Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Tragedy of Afghanistan

We Owe the Troops an Exit
By Bob Herbert
The New York Times
August 30, 2010

One of the reasons we’re in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting from the wars. So we keep shipping other people’s children off to combat as if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.

Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention. Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long. (Full Story)

With the majority of American citizens having no direct involvement or no skin in the game, the Afghanistan War continues to devour American blood and treasure at an accelerating rate. If we believe this war is worth its cost, let’s demand that our elected representatives reactivate the Selective Service System and institute a war tax in order to equally spread the war’s cost among all citizens.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tea Party Fantasy

Billed as a populist movement of middle-class citizens, the Tea Party movement brought together a hodgepodge of essentially single-issue voters angry over the economic and cultural changes reshaping America. From fears of losing their homes to their discomfort over the emergence of native dress at suburban malls, Tea Party activists see their privileged positions undermined by a government they believe gives special favors to a growing underclass of racial and ethnic minorities. Typically white, middle-age, blue-collar, and belonging to one of the major Protestant denominations, Tea Party supporters seek to restore the character of American society to the one they remember from the Fifties and Sixties – a period of American dominance following the global destruction of World War II.

What is unknown by the average Tea Party supporter and overlooked by its political elite is the ocean of private and corporate money fueling what is portrayed as a genuine populist movement. Swayed by a carefully crafted media campaign of misinformation and revisionist history, Tea Party members are deceived into supporting special-interest programs hidden within what appear to be common-sense reforms. Support for school choice carries within it the seed for a separate but equal educational system where the economically advantaged can isolate themselves yet receive federal funding. Support for smaller government can also result in reduced enforcement of banking, environmental, and worker safety regulations where economic penalties have always hit middle-class taxpayers the hardest. Support for expanded law enforcement also holds out the promise of billions in profits to be extorted from bankrupt states in building and operating for-profit prison systems.

Billionaires like the Koch brothers represent the real power behind the false populist movement known as the American Tea party movement. One can only hope the rank-and-file Tea Party supporters recognize this deception before the American Dream becomes only a faint memory.

“All things are subject to interpretation … whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Nietzsche

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.” Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fear, Hate, and Beer: England's Tea Party

English Defense League: Inside the Violent World of Britain's New Far Right (The Guardian)

Driven by fear and hate, and fueled by pints of strong ale, the lumpenproletariats of Britain’s culturally diverse cities have found a new target for their anger over Britain’s stagnant economy – their Islamic neighbors. There’s nothing like unembarrassed ignorance coupled with a soaring blood alcohol content to really stimulate a mob’s aggressive behavior. Like their American Tea Party cousins, members of the English Defense League wrap themselves in the flag, swearing to defend their country from the growing hordes of foreign looking citizens seeking to overthrow centuries of Christian dominance. Demagogues like Gingrich and Limbaugh, and anti-intellectuals like Palin and Beck, foment fear and mistrust of all who are different. “I’m tired of ignorance held up as inspiration, where vicious anti-intellectualism is considered a positive trait, and where uninformed opinion is displayed as fact,” (Phil Plait, The Mainstreaming of Crazy).

Liberty is not for these slaves; I do not advocate inflicting it against their conscience. On the contrary, I am strongly in favor of letting them crawl and grovel all they please before whatever fraud or combination of frauds they choose to venerate...Our whole practical government is grounded in mob psychology and.. the Boobus Americanus will follow any command that promises to make him safer.
H. L. Menchen, 1956

Friday, August 06, 2010

Dark Age Redux♠

With the unusually large number of troglodytes seeking political office, one would have to set a new standard in absurdity to stand out from this crowd. It appears that Ms. Sharon Angle, GOP senate candidate for Nevada and Tea-Party hack, has established her bona fides as one of America’s leading advocates for a return to the Dark Ages; a time where religious extremism and anti-humanism cooperated in one of the world’s longest reign of raw brutality. Only a deep-seated sadomasochistic leaning among Nevada’s electorate could put a social deviant like Ms. Angle in the US Senate.

The sentiments expressed in Ms. Angle’s comments, reflective of those held by 17th Century Puritans, reject centuries of advancement of human rights for a return to a time when religious faith condemned hundreds of innocent women to death.

Interview with Bill Manders (Jan, 2010)

BM: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?

SA: Not in my book.

BM: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?

SA: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.

Interview with Alan Stock (Jun, 2010)

AS: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let’s say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

SA: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade (italics mine). Sharon Angle interview (June 2010)

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hatred and Bigotry Defeated

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California's Proposition 8, which voters approved in 2008.

In addition to citing the obvious violations of US Constitutional right to equal protection, the judge also blasted the defenders of Prop 8 for their lack of research and their substitution of opinions for facts. American citizens should not have their constitutional protections subverted by appeals to religious prejudice nor by pandering to the intolerant.
(Citations from Judge Walker's decision.)

"Race restrictions on marital partners were once common in most states but are now seen as archaic, shameful or even bizarre. When the Supreme Court invalidated race restrictions in Loving, the definition of the right to marry did not change. Instead, the Court recognized that race restrictions, despite their historical prevalence, stood in stark contrast to the concepts of liberty and choice inherent in the right to marry."
"Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples."

"Our deepest quarrel with fundamentalists in this country, then, is not about Iraq, health care, abortion, or gay rights. It’s about the very possibility of trying to be true without needing the truth. It’s about being able to commit to a truth while always remembering that this truth could be partial, incomplete, and provisional—a steppingstone forward, not an edifice of certitude."

Nick Bromell, Scooter and Me