Thursday, November 29, 2007

Secret Laws

In last night's Republican debate, Mitt Romney claimed that the USA shouldn't let "terrorists" know what laws we are going to obey, or actually, even what the laws are. This is even worse than President (sic) Bush and his signing statements.
This lawless government is so out of control that would-be rulers think that it's normal to keep laws secret. First they kept their actions secret, then the budget, now it is considered no one's business if the US is following the Geneva Conventions.
Romney, like Bush, alternated between lying ("we don't torture") and claiming the moral right to do so. So Mormons, like other Christians, feel that just being an American makes you so morally superior that you don't have to actually behave in a civilized way. You can loot, torture and kill and it's OK, 'cause you're an American.
And then they turn around and claim that religion is the basis of all morals and should be forced on children in public schools. Maybe the connection between religion and morals is secret also, because I see no evidence of it in my reality-based world.
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Friday, November 23, 2007

The American Way of Life

Many people seem to believe that the American Way of Life is something that we've all enjoyed since the establishment of our country.
The ability to make a comfortable living at decent wages, and for eight hours a day, with weekends and holidays and some protections-this has only been around since about 1947, and mostly for white educated males who went along with the status quo. There was some opening up to women and minorities in the 70's, just in time for some people to establish enough security to weather the backlash against the working class unleashed by Reagan in the 1980s.
Most baby-boomers think of themselves as "middle class", because they were brought up in relative comfort, especially compared to their Depression era parents. But baby-boomers keep their standard of living by having more than one wage earner in the family, coupled with massive debt.
America's ruling class has always been willing to have it's working class dirt poor, ignorant and short-lived. They were pushed back by worker unrest in the 1930s, but they're coming back with a vengeance now. They want to dismantle what is left of the New Deal, the worker and environment protections of the 70s and, just for good measure, the rights established in the eighteenth century by the Bill of Rights.
We working class Americans won't get anywhere if we believe that our good life was bestowed upon us by benevolent bosses. It wasn't. Our ancestors fought for every scrap we have and we betray them by giving it up so easily.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Making Americans Pay- A Modest Proposal

The Democrats have recalculated the cost of the Iraq invasion and occupation as about a trillion dollars, or $20,000 per American family, so far. We haven't paid it yet, of course. That's for our children and grandchildren.

There are those liberals who call for a resumption of the draft in order to stop the war. This always amazes me. Why would liberals be for what is clearly forced labor, combined with relocation, that is, government slavery? Their reasoning is even more bizarre. Their belief is that not enough Americans are dying to upset the rest of us. Their solution is to reinstate the draft so that enough young people will die to get the rest of us upset enough to stop the war. And these liberals consider themselves more moral than the conservatives who just want other people's children to die for profit. Of course, we all want to think of ourselves as moral, but the liberal chicken-hawks, willing to kill others for their twisted beliefs, don't qualify in my book.

Americans should pay for this war, but with money, not lives. Instead of spending your time trying to get forced conscription brought back, how about a pay-as-you-go war? Everyone knows that interest payments jack up the price of whatever you buy, so quit putting the occupation on a credit card. If everyone owes $20,000, make them pay now. I bet that would get more people against the war than forcing some people's children into the military. Of course, $20,000 is more than many people's annual income. So, let's make those who make more money pay more for the war. And no shelters. You want to occupy another country, you pay for it.

And, just for the hell of it, let's really get Americans' attention. All TV should have to be all-occupation-news, all the time. A big complaint of the troops is that no one in America even realizes a war is going on. The only way to make Americans notice something is to put it on TV. So Just Do It! Oh, and also no commercials.

If anyone complains about the constant war programming just point out that in Iraq, they don't even have electricity. (A version of I was sorry I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet that I'm sure all will appreciate)
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Freedom isn't Free?

It's time again for the ritual genuflection to the veterans that we go through more than annually in this country. So, Armistice Day is now Veteran's Day, Memorial Day is now Veteran's Day and Fourth of July is now Veteran's Day. Not to mention Flag Day. It is a thought crime to refer to anyone in the military, or who has ever been in the military, as less than a "hero". Oh, wait, unless they're now against war. Then they're no longer heroes. How can this be? What kind of alchemy turns someone who "served their country" into a traitor retroactively?

So we see recent "heroes" from Iraq, not just demoted from being heroes, but actually arrested in Boston for wanting to participate in the veteran's parade. It turns out that to be a real veteran you have to support any war that the commander-in-chief feels like starting -- even though our Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the exclusive power to declare war. (Anyone else remember that? That was actually debated in 1964; now it's not even brought up.)

Just having been in the military, or even being in combat apparently isn't enough to make you a "veteran." So doesn't that negate the other propaganda? The propaganda about the military supporting freedom and democracy by killing people in other countries, about freedom not being free, about thanking a veteran for your freedom, yada, yada, yada.

Actually, of course, freedom is free. It is the natural condition of humans, and people lived without oppression for most of human history. Even today, there are tribes left who live without government, taxes, prisons or the military.

It's oppression that is expensive. Having troops in 130 countries, producing and storing weapons of mass destruction, researching endless new ways to kill people, invading other countries, paying for soldiers and their dependents and their health care (uh, sort of) and their retirement -- it's all very expensive.

This whole manufactured idolatry of the military is fabricated by, and functions for, the ruling class. It's amazing that right wing crazies who despise big government and hate taxes, fall right into line when it comes to worshipping the oppressive arm of that government. And left wing peaceniks have been cowed into professing a love for the troops, but not their mission. As a Star Wars fan, I can't imagine scorning the Empire, but supporting the Death Star and the storm troopers.

Come on, people, the ruling class can't rule without oppressive enforcement. Those in the military must resist and refuse. Those against war should only support those who resist. Let the flag wavers idolize the true believers, those willing to kill without thinking.

Better still, let's try to get them, and the reflexive flag wavers, thinking. For a change.

Remember that most people love peace, not war. Armistice Day was originally about the desire for peace. It was proclaimed in 1938 as a day "dedicated to the cause of world peace". What happened? After World War ll, when the USA turned to the permanent war economy, and the Department of War became the Department of Defense, Armistice Day became Veteran's Day, officially in 1954. Around the same time, they added "In God we Trust" to the money and "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. In other words, the more war-like the US became, the more the elite hid behind God and eupehmisms -- which is appropriate, considering that both militarism and institutionalized religion ultimately rest on regimented, authoritarian modes of thought, and are diametrically opposed to Enlightenment and critical thinking.

Here's to a politics driven critical thinking, knowledge and reflection, not knee-jerk obedience and authoritarianism.
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Collapsing economy

So China has announced that it is dumping the dollar. Maybe they decided that we weren't that great of a market, after all, since we keep returning their toys.

So what happens now? In the last great depression, the majority of people lived on farms, so not many people starved. Now, less than 1% live on farms. Uh, oh, we're in trouble. Plus, the corporations have moved the essential factories to cheaper labor countries. All we make here are weapons and hamburgers.

Maybe that's why Halliburton has been busy building detention camps. I have dismissed speculation that they were going to start rounding us up. Why would they go to the trouble? If there's no mass dissension, there's no point in locking up malcontents. We're harmless to the status quo.

But let people start starving, and they may lose interest in Brittany Spears and start paying attention to the men behind the curtain. Then the military, or Blackwater and DynCorp mercenaries, apply the oppressive tactics learned in less fortunate countries that Americans have ignored for decades. We may learn for ourselves just what is, and what isn't, torture.

Or, we just have the predicted epidemic, no doubt starting in the poorer parts of the country, and not quite reaching the rich. At least, that's my guess.
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Waterboarding-is that all there is?

It wasn't until I watched the Democrats today on Democracy Now that I realized what is going on with the torture issue. Both the opponents and the proponents of torture are pretending that waterboarding is the only form of torture that the US is engaged in, and if it is stopped, the problem is solved.

This narrowing of the discussion is typical of Democrats in Congress. Watergate became merely "what did the President know and when did he know it?" about the break-in and nothing about the rest of the abuses of power.

Iran-Contra became merely about a single arms shipment, and not about the many abuses and illegalities of the Reagan administration.

Now the Democrats are focusing solely on waterboarding and ignoring the kidnapping, torturing, imprisonment without charges, spying, wiretapping, and all the other illegal activities of the Bush regime. I guess they feel that this is a major response to the Republicans, who focus on quibbling over the meaning of the word torture, which they consider forbidden speech. Their argument focuses on insisting that everyone use their approved phrase, "enhanced interrogation".

So we have an eloquent statement by Edward Kennedy about the Attorney General needing to uphold the law, but in the statement, he restricts his comments to waterboarding.

As Kennedy pointed out:

We are supposed to find comfort in the representation by a nominee to the highest law enforcement office in the country that he will, in fact, enforce the laws that we pass in the future? Can our standards really have sunk so low?

Enforcing the law is the job of the attorney general. It is a prerequisite, not a virtue that enhances the nominee's qualifications. Make no mistake about it: Waterboarding is already illegal under United States law.

Actually, Sen. Kennedy, all torture is illegal under US law, the Constitution, and international law. The US national security apparatus is breaking the law, and they should be prosecuted for war crimes. That's what you should be talking about here, and not merely one particular form of torture.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Make Mukasey Talk!

The spineless Democrats have caved in and agreed to let our Dear Leader have his way with us again. Now we get a third lawless attorney general. And the Spineless Ones have let him get away with refusing to answer questions on torture.

Isn't the answer obvious? Congress asks questions,and he refuses to answer. They need enhanced interrogation methods. Waterboard him-until he gives the intelligence we need to protect Americans from fascism. Not Islamo-fascism in this case. This would be the Cheney version.
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Monday, November 5, 2007

change your clocks, change your battery

Why the campaign to change your smoke alarm batteries every 6 months? Who's paying for this, the Eveready Corporation?
Batteries are toxic and shouldn't be dumped into the landfills, but you know most people do. It's bad enough to have dead batteries as toxic waste, but millions of perfectly good batteries tossed every 6 months? That's just wrong.
Smoke alarms beep when the battery needs changing. Wait for that cue, people.
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How to Destroy a Constitution

I don't understand why President General Musharraf of Pakistan bothered to declare a state of emergency and announce that he's suspending the constitution. It's bound to cause notice. Why doesn't he just do what Cheney/Bush and the Congress did and overthrow the Constitution without announcing it? That way almost no one pays attention, the people that do notice can be called non-patriots, and it goes altogether more swimmingly.
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