Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why the Democrats Need More Debates

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

A group of armed terrorists - or traitors - or terroristic traitors (take your pick) took over a government building in eastern Oregon this past weekend, and I, for one, want to know how each of the presidential candidates feel about that.

So far the media has focused on the Republican candidates, and only three have had the cajones to say anything at all on the matter.   Candidates Cruz, Rubio, and Paul each gave mealy-mouthed responses to the effect that while the motivations of the armed protesters might be honorable, there are more appropriate ways to air their grievances than a hostile takeover of a government facility.  The other ten or so vying to take the Republican crown and ultimately become the leader of both the federal government and the free world have kept ominously quiet on the matter.

But where do the Democratic candidates - Clinton, Sanders, and O'Malley - stand on this situation?   The media is obsessed with Republican reaction - but entirely ignoring what the Democratic candidates might be thinking on the issue of private citizens pulling stunts like the one in Oregon.  Is that because they sense that the Democrats would oppose lawlessness - no story there - while the real dilemma in how to respond lies with the Republican goose-steppers who know the takeover is both dangerous and illegal, but have to worry about not upsetting their rabid tea-bagger base?

If either side had a debate scheduled this week, this hot topic would undoubtedly be discussed and candidates would be forced to take some sort of a public stand.  The next scheduled debate among the Republican candidates will be next week on January 14th.  Republicans have ten more debates scheduled through March.  Democrats will debate the week after next - on January 17th, and have only three debates scheduled between now and the end of March.

Maybe the beer-addled hillbillies who are mounting their insurrection in Oregon will still be in the news over the next two weeks and America will be able to learn, candidate by candidate, exactly how the presidential wannabes view the situation.  Whether the terrorists are still holed-up in the wildlife center or not, Republicans will be undoubtedly be asked to comment on the situation - because they (the Republicans) can be relied on to give outrageous answers on almost any subject. 

But what about the Democrats?  I haven't had a campaign email from any of the three candidates expressing their views on this significant matter of national security - and they don't seem to be filling the airwaves with angry indignation over the matter either.

One thing that a debate does is to drop current hot topics right in the laps of those aspiring to become our fearless leader.  They are forced to cough up an answer - on national television - while America studies their sweat patterns and body language in an effort to gauge sincerity and truthfulness.    It is much harder to get away with a carefully crafted canned response with the whole world watching.

If the press won't aggressively go after the candidates - all of the candidates - on issues that America needs to know about, having more debates may be our best solution to expanding the narrative.  Right now we are hearing what the Republicans think on almost everything, but the Democratic message remains highly measured and controlled - and not everything can be conveyed in a tweet.

Open up the process, Debs.  Let our people be heard!


Xobekim said...

You are correct; the candidates need to address the issues in the Oregon standoff. It appears they are, for the most part, holding back in fear that their knee jerk reactions wrongly identify those issues. One line of drivel being pushed, I found it in a progressive Christian website, is that those noble persons holding the government land in Oregon are pushing back against an aggressive federal government which cares more about critters than persons. They attempt to air grievances that start with the executive actions of Theodore Roosevelt. He signed the legislation that created a national park in Oregon. The litany of abuses appears to end with the government enforcing protection of endangered species in the 1980’s. The essence of this line of argument sounds in the taking clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. From the most recent “abuse” these aggrieved folk have wasted more than thirty years before asserting their claim, which is only cognizable in a court of competent jurisdiction. Of course that court would probably rely on the legal doctrine of stare decisis and employ the wisdom of Baron v. Baltimore, 32 U.S. 7 Pet. 243, 243 (1833). In that case Baron was unhappy with the development of the harbor damaging his wharf property. This case preceded the Fourteenth Amendment and the line of cases incorporating protections of the Bill of Rights into actions against the states. Nonetheless Marshall essentially reasoned that Baron’s recourse wasn’t in suing Baltimore for a taking, which wasn’t recognized at that time, but in engaging in the political process. In other words organize and change the law.

Today another voice was added to the spiraling circles in this muddy water. The people known as the Burns Paiute Tribe suggest the militants and everyone else get off their land. They used the property for wintering before being ejected in the 1870’s. That was before settlers arrived.

So if we are going to begin litigating stale claims it looks like these Native Americans are first in line to reclaim what they feel belongs to them.

Another, more valid, argument looks at the injustice of mandatory minimum sentences. The underlying offense of the original ranchers is an arson charge. At trial the ranchers successfully argued that the minimum mandatory sentences were unconstitutional.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The matter went back to the trial court where the minimum mandatory sentences were imposed. The ranchers went quietly into custody as they don’t have a dog in the fight.

My opinion is that sentencing belongs in the equitable jurisdiction of the courts subject to the broad perimeters established by the legislature. The ranchers are hoping that President Obama will grant them clemency, as they have already served that portion of their sentences which were originally imposed.

From my perspective the Y’all Qaeda is an armed insurrection engaged in criminal trespass and should be treated like terrorists. Send in the drones. Bomb them. Arrest the survivors and charge them with treason. The Union will be preserved. America litigated that issue in the Civil War.

Of course that is the problem, candidates are not supposed to comment on situations like the Oregon standoff where persons are likely to be charged with criminal offenses. Such comment is likely to sway public opinion making a fair trial impossible; Hence the silence.

The Constitution protects us all.

Pa Rock's Ramble said...

And I agree with you, except as to the motivation of the politicians who are remaining silent. I think they are bound by political cowardice rather than concern for fair trials.

And yes, send in those drones!