Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America. [The New Yorker] – Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today – perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850.
Obama’s Catholic Friends and Enemies. [RealClearPolitics] – Any time the Obama administration touches issues related to the Roman Catholic Church, it seems to get itself caught in a rhetorical and moral crossfire that leaves all involved wounded and angry. This is what’s happening in the battle over how contraception should be covered under the new health care law.
The Unholy Alliance: Monsanto, Dupont & Obama. [Ronnie Cummins | The Huffington Post] – On the campaign trail, President Obama affirms that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the policy and regulatory powers of government, but in office, he’s let Monsanto, Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration.
Billy Wharton peels back the layers to reveal the essence of Ron Paul: an ideology that would only make the problem worse.
The Misadventure of Ron Paul. [Socialist WebZine] – Forget the Fed. Leave aside all the slogans about “living within our means” and “punishing generations with debt” for a moment. Ron Paul is the most pro-corporate politician in the Presidential race.
Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address. [The White House] – “Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
Full text is here.
“We have to have a president who understands how to get an economy going again. He [Obama] does not. He plays 90 rounds of golf when you have 25 million people out of work. He says gasoline prices doubled during his presidency. He says don’t build a Keystone pipeline.”
– Mitt Romney, Florida Debate, 23 January 2012
I am utterly amazed that this sort of argument in favor of Keystone XL goes unchallenged. The fact is that the project would likely increase our gasoline prices. The oil that would be produced from the project would be exported, because that’s where the money is to be made. Take a look at this from a December 31st USA Today report, noting that fuel is now the largest U.S. export, and that we are now a net fuel exporter.
There’s at least one domestic downside to America’s growing role as a fuel exporter. Experts say the trend helps explain why U.S. motorists are paying more for gasoline. The more fuel that’s sent overseas, the less of a supply cushion there is at home.
Keystone XL is not expected to lower gasoline prices in the United States, nor would it help us move toward “energy independence.” It would, however, help to increase the profits of Big Oil while despoiling environmentally fragile areas and contributing to global warming.
The question remains whether Rmoney is ignorant, cynical or just a big fat liar.
Congress Tosses PIPA and SOPA Antipiracy Bills. [WSJ.com] – Leaders of the Internet movement that turned little-noticed antipiracy legislation into a national cause proclaimed victory Friday after congressional backers abandoned their bills.
Yesterday this site, along with thousands of others on the Web, went “on strike” to protest the SOPA/PIPA legislation which is making its way through Congress. The legislation is being boosted by the big entertainment companies (Hollywood, the record industry, etc.) as a way to prevent “online piracy” and protect their property, but many believe that there are adequate copyright enforcement methods already available, and that this law would give the government (and individual copyright holders) too much power to censor online content they feel is objectionable.
Yesterday’s action has been called “the largest online protest in history” and it seems to have had some impact. According to Fight for the Future (the folks who run AmericanCensorship.org) there were only five U.S. Senators who had publicly opposed the measure as of last week. As we approach next Monday’s crucial Senate vote, now there are 35. It takes only 41 to block the bill.
We need to keep the heat on. I would urge you to learn more about this important issue, and to call your own Senators in advance of Monday’s session, and to call them again every day until the fight is over.
Use your freedom wisely.
This will likely be a longer essay once I have the opportunity to do some more research and to collect my thoughts, but I wanted to get at least a short note out on the subject while Ron Paul’s showing in New Hampshire is still in the news.
Here are two crucial points that Dr. Paul’s legion of true believers seem to miss, or perhaps ignore.
First of all, The Constitution of the United States was not handed down on stone tablets, nor was it written by people who were particularly more wise or prescient than we are. It is certainly a very advanced framework for its time, and brilliant in the use of checks and balances to protect the set of rights that were foremost in the minds of the framers. But throughout our history, through legislation, through jurisprudence and through other formal and informal precedent, a complex overlay of generally accepted addenda has been created. Kluge, that overlay may be, but it requires a special kind of ignorance to pretend as if all of it is irrelevant, harmful or lacking in benefit.
Beyond that issue, though, there is also the notion that the federal government is the only (or even the foremost) threat to our liberty. Paul’s logic and rhetoric suggests that if we simply return to a properly strict adherence to his view of what our Constitution dictates, then all will be well. The problem with this pretense is that it refuses to face the fact that the most serious threat to our liberty – indeed, to our very lives – is the unfettered power of huge, wealthy, corporate interests. Granted, their domination of the government also poses a threat, in that governmental powers are increasingly being used as instruments of subjugation to their will.
There is no escaping the fact that government, at this point, is part of the problem. The irony in Dr. Paul’s philosophy is that his program would make the larger threat to liberty worse, and would only result in broader and deeper enslavement of the people.
Faith in market forces to keep us free, secure and prosperous is, in my view, magical thinking. It depends on turning a blind eye to clear and overwhelming evidence, contemporary and historical, to the contrary.