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Crazy like a completely sane person

By: Thursday October 2, 2014 1:30 am

Henry Kissinger as he looked on March 3, 1976 (photo: Library of Congress collection via Wikimedia Commons)

Why would anyone ever suspect such a thing?

Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her.

The U.S. overthrow a government?  Why I never!  That’s crazy talk!

It should be noted that Argentina owes U.S. banks a lot of money, and they are our country’s most precious, self-congratulatory resource.

 

Late Late Night FDL: Gimme Something Good

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 10:00 pm

Ryan AdamsGimme Something Good, on The Ellen Degeneres Show, September 30, 2014.

What’s on your mind?

Late Night: Imagine There’re No Countries

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 8:00 pm

One World

A serious case has been made repeatedly by unknown scholars and globally celebrated geniuses for well over a century that a likely step toward abolishing war would be instituting some form of global government. Yet the peace movement barely mentions the idea, and its advocates as often as not appear rather naive about Western imperialism; certainly they are not central to or well integrated into the peace movement or even, as far as I can tell, into peace studies academia. (Here’s a link to one of the main advocacy groups for world government promoting a U.S. war on ISIS.)

All too often the case for world government is even made in this way: Global government would guarantee peace, while its absence guarantees war. The silliness of such assertions, I suspect, damages what may be an absolutely critical cause. Nobody knows what global government guarantees, because it’s never been tried. And if national and local governments and every other large human institution are any guide, global government could bring a million different things depending on how it’s done. The serious question should be whether there’s a way to do it that would make peace more likely, without serious risk of backfiring, and whether pursuing such a course is a more likely path to peace than others.

Does the absence of world government guarantee war? I haven’t seen any proof. Of 200 nations, 199 invest far less in war than the United States. Some have eliminated their militaries entirely. Costa Rica is not attacked because it lacks a military. The United States is attacked because of what its military does. Some nations go centuries without war, while others seemingly can’t go more than half an election cycle.  In their book One World Democracy, Jerry Tetalman and Byron Belitsos write that nations do not go to war because they are armed or inclined toward violence but because “they are hopelessly frustrated by the fact that they have no legislative or judicial forum in which their grievances can be heard and adjudicated.”

Can you, dear reader, recall a time when the U.S. public had a grievance with a foreign country, lamented the absence of a global court to adjudicate it, and demanded that Congress declare and the Pentagon wage a war?  How many pro-war marches have you been on, you lover of justice? When the Taliban offered to let a third country put Bin Laden on trial, was it the U.S. public that replied, “No way, we want a war,” or was it the President? When the U.S. Vice President met with oil company executives to plan the occupation of Iraq, do you think any of them mentioned their frustration at the weakness of international law and arbitration? When the U.S. President in 2013 could not get Congress or the public to accept a new war on Syria and finally agreed to negotiate the removal of chemical weapons without war, why was war the first choice rather than the second? When advocates of world government claim that democracies don’t wage war, or heavily armed nations are not more likely to wage war, or nations with cultures that celebrate war are not more likely to wage war, I think they hurt their cause.

When you start up a campaign to abolish the institution of war, you hear from all kinds of people who have the solution for you. And almost all of them have great ideas, but almost all of them think every other idea but their own is useless. So the solution is world government and nothing else, or a culture of peace and nothing else, or disarmament and nothing else, or ending racism and nothing else, or destroying capitalism and nothing else, or counter-recruitment and nothing else, or media reform and nothing else, or election campaign funding reform and nothing else, or creating peace in our hearts and radiating it outward and nothing else, etc. So those of us who find value in all of the above, have to encourage people to pick their favorite and get busy on it. But we also have to try to prioritize. So, again, the serious question is whether world government should be pursued and whether it should be a top priority or something that waits at the bottom of the list.

There are, of course, serious arguments that world government would make everything worse, that large government is inevitably dysfunctional and an absolutely large government would be dysfunctional absolutely.  Serious, if vague, arguments have been made in favor of making our goal “anarcracy” rather than world democracy. These arguments are overwhelmed in volume by paranoid pronouncements like the ones in this typical email I received:

Which Candidate for WI Governor Has a Plan That Relies More Heavily on ObamaCare?

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 7:15 pm

A Scott Walker campaign ad that criticizes Mary Burke for her stance relating to the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA or “Obamacare”) is based on a false premise. It incorrectly equates supporting the expansion of BadgerCare with supporting an expansion of “Obamacare.”

Although I don’t think one can say that either candidate for Wisconsin governor supports “expanding Obamacare,” I believe a strong case can be made that the current Governor’s plan relies more heavily on a key part of the Affordable Care Act. For reasons I’ll explain below, his changes to BadgerCare do more than Burke’s alternative to expand the reach of the core part of the ACA – the new federal Marketplace for health insurance and the substantial federal funding to subsidize Marketplace insurance plans.

NASA’s Terra Satellite Documents the Disappearance of the Aral Sea

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 6:29 pm

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite began documenting the decline of the Aral Sea in 2000. NASA now says that eastern basin of the South Aral Sea is completely dried for the first year in modern times.

Another Poll Shows Tight Race for Medical Marijuana in Florida

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 5:46 pm

Any amendment on the Florida ballot needs to get at least 60 percent to be approved, so it is possible a clear majority of people in Florida could vote for medical marijuana but still not get it. At the moment, support for Amendment 2 is hovering right at this critical threshold.

Chipmunks Shut Down Utah Tar Sands

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:59 pm

Activists dressed as chipmunks shut down construction at the first US tar sands mine on September 23. It was the latest in a series of actions by Utah Tar Sands Resistance targeting the 213 acre Book Cliffs tar sands mine.

A video released by the group shows chipmunks spreading rapidly through through the camp site where they block construction equipment with their bodies. Though the finale of the video playfully describes the chipmunks fates as “poisoned by tar sands waste water,” activists actually shut down construction for part of a day, resulting in five arrests. There have been 27 total arrests since the beginning of the campaign to halt construction.

Anti-Gay Activists Justify HRC’s “Export of Hate” Report

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 4:11 pm

Last week, the Human Rights Campaign published an explosive report, The Export of Hate, which pointed out how various anti-gay figures were peddling lies and propaganda to foreign countries in an attempt to spread anti-gay hate abroad.

Consequences Of Gaza Operation Felt In Israel With Suicides and Moves Away From Border

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 3:12 pm

This summer’s brutal assault on the people of Gaza by the Israeli government is still yielding casualties. While the operation itself cost 66 Israeli soldiers their lives, in the past month alone three Israeli soldiers who participated in Operation Protective Edge have committed suicide. The suicides are the latest indication of the psychological damage done to Israeli soldiers from participating in the war on Gaza. The IDF medical corps is said to have treated over 100 soldiers for mental health problems both during and after the military campaign that killed over 2,100 Palestinians. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinians killed were civilians, many children.

Living Life in Prison Without Parole for Nonviolent Drug Offenses: Euka Wadlington & His Fight for Freedom

By: Wednesday October 1, 2014 2:14 pm

“When you have a life sentence, it does not promote rehabilitation,” according to Euka Wadlington, a forty-eight year-old African-American who is serving two life sentences in federal prison in Greenville, Illinois. “By design, you are locked up in a cage until you die.”

As he explains being in prison for life without the possibility of parole, “You have no good time to work towards, you can’t work certain jobs in the institution, you can’t enroll in certain classes that works towards reentry, and you could never go to a federal camp. So, being stripped of these few things, you are naked.”

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