Archive for December 22nd, 2009

Veteran speaks out about the military’s greatest weapon: racism

| December 22, 2009 | Reply
Veteran speaks out about the military’s greatest weapon: racism

In this video, a military veteran named Mike Prysner spoke out about the military’s main weapon: racism. He argues that without racism, none of the military’s expensive weapons could ever be used, and there would be no chance that the working people of one country would be convinced to kill the working people of another country. His argument regarding the power of racism is another way of pointing out the explosive power of ingroups and outgroups and the curing power of diversity–a willingness to embrace the humanity of people unlike ourselves.

For more on the often-used recipe for going to war, see this post on “War Made Easy.

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More of my favorite quotes

| December 22, 2009 | Reply
More of my favorite quotes

I love good quotes. There’s a novel in every sentence. Some of them are explosive. I collect them from many sources, though I see many of them on my homepage, which is set for The Quotations Page. Here are my favorite quotes that I’ve collected over the past few months:

-If you would cure anger, do not feed it. Say to yourself: ‘I used to be angry every day; then every other day; now only every third or fourth day.’ When you reach thirty days offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the gods.
Epictetus (55 AD – 135 AD)

-Life is a series of things you’re not quite ready for.
Rob Hopkins, of the Post Carbon Institute

-An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.
Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988)

-The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 – 2006)

-The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal . . . If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
Malcolm X Speaks, p.93

-As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.
Voltaire

[more . . . ]

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Lengthy bill = mischief

| December 22, 2009 | 1 Reply
Lengthy bill = mischief

What do Americans think of 2,000 page health reform bills? Here’s what Zogby found out:

More than 80 percent of Americans agree that Congress drafts lengthy, complex bills to hide spending on special interests and to prevent constituents from understanding what’s in them before a vote is taken, according to a new survey. According to a Zogby poll conducted last week, 83.5 percent of respondents agreed at least “somewhat” with the lengthy-bill premise, and 61.2 percent of Americans agreed strongly. Only 14.4 percent disagreed, and just 5.8 percent did so strongly.

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Lack of broadband competition continues

| December 22, 2009 | 1 Reply
Lack of broadband competition continues

Free Press recently published a report on the state of national broadband indicating that a central failure of our communications policy is the lack of broadband competition.

For nearly a decade, the debate over broadband competition in Washington has been an increasingly tortured game of pretending we have broadband competition in America when almost any consumer can see that we clearly do not. We used to have competition: In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress implemented a system that required telecommunications network owners to share their infrastructure with competitive providers. But in the years that followed, the powerful incumbent monopolists used the courts and the FCC to kill this regulatory system. As the rest of the world was successfully adopting this competitive model we invented, our leaders were abandoning it. Instead, they bet that competition between cable and telephone networks using different technologies would work out just as well. It didn’t.

Now the world’s leading broadband nations overseas are enjoying healthy broadband competition that has triggered higher speeds, lower prices, and wider deployment. In the United States, we’re 10 years behind, and we’re stuck with a market structure that is very difficult to steer back to where we were before we went off course. The facts on the ground are stark. Here in the United States, the duopoly phone and cable incumbents control 95 percent of the entire wired and wireless high-speed Internet access market. Prices are on the rise, and the incumbents have executed a deliberate strategy to slow innovation and deployment, hoping to squeeze every last dime out of yesterday’s technologies.

What the FCC should do: First and foremost, the FCC should make a clean break with the policies of the past eight years and declare that our broadband competition policy is a failure.

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Climatologist James Hansen speaks out against cap and trade

| December 22, 2009 | 6 Replies
Climatologist James Hansen speaks out against cap and trade

Amy Goodman recently interviewed climatologist James Hanson, who argued that the collapse of the climate talks in Copenhagen was good for the planet, because cap-and-trade-with-offsets are disastrous, in that they fail to reduce the use of fossil fuels. He proposes that we need to put a price on fossil fuel emissions and redistribute that to the population as a mechanism for discouraging the use of fossil fuels. Hanson characterized the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels, including the regrettable use of tar sands of Canada, as a moral issue because lives are at stake, as are entire low-lying countries:

Amy Goodman: So, how did you go from being the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies to getting arrested for these protests?

JAMES HANSEN: Well, these protests are what we call civil resistance, in the same way that Gandhi did. We’re trying to draw attention to the injustice, because this is really analogous. This is a moral issue, analogous to that faced by Lincoln with slavery or by Churchill with Nazism, because what we have here is a tremendous case of intergenerational injustice, because we are causing the problem, but our children and grandchildren are going to suffer the consequences. And our parents didn’t know that they were causing a problem for future generations, but we do. The science has become very clear. And we’re going to have to move to a clean energy future. And we could do that. And there would be many other advantages of doing it. Why don’t we do it? Because of the special interests and because of the role of money in Washington.

What is the problem with “cap and trade”?

[T]hey attempt to put a cap on different sources of carbon dioxide emissions. They say there’s a limit on how much a given industry in a country can emit. But the problem is that the emissions just go someplace else. That’s what happened after Kyoto, and that’s what would happen again, if—as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will be burned someplace.

Note: Amy Goodman and DemocracyNow have consistently delivered high quality news without corporate sponsorship. If you click on the above video interview with James Hanson, you will first see Amy Goodman’s short request for contributions to support DemocracyNow. I am urging you consider joining me in making at least a small contribution to support corporate-free news. If you haven’t before viewed the news at DemocracyNow, I invite you to try it; I know that you’ll be delighted to hear important information coming straight to you devoid of any corporate filters, meaningful and thoughtful reporting.

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The ten biggest Wall Street lies of 2009

| December 22, 2009 | 4 Replies
The ten biggest Wall Street lies of 2009

Author Les Leopold sums it up nicely, including the fact that TARP is only the tip of iceberg regarding taxpayer money being poured into Wall Street coffers.

Merry Christmas to the big Wall Street banks, who work hard to . . . someone please remind me how these big banks to make the world a better place–what do they do for the economy or for productivity? Please tell me something more convincing than free market fundamentalism.

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Rape Amendment Passes

| December 22, 2009 | 2 Replies
Rape Amendment Passes

Al Franken’s amendment to the new DoD appropriations bill has passed. Obama has signed it into law.

This is the now infamous anti-rape amendment, which opens up and begins to hold accountable contractor abuse in cases involving sexual assault. The vote was 68-30, which is not exactly close. The thirty votes against?

Republicans:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Most of these people have not explained themselves, but have carped loudly afterward at their “characterization” as somehow pro-rape. An accusation Franken did not make. (Part of the heat around this has been generated by Franken’s acrimonious row with Senator’s Corker and Alexander, who co-wrote an op-ed piece condemning the amendment.) Senator Cornyn has been quoted in the after math thus:

Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape —and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing.

Any embarrassment seems, however, to have been self-acquired in this case. Senator Sessions complaint about the amendment curiously misses the point of it while sounding a standard Republican note:

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