National View: This is the End?

Fiscal-CliffClearly patience is wearing thin on the part of the President.  The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that President Obama repeatedly lost patience with Speaker of the House John Boehner as negotiations faltered.

“In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault,” the paper reported.

Speaker Boehner, of course, has his own problems – he had a plan to force the White House to capitulate only to have it thwarted by the Tea Party Section of his party.

For his part, the Speaker does not believe his speakership is in trouble, despite the fact that Rasmussen gives the speaker a 51% unfavorable rating compared to just a 31% favorable.  Only 55% of Republicans give him good marks.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has a lower unfavorable rating at 36%, despite the fact that his own state views him as unpopular.

This is, of course, all window dressing.  The question is whether Speaker Boehner can cut the deal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place for those making less than $250,000.  The Republicans have been trying to raise that number.  The failed “Plan B” had tax rates only increasing for those making over $1 million.

We have had gridlock in the past, but this seems worse, more hopeless, as though the political system is edging on the possibility of being unable to solve even basic political problems.  Perhaps that is by design – after all, if you run on the notion that government does not work, why would you try to make it work once you were elected?

The consequences are increasingly serious.  The fiscal cliff is overblown, rhetorical hype.  If the tax cuts expire, the immediate impact on the country is probably seen by the overreaction of the fiscal markets.

It would be months before the tax policies had a real impact on the economy.

The bigger crisis is the debt ceiling.  As we learned previously, that is not something to be trifled with, because if the nation starts defaulting on its loans, it could spell doom for the world’s economy.

At some point, I think we will get a deal here and elsewhere because, while it is true there is a huge and still growing partisan divide, the Republicans face a very real possibility of taking the full blame, not just on this issue, but the guns issue and others.

The reaction to the NRA gun proposal may actually help break that log jam.  There was an article in the Sacramento Bee this morning that the proposal to put an armed police officer at every school would cost Sacramento’s school district $80 million.

I wondered how the Republicans would respond to their unexpected (at least to them) defeat at the hands of President Obama.  The troubling part for the Republicans should have been the signs of demographics and where the bulk of the country stood in comparison.

But the truth is that things have not changed just yet for the Republicans.  Some see a movement to the left by the electorate, when the reality is that the Republicans have simply moved far to the right.

It took the Democrats a long time to change.  They had to endure 1968 to 1992, where the Democrats not only lost elections, they were blown out in 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988.

Bill Clinton changed that calculus temporarily, winning in 1992 and 1996.  In fact, he actually changed the calculus permanently – the Democrats have not only won four of six elections, but were very competitive in their two losses in 2000 and 2004.

Now it appears the Republicans are on the brink of moving too far past the electorate.  They have maintained their majority, thanks to a recoil against Obama in 2010 and a hearty gerrymandering of House districts that was able to overcome a net Democratic vote advantage.

It appears they will have to lose big in order to regain their sensibilities.  Driving the country off the edge might do that, as voters appear ready to believe the Republicans are at fault here.

Writes Thomas Friedman this morning, the problem is the loss of the Republican center, “without more Republican moderates, there is no way to strike the kind of centrist bargains that have been at the heart of American progress – that got us where we are and are essential for where we need to go.”

“Republican politicians today have a choice,” Mr. Friedman writes, “either change your base by educating and leading G.O.P. voters back to the center-right from the far right, or start a new party that is more inclusive, focused on smaller but smarter government and market-based, fact-based solutions to our biggest problems.”

He argues, “If Republicans continue to be led around by, and live in fear of, a base that denies global warming after Hurricane Sandy and refuses to ban assault weapons after Sandy Hook – a base that would rather see every American’s taxes rise rather than increase taxes on millionaires – the party has no future. It can’t win with a base that is at war with math, physics, human biology, economics and common-sense gun laws all at the same time.”

How bad are things?  Thomas Friedman notes, “Two weeks ago, the former G.O.P. Senate majority leader Bob Dole, a great American, went to the Senate floor in his wheelchair to show his support for Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities.”

The bill failed to win the two-thirds needed for ratification, gaining only eight Republicans in support of the treaty, a treaty negotiated and signed by George W. Bush.

Given the last decade, it is hard to imagine that George W. Bush would be the voice of reason, but perhaps that is where we have come to.

Writes Mr. Friedman, the treaty “essentially requires other countries to improve to our level of protection for the disabled, without requiring us to change any laws. It has already been ratified by 126 countries. But it failed in the Senate because Rick Santorum managed to convince the G.O.P. base that the treaty would threaten U.S. ‘sovereignty.’ “

Maybe Speaker Boehner will surprise us, maybe he will put together a compromise that can get the support of enough Democrats and enough pragmatic and responsible Republicans to save this thing, but frankly I think the country needs to actually go off the edge before wiser heads prevail.

It won’t happen with the tax cuts, but it might happen with the debt ceiling.  We will see.  The danger is that a lot of innocent Americans will suffer in fighting this battle.  The stakes are too high to let that happen.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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49 thoughts on “National View: This is the End?”

  1. rusty49

    “In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault,”

    So what’s new, OweBlamer knows he got away with blaming Bush and the GOP for the last four years and he’s just going to keep doing it because enough fools fall for it.

  2. rusty49

    “Maybe Speaker Boehner will surprise us, he will put together a compromise that can get the support of enough Democrats and enough pragmatic and responsible Republicans to save this thing”

    Or maybe Boehner can come up with a plan where enough “pragmatic and responsible” Democrats sign on.

  3. rusty49

    Why are Democrats worried at all about everyone going back to the Clinton taxes? Don’t Democrats always slobber over how great the economy did during those higher tax rates?

  4. medwoman

    [quote]“Maybe Speaker Boehner will surprise us, he will put together a compromise that can get the support of enough Democrats and enough pragmatic and responsible Republicans to save this thing”

    Or maybe Boehner can come up with a plan where enough “pragmatic and responsible” Democrats sign on.[/quote]

    And maybe those plans would be identical since that would mean that both sides would be willing to give up enough of their ideologic rhetoric to actually do something of value for the country as a whole.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    “Why are Democrats worried at all about everyone going back to the Clinton taxes? Don’t Democrats always slobber over how great the economy did during those higher tax rates? “

    If you are asking this question, you really don’t understand your opposition. The Democrats are worried because in the short-term it would be a hit to people’s ability to spend money in the economy during a time when the economy is fragile. In the long term, it will not have a huge effect either way on the economy.

  6. rusty49

    “Why are Democrats worried at all about everyone going back to the Clinton taxes? Don’t Democrats always slobber over how great the economy did during those higher tax rates? ”

    If you are asking this question, you really don’t understand your opposition. The Democrats are worried because in the short-term it would be a hit to people’s ability to spend money in the economy during a time when the economy is fragile. In the long term, it will not have a huge effect either way on the economy.

    No, it’s you that doesn’t understand. I know raising ANYONE’S taxes right now is going to be a blow to the economy and I was being facetious. It’s just ironic how the Democrat talking heads always crow about how well the economy did under Clinton’s higher tax rates inferring that higher taxes would actually be good for the country.

  7. Frankly

    [i]”In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault,” [/i]

    Yup – That’s how he rolls. His marketing machine knows how to manipulate the media in a cooperative template of blame. He will get David Letterman and the SNL team to work up some new material. His pals at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, etc.. will dutifully follow along ensuring their Teflon messiah always smells rose-like while it is all those other politicians that stink the place up.

    The fact is that Obama is a wounded leader being propped up by the media. He wounded himself – as most new Presidents do – during his first campaign. However, where Obama failed is that he never patched things up in office. He continued the same divisive rhetoric. And he continues to whine that those he continually stabs don’t embrace him.

    Almost 50% of the nation thinks he is a bad president. They are yelling at their elected officials to not give him or the Democrats a single thing that they will again use for political purposes.

    Obama is also wounded in that almost 50% of the nation dislikes him being in office and dislike the way the country is going and dislike that their ideas and beliefs are constantly trampled on by those in power and the national media. Almost 50% of the nation is pissed and already so frightened of the future being charted by Obama and the Democrats, that they don’t see much hope. So, who cares about the fiscal cliff?

    From my perspective we are heading for a slide to chaos powered by a new electorate lacking experience and understanding for how things should be. I would prefer we expedite that slide with the hope that there are still enough Americans that can “get it” and will vote to turn the country around.

  8. Don Shor

    Jeff, his approval ratings are higher than they’ve been since 2009. 58% approve, 36% disapprove in the daily Gallup tracking poll. He is not ‘wounded’ at all. Obama is negotiating from a position of strength, largely delivered to him by:
    –the terms of the 2011 agreement that set up the ‘fiscal cliff’, which was predicated on the Republican assumption that Obama would not be re-elected;
    –the extraordinary infighting and rigid ideological stance of Tea Party Republicans;
    –Nancy Pelosi’s political skill in holding the Democratic caucus together.

    The Republican Party, on the other hand, isn’t just wounded. It is leaderless, floundering, and disintegrating before our very eyes. Just read on any Tea Party blog these days.
    The problem is that Speaker Boehner can’t deliver. So there’s no point in negotiating with him. And there is no other leader who has the authority or votes.
    You still haven’t figured out why Republicans lost. You still won’t accept that Obama is a popular president who reflects the present view of the electorate, and that the Republicans are simply being obstructionist. When you lose, you still have to participate in governance.

  9. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]Almost 50% of the nation is pissed and already so frightened of the future being charted by Obama and the Democrats, that they don’t see much hope.[/quote]

    So are you really suggesting that the supposed “almost 50% of the nation” whose attitudes are being driven by emotion ( fear and anger) which you over and over have correctly stated are not sound means of decision making
    are somehow correct in their assessment.

    Could it be that at least some of this fear and anger is based in the perception of how far away from an idealized
    Randian state ( or religious ideal ) we are perceived to be as a nation, instead of any realistic assessment of what might be of benefit to the majority ?

    Also, as pointed out by Don, you seem to be entirely ignoring the opinions of the > 50 % of the electorate and participants in recent polls who support the job that the President is doing and approve of the direction of the country. This is not about destroying the nation. This is about a different vision of what makes us powerful and keeps us strong as a nation.

  10. Mr.Toad

    Would the Republicans actually cause a default by refusing to increase the debt ceiling? Its the only leverage they have but they will be defaulting on themselves. It seems like the Republicans in the house are becoming like those that held California hostage in our state legislature. We know how that turned out.

  11. Rifkin

    Friedman: [i]”If Republicans continue to be led around by, and live in fear of, a base that denies global warming after Hurricane Sandy and refuses to ban assault weapons after Sandy Hook …”[/i]

    The NRA crowd needs to cut a deal before all private gun ownership is eventually banned. It may be a transitory majority in the wake of the Newtown massacre, but a majority of Americans now favors a total ban on private gun ownership ([url]http://www.theblaze.com/stories/poll-62-percent-of-americans-favor-semi-automatic-assault-weapons-ban/[/url]): [quote] A new CNN poll released Wednesday found 52 percent of Americans favor major restrictions on gun ownership or [b]making all guns illegal[/b], less than a week after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

    That’s 5 points higher than a CNN survey found after the shootings at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this summer.[/quote] I think the best compromise for our national health would be to ban assault weapons, ban magazines which hold more than 10 cartridges and ban all speed loaders for civilians. The vast majority is with me on this: [quote] The latest poll found that 62 percent of Americans favor a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. [/quote] The most important change we need to make is with how we deal with people who have mental illness or serious psychological problems.

    The first step we need to take is to require all medical doctors and all psycho-therapists who are treating people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression and severe personality disorders* to place the names of their patients on an FBI list which prohibits these people from buying or possessing guns. (Just as we do with felons who are banned from owning firearms, these mental patients should have a right to appeal their listing in court.)

    One of the strangest things I saw happen was with a family member of mine who is a paranoid schizophrenic. After he was locked up on a 5150 hold (it was about the 6th time), a sheriff’s deputy confiscated his massive collection of guns. But no one reported him to the FBI. So a week later, he simply went to a gun store and bought a Glock 9mm, passing the so-called instant background check. And worse, after a month or so, the county in the Bay Area where he lives gave him back all of his other guns and all the ammunition.

    The second step we need to take is to require gun owners/buyers to pass a state license exam once a year. That test would require them to prove they are storing their weapons safely (esp. out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable), that they know how to operate their weapons safely, and that they are themselves not mentally ill (tested by a mental health professional).

    If we had reasonable gun laws in place, the Newtown massacre would have been avoided, those 20 1st graders would be alive, today. Nancy Lanza would not been able to own and possess guns like the Bushmaster .223 if we banned assault weapons and mass-killing clips. She also would have been required to keep her arsenal locked up, away from her schizophrenic son. She would never have been allowed to take Adam Lanza to a gun range, teaching him how to use these weapons of war.

    *I would leave it up to the professional associations ([url]http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/index.aspx[/url]) to determine the diagnoses which pose societal threats.

  12. rusty49

    Rifkin:
    “It may be a transitory majority in the wake of the Newtown massacre, but a majority of Americans now favors a total ban on private gun ownership:”

    Not true. “A new CNN poll released Wednesday found 52 percent of Americans favor major restrictions on gun ownership “””or””” making all guns illegal”

  13. medwoman

    Rifkin

    I think these are very reasonable suggestions and as a doctor would be on board with all of them as written.
    If we can notify authorities that an individual patient has a medical disorder that precludes them from driving safely ( such as an uncontrolled seizure disorder ) we should certainly have a similar reporting system for those we diagnose as having a mental disorder that would preclude them from safely owning and using a weapon.

    Since this is already established practice for public safety in the case of automobile use, would any of you object to similar restrictions for weapons use ?

  14. Rifkin

    [i]”Since this is already established practice for public safety in the case of automobile use, would any of you object to similar restrictions for weapons use?”[/i]

    The NRA, which is mostly funded by gun-makers and gun-sellers, opposes increasing the number of people who are prohibited from buying or possessing firearms.

    Unfortunately, the NRA is not alone. The NAMI also opposes requiring the non-institutionalized mentally ill from buying or owning guns.

    NAMI says ([url]http://blog.nami.org/2012/08/gun-laws-and-mental-health.html[/url]) that since most people with mental health issues are non-violent, requiring the registration of those who have illnesses like paranoid schizophrenia would stigmatize all mental health patients and it would discourage them from seeking treatment.

    I was going to add that the ACLU holds the same position as NAMI. However, Googling the topic, I could not find anything definitive on that. I did see some right-wing bloggers blaming the ACLU for its opposition to a proposed law in Connecticut which would have permitted people like Adam Lanza from being forcibly institutionalized. I support forced treatment (upon court order after a family request) in some serious cases. However, I don’t know if Nancy Lanza wanted that for her son prior to his horrible acts. She probably did not have any idea what a danger he posed to her and others. But if she had, the CT laws probably are insufficient to have helped her get him the help he needed.

  15. eagle eye

    Adam Lanza was taking a medication used for schizophrenia, but it seems clear that his doctor did not make it clear to Nancy Lanza how serious her son’s condition was. She was focused on finding a good school for Adam, obviously unaware that her son was far too ill for that to be an
    appropriate goal. Had the mother had better information, better understanding of how ill her son really was, and that he probably should have been in treatment in a mental hospital, for his and others’ safety, it all would have been different. (Not that guns aren’t a problem, too!)

    “A base that denies global warming” was created by nuts like the Koch
    brothers who heavily fund these Republicans.

  16. Frankly

    You liberals need to get it out of your head that we will “progress” to ban all guns or even a significant number of guns. You will have a war on your hands. Talk about polarization. I’m fumming about the fact it would even be considered and I am not even a big gun owner.

    Get it out of your heads and start focusing on solutions that we can all agree on

  17. SouthofDavis

    Rich wrote:

    > If we had reasonable gun laws in place, the Newtown
    > massacre would have been avoided

    At if we had reasonable drug laws in America this guy would be fine today:

    http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Tragedy-puts-UC-Berkeley-house-in-spotlight-3257171.php#page-1

    I just remembered that we don’t have “reasonable” cocaine laws, we have a complete ban on cocaine in America but somehow this guy and just about everyone else that ever wanted to do a line in the past 40 years has been able to get it.

    I’ve got kids and it has been hard to hear about all the kids killed by the crazy guy in CT over the past week, but I don’t think that passing more gun laws or even a complete gun ban will do anything to stop the smarter than average (going from the media reports) psycho killers like the CT school shooter and the CO movie theatre shooter when even a brain dead homeless people (and most of the inmates in CA prisons) can score illegal drugs without a lot of effort.

    On the US budget I have a hope that my liberal and conservative friends will realize that neither side has any high ground in this debate and that both sides are just playing a game to make political gains in 2014 (and both sides are happy about the shooting since the more they get the voters to focus on Guns, God and Gay issues the less people will realize that almost all elected officials (on both sides of the aisle) are just working to funnel taxpayer money to their campaign contributor friends…

  18. Mr.Toad

    “Get it out of your heads and start focusing on solutions that we can all agree on”

    What would you offer up as something you think we could do that we would all agree on?

  19. Don Shor

    I think Jeff has posted a number of ideas on the other thread. I’ve actually seen a lot of common ground in discussions here and elsewhere on the overall response to these shootings. I seriously doubt the Vice President’s task force will go any further on gun restrictions than Feinstein’s bill, probably less. I hope for a more comprehensive response that focuses on gun access and mental health issues.
    There are people on both extremes who aren’t going to be happy. The NRA, Tea Party activists, Brady activists who want to ban handguns — all will think that any middle ground will be unacceptable. But I would bet, for once, that some legislation and federal funding will make it through Congress.

  20. Rifkin

    SOUTH: [i]”I don’t think that passing more gun laws or even a complete gun ban [b]will do anything[/b] to stop the smarter than average (going from the media reports) psycho killers like the CT school shooter.”[/i]

    It’s funny … other countries with much more restrictive gun laws don’t have incidents like the Newtown massacre or Virginia Tech or Columbine or Oak Creek, etc., etc. So maybe you really have not give good laws enough thought.

    Today, there is a horrific story in the news ([url]http://lexicondaily.blogspot.com/2012/12/two-firefighters-die-in-ambush-at.html[/url]) about an ex-con, probably (if my spidey sense is correct) a schizophrenic*, who set a house on fire and then shot four and killed two firefighters as they responded, before he killed himself.

    The “law” in the United States says it is illegal for an ex-con and for a mental patient to buy guns. Yet this guy got them. I blame the NRA for that and thus partly blame the NRA for these murders.

    It may have been “illegal” for this guy to buy a gun. But we don’t have a functioning background check system because of the NRA. Forty percent of all gun sales are exempt from a background check. So no one had to check with the FBI at a gun show or any other private sale to see if this maniac who killed the firefighters (and it sounds like one more will die, too) was a convicted felon (let alone a nut).

    But for the corruption of the NRA–they effectively use the gunmakers and gun-sellers’ money, millions of dollars, to get their way in Congress–we would have an effective background check system for all gun sales. We would exclude all ex-felons. And we would exclude all people who have serious psychiatric maladies and psychological disorders (including depression).

    We would also hold the seller liable in all cases for not doing a background check, in cases like this one in Webster NY, where some private seller (legally) did not find out that the killer of these firefighters was an ex-felon.

    *This guy served a long prison sentence after he beat his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer when he was 31-years-old. That is not the sort of crime someone with ordinary criminal tendencies commits. That is either psychopathy or, more likely, a person with psychotic delusions and severe paranoia.

  21. medwoman

    I would like to share a story from my internship, and a perspective from 25 years of trying to prevent bad medical outcomes.

    I was working the ER one night when around midnight, my team was alerted to a severe trauma coming in.
    My ER team and the trauma surgeons were assembled in advance, but nothing, not even the radio reports prepared us for what we were about to encounter. The victim was a ten year old boy with multiple stab woulds inflicted by his mother, who although we did not know this until later was a paranoid schizophrenic, either off her meds or not being adequately controlled. As was later revealed, she thought her son was a demon who had come to steal her son and was doing her best to protect the boy. The boy did not survive despite the heroic efforts of the paramedics in getting him in and those of the surgical team.

    Now some will probably say ” look at the damage she did with a knife”. But when ever I hear of one of this mass shootings, I hear the words of one of the residents during one of the many debriefings offered for those of us involved in this event. His words were ” thank god she didn’t have a gun”. If we are going to imagine scenarios,
    which many on both sides have been doing, let’s imagine the scenario in which she first shoots the “demon” her son, and then goes on to shoot everyone else she perceives as a “demon”. Again, I am not arguing for a “ban”
    but rather for strict safety measures such as are involved in owning and operating a car. There is ample precedent for this in our society. I think it is long past time reasonable restrictions were applied to gun ownership.

  22. Frankly

    [i]I blame the NRA for that and thus partly blame the NRA for these murders[/i]

    Rich, I am very surprised reading this from you.

    Why not blame the ACLU for preventing public records and disclosure of people with mental health problems, or for working to reduce criminal penalties and to parole people that murder their grandmother with a hammer?

    How about the march of liberal secularism that disuades children from going to church and prevents them from learning about God and forgiveness and being part of a loving congregation that can also help spot and respond to trouble?

    The NRA is extreme in defense of gun ownership exactly because of the knee-jerk reaction we see, combined with the tendency of fanatic activists (ironically, many that should be committed to some treatment for obsessive compulsion disorder) to not rest until there is nothing left to ban or control.

    There are 350 million guns in this country. You would think, considering the reactionary gun ban alarmists, that we would have a massacre every day with this dangerous arsenal. But we don’t. In fact, if we remove all drug/gang-related gun violence, the incidents of gun violence in this country relative to the amount of firepower is relatively low.

    The biggest category of gun death is suicide. However, the suicide rate for the US is lower than many countries having many more restrictions on gun ownership. Finland for example has less than half the number of guns per capita and many more rules and restrictions, but has a higher suicide rate. Japan has a very high rate of suicide even though it is one of the most restrictive gun ownership countries.

    Then there is Switzerland. Lots of guns. Very low incidents of gun crime. Lower suicide rates than the US.

    From my perspective, if we are going to call out the NRA, the main culprit is the media. The media glorifies death and violence. The media stirs up the pot of sensationalism and alarmism. The media inspires and motivates the bloodshed that then becomes their money-making source.

    Before I would support a ban on any gun, thereby eliminating the freedoms of ordinary law-abiding and responsible Americans, I would demand that we ban the media from certain freedoms. If it is First Amendment versus Second Amendment, I vote for changing our First Amendment first.

    The pen is mightier than the sword, and the US media wields their pen to ensure we are awash in blood and carnage that sells copy and gives the brain-dead talking heads something sensational to talk about.

  23. Don Shor

    While I agree that the ACLU bears some responsibility for the present state of mental health commitments, I’d point out that their position was held by conservatives as well. Reagan signed the bill in California. Moreover, they are not, to my knowledge, a powerful lobbying organization, don’t sponsor primary challenges, don’t fund political campaigns, and don’t even advertise about their political positions. In fact, the ACLU doesn’t take political positions in general. They are litigants. So the NRA has had much more influence over the political process.
    Sorry to see you’re echoing Mike Huckabee’s ridiculous comments about secularism as having anything to do with this. I am unaware of the religious affiliations of most of these mass shooters, nor do I think congregations or ministers would have had any impact whatsoever, positive or negative.

  24. Frankly

    Although I freequently don not agree with Debra DeAngelo, and although she did not connect her opinion directly with religion, she did pretty much echo what I was trying to convey… and it is in the Mike Huckabee arena.

    [url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/a-mettatation-on-what-we-all-need-to-co-exist-happily/[/url]

  25. Don Shor

    There isn’t a whisper of similarity between what Debra wrote and what Mike Huckabee said. Her column was thoughtful, compassionate, and could be read and accepted by anyone. Here’s what Mike Huckabee said:

    [i]””We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we’ve ordered god out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised… when all hell breaks loose.”[/i]

    So he believes that secularism caused a mass shooting. That’s despicable. He believes that sin caused a madman to go on a shooting spree. That’s irrational and repugnant. He believes prayer in the schools would have somehow prevented a home-schooled madman from killing schoolchildren. That’s beyond irrational.

  26. Edgar Wai

    Re: JB

    Banning guns is objected by those who needs guns for protection (among other uses). Therefore, without posing the situation as a confrontation on whether society should ban guns right now, a logical step that can occur concurrently, that no one objects, is to reduce the need for protection. When fewer people feel that they need to protect themselves with guns, naturally fewer people will buy guns, even without a law.

    Banning violence in media is objected by those who needs them as an outlet of aggression without acting out actual outlet. Without posing the situation as a confrontation, a logical step is to create a different media that promotes a different role model, where conflicts are resolved intelligently without violence. When people create and promote this type of content, the culture changes, and the audience of violent content disappears, even without a law.

    A culture where people act differently because they are peaceful at the core not because of external regulations, is one that can have lasting peace.

    Re: DS

    I agree that the ultimate foundation of peace cannot be the belief of a theist religion, because such a concept is self-limiting. On the other hand, I share the impression that secularism is correlated with a lack of peaceful foundation. Instead of attacking theist religions or asserting that secularism, I think a basic step is to strengthen a focus on common vision and principles that promotes cooperation and diversity in secularism.

    When theist religion is removed from a culture, the culture still needs a core of ethical, moral, and compassionate principles.

  27. Don Shor

    [i]”…secularism is correlated with a lack of peaceful foundation.”
    [/i]
    Secularism isn’t correlated with anything. It merely means the absence of religion. There is no broadly shared ‘secular’ set of values other than what a culture or society already has. Most Americans who are secular probably have about as much overlap in their values as any other Americans.

    [i]”When theist religion is removed from a culture, the culture still needs a core of ethical, moral, and compassionate principles.”[/i]

    Many of us believe that religion reflects those values, it doesn’t create them. They’re already there.

  28. Edgar Wai

    It was just my impression that the absence of religion is correlated with the absence of principles, because when you ask a religious person, that person can tell you what rules they try to follow in their life, but people without religion are less prepared to do so.

    I do not subscribe to any religion, in common terms I am an atheist. My ideal is to build a culture that can sustain peace. My principles include striving for outcomes where everyone can find and be their best.

    To me, these values are not “self-evident”. These are products of philosophy. A religion is an encapsulation of values. But philosophy can stand on its own.

    Philosophers and educators throughout human history had tried to conceptualized the form, the conditions, and the path to lasting peace. Religious values are simply an incomplete subset of those understanding taken at one or several points in history. Technically, they have all failed, and that is why the philosophical core needs to continue to renew itself toward the complete solution.

    In the same sense that the universal laws existed before human discovered them, the complete solution still takes work to discover. In this sense, religious organizations had been a participant of this discovery (along with secular philosophers), I think it is fair to give religious organization some credit for doing so in the past millennium. But its power will run and secular philosophers will be the only ones remaining to continue the search.

    So in short, I think we are in agreement. We just use words differently.

  29. Frankly

    Secularists that like to reject religions in the public arena either have their morality shaped by religion or else believe that it is shaped by their intellectual pursuits. The former requires that they be reminded, the latter needs to be identified as a social danger. Natural rights and natural morality are as mailable as are human desires and fears. Without a basis of moral teaching we will be left to our own designs and greater conflict as a result.

  30. Don Shor

    No, secularists’ morality is not shaped by ‘religion’. We hear this a lot, implying that religious values gave us our foundation. I am saying it’s the other way around.
    Most religious people in America and the West share the same values as secularists, and vice versa. Religions are just another form of philosophy, as Edgar noted above. There is overlap and interaction between all sorts of philosophies in our culture. I would say that there is no moral teaching today that isn’t different from what religions were teaching decades and centuries ago. Religions and philosophies and cultural values evolve over time to reflect the societies. What you claim are absolute truths are not, in fact, absolute or unchanging.
    We learn our morals and values the same way, regardless of religious affiliation: from older people, parents, guardians, teachers, from literature and the arts, from religious leaders and texts, and other sources that we admire and respect and relate to.
    How did you learn your values, Jeff? Probably the same way I did.

  31. Edgar Wai

    Re: JB

    The conclusion that morality based on intellectual pursuit is a social threat depends on whether their value are actually different from one another, and what they do when they encounter people with different values.

    The word ‘reject’ in your post is problematic. Every time a culture expands and encounter a different culture, there is a risk that the differences can cause conflicts. A fundamentally stable philosophy has to anticipate diversity of perspective, and prepare itself to resolve differences to reach a mutual understanding between both culture. In this sense, it is not a matter of ‘rejecting’ other views, but ‘rejecting’ one’s own view in face of a wider horizon.

    This quality makes a philosophy stable and suitable for maintaining peace. Religious philosophy that believe that their set of principles are perfect and cannot be altered lack this quality. As the world expands and cultures meet, these religions will collapse under its own rigidity and inconsistency because their incomplete philosophy cannot keep up with the expanding world.

  32. Don Shor

    A very useful long-term project that gives an overview of how values have developed and changed. Religion is an important component, but to varying degrees around the world. See the conclusions at the end:
    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Values_Survey[/url]

  33. Frankly

    [i]How did you learn your values, Jeff? Probably the same way I did.[/i]

    That’s the thing Don. I learned my core values from people and institutions that appear to me to have had their core values shaped primarily by a Christian influence.

    Relating this to the Wikipedia article you posted (thanks for that); I guess one way for me to explain my position is a concern about an erosion of our country’s traditional values being replaced with inadequate secular-rational values.

    Related to this, I see traditional values being shunned and demonized by the secular elite and mainstream media. The sensationalism of pedophile priests and a President offering a snide comment about Republicans “clinging to their guns and religion” are examples of general anti-religion drivers. Basically, traditional Judeo-Christian values are not cool now thanks to the work of these drivers. I think that is not cool. I think it is damaging to a country in need of a stronger core moral compass.

    If we are truly evolved enough to adopt more of a secular-rational values, then I think our leaders are doing a lousy job teaching a good, working version of them to our population. You and I might be evolved, experienced or educated enough to have developed a good, working moral compass; however, have you stepped outside our highly-educated, shopping-starved village to meet the average American Joe?

    There are so many confused, lonely and unhappy people out there consumed with the guilt of their damaging mistakes… and destined to make many more. I think many of these people could be saved by religion, a church, a congregation… if they weren’t so turned off by the un-coolness of it. One of the main teachings of Christianity is forgiveness. Forgiveness and love go hand in hand. This was my point in connecting with the Debra DeAngelo article.

    I am mostly a secular dude; but I think we are fooling ourselves imposing this on the rest of the population. Those of us that like to exercise our secular-rational values should do so while extoling the virtues of a strong religious core of morality. For one, I think our more evolved secular-rational values are shaped by a core of traditional religious values. Lastly, I think many people are going to be lost without these core religious values being drilled into their heads.

  34. David M. Greenwald

    Jeff: The problem I think is that you’re acting like the madman is simply absent core values as opposed to rational and reality based thought. That failure to recognize the difference undermines your core contention.

  35. Don Shor

    [i] I think many of these people could be saved by religion, a church, a congregation… if they weren’t so turned off by the un-coolness of it[/i]

    Belonging to a congregation is one of the best reasons for being in a religion. I think some exist primarily for that purpose, and I think many people continue in their church largely for the benefits of the congregation even when they reject the theology.

    [i]”have you stepped outside our highly-educated, shopping-starved village to meet the average American Joe?”
    [/i]

    You do realize I don’t live in Davis, right?

    [i]” I think we are fooling ourselves imposing this on the rest of the population.”
    [/i]
    We’re not imposing anything.

    [i]”without these core religious values being drilled into their heads.”
    [/i]
    Um, which ‘core religious values’ do you think should be drilled into other peoples’ heads?

  36. Frankly

    David, I get your point, but it misses my point. That gunman, and all that have committed these mass killings with guns were mad. But I question the contribution of an increasingly secular, anti-religious, anti-church-going society. I question the impact of the missing lessons in morality… how to treat people – all people – with care and kindness. How to reach out. The form of community that can exist with a church congregation… that is largely missing these days. Did Nancy Lanza have all the support she needed? Did too many people in the city and community isolate themselves from the situation with her and her son?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions.

    I think the following is interesting. It looks like most of these incidents happen in blue and bluish states.

    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/shootingmap.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/redbluemap.jpg[/img]

    Now blue states tend to have greater population density, but the red states have a higher gun-per capita rate. Red states also have a higher percentage of religious church-going people.

    Looking at this I see at least an interesting correlation with ideologocal/religious demographics and mass murders by gun. Texas and some southern states stand out as exceptions.

  37. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]I question the impact of the missing lessons in morality… how to treat people – all people – with care and kindness[/quote]inc

    I also feel that we lack a universal appreciation of one of the mail moral lessons… how to treat people – all people with care and kindness. However, I do not believe that religions have proven to be a good means to provide such instruction. While it is true that many religions pay lip service to treating all people well, what they actually mean is to treat all people who believe in ” true religion”, namely theirs, well. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in history from the persecution of the Jews, name your favorite persecution of others by the Catholic church, ongoing war between radical Muslim extremists and anyone they consider to be an infidel, various born again groups who denounce anyone who does not read the Bible to mean exactly what they say literally, the Westboro Baptist Church….. should I go on ?

    There are people who behave in a moral way who are strong believers in one faith or another, their are people who behave in a moral way and are agnostics, there are people who behave in a moral way and are atheists.
    And, regrettably, there are people who belong to all of these groups who do not behave in a moral way, even while preaching to others on how to behave. I simple do not believe that religions, as institutions have any higher moral authority than secular institutions. If you have data to dispute this, I would love to see it.

  38. Frankly

    [i]This has been demonstrated repeatedly in history[/i]

    Yes, but not recently with Judaism and Christianity.

    Also, you can point out the minority extremists (like the Westboro Baptist Church and the Trinity United Church of Christ), but that is atypical for Christian churches. The only actual challenge you can make about Christianity not treating people as you would like is related to homosexuality and abortion. And for these things I would challenge the assertion that Christians in general do not treat people holding different views with care and kindness. There is certainly passion in the debate, but the vitriol I see is more from the opposition and it is projected on those believing in more traditional values of man-woman marriage, and that there is a moral argument against a voluntary termination of a pregnancy. Even Todd Akin’s comments, as upsetting as they were to many people, were not delivered with malice or desire to hurt. It is the left and the left media that projects vile intentions only because people get their feelings hurt. That is a hallmark of left-leaning people, and all too easily amplified by a media fond of sensational conflict, that continues to confound me. That is why I like to point out the measure of material harm. I frankly do not have much patience for people that can’t handle getting their feeling hurt. I see them as being underdeveloped and immature.

    It is interesting to me. Coming from the Mid-West bible belt, I know few people that would actually deny care for, or wouldn’t be kind to any person in need, even as they might dislike or disapprove of that person’s life-choices or behavior. But, depending on that person, God forbid that they pick up on any of that subtle judgmental-ism because it can cause them to rage against the very people that would be kind and caring.

    Apparently, for a lot of people, feeling rejected evokes such a strong visceral response. In some cases it results in a form of rhetorical nastiness and hatred against people that do not deserve it. In the mentally ill that feeling of rejection can apparently explode into true evil.

    My general value proposition for religion – especially Christianity – is that it helps people control those destructive childish impulses. It teaches them how to love others that they disagree with… how to forgive and move on, and how people they don’t even really know will be there in their time of need to help them. That is the power of a functioning Christian religious congregation. It is a form of family for a society that is losing family and family values. I assume it is the same of other well-functioning religious congregations. It cannot be replaced by government structures, because by design, government is not a loving institution.

  39. Edgar Wai

    Re: JB

    I think mass shooting is more correlated to population density than secularism. [img]http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/images/facts/fotw661.jpg[/img] [Ref] ([url]http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2011_fotw661.html[/url])

    For the situation about religious and secular ethics, I think the situation is this:

    o Religious faith is collapsing not because of secular believes. It is collapsing because it itself is too rigid to adapt to the reality.

    o Since religious ethics is collapsing on its own, if the world also lacks secular ethicists, the world will fall into chaos.

    o Religious ethic is falling faster than secular ethicists can reestablish a support network based in secular ethics.

    The solution I propose is for secular ethicists to speed up in building the support network that the world needs.

    The root of my current ideals and principles are not from Christianity. It is ancient Chinese philosophy: [The Great Learning] ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Learning[/url])

  40. Edgar Wai

    Re: I said mass shooting seems to be more correlated to population density because in terms of population density, Texas is not an exception, but in terms of blue/red, Texas would be an exception.

  41. Don Shor

    [i]”My general value proposition for religion – especially Christianity – is that it helps people control those destructive childish impulses. It teaches them how to love others that they disagree with… how to forgive and move on, and how people they don’t even really know will be there in their time of need to help them…”[/i]

    There’s nothing particularly religious or Christian about those values or teachings. And the latter — being there in the time of need — is a reflection of community. Congregations are one form of community, but not the only one. So far you haven’t described anything uniquely religious.

  42. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote] I frankly do not have much patience for people that can’t handle getting their feeling hurt. I see them as being underdeveloped and immature. [/quote]

    It seems to me Jeff, that you only feel this way when it is those who you disagree with politically whose feelings are being hurt. A couple of examples of “hurt feelings” on the right that you seem to feel are completely justified. Obama’s comment about those who “cling to their guns and religion”. This was rhetoric, not a call to banish religion or outlaw guns. From my point of view, given the reaction of the right and the NRA and frankly from you about gun ownership, his comment about “clinging to guns” seems completely descriptive of reality, and yet you saw this as a derogatory comment. Likewise, Huckabee’s statements about our problems being due to our loss of Christian interpreted morality would seem to be a call to “cling to religion”. So perhaps you might want to apply your interpretation of underdeveloped and immature to those on the right with “hurt feelings” as well.

    Or perhaps, as Edgar Wai, Rob Davis, Don Shor to name a few are attempting, perhaps one could try to approach our problems from a systems point of view rather than calling the other side names and pretending that they are somehow less informed, less developed, less mature, less clear thinking than oneself.

  43. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]My general value proposition for religion – especially Christianity – is that it helps people control those destructive childish impulses[/quote]

    It helps some people control those destructive childish impulses. Others, such as the multiple preachers who use their position as a means of access to having affairs with the members of their congregation despite their marital status or that of their target, and the Catholic priests who use their position as an access for sexual behavior with children entrusted to their care do not seem to have learned this control and yet are in positions of power within their religious institutions and are frequently protected by those institutions.

    I feel that there is a very human tendency to want to dichotomize the world into good and evil. This allows one the comfort of believing that one is on the “good” side and that others are the “evil” and therefore must be either convinced or coerced into doing things the “right” way. This is exemplified in the writing of
    Major Caudill. This is no less true of some Christians than it is of Islamic extremists. To label one side “good” and the other “bad” completely ignores that the outcomes of violent or hateful actions is the same regardless of which side is performing the action. It also ignores that the world is full of nuances. I would far rather have my children instructed by a “secularist” with consistently sound moral behavior than by someone who profeses to any religions belief system, but behaves in an immoral fashion. To claim that there are more moral Christians than there are moral secularists is not a factual or logical statement at all, but merely an expression of your
    own opinion.

  44. Edgar Wai

    In terms of strengthening secular ethics, does anyone know a community forum for Davis?

    These are some of the websites/organizations and my impression:

    [b]Davis Wiki: [/b]The website itself lacks structure to support in-depth discussion. Requires too much manual edits to organize a discussion.

    [b]Vanguard (here):[/b] Lacks focused discussion topics. The discussion for the same issue is often split into different pages, pages are difficult to search, and individual posts are hard to reference.

    [b]Davis Patch:[/b] Lacks focused discussion topics. Postings are scattered in the opinion section and various articles.

    In terms of what Don posted earlier, these websites lean more toward the “Self-expression” culture instead of the “Survival” culture. But self-expression is not what is needed. What is needed is a “Cooperation” culture. The purpose is not to have a place for people to talk about themselves, but to resolve conflicts and coordinate efforts for the betterment of community.

    If you know where such a forum is for Davis, could you tell me?
    If you don’t where it is, but you want to participate, could you also let me know, so that I could evaluate whether to create such a forum?

    In terms of making such a forum, I am thinking of using Meetup or using phpBB. But this depends on whether someone would actually participate.

    In the meantime I started listing everyone that I know and tried to write down their ideals and wishes. When I do that I find that I don’t know most of them.

    My wish is that Davis has a place for community discussions, so that people don’t repeat the same discussion only when something bad had happened, without any conclusion or converging toward any action. The community needs a place where people can routinely discuss and cooperate drawing the strength from different disciplines. That would be the equivalent of religious congregation that secularists had not created.

    For those who have concerns about big government, this type of community cooperation is what you want. When the community can discuss and take care of its own issues, by the power of the individual members, the need for a government to impose laws and regulations will disappear.

    For those who wants to ensure social services to those in needs, this type of community cooperation is also what you want, because the very purpose of the forum is to coordinate effort and fix all issues in the community.

    When I would make such a forum:
    1) When I cannot find such a forum (If I find one I want to join that, instead of making another one.)
    2) When I can find at least one other person who would participate
    3) When I find no objection of doing it
    4) When I can identify a list of things that everyone in the community can do to build the community, regardless what background they have. The purpose of community is to make survival happiness, personal growth, and the opportunity to help the community accessible to everyone.

  45. craised

    Let’s pretend that our government is a huge dam with an enormous hole in it that’s gushing millions of gallons of water a seconds. And the hole is getting bigger. On the other side of the dame is a large lake. All incomes of people live along the lake. The wealthy have the largest tracks of land, feeding the lake with the most run-off water.

    Now Obama and the Democrats are suggesting that the answer to the draining lake is for the wealthiest to drag their garden hoses down to the lake and “give just a little more”. There is no mention that the problem is the enormous hole. The garden hoses from the rich won’t put a dent into the problem. Meanwhile, the lake level goes down and down, and all suffer.

    All the Republicans are suggesting is that we might want to fix the hole.

  46. wdf1

    Borowitz report (meaning “fake” news): Al Qaeda Disbands; Says Job of Destroying U.S. Economy Now in Congress’s Hands ([url]http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2012/12/al-qaeda-disbands-says-job-of-destroying-us-economy-now-in-congress-hands.html[/url])

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