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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Of Mandatory Sentencing and Minimum Intelligence

Posted by Anthony on April 25, 2017

Something about those who do not remember the past…

One has to give credit where credit is due: despite some flip-flops in certain areas, those whom the Trump Administration has chosen to spearhead its efforts in many other departments have shown themselves enthusiastic scions of the MAGA culture. Rex Tillerson, at a horribly depleted State, has shown he is quite incapable of conducting any foreign policy (all the better to leave it to Mr.Trump), Betsy DeVos can’t even get them to spell “education” correctly on the department’s Snapchat, and Jeff Sessions has come out with a determined effort towards changing the way business as usual is conducted at Justice. At least as far as drugs go; when it comes to violence against minorities, that’s just fine.

What we are talking about here of course is the recent espousal by the Sessions lead Justice Department of minimum sentencing laws and the re-ramping up of the “War on Drugs”. There are so many things wrong with this effort that it would easily take the better part of a weekend to write out the flaws, but since brevity is the soul of wit we shall endeavor to do so in as minimal a space as might be possible.

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Step By Step

Posted by Anthony on February 13, 2017

committee-of-public-safety

Don’t mind what we’re doing, it’s all for your safety citizen…

As we delve ever deeper into the rabbit hole of the Trump Presidency, several issues become more clear: that President Trump is trying to run the United States of America as he does his own personal businesses, that there is a clear disdain for any opposition by the current regime and that they are hell-bent on stifling it, that the current regime is engaging in kleptocratic measures, and that the Republicans realize that there is nothing the Democrats can do to stop them and therefore this is their one chance to reformat the government to their liking.

There are many who point at this regime as one that is quickly moving down the path of authoritarianism. They are not wrong, as many of the regimes actions are steps in that vein. The war on the media in order to render facts as up for debate, the “fake news”, and the use of social media to reach directly to the people with an “alternative” version of events is lock-step in line with the first stages of installing a totalitarian regime. With a pliant legislative branch in the initial few years, little has to be done on that front although plans will doubtless be made on how to deal with them should they either waver from their commitment or fall in elections to the opposition party. Attacks on the judiciary are next, and we can see these being done now: referring to judges as “so-called”, attacking the judiciary as “political”; all of this is meant to undermine the public’s faith in this one branch that is traditionally above sectarianism and factional politics. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Few Thoughts About the Republican Primaries…

Posted by Anthony on May 1, 2016

In order to save democracy, we have to ignore the will of the people...

In order to save democracy, we have to ignore the will of the people…

Despite the ups and downs, it now appears that barring an upset of biblical levels Donald J. Trump will be the Republican nominee. Upsetting to many, of course, but even those of us who are not dyed in the wool Republicans have a reason to hope he manages to get the nomination and it has nothing to do with believing he will be an easier candidate to beat come the fall.

Currently, Mr. Cruz and his coterie are determined to steal this nomination from the Republican primary voters. Did I say steal? Of course I did, because it is not his. The nomination belongs to Trump in accordance with the will of the voters. Say what you will about him as a candidate, bemoan the voting trends that seem to have developed, but don’t for one moment pretend that the Republican electorate has spoken with anything but a unified voice: they want Trump.

This would be terrible for American democracy. We have a political system that, for all its problems, still remains one of the best in the world (if you have others that are better, post a comment and we can debate it) and it is fairly uniform in transferring the will of the people into political reality. Whether you like Trump or not, to rob him of what he has put together is bad for democracy in general and it sends a message to the American voter: go ahead and vote for whomever you want, but when it comes to decision making time all votes are equal but some (I’m looking at you Republican National Committee) are more equal than others.

It would be nice if Trump managed to put this out of consideration, but even if he is unable to gather the needed delegates he must be the nominee since there is no other Republican that the people want anywhere close to as much as they want him. Do the right thing, Republicans.

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Satayana’s Nightmare

Posted by Anthony on November 27, 2015

Awaiting your call Mr. Trump...

Awaiting your call Mr. Trump…

There were many of us who, in the naïve early days of this election cycle, took the aspiring presidential ambitions of Donald J. Trump to be something of a novelty. Certainly the man had some charisma, though he could just as often come off as rather boorish, but he did have that seeming bit of charm and, of course, more than enough of the necessary alpha-male chutzpah to be a convincing candidate. In any case, since Jeb was bound to win going away what difference could The Donald’s entrance into the clown show that was thinly disguised as the Republican primaries make?

Apparently all the difference in the world. From the beginning, Mr. Trump has relied on a combination of his grandiose visions and combined them with the typical red-meat for the primary crowds: there was talk of building a wall to keep immigrants out which would be especially needed after he expurgated some eleven-millions of them. There were the promises that he would crush ISIS, somehow defeat the Chinese at business, and deal with Putin on an even level. All of it seemed all good and well given the fact that one does need to swing to the extremes during the primaries before coming back to the center for the general election and, of course, it wasn’t going to matter since even if he somehow managed to win the Republican nomination over a terribly underwhelming Bush, the election was Clinton’s to lose. Read the rest of this entry »

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Identifying the True Abomination

Posted by Anthony on August 7, 2015

Jerusalem Gay Pride Stabbing

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

– Leviticus 20:13

This past Thursday, during a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, an ultra-Orthodox Jew ran through the crowd brandishing a knife and using it to indiscriminately stab and slash at anyone within arms-reach. A terrible act, but one to which he was no stranger: he had just been released, weeks prior, from an Israeli prison for doing the exact same thing at a Gay Pride march in 2005. During that attack he managed to wound three people; during last week’s he stabbed six one of whom, sixteen-year old Shira Banki, has died of her wounds.

To their credit, the Israeli government was swift to condemn the attack in no uncertain terms with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin speaking out on the basic rights for an individual in Israel to live in security however they wish to live their lives. Even the Anti-Defamation League in New York spoke out condemning the attack and praising the open and tolerant attitude expressed towards the LGBT community in Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Siege Mentality

Posted by Anthony on July 27, 2015

Retired General Wesley Clark said last week what all too many U.S. citizens have quietly thought at one time or another: why can’t we just round up all of these radical Muslims and throw them into prison? Certainly there would be little argument if the individuals were spewing anti-American hatred and endorsing or lending moral support to forces currently fighting the country. To be quite frank, it would not be anywhere close to the first time that the United States had acted in a manner of collective punishment against a particular group that presented a “threat” to any of a number of considerations.

This palpable sense of fear is especially tangible when it comes to Muslims in the United States. When a young man murders his mother, then goes on to murder a classroom of children we explain it away as that he was “mentally ill”. When a young white male sits in the pews of a church before murdering multiple blacks with the intention of starting some kind of white backlash against African Americans, we label him “disturbed” and try to look for reasons in his upbringing that could explain why he would be driven to commit such a hideous act. The bottom line is that overwhelmingly, if you are not Muslim you will somehow be excused as either insane or deluded or a multitude of other words that have in effect the same meaning. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Moral Imperative to Destroy ISIS

Posted by Anthony on July 20, 2015

This is an article which I had been planning, and wanting, to write for some time. The issue isn’t what to write about or how to present the facts; rather, my concern here was that I would not be able to restrain myself from lashing out in an overly emotional morality infused rage before I even got to the mid-point of the writing. Surely, if anyone can bring that out in abundance it is ISIS.

Comparing ISIS to other historical organizations is not entirely fair. For example, to bring up the Nazi regime is to insult the memory of the tens-of-millions of deaths that abomination was responsible for both directly (through their racial policies and the Holocaust) and, well, directly by starting the Second World War. In this regard, ISIS is, as President Obama referred to them, “the JV team”. Their death toll pales in comparison to regimes such as that which existed under Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao in China (who may well hold the record for deaths), the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia under Pol Pot which, although much lower on the scale for total deaths must be recognized for the absolute barbarity of the regime, or even any of the more localized genocides such as the Hutu extermination of Tutsis in Rwanda. Read the rest of this entry »

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As You Sow…

Posted by Anthony on July 16, 2015

In a conversation with a moderate Republican the other day (yes, they still do exist though they are certainly on the endangered species list), I was asked with all sincerity what is to be done about Trump and his recent poll surges. Certainly, this individual asked with palpable concern, there was no way that he could win the nomination much less a national election, was there? After all, his rhetoric was bordering on the ludicrous; his message was appalling to the vast majority of Americans, or at least one should hope it was. My answer was somewhat less comforting than the individual would have liked it to be.

I explained with all sincerity that Republicans have nobody but themselves to blame for this latest catastrophe. For the last twenty or so years, FOX News and various right wing personalities have been spewing forth a litany of condescension and moral outrage about perceived slights to America committed by “those people” as well as stoking anger, fear, and resentment in mainly white America. Now this creation of theirs has taken shape, embodying all of the ills they have built into it and, much like the titular character in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, they find themselves unable to control it. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Turkish Non-Delight: Facebook and Freedom of Speech

Posted by Anthony on January 26, 2015

First, allow me to start off this entry with a blanket statement: I love Turkey. I visited Turkey in 2012, and can honestly tell you that there are very few places in the world I have been that were as enjoyable. For me, it contained the perfect mix of ancient, medieval, and modern along with the fine balance so difficult to find these days of European and Middle-Eastern mixed into one fantastic city: Istanbul. The people are about the best you will find anywhere, the food is excellent, and history is everywhere you step which, to me as an historian, was quite thrilling. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Wealth is Enough?

Posted by Anthony on January 19, 2015

Anti-Poverty charity Oxfam released a report the other day wherein their studies show that by 2016 the wealthiest 1% of the global population will own more than 50% of the wealth. By 2020, that percentage is due to rise to 54%. Whereas the elites have been getting wealthier, the poor of the world have seen a marked drop in the amount of wealth they posses: the same report explains that the bottom 50% has seen their wealth drop by $750 billion in the last four years. This bring us to some interesting observations… Read the rest of this entry »

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