Mark Bittman from Bittman Takes On and food columnist for the NYT is doing quite a thing here. Damn.
This is a moral issue; the budget is a moral document. We can take care of the deficit and rebuild our infrastructure and strengthen our safety net by reducing military spending and eliminating corporate subsidies and tax loopholes for the rich. Or we can sink further into debt and amoral individualism by demonizing and starving the poor. Which side are you on?
If faith increases your motivation, that’s great, but I doubt God will intervene here. Instead, we need to gather and insist that our collective resources be used for our collective welfare, not for the wealthiest thousand or even million Americans but for a vast majority of us in the United States and, indeed, for citizens of the world who have difficulty making ends meet. Or feeding their kids.
Though Beckmann is too kind to say it, he and many other religious leaders believe that true worship can’t take place without joining this struggle: “You can’t have real religion,” he told me, “unless you work for justice for hungry and poor people.”
Tea Party Express is the California-based political action committee created by a group of GOP political consultants, which helped elect Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). It also backed Alaska’sJoe Miller in his surprise upset of incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary last year, demonstrating the PAC’s political savvy and fundraising prowess. Tea Party Express is the largest and most active PAC associated with the tea party movement. On Tuesday it was sending out appeals to supporters seeking to raise $15,000 in 18 hours to launch a new wave of TV ads in Wisconsin. Sal Russo, the PAC’s founder, wrote in an email that because the group has created a state PAC for this particular campaign, “there are NO contribution limits, and corporate contributions ARE accepted.”
It means that no matter how many bad things you do in the world, it doesn’t ever reflect onwho you are, because you’re inherently exceptional and thus driven by good motives. And it probably means — at least as it expresses itself in the American form — that you’ll find yourself in a posture of endless war, because your “unique power, responsibilities, and moral obligations” will always find causes and justifications for new conflicts.
It’s a nice political point on the President’s behalf to insist that he has proven his belief in American exceptionalism. That insulates him from a political vulnerability (i.e., from the perception that he rejects a widely held view), which is nice if politically defending the President is an important goal for you. But the harder — and far more important — question is whether this American exceptionalism that you attribute to him is actually true, whether it’s well-grounded, and whether it should serve as a premise for our actions in the world.
“The probability that I happened to be born in the greatest country on Earth — or, even more so, the greatest country ever to exist on Earth in all of human history — is minute. Isn’t it far more likely that I believe this because I was taught to, rather than because it’s true?”—Obama and American exceptionalism - Glenn Greenwald
It was to be The King’s Speech. The words that could turn the situation around, or seal his fate.
After Buthaina Shaaban’s promising announcements last week, there was optimism, even among my favourite pessimists. Today, that all changed. Even supporters of Bashar Al-Assad are depressed.
We were expecting the revocation of the emergency law, at the least. A new political parties law, and the opening up of the media, at best. We got none of it.
Instead, we heard conspiracy theories, with the president blaming foreign satellite channels (Al Jazeera) and foreign forces (Israel?). And it sounded as ridiculous as when Ben Ali and Mubarak uttered those words.
But Bashar isn’t Ben Ali or Mubarak. He isn’t universally hated. Indeed, he is generally given the benefit of the doubt, even liked in many quarters. Which is why it was so disappointing that today’s speech will have only emboldened his opponents.
What is not in doubt is the extraordinary tempest passing through the region, the spectacular break-up of the Arab world which most of us have known for most of our lives and which most Arabs have known for most of their lives. From the mildewed, corrupted dictatorships – the cancer of the Middle East – is emerging a people reborn. Not without bloodshed, and not without much violence in front of them as well as behind them. But now at last the Arabs can hope to march into the bright sunlit uplands. Every Arab friend of mine has said exactly the same thing to me over the past weeks: “Never did I believe I would ever live to see this.”
The rebels now have a fighting chance of winning, but the revolution itself cannot be completely outsourced to foreign powers.
As for the idea that the US has a strategic interest in the success of the wider revolution, I’m not about to claim that having previously displayed such a lack of interest in the rights of ordinary people across the region, the US has now been reborn as the indispensable champion of democracy that the neocons claim. But the emerging democracies across the Arab world will be keenly aware of the role that the US has had in advancing or obstructing this historic trend.
Even in the midst of ongoing hostilities and warfare, under Israeli law, all detainees, regardless of nationality or the circumstances or location of their seizure, have a right of access to counsel and to independent courts empowered to review the basis for their detention and, when warranted, to order their release. This is true even when judicial review takes place amidst continuing terrorist attacks or large-scale Israeli military operations. Although Israeli security officials make the initial detention assessment, the crucial judgments — including the weight of the evidence, or whether detainees and their counsel have access to classified evidence or adequate substitutes — are all matters for a judge. I was — and remain — convinced that Israel’s robust judicial review is both necessary to maintain the rule of law and makes for effective counterterrorism policy.
March 27, 2011: The Youth Coalition of the February 17th Revolution in Tripoli have released to us a declaration in support of the National Transitional Council and called out to all the sons of Tripoli, the scholars, dignitaries and national guards to be ready to fill up the ranks for the start of Libya’s new beginning.
This is just one example of how the powerful billion-dollar drug industry designs and interprets studies to suit their interests. Since the 1970s, researchers not tied to drug companies have been drawing connections between foods, food additives, and the symptoms associated with ADHD but many have been dismissed or overlooked by conventional medicine. One of the earliest researchers in this field was Dr. Benjamin Feingold who created a specific diet to address behavioral and developmental problems in children. The Feingold diet, as it is now called, recommendsremoving all food additives, dyes, and preservatives commonly found in the majority of industrial foods.
There are a multitude of credible scientific studies to indicate that diet plays a large role in the development of ADHD. One studyfound that the depletion of zinc and copper in children was more prevalent in children with ADHD. Another study found that one particular dye acts as a “central excitatory agent able to induce hyperkinetic behavior.” And yet another study suggests that the combination of various common food additives appears to have a neurotoxic effect — pointing to the important fact that while low levels of individual food additives may be regarded as safe for human consumption, we must also consider the combined effects of the vast array of food additives that are now prevalent in our food supply.
"USAGE Aristocracy, oligarchy, and plutocracy are sometimes confused. All mean some form of rule by a small elite. Aristocracy is rule by a traditional elite, held to be made up of ‘the best’ people, and is usually hereditary. Oligarchy is literally rule by a few. Plutocracy is rule by the (necessarily few) very rich.”
From the definition of Aristocracy in the New Oxford American Dictionary
An argument from Dr. Juan Cole on the merits of intervention in Libya. His points are well-taken. Prof. Cole:
The proposition that social problems can never be resolved by military force alone may be true. But there are some problems that can’t be solved unless there is a military intervention first, since its absence would allow the destruction of the progressive forces. Those arguing that “Libyans” should settle the issue themselves are willfully ignoring the overwhelming repressive advantage given Qaddafi by his jets, helicopter gunships, and tanks; the ‘Libyans’ were being crushed inexorably. Such crushing can be effective for decades thereafter.
I was on the fence about intervention from the beginning and I still have issues with the economics of this military superpower I live in, but the truth is I am now convinced that this is a case where the use of military force against a madman’s army is justified. More from Cole:
The other Arab Spring demonstrations are not comparable to Libya, because in none of them has the scale loss of life been replicated, nor has the role of armored brigades been as central, nor have the dissidents asked for intervention, nor has the Arab League. For the UN, out of the blue, to order the bombing of Deraa in Syria at the moment would accomplish nothing and would probably outrage all concerned. Bombing the tank brigades heading for Benghazi made all the difference.
That is, in Libya intervention was demanded by the people being massacred as well as by the regional powers, was authorized by the UNSC, and could practically attain its humanitarian aim of forestalling a massacre through aerial bombardment of murderous armored brigades. And, the intervention could be a limited one and still accomplish its goal.
I also don’t understand the worry about the setting of precedents. The UN Security Council is not a court, and does not function by precedent. It is a political body, and works by political will. Its members are not constrained to do elsewhere what they are doing in Libya unless they so please, and the veto of the five permanent members ensures that a resolution like 1973 will be rare. But if a precedent is indeed being set that if you rule a country and send tank brigades to murder large numbers of civilian dissidents, you will see your armor bombed to smithereens, I can’t see what is wrong with that.
If this becomes more than an intervention, and I have no reason to believe it will at the moment, then my position about a military presence in Libya will most likely absolutely change.
Bob Herbert’s last column for the New York Times is a must read. So, go on then. Read it:
There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.
Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.
The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.
This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.
The irony here is that they didn’t kill their bill by passing it without the necessary quorum, violating state Open Meeting laws or publishing it in violation of a judge’s order; they killed it with their own hubris. Now that it’s published, it is much easier to have it stopped permanently. It can and will be fought on all of the above grounds as well as countless others — amounting to a “tsunami of legislation” against the anti-union law.
This war—let us call it by its right name, for once—will be remembered to a considerable extent as a war made by intellectuals, and cheered on by intellectuals. The main difference this time is that, particularly in the United States, these intellectuals largely come from the liberal rather than the conservative side. Presumably, when the war goes wrong, they will disown it, blaming the Obama administration for having botched it, in much the same way that many neoconservatives blamed Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for his strategic errors, rather than blaming themselves for urging a war that never had a chance of transforming Iraq in the way that they hoped. The judgment of history will almost certainly be that it was Iran, not the United States, which won that war. And Libya? Anything is possible, of course, but the odds of this war, so grandiose in terms of the moral claims made for its necessity and so incoherent in its tactics, turning out in the way its advocates are promising seem remarkably small.
But in humanitarian war, which its supporters nonetheless continue self-servingly to refuse to think of as being war, that is, as something that invariably involves the slaughter of innocents even when this slaughter takes place in a just cause (and for all the talk of “smart” weapons, war from the air is particularly prone to kill civilians), the moral good intentions of those who would wage it is somehow thought to trump all other considerations. Again, this war is no longer about protecting the people of Benghazi, if it ever was. That goal was accomplished on the first day and NATO planes could have continued to protect it as they did in Kurdistan between the end of the First Gulf War in 1991 and the beginning of the Second in 2003. Rather, it is about overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi and installing the insurgent leadership in Benghazi in his place.
Why Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, or David Cameron feel that who rules Libya is any of their affair, and why they were more intent on securing the (grudging) assent of the Arab League than the assent of their own legislatures, shows just how misguided the doctrine of humanitarian intervention really is. These leaders are more intent on imposing democracy by force than in honoring the democratic judgment of their parliaments at home.
Pajhwok reports that an ISAF airstrike killed four people, including a child in in southeastern Afghanistan. Another two civilians were killed when a helicopter opened fire on a bus stand in Sabari district of Khost province.
The words have been repeated from Tunisia to Egypt, from Yemen to Bahrain. “The people want the regime to fall” — the mantra of revolution. And so, last week, after 15 kids wrote those words on a wall in the agricultural town of Dara’a in southern Syria, the local governor decided to come down hard. The young people — all under 17 — were thrown in jail. The punishment stunned the town, and suddenly, Syria — so confidently authoritarian — got its first strong taste of rebellion in the Arab Spring.
Syria remains a closed and walled-off nation. But descriptions of the uprising in Dara’a are dramatic. The alleged details include dozens of young men pelting a poster — in broad daylight — of a smiling President Bashar Assad; the demolition of a statue of the President’s late father and predecessor Hafiz Assad; the burning of official buildings, including the ruling Baath Party’s headquarters and the governor’s office. “There is no fear, there is no fear, after today there is no fear!”
It is remarkable how, in other countries, people will one day simply stop believing in the regime that had, until then, ruled them, as African-Americans did in the South here 50 years ago. Stopping believing means no longer regarding those who rule you as legitimate, and so no longer fearing them. Or respecting them. And then, miraculously, they begin to crumble.