Monday, January 24, 2011

So We're All Civil Now, Eh? [UPDATED]

We are going to try making our politics more "civil" now, have you heard?

Members of the two dominant parties in our limited-democracy are going to sit next to each other at the President's "State of the Union" address this week.

Brings tears to the eyes, doesn't it?

Of course, it is rumored that in that very speech, the President is going to come out in support of damaging Social Security. And even if the Congressmen assembled to listen sit next to each and hold hands, here are some other things going on:

  • The deadline for closing Guantanamo Bay passed a few days ago with 174 prisoners still there.
  • The U.S. is still helping Honduras launder its coup by supporting a President elected at a time that its people could not lawfully assemble, demonstrate, or meaningfully compete in an election without fear of arrest and torture.
  • The Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, continue to use predatory interest on loans to subjugate the so-called developing countries, to interfere with their politics and extract their resources while making them dependent on imports from the global North.
  • My government is now investing less of my pay in Social Security -- part of the new "tax deal" that I am supposed to be happy about -- which obligates me to invest more retirement savings in stocks and bonds instead, and is the beginning of choking Social Security out of existence. If Social Security is to be sustained in the future by transfers from the general fund, then opponents have comfort for an argument that it drains the economy. As it stands now, Social Security cannot pay out a dime more than it collects itself. This is purely ideological. Social Security is not really in trouble and does not contribute to the deficit as of now. I could say some angry things about this and where we are headed but hey, I'm a civil guy. [UPDATE: Scuttlebutt says Obama won't endorse this in his state of the union speech.]
  • We are still treating WikiLeaks as if it were a terrorist organization and not a media organization doing investigative journalism, and we are building legal arguments that could be used against the media generally if they report on our government.
  • We are confiscating laptop computers and cell phones from people without warrants at airports arbitrarily, and adding names to the "no fly" list apparently as political punishment, as in the case of one American who works for WikiLeaks but has not been charged with any crime. He's lucky. One young American got his name put on there for no apparent reason, and he languished in a Kuwaiti prison for a month, where he was tortured but never charged with any crime. This way, you see, he could be questioned without legal counsel present.
  • And Bradley Manning, a whistleblower who has not yet stood trial or been convicted, is being detained in solitary confinement in conditions that are known to cause psychological damage. Punishment first, then the trial and the sentence. Or maybe punishment first, then the sentence, and then the trial. Or skip the trial altogether? I could accuse our military of cruel and unusual punishment of a man who is still, legally, innocent: but hey, I'm a civil guy.
  • There's more stuff going on in our country and the world that is not so civil. Poverty, starvation, odious and illegitimate debt, improper foreclosures, denial of health care to veterans, and much more. I have actually run out of time.

But hey, the Republicans and the Democrats are going to sit next to each during a joint session. What a Hallmark moment that is.

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