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Top 10 Reasons Not to Trust the Government

If you have been watching the main stream news, you will have recently noticed an uptick in reports about a situation that many of us have known about for months and months.  I am speaking, of course, of Benghazi.

Watching liberal, Obama sympathizers come out with what looks like disgust with the Obama administration suggests we’ve finally arrived, after much excavating and stripping away of layers of ideological commitments, to something passing as common ground.  (See here for an example.)

Listening to reports over the last couple of weeks, I was struck with the thought that it is really quite astonishing that people would be so arrogant as to think they could really pull off this kind of a cover-up.   I quickly corrected myself;  it isn’t astonishing at all.  Ample evidence exists to suggest that this kind of thing goes on all the time.  Obviously, they thought they could pull it off because they’ve already pulled off similar cover-ups on multiple occasions.

With Benghazi, their hands got caught in the cookie jar, but there is no telling how many times they’ve already absconded with cookies.

People are right to look at this incident as one more reason to put less faith in the government–as in no faith.  There is no way for the average man on the street to know when the government is telling the truth or not, and thus the wisest course of action is to assume that it is lying, all of the time.

The admission that the IRS has been targeting conservative organizations supports this inference, as even that rascal liberal Joe Klein alludes to:

Yet again, we have an example of Democrats simply not managing the government properly and with discipline. This is just poisonous at a time of skepticism about the efficacy of government. And the President should know this: the absence of scandal is not the presence of competence. His unwillingness to concentrate — and I mean concentrate obsessively — on making sure that government is managed efficiently will be part of his legacy.

Managing the government ‘properly and with discipline’?  ‘Efficiently”?  Is this a question of competence?  Really?  I am practically counting on the government to not act competently and efficiently, when faced with developments such as:

I mean, what can possibly go wrong?

Our best bet is that all these people screw it up;  if they get it right, we’re not talking about the ‘efficacy of government’, we’re talking about tyranny and totalitarianism.

All of the above links come from just ONE DAY’s reporting on the Drudge Report!

(Also today:  the story about the woman teacher busted for having sex with a dog and the man doing something to his peacock.  I assume both cases were consensual, so I don’t know what the big deal is to our society chock full of secular humanists that make arguments left and right that ought to make such things perfectly acceptable.  But that is a different post.)

Now, I suppose that readers of this post will suspect a strong conservative/libertarian bent to it, and will be quick to point out that just as many examples can be produced from Republican presidents, such as that evil, evil, evil, man, George W. Bush.

Let us simply concede it;   but do you really mean to say, with a straight face, that more government is the solution?

There is a sentiment out there that says that we shouldn’t say such bad things about the government, because ‘we are the government.’  Trust me, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and yes, even George Bush, do not agree with that sentiment.  They are the rulers, and we are the ones ruled.  A very small fraction of American society can pay the price of admission required to be an actual person of influence in the ‘government.’

I am speaking to the liberal progressive secular humanist that has not lost his mind, that has not lost his common decency and common humanity, that sees in Benghazi something that leaves a bad taste in his mouth and looks with concern at the tiny sampling of extremely concerning intrusions in the links above… whatever your good intentions might be, don’t you see that the only hope for America is not to give our government more power, but to strip away as much of it as possible as quickly as we can?  I’m practically begging you, here.

Chances are, you’re the kinda guy that says, “Well, there’s always bugs to work out” or “There will be bumps in the road.”  And if you are, I say you deserve exactly what you get.  You will not get sympathy from me.  You continue to give power to people who are not ‘we the people.’ What do you expect is going to happen?

Whatever it happens to be, you can be sure that what you actually hear about will just be the tip of the iceberg.  It’s time to wise up, while it still matters;  if, that is, it does in fact still matter.

—–

kudos to anyone who can detect all 10 of the reasons not to trust the government, embedded in this post.

 

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18 Responses to Top 10 Reasons Not to Trust the Government

  1. “There is no way for the average man on the street to know when the government is telling the truth or not, and thus the wisest course of action is to assume that it is lying, all of the time.”

    I think that is a mistake, largely because it leads directly to the kind of 9/11-Sandy Hook-Boston Marathon Trutherism which we recently discussed. You surely can see that these pseudo-academic movements take most of their initial impetus from the assumption that anything the government says must by definition be false? A healthy skepticism of official pronouncements is a good thing, but uncritically assuming that everything said by government officials is a lie is no less naive than uncritical acceptance of everything said by government officials. Agreed?

  2. Pseudo-academic movements? 9/11-SandyHook-etc you characterize as ‘pseudo-academic’? That is a strange way to describe them… but perhaps you refer to something else.

    The problem with your comment is your contrast of ‘healthy skepticism’ with ‘uncritically assuming.’ The question is whether or not you can even possibly critically evaluate what is given to us by government officials. That is, it assumes that you have the information necessary in order to arrive at a judgement. However, there is ample reason to believe that on a regular basis, they are deliberately ensuring that this information is not available.

    I don’t think ‘uncritically assuming’ something is the reason why these ‘pseudo-academic movements’ exist. They exist because the American government has been caught, over and over and over again, with their hands in the cookie jar!

    They exist because the US government is continually, and demonstrably, lying to us! There would not be any ‘pseudo-academic movements’ if the government was truthful.

    To put it another way: there are probably ten thousand things done by the US government (and your own) that both you and I would be outraged about. We’d even agree on some of these. However, we don’t know about them because in those cases, they got away with their ‘cover up.’

    Or, think of it this way: if the US government were a used car salesman, based on their track record, would you buy a car from them?

    Note that my solution is not the erection of a ‘pseudo-academic’ movement, but the stripping away of massive layers of bureaucracy and pseudo-governing so that citizens can actually, practically speaking, provide oversight. You’re just fooling yourself if you think you can apply ‘healthy skepticism’ to thousands of ‘official pronouncements’ and programs erected each month and year. You just can’t practically do it. However, if there were, say, just 1 government official, then obviously we’ll be able to keep our eye on him.

    I am not saying we should go down to 1 government official. I’m just sketching the practical differences between the realistic ability to apply ‘healthy skepticism’ to a smaller number, and the much larger number–presently at least two million… http://fcw.com/articles/2012/09/13/size-federal-workforce.aspx

    What is your solution to this? Hiring another two million to monitor the other two million? ;)

    My solution is reducing the two million down to, say, 10,000. :)

  3. One last thought:

    Up until about a week ago, you may have phrased your ‘pseudo-academic’ illustrations like this: “9/11-Sandy Hook-Boston Marathon-Benghazi Trutherism”

    The only real difference between Benghazi and those others is that the mainstream media has lended to it credibility; there has been ample reason to be skeptical of Benghazi from the beginning–hint hint “It was a violent reaction to a Youtube video!” Tell me you didn’t believe that.

    (That guy, incidentally, is in jail, the only person to be ‘punished’ for Benghazi to date. I find this ridiculously funny on some levels, but on others, very concerning: it proves that to further a political narrative, they are even willing to incarcerate someone… what else might they do? What else have they already done?).

    Ostensibly, one might like to believe that the media are our ‘eyes and ears’ on the government, but there are a million reasons to doubt very much that they can be trusted, either. I have a thousand examples I could give on my side, like for example the fact that the current WH press secretary was prior to that a journalist, but you could give examples on your side, such as Tony Snow, or the accusations that the American media was complicit in Bush’s ‘lie’ regarding WMDs.

    In the face of an information blackout, where the only slivers of information that comes to us arrives through people we both believe are complicit (but from opposite perspectives) obviously the rational conclusion is to “not buy a car from this used salesman, no matter what he says.”

    The only ‘certain’ information we have is derived from the criterion of embarrassment, ie, when something surfaces that they cannot possibly wish known, such as the IRS persecuting conservative organizations. Although, as some have already pointed out, this too might just be a diversion, an attempt to make us look at something very serious in order to stop looking at something that (they perceive at least) is much more serious.

    And you just never can tell which is the case.

    Which is my point.

  4. Tony,

    “They exist because the American government has been caught, over and over and over again, with their hands in the cookie jar!”

    Sorry, but that’s like blaming Islamic terrorism on US foreign policy – it may be a factor, but it’s not the fundamental explanation and it puts the focus in the wrong place. Conspiratorial thinking has been around in American politics for a very long time – way before 1951 when a politician from Wisconsin said “How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be a product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man” [Senator Joseph McCarthy]. The John Birch Society, the America First Committee, the Pearl Harbour Truthers and Red Scare fanatics. This is a tendency which has been exaggerated by improved technology and communications, but it’s been there a lot longer than the Internet.

    “There would not be any ‘pseudo-academic movements’ if the government was truthful.”

    I think that is difficult to verify, and irrelevant in any case, because people who are firmly in the grip of anti-authoritarian conspiracies often automatically presume the government to be lying even when it is demonstrably telling the truth. Sandy Hook trutherism follows logically from your stated maxim of always assuming the official story to be a lie, and I would think that might give you sufficient pause to consider rewording it slightly. Perhaps “usually” instead of “always”. :-)

    Then we’d have no quarrel.

    “Or, think of it this way: if the US government were a used car salesman, based on their track record, would you buy a car from them?”

    I certainly would not, but neither would I assume that they were lying if they told me that the building was on fire (for example). Further investigation would be required.

    “Up until about a week ago, you may have phrased your ‘pseudo-academic’ illustrations like this: “9/11-Sandy Hook-Boston Marathon-Benghazi Trutherism””

    Possibly. I have to admit that I haven’t followed the Benghazi thing too closely. But I don’t see how it supports your “always assume lies” position to point out one lie in a list of three or four things about which I think we otherwise agree the official story was basically accurate.

    “That guy, incidentally, is in jail, the only person to be ‘punished’ for Benghazi to date. I find this ridiculously funny on some levels, but on others, very concerning: it proves that to further a political narrative, they are even willing to incarcerate someone… what else might they do? What else have they already done?”

    You’re talking about the director of the bad YouTube film (I mean artistically, as opposed to morally bad)? I was under the impression that he had been jailed for violating a condition of his previous parole to not use a false name. Are we talking about the same person? Or are you assuming (as per the principle under discussion) that the official reason for his imprisonment is false? If so you might notice how conspiratorial views can be self-reinforcing – an assumption of duplicity allows dramatic speculation about what else “they” might be capable of to seem quite reasonable, except that not all of the links in that chain are solid. Is there evidence that he was jailed as punishment for Benghazi? If not then you risk building castles in the air.

    And I say this as someone who is not at all keen on most of what the US government does – and that’s just the things I know about. As you say, there are probably plenty of secret things which I would like even less.

  5. “Sorry, but that’s like blaming Islamic terrorism on US foreign policy – it may be a factor, but it’s not the fundamental explanation and it puts the focus in the wrong place.”

    I’m not going to quibble over degrees of ‘factoring.’ It is a very significant and important factor, and you shouldn’t dismiss it so easily. Your examples of the John Birch Society and McCarthy are unfortunate, because they prove my point, just one step removed: if the Communists hadn’t been the sort of folk as to deliberately lie, cheat, steal, murder, infiltrate, and so on, there wouldn’t have been anything for McCarthy to do.

    And of course, McCarthy(ism) has been vindicated in a number of important examples, what with the release of old Soviet files. And then there are the Venona Project files, which combined with the Soviet archival material, go to show that the problem was far worse and pervasive than previously acknowledged (by liberals).

    Conspiracies circulate around secretive organizations, programs, and persons, not ones with 100% transparency. This seems to me to be incontrovertible and the reasons for it should be self-evidently obvious. But feel free to give me an example where there is 100% transparency where also conspiracies target it. Good luck!

    “stated maxim of always assuming the official story to be a lie, and I would think that might give you sufficient pause to consider rewording it slightly. Perhaps “usually” instead of “always”. :-)

    Then we’d have no quarrel.”

    I think you are missing my point here. Official story, unofficial story, usually, always, don’t matter. Very few of us little people are ever in a position where we could possibly know which story was true, ever.

    “I certainly would not,”

    Say no more. :)

    “Possibly. I have to admit that I haven’t followed the Benghazi thing too closely. But I don’t see how it supports your “always assume lies” position”

    There are only three basic options here.

    1. Always assume lies.
    2. Always assume truth.
    3. Suspend judgement until one performs their own investigation.

    You reject the one I stated in this post, #1. I assume that you yourself would reject #2 (eg, ‘health skepticism.’) That pretty well just leaves #3, But I would argue that #3 leans closer to #1, because practically speaking you can never perform the kind of investigation that would allow you to employ your ‘healthy skepticism.’

    “I was under the impression that he had been jailed for violating a condition of his previous parole to not use a false name. Are we talking about the same person?”

    Yes, same guy. I think you miss the irony; this is a country where there are millions of people here illegally, yet the Feds see fit to prosecute this ONE harmless guy. Pretty silly. It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy to be idiotic. The better question then would be, “Why, given the fact that we are giving a pass to millions of other lawbreakers, and even trying to pass laws granting them full amnesty, would we bother with such a harmless little dude?”

    On the other hand, you and I are admitting the stuff about it being a matter of him violating his parole. You don’t actually know that. You didn’t perform any kind of respectable investigation, such as viewing the police report, etc. And neither did I. You read it in the news; that is all. You have no reason not to accept the ‘official story’ but you don’t really have a reason, too, either.

    But we have good reason to believe the government lies constantly and the media is complicit. So why is it at all wise to accept the ‘official story’?

    If you want, I’ll say, “be agnostic about everything that is said to you until you do a suitable investigation” instead of “assume they are always lying.” But for all intents and purposes, given the practical situation, this seems a distinction without a difference. :)

  6. BTW, I know that your underlying objection is that you think that someone who accepts my assertion will then begin blowing up Federal buildings. But that is not at all what I think, and say, follows from my assertion. The only solution is to radically slim down the government–ie, adopt the constitutional-conservative perspective of a (very) limited government. Here is the reasonable approach you should take, DB, without sacrificing your values and beliefs:

    DB: “While I personally believe that the government would be the best mechanism for doing good for loads of people, it appears probable that having a ‘big’ government has been fertile territory for abuse of many kinds–and that’s just what we know. Reluctantly, therefore, I must say that in theory and principle I am a bleeding-heart liberal, but in practice I’m afraid I must promote conservative principles. For now, at least; someday, when people are no longer people, I hope that we can have the compassionate government I know we need.”

    :)

  7. Leaving aside McCarthy for the moment (although I’m sure we’ll come back to that tasty morsel of disagreement later) yes of course conspiracy theories mostly form around secretive organisations but that doesn’t make them necessarily reasonable. How could any government possibly be 100% transparent, even if it was 100% honest (that would have to be selective honesty – telling the truth but not necessarily the whole truth). “Fellow citizens, today I authorised a drone strike to take place tomorrow against Taliban leader X, who according to our intelligence will be hiding in cave Y at 1800hrs local time…”. :-) So, government has to be at least somewhat opaque, and therefore will always be mistrusted to some degree. CTs take that to a whole other level.

    “Very few of us little people are ever in a position where we could possibly know which story was true, ever.”

    There I disagree, and it is also the root of what I believe to be your mistake in defining the available options when taking a position on trusting the government. It is quite possible for us to assess plausibility at a basic level without performing an indepth journalistic investigation. For example:

    The guy I’m arguing with at the moment regarding the Sandy Hook shootings thinks that it was all a false flag operation by the US government to provide an excuse for cracking down on civil liberties, disarming private citizens etc, as part of their larger aim of achieving a totalitarian Police state. Because he deems the grief of parents interviewed on various news channels to be “fake” he believes that no children were actually killed and all of the alleged parents and witnesses are actors. This is not as much of a fringe belief as we might like – he has plenty of co-thinkers (if that’s the word I want) on YouTube. My argument against this hypothesis – which, after all, neither of us can either prove or disprove conclusively – is its total implausibility. What, I ask him, do you think the residents of Sandy Hook and Newtown been doing as they watch people they’ve never seen before being interviewed as “local parents” of allegedly deceased children at the same school their own children go to whose names have been made public yet are also, one presumes, entirely unfamiliar to the actual residents? How many actors would be needed and how likely is it that not a single one of them would start an anonymous blog about the experience? And what did the evil dictatorial government gain out of this massively complex operation – the impetus for some feeble background checks legislation that didn’t even make it past the senate? It’s ridiculous, and I don’t need to go and do my own on-the-ground investigation to know that.

    That’s what I mean. There is enough information out there to reasonably consider the classic “means, motive and opportunity” of criminal investigation in most of these cases, as well as the consequences for the conspirators if such a plot was ever discovered (and the relative likelihood of that discovery). So while accepting that any human organisation – governments, corporations, churches, etc – is more than capable of lying, if one of them makes a statement which is consistent with other known facts, collaborated by relatively impartial sources, and especially when the task of fabricating the evidence available would be incredibly difficult and prone to discovery, then I am inclined to give that statement the benefit of the doubt unless contrary information (that is, better than “this is a bit strange and you know they always lie”) presents itself.

    That’s basically my position statement on the matter.

    “On the other hand, you and I are admitting the stuff about it being a matter of him violating his parole. You don’t actually know that. You didn’t perform any kind of respectable investigation, such as viewing the police report, etc. And neither did I. You read it in the news; that is all. You have no reason not to accept the ‘official story’ but you don’t really have a reason, too, either.”

    Well, what is the alternative option? The least controversial I can think of is that he DID break his parole conditions, and therefore deserved to be locked up, but that they wouldn’t have bothered with arresting and imprisoning him if it hadn’t also been politically expedient. Well, that would be hard to disprove, and I’m also not sure exactly whose rights would have been violated there. Now if we go a step further and say that the locking up itself was illegitimate then there’s a whole new layer of difficulty with legal officials needing to be complicit and not spill the beans to the Drudge Report or Breitbart or whoever.

    So, it depends what the alternative hypothesis is as to how much credence I give it. If there is no alternative hypothesis, just a generalised mistrust of government then it seems like a weak position.

    “…this seems a distinction without a difference.”

    Hopefully I’ve now made the difference clearer.

  8. “How could any government possibly be 100% transparent, even if it was 100% honest”

    Size matters.

    “It is quite possible for us to assess plausibility”

    Lol, that’s a high standard, there. This is a replay of my complaint about the maxim, “Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” The one who believes this is apt to accept all sorts of ordinary claims because they don’t set off warning bells. It is precisely this kind of person that you can get to believe just about any thing.

    “The guy I’m arguing with at the moment regarding the Sandy Hook shootings thinks that it was all a false flag operation”

    I forgot you were having this conversation with that guy. I can see how that colors your reply to my post.

    “is its total implausibility.”

    Not total; do you deny that the event has been used by American politicians as a vehicle for pushing through gun laws?

    I have a different take on this, which still doesn’t accept many of his conclusions, but also doesn’t assume God-like omniscience like you did, knowing just what is plausible and ridiculous in advance. Yours is not an evidence driven approach, and it is only an evidence driven approach that can prevent us from being exploited or believing nonsense.

    “Well, what is the alternative option?”

    Just not render a judgement at all. See option #3. I certainly wouldn’t invoke it in a debate unless I had verified for myself the facts. :)

    I will concede that we are forced by necessity to utilize the information given to us, and can’t always probe the foundations ourselves. One of my points in this post, and certainly in my follow up comments, is that our position of vulnerability is being specifically taken advantage of.

    I don’t know the facts of this jailing, but I do know it is very ironic that so far, the people who killed 4 Americans are roaming free, and the one the administration tried to blame for the thing–a video maker half a planet away–is in jail, and in the meantime millions of illegal immigrants perpetuating serious crimes also roam free; and these also are known individuals.

    “Hopefully I’ve now made the difference clearer.”

    I understand your position and twenty years ago it would have probably been mine. All my research suggests that the limits of our ability to ferret out the truth for ourselves has been deliberately obscured. So, taking your position means willfully allowing oneself to be taken advantage of, in ways you will never learn how.

    Let me give you two scenarios to consider.

    First of all, let’s look at the (original) 9-11. I was one of the few people on the planet who actually read that massive report. The report largely cleared the Clinton administration of the charge of gross incompetence. However, as they were processing the facts leading up to 9-11, Clinton’s national security advisor, Sandy ‘burglar’ Berger, removed a number of documents from the national archives–that we know of. He had several opportunities prior to being caught where he also likely removed documents.

    Don’t you agree that it is a plain inference that Berger wouldn’t have removed these documents if he didn’t find them in some way damaging?

    And if so, does this not mean that we cannot believe that the 9-11 report really represents what ‘really’ happened? At the very least, we know that our understanding of the ‘lead up’ to the event is incomplete. No?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022001344.html

    I would consider my doubt on the sufficiency of this report substantiated by evidence. What say you?

    Scenario 2:

    Up until recently, your single payer health care service, NICE, paid facilities for their ‘efficiency’ in implementing the Liverpool Care Pathway. What it actually appears to be is the deliberate attempt to ease costs on your system by getting rid of expensive old people, by the hundreds, if not thousands. In response to this, you basically invoked the ‘plausibility’ argument. Who could possibly do such horrible things? Absurd! But do you have any actual evidence? Did you file a freedom of information request (the British equivalent, if it exists)?

    We know that there are bioethicists out there advocating for just this sort of approach to ‘health care.’ How do you know your NICE administrators’ assurances can be believed? Wanting to believe is not enough. ;)

  9. This just in:
    http://www.hslda.org/docs/media/2013/201305140.asp

    The Department of Justice, under the name of the Attorney General (ie, not an underling) fought for this outcome.

    I suggested on Twitter that they should take a trip to Mexico and then walk across the boarder. That seems the most effective way to live in America, and not even that, become a citizen in it.

  10. “(Though now that the I.R.S. has confessed to targeting Tea Party groups, maybe some of the paranoia is justified.)”

    Anyone else call back to Lance Palmer’s and Danny Westneat’s comments about the gun bill ‘mistake’ upon reading that?

  11. exactly
    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020373291_westneat17xml.html

    “Later, a Senate Democratic spokesman blamed unnamed staff and said a new bill will be introduced.”

    Big government allows too many dark places for people to pursue their private agendas. Too many bureaucracies, too many layers. Each lever of power is a new one that can be bought and paid for by corporations or other people of influence; but it is worse than that, because for all intents and purposes, the rich folk can pay people to do all this exploiting, as their full time work, while the rest of us have to fit it in around our day jobs.

    Thus, each new layer of ‘oversight’ is one more hindrance to the man on the street, and one more opportunity for conniving for people with money who have an agenda. Thus it was, thus it is, thus it will always be. Intentions are irrelevant.

  12. As with all our discussions, the tricky thing quickly becomes keeping my responses to a manageable length. If I miss anything important let me know.

    First, is it so strange for the IRS to give special scrutiny to Tea Party groups? It’s common sense profiling, I would have thought – they are outspokenly anti-tax groups, in most cases filing for tax exemption while being at least peripherally engaged in politics. That’s got to raise some non-partisan red flags, surely, leaving aside your personal view of the tax rate and the size of government.

    And Tony, you seem to be swinging back and forth between a relativist approach to determining historical truth (“we mere mortals can never really know anything for sure”, and accusing me of god-like pretensions for making what I consider to be common sense observations about the prohibitive logistics of a cover-up on the scale that would be necessary for either 9/11 or Sandy Hook to be an inside job) and a much more self-assured position, albeit one heavily couched in “questioning” tones. Sandy Berger SURELY wouldn’t have removed documents from the national security archive unless they were damaging to either himself or the Clinton administration? Well, maybe not – I agree that it’s suspicious, but I couldn’t rule out legitimate security concerns about certain information being made public. You apparently have “plausibility” issues about that possibility, which I would be happy to discuss with you if only you hadn’t looked down your nose at me quite so much for making precisely the same argument earlier.

    Or the NICE thing again. Having said that none of us can ever know anything you are happy to make some fairly unpleasant insinuations about the motivations behind financial incentives for adhering to one particular aspect of what is considered to be best clinical practice (the rest of it is incentivised too, of course). Sorry, not insinuations – you’re just raising questions, so that’s ok. So you know, I’m not saying that your girlfriend is a hooker – I’m wondering why there are so many rumours about how she sleeps with other dudes for money. What, you’re upset by that?! I’m just raising questions here! What is knowledge anyway?! Come baaaaaack!! :-)

    Ok ok, so I’m making fun now. I just find it interesting (there’s another great cop-out phrase) that you deny the possibility of us confidently determining the truth in any given historico-political situation, and yet in the same post throw out all these leading questions on another topic which give me a pretty strong indication of what you consider the truth of the matter to be. I’ll say when I think I can know something for definite, and often I can’t do that. I’m much more happy to say when I think that a particular theory of a particular event (for example the theory that 9/11 was staged by the Bush administration, that flight 77 didn’t hit the pentagon, that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition, etc) is so implausible that it’s not even worth entertaining the possibility of it being correct. You seem to have closed that option off for yourself in this discussion, even though I suspect that you would really like to agree with me.

    Thoughts?

  13. “As with all our discussions, the tricky thing quickly becomes keeping my responses to a manageable length”

    Mr. Verbose, you are. ;)

    “I would have thought – they are outspokenly anti-tax groups,”

    Man, you just don’t understand us on this side, do you? We’re law and order, man. If you pass a gun law, we are the only people who obey it, we being the least of your concerns. Unprincipled folk just break whatever law it is and don’t tell you, and they don’t care about the law.

    “I consider to be common sense observations”

    I consider this also to be a great cop-out phrase.

    Who am I? “Those radicals won’t even accept common sense gun laws!”

    “Common sense observations” is a sneaky way of getting your own assumptions and presuppositions. Before you can invoke ‘common sense’ you have to first ensure we share your assumptions.

    “that you deny the possibility of us confidently determining the truth in any given historico-political situation,”

    This is where you show you are missing the point. I do not actually believe we cannot know the ‘truth’ about situations. Obviously I don’t agree, or else I wouldn’t be convinced that Christianity is true.

    For example, I believe that testimony is valid and useful if you believe the witness to be competent and trustworthy. If you don’t, then of course you don’t accept their testimony. Now, let us suppose it is a matter of the witness being honest, but mistaken a few times. What about this person’s testimony? Why, I suppose you can give that witness a break, and probably find value in what that witness says, with some thoughtful analysis. But now what if the witness has been exposed as a manipulative liar repeatedly, who has gone out of their way to obscure the truth?

    I used to put the government in the ‘bumbling, but honest’ category. But it is clear that this is the wrong category to put the government in. It is impossible to know when they are lying or not, but we know they lie all the time.

    If it was a person, you’d join me and refusing to give any weight to what they said–like you said, you won’t buy a car from this ‘used car salesman.’ Since its the government, we have to pay enough attention to make sure that that its not our loved one getting the NICE treatment or our own organization being singled out by the IRS, etc.

    In other words, its a liar that has the power to hurt us, and hurt us badly, and even when it comes to help, its lying about that, too. So, we can’t ignore it. But we shouldn’t lie to ourselves about the real situation, either. We here in America are being governed by liars, and have been for perhaps some time.

    I, with many other people, are fed up. 95% of the government has to go, and THEN maybe we can actually believe we can ‘determine the truth in our historic-political’ situation.

  14. I’m about tapped out on this post. You can have the last word, if you like. I’m surprised it went this long.

  15. sorry, I had a question for you.

    In Obama’s term, he did very little on the issue of guns. He insisted he wasn’t interested at all in ‘taking away our guns.’ And so on and so forth. When Sandy Hook happened, he did an about face. My question to you is, do you believe that prior to Sandy Hook Obama was disinterested in the gun issue, or do you believe that Sandy Hook represented a genuine change in his perspective.

  16. I take your point on the “common sense” issue, but maintain that your stated position here contains a contradiction, itself nicely embodied by this sentence:

    “It is impossible to know when they are lying or not, but we know they lie all the time.”

    Oh really? :-)

    Regarding your question, I don’t know (obviously) what Obama’s thought process was around the gun control issue. Maybe he thought he had enough difficult stuff to do in his first term, maybe he wasn’t too interested full-stop, but either way Sandy Hook had the potential to shock the nation into the kind of zeitgeisty moment which politicians capitalise on if they know what’s good for them. Obama’s base tend to favour stronger gun control laws, so it was an opportunity to throw them a bone, but as I said, I don’t know how much the man himself cares about the issue.

    By the way, isnt it an overstatement to say that he did an “about face” from the position of not wanting to take away your guns? Some fairly tepid restrictions on the purchase of certain kinds of firearms was all that I saw proposed – less than surveys suggest the majority of the US population would like, but still too much for senate politicians who are terrified of being called anti-Second Amendment.

  17. Working backwards:

    Re: the gun thing, so, you seriously think it is possible that he was indifferent on the issue until Sandy Hook? No conservative was surprised by Obama’s moves after Sandy Hook, and not one of us believes that only then did he have an ‘aha!’ moment. That you have to litter your explanation with ‘maybes’ goes to prove my point. His ‘real’ position has been known for some time–not that the mainstream media has ever seen fit to spread the word around. But what also is known is that he is a student of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky specifically condoned dishonesty and ‘immoral’ action in the name of the ’cause.’ (As an atheist, Alinsky didn’t put much stock in concepts of ‘morality.’)

    Given what gun proponents like myself know about Obama’s true preferences re: gun control, your comment about ‘fairly tepid restrictions’ is pretty humorous.

    My transition to a full fledged cynic, especially regarding liberal policy makers (but not limited to them) began with my reading of and research into Saul Alinsky. When a man adopts an approach that specifically and explicitly says, “Lie! Cheat! Do whatever it takes to get power!” you can’t very well trust anything that comes from him.

    But you would know that if you had read Obama’s dissertation and checked into his college transcripts from Columbia. Also see: Cloward and Piven.

    Anyway, “but maintain that your stated position here contains a contradiction, itself nicely embodied by this sentence”

    Clearly you wish me to formulate my position in a rigorous manner, but I don’t think I need to in order for you to take the ‘common sense’ import of my argument.

    To restate: “Given only their own account of things, it is impossible to know when they are lying or not, but through our own work–and sometimes just plain luck–we have determined that they lie all the time.”

    If we only had Obama and Susan Rice’s word about Benghazi, it would be impossible to know if they were being truthful or not… and boy did they wish that people had simply taken them at their word. They were shown to be deceitful because someone somewhere asked the right questions and got the right documents.

    But my question is: how many other things are they lying about, but we’ll never know, because it doesn’t trigger alarm bells, etc, etc., etc. For example, we would not have known that Fast and Furious was a (first term) scam to try to smuggle (baddabing!) a rationale for gun restrictions via Mexican violence, if not for the ‘lucky’ instance of one of the guns that Eric Holder’s justice department deliberately allowed to walk over the border came back, and was involved in the murder of a border patrol agent. Leaked docs show Obama administration officials talking about how the walked guns/mexican violence could be used to advance a gun control agenda in America.

    How lucky for us! How unlucky for the dead border patrol agent, which is what it took for some smidgen of truth to get out.

    Fast and Furious perhaps may have been what Obama was referring to when he assured his base that he was not indifferent to the gun issue:

    “I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/over-a-barrel-meet-white-house-gun-policy-adviser-steve-croley/2011/04/04/AFt9EKND_print.html

    This was before the Fast and Furious scandal had really broken out; not that I believe FnF was their sole initiative. I’m just highlighting the fact that Obama and his ilk (ie, Holder) don’t mind orchestrating policy behind the scenes, via bureaucracy, etc. Unless one gets ‘lucky’ or the incident triggers warning bells, we’re not likely to ever hear about such deceptions.

    That’s why I am saying that the only recourse is to take away the ‘habitat’ in which these scoundrels hide their true agendas. And I am willing to allow that Repubs are as apt to use bureaucracy in the same way. What’s the common denominator? The big government. Get rid of that, and neither Dems or Repubs can use it against the other.

    Ok, I’ve said my piece. I’ve got to move along now. Peace!

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