Monday, December 22, 2008

Martial law "not impossible" in face of economic collapse, civic unrest

“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.

The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.

Nick Dranias, director of constitutional government at the libertarian Goldwater Institute, said a declaration of marital law would be an extraordinary event and give military control over civilian authorities and institutions.

Dranias said such an emergency declaration could worsen the economic situation and doubts extreme measures will been taken. “I don’t think it’s likely. But it’s not impossible,” he said.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama's con: Makes me wanna holler

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To get a sense of how substantial the deception was, liberals should ask themselves this question: would you - on principle and not personality - have voted for someone who promised to appoint as secretary of agriculture an ethanol booster and ally of Monsanto, an education secretary who would continue the war on public education, an energy secretary who is pro nuke and pro Yucca Mountain, a defense secretary who has been part of the Iraq disaster, a budget director who favors cutting Social Security for those under 59, an attorney general who helped increase the prison time served by young blacks on minor drug offenses, a secretary of state involved in numerous scandals, a transportation secretary who is an extreme conservative and knows little about the field, a staff stuffed with a team of revivals form the Clinton years, and an inaugural preacher who treats gays and women as lesser beings much as others once did to blacks?
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USAmerican lexicon: Ideological

In late November, corporate media outlets began to credit Barack Obama with making supposedly non-ideological Cabinet picks. The New York Times front page reported that his choices “suggest that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues.” Conservative Times columnist David Brooks praised the picks as “not ideological” and the economic nominees as “moderate and thoughtful Democrats.” USA Today reported that Obama’s selections had “records that display more pragmatism than ideology.” In mediaspeak, if you thought invading Iraq and signing the NAFTA trade pact were good ideas, you’re a pragmatist. If not, you’re an ideologue.
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USAmerican lexicon: Politically fraught

Note here that for the Times, and for the rest of the conventional thinkers who have reduced corporate journalism to such thin gruel that no one bothers with it any more, “politically fraught” refers exclusively to the idea that the Right will supposedly be riled up at any effort to prosecute war criminals in the outgoing administration. If people on the Left, or even the center, large numbers of whom believe strongly that the current administration should be held accountable for its crimes, get upset because there is no effort to prosecute them, that doesn’t count as “politically fraught.”
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This is why I'm anti-war

I've been reading an older issue of <i>What is Enlightenment? </i> magazine, the theme of which is whether pacifism and nonviolence are appropriate, or even possible, in the post-9/11 world.

While we can argue the right and wrong of war in the abstract until we are blue in the face, and also argue whether "the world" substantively changed on 9/11, we all need to face the simple fact that when wars are fought, the main casualties of these wars are innocent women and kids like the one seen below.

"When elephants fight, it is always the grass that gets trampled."
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

How indeed

How can one maintain a free market system when financial institutions are not allowed to fail?  And how can such a system function properly without stop signs, guard rails, speed limits or rules that determine what side of the road one can drive?
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our economy was a house of cards, comfort zones increasingly hard to find

The son of man has no place to lay his head
And bodhisattvas have no privacy
Our economy was a house of cards, based on the extraordinary premise that ever-expanding debt was a desirable product, and it is now falling down upon us.
We are facing a time of great change and spiritual challenge. Those of us who have undergone a process of awakening and initiation during the last decades will be called upon to act as truth-tellers, leaders and compassionate caretakers for the multitudes that have been duped and deluded by the system. We may have to abandon our comfort zones and personal ambitions to be of service to the situation as it unfolds.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stop treating presidents like royalty - heave a shoe once in a while

It’s time for the press corps to stop treating presidents like royalty.  If he accomplished anything at all in eight years in office, President Bush has demonstrated that, to the contrary, the president is a very ordinary—and in his case a rather less than ordinary—man. The office of president deserves no more respect than that of the mayor of Detroit, or of Wasilla.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Bleed the World

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Appalling survey shows USAmericans woefully ignorant of history and civics

My classroom experience bears these numbers out.
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I thought of Bishop England last week when I heard the results of the latest First Amendment Center survey on Americans’ understanding of their First Amendment rights.

In contrast to his enlightened views, 55 percent of Americans told pollsters that “the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation.” Only 39 percent disagreed.

On a similar note, 63 percent of respondents thought “the nation’s founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation.” Only 32 disagreed.

These are absolutely appalling results. Are our public schools really doing that bad a job of teaching history and civics? Are Americans really that ignorant of our nation’s heritage of church-state separation and individual freedom?

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One person's religion is another's superstition

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Pat Boone should stick to singing

He's definitely not a political scientist or historian:

There never were any "rights" granted or designated to those who dissented with the will of the majority, other than the same rights all citizens have to work through the democratic process to accomplish their purposes. No "rights" were ever granted to citizens on the basis of their sexual habits or lifestyle. There simply are no such "rights."

Slavery was abolished, blacks and women obtained the rights to vote, and these true rights were not obtained by threats and violent demonstrations and civil disruption (though these things did occur, of course), but by due process, congressional deliberations and appropriate ratification. This was democracy in action, not mob rule. As noted journalist Thomas Sowell has said, there never was "a right to win." In America, at least the America we've known till now, rights are earned and won in a deliberative, legal way – at the polls.

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Arguably the US Constitution does provide for the right to gay marriage insofar as it makes all citizens equal under the law. The case can be made that denying the privileges of legal marriage to same-sex couples while affording them to hetero couples violates this equal protection. So that's one place that gay marriage advocates find their "right" to marriage,Pat.

But when you say "there never were any "rights" granted or designated to those who dissented with the will of the majority," Pat, you reveal yourself to be a fool. The entire raison d'etre of the Bill of Rights was to protect those whose views and ideas dissented with the will of the majority, those accused of crimes, etc. Sounds to me like you're advocating for a tyranny of the majority, Pat.

And in other news, slavery was indeed abolished in part because of the "violent demonstrations and civil disruption" that we know as the Civil War.

Stick to singing, Pat.

Opposition to gay marriage: It's about personal discomfort and not the Bible

From a very thoughtful piece in Newsweek:
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If the bible doesn't give abundant examples of traditional marriage, then what are the gay-marriage opponents really exercised about?
Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?
Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument).
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Torture still illegal, but only when performed by non-USAmericans

The Washington Post writes that Chuckie’s conviction is “the first test of an American law that gives prosecutors the power to bring charges for acts of torture committed in foreign lands.”   In other words, US law against torture applies to the entire world, to every other country except the United States.  The hubris is unimaginable--no country can torture except the US.  
Isn’t it great to be an American! Our laws don’t apply to us, only to every other nation.  This is what it means to be the moral light of the world, the unipower, the salt of the earth.
If only American laws applied to the American government.  Then the criminals who have been in charge for 8 years could be prosecuted for their extreme violation of United States laws.  But, of course, the great moral American government is far above the law.  American law only applies to dispensable nations.  America is not answerable to law, not to its own law and not to international law.
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Chicago sit-down strike: "We're doing this for the other working people in the country."

Capitalism's clock is ticking down.
Some 200 UE members at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago have sat-down and occupied their plant until they win the compensation they are owed. The peaceful occupation began Friday on the last day of the plant’s scheduled operations before closure.
Ron Bender, a striker with 14 years at the company, put it poignantly to the AFP news wire: “We're doing this for the other working people in the country.”
Amen. The UE strikers occupying their plant are sending a message to all workers that the corporations care nothing for your life and the lives of your family members. They will come for your job at some point either to take it away from you or to degrade it. But with organizing and action we can fight back and win.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

When the state has neither the resources nor the will to intervene

What's particularly chilling is that the last sentence could just as easily apply to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina as it does to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s failed Robert Mugabe state is entering its final days and they are going to be bitter, violent and deadly.
Yesterday all water supplies were switched off to Harare in the throes of a killer cholera epidemic. People are dying in the streets and the state has neither the resources nor the will to intervene.
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Next year to resemble hell, says Nobel prize-winning economist

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Krugman in US doomsday prophecy

The world's largest economy - the U.S. - is contracting at an 'alarming rate' according to Paul Krugman, who has won this year's Nobel Economics Prize.
"At a rough guess, the annual growth rate in the U.S. is currently minus 4-5 percent and unemployment is growing with almost 500,000 people each month."

"This will mean that 12 million Americans will be shoved under the poverty level," said Krugman as he foresaw current developments leading to 10 percent unemployment.
"I estimate that public spending will have to be increased by 600 billion dollars next year. This is some four percent of American GDP," he said adding that the financial crisis would be lengthy.

"Next year resembles hell. As does 2010. But hopefully, with good leadership, things will look better in 5 years time," he says.

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With good leadership...

Any of you holding your breath?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Can we end this "war" too?

We need to work on ending not only our "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan but also the War on (Some) Drugs. Here's another good reason:
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The number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record, Reuters reported. This is less than half the percentage (42 percent) of Americans who smoked cigarettes during the 1960s.

Imagine that; in the past 40 years tens of millions of Americans have voluntarily quit smoking a legal, yet highly addictive intoxicant. Millions of others have refused to initiate the habit. And they’ve all made this decision without ever once being threatened with criminal prosecution and arrest, imprisonment, probation, and drug testing.

If federal lawmakers truly wished to address marijuana use, they would take a page from their successful campaign to reduce the use of cigarettes. This would include taxing and regulating cannabis with the drug’s sale and use restricted to specific markets and consumers.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Visigoths are knocking down the gates of Rome ... from the inside

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"His body was a stepping bag with so much disregard for human life," Ernst Damour, 37, said. "There has to be some accountability."

Roughly 2,000 people gathered outside the Wal-Mart's doors in the predawn darkness.

Chanting "push the doors in," the crowd pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening.

Sensing catastrophe, nervous employees formed a human chain inside the entrance to slow down the mass of shoppers.

It didn't work.

The mob barreled in and overwhelmed workers.

"They were jumping over the barricades and breaking down the door,"
Witness Kimberly Cribbs said shoppers acted like "savages."
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Fleming said criminal charges were possible but that it would be difficult to identify individual shoppers in surveillance videos.

"I look at these people's faces and I keep thinking one of them could have stepped on him," said one employee. "How could you take a man's life to save $20 on a TV?"

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How indeed? It seems that, once again, we've met the barbarians, and they are us.

I pray that the people responsible for this are crushed beneath their toppling big screen TVs while playing Guitar Hero.