The Trouble with Tribals

The Trouble with Tribals January 9, 2012

What’s wrong with this picture:

Aside from the obvious fact that the main problem is that our Ruling Class has just passed a law empowering the President to declare you and me an Enemy of the State, strip you and me of habeas corpus and throw us in prison forever on the basis of his unilateral and omnipotent will alone, there is something else deeply troubling here.

It’s this: It’s Rachel Maddow warning us of this, not supposed “small government conservatives”. Indeed, the main voices who have spoken out on this have been people like Jon Stewart, Glenn Greenwald, the ACLU and sundry other lefties. On the Right (with the exception of “He’s clearly insane according to all right-thinking conservatives” Ron Paul), it’s been remarkably quiet on the Right as American takes the plunge into become a lawless police state. One has to ask: what in hell are conservatives conserving anymore?

Indeed, I have a feeling that not a few righties have the notion that because people like Maddow, Greenwald, Stewart and the ACLU are shouting so loudly about our Ruling Class’ move to repeal Magna Carta, there must be something very good about it. That the right can scream about Obama the Tyrant every time he clears his throat (recess appointments! It’s the END OF THE WORLD!!!!), and yet be so strangely silent about this, a real act of tyranny, is astounding. That’s what happens when we stop thinking about the common good and start thinking only, “Whatever They are for, I oppose.” Twenty years ago, the Left was the principal practitioner of identity politics. Now it is the Right (in my experience) that judges everything by who the messenger is, by who you associate with, and by which website you link. This silly notion that quoting the wrong person makes you ritually impure has to stop. The issue is no longer Left v. Right. It is our Ruling Class against the rest of us.

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  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “The issue is no longer Left v. Right. It is our Ruling Class against the rest of us.”

    Spot on.

    I certainly disagree with liberals like Ms. Maddow on a great many issues, but I have to admit a certain amount of respect and admiration for her and others like her. They have a core set of values and stick to them.

    Our politicians on the other hand do not. And I don’t care if it’s red or blue. Obama, Romney, Gingrich … the whole cabal are willing to do whatever it takes to preserve their power. Their only core value is themselves.

  • Well said, Mark. I am baffled at the lack of outrage over this. Why is it not being trumpeted from the housetops as the greatest legislative atrocity since Roe v. Wade? Worse yet, what can be done about it?

  • Old World Swine

    Wasn’t it Dick Cheney who noted the necessity of sometimes working the Dark Side? I think a lot of Jingos ate that up, and still do. You gotta break a few eggs… and a few laws… and maybe the Constitution…

    They are probably giving Obama grudging nods of approval. We must give up our liberties to keep our country free… or something.

  • Confederate Papist

    Actually Limbaugh did talk about this on many occasions….and I know Todd Schnitt, who is syndicated out of Tampa did as well.

    I don’t know if Judge Napolitano talked about it…I’d be surprised if he didn’t.

  • Carp

    I have a solution: turn them loose in a remote field and kill them with a drone. NO ONE complains about that immorality!

    It continually amazes me how we debate the detainment of scores of beligerents on the one hand and willfully ignore the execution of hundreds of others (including innocents) on the other hand. A short life calls for the prioritization of our outrage.

    (If you are more outraged by BHO’s drone policy, please forgive me. I am new to this site.)

    • Mark Shea

      Uh, Glenn Greenwald does. So do I.

  • MikeTheGeek

    Don’t know who you hang out with, Mark, but most of the conservatives I know (which is 90% of everyone I do know) are outraged. Their general question is, “When can we legitimately stop discussing and open fire?” If you are referring strictly to the Washington class of conservatives (i.e. the Ruling Class), well, then… like you said.

    Regarding Old World Swine’s comment re Dick Cheney: Well, in a fallen world, sometimes one does have to work the dark side. That doesn’t mean you are supposed to legitimize it or make it praiseworthy. It’s supposed to be that rare, hard exception where you cross yourself, say a prayer, kick it Upstairs with a request for mercy, and go to Confession for it.

    What’s the matter with drones? A friend’s son was a drone target-spotter (not sure of the official job description) in Iraq. They saved a lot of lives.

    • Carp

      *** what’s the matter with drones? ***

      It’s a matter of moral consistency. The majority of the left, and the Pax Chrissy side of the right, screams outrage at GitMo and says nothing about OHB’s undocumented, uncontrolled, opaque policy of extermination via drones. “Let me help you remove the sliver from your eye.”

      BHO has a choice: send in SEALs and capture bad guys, or simply push a video game button on a drone and execute them (with no due process). The latter option is the politically safe option in the short run, but I doubt it makes us safer in the long run.

      • Carp

        Sorry, it’s BHO, not OHB. Am I dyslexic?


        If it gets worse, I’ll end it all- jump in back of a train.

      • MikeTheGeek

        Send in the Seals, at the risk of their lives, or eliminate enemy combatants in wartime? “Execution” and “due process” are legal issues; how to take out the enemy with minimal harm to those under your command – as is the CinC’s duty and obligation – is a military one. I don’t have a problem with your conclusions about how to apply the law in civil matters; I have a problem with your assumption that this is a civil matter of crimes, charges, indictments, and trials.

        • Carp

          I agree with you. My point is IF you are bothered by detentions without due process, WHY are you not bothered by executions without due process? The latter is a more grave moral question.

          Nixon was flogged for extending the bombing into Cambodia. Why can BHO do it in Pakistan and Yemen and God knows where else? What legal authority grants him this right? Who signs off on the kill list? Is there any oversight? It scares me to think the US Prez can sit in the oval office, petting a white cat, and push kill buttons in total secrecy. I predict this below-decks crap will come back to haunt us in the future. It always does.

          • MikeTheGeek

            I would be bothered by “executions w/o due process” if I considered the action an execution. Bombing enemy combatants in Pakistan is not any different than bombing enemy combatants in Norway or China was in ’43. If the enemy is operating on your territory, we reserve the right to neutralize him. If neutralizing him kills him, well, bummer. If anyone else gets hit, that’s a tragedy. If they get hit because of slovenliness on our part, then _that_ is a big moral problem. Given current technologies, we have the good fortune to be able to be far more selective in our targeting than we could with gravity bombs from a thousand-plane raid of B-17’s.

            Nixon did many bad things. Bombing Cambodia, which was knowingly providing a safe haven for the enemy, was not one of them. The people who hammered him for _that_ were those who wanted us to lose. In conjunction with the incompetence of our civil and military leaders, they were successful.

    • “most of the conservatives I know (which is 90% of everyone I do know) are outraged…. in a fallen world, sometimes one does have to work the dark side. That doesn’t mean you are supposed to legitimize it or make it praiseworthy. It’s supposed to be that rare, hard exception where you cross yourself, say a prayer, kick it Upstairs with a request for mercy, and go to Confession for it.”


    • Thomas R

      It is interesting how few voted against it, but two of the seven I saw were Republicans. Rand Paul, obviously, but also Tom Coburn as I recall.

      Anyway adios.

  • A Random Friar

    The Ring, it is… precious to us.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    “It’s supposed to be that rare, hard exception where you cross yourself, say a prayer, kick it Upstairs with a request for mercy, and go to Confession for it.”

    Doing evil and thinking “well, it’s okay, I’ll just go to confession) is a SEVERE misunderstanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Doing evil that good might result, “the end justifies the means” is classic Marxism and ancient heresy. There’s no Catholic excuse for it.

    The road paved with good intentions is not where we want to take this country.

    • MikeTheGeek

      Think you missed my point. Outside the academy, where one is free to posit all sorts of things, one does the best one can with what one’s given. I’m not advocating presumption. Sometimes you need decide to fire or not fire, without having the luxury of lengthy analysis of the conditions.

    • Carp

      In the non-Utopian real world, sometimes we have do not have the choice of “doing no evil,” but rather “doing less evil.” Do you condem FDR for sleeping with Stalin? Paton did. Joe Kennedy did. Most did not.

      In 1941 FDR “crossed himself, kicked it Upstairs, went to confession” with the rest of America. After all, Stalin cranked out more evil than even OBL, but the guy with the little moustache looked worse at the time. Ron Paul would have stayed home (likely) and we would be blogging in either German or Russian, sad to say.

      • TheRealAaron

        He wouldn’t have to go to Confession, because cutting a deal with Stalin wasn’t a sin. It was a political judgement call.

        This whole “well, I’ll just go ahead and sin, then go to confession” idea scares (particularly because I see it in myself and I don’t like it). You can’t be forgiven if you won’t repent. And repentance entails admitting that what you did was wrong, that you shouldn’t have done it and being determined not to do it again. If I take the attitude of “Oh well, I’ll just do what I want then go to confession later” I am by definition not repenting and am cutting myself off from God’s mercy.

  • Oh, it is getting even more scary.

    If the government watchdog sites are correct about this, Congress will be considering a bill for an amendment to existing law that will allow the government to take away the citizinship of anyone they deem ‘hostile’ to the United States, without any form of conviction ( H. R. 3166 and S. 1698 also known as the Enemy Expatriation Act. Two sponsors, Liberman (D) and Dent (R) )

    Here is how it is laid out at the Senate web page:

    (a) In General- Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481) is amended–
    (1) in subsection (a)–
    (A) in each of paragraphs (1) through (6), by striking `or’ at the end;
    (B) in paragraph (7), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; or’; and

    (C) by adding at the end the following:

    `(8) engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.’; and

    (2) by adding at the end the following:
    `(c) For purposes of this section, the term `hostilities’ means any conflict subject to the laws of war.’.

    (b) Technical Amendment- Section 351(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1483(a)) is amended by striking `(6) and (7)’ and inserting `(6), (7), and (8)’.

    Just ‘hostilities’ against the United States that are considered (by what exisiting definition?) an act of war.

    And if you couple this with the eternal detention – imagine the possibilites. The gov’t can hold you forever, and you will be a citizen of no where. A man without a country. Who will be able to help you then?

    There is no provision here that I can see for an actual trial and conviction, although I do not know how the whole existing law reads.

    • Confederate Papist

      I already am a man without a country as mine has been occupied for over 150 years by a foreign nation.

      • S. Murphy

        Best Confederate flag bumper sticker I ever saw was on a car with Ohio plates, vicinity of Camp Lejeune. It said “You lost. Get over it.”


        • Confederate Papist

          Never! Forget Hell!


          • Confederate Papist

            I was also thinking…..a car with OH tags and that bumper sticker in NC….and yet, no one had vandalised it.

            However, $10 says that a car from NC with a pro-Dixie bumper sticker in OH would not get the same treatment….at least not in NE OH. I know…I lived there for a while.

  • antigon
  • Jeff

    Sorry to get sidetracked, but the idea we would have been conquered by the Russians or Germans by staying out of WW2 is laughable.
    I am in the military, and shocked how very few heard about the NDAA legislation. Ultimately, Americans seem to be willing to put up with anything as long as they get to buy the next iPhone or gadget. If Congress bans iPads, the revolution will start immediately.

    • S. Murphy

      I guess if they assign us to a unit whose mission is indefinite detention of citizens, we can reference our oath to defend the Constitution, and refuse the orders as illegal.

      • R. Jolly

        Take a look at a google or youtube search “confiscation guns Katrina”. I would like to think that a sizable portion of the military would disobey unlawful or immoral orders- but the sad fact is that the moral culture and education required for a person to stand in defiance of a direct order has not existed in this country for many years. Hope I am wrong.

        • S. Murphy

          I never said there’d be a universal mutiny. I only suggested that a person might do it.

      • Jeff

        These questions have to be asked by an individual when he takes the oath of enlistment. Then, I pray if the time comes when I must take a stand I stick with my beliefs and don’t just follow orders.
        I talk to my students about determining where their line in the sand will be. I worry about their reliance on a paycheck though…getting released from the military in this economy would be tough.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Maddow is very smart, but it took her a very long time to come to understand that Obama is a man capable of contradicting himself from sentence to sentence.

    • Carp

      Sorry, but did Rachel Maddow star in The Wonder Years? I loved that show.

      • Mark Shea


  • Will

    And of course libertarians (including, but not limited to, Libertarians) have been shouting themselves hoarse. But I guess They Don’t Count.

  • Ed pie

    I’m inclined to think that the silence from the executive levels of the GOP is just proof that they finally figured out for themselves that whatever power the Dems take, they’ll eventually get to play with too–in this case possibly only 54 weeks from now.
    I was really hoping for more bandwidth on these issues when I heard about the GOP subsuming the Tea Party. How easy would it be for them to win in November if they just calmly explained what was happening and promised to oppose it? It’s not like they’re really bound by their word if it turns out the like the top side of tyranny.

  • fiestamom

    Do you not read National Review? Andy McCarthy, Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg have all written about this. has as well. has had numerous posters post articles about it with quite a few comments under all of the articles. Those are all pretty well known Republican hangouts.

    • Yeah, I’ve noticed that. I don’t follow cable news or radio talk shows much, but the handful of times I’ve turned on the set to FOX, or heard the radio on to Limbaugh, I’ve heard something about this. I saw Shepherd Smith interviewing a fellow before Christmas who was yelling against this, and I didn’t get the impression he (Smith) was for it either. I’ve seen several comments here where folks have referenced various ‘Conservatives’ who have spoken out against this. Don’t know why it keeps being said. Truth be told, I haven’t heard about it much at all, and what little I’ve heard has been on blogs like this, FOX and MSNBC, a few talk radio shows (including local), and that’s about it. So not sure the ‘tribal’ thing works in this case. It might be a case of folks just not hearing about it. Or maybe people have been hearing big brother, Big Brother, BIG BROTHER! for so many decades, they’ve just grown numb to it all.

      • Rosemarie


        If the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and NPR don’t mention that conservatives have been complaining about this legislation, then no conservatives have been complaining about it at all. Even if they have been. Get with the program; you should be getting your information about Fox News from clips of the Daily Show, not from Fox News itself.

  • Elaine S.

    “Why is it not being trumpeted from the housetops as the greatest legislative atrocity since Roe v. Wade?”

    Because Roe was a JUDICIAL atrocity, not a legislative one. NDAA is the greatest legislative atrocity at least since the Patriot Act, quite possibly since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, maybe since the 18th Amendment (Prohibition), the 16th amendment (federal income tax), the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Fugitive Slave Act, or even the Alien and Sedition Act.

  • A little off the track but … “The Trouble with Tribals”! ROFL! I’m surprised nobody else has said anything about this classic “computer nerd” reference! I don’t always agree with you, Mark, but this is one of the reasons I keep reading you.