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Give me Liberty, or give me a new Caucus

Shouldn’t any politician who votes for the Patriot Act be automatically kicked out of the Tea Party Caucus?

Of the 52 official members of Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus, 44 of them voted for the Patriot Act on Tuesday. Wow. What part of “small government” and “protect the constitution” do they not understand?



  1. starluna wrote:

    That is interesting. Especially in light of the Boston Globe’s focus on the 7 Tea Party members who voted against it. They did not report on the ones who did and barely mentioned the 26 non-Tea Party Republicans who voted against it.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  2. The conservative rationale for supporting the Patriot Act seems quite simple: The Federal Government exists to protect the country from threats, and the Patriot Act exists to make people safer by giving the Fed more power to do just that.

    They don’t see it as a privacy issue because “if you’re doing no wrong, you have nothing to hide.”

    Tea Partiers want to reduce the size of the Fed, but only when it comes to social programs, not military and security ones.

    If there is any part of the PA that extends Federal power in other areas, even potentially, I’m sure they’re blissfully unaware of it.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    I’m starting to view this as a fundamental dichotomy between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives seem to believe that the purpose of government is to punish, while liberals see the purpose of government is to help.

    I’m going to have to think about this and see if it holds up in general.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Hold on now. Thats leading to calling conservatives mean, nasty evil doers, while equating liberals as the saviors and good doers. Thats a bit too much.
    The purpose of government is not to help or hurt it’s citizenry but to govern and lead. For instance fixing entitlements. Liberals don’t want to fix them except to raise revenues, while conservatives want to make changes that will allow the programs to continue. Not doing anything will ensure they fail and are there for no one. I don’t think thats good vs evil.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  5. starluna wrote:

    I don’t agree with that perspective, PatriotSGt. There are two distinct views on appropriate sanctions in the criminal justice system: a punitive approach and a rehabilitative approach. Each propose different types of sanctions. Neither is necessarily bad. They are simply based on different views about what is the most appropriate reaction to crime and different views on the nature of people who commit crime.

    Similarly, there are at least two different views on intellectual property (IP) laws. One view argues for strong IP laws that allow for long term monopolies on IP and another that argues for stronger protections for fair use and shorter time periods for monopoly rights. Each approaches IP from a different perspective based on assumptions around incentives to innovate versus the public good. Neither is necessarily evil.

    IK’s proposed classification is similar to what social scientists who study the political philosophy of American politicians have said. It also resonates with Jonathan Haidt, et al’s work on the values that underlie liberal and conservative political orientations (see Ted Talk:

    I myself would not necessarily say that conservatives see the purpose of government as to punish. However, I think it is not unreasonable to say that conservatives view punishment as a more appropriate role for government than to provide assistance. That view doesn’t mean that they are therefore mean, nasty and evil. Isn’t it possible to have a view that government’s primary role is a punishment function without also advocating an oppressive government?

    I personally don’t believe that the role of government is bounded by its punishment function. But, as someone who periodically finds herself in a parenting role, I also don’t believe that when I punish the kids for misbehavior that I am necessarily mean or evil (although I recognize that they may feel that way). And while it is not the ideal, households that rely on reasonable punishment as the primary mechanism in maintaining order are not necessarily entirely dysfunctional. I am not convinced that the emphasis on punishment in settings that operate this way is the source of oppression. The oppression comes out of decisions about which behaviors will result in sanctions, the manner in which punishment decisions are made, or the forms of punishment used.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  6. Jason Ray wrote:

    IK, my simplistic view is that conservatives are inwardly focused – they are concerned about how the government impacts themselves. Liberals are outwardly focused, and they are concerned about how the govenment impacts others. If you focus outwardly and have a “greatest good for the greatest number” philosophical bent, you end up going left. If you focus on your own needs have a more “there is a one true way” bent you end up going right.

    I don’t think I can agree that conservatives want the government to punish vs. help, I think they believe government should stay out of their business (any business) except to control things that they think are going to impact them – and unfortunatley, too much religion (of a particular sort) has invaded the conservative mindset.

    Note that this year they included a pro-gay Republican group at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and as a result several of the religious right groups stayed away.

    I don’t believe in a universal “greatest good for the greatest number” as it leads to bad decisions, but I do think that part of the job of government is to provide a basic infrastructure to make society work, and that part of that infrastructure is to make sure we have the security to realize our potential as Americans – and “security” means making America safe for having “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I think that includes health care and social security in addition to guns, but that’s just my opinion 🙂

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    I’m sorry if it sounded like I was trying to put a value judgement on it. I wasn’t.

    I am not against jails, even though their main purpose is to punish.

    I was more noting what I see as a contradiction — conservatives say that “government is not the answer, government is the problem” but then consistently support the military, and spending more on police and jails. I think what they really mean is that government is incapable of helping. But that isn’t quite as good a slogan I suppose.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  8. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Starluna – thanks for the well thought out response. You’re right on the money in many respects. In our polar political world perhaps I jumped to an assumption. In my military background when discipline fails we deliver punitive measures to correct undesirable behavior. In my household I instill discipline clearly providing consequences. I don’t see that as bad, and I believe that’s what we’ve done in society as a whole. Our laws are the deciding point and sentences are the consequence.
    In my experience all get the punitive approach and the rehabilitation follows, not the other way around. If there are no consequences then there is no need to change behavior.

    It works for me and my situation anyway.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink
  9. America is founded on the Constitution. Conservatives want to keep as close to the original document as possible, hence the word “conservative.” Liberals have no qualms about adding to it, hence the word “liberal.”

    When Conservatives say they want smaller government, they mean to refer specifically reducing the bureaucracy. Shrinking the Fed, essentially toward what it’s Constitutionally outlined purpose is, which they see as being nothing more than an entity whose purpose is to physically protect the States from foreign invaders.

    There really just isn’t any contradiction between wanting a small government and a large military. I wish you’d stop trying to paint it that way.

    The best way to oppose your opponent is to oppose the opponent; not its strawman.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  10. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Keeping as close the original document as possible would significantly reduce our freedoms, since the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments were not included in the original ratification. Accepting that some amendments are good, we are no longer talking about whether it is good or bad to add to it. We are talking about the value of what was added to it.

    I would also suggest that part of the conservative stance is fiscal responsibility and debt/deficit reduction. Those viewpoints are directly at odds with an overblown military.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  11. PatriotSGT wrote:

    1032 – I’m with you on the defense budget. Lets extract from our 2 wars (leave a decent nato force there to keep the peace) but bring the majority home and save 2 bill a week. Next lets call back troops we have around the world (I have friends headed to Egypt next month). In todays military we can respond within 48 hours to any threat. That would save another 1 bill per week. I think cutting 150 bill from defense the first year is reasonable ad won’t put us in danger. We still have our Navy, which is the size of the next 17 largest navies put together.

    I was thinking about IK NFL analogy that it is a model socialist organization and a thought formed (yes i had an idea). Yes the NFL is a model socialist entity, created maintained and run without any government intevention. All big brother has to do is collect its taxes. Thats the way it should be, self determination by the people with minimal govt intervention. No regulation other then safety for the more then 100,000 employees directly or indirectly employed by the NFL. Sweet! 🙂

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  12. I agree. Unfortunately, conservatives think that wars make us safe. I think they’re misguided.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  13. starluna wrote:

    Remember that even the socialist football league requires contracts. Which are enforceable. Through the State. Government is always a silent partner is all legal contracts. And can always be invoked when there is a breach or conflict.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  14. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Agreed, but thats the judiciary. It exists mainly to resolve legal disputes and pass judgements concerning laws. It does not create any law, nor does it create regulations.

    The NFL created its own system without the govt telling it to. The govt doesn’t regulate it other then if there is a breach/dispute of contract then the judiciary is involved not the legislative or executive. So it is an extremly good example of capitalism and self rule. The evil big business management voluntarily makes rules to improve safety for players, without govt regulation.

    I think IK inadvertently created an argument for less government and regulation. 🙂

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink
  15. Sammy wrote:

    @China: Your contention that “small government” doesn’t extend to the military is totally incorrect, in the practical sense. As someone who works in the household goods moving industry, I can tell you from first hand experience that the bureaucracy of the military is very much “big government” and so full of layers of bureaucratic red tape and wasteful middlemen, complex and redundant rules and regulations, inflexible robots for employees, and impossible to understand acronyms and language that it’s like dealing with the proverbial “DMV on steroids”.

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  16. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Sammy – I think CGE was trying to say that the conservatives who desire smaller gov’t are not contradictory when they also ask for a large military. Small gov and strong defense are tenants of our conservative brothers.

    Now, being an insider in the military machine I can confirm your assertion 110% that they are the kings of bureaucracy. They take optimal redundancy to a whole new level that washington bureaucrats could only dream of.

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  17. Sammy wrote:

    Patriot: “strong defense” does not and should not equal “bloated, unlimited defense”. I hear that argument all the time, that the Constitution allows for national defense, so the military shouldn’t be included in discussions of government (over)spending. But how much of our military budget has NOTHING to do with defending THIS nation?

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
  18. I can only imagine. If human beings had a collective consciousness, money would be a much easier thing to manage. But when every node is an island…

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  19. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Sammy – I’m with you on that, see my comment #11. We’ll have to look at and fix all the sacred cows and then increase revenue to dig out of the debt hole we’re currently in.

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink