None Dare Call It Sedition

Orcinus, April 6, 2010

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction — Brittanica Concise Dictionary

Well, finally. It’s high time somebody had the guts to say the S-word — sedition — right out loud.

When the indictments against the Hutaree were unsealed last week, the S-word was right there, front and center, in Count One. The Justice Department accused them of “seditious conspiracy,” charging that the defendants “did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown…to levy war against the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law.”

This is very serious stuff. But the Hutaree are getting nailed for sedition only because they crossed the line with inches to spare. They’re by no means the only ones. Advocating, encouraging, and sanctioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side.

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An Expat’s Guide to the Vancouver Olympics, February 12, 2010



Hello, world. We’ve been expecting you. It’s good to see you here, milling around Robson Street in your uniforms and badges, whooshing here and there in what must be a million Official Olympic GM-donated cars, making guesses as to where in town they’ve hidden the fire tower for the Olympic Torch (it’s still a big secret, but the local news station thinks they may have found it last night), and generally making it impossible for locals to get a restaurant reservation or cross a bridge. Still, we’ve got you to thank for the new convention center and Seabus ferry, the Canada Line subway that finally(!!) directly connects the airport to downtown, and that shiny new four-lane freeway that’s taken half an hour off what used to be a treacherous winding trip two-lane up to Whistler.

So, y’no, thanks.

I got here a little ahead of you — six years ahead, in fact, as a native California transplant who was looking for something a bit more like freedom back in 2003. This city has been preparing for this week almost exactly as long as I’ve been here. And I arrived already knowing what Vancouver was in for, because this isn’t my first Games. I’m an Olympics veteran who did her time as a full-time paid staff writer for the Los Angeles Summer Olympics back in 1984. So the energy gathering around town right now is very familiar, mostly in a sweet, good way.
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Copenhagen: Getting past the urgency trap

Grist, November 21, 2009

Copenhagen’s still three weeks away, but climate activists are already voicing their enormous disappointment about everything that’s not going to get done there. The heat is rising, and we’re all feeling the overwhelming urgency to get a strong global agreement that will get the laggards off their butts and launch the structural reformations most of us know we need to fix the problem. A lot of us, it seems, loaded all our highest hopes onto this one conference, wanting desperately to believe that this would finally be the moment the long-awaited Grand Transformation would occur.

But the hard truth of the matter is this: change of this magnitude never happens with a single conference, a single treaty, or even a single disaster. The structural changes required to get us off carbon and onto a truly sustainable footing challenge the economic assumptions that humans have lived by for 2500 years. Change that wide and deep will be the work of an entire century, maybe two. (If we’re smart and lucky, our grandchildren may live to see it mostly done.) All of us are well aware of the precarious time crunch we’re under here; but humans change only as fast as they change, and forcing the issue isn’t likely to help. And it may even hurt us in the long run.

We didn’t get into this mess overnight, and we’re not going to get out of it in one dazzling planetary stroke of universal enlightenment, either.
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Postcard From Canada: Why I Missed Obama’s Speech, September 13, 2009

True confessions: I missed the health care speech. While the whole lefty blogosphere was watching and blogging and tweeting, I was sacked out in my attic bedroom high on a mountainside in Vancouver, sleeping off a narcotic haze and the exhausting aftermath of a long night spent in the emergency room at Lions Gate Hospital.

President Obama tried to remind Americans all over again why health care reform matters. I didn’t need a speech: I’d just had an up-close-and-personal encounter with a rational, not-for-profit, single-payer health care system. And it reminded me all over again (as it does every time we see a doctor here) why health care reform is the most crucial battle of our generation.
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The Health Care Debate: Another Country Heard From

Orcinus, July 26, 2009


Tommy Douglas — Canada’s answer to Abe Lincoln.
He didn’t free the slaves, but he got everybody free health care.

One of the big differences between the 1993 Hillarycare debate and our current conversation is that we’re hearing a lot more fact and lot less fiction about how other countries’ systems actually work.Thank the Internet. Back in 1993, the “Harry and Louise” ads succeeded because most Americans didn’t have access to any other sources of information. Now, the whole world is at our fingertips. Anybody who really wants to know how health care is managed in Canada, or the UK, or Japan, or Australia can readily find someone with real experience in those systems who can tell their stories.

But progressive Americans living overseas aren’t waiting around any more for y’all to ask. Some of us are getting proactive about sending our stories home. All around the world, there are millions of American citizens who have first-hand experience with other countries’ health care systems. And Democrats Abroad, the world’s largest political gathering of expatriate Americans, is getting us organized to tell our tales.
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Mythbusting Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism

Orcinus, June 19, 2009

It’s been a wild couple of weeks for those of us in the wingnutology business. Our services have been in tremendous demand as the mainstream media tries to sort out the meaning of what Scott Roeder and James von Brunn did. I’ve done an average of one radio show every day for the past two weeks trying to help various lefty talkers around the country make some sense of it all; and I’m generally gratified at how seriously people are starting to take this.

At the same time, I’m also appalled (though, sadly, hardly surprised) by the conservative mythmaking that’s going on around the very serious issue of right-wing domestic terrorism. So it’s obviously time to pull together another “Firing Back” piece to give progressives what they need to separate fact from fiction when these talking points start flying.

I’ve actually had every one of the following myths pitched to me by on-air interviewers, phone-in callers, and/or online commenters over the last two weeks. Most of them have come up over and over, which suggests to me that you’re likely to encounter them, too. So let’s walk ’em through…
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Jesus’s Jihadis

Orcinus, May 31, 2009

I arrived in DC for the America’s Future Now! conference, kicked back in my hotel room, and was greeted with the news that Dr. George Tiller — the Kansas gynecologist who has endured shootings, state investigations, public harassment, and more death threats than any thousand of us together can imagine in 20 years of standing up to that state’s anti-abortion thugs — was shot to death in his own Lutheran church this morning.
I don’t have a lot of time to think through an elaborate post on this (I’m leading a panel with Tom Frank, Rick Perlstein, and James Rucker that will be televised in full on C-SPAN tomorrow), but there are several quick things that spring to mind.

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MSU #0001: No First Amendment In Canada

Orcinus, May 1, 2009

This is the first in what promises to be an interminable series of “Making Shit Up” mythbusting posts. (Note the serial number. Four digits may not be enough, but here’s hoping.)

It was prompted by Dave’s new post just below, in which Newt Gingrich declares that we don’t have a First Amendment up here in Canada.
Let me quote you from the very first provision of Canada’s exhaustive Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.
Sure looks like a First Amendment in American sense to me. And note that the first article of the Charter is the introduction; so this is the very first right guaranteed by the Canadian constitution — just as it is in the US.
And therefore Newt is, unequivocally, Making Shit Up. His claim is absolutely, factually false.
And while we’re reading the Canadian Charter of Rights, let me digress. Here’s the one that fogs me up every time I read it:

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Damn it, there I go again. (Get me a tissue, will you?) It absolutely cuts me to the core every time I read those words, and realize that my new country grants me equality under the law that America had not yet seen fit to offer its own women.
I had to move away to another country to in order to have my rights protected under law. It’s a wrongness I once worked very hard to correct, but which may not be corrected even in my own lifetime.
O Canada. With glowing hearts, & etc.
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Blame It On the Parents

Orcinus, April 25, 2009


Some of the commenters below seemed confused or surprised by my asserting that conservative or liberal parenting styles could affect people’s ideas about the prerogatives of authority, and of how they think about ideas like liberty, justice, and accountability.

A few thought the whole idea absurd. (It would be interesting to hear their alternative theories on how they think the dramatic worldview shift between conservatives and liberals comes about.)

Others pointed out, quite rightly, that the two parenting styles I described are hardly exclusive or hard-and-fast. Most parents go to the authoritarian side on some issues (and generally, it’s those issues where they feel least in control themselves); and tend to be more liberal on others (generally, those where they feel more confidence in their ability to control the situation). George Lakoff made the same observation about how people mix-and-match the strict-father versus nurturant-parent models in their political thinking. It holds just as true here.

But it’s also true that the conservative worldview is far more obsessed generally with the issue of control — when in doubt, clamp down hard and fast — and conservative parents would therefore lean to a more authoritarian parenting style. The liberal worldview tends to trust people and the world in general — when in doubt, stand back and see what happens — and this leads to a more open-ended sense of how to manage children.

Either way, though, the basic fact is this: Parenting is the first — and far and away the most defining — experience most of us have with power relationships. What we learn from that relationship teaches us a great deal about what we can expect from power for the rest of our lives. We may choose to revisit those assumptions as adults; but it’s not easy, and requires significant re-trenchment of how you view yourself and the rest of the world.

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