Tuesday, August 3, 2010

U.S. Congressman Calls For Execution Of Wikileaks Whistleblower : Plus…

U.S. Congressman Calls For Execution Of Wikileaks Whistleblower : Plus…

Making Gaza a 'European ghetto'
By Lamis Andoni While most Israeli leaders are resistant to fully lifting the blockade of Gaza, Avigdor Lieberman, the
 right-wing foreign minister, ...See all stories on this topic »

Americans Ignorant of Nature of Right Wing and Their Own History


The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, Jr. was the latest national commentator to lose it over the insanity which has overtaken American politics.

In a column this week, Dionne threw up his hands and called Americans "incorrigibly stupid."  Good for E.J., because we are.  

How can we possibly be taken seriously by the rest of the world, E.J. wants to know, if we can muster the courage to fight two wars but can't find the political will to ask American taxpayers to pay for them? How did we allow ourselves to be boxed into a corner by Ronald Reagan and his progeny on the right into convincing us that we could be a global superpower that hates "Big Government" at the same time?  And why are the only Republicans willing to say that theirs is a party of slogans and talking points -- but not good ideas -- the ones who've already left the party or been kicked out?

"We need a new conservatism in our country that is worthy of the name," laments Dionne as he surveys the wreckage of the modern Republican Party. "We need liberals willing to speak out on the threat our daft politics poses to our influence in the world. We need moderates who do more than stick their fingers in the wind to calculate the halfway point between two political poles."

As the proprietors of the world's oldest participatory democracy, the American people are astonishingly ignorant about their own history and politics, and it's time we starting saying so without fear of being called "elitist."  

Because the reality is that the newly empowered right wing factions who want to steal our democracy and give it over to those approved authorities that have always governed conservative societies in the past, premise their grab for power on the public's basic ignorance. America's right wing is perfectly ready, willing and able to exploit the people's lack of learning for their own partisan purposes, while double-daring the rest of us to call them on their manipulations with the threat we'll be accused of being "condescending liberal elites" who think Americans are fools easily led to the slaughter, which sometimes they are.

When 40 or 50 or 60% of the public - and overwhelming majorities of the conservative public - believe in fantasies that are demonstrably false, then it's time to wave goodbye to the flattering self-conceit that vox populi, vox dei - "the Voice of the People is the Voice of God."
It's a basic truth of therapy. Real healing does not begin until the demons that torment us are identified, embraced and finally forgotten.  Denied fundamental insight into our preconceptions and the inner-workings of our own mind, epiphany or catharsis is impossible. 

We are condemned instead to wander aimlessly in a fog of make-believe, mistaking friend for foe, unknowingly embracing our enemies, and creating alternative realities without cognizance, or even care, of the disastrous consequences that are the bitter fruit of our own ignorance.

This applies to nations as well as individuals. And so at the most basic level, the task for America today is to re-learn who we really are. 

And that begins by acknowledging how little Americans know about their own history - and how little America has been touched by history itself.  

Some conservatives like to call this "American Exceptionalism" and pretend it means that the rules which apply to everyone else don't apply to us. But what it really means is that, despite all that has taken place over the past 250 years or more -- despite all of the stirring events Americans have experienced  -- America has never yet had a genuine rendezvous with human destiny. And that is because, as professor Louis Hartz says in his famous The Liberal Tradition in America, our "ironic flaw" is that America has "never had a real conservative tradition."   … 

What should happen to PFC Bradley Manning, the young man now charged with the unauthorized access of and subsequently leaking of classified military information, namely the video that Wikileaks released under the title “Collateral Murder”? Should the United States government execute him? If your name is Congressman Mike Rogers, then you believe that yes, the young man should be put to death.
The congressman, appearing on a local radio station in Michigan, said that Manning’s actions (still alleged at this point—he hasn’t been convicted yet) qualify as treason in a time of war, and thus should be considered capital crimes. That is, crimes punishable under pain of death.
You ought to listen to the entire interview (it’s available online, and it only 17 minutes long) before forming any opinion on what the congressman said. I’m not a fan of taking a few words here and there, presenting them out of context, then claiming that the sky is green.
One odd thing: Rogers seems to be working under the assumption that Manning, who has sizable support online, was also responsible for the Afghanistan war logs. To my knowledge Manning is only in custody over the leak of the “Collateral Murder” video, and not the war logs. Not yet, at least.
The congressman, who represents Michigan’s 8th district and who sits on the House Intelligence Comittee, said that if Manning isn’t charged with treason then he should be charged with murder.
Why is this on a tech site? Because Wikileaks is testing the very barriers of information and access and, as such, is an important story in both the science and art of fact gathering.
The site has recently joined Flattr, the online payment system started by Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. The idea is to setup a Flattr account, maintain a monetary balance in there (currently, the beta’s minimum is 2 euros per month), then every site you “Flattr” (sorta like clicking on a Digg or Retweet button on a site) gets a piece of that minimum balance. The point is to help prevent the type of funding shortfalls that the site has run into in the past.
Now, funding the freedom of information is as easy as Flattr-ing the site.
Again, you can listen to the interview yourself and form your own opinion.

The idea that the average American is overtaxed is a nice piece of populist pandering. In fact, federal taxes as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest level since the presidency of Harry Truman. Chuck Marr and Gillian Brunet of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have calculated that a family of four at the exact middle of the income spectrum will pay only 4.6 percent of its income in taxes. Remember, almost half of the country pays no income taxes at all. The top 3 percent of Americans contribute almost 50 percent of federal income taxes.


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