The far right: Shoot the messenger, no introspection

Tuesday’s election was a blow to the “far right” here. Congressman Tom McClintock won (with little competition), but most all of his endorsements — ranging from would-be governor Steve Poisner to Prop. 16 — went down to defeat.

In our county, tea party supporter Barry Pruett — who was running for clerk recorder — lost by a landslide. Pruett’s spouse is McClintock’s local staffer.

In the district 3 supervisor race, challenger Terry Lamphier is beating John Spencer — the most right leaning supervisor on the board. The results are expected this week, and Spencer has a high statistical hill to climb.

Neighboring Placer County also went left. Sierra College Trustee and GOP supporter Aaron Klein endorsed Pruett and Casey Tanner for auditor-controller, who lost in Placer.

Instead of being introspective about the results, the “de facto” spokespeople for the “far right” here — George Rebane and Russ Steele — have launched into attack mode, including more verbal petards directed at yours truly.

Pruett has also been on the blogs, “shooting the messenger” instead of reflecting on his own message.

And what was hard-core right CABPRO’s response less than a week after the election? On Monday, it reprinted McClintock’s response to Mexican President Calderon, an immigration lecture from a near empty House chamber.

As reader John Regan wrote pointedly on this blog: “I hate to sound pessimistic, but the GOP/Tea Party’s losses at the local level aren’t likely to produce more moderation from the conservative side of the debate.

“If history is any guide, ideologically-driven groups tend to blame moderates — not extremists in their midst — for their defeats. They are more likely to say ‘we lost because we weren’t pure enough,’ than ‘we lost because people disagree with us, so let’s become more moderate.'”

This November, the stakes are higher for the right: Jerry Brown is running for governor, AB32 is being challenged, and some Grass Valley city council seats are up for grabs.

As always, the hard-core right needs the moderates to win an election, but their bullheadedness could stop that from happening.

Will June’s history repeat itself in November? It’s going to be close. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Democrats target McClintock in 2012. Despite his Republican district, he’s looking more and more vulnerable.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

79 thoughts on “The far right: Shoot the messenger, no introspection”

  1. I would HOPE that anyone who agrees that our District (CA-04) should be targeted by the Democratic Party with whatever money and people power needed to show Tom the door, and local folks gets really involved. It ain’t too hard to get in touch with the California Democratic Party or the Local CD-04 Nevada County Democratic Central Committee. There is always lots to do and volunteers are most welcome.

    Further, Democrats WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL if those who sat out the just completed primary. Folks must get out the pen and send back the mail in ballots and/or get their behinds to the poll for their area.

    Nevada County deserves our “fair share” of out tax money to come back to the District. That will NOT happen as long as McClintock is not in there fighting for every penny available. He clearly does not represent “US” and is clear that he only represents TOM, and the heck with what the local folks want. A problem in Placer and other of Tom’s real estate; not just Nevada County.

  2. The switch in Placer County is a very big deal and Pombo got sent packing down south a bit.

    Here in Nevada County a big message was sent to the Tea Party clan when Diaz beat Pruett the Tea Party candidate and Tea Party Organizer packing in a landslide.

  3. I would not count too many chickens before they hatch 🙂

    But Jeff, I will ask again what is “extreme” or “hardcore” about the positions that Congressman McClintock has taken?

    His speech in response to the president of Mexico has now been viewed by almost 1.2 million folks on YouTube. That is a lot of extremists!

    So what specifically did you find “extreme” or “hardcore” in that speech, assuming you have listened to it: Was it his appeal to standard diplomatic protocol or his quotes from Teddy Roosevelt, that known right-wing Republican progressive. I suspect it was his clever use of humor in suggesting that President Calderone go through the legal process that over 600,000 others are doing today to become an American and join our debates in full.

    John

  4. ” … what is “extreme” or “hardcore” about the positions that Congressman McClintock has taken?”

    A quick way to check McClintock against issues you care about is to look up his stand on a couple of dozen issues here:

    http://www.ontheissues.org/Tom_McClintock.htm

    Ontheissues.org rates him as a moderate.

    The one issue I found that seemed way out of the mainstream to me was his opposition to overtime pay for more than 8 hours work in a day.

    His comment before the recent primary about “getting rid of the liberal” Greg Diaz clerk/recorder could probably be called an extremist statement.

    Whether or not the statement was extremist, it was colossally asinine.

  5. “His speech in response to the president of Mexico has now been viewed by almost 1.2 million folks on YouTube. That is a lot of extremists!”

    John, you are sooo 20th century. The reason the clip got 1.2 million views is the novelty of a hypocrite and “politician” speaking BS to an empty chamber. Almost all the viewers know this fact before they see the clip. Really, please.

    PS, I hope Tom is patting himself on the back for all the views, it stretches out the hilarity. You know the saying (Warren Buffett?) If you don’t know who the fool at the table is, it’s most likely you.

  6. Actually I would argue that Tom’s argument on the overtime laws is left-of-center populist: How about the working single mom who would prefer to work four tens so she has another day with the kids…

    Should be her choice if the boss offers it, but under current law he cannot without paying eight hours of overtime which means it does not work.

    John

  7. Excellent point, John, and yet another example of how all legislation, regardless of how well intended, has negative (and usually) unintended consequences. Or, to put it another way, government is all about being one size fits none.

    I really do not understand how anybody can be in favor of large government.

  8. John and Mike:
    I didn’t like McClintock’s speech on the House floor because it was cheap demagoguery (and yes I am one of the 1 million plus who watched it). Immigration is a major problem, in large part created by the United States fascination with cheap labor, and the US’ inability to come up with an administratively straightforward guest worker program for the last fifty years or so. Oh, and then there is our lack of interest in deporting the people who mow our lawns, staff our restaurants and sweat shops, a re-roof my house. Or the people who make FICA donations to fake social security numbers which they will never collect. Yeah, this is obviously a real simple problem which can be addressed by Arizona’s new law gone national. But then since McClintock likes demagoguery better then the hard slog of solving real difficult problems like immigration, let me make a suggestion.

    Let’s deport Arizona. Yep, we can cut them loose, and be done with a whole bunch of problems. After all, Arizona wanted to go in the past—they seceded in 1861 and joined the Confederacy. Then when the rest of the states finally let them in the Union in 1912, they said no thanks, because we want to wait to join on the date on which we seceded to join the Confederacy (this is a true story—look it up in Wikipedia). And then what did they do once they were graciously admitted to the Union, despite the bad manners? They stole a whole bunch of Colorado River water after California appropriated it from Mexico fair and square. Now they pass a law which is obviously unconstitutional under the equal protection and search and seizure provisions of the US Constitution. What can I say? Typical Arizona.

    That’s Arizona for you. Is it any surprise that we continue to get unconstitutional legislation from them like their immigration bill, or the bill banning school teachers with accents like Arnold Schwarzenneger’s? I say, let’s enforce our laws, and send Arizona back to where it came from. Which I think is Mexico, by the way. Do you think Calderon might take Arizona back? Maybe he can take time out of the decades long wait at the US Embassy for his US visa to consider this proposition. It’s a win-win. We get rid of Arizona, and Calderon doesn’t have to wait in line any longer for a visa to visit Tucson.

    So now McClintock and I are even. We have both had our demagogic rant. Are we any closer to dealing with the problem of immigration and labor in the United States?

    Tony

  9. McClintock is proving to be prophetic. I’m convinced that Nevada County’s population of liberal lemmings have yet to seriously consider Tom’s sound and, yes , inspiring policies.

    The best that Pelline can do is brand him with the “far-right” brand. Isn’t it interesting how few “far-left” politicians inhabit Pelline’s world. Jeff’s either an enemy of liberty or a useful idiot.

  10. Hey, Nickie! Thanks for signing your real name. FYI readers: here’s Nickie’s blog: http://itdontmakesense.blogspot.com/
    I can’t decide what photo I like better on your blog: Obama giving the finger (inadvertently, I suppose) or Chris (Christie) for President in 2012. (BTW, though you called me an idiot, at least you didn’t call me fat — the last resort for commenters over on “far right” local blogger George Rebane’s blog.) The “wing-nuts,” at least some of them, are not only thoughtful debaters but class acts. Go Nickie!

  11. Goomba, Nevada County did seriously consider Tom’s policies, though you are incorrect in calling them either sound or inspiring. The man is a professional politican, never did any real work in his entire life, and he lost in Nevada County to Charlie Brown, retired after serving his country many years in the military, and now doing public service in D C. Yes , we did listen to what McClintock had to say, considered him, and found him wanting. UNfortunately, Nevada County is lumped in with other Northern California counties for Congressional District which have populations neither as intelligent or educated as the majority (exclude the Radical Right) in Nevada County. Your comments are so far off base that they are laughable, just fantasy and name-calling. You should really post on Russ Steele’s blog, where you would doubtless be more appreciated.

  12. I have a Savior who gave His life for me and a wife who appreciates me, as difficult as that is most of the time!

    I enjoy the discussions here and who knows, I might even get a few to consider some of the common-sense wisdom that conservatives like Congressman McClintock might have to offer.

    You say that you listened to then candidate McClintock and apparently did not like what you heard. Can you be a little more specific?

    John

    1. John,
      I appreciate that McClintock is a complex figure, and has a number of positions I agree with, or at least appreciate. I like him when he critiques the unfairn regressiveness of some of our taxes, his critique of the earmark system, and the Bush/Obama wars. And I have indeed sometimes learned about these positions on this blog.

      But, I still don’t agree with McClintock’s positions on what are for me big picture things, like health care, immigration, and overall taxation policy. Just like we learn from you, do you (and McClintock) learn from those of us who comment on this blog?

      Tony

  13. My fave thing on Nikie’s site was the piece of “art” altering the notorious “Arbeit macht frei” sign from a Nazi concentration camp to read “Obama macht frei.”

    Get it? Obama is the new concentration camp! Hee-hee-hee!!! Gosh, that is so …. clever! I hadn’t heard a deranged right wing psychopath compare the president to Hitler in, oh, like, 5 minutes!

    Sadly, *that’s* what stands for wit on the right these days. And folks, it will get much, much worse before it gets better.

    Perhaps Mr. Stoos would care to comment on – or defend – such commentary from his side of the ideological aisle?

  14. Liberals get so nervous when the Nazi examples are brought up and one would think it would be very easy to dismiss. I am often compared with the Taliban and have no problem contrasting my Christian belief in the loving & just Triune God of the Bible with their tribal monotheism and in the end can make my critics look pretty foolish.

    Why is it that today’s liberals have to struggle to do the same with Fascism? Why can’t they simply show us how what they believe is different?

    Well here is a simple test: You are graduating from medical school and President Obama asks you to sign the following oath in order to be a part of Obamacare:

    “It is the duty of the doctor, through advice and effort conscientiously and to his best ability to assist as helper the person entrusted to his care in the maintenance, improvement and re-establishment of his vitality, physical efficiency and health. The accomplishment of this duty is a public task.”

    First, would you sign it, and if not why not?

    Yes, it is a trick question, but one based in some very sobering facts of history.

    John

  15. Overlooked in the all the hubbub:

    Last Tuesday’s Primary in California saw nearly $100 million spent by the Republican candidates. Less than $2 million was spent by all the Democrats combined. Still the total number of votes for Republicans? 1.97 million. The total number of votes for the Democrats? 1.97 million. In a highly contested primary, the most expensive primary in California electoral history, all the Republicans combined barely matched the essentially unfunded campaign of a single Democrat.

  16. It was simple question, Mr. Stoos, but your answer – and your apparent unwillingness to simply and clearly deplore comparisons of our president to Adolf Hitler speaks volumes. I would have thought that a Christian would act better than that. Such is the state of “mainstream” conservatism these days!

    No, liberals are not “nervous” about Nazi comparisons, John. The fact is that liberals – and many moderates and conservatives, for that matter – are offended and appalled by them, and are at a loss to find common ground with the rank insanity that has gripped the far right and an increasing plurality of the Republican Party.

    Instead you chose to change the subject. So, how does President Obama’s policies differ from Adolf Hitler’s. Um, let me think. Well, to start with, President Obama has not murdered 6+ million defenseless civilians in the name of racial and religious purity, and he has not seized absolute power and declared himself dictator, and he has not launched a World War responsible for 20 million + deaths. How’s that for starters?

    I think it is easy to cite your faith to defend yourself from smears, but defending someone you don’t agree with – in this case President Obama – from unconscionable smears takes real courage, and in my opinion and according to my own Christian upbringing, it is something that a real Christian would do.

    Apparently you don’t posses that kind of courage, John. I won’t judge how you live your faith, but I do wonder what Jesus would think of those who condone such hatred and intolerance.

  17. Did I miss an answer to the question that I asked?

    Anyone want to guess where that directive came from?

    John

    PS: I could forgive John for not answering the question if he had actually explained where the foundational policies of today’s progressives differ from that of early 1930’s Fascists? For years we heard from American socialists or outright communists that it was not fair to compare them with Lenin or Stalin because they did not favor exterminating tens of millions of people either. BUT if our underlying philosophy is the same how to we not some day arrive at the same place. That is the critical question.

  18. Mr. Stoos, why can’t you just can’t give a simple, straight answer to simple direct questions? Stop changing the subject. Do you deplore, or do you agree with, comparisons of our president with Hitler? I am beginning to think you agree with the comparison, but lack the courage of your convictions to say so openly.

    Well, here’s one you should be able to answer, Mr. Stoos.

    Are you the same John Stoos who told a conference that Jews and other non-Christians would be “tolerated” in the America he sought to build?

    Are you him?

    And, Mr. Stoos, do you still believe – as you stated then – that in the Christian society you envision Jews “would not have total acceptance. [They] would feel more at home in Israel.” ?

    Is this the same John Stoos?

    Well, Mr. Stoos, do you still believe these things?

    Simple question: do. you. still. believe. these. things?

    And if you do, sir, I might suggest we turn your last question around, and point it directly at you: “if your underlying philosophy is the same how do we not some day arrive at the same place?”

    Indeed, if you share the same underlying philosophy of religious intolerance as the Nazis, how do we not arrive at the same place?

    And in order to take my own advice, John, I don’t think you are a Nazi, or the Taliban, or anything like them. And I can say I find such comparisons insulting to the memory of their victims, and a profound misreading and abuse of history. See, it is so simple to say such decent things, John!

  19. As I said before I have no problem defending what I believe. The quote above is from a reporter for the Contra Costa Times who attended a debate I participated in. It was a lively debate that Jeff would have enjoyed.

    Sadly the reporter did a poor job of representing what was said and the paper had to run a public apology and retraction.

    So you all know, the actual context was a sharp exchange in the question and answer period where I again made the point that our Christian based nation stood in direct contrast to any communist or fascist where we are MORE tolerant than any other nation on earth when dealing with those who disagree with us BECAUSE we are a nation founded on Christian principles. My opponent scored great debate points by looking very indignant as he said, “WELL, I don’t want to just be tolerated.”

    So no John, I do not share the basic beliefs of the Nazis but those who bravely stood against them, many of whom gave their lives and I stand with those at the Nuremberg trials who refused to let them have the excuse that what they did was legal, but held them accountable to a higher standard in the great tradition of the Reformation.

    And speaking of those trials I learned about the medical edict that I have quoted from a major review that was written for the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Leo Alexander of Boston University.

    You can read it here: http://www.chninternational.com/leo_alexander_.htm

    The quote I used in under the section on the Dutch resistance.

    John

  20. Mr. Stoos, perhaps your strong belief in the absolute rightness of your beliefs deprives you of hearing the implicit intolerance in your statements.

    But you still dodged the question: do you think Jews (and other non-Christians) would only be “tolerated” in your idealized America, and that they would feel more at home in Israel?

    Personally, I can see why American Jews and non-Christians would be offended. This has nothing to do with scoring debate points, John, but with a noxious idea that is fundamentally un-American: that non-Christians are somehow second-class citizens, or less “American” than Christians.

    Furthermore, I wonder if you believe that all Christians would be equally “tolerated” in your idealized America. What about Catholics? Pro-choice Christians? Christian Scientists? Mormons?

    America is not just a “Christian” nation, John, we are a nation of many faiths, and the principle of religious tolerance, acceptance, and equality is enshrined not only in our Constitution but in the very fabric of our society.

    Yes, I am familiar with the argument among some Christians that America is founded on Christian beliefs, our Founding Fathers were Christian, etc. etc. Most of these argument skip over, ignore or outright contradict historical facts. True, many of the FF were Christians, but in fact they practiced a very different kind of faith (deism, really) incomparable to today’s fundamentalism. Also, many of the principles enshrined in America’s founding documents were common to many different countries and philosophies, some predating Christianity itself. Finally, one cannot ignore that our “Christian” Founding Fathers explicitly separated church from state and gave all faiths equally protected status in the Constitution.

    I am completely willing to believe a reporter misquoted you at that debate, or failed to accurately provide the full context for your statement, but your comments don’t give me much hope that the article was that far off.

    You assert that you follow the True God, John, but so do many other people of different faiths, Mr. Stoos. What makes you any different from zealots who think they follow the one true faith, and thus their actions are justified by that faith? If you believe that you act on the guidance of the one True God, then are your actions and words always justified, or can you accept that other people are entitled to their beliefs, as you are to yours, and that we are all, as stated in our Constitution, equal?

  21. Mr. Stoos, what an interesting vision of America you hold! Such righteousness and conviction! Yet, so, so, unAmerican…..and ultimately, unChristian.

    McClintock Advisor Looks to Bible as Basis for Law
    John Stoos’ writings outline his vision of an anti-abortion city council and other such action by government. The candidate says he was ‘not aware’ of his aide’s writings.

    THE STATE | THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

    September 30, 2003|Scott Glover, Times Staff Writer

    John Stoos, a key advisor in the gubernatorial campaign of Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock, has a dream:

    “I dream of the day when a strong Christian majority is elected to a city council somewhere in America. This council could then pass a resolution declaring that abortion is now illegal in their city,” Stoos wrote this year in a conservative religious journal.

    “Of course, the city attorney would quickly tell them that they cannot do this, at which point he should be fired and a good pro-life attorney should be hired to replace him,” he continued. “Next up would be the police chief, who would likely say he could not enforce such a law. Again, the council should accept his letter of resignation and hire someone who would … ”

    Over the past two decades, Stoos has been an activist on issues from abortion to gun control to the primacy of the English language in the United States. Many of his views are reflected in essays in the Chalcedon Report, published by a conservative religious organization in Calaveras County. The group envisions a society in which biblical law is the law of the land.

    McClintock, who employs Stoos as his deputy campaign manager and until recently paid him $93,720 a year as his top legislative analyst, said in an interview last week that he was unaware of Stoos’ writings.

    “I completely disagree,” McClintock said, with Stoos’ vision of the anti-abortion city council and “completely reject” the idea that the nation’s modern laws should be biblical.

    “I was not aware that he was writing for this journal and I’m upset to find that out,” McClintock said Friday in an interview at the Sacramento airport, between campaign appearances. “That disturbs me greatly.”

    More at http://articles.latimes.com/2003/sep/30/local/me-stoos30

  22. Yes John the Bible does declare that we will all stand one day before the one true God and He has no tolerance for any sin, which is why the loving thing to do is to always point people to the forgiveness we can have in His Son Jesus.

    However, that does NOT mean that I think my words and actions are always justified: This is why we begin each and every service at Church of the King with a time for the confession sin… It is made up of people like me!

    On the political front, I was not arguing for some “idealized” American in that debate nor in most of my other writings. I argue for the American system that we live under, not because it is perfect but because it stands head and shoulders above all others at this moment of history. As I argued with my worthy opponent in that ‘famous’ debate, we have been the MOST tolerant nation in the history of the world even with our many sins, thinking especially of the slave trade and hundreds of years of slavery.

    However, even there it was our founding principles of God given rights that led us to right that wrong.

    Today, most would shift to the French model of human rights given by government with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and that is very dangerous. This is where the communists and Nazis went wrong following the bloody history of the French Revolution. When you see most conservatives bringing up these comparisons that you think are very unfair, they are, I would hope, doing so as a warning against terrors that we have seen many times in history.

    John

  23. John Regan & Shawn Garvey. Great examination!

    Mr. Stoos,
    WOW, UMM, HMM, UUUh, WOW! Did I say ‘WOW’ already?!?
    I’m speechless and wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    Sad, really. Very sad.

    (just curious; How old are you? you don’t have to give an exact answer; just a decade.)

  24. I am impressed by the fervor embodied in this debate. Nice stuff, and offered with perceived honestly. I am less impressed by Jeff’s priggish response to my initial comment.

    Jeff, your courage in ‘outing’ me by revealing my website is somewhat weak since I linked to that very site when I commented. I am a blogger using political satire to make my case. Such a blog offered by a progressive activist, I’m sure would earn your praise as an edgy positive force.

    I choose to use a nom de plume on this initial visit to Pelline Acres because, as a past employee of the Union, I would not want any distress to be poured upon present employees who are known to be my friends and who quietly tolerate your temper tantrums and continued mismanagement of that newspaper.

    1. Obama/Concentration Camp is satire?? Really? I have a picture of a guy that was hit by a train. Can I send it to you and we can laugh it off as being “clumsy”.

  25. Hi Nickie (is that your real name? The rest of us use ours, after all):

    You mention that you use ” political satire to make my case.”

    I am interested in knowing whether the the piece of “art” on your site altering the notorious “Arbeit macht frei” sign from a Nazi concentration camp to read “Obama macht frei” is an example of said satire.

    I also notice you have a good amount of material on your site concerning Israel on the Holocaust. I have to wonder at the appropriateness of distorting some of the most notorious images from that horrible event to attack President Obama. It seems you are working at cross purposes here, and risk minimizing the crimes and horror of the Holocaust and the Nazi regime by inappropriately comparing them to President Obama’s policies.

    Unless you really think it is accurate to equate “Obamacare” to Nazism? If so, I am interested to know if you would also equate “Romneycare” in Massachusetts to Nazism, since the two health care reforms share many of the same features.

  26. So why is it “un-American” to have elected officials uphold the right to life that is God given according to the Declaration of Independence?

    This too is a trick question if you think that the courts give you any comfort or cover.

    John

    1. I won’t answer for Shawn, since you seem to be responding to his points. Personally, I am very, very uncomfortable with your notion, Mr. Stoos, of using government and law enforcement to impose one particular religion’s views on citizens. That smacks of religious zealotry and theocracy, which I guess one could say is fundamentally at odds with American values and the Constitution.

      If followers of another faith – Judaism or Islam, for instance – were to make the same sort of call to action as you did I think you would find it appalling and inappropriate.

      I do wonder, though, which definition of life you think should be used, and which standard we should use to protect it. Does life begin at conception? Or is it a couple weeks after conception, and after the point of spontaneous “twinning?” Or does life begin at its potential, when a man and woman decide to have sex? After all, many Catholics (and people of other faiths) believe birth control is immoral and constitutes a pre-emptive killing of a child. They believe this just as fervantly as you believe in protecting a fetus.

      What would be the logical argument against using government and law enforcement to ban birth control, then? Do you see the slippery slope that you embark on in advocating state-enforced religious beliefs?

      1. What “law” can be passed that is not imposing someone’s version of morality?

        This is why the foundation is vital: If there are God-given rights then we have a way to hold the government accountable. If government makes all the rules then they make all the rules: And saying it is the “will of the people” does not work if we remember that the definition of democracy is best stated as two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

        As to the question of when life begins, that is always debatable and has been for thousands of years. I would argue that if in doubt, protect life.

        Remember many in our nation did not [and in a few cases still do not] consider the Black person to be fully human. The Nazis used the same argument for the Jews and other undesirables.

        John

  27. A quick search via Wikipedia indicates that Nickie’s site’s image of the concentration camp sign came from Dachau: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbeit_macht_frei

    Yep, nothing says “satire” and “humor” more than concentration camp signs!

    Whew – I can hardly breathe I am laughing so hard! That, or it’s all the Zyklon B that Obama is putting in the air!! (rimshot!)

  28. Here is what I would propose as the bottom-line for this whole debate:

    IF you reject that American notion that our rights are God-given and thus should be protected by the government then we need not worry about the AmeriCorp program nor the Romney plan for healthcare.

    IF we shift to the French belief that human rights are declared by man and thus subject to change by the ruling government then we should be VERY nervous about such things: “Working hard” and “national pride” were the major theme of Hitler’s propaganda film Triumph of the Will in the mid 1930’s and as those who read Dr. Alexander’s paper know, medical professionals can go very wrong without a fixed moral standard.

    If you stand in the American tradition of God-given rights then you can clearly state that you have no similarities to the fascists or communists even if we might debate the details of what you are proposing.

    If you stand with the French tradition then almost any program that you suggest can be very dangerous and this is why the comparisons that you don’t like are made.

    John

    1. Great! That put’s you in the same life span as George Burns. That tell’s me nothing; give me a decade; 50’s, 60’s 70’s????

  29. An individual’s rights are not given by anyone or anything – not nature, not God. They are inherent in life itself. They cannot be taken away.

    If rights are granted by God, then someone can claim you have fewer (or no) rights if you do not believe in their interpretation of God. This is an historical fact: throughout history people have denied the fundamental humanity of people based on their different religious beliefs.

  30. John,

    You are going to be REALLY jealous: I saw it in San Francisco on the SUPER sized screens that were about three times bigger than what we have now.

    You can hope they do it for Imax some day 🙂

    John

    1. Channeling William Shatner ni his “Khan!” moment, shaking my fist and yelling into the sky: “Stoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooos!!!!!!!!”

      1. Actually I have a friend who did a political cartoon in my honor with Reps on one side and Dems on the other side of my little castle shooting LOTS of arrows my way. And across the top he put the exact same spelling of Stoos you have used.

        John

  31. If these rights that are inherent in life itself cannot be taken away, then how did the communists and fascists manage to kill about one hundred million people in the 20th Century?

    I think it came up in another thread, but I would suggest C.S. Lewis’ classic little book The Abolition of Man to see how futile this line of thinking really is.

    John

    1. The same way that good, God-fearing Americans enslaved people of a different race, John: because people are imperfect, and are capable of great ignorance, great stupidity and – in the instances you cites – great evil. Remember that Nazis professed to be Christian – there is no magic pill for avoiding evil like the Holocaust.

      Fortunately, humans are also capable of great love, compassion, beauty and wisdom.

  32. John, the “Scriptures” were written by man, “MAN”, not God in his white robe and long beard up in the sky (see Flying Spaghetti Monster for a more believable religion). The scriptures have been used incessantly by “relegion” to control,cudgel and punish humanity. It’s forced upon other weak minded sheep to act in lieu of actual conscience.

    Really, your whole egocentric shtick is nauseating, and I can’t stand any aspect of what you stand for. If anything is even close to Nazism and fascism it’s your BS propaganda and litany. You are your own punishment. And the fact that you wear your BS spirituality on your sleeve makes you less than a joke to anyone other than an equally weak minded person or other pseudo-Christian also seeking power. Not only do you lack conscience, you lack shame, and your lust for power over others is truly cringe-worthy.

  33. I am sure Jeff does not want this to be a theological debate, so you can check some of my sermons to see the answers to where we got the Bible.

    The question for this debate is still simple: IF you or John or anyone else does not want to affirm our Declaration of Independence where it says our rights come from God, then where do they come from and how would you have used that basis to prosecute the criminals from the death camps?

    John

    1. Er, John, I think I already did by stating categorically that rights derive from one’s existence itself. I don’t see how my belief in universal inalienable rights in any way prevents prosecuting Nazi war criminals. In fact, it requires it. I think you have a very steep intellectual hill to climb if you were to argue otherwise.

      1. John,

        You have a simple problem: What if the Nazi’s had won?

        The communists did in vast portions of Europe and people lost their rights with no appeal to a higher authority: Communists are atheists and insisted that they determined the ultimate rights for society. They argued that the good of the many outweighs the good of the individual.

        If our rights come from God then we always have an appeal when the government, or the church, the terrorists or anyone else tries to take them away, striving as our founders did to establish a proper role for church and state to protect those rights.

        John

      2. John (I seem to be replying to myself here, can’t figure out how to reply to your last email, but I am):

        My fundamental point hasn’t changed, and I think it still stands against your example of the communists. They were wrong – as ideologues frequently are – in assigning themselves the power to determine fundamental human rights (or standards of decency or humane treatment, and a host of other issues). As I said (and believe), these rights are inherent in existence, not assigned or approved by any government, political party or ideology.

        I simply disagree that we need God to assure us of these rights. As I said before, bringing God into the conversation means bringing in people’s differing interpretations of God, which is just trouble.

        I am not sure why a theoretical victory by the Nazis is a problem for my opinion on this matter. Yes, they would have assumed authority over rights, and they would have been wrong. Seems simple to me. I guess I honestly don’t see how the notion of God-given rights would have protected the people under their heel. I don’t think the Nazis would have been swayed by such appeals – it sure didn’t work for countless Jews (and Christians, for that matter – people forget thousands of Christians perished in the concentration camps).

        As for having an appeal when someone tries to take my rights, I’ll take the Constitution, brother … and my Smith & Wesson(s)! 😉

        (I had to throw in one line I knew you’d agree with!)

      3. Simply saying that rights come from man or the individual only works in a universe of one. Once you have two people then you have a conflict of rights. Who decides who is right. Our founders said, God does and it is government’s job to protect those rights.

        You and I would agree that the Nazis were wrong, but THEY did not think they were wrong. They, sadly, believed they were creating the master race and advancing the true cause of humanity. Please read Dr. Alexander’s paper if you have not, it is truly frightening when you consider much of what is discussed today.

        And yes, those guns are important: There is a reason the 2nd Amendment came right after the first!

        John

      4. But John, your example of my notion of rights being valid only in a “universe of one” (with I disagree with, by the way – this is where the social contract and laws come in) applies equally if rights are God-given.

        For instance, imagine a universe of two people, but they have different interpretations of God? And these interpretations provide different rights for different people? Which interpretation’s rights apply?

        Let’s imagine our two people: one a woman, one a man. Man’s interpretation of God says women are subject to men. Woman respectfully disagrees with the man, says her interpretation of God holds that man and woman are equal.

        Which applies?

        It seems to me that my notion of universal, inherent rights trumps the notion of God-given rights, since a God-given right is dependent on one’s interpretation of God.

        I’m not much of a philosopher, but this seems fairly straightforward in terms of logic.

        Thank you, by the way, for your thoughtful and interesting responses. We seem to be monopolizing the string here, but I am sure Jeff and others will forgive us.

  34. Mr Stoos – did/do the Native American Indians also have “god-given rights”? Where do you get this idea that the US has been so tolerant? I think of the forced christianization of Alaska natives, with their children taken away from their families by force and sent to missionary schools in the north-mid-west, forbidden by law to speak their native tongue or practice their native religion. Not that long ago. The US was certainly not the first to abolish slavery either.

    1. Yes they do and as I said above, the Untied States stands guilty of many sins, with the current slaughter of the unborn among the worst.

      As with individuals, even nations must always be repenting and turning back to God’s Law. Just as there were faithful Christians and others who stood up to Hitler and Stalin, so in our history their have been those who fought for the rights of the minorities and they could do so knowing that at least here the government or rogue individuals were violating our foundations and could be called to account.

      The United States was actually very slow to abolish slavery, but we must remember that the drive for its abolition was led by the Christian west.

      John

  35. Sorry, gals, to have so offended you. The whole point of satire is to make uncomfortable the pompous purveyors of shallow and self-serving philosophies.

    You were made uncomfortable by the “Obama macht frei”graphic?? Wow, it seems that satire actually works.

    1. I was more than “uncomfortable” by your graphic, Nickie, I was deeply offended.

      See, I think the Holocaust should be treated as the great evil it was – one of the most horrific acts of modern history – and not lightly, as a political football, punchline or gag, as you treat it.

      Really. Think about it. In all human decency, treating the Holocaust like a “satirical” joke? (You should look up satire, by the way – you seem confused as to its meaning or misapplying it to your use.)

      I once heard an interview (I think it was with Mel Brooks) in which he was asked about his classic film The Producers, a truly brilliant comedy about Hitler. The interviewer asked if it was inappropriate to use humor to discuss such a great evil. Brooks responded that ridicule was history’s ultimate revenge on a monster like Hitler. He said something like “How many times can you call Hitler a monster? It gets old. But make him ridiculous – now THAT stings!” Pretty good response, and one well-informed by a lot of thought, I thought.

      Nickie, you are not Mel Brooks. Your blog simply cheapens the horror of the Holocaust and dishonors the millions who died senselessly in a depraved, malevolent act of pure evil. And doing it for your own pathetic political ends puts you on the wrong of history, fella.

      Know who else was on the wrong end of history, Nickie?

      That’s right.

      Hitler.

      1. Get over it, John. Inherent within Freedom of Speech is the freedom to offend. The thought of dissidents possessing such a right should not disturb your liberal sensibilities. But it probably pisses off your darker side.

      2. Interestingly, Nickie, you just confirmed the gist of much of what has been written on this blog about the rise of the fanatical right and its death grip on the GOP. Not sure why you can’t grasp the simple concept that just because you have the “right” to say (or do) something doesn’t necessarily mean it *is* right.

      3. John, I believe we can find a place where we can both agree.

        I will continue to exercise my 1st Amendment rights to the fullest, without edit nor restraint.

        You can continue to whine about it.

  36. I don’t mean this to be a theological debate. I want it to be about what a horrible person you really are.

  37. “IF you or John or anyone else does not want to affirm our Declaration of Independence where it says our rights come from God, then where do they come from?”

    You’re joking right, or are you more of a fool than you’ve proven here already?

  38. Say Jeff, since Nickie won’t share his/her real name, might I suggest the site provide one for him/her whenever they post?

    And might I suggest “Adolf Hitler” as Nickie’s nom de plum on this site?

    For satire, of course, which I’m sure Nickie would appreciate!

  39. John Stoos:

    Any reference to God appears in the Constitution of the United States only once, in the signatory line affirming the date “the year of our Lord…”. This is the document that exists as the foundation for law in this nation.

    You refer to a single reference to God, but it exists in the Declaration of Independence, not the US Constitution. The Declaration, while an important historical document, is not the basis for law in the United States and can not even be cited in a courtroom as legal precedence.

    Indeed, even if argue your single point of authority in the Declaration, there are many more references in that same document that in fact undermine your argument. The Declaration refers to “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Divine Providence.” These are all terms used in the sort of deism which was common among many of those responsible for the American Revolution as well as the philosophers upon whom they relied for support. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was himself a deist who was opposed to many traditional Christian doctrines, in particular beliefs about the supernatural.

    A common misuse (yours, in this case) of the Declaration of Independence is to argue that it states that our rights come from God and, therefore, there are no legitimate interpretations of the rights in the Constitution that would be contrary to God.

    The first problem is that the Declaration of Independence generally refers to a “Creator” and not the Christian “God” meant by people making the argument. The second problem is that the “rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — none of which are “rights” discussed in the Constitution. In fact, not the same rights at all, but arguably similar and related.

    Finally, the Declaration of Independence also makes it clear that governments created by humanity derive their powers from the “consent of the governed”, not from any gods. This is why the Constitution does not make any mention of any gods. There is no reason to think that there is anything illegitimate about an interpretation of any of the rights outlined in the Constitution merely because it runs contrary to what some people think that their conception of a god would want.

  40. Shawn,

    Where to begin? Yes the Declaration and Constitution are two different documents and I don’t think I have quoted either to date in this discussion. I have been addressing the principle of our rights being given by God which is what our nation was founded upon.

    We declared our independence from England and did not go the way of the ‘enlightened’ French. Our declaration speaks of self-evident truths and rights to life liberty and property [Jefferson’s first draft]. It does speak about a government deriving its power from the consent of the people BUT clearly says that power is there to protect those rights, NOT to grant them.

    With that as our background we adopted a Constitution that does not discuss God or rights [remember they are self-evident truths] but rather goes to great lengths to enumerate the powers that the Federal government will have so that it only protects rights rather than take them away as much of our government does today. You can read the Federalist Papers to see how this was what was intended and even the anti-Federalist papers from those who thought the Constitution gave the Federal government too much power even then.

    The bottom line principle here in America was that government does not grant rights, it is there to protect them! Since government does not grant rights it cannot take them away.

    Again, the contrast is the French Declaration of the Rights of Men, which also speaks of “God” by the way. But there the rights of men were given by men and enforced by government: Thus they could be changed or taken by government and thus many tens of thousands were beheaded in the name of French Freedom.

    With the 20th Century came the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and the Humanist Manifesto. The killing has become much more sophisticated, so now the death toll is in the tens of millions. And yes, all three of these political philosophies are based on the same principle: Man, not God is at the center of freedom.

    That is why references to the Nazis tend to make today’s progressives very nervous. Folks might just find out the truth about where what they are preaching might lead.

    John

    1. Actually, John, the closest to fascist ideology these days is the neo-conservatives of the Bush Administration. Almost all of them are former liberals who seem to combine the worst of th left and the right: a belief in the power of big government coupled with an authoritarian streak. Scarey.

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