Friday, June 7, 2013

Tyranny - More Right Wing Hypocrisy

A friend of a rightward inclination posted a link on Facebook to the nuts at the Heritage Foundation castigating anyone who voted for Obama as having achieved the tyranny for which they voted.  It's not entirely clear which of the alleged Obama transgressions is supposed to be tyranny, but I'll hazard a guess that it's the IRS, the AP/Fox Justice Department investigations and the data mining of PRISM.

I'll ignore the IRS one (after this brief comment), as that's clearly and totally evidentiarily, a non-Administration level problem.  Hew and cry all they like, the egregious act of making applicants for a tax status show they qualified for a tax status is a local bad decision, unless Cincinatti is now the capitol of the US.

The Justice Department's investigations into leaks to the AP and Fox?  Targeted investigations following specific trails to leak sources who jeopardized the lives of people working in dangerous situations to aid the U.S.  Should the scope of the inquiry into the media that published the leaks be limited further?  Perhaps.  But the basic principal of investigating leaks is not an act of tyranny.  Internet fantasies notwithstanding, the government can't operate as an open source any more than the numerous businesses that make the internet work are open about their code.

The PRISM program is just coming out now and is an NSA intelligence gathering tool.  There's some dispute from the companies that are alleged to have provided direct access to their servers to the NSA, most or all of which are saying they did not provide such access.  Presuming that such access exists, though, it's done through the FISA courts by warrant, which is entirely different from what was happening under Bush II when his administration simply grabbed data without any sort of supervision.  Is the FISA court supervision adequate?  That's open to debate, but Congress, by prior legislation, has said it is.  Truthfully, I don't know if it is, but I also don't know what alternative is adequate.  Groups like the ACLU want all government action to be subject to civil court action for a sort of real world open sourcing, but that's never happened in the entire history of the U.S.  Government has always had to keep some decisions and information from public view for a variety of valid national security reasons.  So, if the FISA courts, with only the government getting to present its case (much like a grand jury) are inadequate, what's the alternative?  Regardless, it's hardly tyranny.

What, by the way, is the definition of tyranny?  According to Miriam-Webster tyranny is oppressive power.  It's especially if exercised by government but isn't restricted to government.

Now, let's just look at what the GOP and Democrats advocate and see what conclusions we can reach about who is in favor of tyranny.

Gay Marriage.  Easy one, here.  While most Democrats are in favor of allowing the free choice of consenting adults to marry whoever they choose, the GOP wants the government to step into those very personal, private decisions to say adults aren't able to make that choice.  It's all about protecting the children.  You know, by having them separated from loving parents because one of the parents doesn't have the same legal rights as the other or because the parents as a couple don't have the same legal rights as other parents.

Gun Ownership.  This one's deceptive.  On the face of it the GOP seems to be the one in favor of freedom, more so than Democrats, as they want zero government control over who can own a gun.  They want an ex post facto prosecution of those who commit crimes with guns rather than preventing people from owning them in the first place.  But here's the thing; if gun ownership is untethered from any government regulation, then anyone and everyone, regardless of record, can own a gun.  Make no mistake, the GOP opposition to background checks means exactly that.  So, if everyone can own a gun, then huge numbers of those who shouldn't will own guns.  Those guns are then used to terrorize others, whether its for economic crimes, domestic violence, gang wars, or the mentally unstable on a rampage.  The result is a tyranny of the gun and a nation that resembles Somalia or Afghanistan.  I don't know of anyone who would be able to support an argument that Somalia and Afghanistan aren't ruled by tyranny or would prefer to live there over a nation under the rule of law such as the U.S.

Immigration.  Well, the GOP wants to turn the U.S. into a prison camp, with high walls all around it.  Hard to say what's more government control than that.  Democrats want an immigration policy that accounts for the economic needs of business and the U.S. government and the desire of individuals in other countries to benefit both from the freedoms of the U.S. and the economic opportunities of the U.S.  The GOP wants to build walls and deport people, regardless of the situation in their home countries.

Regulation.  This is a favorite for the GOP.  We're over regulated.  The government is crushing us with regulations, and the necessary taxes to support those regulations.  From businesses trying to get things done to health care, it's all a tyranny of government regulations preventing the individual actor from doing what he wants.  Of course, what he wants, all too often, is to stick it to his neighbor.  Let me dump as much nitrogen fertilizer as I want on my fields so I can have bigger crops.  Never mind that my neighbor the fisherman goes out of business when all the excess nitrogen kills off his fish.  Let me sell you my finely crafted product without regard for whether it explodes in your hand (see Coke bottles of old).  Let me sell you a ham sandwich without any concern about how that pig was handled in reaching your sandwich.  We should just trust our fellows to look out for our safety.  No need for government to step into these private transactions.  We'll all be dead in a couple generations, but we'll be free!  Discussion over what is reasonable regulation is fine.  Trying to throw out all regulation is what the GOP proclaims.

National Security.  While Democrats helped bring about the change that at least put the FISA courts into the process of overseeing data collection the GOP wanted and attempted to exercise unfettered government seizure of data information, domestic and foreign.  Only the courts and Congressional actions stopped it.  Furthermore, the GOP insists on waging a War on Terror that is the source of this sort of overreach and potential overreach by government.  Guantanomo prison?  Same sort of thing.  By insisting that this is a war against no nation but an idea the GOP creates an unlimited battle front with prisoners who are neither criminals nor prisoners of war, stuck in some legal limbo with no defined rights.  Interestingly, the issue of Somali piracy provides a view to how things might be handled differently.  The pirates have been treated as criminals rather than terrorists without status.  Vastly increased prosecutions of those pirates appear to have nearly killed off piracy in the area, dropping seizures of vessels by pirates by more than 50% from 2011 to 2012, with the pattern continuing into 2013.  While Democrats try to change the War on Terror into a criminal prosecution of terrorist actors, the GOP prevents the closure of the Guantanamo prison and pillories anyone who suggests it as weak on terror.

There's no greater irony than the GOP cries of tyranny by Democrats.