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Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Crime, Law, Politics | 20 comments

Sympathy for sedition

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Sympathy for sedition
by Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers began the new year in Washington with new ideas about how to undermine the government in which they serve.

On Wednesday, the first legislative day of the year, House conservatives gathered with reporters for their monthly “Conversations with Conservatives.” When the questioning turned to the armed rebellion in Oregon against the authority of the federal government, these representatives of the United States stood with the rebels.

“You have just a frustration that they feel the federal government is not listening to them anymore, and that’s what leads to what so far has been a peaceful takeover — of an abandoned building, by the way — and the media, I think, is so quick to sort of cast aspersions on that group of people,” declared Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican and leader of House conservatives.

“And I think civil disobedience has been something for the most part that the liberal media used to stand up for, but apparently there’s some exceptions to that when us conservatives and pro-Second Amendment people are trying to exercise that same right of civil disobedience. So it’s pretty frustrating.”

No, Congressman. Civil disobedience is when people break laws they think unjust and then peacefully face the legal consequences. The takeover of a federal wildlife facility in Oregon by armed men is sedition.

Yet not one of the 10 or so Republican House members on the panel criticized the takeover, and one, Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, announced his refusal to pass judgment.

“I just want to agree with Raul on this,” said Kentucky Rep. Tom Massie.

“You can disagree with their methods of protesting, but we wouldn’t be talking about this today if they weren’t protesting, and so they’ve drawn attention to it.”

It was an inauspicious start to this election year and to the second session of the 114th Congress. The Republican majority began the year not by governing but with an ostentatious show of its hostility toward government.

The House’s first substantive piece of business for the new year: another attempt to repeal Obamacare (the 62nd, by the Democrats’ tally) coupled with another stab at cutting off Planned Parenthood, one of a dozen such efforts recently to scale back abortion rights and women’s health care. In this latest attempt to repeal Obamacare (it goes further than the previous 61 because Republicans used a legislative maneuver that allows it to go to President Obama for a certain veto), Republicans abandoned their “repeal and replace” mantra in favor of just abolishing the massive health care law.

“If we repeal Obamacare, the very first thing that happens is we go back to the best health care system in the world,” announced Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, another participant in the conservatives’ pizza-and-Coke luncheon. “We had health care six years ago, and it was the best, and that’s where I want to go as a starter.”

Brooks is given to exotic pronouncements (he declared in 2014 that Democrats were engaged in a “war on whites”), but his assertion that all was hunky-dory before the 2010 health care law recalls the good old days of lifetime coverage limits, coverage bans because of pre-existing conditions, discrimination against women, inability to carry health insurance between jobs, and obstacles to young adults staying on their parents’ policies.

Still there was, purely as a matter of doggedness, something impressive about this Obamacare vote. North Korea is testing nukes, Saudi Arabia and Iran are plunging the Middle East deeper into conflict — but congressional Republicans will not be distracted from their agenda.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in a Wednesday news conference, said he would eventually come up with an alternative to Obamacare and something else resembling a legislative agenda in 2016. “We are just beginning this decision-making process,” he said. “Nothing’s been decided yet.”

But it’s hard to govern when your caucus is so hostile to government that it has sympathy for seditionists. Asked about the Oregon situation, Ryan deferred to Rep. Greg Walden, a member of GOP leadership who represents the area — and, as The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis noted, Ryan nodded agreement as Walden spoke.

Walden made clear that “an armed takeover is not the way to go about it,” but he had sympathy for the rebels. “These people just want to take care of the environment — they really do,” he said. “And it is the government that all too often ignores the law.”

Such as: when lawmakers sworn to uphold the Constitution applaud those who take up arms against the government.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

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  • Sal Monela

    “We had health care six years ago, and it was the best, and that’s where I want to go as a starter.”- Mo Brooks – What kind of dream world is this fool living in? I was for purchasing health insurance for my employer for 25 years and in addition to Milbank’s notes above, it was a continuous round of ever increasing premiums, deductibles and co pays. In addition, the US falls behind a number of other developed countries in life expectancy and other markers. Finally it was and continues to be far and away the most expensive health care system in the world. If Rep. Brooks doesn’t understand this the he has no business speaking out on health care policy because he simply doesn’t understand anything about it. .
    As to Walden’s sympathy for these insurrectionists, he may not have heard, but the Bundy’s have declared their intent to take over the land and build a Libertarian Community on it. That isn’t a protest, it’s armed robbery.
    Lastly “Republicans abandoned their “repeal and replace” mantra in favor of just abolishing the massive health care law.” That is because after multiple attempts to come up with something to replace it, they have been unable to agree on anything.

    • JSpencer

      In what country would repeated attempts to strip 20 million people of their healthcare without providing anything in it’s place be considered sane leadership??? For the life of me I don’t understand how these people think.

  • JSpencer

    The point Dana Milbank makes is right smack on the mark. Just imagine how these same republican lawmakers would have reacted if it were a bunch of armed environmentalists, armed women’s rights advocates, or armed BLM protesters. As Milbank points out, this does not fall into the category of civil disobedience, and the lawmakers who gloss it over and sympathize should be ashamed.

  • I would almost (ALMOST mind you) want Obama to not veto the bill (simply leave it unsigned and have it take effect. Let’s see what people would think of Republican leadership when huge quantities of people are suddenly bounced out of their health insurance and have few options other than the emergency room!

    • Slamfu

      Yea but then when the disaster happened, the Republicans despite being the ones who authored and lobbied for it to happen would simply pretend they didn’t and blame Obama for it. Just like they blame Bill Clinton for the Graham-Leech-Bliley Act, which also was pushed back by Democrats until a great deal of horse trading was done to get Democratic support for it. But now they blame Clinton for deregulating the banks, lol. Republicans are great at confusing people as to who is responsible for things when the crap hits the fan, even if they were the ones who threw it.

      • Yes, but Clinton did sign the bill. Obama could let it take effect w/o his signature.

  • dduck

    I totally agree that this is probably an act of sedition and if they violated the law, they should be liable for potential legal actions, and that is OK with me. (BTW, personally I would just leave them there in the woods for a while- no Waco, please.)
    However, what a world we live in. No longer can you get any one to listen to your position on any thing if you don’t do something outrageous like hollering death to cops, invading a department store or restaurant, harassing a veteran’s funeral, burning a Koran, chaining yourself to a tree or marching and blocking traffic. Obviously, there are even more extreme measures, some by sane people, some by nuts. that blow things and people up, burn down their own neighborhoods, and slaughter innocents- they are disgusting, of course. Gone are the days when a Gandhi or a King could get traction.
    Look at the biggest big noise and rabble-rauser, Donald Trump.
    This is the price we pay for being in a free country like America.

    • Actually, dduck, I think this is the price we pay for the internet (and the tobacco industry). The Tobacco industry first developed (at least in the US) the blueprint for obfuscation within this country. There are some very smart university professors who have taken up the obfuscation-doctrine as an historical study. for a quick run-down. Great reading!

      • dduck

        🙂 Actually, I blame the Walkman. Every kid got into his own little bubble world. Ans what about radio, it brought us instant news

        • Slamfu

          It was the telegraph I tells ya! Tool of the devil….

    • The Ohioan

      It seems to me that Occupy Wall Street’s goals of bringing attention to the perpetrators of the Great Recession were effective and are still reverberating through our society because they did use the same peaceful civil disobedience tactics of Gandhi and King.

      Peaceful civil disobedience is very difficult to adhere to, especially with the edginess of law enforcement these days, but has always produced the most effective change. I suppose “outrageous” is in the eye of the beholder. There is very little “peaceful” about BLM’s protests which is why they are not getting any results.

      • dduck

        I disagree, I think BLM got their point across because they disrupted some daily lives.
        And, the people in Oregon also did. I just hope they accept the sheriff’s offer to escort them out.

    • Slamfu

      Neither Gandhi or King operated in a vacuum. Both were the peaceful side, the carrot, to a movement that also had a violent side to it, the stick. It is the contrast between the violent and the peaceful options that stimulates large changes. Sadly, violence must be used, has ALWAYS been a prequisite for any significant changes in the power structure. The same will apply here. The cameras simply don’t roll until a brick goes through a window. Eventually, that is a tactic that will need more widespread use, if they want change. Otherwise, they will be ignored until they go away like OWS.

      And that is not a fault of the protesters either. That is society that forces that play. This is a simple fact.

  • GrantS

    The knocks against Obamacare are due to misinformation. The quiet backing for the Oregon seditionists is because fear of upsetting the base and the NRA. But the base is also misinformed, so it seems everything these lawmen discussed has elements of misinformation.

    The problem with not dealing with the seditionists is how it will embolden them. It will occur more frequently. I can see future transgresses being larger as well. At some point it will become a national problem rather than a local one. That the gop representatives can’t see this is their failure.

    • JSpencer

      “The problem with not dealing with the seditionists is how it will embolden them. It will occur more frequently.”

      I think you’re exactly right. That said, their cause isn’t exactly righteous, nor is it one most people even identify with (barring anti-govt kooks and militia types). I also agree with dduck, accept the offer to get escorted out – and then arrest the fools.

      • dduck

        That was not my plan.

        • JSpencer

          Well, the first part was. I added the second. 😉 Seriously though, we are a nation of laws, and these people have intentionally broken the law. If this is indeed “civil disobedience”, rather than grandstanding, then they should be prepared to pay the piper.

    • Slamfu

      I thought that not dealing with the Bundy Ranch more forcefully was a mistake too, but I think I was wrong. Had there been a big bloodbath, that would have been a real rallying point for these types. But instead, they basically looked like the violent idiots they are, the govt showed it will not live down to their false expectations of jack booted tyranny, and after 10 days they basically disintegrated into a number of packs of squabbling groups that hated eachother. Bundy’s family pratically kicked them off their land, some were ejected, showing that these guys are not a unified front.

      Same thing is happening in Oregon. Those guys are looking like idiots and their cohesion is fading fast because they are what they are. A bunch of narcissists libertarians who think toting guns is the answer to things and basically just want free stuff they feel they are owed for no reason. This whole thing has been a PR nightmare for that movement. Instead of seeing them as folk heroes, the nation sees them as bickering morons making bizarre demands who can’t even get support from the locals they say they are defending.

      • JSpencer

        Well said Slam. The last thing we need to do is create martyrs of these fools, but there does need to be accountability. If they were subjected to significant mocking, maybe that would be enough..

      • jdledell

        slamfu – By not dealing with Bundy at the time, or even later, allowed Bundy to escape the $1million+ he owes for his illegal grazing. The government has totally dropped pursuing Bundy for the money. He won his battle and we may see others pursue the same tactic.

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