Archive for February, 2010

Brief History of Haitian Misery

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by chouck017894

Haiti, 2010.  Early on after an inner-earth adjustment under Haiti, the armchair prophet, Pat Robertson, was spouting divine obscenity saying that nature’s violence was all the Haitians fault for having had the audacity to rebel against slavery in 1791.  Fantasy of “divine retribution” is such a tired, worn-out, empty-headed response to natural fluctuations of planet energy.  Such nonsense is but a stubborn clutching at superstition in the name of religious posturing.  Equally disgusting has been the number of “reporters” and “commentators” that have mangled history to disguise their inner prejudice or to blow more hot air into their assumed superior grasp of timely events.

The columnist Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post comes to mind, whose reporting commonly begins with her blowing kisses to herself.  In her assessment, the tragedy was all a man-made disaster.  Forget the massive earthquake; it was the weakness within the public institutions that was at fault for the physical collapse of buildings on a monumental scale.  One of those buildings was the Presidential Palace—which just happened to have been built by US Marines that occupied Haiti, 1925-1934.  The majority of other public buildings were built under the supervision of well-schooled architects using the most advanced techniques of the period. 

So what.  Applebaum goes on to judge the basic assistance available after the Haitian disaster and finds it all below the cooperative relief efforts made available after the tsunami roared out of the Indian Ocean, or, say, the (not so perfect) federal response after Hurricane Katrina.  Applebaum apparently chose to ignore that the Haitian government was weak to begin with, having never really been able to shake free from a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism, and a massive debt imposed upon them by France as punitive reparation payment before they were allowed unhindered international trade.  In addition, Haiti has had to endure such things as economic sanctions, US meddling and intrusion, the cost of initiating the government, powerful drug traffickers, a weak and corrupt government, a paralyzed legislature, and a billion $ debt to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Bank.  So comparing Haitian relief efforts to those carried out in New Orléans, USA (August 2005) and tsunami victims in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Maldives (December 2004) where a slightly kinder history and better conditions existed is absurd.

Other commentators have also thrown guilt-implying judgment upon Haiti’s plight.  One in the New York Times, David Brooks, went so far as to blame the culture of Haiti as the cause for the severity of the earthquake.  To accent his point, he compared Haiti with Barbados, stating that Barbados had suffered slavery and colonialism too, but was doing “pretty well.”  Ignored by him were some pertinent facts.  Haitians slaves refused to wear chains in 1791, and established their nation in 1804.  Barbadians, however, endured the less brutal British slave practices, and the Brits abandoned slavery around the 1850s, so Barbados history is far less bloody.  Indeed, Barbados did not even attain independence until 1966.   

US meddling mentioned here earlier was in reference to Washington instigating the placement of dictators (Papa Doc and Baby Doc) who used the nation’s treasury as their personal bank account.  Although they were finally removed (through the very ones who had sponsored them), the US-directed International Monetary Fund will now undoubtedly demand that the nation continue to repay all the international loans that had been taken out in Haiti’s name by those aforementioned US-sponsored leaders.  An open secret is that the IMF targets Third-World nations, and the western banking industry is apparently backed by the American weapons industry.  Then there is the smell of OIL that waifs up from the fractured Haitian territory, and it promises a potentiality equal to that of its nearby neighbor, Venezuela.  Kind of makes one wonder if all the American military personnel now swarming over Haiti have only humanitarian reasons for being deployed there.

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Reasoning, Politics and Teabags

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, logic, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , on February 2, 2010 by chouck017894

On the teeter-totter that is politics, the exercise of coöperation for mutual benefit often gets forgotten in the fever of inflamed egos, with either end of the oscillating act imagining it is in complete control of what is up or down.  Weight, of course, can be a cause, but muscle and energy has its dynamics too.  When one end holds the landed position it can flatter itself by declaring, “I am the superior one because I hold command with the power of earthy magnetism,”  i.e. materialism.  The up-end can flatter itself and declare, “I am superior because I am catapulted skyward and therefore discern things further than you,” i.e. liberalism.

Of course neither extreme is what supports their capability of movement.  The necessary but commonly overlooked part in the attempt to out-seesaw each other is the fulcrum—the pivoting point.  In this illustration it is the point upon which political attention may seesaw between passion and skepticism.  That pivot-point, that area upon which balance is meant to be sought regardless of the violent oscillations imposed by either end, is often but erroneously presented by each side as reason.  For each end of the teeter-totter it is their assessment of what the reason represents which serves as the center of their self-assurance.  Regrettably, reason is not always reasonableness.

Reason serves as something like the central point of a magic circle that we all place around ourselves—a self-made center in which we may feel secure, and where the turmoil at either end of the seesaw is rendered invisible by the magic of modifying conclusions to suit our vanity (or greed).  This begs the question: Is reason always reasonable?

It is reasonableness that must serve as the true fulcrum, the means of balance in communal exchange, not simply some reason which can always be molded by one’s ego.  It is reason to which each person flees when meeting some opposing passion which obstructs desired control of some situation.  It is reason, not reasonableness, that allows the freedom to reject any relationship, which then bars the  seemingly  incompatible virtues from being tested by consideration of what is best for the majority of the people.  We can see that lack of reasonableness being played out today in the USA by the Republican odds and ends who are spoken of as “tea-baggers.” 

Their withdrawal into their shallow and brittle reason-center has been shown to be a sad and misdirected move by the fact that their stubborn and raucous refusal to consider any position other than their own is not the true fulcrum of the mechanism upon which everyone can share incentive.  Refusal to negotiate or coöperate on any principles and just say “no” to everything is not reasonableness, but is simply infantile self-absorption.  That obstinate refusal to give their enthusiasm and dedication to reasonableness and truth, but choose instead to indulge in “party-line” selfishness is hardly the quality that is looked for in social responsibility.

 

Questioning the U.S. Supreme Court

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by chouck017894

The oath of office taken by each U. S. Supreme Court Justice has them solemnly swear to “…faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.”  (Italics added.)  Citizens who care about civil rights, civil liberties, and separation of church and state are beginning to get a bit nervous about the U. S. Supreme Court since John G. Roberts was made Chief Justice in 2005.  The extent to which this Court has actually changed national laws—laws with precedence going back seventy to one hundred years—and turning them steadily and covertly to the right is disquieting.  In the present Supreme Court, in the dispensing of “equal justice,” Roberts is more often than not aided and abetted by Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Anthony Alito, with Anthony Kennedy very often inclined to the right.  All were Republican nominated, and all are Catholic.

 Even persons who are only superficially acquainted with the democratic principles expressed in the U.S. Constitution are aware that religion and government are meant to be kept separate for the sake of both.  So it is reason for alarm when a Supreme Court Justice promotes himself as “an avenger of the Christian faith,” and in one of his speeches declare himself to be “a fool for Christ.”  Perhaps Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia meant it in jest: for the sake of true equal justice let us hope so.  On the other hand, he has openly shown his favoritism toward his taught beliefs when considering his version of “equal justice” in regard to a religious symbol, the cross, that had been placed on government land in the Mohave Desert in California.

The eight foot tall cross was allegedly erected as a war memorial, so Scalia declared that it did not meet with the definition of a Christian symbol!  The court’s judgment, written by Scalia: the cross is “…the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead.”  Really?  Perhaps the dead Christians slumber peacefully because of it, but what of the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, native Americans, atheists or others of lesser known faiths who died for the nation?  Does the long shadow cast by that stark unnatural form really grant all those killed in war the respect that they deserve and earned from the nation?  Despite what Christian extremists claim, the United States was NOT founded as a Christian nation.  Article 11 in the U. S. Treaty with Tripoli, 1796-1797, which also officially ended the War of Independence with Great Britain, says, “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….”

Equal justice means taking into consideration all evidence to be considered in a case.  As an example of how the Supreme Court has significantly changed national laws, consider the case of Herring v. United States.  The nine Justices passed the decision, which cannot be reviewed, of when evidence must be excluded when police, through good faith or negligent conduct, violate the Fourth Amendment.  Limitations on this were presented with this decision, but it fractured old precedence.  Other precedents have suffered as well.  Plaintiffs relying on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act were thrown a curve in the 14 Penn Plaza v. Pyett case when the Justices declared that individual employees cannot bring claims to court under federal age-discrimination law when they are part of collective bargaining agreement that required arbitration.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act suffered more fracturing in Gross v. FBL Financial Services by making it more difficult for the plaintiffs in this case to meet burden of proof than did plaintiffs in other forms of employment discrimination suits.

And are true democratic principles being exercised when the possible innocence of a person convicted of a crime is denied a means of presenting scientific support of his/her innocence?  In the District Attorney of the Third Judicial District v. Osborne, the Supreme Court passed a 5-4 decision that those convicted of a crime had no Constitutional right to DNA testing, even though it would not cost the government one cent.  Were the Justices at all concerned about assuring that someone might prove their innocence even though they were convicted?  Is a mistake in identity such a rarity in the legal system?   Yeah, sure.

  • see also Supreme Court NOT for the Citizens, January 22, 2010.