Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The "new" history of war

It's disturbing the increase we've seen in propaganda. What was once taken for granted as scientifically established, credible, historical fact, and long held standards of basic decency, i.e. evolution, global-climate change, the disaster that was the war in Vietnam, and forbidding the use of torture is now being ridiculed, denied, revised or undecided.

One would think that torture just wouldn't be accepted by our society, but nope, there are plenty of folks not only in our government and in law-enforcement and secret intelligence that support it, but quite a few so-called "freedom loving" American patriots support it too, as long as it's used on the people that are really bad. Of course on shows like 24 we know who the bad guys are, it's obvious, in the real world this isn't the case at all, but who has time for reality these days?

As an article in the Nation magazine written by Rick Perlstein pointed out this past week, the hows and whys of Vietnam and the debacle that it was are still up for debate, apparently neoconservatives can take a fresh, revisionist look at history and find shit that no one else noticed before. Using claims by the Communists — you know the people who embrace that "evil ideology" that led to the Korean/Vietnam/Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and of course the infamous blacklistings of the 1950's by Sen. Joe McCarthy — some are able to concoct a new history of Vietnam, in which it was a necessary war that we lost only because of defeatist Democrats {or liberals depending on who you ask} and not following through with our commitment to win...

I'm getting very concerned about the attitudes we have to look forward to in the future. Today, in spite of rampant apathy and faux patriotism there is still a lot of opposition to the hype of the "global war on terror", the use of torture, unilateral wars based on bogus intel, gross incompetency in government. I worry how little opposition there will be in the future when an entirely new history has been written, when science has been dismissed for metaphysics, philosophy replaced by theology, and blind, radical jingoism is a substitute for national pride.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Constitution in crisis

A very good article in Newsweek this week about how the Constitution is in peril.

It brings up a lot of scary stuff, about how the U.S. Constitution has been under siege since 9/11, why, and just why this isn't a good thing, as if it needed explaining, but apparently as far as most people are concerned in this country it isn't a big deal.

Some excerpts:
"The administration's impassioned defenders, meanwhile, grow strident. Norman Podhoretz, the dean of neoconservatives, writes in "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism" that the Bush administration is up against "a domestic insurgency" led by "journalistic devotees of the Vietnam syndrome," isolationists, "liberal internationalists" and (heaven forbid) "realists."
"In fact, the situation is far from a "civil war," as Podhoretz (an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani) would have us believe. But this is a good moment to take stock of the more subtle narrative in these books: stories of score-settling at home, a new kind of enemy abroad, righteous intentions, grand visions and bad information. And if there is a recurrent theme, it's that this administration set out to create its own reality, whether approaching the Bill of Rights like a classified document to be redacted or girding itself for war in Iraq with a steady diet of dubious intelligence."

""Democracies die behind closed doors," federal appeals court Judge Damon Keith said in 2002. "The Framers of the First Amendment did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us. They protected the people against secret government.""

Absolutely true! Couldn't agree more.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tax the poor; free healthcare for the middle class

I read an article by George Will in Newsweek magazine in which he talked about the SCHIP program. I agreed with much of what he had to say about it.

Sleepwalking Toward DD-Day

Some excerpts of particular interest:
"SCHIP was created in 1997 by a Republican-controlled Congress. Today's Democratic-controlled Congress wants to transform its mission. It began as a program whereby the federal government would subsidize state governments in providing health insurance for children from households not poor enough (generally 200 percent above the poverty line) to qualify for Medicaid but not affluent enough to afford to buy insurance. Were it to become law, the new SCHIP would be a long stride toward unlimited federal funds working as incentives for states to expand eligibility to more and more affluent families.
"It would immediately include some with incomes 400 percent of the poverty line ($83,000 for a family of four). Over time, its "mission creep" would continue. Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, says that the new SCHIP would enroll 2.8 million more children, but 1.1 million of them would be from families for whom SCHIP had become an incentive to drop their private insurance. To that, some liberals say, sotto voce: Good."
Yeah, not so good. I believe that entitlement programs, like SCHIP, are necessary for poverty-class and lower-class families, but middle class people shouldn't be dependents, they shouldn't be supported by the system, they should be able to tend to their own needs. More needs to be done to make health care more available and more affordable. I think that's the solution to the healthcare problem, not more socialist programs.

"The president proposed a $5 billion increase for SCHIP over five years. In a familiar Washington folk dance, the Senate voted a $35 billion increase, and the House endorsed a $50 billion increase but receded to the Senate sum, which was therefore declared moderate. The increase supposedly would be funded by a 61-cent increase in the cigarette tax.
"So, this health legislation depends on a constantly large and renewable supply of smokers—22 million new ones. This "progressive" measure requires a regressive tax (smokers are predominantly and increasingly lower class) levied to expand subsidized health insurance ever upward into the middle class."

It's really disgusting the way liberals keep wanting to push more and more of the tax burden onto certain people deemed to be engaging in legal but "bad" {read: sinful} behavior. Smokers are an excellent example of this. The crusade against smoking has gone on for decades, but rather than just rely on educating the public about the harm involved and letting people make up their own minds, as things should be in a FREE society, the liberals keep wanting to use the government as a nanny to punish people for personal behavior deemed unhealthy for them. It reeks of socialism, and socialism destroys personal freedom and inflates government dictatorship.

Back in 2006, in my state of Missouri, certain groups tried to push through legislation that would put a substantial tax increase on tobacco. Fortunately this legislation didn't pass the voters. A point for libertarianism. But the bleeding hearts certain tried. These efforts amount to what Pat Buchanon recently said on Hardball with Chris Mathews a "sin tax". And a sin tax placed on people that, for the most part, are lower-class people. These are the majority of people that smoke.

The ironic hypocrisy hits me like a ton of bricks, while the liberals are the first to bitch about about social conservatives trying to outlaw and punish people for their personal choices, it is the liberals that push such things as seat belt laws, high taxes on smoking and even banning smoking outright from any and all public places.

Lastly, I still haven't figured out the logic that these liberal operate from in their supposed agenda to rid the world of smoking. They claim to place these tax burdens on smokers in order to get smokers to quit smoking, and so I wonder where are they going to get the revenues for all the entitlement programs they've been paying for via tobacco if they accomplish their so-called goal?

"For philosophic reasons, Democrats wish the bill would become law. For political reasons, they welcome the president's promised veto, which will preserve for them the issue of Republican beastliness toward "the children."
"It has become a verbal tic for politicians to say that everything they do is "about the children." This rhetoric of pathos reflects the de-intellectualization of public life—the substitution of sentimentalism for reasoned persuasion. Bill Clinton carried this to comic lengths when, in his first State of the Union address, he noted that "not a single Russian missile is pointed at the children of America."

What, no mention of the Republican's misuse of children for propaganda purposes? I think, coming from conservative George Will, that particular omission was deliberate. The Republicans are notorious for outlawing every manner of "immoral" behavior for benefit of "the children".

Here is my opposition to expanding the SCHIP program in a comment on the Newsleader Forum.