Thursday, June 29, 2006

Experts agree that we are losing the War on Terror

The Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine surveyed over 100 of America's most esteemed terrorism and national security experts, asking whether the US was winning the "War on Terror".

From the summary of their results:
"Surprising consensus exists among the experts about terrorism and U.S. national security. A vast majority think that the world today is more dangerous for the American people. Fewer than two in 10 believe the United States is winning the war on terror. More than eight in 10 believe we are likely to face a terrorist attack on the scale of September 11 within the next 10 years."

read the entire report

People are dying and being tortured, Americans are being spied upon by their own government and the government is runing up huge deficits all in the name of keeping the American people safe. But the experts agree that as a result of the actions of the Bush Administration Americans are more at risk rather than less.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What are they up to?

A conservative magazine has published an article revealing plans by the Bush Administration to build a "huge NAFTA Super Highway, four football-fields-wide, through the heart of the U.S. along Interstate 35"

read article

Written by Jerome R. Corsi, author of some of the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry, the article expresses concerns about how the plan would allow freight from the Far East to bypass the Longshoreman’s Union by being unloaded in Mexico and bypass the Teamsters Union by being driven by Mexican Truckers through the United States and up to Canada.

Although expressing concern about the plan's undermining of American unions and a supposed bypassing of customs and security at the border the primary concern of the author is the supposed quiet implementation of a European Union style free trade zone for North America without any public or Congressional discussion.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Another Constitutional amendment being proposed by people calling themselves conservative

Congressional Republicans, trying to deflect the anger of American conservatives from their failure to control government spending, have been whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment. One idea being floated recently as part of that effort is that children born in the United States to illegal immigrants should no longer be granted American citizenship. Of course, this would require a Constitutional amendment, although people making the proposal do not seem to emphasize that fact.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution starts with the words: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Well, that is clear enough. All persons born in the United States are citizens. If you were born in the United States you have all the rights of citizenship and no one can take those rights away, no matter who your parents were or what they might have done.

Although the 14th Amendment was written to guarantee the rights of recently freed slaves after the Civil War it was a founding principle of our country that all persons are created equal. Unlike Europe, where the family or class into which someone was born could determine their place and status in society, in America people were judged by their own character and abilities, not who or what their parents might have been.

Now some people who call themselves "conservative" are proposing that the Constitution be amended to say that not all persons born in the United States are citizens, just the ones whose parents had the correct legal status at the time of their birth. Just what is it that these "conservatives" think that they are conserving? It does not appear to be the Constitution or the principles upon which this country was founded.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

How competitive will the Hare-Zinga race really be?

Why is there so much talk in blogs and other media about the Illinois 17th Congressional District race between Phil Hare and Andrea Zinga as if there was a possibility that it will be viewed on the national level as competitive? There has been speculation that there could be more money donated and spent in this race than in 1998 when the national Republican Party poured money and attention into the race and the national Democratic Party responded in kind.

All such talk and speculation is obvious nonsense. Since 1998 the district has been gerrymandered into a Democratic safe district which the national parties ignore in order to order to focus their resources on other races which are truly in play.

There are a couple of possible explanations for the locally popular denial of this reality. One explanation for all the written nonsense is that political bloggers and reporters need something to write about and they are pretending they have an interesting and competitive race to cover because otherwise they would have nothing to write. Another possible explanation is that political writing, like all forms of human discourse, conforms to familiar patterns and norms and it is traditional to describe all upcoming elections as interesting and uncertain.

My preferred explanation, though, for this situation is cognitive dissidence. Americans have been told over and over how important their vote is, how vitally important it is that they vote, that they are responsible for the selection of our political leaders, etc. The reality that at least as far as their representation in the US House of Representatives is concerned the citizens of north-western and west central Illinois are completely disenfranchised, whether they go to the polls or not, is so at odds with their world view that they have no way of dealing with that reality. They have no place within their mental framework to fit that situation so they are forced to ignore it. They act, talk and write as if they lived somewhere else, some place like Iowa, where the voters in the general election can actually have some influence on the selection of their representative.

Great scientific breakthroughs often happen in situations where there is data that cannot be explained by the existing theories. If your operating understanding of the American political system cannot explain the data that you, along with many other Americans, live in a part of the country where you can have no effect on the selection of your Congressional representative perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift in your political views.