Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Herman Cain - We Are the 1 Percent

Since Herman Cain has such conspiratorial vitriol for the We Are The 99 Percent movement that is now occupying Wall Street and many cities nationwide (source), it only seems fitting that his campaign should release this as their new slogan:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm a Secular Progressive - Ron Paul doesn't Scare Me

It's always disappointing to me how predictably insular and myopic opposition to Ron Paul is from the left.  Progressives largely support his foreign policy position of non-aggression and diplomacy and he remains among the only Republicans who want to end military occupation and bring the troops home (something like 800 military bases in over 100 countries is frequently cited).  These are positions that institutional Democrats pretend to be interested in on the campaign trail but clearly have no intention to uphold in office.  Paul is also an outspoken critic of government collusion with the financial industry as well as the corrupting influence money has on the political process - the hallmark issues emerging from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

So what criticism is leveraged at Paul?  In debates I've had on this subject over the past year, it is always divisive wedge issues like abortion, government policy regarding race relations, or personal religious beliefs  (source).  And instead of producing convincing video clips or analysis that succinctly illustrate the objection that liberals have to Ron Paul, the rebuttal always comes in the form of obscure, cherry-picked quotes from an Internet echo chamber with limited and outdated source material.  Clearly, this is the rebuttal of last resort because more substantive objections do not exist.

I have watched dozens if not hundreds of interviews and debates Ron Paul has done over the years.  I remain in agreement with him on over 90% of his positions - far higher than Barack Obama and certainly higher than the rest of the GOP Freakshow.  And I'm a pro-choice atheist.  The matters that continue to be raised in the "scary Ron Paul quotes" genre remain marginal and trivial in light of the very real issues our country is facing - none of which include the subject matter raised in these spurious red herring arguments.

Meanwhile, the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries continue to suffer under the oppression of the military industrial complex by way of  predator drone strikes, bombing campaigns, collateral damage from kill/capture raids, and similar injustices. Further, the people of the United States watch their civil liberties erode on all fronts while the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar continues to decline from Keynesian economic policy.  It is as though the pitcher of Obama Kool-Aid must be protected at all costs, even as President Obama continues defying the core electoral mandates of his base (ending war, restoring personal liberty, addressing reckless corporatism, etc.).

So should an atheist like myself be scared by obscure Ron Paul quotes?  To the contrary, secular progressives should be much more concerned with Barack Obama:
  • As with virtually every other politician including Ron Paul, Obama is also a Christian (despite xenophobic assertions by the Birthers).  Yet Obama's views on same sex marriage remain "evolving" (source) while Paul flatly stated in a 2007 debate that he believes all associations - including same sex marriage - remain voluntary and should be religious functions rather than state functions (source and source).

  • Paul also supports gays and lesbians serving openly in the military - much to the distress of Christian conservatives (source).

  • Conversely, Obama also continues to support the death penalty (source) while Ron Paul has come to believe it should no longer be applied (source).

  • Paul wants to end the disastrous "war on drugs" (source) while Obama continues to escalate it (source).

  • Obama has now set historical precedent by assassinating American citizens without due process of law under secret government panels (source) while Paul vehemently opposes this practice and insists doing so is an impeachable offense (source).

  • With deep opposition from his base, Obama uncritically renewed the PATRIOT Act (source) - a vile hallmark of the Bush Administration that liberals almost universally decried.  Ron Paul has been consistently opposed to it (source).

  • And obviously, Obama has continued and in some cases expanded Bush-era military policies  (source) while Paul remains steadfastly opposed to them and has emerged as a true champion of peace (source).

Progressives can wring their hands and make excuses about these and other Obama betrayals, but the unhappy fact remains that their champion has been bought and paid for by Wall Street (source) - which goes a long way in explaining why Obama has shrugged off the notion of prosecuting anyone from the 2008 financial melt-down - the largest theft of capital in modern history.

Once upon a recent time, progressives cared about these issues.  And I thought they cared about the issues more than party politics.  I certainly do.  And that is why, on these and many other issues, Barack Obama has been the Left's Big Letdown - yet so many remain opposed to Ron Paul for little more than fear-mongering claims of theocracy.  But personality politics are irrelevant.  What matter are governing philosophies and legislative actions - of which progressives share far more with Ron Paul than many Democrats (including Obama).

So I will take my chances with Ron Paul's personal beliefs on Creationism - particularly since he has never said anything approaching the state-mandated teaching of it in the classroom.  While Ricks Santorum and Perry regularly bring their religious views to the forefront of their campaigns, Ron Paul's religious convictions rarely if ever enter his campaign platform and that's the way I like it.  The scattered and obscure objections that are frequently presented against Ron Paul by the left don't scare me - and of course the protestations from neo-conservatives are why I will further support him in the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary.

If you haven't yet, you should, too: http://www.ronpaul2012.com/

Monday, October 3, 2011

Song A Day #1003: They Booed A Gay Soldier

Jonathan Mann has been writing and performing a song a day for nearly three years now.  This is his 1,003rd song - about Tea Party crowds at GOP debates and the booing of Stephen Hill, a US soldier serving in Iraq (source).  I especially appreciate the discourse between the solo vocals and the chorus.  Check it out:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Killing al-Awlaki has made America less Safe

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki has tragic consequences on the rule of law and giving due process to all individuals accused of a crime.  Not that al-Awlaki was every charged, much less given a trial, before a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operation killed him and six others in Yemen this week (source).

While the Bush Administration was fond of kidnapping people, detaining them in military prisons indefinitely without charges, and torturing them (source), the Obama Administration seems to prefer outright assassination operations followed by hopes of higher approval ratings (source).  While most of the mainstream media and political pundits across the spectrum seem to approve of President Obama's "shoot first, justify killings later" approach, there are dissenting voices.  Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen O'Connell summarizes her concerns of the legal slippery slope the Executive Branch is sliding down (source):
And what about within the U.S.? If the president can target suspects in Yemen, why not here?  And why just the president?  Why can’t governors order missile strikes on suspected terrorists and other criminals?  We are told with respect to targeted killing - as we were with torture - that post-9/11 circumstances require extraordinary measures.  Some of our leading ethicists countered that the absolute ban on torture must be respected as a moral imperative, regardless of the consequences.  We could say the same about targeted killing, but, as in the case of torture, it turns out that doing the moral thing is also the effective thing.
The intrepid reporting of The Nation's Jeremy Scahill is also a welcome voice of reason:

Glenn Greenwald further identifies the double standard that the political left in America seems to have with regard to presidential transgression of authority (source):
Remember that there was great controversy that George Bush asserted the power simply to detain American citizens without due process or simply to eavesdrop on their conversations without warrants. Here you have something much more severe. Not eavesdropping on American citizens, not detaining them without due process, but killing them without due process, and yet many Democrats and progressives, because it’s President Obama doing it, have no problem with it and are even in favor of it. To say that the President has the right to kill citizens without due process is really to take the constitution and to tear it up into as many little pieces as you can and then burn it and step on it.
As I have mentioned previously after the assassination of (an unarmed) Osama Bin Laden (source), this kind of extra-judicial killing is not just an international travesty but one whose domestic implications will be longstanding.  Following the assassination of al-Awlaki, the U.S. State Department has announced that Americans are in elevated danger when traveling abroad (source) - as was the case after the killing of Bin Laden.  While popular opinion seems to be "the world is a better place, and Americans are safer, after the removal of al-Awlaki," reliable intelligence sources indicate that the opposite is true.

Rather than training in the operation of stealth helicopters and assault weapons, I believe JSOC needs to be trained by any zookeeper in the use of a tranquilizer gun.  If the case for al-Awlaki's criminal actions was so strong, it should have been presented before a jury as he stood trial - not used as posthumous rationale for killing him in a missile strike as he sat eating breakfast in the Yemeni desert.

Not coincidentally, I wrote about the dangerous dehumanization of warfare waged by predator drones the day before these very same tactics were used against al-Awlaki (source).