its own ideas.

    The claim that I made up a definition is pretty odd too … given that the internet is rife with spending to gdp comparisons.

  13. john personna says:

    Apparently I have the power to make things up in the past: Spending As A Percent of GDP: Socialism?

  14. Eric Florack says:

    JAmes is correct in that the drift toward socialism has been happening on the watch of both left and right… it’s what happens when we ‘compromise’ with the left.. the left always wins, if by smaller amounts occasionally.

  15. pylon says:

    There was sure a lot of compromise by the Republicans on HCR.

  16. Steve Plunk says:

    It concerns me how little attention is being paid to the statements of this being just a good first step. That slight move toward a more socialist country is considered a first step by the liberals toward a much more socialist country. Incrementalism at it’s finest.

    Now that the “violence” against Dems has passed and we realize it was overblown perhaps we can get back to the real issue of tyranny. They passed a law few wanted, bent rules to pass it, and bribed people to pass it. The fall will be interesting as a new group of citizens enters the political arena looking to undo this terrible experiment/gamble.

    We may have been moving toward a more socialist country for nearly 80 years but that’s no reason to not eventually try and stop that movement. A defeatist attitude of allowing those small increments as if they don’t matter leads to only one end.

  17. Gerry W. says:

    Another reason why we have been going down the road of more socialism is that (taking the word from republicans) we should have a free market based society. The problem with this attitude, while meaningful, is that people fall through the cracks. And what we have seen is that the republican party bases itself with ideology. Like tax cuts and everything is fine, when things are not fine. As the republicans and their ideology failed, we have to go to some sort of socialism to counter the failure of the right.

    Another sense of socialism is when we feel wealthy and we require government to do things for us as we can afford to pay for something from government. (In reality we are not a wealthy country with our debt).

    In the end, we will go to far with socialism as it seems unstoppable. But the right on the other hand seems to have no answers either.

  18. Eric Florack says:

    There was sure a lot of compromise by the Republicans on HCR.

    No question of that.

    It concerns me how little attention is being paid to the statements of this being just a good first step.

    And I, as well. It seems to me, thereby that the Republicans in their compromising mood facilitate their own defeat along with that of the country of course. Your comments strike me as spot on, Steve.

  19. Sissy Willis says:

    Whether or not you might wish Republican leaders to “control” us unwashed out here, it’s no longer an option. As I wrote in Freedom Vigil: “The keyboard is my pitchfork” on my blog this morning, addressing a similar argument made by WaPo blogger Greg Sargent:

    Sorry, Mr. Sargent, it’s not within the power of “Republican officials” to “quell the violence,” such as it is. In case you haven’t noticed, we bitter gun clingers out here in the virtual hinterland are mad as hell, and sending Mr. Brown to Washington was just our opening salvo. As we wrote in the afterglow of Brown’s historic recapture of The Kennedy Seat The People’s Seat” midwinter, “Scott Brown had tapped into a long-repressed, almost religious yearning to breathe free.” We aren’t taking marching orders from inside the Beltway anymore — if we ever did. They’re working for us, not the other way around, and if they still don’t get it, we’re going to make sure they do come November. That’s the real story, but the Pauline-Kael bubblers, including Northeast Corridor “Conservatives” like David Frum, lately of AEI, are stuck in the amber of their echo chamber of addiction to power and contempt for ordinary extraordinary Americans. You know the “progressives” are in trouble when Dan Riehl is having this much fun …

  20. Michael says:

    And I, as well. It seems to me, thereby that the Republicans in their compromising mood facilitate their own defeat along with that of the country of course.

    I didn’t see much of a compromising mood from the Republicans in the bast year and a half. Don’t mistake impotence with compromise, sometimes you go along with the crowd, sometimes you get pushed. On HCR at least, the Republicans were pushed, and they just didn’t have the numbers for their push back to make a difference.

  21. tom p says:

    I don’t consider spending on defense and the national security state to be “socialism,” even if much of it’s wasted. They’re primordial reasons for establishing government.

    James, as on who greatly respects you, I have to say “Bullshit”.

    Money spent is money gone. I don’t care what people call it. You don’t consider it socialism even if all it does is keep people working on out of date ships and fighter planes?

    Name me a Republican congressman who will vote to end a dafense project in their district (no fair Ron Paul)…

    Primordial reasons be damned.

  22. tom p says:

    Instead, I believe my party controlled the reins of the Federal government for six years, pissed away the trust that had gotten them there, and we’re now paying the price. Having policies you don’t like passed into law is what happens when your side loses and the other side wins.

    Statements like this are why I respect you…

    Republicans fought an admirably tough rearguard action but didn’t have the votes to quite pull it off.

    Statements like this are why I question your sanity… I saw nothing admirable in what the GOP did.

  23. James Joyner says:

    Money spent is money gone. I don’t care what people call it. You don’t consider it socialism even if all it does is keep people working on out of date ships and fighter planes?

    All rent seeking isn’t socialism.

    Statements like this are why I question your sanity… I saw nothing admirable in what the GOP did.

    They fought against a program they genuinely disliked using all the tools at their disposal. I wouldn’t argue that everything done along the way was admirable, but I wouldn’t argue that of the Democrats, either, and they controlled the process.

  24. reid says:

    Does no one else see a problem with using polls to back up an anti-HCR position after the Right has been spending the last year spreading various deceptions about it? I guess laying that groundwork was part of the plan.

    And even if polls were meaningful, these claims that “the people don’t want the bill” are ridiculous, too. That makes it sound like polling is 90+% against, when at best it’s roughly 50/50. The vocal minority have deluded themselves into thinking they represent the masses.

  25. Joe R. says:

    This is just ridiculous. Yes, it’s true that we’re slightly more socialist than we were Monday. But we’ve been moving inexorably in that direction since the 1930s, under Democrats and Republicans alike. Otherwise, it’s absurd to argue that a party that won the White House and overwhelming control of both Houses of Congress in fair and open elections — even winning a plethora of House seats deliberately drawn to elect the opposite party — is somehow tyrannical for pushing through its policy agenda using the institutional tools available. And, seriously, there’s some sort of creeping limitation on free speech? People have been writing and speaking out on this issue in droves for more than a year.

    So much here…

    1) Yes, we’ve been moving inexorably in that direction since the 1930’s. This is why mania over elections is absurd. All elections do is postpone or jumpstart changes by a few years; the changes themselves would have happened regardless. Slavery would have ended if Lincoln hadn’t been elected. Jim Crow would have eventually ended. And it is why gays will eventually marry without controversy. Whatever happened was going to happen, and whatever will happen is going to happen. Now the ending of slavery when it happened was a big deal to a slave at the time–I’ll certainly grant that–but from the view of today, a few years more wouldn’t have been a big deal. Point is, whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. The two-party system guarantees that both sides are going to shoot long-term for that 55% give or take (got to leave a margin for error).

    2) I still maintain that your belief that an elected democratic government–pushing through its policy agenda using the institutional tools available–cannot be tyrannical is absolutely naive. It’s not a stretch. Actual examples exist. I just mentioned slavery and Jim Crow, which fit the definition of tyranny. Unless somehow you don’t think slavery or Jim Crow was tyrannical, which I’d love to hear more about. I’m not alone in this crazy belief; the folks who wrote the Constitution were well aware of the possibility. Now whether or not the health care bill fits the description is a separate argument.

    3) And related to #2, define “fair election”. I look at ballots and don’t see a single candidate worthy of my vote. What’s fair about that? And when did I agree to the process in the first place? If I disagree with the process (that was decided before I was even a gleam in my father’s hormone fueled eye), my only option is to vacate my home and repatriate. Again…what’s fair about that? Saying that we must accept the outcome because it was the result of a fair election is the true definition of begging the question.

  26. Eric Florack says:

    I didn’t see much of a compromising mood from the Republicans in the bast year and a half.

    Really? Interesting. Whom do you suppose it was who the Democrats keep pointing to as having written a good deal of the current healhcare monster, eh?

    That said, I was actually speaking of the 60 years or so prior. I point to John McCain as a prime example.