Archive for July, 2009

Another Episode of Hysteria In The “War on Terror.”

Published July 26th, 2009 by tcarpenter

The Bush administration apparently considered sending in the army to invade Buffalo.  Yes, the one in New York state.  The supposed justification was the need to apprehend a handful of terrorist plotters.  Never mind that federal law since the late 1870s explicitly prohibits using the military for domestic law enforcement.  Never mind that the terrorists in question were both small in number and decidedly low in IQ.  Never mind that we have the FBI as well as state and local law enforcement personnel to handle such matters, and that in this case they were clearly more than sufficient to deal with the alleged threat. 

Several Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney (big surprise there!) wanted to send in the troops.  That would have been the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to squash an ant.  Had Cheney’s advice been followed, the main thing that would have been squashed was the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

I never thought I would say this, but thank the fates that George W. Bush was president.  As bad as he was–and he was truly dreadful on numerous issues–he was better than many of the people around him.  If someone like Cheney had been president, we would have had U.S. soldiers occupying American cities.  

The Bill of Rights definitely dodged some bullets during the previous administration.  Let’s hope the current one proves to be a lot better on that front.

What Century Are We In?

Published July 23rd, 2009 by tcarpenter

When you see an article like this, it’s hard to believe that we’re in the 21st century.  Humanity has come a long way, but we’re constantly reminded of how far we still need to go to move beyond the suffocating effects of superstition.  And one has to wonder what would happen if modern societies, controlled by a thin layer of educated people, truly fell on hard times.  How far would the world slide back toward a new dark age?

Celebrate the REAL 4th of July

Published July 4th, 2009 by tcarpenter

The 4th of July should be a day to celebrate the values put in place by the founders of this country–the values epitomized by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (especially the Bill of Rights).  Instead, once again this year, the holiday has become an occasion for expressing reverence for the U.S. military and the wars they have fought and are fighting–supposedly, but in reality, rarely, to defend American liberty.  In other words, the 4th of July has become akin to a second Memorial Day or Veterans Day.  And that perverted meaning of the 4th is not confined to the usual suspects, such as Fox News, the media whore of U.S. hawks.  It is an attitude that has become all too pervasive, both in the news media and in the broader culture.

That development is both odd and troubling.  Odd, because the founders were profoundly anti-militaristic–even anti-military.  Almost all of them were uneasy about (if not strongly opposed to) even having a standing army.   And that remained a strong strain in American public opinion until well into the 20th century.  Boston University professor Andy Bacevich–a retired officer–does a very effective job of showing how and why that attitude has changed.  He also shows how the transformation is very troubling, because as the founders understood all too well, militarism, war, and imperialism are lethal threats to the values of limited government, civil liberties, and property rights that they held so dear.

Throughout recent celebrations of the 4th, politicians and media pundits repeatedly bleat about defending American liberty, without showing the slightest sign that they understand the substance of that liberty–much less how the policies they advocate often constrain and threaten its health.  Their attitude is similar to Barack Obama’s vacuous theme of “change,” which he touted at virtually every campaign stop, while rarely discussing what kind of change he had in mind.

By all means, celebrate the 4th.  It’s an important holiday.  But please keep in mind the values that the 4th was supposed to represent.  That is true patriotism.