Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I am outraged by the President's comments at the U.N. His approach to the Israel-Palestinian situation is wrong on many fronts.
President wants discussions "without preconditions." I disagree. We should always stand tall for Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Also, the President's characterization that Israel should "end the occupation that began in 1967" is offensive and wrong.
I was a little confused by this.
Ya see, Chaffetz said "I disagree. We should always stand tall for Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."
But President Obama specifically called for "a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis."
Where's the disagreement?
Chaffetz then says that the President is wrong to call the Israeli occupation of land it annexed (and is not legally Israeli territory) an occupation.
But the President isn't wrong. The crux of the modern conflict between Israel and Palestine has been the Israeli-occupied territories. It's called an occupation because that's what it is.
Chaffetz is obviously disagreeing with the President for the sake of being disagreeable (and to get his name in the news again) while simultaneously making himself and the state he represents look like an uninformed horse's ###.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Dr. Reich's examination of how Democratic Capitalism has been pushed aside by Supercapitalism illustrates my point better than I ever could. Of course he has dedicated his life to the subjects of economics, politics and society. The subtitle of the book is "The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life."
Reich discusses the circumstances surrounding the rise and fall of organizaed labor in the United States, the role that Oligopolies played in the American and world economy during the period he calls "The Not Quite Golden Age" (1950s-1970s) and the dichotomy that exists in the minds of Americans as consumers/investors and citizens who shop at Wal-Mart to get the best deals on products manufactured overseas by American-based companies who then go home and lament the downtrodden status of the American worker and the suffering of main streets and mom and pop businesses across the country.
Another fascinating point made is the anthropomorphism of corporations that has resulted in a false belief held by the public that companies are just like people and subsequent legislation that treats them as such. Corporations can be sued, taxed and accused of having agendas when, in reality, they are just "legal fictions," bundles of contracts and collectives of shareholders and employees. How often have we referred to corporations as having evil intent, "Wal-Mart hates unions," "Microsoft is a monopolist." Companies don't have intent. They can't hate or love. But by treating them as people, the executives that operate those corporations start to assume that said corporations are entitled to rights and representation in government and Supercapitalism has enabled them to buy that representation through lobbying and corporate donations to political campaigns. Divorcing ourselves from this fallacy of corporate sentience is the first step in dismantling that influence that business has over our government. Only by doing that can government get back to representing the interests of the people instead of implementing legislation designed to work for the economic advantage of big business. Summed up simply, our leaders in government seem to have forgotten that rights are guaranteed to people not corporations. Reich also makes an excellent case for eliminating the corporate income tax and replacing it with taxes withheld from shareholder dividends. Let the stockholders pay taxes on the income corporations earn on their behalf, the way the law works now, corporations simply pass their taxes onto the consumer.
This is just one of many excellent examples that Reich gives in his book about how democracy can come out from under the weight of corporate influence so that all Americans can eventually benefit from the positive aspects of Supercapitalism that we now enjoy, great deals as consumers and higher returns as investors while not compromising the greater good that can only be made possible through democracy that is unencumbered by corporate influence.
Fresh Air from WHYY - Robert Reich Looks Askance at 'Supercapitalism' - 9/11/2007 - "Fresh Air"
NPR.org's Book Tour - Robert Reich Issues a Warning in 'Supercapitalism' - 10/02/07
Official page at Random House
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I’ve been closely following Jason Chaffetz’ as Congressman for District 3. I admired his choice to sleep in his office when in D.C. I liked that he kept in touch with his constituents through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I’m impressed with his commitment to fiscal discipline. At first he seemed like a good guy to have in office. Then I got a fear mongering e-mail from him about a “Cap-and-Trade Tax.” I did some research and found out it was full of lies, distortions and insinuations. I watched his videos. Some are informative but others are just as much political hot air as we ever got from Chris Cannon. I started to fact-check the things that he sends out to his constituents and I was very uncomfortable with the amount of disinformation he was spreading, much of it he gets directly from his party leadership. He also isn’t very forthcoming when it comes to providing sources for some of the things he says. I’ve managed to find these sources on my own only to discover that information has been taken out of context or lifted from outdated or even discredited documents. Of course much of his “research” is done for him by the Republican party, which is just as disappointing because instead of getting information for himself, he just passes the buck. Most people don’t go to these lengths to make sure that their Congressmen is being straight with them and that’s too bad. There are many people in District 3 who take Chaffetz at his word and have no idea that sometimes he’s misleading him. Not being one to sit idly by when someone tries to pull a fast one on me, I took it upon myself to start a web site to keep track of Chaffetz’ actions and statements as Congressman: www.JasonWatch.org. Out of fairness, I offer him both praise for the good things that he does do and criticism for when he falls short. So far, the good outnumbers the bad and I hope it stays that way. I’ve also included a message board on the site that’s open to the public so they can share their praise and criticism of their Congressman as well. I follow Mr. Chaffetz’ twitter feed, subscribe to his videos and, until recently, he and I were “friends” on Facebook. When I first watched his videos on YouTube, I left comments on them. Usually to point out a fact he might not have considered or to give him some friendly critique. His response was to disable the comments feature on his channel. This disappointed me. A Congressman needs to be open to criticism and the views of those he is elected to represent. I thought he made up for this on his Facebook page where people are free to post topics and discuss them. Chaffetz decided to remove me from that forum because of the “frequency” of my comments. Frankly, I just don’t think he liked what I had to say.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Yes, I'm a Michael Moore fan. No, I don't agree with everything he says. But he's a pretty damned good filmmaker.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
After you watch this, check out the following post on "The Anglə":
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
I read a blog post about "Liberalism" recently that erupted into a short thread of name-calling and insults along the lines of "Which is better? Liberalism or Conservatism?" The definitions offered of each were as broad as they were biased.
I've been thinking about this dichotomy in political thought for a while and was motivated by this exchange to finally put my observations and thoughts in writing. So, here goes.
Also, the political spectrum is much more complex than the idea of a line segment with a center and right & left ends. We like to think of Conservatives and Liberals as coming together in the middle on principles that they both embrace. The blog & related thread mentioned above had each side accusing the other of not respecting cherished American principles. The fact is, both American-Conservatism and American-Liberalism stand for Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, personal liberty, equal opportunity, etc. Those are American values and neither the "left" nor the "right" can claim them as solely their own.
What we need to understand is that the primary differences between Liberal and Conservative ideas of freedom, equality and opportunity can't be fairly represented by that left/right line segment because a distinction has to be made between Personal freedom and Economic freedom.
If we give each of those aspects their own left/right spectrum then we get a clearer representation of where Conservatives and Liberals stand on those two different yet connected measurements. David Nolan, who founded the Libertarian Party in 1971, placed these two scales not parallel to each other but perpendicular to each other creating a political plane as apposed to a political spectrum. There are also a number of political compasses floating around. Nolan's model, however, is basic and apropos to my thesis.
If you try and cram economic and personal liberty on the same scale you don't just get conflicts between the Conservative and Liberal schools of thought, you get inconsistencies and ideological paradoxes within each of those schools.
On a political plane which Nolan put forth in a diagram that's now called "The Nolan Chart" it's easier to see where Conservatives and Liberals are alike and where they differ. On the Personal freedom axis of the Nolan Chart, both American-Liberalism and American-Conservatism are on the side of greater freedom. On the Economic freedom axis, American-Conservatism leans toward more economic freedom and American-Liberalism leans toward less economic freedom. Where a great deal of the confusion in American politics comes from is the misguided notion that one's philosophy regarding economics is directly aligned with their philosophy on personal liberty. This is not always the case. That's why we're seeing Republicans trying to label Democrats as Socialists because, unfortunately, a lot of Americans will confuse Socialism with Communism--a philosophy based on taking away both personal and economic freedom. Modern Socialism and Civil Liberties are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
During the Bush Administration ('01-'09), it was popular amongst liberals to associate Republicans and other conservatives with Nazis and fascism. This had more to do with a blurring of the line between patriotism and nationalism in Republican rhetoric, concerns about undermining civil rights through legislation such as the USA PATRIOT ACT as well as the prosecution of a perpetual "War on Terrorism" than any relationship between American-Conservative values and those of the Nazi party. The GOP's willingness to become a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration, out of party loyalty, certainly didn't help to curtail that image.
While it can be argued that American-Liberalism, vis-à-vis its economic philosophy, when taken to an extreme would lead to socialism (which, in reality, probably wouldn't happen under the U.S. Constitution), its a bit more of a semantic stretch to say that American-Conservatism, taken to its extreme, would lead to Fascism. On the personal freedom axis, Fascism--by its very definition--is hostile toward the very concept of individual liberty. It also rejects capitalism in favor of "Corporatism" which essentially creates government mandated monopolies to exert control over the economy. It's not quite economic socialism but it certainly flies in the face of what any self-respecting American Conservative would call their core values. By the way, while history clearly says otherwise, the Nazis did not consider themselves fascists.
Even Nolan was guilty of oversimplifying American political theory arguing that American-Liberalism advocated only personal freedom and American-Conservatism advocated only economic freedom while claiming that Libertarianism was the only political philosophy that advocated both. In that respect, Libertarianism--at least on a superficial level--has more in common with traditional conservatism than it might care to admit.
Practically speaking, Liberalism and Conservatism in the United States do not occupy opposite ends of the economic axis. If anything, they both find themselves on the side of economic freedom with one (Liberalism) leaning more toward the center than the other in that traditionally the "Left" advocates government regulation and the "Right" prefers to loosen government oversight. But both Liberals and Conservatives can't deny the generally successful model of free-market Capitalism and its social benefits. The United States government presently finds itself reevaluating the role that it plays in the economy with a possible shift toward more regulation in the finance sector as well as exploring options that it can take to try and fix problems with the healthcare system. Even the infusion of public capital into the finance and automotive industries can, at best, be called "Lemon Socialism" and are not intended to be permanent situations. But even if sweeping legislation is put into place to address all of those issues, the result would not be "American Socialism." The U.S. economy will continue to operate under the rules of Capitalism. Innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit aren't going to fizzle and die; we just may find ourselves with a more regulated economy. This may slow economic growth but simultaneously reduce the risk of market collapses and prevent artificial bubbles from getting a foothold, let alone growing out of control, and subsequently bursting. These measures will also soften the blow of future recessions--which are inevitable as they are simply part of the free market economic cycle--and hopefully keep us from experiencing deep recessions like the one we're experiencing now--or mini depression as some are calling it.
All of this will also result in a major cultural shift for many Americans. I think we're going to come out of this a more pragmatic culture. There'll be less "Keeping up with the Joneses" and more consideration for what's practical and needed over what's ostentatious and simply wanted. This will also affect American political culture where concerns about the "Extremes" of political philosophies may wind up being purely academic.
Of course, in the words of Dennis Miller, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."
n.b. when dealing with specific facts and figures, I try my best to turn to official sources such as major news outlets, government web sites and published articles in reputable periodicals and journals. When it comes to broader topics like political philosophies or complex issues that draw on numerous sources (like the USA PATRIOT Act), I'll refer the reader to a relevant and vetted Wikipedia article.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Free medical care, good food, classes, gardening. I find it amusing how many Guantanamo defenders talk about how good the terrorists have it in the detention camps.
Are they forgetting that these people have been accused of committing some of the worst crimes imaginable? But instead of trying them in court, where if found guilty they'll either be incarcerated in a REAL prison or sentenced to death, we're taking better care of them than Osama Bin Laden did. All he could offer them was a cold corner of a cave to sleep in and a promise of 72 virgins that may or may not be awaiting them after they blow themselves up in an Afghan market.
But it makes an eery sort of sense. The Republicans WANT to take good care of their precious detainees. They fill a very important role in the Republican Psychodrama that is their national agenda. They are the face of the enemy. The Terrorists in Guantanamo are the Emmanuel Goldsteins to the GOP's Big Brother. Keep them out of the U.S. and perpetually awaiting trial and they retain that air of danger the Right Wing is counting on to scare the country into giving them back the power they enjoyed in the years immediately following 9/11.
To bad they don't realize that most of us have stopped buying their fear mongering.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
An interesting little tête-à-tête considering my thoughts on the subject as stated on "The Anglə."
Friday, May 15, 2009
First it was up-armored humvees, personal armor, communications equipment. You'd think they'd at least have plenty of water to drink.
I remember watching a news report during Desert Shield showing how careful the military was to make sure the troops stayed hydrated.
Today, it's an afterthought.