Republican’s fancy themselves to be the party of values. They profess to love God and country. They believe themselves to be the real Americans. They are the absolute definition of righteous patriots. They see themselves and their families basking in the light of a celestial exceptionalism. They occupy the center of a universe anointed by the invisible hand of free market capitalism, governed and sanctified by the benevolent love of their heavenly father, Jesus Christ.
Their values are based on a fundamentalist foundation of the King James Bible and the US Constitution as it was originally conceived and authored by the Founding Fathers in 1787. They are resolute in the belief of the correctness of their interpretation of this hallowed literature and remain adamant in how the instruction of these sacred tomes should be applied and implemented to shape and govern our Federal Republic.
If you question the basic supposition of their position they will tarry your thrust by questioning your love of country and your belief in God. Those same questions must be asked of them. The virulent defenders of the cross and crown of liberty consistently undermine the spirit of both. They serve the corporate objectives of church, military and industrial institutions that have formed an unholy alliance to rule and exploit the hearts and minds of an enslaved consumer market that cannot discern the difference between political liberty and a have it your way experience at Burger King.
America’s political ignorance is a poverty exploited by the oligarchs; giving them full sway to control and manipulate the levers of power to secure and advance selfish interests. They cloth their motives in priestly robes, medal adorned military uniforms, Rotarian flannel suits and Joe “the wannabe” Plumber overalls feigning a martyrdom of being crushed by the menacing liberal elites by standing for the values of free markets, Christianity, class mobility and a military spreading the global march of democracy.
The GOP presidential debates provided some telling political theater of how the party of values advanced the cause of individual liberty and governance informed by moral precepts. In one session a gay officer serving in Iraq asked the candidates “now that DADT has been repealed and gay service personnel can serve in the military would they support same sex marriage”. The gay serviceman unselfishly serving his country in a theater of war was roundly booed by the uber patriots sitting in the audience before Rick Santorum piled on and asserted not only would he not sign a same sex marriage bill into law, he would also reinstate DADT.
In another session the question concerning the mandatory requirement to purchase health care insurance was raised. The moderator asked a hypothetical question, “if a person failed to purchase insurance and required a life saving procedure who should pay?” One of the more compassionate conservatives shouted “let him die”. This was undoubtedly the same guy who condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.
Another high water mark of GOP moral turpitude occurred when the debate moderator questioned Rick Perry about the State of Texas position as the leader in capital punishment executions. The audience erupted in cheers. The United States is home to the worlds largest penal colony with an inmate population that exceeds 2,000,000. This belies the myth of the United States as the land of the free; particularly for the people of color who account for the largest proportion of the inmate population. This is good news for the free marketeers as the privatization of prisons is a growth industry. The profiteers of misery require the judicial apparatus of the states to maintain a prison occupancy rate of 90% to assure profitability for private investors. The threat to a fair trial has never been more at risk. This is a business opportunity right up the GOPs free market alley. The devaluation of the rule of law an unfortunate consequence. The value of money trumps the grace of justice.
The GOP’s deep investment in the culture of death mirrors a country thoroughly committed to the continued militarization of the economy regardless of its cultural cost. Republicans eagerly beat the drums of war and use the poetry of destruction to articulate a cutesy point. Remember John McCain using the melody of Barbara Anne to sing, “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” The neocons ate it up. The peacemaker may be considered children of God, but in the GOP the business of war and righteous crusades are divine.
Republicans pledge undying fealty to the Constitution and the rights of citizens. One would think that this would encourage vocal opposition to President Obama’s Executive Order to execute suspected combatant citizens without due process in respect to the right of a trial by a jury of their peers. Not a single word has been raised against this grievous violation of a basic constitutional protection. Where are all the freedom loving, constitution waving Teabaggers? It’s a natural extension of Republican’s refusal to recognize the full civil rights of citizens. As in the case of LGBT civil rights, the GOP’s vision of America protects civil liberties only for select citizens they deem worthy. The rights of the republic’s citizens and the rule of law be damned.
It is in this light that we can understand Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic characterization of Sandra Fluke as a slut. Dehumanizing a group of people as “the other” or “less then” because they hold a contrary position is a dangerous sedition that undermines democracy.
Democracies need its citizens to reach an informed consensus to function. Consensus requires dialog to assimilate disparate views from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. This presupposes that the participants in the discussion recognize and value the rights of citizenship for all participants in the dialog. The highest value in a secular democracy is respecting the equal rights of all citizens. Without this value democracies crumble. Our democracy is in shambles.
This weekend Rick Santorum sat upon the alter at the Greenwell Baptist Church to accept the endorsement of Pastor Dennis Terry for the upcoming Louisiana primary. After laying his hands on Santorum to bless his candidacy, Pastor Terry delivered a sermon that spewed fire and brimstone onto the reprobate head of our secular democracy. “America” he said “was a Christian Nation ruled by Christ the King. He said American’s don’t worship Buddha, Allah or any other false Gods. He said American’s worshiped the God on High, Jesus Christ. And if they don’t like it they can get out.” As a Christian I can’t tell you how much I loathe this blatant bigotry. Jesus was all about inclusion and tolerance and I’m sure he would make short work of this Pharisee. As an American citizen, I can’t think of a more ignorant and damaging characterization of America’s promise and the democratic values it professes to uphold.
GOP wunderkind Paul Ryan, yesterday unveiled a budget that assiduously accounts for the price of every tax loop hole, generous corporate welfare allocation and tax reduction for the wealthy while demonstrating a chilling indifference for slashed social programs and its impact on human beings. Republican’s know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The party of values is thoroughly bankrupt.
Music Selection: Sen. John McCain, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran
Every once a while an event happens that shifts the prevailing scheme of things. Julian Assange’s dump and release of US State Department cables (CableGate) for global distribution on WikiLeaks is such an event. It radically alters existing convention and the public’s general perception of normalcy, acceptability and protocol. It brings into question the motives and interests of nations and their leaders. It squarely plops an 800 pound gorilla on the sofa in everyone’s living room and provokes questions that naggingly insist answers. Asking leaders about duplicity, conflicts of interest, distortions, fabrications, fibs and outright lies all done in the national interest. It is how a new Weltanschauung is cast and forged to conform to the needs a new world order. The sun has set on the American Century. Blessedly, America’s days as a self righteous post Cold War marauding superpower are coming to a close. The WikiLeaks disclosures gives us some insights into the thinking and banter world leaders engage as they move the Chess pieces across the board on the great global game of new world order.
There are moral considerations and ethical arguments to be made on each side of Mr. Assange’s incendiary action. CableGate raises complex multidimensional issues of national security, informed citizenry, the protection of information, its public disclosure and citizens right to know. The natural tension between the simultaneous need for confidentiality and transparency is a reality of our complex and interconnected world. The management of these issues have escalated to become a preeminent dilemma of our time. This raises significant challenges to democratic societies and the governance structures of both public and private institutions. It threatens institutional sustainability and undermines institutional capability to function in highly interdependent stakeholder ecosystems. The risk of seeking pathways to safely navigate the virtual minefields of a digitized global world is great and continues to grow.
The most impassioned issue raised by CableGate is the ethical violation of stolen property. The cables were not Mr. Assange’s property and what gives him the right to publish and violate diplomats right to confidentiality and privacy? His actions could endanger diplomatic relationships, compromise government initiatives or derail delicate negotiations. Do governments have a right to privacy? If so, what information needs to be classified as secret and confidential? If all documents are secret then the designation is meaningless and government nothing more then a ruthless leviathan lording over a clueless citizenry.
Another critical question CableGate raises is who is served by the publication of these cables? Certainly American citizens in whose interest the State Department purportedly acts benefits from the added transparency. US citizens must admit there is a certain level of comfort in being able to track the satchel of an Afghanistan Vice President stuffed $52 million of taxpayers money through the U.A.E. Customs.
Detractors of CableGate assert that the leaks are a danger to America and its citizens. If so why is the public aggrieved and who exactly is the “aggrieved public”? Soldiers and servicemen fighting in Afghanistan? Does State Department Cables provide tactical and strategic information on troop deployments? Highly doubtful. More likely it is the special interests enriching themselves at the public troughs by cutting deals to shamelessly engorge themselves as insidious war profiteers. Better to ask why our country has placed our young servicemen and woman at risk in wars that makes little sense and accomplishes nothing.
Another set of critical questions CableGate raises are “Do citizens have a right to truth? Is access to information meaningful? Does the information help citizens of democratic societies understand the actions and motivations of their government? Why do diplomats pursue certain course of action and who is profiting from the course of action pursued? These are critical tenants citizens require to make informed decisions in a democratic society and CableGate certainly supports the notion of information empowerment for citizens.
Arguing the contrary one must ask “is it better to be mislead and be lied too in the name of propriety and protocol then to be victimized by the truth? I’ll take conviction in a court of truth and pray for a life sentence every time.
If you believe that the public can’t handle the truth or needs protection from it; imagine yourself living near a nuclear power plant and it was leaking radiation into your drinking water. Would you like to know about it? What if disclosure led to wide spread panic? I believe that truth and transparency always serves to discover and determine the best course of action to pursue.
CableGate has also shed damaging light on the power exercised by private corporations and the commercial control and open access and free availability of information. Amazon’s cloud computing service had no silver lining for WikiLeaks. After the WikiLeak dump it shut down access to the cables due to the unacceptable risk posed by denial of service attacks mounted by computer hackers. This was followed by PayPal’s closure of WikiLeaks donation solicitation account. Was PayPal’s motive purely patriotic? Where they just pissed at WikiLeaks or were they at risk of aiding and abetting a subversive organization that risked prosecution under certain provisions of THE USA PATRIOT ACT?
Academic freedom also seems to have taken a blow due to CableGate. This weekend, Columbia University warned its students not to download or distribute WikiLeak cables because it may affect future employment opportunities with the State Department. Government employees were also warned not to read or access the cables because they had no security clearance to do so. If they were caught accessing the leaked cables it could cost them their jobs. Even though the cables are published in great detail everyday by newspapers throughout the world, government employees must be careful not to notice for risk of losing their employment. This is truly a Kafkaesque dilemma for some, a divine comedy for others and a growing political drama for everyone.
I’m still not sure that Cablegate is what it purports to be. As the old saying goes and the cables affirm nothing is ever as it seems. I find it most improbable that a Private First Class sitting at a PC in Baghdad could download the Iraq War Logs and throw a great superpower into a first class crisis of the new world order. I liken the leaks to the past practice of “special unnamed high placed sources” leaking inside information to the liberal mainstream media outlets. Its done to float trial balloons about new government directions. They do it to test the waters of public sentiment to new ideas, or change in policy course or potentially damaging information to see how the public reacts. Not one to be of a conspiratorial mindset, I perceive CableGate in this light. As expected the public reaction thus far has elevated our collective sense of outrage to a heightened level of ambivalence.
In many respects Iraq War Logs supports the construction of a new narrative about an exit strategy from Iraq and Afghanistan. The revelations of wastefulness, corruption and back room deal making with a full caste of sordid characters reinforces the public perception about the uselessness of these wasteful and expensive misadventures. The cables may prove to be the documentary evidence of America’s Waterloo and CableGate may be seen by future generations as the historical high watermark of an expired global empire.
As the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs helped to prepare the public psyche for an exit strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq; CableGate helps construct a narrative surrounding the need to “cut off the head of the snake in Iran”. These cables implicate Arab States in a desire to undermine the apostate Persians and abrogates Israeli culpability as the driving force behind an attack on Iran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the cables psychological warfare. I don’t doubt for a second that atomic weapons in the hands of Iran is a dangerous development that needs to be mitigated. That does not mean that we should employ bombers to destroy Iranian nuclear processing facilities. This would only create an environmental disaster and political crisis that further destabilizes the region. It would secure the enmity of new generations of Muslims and no doubt stoke the escalation of the Crusade against Islam.
In the Far East,China’s growth as a world super power and ascending rival to US dominance makes for compelling reading. Here its no surprise that cables assess a strengthening China, its growing nationalism and military readiness. Reading these cables against the backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, China’s complicity in helping North Korea ship nuclear materials to Iran and the changing sentiment in the US concerning the largest note holder of government bonds may prove to carry grave consequences for harmonious US/China relations. The cable revealing China’s ambivalence toward its North Korean surrogate state is laid bare as long as it can secure preferred trade agreements with a unified Korea.
The revelations offered by Pakistan’s leaders about support for the Taliban and a growing concern about the safety of their nuclear arsenals raised the possibility of a US military move to quarantine or neutralize Pakistani weapon systems. Though so far India seems to come off unscathed by the cables it must be heartening for India’s leaders to know that its budding friendship with the US may encourage a move to disarm the nuclear capability of its northern antagonist and the worlds sole Islamic atomic state.
These WikiLeaks offer up a brand new narrative for an emerging new world order. The damaging realization of the spillage of confidential proprietary discussions and dialogs between world governments and the mishandling of those documents diminishes the stature of US federalism. The undermining of federalism and its suitability as a governance structure for the new millennium foreshadows the growing antagonism of global corporate entities like Google and the nationalistic government of the People’s Republic of China augers an era of conflict between statism and corporatism.
CableGate is a deliberate attempt to have institutions open up with greater transparency and construct a democratic narrative that force governments to change. Mr. Assange’s avowed goal is to, “allow governments and institutions to become more transparent or force them to become more opaque” Depending on the what side of the fence your sitting on, openness and transparency benefits the public interest. The struggle for democracy requires the open access and the free flow of information.
In the digital age denial of free, open and equal access to information is tantamount to fascism. Withheld, it will encourage people to rise up demanding the means to pursue conscious enlightenment. This may spur political activism that demands institutional accountability, and the practice of democratic governance based on constitutional principles. Failing that once free citizens will be forced to accept the meager lies and obfuscations of leaders and power elites whose self interest is the sole interest of government.
So as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries to plug the leaks in a failing dike system, we cannot content ourselves to live with our heads buried in the sand, filling our minds with reality TV reruns of Jack Ass Three and Bristol Palin bustin a move on Dance Fever. I’ve heard it said that the best way to influence the future is to invent it. Mr. Assange has given us a world of insights and a basic tool set to start constructing a foundation for a new world order.
You Tube Music Video: REM, End of the World As We Know It
Risk: diplomacy, international relations, governance
Locked and loaded their going for bear in New Jersey’s Highland Region. The Highlands is one of the states last stand of expansive underdeveloped woodlands and critical watershed that provides drinking water to over two million state residents. The Highlands is also the preferred habitat and home to most of the states black bears. But starting Monday, the Highlands will become a deadly killing ground for the lovable species as the state appeals court threw out a suit brought by two animal rights groups to halt a six day bear hunt.
Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin signed off on this year’s hunt, saying it’s needed to help control a growing black bear population. The agency estimates the state’s black bear population at 3,400, up from 500 bears in 1992.
“The Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy is full of scientific flaws and outright fabrications,” APL contends. “In their zeal to hold a recreational trophy hunt, the council has slapped together a scientifically sloppy, self-contradictory document that pretends the hunt is necessary when in fact, the science does not support a hunt.”
The suit filed by the Animal Protection League (APL) contends that the scientific assessment of the bear population and its environmental impact is flawed and its findings are biased. The suit also alleges that proponents of the hunt, The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance made illegal contributions to Gov. Chris Christie’s election campaign. The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance disputes the claims made by the APL and issued a response that appears on the Ammoland website.
During public hearings comments ran 3 to 1 against the bear hunt. Public opposition to the hunt has been vocal and considerable. If the voice of the public counts for nothing why go through the charade of soliciting public comments? A recent public hearing on the expansion of the El Paso Corp gas pipeline through the Highland region had a similar tenor to it. Of the twenty of so citizens and groups who spoke at the meeting not one supported the expansion of the pipeline. Local residents and groups affected by the El Paso expansion initiative are concerned that their opposition to the project is falling on deaf ears of regulators and government officials responsible for green lighting the project. If the project is a fait accompli regardless of public criticism why solicit public comment and go through the motions of participatory democracy?
The Highlands Commission was formed to determine how the resources of the region are managed and how the area will be developed. The Highland region is a critical watershed area and a vital open recreational space for an overwhelmingly urban state. The Highlands Commission is the stewardship body chartered to reconcile the competing interests of a complex community of stakeholders. The immediate needs of wildlife preservation, smart development and long term sustainability of an environmentally stressed ecosystem will require effective engagement of all Highland Community stakeholders. Governor Christie’s slate of nominees to to the Highland Council is being criticized as too pro development. This may auger well for stakeholders like El Paso Corp but it may have deadly consequences for endangered bears and other species struggling to hang on in an increasingly hostile environment.
You Tube Video: Junglebook, Bare Necessities
Risk: environment, bears, sustainability, water, open spaces, democracy
This little ditty on NPR this morning about the Smithsonian Exhibit, Hide and Seek, an exhibition of Gay portraiture. Seems Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor and Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic League is upset that taxpayer money is being used to showcase what they consider to be unacceptable art. Here’s the link:
Its a doubled edged sword when government underwrites the creation of art. Exhibitions can confer a type of sanction that promotes censorship in service to state sponsored propaganda. From my perspective that is not the issue at stake here; but if you listen to the audio Bill Donahue condemns museums as “liberal elite institutions”. Mr. Donahue probably considers Hide and Seek as the latest subversive initiative by Obama’s Politburo to undermine American Family Values.
Mr. Donahue, still smarting from Andreas Serrano’s Piss Christ gets off his best shot in America’s escalating culture war by asserting that “working people, like himself, (read real Americans) don’t go to museums. He says they go to WWF wrestling matches.” He sarcastically suggests that perhaps government funding of the arts would be better spent underwriting WWF ducats for the masses. Beholden to his dogma, Mr. Donahue fails to recognize the difference between pedestrian commercial camp and artistic pursuit. He confuses the spectacle of bread and violent circus with aesthetic encounter, discovery and contemplation.
Mr. Donahue’s insistence that his position should be viewed in the same light as Muslims reaction when depictions of the Prophet Muhammad appear in visual art presentations is disingenuous. Muslims prohibit all visual representations of the Prophet Muhammad. The same prohibitions of promoting visual images of Jesus Christ is not a common practice of Christian denominations. Secular democracies also do not sanction fatwas and post bounties for jihadists to take out apostates and infidels. That is a unique blessing of secular societies that fundamentalists, religious zealots and Mr. Donahue fail to perceive.
File this one under the dumbing down of America Series, Triumph of the Willfulness.
Walt Whitman: Calamus Poems
You Tube Music Video: Aaron (Gay American) Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Risk: culture, censorship, homophobia
Bristol Palin is tap dancing her way into the hearts of Americans. The Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) gamboling Gidget seems poised to surpass the celebrity status of her political superstar Momma Grizzly in Chief Sarah. Despite consistently low scores Bristol and her dance card partner Mark Ballas tip toe over the competition each week due to the outpouring of support from devoted fans of Sarah’s sashaying youngster.
Last night to the chagrin of discerning DWTS affectionados, Bristol and her partner dispatched the elegant and clearly more talented Brandy and Maxwell to the loser circle. DWTS judges awarded Brandy and Maxwell higher scores then Bristol and Mark. In response to this misjudgment of the liberal mainstream media machine, Palin’s peeps overloaded the telephone banks and text message tally boards with a landslide of support for Bristol’s bouncy ballet. The will of the electorate would not be denied. The voice of the people will be heard and heeded.
The well oiled machinery of the Tea Party is suspected of stuffing the ballot box to aid Bristol, Sarah and ultimately country through the precise execution of Operation Bristol.
Operation Bristol is an example of the dangers of plebiscites and a good lesson about the perversion of the democratic process and the illusion of democracy. Tea Party zealots text their DWTS votes along party lines failing to consider the dexterity, skill and artful presentations of the other contestants. The pernicious political pursuit of Operation Bristol undermines the honest contemplation of aestheticism and defiles the artistic purpose of art to exclusively serve the bombast of politics. It is the hallmark of fascist culture that dresses up the banality of pedestrian art in service the higher ideals of idealogical purpose. Not that I consider DWTS even remotely connected to art. But you just gotta love those freedom loving, liberty for all Tea Baggers selling out their DWTS vote for a bit of political satisfaction. Operation Bristol is good practice for 2012. Yeah I know all about Woody Guthrie’s “This Machine Kills Fascists” slogan on his worn guitar. So in the interest of balance and in service to transparency Bristol should consider a “This Machine Kills Democracy” tattoo across her provocative thighs.
You Tube Music Video: Dizzy Gillespie, Things To Come
Risk: art, democracy, culture, entertainment, politics, political theater