Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,443
Number of posts: 15,443
- 2015 (3)
- 2014 (18)
- 2013 (37)
- 2012 (72)
- Older Archives
MINNEAPOLIS —" Hildagard Omete, 36, a mother of three who has been unemployed for a year and a half, went job hunting on Monday.
Sitting at the public library scanning help-wanted ads on a computer, Ms. Omete was wearing two hoods and a knitted hat, along with a full-length down jacket. It was cold inside the library
Outside, the temperature was downright frigid, even by Minnesota standards. The thermometer read minus 15 to minus 20 degrees for most of the day..."
The story was titled: "Arctic Cold Blankets Midwest, Freezing Routines". Most of what followed was pure weather talk, facts and and bone chilling figures (a homeless shelter was also mentioned far down in the text). But the lead in featured the long term unemployed. Out of work for a year and a half and this woman was out there on a brutally cold Monday morning searching for job leads from a frigid public library.
The truth about this economy and the plight of those who the Republicans cut loose from the economic safety net by refusing to extend unemployment benefits is now breaking through in frigging weather coverage.
P.S. Obviously they are all lazy do nothing unemployment queens.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Jan 7, 2014, 08:19 PM (7 replies)
Pending legislation actively supported by a significant minority of the U.S. Senate, including 15 Democratic Senators, establishes strict economic sanctions to be imposed on Iran should it not adhere to actions demanded of it during the current interim six month negotiating window regarding it's nuclear program. The Obama Administration opposes the Senate Bill, arguing that talks with Iran are at a fragile and sensitive stage and any further talk of sanctions at this point runs the risk of scuttling them. Not surprisingly the Senate sponsors of this bill deny any desire to torpedo the current negotiations with Iran. They claim their intent is to provide incentives to Iran to negotiate in good faith. Their actions, they say, increase the likelihood of reaching a negotiated outcome with Iran consistent with long stated U.S. security concerns. They may say that, and some of them may even believe it, but their actions are far more likely to increase the chances of a war with Iran.
No knowledgeable observer can deny that powerful forces, some inside Iran, others associated with the U.S. and our allies, are unsettled if not unabashedly alarmed, at the direction the current nuclear talks have taken. That type of concern seems to flare up whenever long time adversaries show mutual signs of breaking loose from deeply entrenched opposing positions. International disputes ultimately are settled in one of two ways. Either one side essentially capitulates in the face of threats, up to and sometimes including the use of force against them, or some type of settlement of outstanding differences is negotiated. The former often leads to war. The latter almost always involves some degree of compromise, but hardliners on BOTH sides of a dispute usually oppose the granting of any real concessions to their adversaries.
The motives of those opposed to the current negotiations over Iran's nuclear program on both sides may differ wildly, but the short term tactical goal is identical; derail any real diplomacy that proposes anything other than a blueprint for the terms of the other side's surrender. When hardliners lose an internal struggle with more moderate elements to shape their nation's stance in an international dispute, they will try to inflame extremist passions on BOTH side of the dispute. They know it makes no difference which side ultimately disrupts negotiations. All that matters is the failure of the negotiating process.
No doubt opponents of the current peace process inside of the Iranian regime are doing all that they can to poison the well; to stoke up as much hatred of and suspicion toward America as possible. Opponents of the current peace process inside of America, Israel, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are counting on exactly that. There is a phrase that gets used in diplomacy that we seldom stop to ponder the meaning or implications of, and that term is “in good faith”. It's not the sort of precise criteria that is easily verifiable, but whether or not each side believes that the opposing side is negotiating in “good faith” is critical to the success of most negotiations. Another important diplomacy related concept is “trust building initiatives”. There seems to be a diplomatic consensus that trust building measures are crucial before real progress can be made resolving long standing disputes between nations with an entrenched distrust of each other.
If it is possible for a party to be recognized for “negotiating in good faith” it is equally possible for it to be accused of “negotiating in bad faith”. The latter is actually the more likely outcome when negotiations occur against the backdrop of deeply held suspicions. And that is precisely why trust building measures are so central to diplomacy, and why they are needed now during the standoff with Iran. Diplomacy at the highest levels has resumed between the United States and Iran. It is an historical breakthrough. Both sides are intently studying how this breakthrough is being perceived by the other, across the great divide. Is it being viewed with relief, and at least cautious optimism, or is it a cause for greater concern, with an expectation of failure and worse days to come?
Cue the United States Senate, where lobbyists representing the interests of other nations aligned with the United States are hard at work behind the scenes trying to influence U.S. policy toward Iran during the current stand off regarding Iran's nuclear program. Clearly there are honest differences of opinion over if and how to proceed with negotiations. Those differences have been at the heart of countless debates within the U.S. State Department and have been the focus of endless consultations with our allies. They were fully weighed, they were fully considered, and the current negotiations with Iran are the product of those deliberations.
Secretary of State John Kerry could not be clearer in warning that new Congressional initiatives regarding Iran policy at this point in our relationship with that nation are not only counter productive, they are dangerous and undercut the chances of successfully defusing our impasse with Iran, and significantly increase the likelihood of armed conflict with that nation. Those warnings have not deterred those who object to the diplomatic process now underway, but they have influenced the tactics that they are using to undercut those negotiations
An initial flurry of voices rose in stark opposition to the 6 month interim agreement reached with Iran when it was first announced, until the American people weighed in on the deal. Most polls have shown a clear majority of Americans supporting it. As a result, rather than directly opposing the current six month window for negotiations, opposition strategy has shifted toward more subtly undermining it. Hence the current emphasis on providing “incentives to Iran”, in the form of specifically defined threats. Yes, it is argued, they will not take effect unless the negotiations fail, but the effect of those threats is to increase the likelihood of that failure. New threats from America coincident with the first hesitant warming of relations between our nation in over 30 years, predictably play poorly inside of Iran, and that plays directly into the hands of hard line Iranian elements who thrive on opposing America.
That is the real goal of the threats the U.S. Senate is weighing against Iran. The neocons may have lost the last few Middle East rounds but they have not exited the field. They still want to topple the Iranian regime, just like they wanted to depose Saddam Hussein. They still are promising the American people that it will be a “cakewalk” to liberate Iran from oppression, just like it was supposed to be in Iraq. Just a few more hard turns of the economic screws and the regime will crumble in the face of domestic unrest, “Don't stop now, we're winning” is their mantra. And if it comes to blows there is always shock and awe.
The neocon position is known and understood by the government in Iran. What they are unsure of is how much support that position has in the United States government. Iran is no more likely to make critical concessions to an opponent negotiating in bad faith than we are. If the U.S. Senate succeeds in lining up new sanctions against Iran now, when trust building rather than saber rattling is a prerequisite to any long term diplomatic settlement. the fate of the interim negotiations is sealed. American hardliners, and their counterpoints in Iran, will have carried the day, and they can then get on with pursuing the mortal conflict that they believe to be inevitable.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Dec 27, 2013, 10:54 AM (15 replies)
So I was putting together a short holiday greeting to two young women (in their mid 30's - to me that's young) who are kind of like step children to me, and I thought, why not send them a video of "Merry Xmas (War is Over)? I turned both of them on to John Lennon as a solo artist when they were 17 and they have liked him ever since.
So I did a search for it and found multiple versions - along with other great Beatles related stuff by the way. Far as I can tell there is no live performance video of John and Yoko singing this but there are lots that have good visuals to go along with the music. All the highlighted recommended versions were by and large upbeat, with some emphasizing the idealistic sentiments of the song. I was having fun viewing some, trying to decide which to send them when I noticed a version that was described as "The Official video for John Lennon 'Merry Xmas (War Is Over)'" It wasn't one of the recommended options. The music is the familiar upbeat song we all know, but the visuals are haunting and very sad, actually jarring to look at because they are a condemnation of war.
I had never seen it before, I knew nothing about it. It wasn't as easy to view videos or song films in 1971 as it is now, back when there wasn't an internet or Youtube. I thought twice about sending them the actual version that John and Yoko released, it is not cheerful holiday viewing, but of course I finally just did. I did so with this comment:
"This song coupled with this video goes a long way toward explaining why I loved John Lennon so much, and why I had so much respect for him and Yoko. I hope you both are having a happy Christmas Day. John and Yoko wished that for all of us."
Here is the video:
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Dec 25, 2013, 01:37 PM (4 replies)
That doesn't necessarily prove that Marxism would work better for most of us, but that isn't the point. Objectively, our form of capitalism is failing for most Americans. Failing the way that a liver fails, or a kidney fails. Failing the way eyesight fails. Our situation is deteriorating, things are getting worse and they have been getting progressively worse for a long time. There is a trend line, it's not just statistical noise, the trend in clear. Poverty is increasing, good paying jobs are becoming scarcer, the number of people who are surviving from pay check to pay check keeps growing. Fewer people can save for their retirement and more people are spending down savings that were once meant for retirement in order to just stay afloat.
The abstract merits and demerits of capitalism will always be debated, but pure capitalism is rarely practiced in the industrialized world, or anywhere else for that matter. We, like most nations, have a mixed economy. The stare has a role in our economy. The devil is in the details, in the mix, in the role that government plays. Few outside of the most extreme libertarians argue that the government has zero legitimate role in the economy. Even the ownership class wants some government involvement, but on their own terms of course. They want crop subsidies for corporate farmers.They want "investment friendly" tax loopholes for their favored industries. They want their trademarks and patents protected by the courts. They want their bank accounts to be federally insured. They want public education to provide workers with the minimal skills they expect from whatever work force they require, and they want federal, air flight controllers watching over their corporate jets etc.
While many in the ownership class would love to freely assemble monopolies so they can crush the opposition and subsequently gouge consumers, America already tried that social experiment and most of us weren't happy with the results. Back in the day a Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt, helped reign in the worst excesses of that unregulated system. Americans have long known and mostly agreed that unfettered, unregulated capitalism is a dangerous and potentially inhumane force. We once had no child labor laws, and children were exploited without mercy. We once had no worker safety laws and workers were endangered without mercy. Without a small army of government inspectors food safety was once routinely dangerously compromised in slaughterhouses and food processing plants across the nation. Why were such terrible business practices once embraced by many American capitalists? Simply because they were profitable and they helped the bottom line. Just like slavery once did also, another highly profitable American business practice that was only curtailed by government intervention. The free market would have let slavery continue for at least a few decades longer than it did.
The profit motive ia amoral. The competitive spur it provides for innovation and growth is at root no different than the incentive that the money armored cars carry provides to would be robbers of them. Morality is an overlay on the profit incentive that is not evenly applied. For some individuals their own internal moral compass has always prevented them from owning slaves, or recklessly endangering their workers, or selling rancid food, or from robbing banks, or from supplying steel to America's enemies during a time of war. .Clearly though not all moral compasses are created equal, as the history of capitalism (and crime) has shown.
When full time American workers can not afford to live even marginally on the wages that they earn, the capitalist system is not working for us. It may be working for the ownership class and the high ranking lieutenants that they employ, but not for the American people. Even beyond those minimum wage workers themselves, it is failing the entire shrinking middle class in more ways than one when millions of Americans can't earn a living wage. For those of us who live and work on "Main Street U.S.A." the economy is slowly grinding to a halt, whether we work for minimum wage or a half way decent salary; whether we have an employer or own our own small business. Money is draining out of our daily lives - there is less of it to go around in the circles that we live in. People can't spend what they don't have, and businesses can't sell what people can't afford to buy. It goes beyond that though. We are given a draconian choice. Either we, the people, must step in to mitigate the horror of what run-a-way unchecked capitalism is now doing to the American people. or we must allow our souls to calcify. Either we have to subsidize the uninsured in hospital emergency rooms through our taxes or turn a blind eye to their suffering and death. Either we, the people, have to put food on the table of hungry workers who can't earn enough to feed their families,through government assistance, or become indifferent to the hunger of children. Either we, the people, have to pay subsidies to ensure the availability of affordable housing for tens of millions of Americans who otherwise can't find it, or become numb to stepping past homeless elders and vets huddled in doorways and sleeping in parks under a blanket of newspapers.
God knows there is money in America, trillions of it, and it isn't disappearing, wealth is actually growing, but it is increasingly concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. For that lucky oligarchy, capitalism is working for America. For the rest of us it is failing, and for many of us it has already failed completely. The question isn't whether or not capitalism is or isn't good in any of its possible forms, relative to whatever alternatives to it there may be. The question is whether this form of capitalism, the way it is operating in America today, is good for the American people. Increasingly the answer is a clear and simple no.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Dec 6, 2013, 09:38 AM (7 replies)
Ever since they made that an accepted "buzz phrase" the preponderance of broadcast and print media in this country shifted significantly further to the right. I think the rapid rise of false equivalency reporting that overtook true journalism started to really gather steam when major media outlets began to bend over backwards to prove that they didn't have a built in liberal bias, and that includes National Public Radio also.
The stark truth remains however that major media has always had an intrinsic conservative bias simply because of the economics of ownership - ownership of major broadcast media and print outlets has always largely been out of the economic reach of the laboring classes in America. Furthermore that is compounded by the financial model that most media outlets employ, namely advertizing revenue covering operating expenses. The interests of the currently well to do are "baked into the mix" when major media decides what is and what is not news, and how it should be covered.
The apt counter to the term "liberal media"I believe is "corporate media". The term "mainstream media" in comparison to "liberal media" is unfocused and poorly defined. I intend to banish "mainstream media" from my vocabulary. Ever since the term "corporate outsourcing" became entrenched in the American vocabulary, "corporate" as an adjective has registered increasingly negative in the public mind The left has to regain the populist mantle. We will do so in ways both large and small. The phrases we use is part of that.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 08:42 AM (16 replies)
It's a straight forward argument. If Republicans get some face saving fig leaf in return for backing off the creaking branch that they've climbed out onto, the odds increase that our American political system won't blunder into a miscalculation of historic proportions, failing to raise our debt limit on time and thus plunging the world into some semblance of a depression after a United States default. A Depression isn't a mere political talking point, anything even reassembling one carries horrific suffering for tens of millions of people. It is an extremely heavy price to pay if that is what it ends up costing to defend a sane and functional governing process in Washington. But personally I am very strongly moved by the counter argument; you simply can not reward terrorists for hostage taking, as it always leads to an even larger crisis somewhere not far down the road.
When two compelling arguments clash head on there isn't much room for some middle ground.between them. In my opinion here it what that is. Republicans may need to be given some fig leaf to save some face behind, even though that might fit the definition of making a concession in the face of extortion. But Republicans still need to be humiliated for what they are now putting this nation through. Any fig leaf they might receive has to be conspicuously tiny, it has to be laughably small, it has to obviously be nothing more than a face saving gesture tossed to them by Democrats in return for Republicans finally backing down.
There can be no real reward for what the Republicans have done. Whatever they "win" from this entire charade they have forced upon our nation has to be pitiful, a consolation prize so small that it is barely worth the cost of a stamp to cash it in. It has to be so relatively inconsequential that everyone outside of the hardest core radical tea party fringe will burst out laughing whenever a Republican tries to justify what they did to America in order to win that fig leaf in return.
The Tea Party is off the charts delusional now in their own sense of self importance. They have reached the point where a suicide mission involving the death of innocents is defended as an honorable course of action. They will persist in their delusions whether or not Republicans get tossed any bones in the ongoing talks inside Washington. But the rest of the Republican Party is desperate to negotiate some surrender terms that they can pretend is something other than total capitulation. When you strip all the politics out of it that is simply human nature. That's why the concept of face saving gestures is well established in nearly every culture on earth.
Here is the bottom line though. The Republicans can't come out of this showdown looking good in the eyes of anyone other than the most rabid supporters of that Party, and even that handful of extreme partisans need to come away feeling extremely disappointed with the outcome from this entire exercise in dangerous brinkmanship and masochistic futility. That's what it means to offer a fig leaf to someone who is otherwise stark naked. They don't exit the scene looking dressed again, they look like someone clutching a fig leaf to their genitals, scurrying away with their knees knocking. That is the price that Democrats minimally need to hold out for this time. That is probably a sufficient price for Republicans to pay to not embolden them to try something like this again.
It's a calculated risk, I grant that. There is some pretty crazy thinking in today's Republican Party, and no doubt some in that Party will end up thinking they can spin any fig leaf tossed them into a fine new silk suit. And yes, even fig leafs have value, even fig leafs represent real concessions, small as they might be. But real lives literally hang in the balance now. If Republicans unquestionably lose this stand off in the public eye, regardless of any face saving gestures Democrats ultimately allow them, in the most fundamental political sense they will not end up rewarded for their hostage taking.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Oct 14, 2013, 10:18 AM (22 replies)
Sorry for the gender based language in "Drama Queens" but in common usage it applies equally to men and women and there is no gender free equivalent that so clearly captures what this fringe encompasses. The Tea Party is addicted to conflict. They thrive on it. They need it. It makes them feel heroic and important to take serial stands defiantly resisting forces they assert will lead to the destruction of America and even civilization as we know it (If we don't defeat the Islamic infidels at our gates). That language pours freely from their mouthes. Fundamentalists among them are starting to refer to here and now as "The end times." Those who remain more secular see current politics as the final culmination of a centuries long struggle between those who love Liberty and those who wish Tyranny upon us.
They are still fighting the American Revolution with the rest of us cast as Tories in their self aggrandizing world view. President Obama HAS to be morphed into King George, or Hitler, or Stalin or the Anti-Christ in order to elevate their struggle to one reaching the epic proportions they yearn for. They live for the next Battle, the next showdown. The more the odds are stacked against them the more heroic they feel. And with such a mind set it is not surprising that many of them are willing to risk, if not actively seek, an economic calamity to bring on that cleansing fire.
For more of an actual psychological perspective I just did a search for Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms.Here are the ones listed at a site run by the Mayo Clinic.
Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:
Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe sex, gambling sprees or illegal drug use.
Awareness of destructive behavior, including self-injury, but sometimes feeling unable to change it.
Wide mood swings.
Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression.
Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior, sometimes escalating into physical fights.
Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses.
Feeling misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty or hopeless.
Fear of being alone.
Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing.
OK, there are always problems inherent in ramping up an analysis focused on individuals into one focused on a movement, but even so the full description found at the Mayo Clinic site sounds disturbingly familiar if applied to some of todays leading right wing figures. Find it here:
This is what we are up against. It can not be placated. It must be confronted directly with reality based interventions.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Oct 13, 2013, 10:25 AM (9 replies)
So now it is looking like the best case scenario end game to stave off the two headed Republican sponsored monster of government shutdown and defaulting on our fiscal obligations is for Republicans to stand down on their threats for six weeks to allow for "negotiations" with the President to hammer out some reasonable "compromises", while the Republican gun at our collective heads is temporarily holstered. If that is where all this is taking us it shows just how far Republican extortion tactics have already succeeded in bending our nation's future toward an extreme right wing vision of America. Negotiations without hostages being held or a ransom demanded might sound reasonable on the surface, but not if the agenda for such negotiations starts and ends with a list of right wing talking points. And that in a nut shell is the Republican position, and that is fast becoming what conventional wisdom calls “a compromise.”
The pundits say to get us out of the crisis Tea Party Republicans have gotten us into Republicans will need a face saving bone thrown to them first. The promise of serious negotiations with the President AFTER a short term clean continuing resolution and a short term clean lifting of the debt ceiling is agreed to is being called that bone. Instead of negotiating with the President on their list of issues while holding the economy hostage, maybe Republicans will free it temporarily as a prelude to serious talks.
What is wrong with this picture? Hardly anyone in the media or the Democratic Party has called out the Republicans on the premise underlying this pending “compromise”. It is assumed that if only the Republicans will first put down the gun then they can expect to get rewarded with something, the proverbial half loaf negotiators often speak of. Maybe Republicans will finally settle for a quarter loaf once the dust settles, but in return for that flexibility on their part Republicans insist on setting the agenda for “the conversation” they are seeking.
Republicans say that the Affordable Care Act poses a grave threat to the nation and that something must be done to change it; repeal it or at least delay it. So they want the U.S. Senate and the American President to bend to their will regarding it. But Democrats say that rapidly escalating gun violence poses a grave threat to the nation and that something must be done to change it; outlaw assault type weapons or at least close the gun show loop hole for background checks. The seemingly inevitable inter-party negotiations that are approaching will likely include revisiting the Affordable Care Act, but common sense gun safety measures won’t be on the Republican prepared table.
The Republicans claim our current budget deficits pose a grave threat to the nation and something must be done to cut them further. They want further cuts in spending and they want cuts in the economic safety net that tens of millions of Americans depend on. While claiming that current deficits are a huge problem, Republicans accept only one means to deal with them; slashing government spending. Republicans refuse to consider measures that would increase revenue to the government and reduce our deficits that way. Republicans want to negotiate with the President on new cuts only. So to restore any sequestration cuts to the Pentagon more money will need to be taken from programs that are dear to the Democratic Party. That is the Republican version of compromise.
But Democrats believe that continuing high unemployment poses a grave thereat to the nation and that measures must be taken to bring that unemployment down. Most leading economists agree with the Democrats, as does the American public according to countless polls. Rather than firing more workers to shave money off the budget, Democrats believe we need more government funded jobs programs, both in the public and private sectors. Democrats believe it is the role of government to fill the void when the private sector can’t respond to the public need. Jump starting the economy with new government hiring ultimately will more than repay those outlays in future tax revenues. And it will help the American people.
That’s what Democrats tend to believe, and Republicans predictably disagree. But despite controlling the Senate and the Presidency, despite Obama winning the 2012 election and having Democrats pick up seats in both houses of Congress, despite Democrats winning actually winning the combined popular vote for all districts in the House of Representatives, no new jobs bill will be subject to discussion under the Republican version of “compromise”.
And so the politics of compromise has been framed. Republicans posture and say they are being told to surrender when asked to restore normality to our governing process. They will claim to have compromised greatly just to agree to that. What, they will certainly ask, do we get in return? Republicans expect to set the agenda for future talks, and they’ve done a pretty good job of doing that so far. Talk of deficit cutting compromises fill the airwaves but raising the minimum wage never gets a mention. Democrats will be pushed on further spending cuts without any tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Expect the Affordable Care Act to be put on the negotiating table, expect Social Security cuts to be on that table too. Expect common sense gun safety measures, job creation, and Immigration reform to be decidedly off the table. Starting there, as they say, each side will then have to “give up a little”. Why are so many now so certain that this time Republican extortion won’t work?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Oct 10, 2013, 08:02 AM (5 replies)
I have mixed feelings about this. People always strive to establish order, that’s one of the main things that we do. We set up homes and make friends. We set up governments and make allies. We seek stability. For almost a hundred years America was the world’s policeman. Cops have a lot of power, they exercise lethal force. It’s not always a good thing to have a cop around, but there are times when it is. Inside nations like Afghanistan there are people who oppose much of what the Taliban stand for and do, and yet still prefer their harsh yet predictable rule to living among unchecked armed thugs when the Taliban are not around.
I wish that my reactions to the latest events inside of Syria and the Obama Administration’s response to them were simpler than it is. I hate the use of any deadly force, except some times when even more death would occur without it. But it’s rarely ever that straight forward. Sometimes the trade tendered is to accept a near certain death now for the possibility of saving dozens of lives later. On the global scale they call that type of calculus “real world politics”.
The world has had worse cops than America. Hitler’s Germany would have been worse. In my opinion Stalin’s Soviet Union would have been worse also. Not in all ways, it seldom is that black and white, but overall I do feel worse. Internationalism has long been a tenet of progressive thinking. It gave rise to a world wide socialist movement; “Workers of the World Unite!” Nationalism is often overly narrow and has fertilized many a brutal armed conflict. There are, I think, some things even more important than preserving the local peace. Standing up against oppression is among them, so is acting to stop genocide even if it is happening half way around the world. But is it called genocide if both sides in a civil war seek to exterminate the other?
Far too often the U.S. has acted like a corrupt police force on the world stage, one bought off by moneyed interests. Even corrupt police forces help victims of traffic accidents and shoot rabid skunks. Some would prefer a corrupt police force to none at all, others would not. Back in Woodrow Wilson’s day there were high hopes for the League of Nations. Those hopes were never realized. The end of World War Two led to the start of the United Nations. The U.N. has accomplished some worthwhile things but it is only as strong as the consensus that supports it, and a Security Council veto grinds it to a halt.
How does one discern the difference between an honest cop and a corrupt one? What if both are on the same payroll? The last Bush Administration wanted a war with Iraq bad enough to lie its way into it. In my opinion the Obama Administration doesn't feel the same about Syria. How much does the difference matter?
I have always supported the Geneva Accords. They were then and remain now a shining step away from the mad darkness of unbridled warfare. I also believe that war crimes truly exist, transcending in their magnitude the generic horror of organized armed conflict. I am grateful to see that view validated by international agreements. I also support continuing efforts to outlaw the use of land mines and depleted uranium as weapons of war through ratified international treaties.
That poison gas has been used against people before despite international agreements banning it doesn’t surprise me, what surprises me is how seldom it has been used. Why is that? What stands behind such international agreements other than the paper they are written on? Is it the World Court? Is it the existence of a global policeman, or a larger alliance of global policemen? Is it ultimately world opinion, or our innate impulse to back away from the pursuit of mutually assured destruction?
A case can be made for the continued role of the United States as world policeman, but I believe that case in increasingly moot. Whether or not the U.S. still has that capacity we, the people, have ceased to have the will for it. That ended in Iraq. In hindsight now it is clear that most of us had been resigned to having very little say in the mater. Like it or not, we were accustomed to Presidents having the authority to doing virtually whatever they wanted when it came to “national security”. Then the UK Parliament defied a sitting Prime Minister and refused to be America’s trusty side kick for another military adventure dispute the arguments he summoned in support of striking Syria. And then, to his credit, President Obama decided it was necessary to make his case directly to Congress, the elected representatives of the American people.
And the people who those representatives are beholden to responded by speaking out. They have done so in unusual numbers with a nearly unprecedented almost unanimous opinion, and that opinion is straight forward. The American people say “No.” The old “New World Order” is over; there is no world order any longer. The emperor may or may not still have clothes but he has lost his dutiful subjects and that now is painfully clear. Obama isn’t that emperor; he is just the current regent. The repudiation of America’s role as global policeman by the American people is far more resounding than any referendum on Obama, or his proposed military strike, alone. We no longer, if we ever did, have the will for it, and now that truth is known for the entire world to see.
Will Iran factor this shifting reality into their deliberations over whether to develop working nuclear weapons? Of course, why wouldn't they? But that by itself won’t determine their decision either way – it is one of many important factors for them to continue to wrestle with. As America backs down attempting to enforce the previous world order a vacuum will grow, but vacuums are by nature a self limiting phenomena; something will grow to replace it. I can’t say with any certainty what I will think about the eventually coming next world order since it has yet to arrive. The American people will still have a role in it, perhaps even a larger one in a way since we seem to have found a more direct voice, less stifled by a Washington power structure overseeing us. That part at least should be a positive development.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Sep 9, 2013, 11:45 AM (4 replies)
It is sad that people have to become symbols of something else for sane gun safety policy to have any chance of being enacted. Of course Sandy Hook was absolutely horrific, but we lost tens of thousands of innocents to guns every year before an elementary school massacre finally galvanized a new movement for gun safety. Now we have these two brothers, absolute terrorists in the eyes of all. Yes they used IED's to kill in Boston, but they obviously had semi-automatic weapons also. Two officers are down, one fatally. The FBI called them "armed and dangerous". How did they get their arms? Did they come from a licensed gun dealer? From a gun show? From the internet?
Sooner or later we will have people who everyone in politics agrees are full blown terrorists gunning down innocents with guns purchased without going through any background checks. Sooner or later they will use extended capacity ammo clips to hold off police during a fire fight to make a getaway. Maybe these brothers would have passed a background check. Maybe their gun magazines only held ten bullets each instead of 30 or a hundred. But the Public will not stand for it when they realize that real terrorists are killing Americans because of lax gun regulations.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Apr 19, 2013, 10:12 AM (25 replies)