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OP/ED: Feeding the White Elephant

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posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 10:32 AM
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There is a phenomenon that occurs here at ATS that both amazes and disappoints me each time it manifests itself. I have decided to call it "feeding the white elephant". It's something I will never understand; and it is a dichotomy of sorts. In a community filled with intelligent, informed, and aware members, who on a daily basis blow me away with the things they reveal and the depths of knowledge and thought they contribute, when it comes to issues in which this phenomenon manifests itself, there are a number of you, in my humble opinion, who flunk the "intelligent discussion test" - every single time. And it always happens on the same type of discussion.
 


We have at least a couple of ATSNN article threads going right now on issues surrounding practices by the U.S. government that could be interpreted as encroaching on, or at least representing a danger to, the U.S. citizen's rights and freedoms. When it comes to issues like this, it is not a partisan matter. It is a constitutional matter. But more importantly, it should be a "stewardship" matter. We should care enough about our fellow citizens, and our children, to objectively analyze these issues. Discussions on these issues should be 1. is the government's intentions the way I (or you) are currently interpreting them?; and 2. is their method of implementation constitutional, or is it detrimental to our rights and liberties? But the conversation never remains at that level of analysis that could actually reveal whether on any given new "practice" by our government, we may be losing rights that were afforded by our constitution. Instead, to a discussion, it turns to a democratic/republican argument, and anything of substance gets lost in a petty "you vs us" catfight.

I am a Republican. If I do not OBJECTIVELY look at the conduct of the administration while my own party is in place, and call violations against our rights and our constitution when they appear - or at least have an appearance of existing - then when the Democrats come into power, and THEY violate the constitution, I will deserve to have to defend myself against every insinuation that I am "only picking on the other side". It won't be true, but there would be historical actions (or lack thereof) within my own personal conduct that would lead to that appearance. The rights and liberties of the citizen should trump any party-line, any party allegiance. I will speak against dangerous practices within my own party, so that I can continue, unfettered, to speak against ALL dangerous practices regardless of who is in power.

I don't care who is in office. If I see something that looks unconstitutional, or threatening to the U.S. citizen's rights (or for that matter treats the global citizen in a manner that is beneath traditional American values) it behooves me to speak against it. And if it is my own party, I feel even more obligated because that empowers me to continue to speak against transgressions once I find myself in what could be perceived as a "politically biased" position. And I don't understand why more people cannot stop feeding the partisan elephant, and start nurturing our rights and freedoms.

To the Democrats who want to state that the expanded power afforded and the encroachments of civil rights via the passing of the PATRIOT Act are results of "Neo-Con" powermongering, and that the Democrats are some pristine vanguard of the protection of our rights who would NEVER consider such fascist actions, I say to you that is a load of crock! Clinton tried to get the Ombnibus Act passed in 1995 after the WTC bombing in 1993, and it is virtually verbatim the PATRIOT Act.

www.abovetopsecret.com...

To the Republicans who want to state that their party is the only party with the spine to do something in the name of "homeland security" (i.e. the PATRIOT Act) and that Clinton did nothing to try to prevent terrorism, I say to you that is a load of crock! The Republicans shot down Clinton's attempts at the same measures in the name of security that the Republicans now laud as the second coming of the Savior of the U.S. citizenry - only they made darn sure the savior was riding an elephant instead of a donkey this time. Major point you're missing in this argument: if you think the PATRIOT Act is a reasonable measure due to the attacks of 9/11, and that these measures are in place to thwart, or have thwarted, further terrorist actions you MUST admit that if the Republicans had not killed the passing of the Omnibus bill in 1995, SEPTEMBER 11TH MIGHT NOT HAVE HAPPENED! YOU CAN NOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

This is NOT a partisan issue. This is a constitutional issue. And the only thing that should divide the discussion is interpretation of the constitution, the actions of our government, the intent behind those actions; and whether you think its okay to lose that for this...not who is taking the that and promising the this. Every time you guys start discussing issues like this and reduce it to a "bleeding heart liberal is a traitor" or "neo-con right-winger is a nazi" argument, you lose another chance to look intelligently at a trend that has manifested itself for going on FOUR PRESIDENTIAL TERMS...and you also make yourselves look real petty.

There is a systemic problem in our representative government that we are allowing ourselves to overlook by fighting with each other. The white elephant we're not only all shouting around, but feeding with our inability to logically discuss these concerning issues, is some dangerous mentality within the representatives we send to Washington. This mentality is in direct opposition to the mandates we give them to represent our civil rights and defend our freedoms. BOTH PARTY'S POLITICIANS HAVE DECIDED THAT THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST ANY "DANGER" WILL BE DRAWN FROM OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND OUR FREEDOMS.

Doesn't that bother any of you enough to put your bag of peanuts down and start a rational, nonpartisan discussion?

[edit on 12-19-2005 by Valhall]




posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 10:59 AM
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Great OP/ED Valhall!


Remember FDR, one of the most venerated Democratic presidents of all time, interred U.S. citizens of Japanese descent into concentration camps during WWII. Can you imagine the outcry if Bush suggested we should round up all Muslims in the U.S. and put them in camps? It seemed logical to the left back then....

Of course that's an extreme example, and times have changed. But it proves that it's folly to say that the Dems are the guardians of liberties and the constitution.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 10:59 AM
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Very well put


This post goes along well with what the site administration tried to put across in 'the dark times' posts a few months back. Seems there are still the same problems as there were then.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:00 AM
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I couldn't have put it better myself. (not that it would be hard for anyone to put something better than myself, lol)

This reminds me of a thread a while back about the leaking of classified information about the secret prisons in Europe.

I was arguing that the release of the classified information was wrong, and the "leaker" should be found and punished according to the law. At no time did I advocate the existance of the secret prisons, nor rendered my opinion about the alleged existance of them.

I was immediately attacked as someone advocating toture, and being immoral. There seemed to be a complete lack of ability, or desire, to reflect on the one thing (the release of classified information) as seperate issue from the second thing (the alleged exisitance of secret prisons, and the activities allegedly going on there). These can be looked at as 2 seperate issues.

I purposely withheld my opinion of these alleged prisons to see what kind of reaction my statements would garner. The reactions were about what I expected.

I later clarified my position on the subject of the prisons themselves. If the prisons exist as alleged, they are indeed an immoral way of garnering intelligence information.

Here's the previous thread I mentioned.
NEWS: CIA Asks Justice Dept. to Look into Secret Prisons Leak

The problems facing the world today really need to be looked at as non-partisanly (is that even a word? lol) as possible. The issues are too important to let them get lost in the partisan bickering that they so often degenerate into.

[edit on 19-12-2005 by BomSquad]



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:09 AM
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well put..exactly, exactly. i bring this subject up to my non-online friends ( and in some threads) and what I get is nothing. it's like looking at a wall, there is NO comprehension, lights are sorta on but nobody is home.
people seem to be ....for lack of better terms, brainwashed, duped, gulible, uncaring, knowingly ignorant, unable to grasp what happened longer than 5 days ago. it's almost like people look at all the political happenings as a bunch of unrelated, coincidental happens with no past.
i just assume that the majority have become soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo complacent, so concerned with thier individual lives that they forget that they should pay attention to those that control thier lives. this is the nature of humans today............
what does it take to change the nature of a person...........................................



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:32 AM
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Doesn't that bother any of you enough to put your bag of peanuts down and start a rational, nonpartisan discussion?



I would be glad to put my bag down, however no matter how hard anyone tries you are going to have a few hardliners who insist everything be split along party lines so they can play the blame game.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:38 AM
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Valhall is one of my favorite clear thinkers ( despite her clear lack of taste in a political party
) and she should be hoisted up on our shoulders for pointing out the 900 lb. gorilla that is in every room here and elsewhere.

Thanks for the very eloquent words.


[edit on 19/12/05 by deluded]



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:40 AM
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You know, shots, your comment brings out a rather interesting fact about this board. The owners have gone out of their way to afford an environment where people can kick the political teeth out of each other and just roll like pigs in a mud puddle in extreme partisanship (PTS, slugfest, etc.). But the board has not fostered a safe haven where people who are willing to commit to total abandonment of partisanship, and who want to discuss these issues of paramount importance, that happen to lie within the whole of the politic body that is our government, on a level that would lead to true analysis of whether a given issue, effort, bill, law, or order is constitutionally in our best interest, or some step toward endangerment to the citizens' rights. Because that would not be a "political forum", but something entirely different. I'm not sure what you would call it.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:43 AM
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and we might even think of participating instead watching from the sidelines as you fight like cats in a bag!



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:02 PM
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As an Australian i admit to being a touch behind the eight ball, because I don't fully understand your political system of what constitutes a republican as opposed to a democrat. For that I apologise but I guess to me its the left arm and right arm of the same body. I do not personally agree with two party preferred politics because I find there is issues on both sides that I agree or disagree with. I prefer to have an opinion on issues and not parties I guess. I don't claim to have an answer of what works better than a two party prefered system or an answer to party politics at all, because any answer I do see would be liable to corruption and vote buying. I am a firm believer in politicians working for the constituents as opposed for a party but thats just my own opinion.

I prefer to comment on each issue as i feel indidually. To weigh up each issue and see what it means to the people of the USA and the world regardless of what party is involved. Maybe my way is wrong I don't know, all I know is that I am dissillusioned by the current scene of politics the world over.

Great op/ed Valhall.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:10 PM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
But it proves that it's folly to say that the Dems are the guardians of liberties and the constitution.

You've missed the point... this is not a dem-vs-rep issue.

Excellent piece from Valhall... and she's been inside my head damn it! Only her words came out better.

One factor that often encroaches into these current discussions that involve the "war on terrorism" and the "war in Iraq" and the tough "security challenges" facing the nation is one of experienced credibility. It's one thing to say, "give me liberty or give me death," and it's quite another to hold a gun in your hand and shout that at those who would trample your liberty.

It's been a long, long time since this nation was in such a position. Oh sure we can argue about the wars of the past century, but there was no occupying force trying to remove our hard-won ideals of freedom and liberty. Certainly, myself and many other ATS members have not come close to be in this spot, and our members who have served militarily have come to know what that might mean.

But I'd like to direct your attention to a man who had everything to loose, and risked it all in the pursuit of the ideals we now take for granted. Benjamin Franklin is credited with a phrase that is infamously used by a wide range of groups, but contains such power that no abuse can dilute it's meaning:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security."
I'm sure you've seen this before.

But even more relevant to Val's timely and well-written Op/Ed article is a lesser known quote from Mr. Franklin.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

It's extraordinarily helpful to take a simple trip backward in history and review the character, ideals, and dreams that inspired the forming of this nation. But be careful, it may cause a great sadness...
Thomas Jefferson
John Adams
Roger Sherman
The Continental Congress
The Articles of Confederation



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:45 PM
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Originally posted by Valhall
There is a phenomenon that occurs here at ATS that both amazes and disappoints me each time it manifests itself. I have decided to call it "feeding the white elephant". It's something I will never understand; and it is a dichotomy of sorts. In a community filled with intelligent, informed, and aware members, who on a daily basis blow me away with the things they reveal and the depths of knowledge and thought they contribute, when it comes to issues in which this phenomenon manifests itself, there are a number of you, in my humble opinion, who flunk the "intelligent discussion test" - every single time. And it always happens on the same type of discussion.


...and that discussion is invariably, in the eyes of many ATS posters, the GWB administration getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar.


We have at least a couple of ATSNN article threads going right now on issues surrounding practices by the U.S. government that could be interpreted as encroaching on, or at least representing a danger to, the U.S. citizen's rights and freedoms.


Or the issue could be the honest effort by the current administration to make things better for the citizenry. We are not permitted to examine that angle, however, because to agree with Bush in any way makes us a sheeple.

Stand up for what you feel is right and you will be surrounded by anti-Bush mobs who immediately shanghai the discussion. From that point on, all further attempts at rational discussion are fruitless. It's the popular thing to do.

The two questions you posed earlier ( 1. is the government's intentions the way I (or you) are currently interpreting them?; and 2. is their method of implementation constitutional, or is it detrimental to our rights and liberties? ) are a good starting point with a snowballs' chance of being discussed.

So guess who gets the label of the classroom dunce, who "flunked"? The person who wants to discuss all possibilities and not just the conspiratorial ones.

I realize that I personally number among the "flunkies" in most eyes here, and I'm proud of it. There have been more times than I can count where I've been chastised with "How could you possibly defend Bushco?" Little do you know that if you (collective you) waited to hear, and actually read what I wrote, that you might actually learn something.

Finally - and this is something I've noticed over the past year or so - a big part of the blame for the poor level of discourse here belongs to the mods and whomever else runs this site. Threads are allowed to degenerate into sandboxes. Information on the topic that is totally false is allowed to proliferate and never brought to task. Ad hominem attacks are allowed to flourish, but only if....
Official complaints are unanswered, as are u2u's. The mods are reading along, because they will jump on a person for trying to circumvent the censors.


Ah well, c'est la vie, no?

My $.02



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:48 PM
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Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
You've missed the point... this is not a dem-vs-rep issue.


The point I got out of it is that no single party has a monopoly on these virtues...I think people in both parties, while in power, have done what they think is necessary to protect the country in times of war, and these actions have curtailed freedoms to varying extents. Whether these actions were helpful or "worth it" is, of course, up for debate.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:55 PM
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Two points for two posters:

dj - Bush has currently held mideastern and/or Muslim men for over 4 years. See - I challenge you to just say that. Just admit it. It's quite liberating.

If you had said - "in the past this country went so far as to have internment camps where vast numbers of U.S. citizens were held, and at least at this point we have not gone that bad..."

I would be more inclined to say - you are absolutely right! But I fear we might be sliding toward it.

But you didn't - you had to point out that it was a DEMOCRATIC president that wins the award for the most extravagant display of populace restriction.

It doesn't matter what his flavor was, dj. It matters that it happened once. What we need to be doing is scouring the record for what happened both within the body politic as a whole, as well as within the U.S. populace to allow that to happen - NO MATTER WHO WAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE. It was NOT a partisan issue.

jso - You should be able to defend an issue all you want without some one accusing you of defending a party. But its the issue that needs to be discussed, NOT the PARTY. Maybe if we strove to be careful in our wording when we are either defending an ISSUE or attacking it because of its dangers, we could center more on what is important and leave the politics behind.

I would think that the perfect poster on political issues would be one that you could never, ever tell what their political affiliation is from reading their posts. That's why sometimes I really feel good when I get attacked by a fellow Republican...at least I was able to discuss my concerns about a particular issue, without showing my political bloomers.

[edit on 12-19-2005 by Valhall]



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 01:03 PM
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Valhall,

Yes, I'll admit that we're holding Muslim men without charge, but virtually all of these were captured on a foreign battlefield. And the few Americans that were held had ties to terrorism and weren't picked up simply because of their heritage/religion/etc. But, of course, I see your point of a slippery slope, and fear it too -- but we're still extremely far from anything like what happened to the Japanese-Americans during World War II from becoming a reality.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 01:55 PM
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Excellent piece Valhall! You've hit the nail on the head. I tend to bow out of these discussions for the reason you've elloquently stated - they invariably just turn into a left/right baroom brawl on those occasions that they don't first turn into discussions about evolution/creation.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 02:34 PM
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Originally posted by Valhall
jso - You should be able to defend an issue all you want without some one accusing you of defending a party. But its the issue that needs to be discussed, NOT the PARTY. Maybe if we strove to be careful in our wording when we are either defending an ISSUE or attacking it because of its dangers, we could center more on what is important and leave the politics behind.

I would think that the perfect poster on political issues would be one that you could never, ever tell what their political affiliation is from reading their posts.

I can discuss an issue without defending a party. But not here on ATS - everyone knows everyone too well. People just assume that I'm a Republican because I voted for Bush.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 02:39 PM
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Originally posted by jsobecky

I can discuss an issue without defending a party. But not here on ATS - everyone knows everyone too well. People just assume that I'm a Republican because I voted for Bush.



Yep, that's exactly what I'm talking about. We should be able to discuss an issue with another person on the pros and cons of that singular issue, whether we know the political affiliation of the person we're talking to or not.

That this can't happen goes toward what I fear. That eventually the big white elephant's gonna go bizurk and trample everyone of us, democratic and republican alike, into a nasty nasty mudhole we could have avoided had we just been more human and less partisan.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 03:07 PM
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Originally posted by Valhall
Because that would not be a "political forum", but something entirely different. I'm not sure what you would call it.


Two words come to mind "Neutral Zone". A place where you can discuss the issues yet not take a political stance nor even mention politics.

Hope that makes sense, I do not have the gift of writing and style that you have



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 04:05 PM
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To set up such a discussion group, I think it would be necessary to set up helpful guidelines & tips that describe and give examples of how to avoid partisan statements, and how to formulate non-partisan statements. Because it can be tricky to strip all bias, prejudice, etc. from a post.

Also, for my suggestion on what to call the forum, how about something with "Non-partisan" in it? Out of all the possible similar terms (neutral, impartial, objective, independent), "Non-partisan" is the clearest to describe turning off one's allegiance to Democrat or Republican bias.





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