Saturday, August 31, 2013

When you sleep with snakes, they will bite you

Earlier this summer, I said that Egyptian liberals were nuts to align themselves with the corrupt, brutal military whose only concern was re-seizing political and economic dominance of the country. A few weeks later, the country’s leading liberal, Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, was been arrested by the junta for the ‘crime’ of having protested the insecurity forces’ massacre of protesters. Shortly thereafter, the country's long-time dictator, convicted following the 2011 revolution, was released from prison. The intent of the coup against President Mohammed Morsi was always to reverse the revolution. The military is well on its way to doing just that.

Update: the coup leaders have now charged President Morsi with allegedly inciting deadly violence. The mass murderers are passing judgment on someone for murder. The snakes strike again.

Friday, August 30, 2013

If the major parties don't represent us, does that mean we're stupid?

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” –Albert Einstein

 The Independent Voters Network had this op-ed piece which opined that the two major parties 'clearly and strikingly' do not represent most voters. It offers scant little evidence for this thesis, other than there are an increasing number of independent voters.

The sort of lazy excuse for analysis in this article bothers me. Giving the voters a free pass for their choices may be nice populism but does not serve the national interest.

100% of Americans are represented by either Democratic or Republican Congressmen (obviously except for two vacant seats). 

99.3% of Americans are represented exclusively by major party US senators.

100% of Americans are represented by Democrat or Republican state governors. 

All of them are the result of (sort of) free and fair elections. 

If Americans don’t feel these two parties represent them, why do they elect exclusively them virtually all the time from among the 3-6 choices available in the majority of elections?

One can reasonably infer from this situation one of two possibilities: either a) Democratic and GOP elected officials *do* generally represent the views of most Americans or b) that voters are so stupid or gutless as to overwhelmingly elect people who don't represent them even though, in the majority of cases, there are non-major party alternatives. 

Which is it?

You can bitch and moan about your cable company or your cell phone provider but as long as you keep buying their product, they don’t care. They will have no incentive to improve. 

Politics is the same way. The corporate parties don’t give a toss about your whining, so long as you keep buying what they sell. 

If you keep voting for them, they’ll never have an incentive to change in any meaningful way. Sometimes people whine when politicians break promises but more often, the moaning comes about when a polician acts exactly as he or she suggested in the campaign! 

As PJ O’Rourke concluded in his excellent book Parliament of Whores: [I]n a democracy such as ours, the whores are us.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How the Baghdad bombing changed humanitarian affairs

This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents compelling stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, IsraelStine and the Trumped Up Enemy of the Month. A list of all pieces in this series can be found found here.

Ten years ago today, a bombing obliterated United Nations headquarters in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing 22 aid workers and UN staff members. This piece on the BBC website highlights how this attack fundamentally changed the work of not only the UN, but also of humanitarian aid organizations around the world. A subsequent bombing of the facilities of the Red Cross, generally considered the most respected humanitarian organization in the world, also had a shattering effect. In the subsequent decade, aid workers have increasingly found themselves the target of combatants, not merely bystanders.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Government criminalizes those who shine light on its crimes

In America, when the government commits crimes, it’s the people who reveal those crimes who are treated as criminals.

Only days after President Obama assured us that the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program was in compliance with the law, The Washington Post has revealed that the program is actually a serial law-breaker.

Thanks to leaks provided by Edward Snowden, the paper reported that, according to the NSA’s own audit, the agency violated thelaw ‘thousands of times’ in the 12 month period of 2011-12.The NSA chief waved this off as nothing more than mere oversights. Do you think Snowden could get away with the same argument?

The head of the special secret court charged with oversight of the NSA’s activities has conceded that his ability to provide proper oversight isquite limited.

The statecan violate the law repeatedly and with complete impunity, but it’s Snowden who is the most wanted man in the world for publicizing these crimes.

This is yet another piece of evidence that, contrary to liberal self-delusion, the Obama administration is just as criminal as its predecessor.

Update: Looks like the UK government follows the same path. The Huffington Post reports that the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald was detained at London's Heathrow Airport under the country's Terrorism Act. Greenwald has been a high-profile critic of the UK's and US' attacks on civil liberties and has been instrumental in expose their abuses.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Majority oppose Obamacare... but not in the way you probably think

A CNN poll reports that 54% of Americans oppose Obamacare. But the dynamic is not as simplistic as the “tea party” or Obama partisans would have you believe. 

It reports only 35% of Americans think Obamacare is ‘too liberal.'

Nearly 1/3 of all opposition to Obamacare is by those who, like myself, think it is ‘not liberal enough.’

This reality probably isn't something you've ever heard in the mainstream media's narrative.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Corporate welfare, spying, Egyptian 'democracy' and malaria

-The Nation of Change website explores which company is the biggest wage stiffer in America. The article also pointed out that: study in Wisconsin by the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce determined that a typical Walmart store costs taxpayers over $1.7 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee.

-President Obama today announced modest changes to the program that spies on every America. Despite the tweaks, the program remains a clear violation of the 4th Amendment.
If Obama had truly ‘welcomed’ this debate, as he disingenuously claimed in his press conference, he would’ve started the debate on himself a long time ago. For him to say the debate would've happened without Snowden's actions is so disingenuous as to be laughable.

-John Kerry, secretary of state of our Nobel Peace Prize president, recently described the coup in Egypt as 'restoring democracy.' Yes, that's the military coup that overthrew a democratically-elected government. And we thought such Orwellian doublespeak was a relic of the Cold War. In Egypt itself, some protesters are trying to find a third way. "What Egypt is doing right now is repeating the same mistakes, only doing so with much greater enthusiasm and speed," warned one expert. "All of the plots in the 2011 transition — a rushed constitutional process, a failure to hammer out consensus on basic issues, a complete trust in the military — those are all being repeated."

-Many media outlets reported the successful trials of a vaccine against malaria, the world's deadliest disease. A hopeful sign... hopefully.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Wal-Mart: America's biggest welfare queen

I was reading an article on how giant retailers stiff their workers and it pointed out how they're also stiffing American taxpayers.

It cited a study by the US Committee on Education at the Workforce [which] determined that a typical Walmart store *costs* taxpayers over $1.7 million per year, or about $5,815 per employee.

The analysis is probably overly generous to retailers, seeming to assume the average employee is actually assigned to work for 40 hours.

When they receive huge corporate welfare benefits *and* pay employees so little that they have to seek food stamps, Medicaid and other social services, Wal-Mart is leeching off the taxpayer at both ends.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Obama admin backs homicidal junta

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara. This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents compelling stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, IsraelStine and the Trumped Up Enemy of the Month. A list of all pieces in this series can be found found here..

In an Orwellian twist worthy of anything Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney said, Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that the Egyptian military was merely 'restoring democracy' when it overthrew the democratically-elected president.

There you have it, folks. Your Nobel Peace-prize winning president and his administration is backing thugs who murder peaceful protesters... and doing so with your tax money.