Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So, Now Obama Will Have Filibuster-Proof Majority in the Senate

So, with the recent party switch of Arlen Spector to the Democratic Party and the projected seating of Al Franken as the Democratic Senator from Minnesota, the Democrats will have 58 seats in the U.S. Senate. Along with the two independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a democratic socialist, and former Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut), both of whom regularly vote parallel to the Democratic caucus on a range of issues, the Democrats essentially now have the 60 votes to prevent a filibuster in the Senate. The filibuster is a procedural tactic that minority parties have historically used when they know they will lose a straight vote on the Senate floor on an issue particularly contentious to their party constituents (or, more likely, the corporate interests to which their party is most indebted). With that magic anti-filibuster number of Democratic and allied senators established, now Obama can be the practical progressive his supporters still believe that he is without fear of Republican obstructionism in the Senate. Let's see what he does with his newfound power.

The only worrying aspect of all this is Joe Lieberman's bordeline insane support of every form of militarism against Arab (and Persian) nations in the Middle East, which means that he may choose to caucus with the Republicans to filibusters attempts to prevent further killing of brown people in that region, even when the initial auspices for doing so are specious, to say the least (lies about non-existent weapons) or start new conflicts based on unsubstantiated allegations that nation-states would (against every proliferation pattern in modern military history*) supply a rogue agent with a nuclear device (as neo-cons allege nonsensically about Iran).

Cross your fingers for sanity.

* No country in the nuclear age has provided nuclear technology to anything other than a fellow nation-state, so why would someone seriously believe the Iranians would give one away to a proxy agent they have no real control over? Who would they give it to, Hezbollah? The Israelis would rain nukes on them in response to any nuclear attack on their soil. I wish people in the corporate media would ask questions that showed any type of understanding of military history, proliferation as regard proxy armies, etc. For example, Reagan didn't give the Contras nuclear submarines (LOL). Nation-states *never* give their most potent weaponry to proxy armies (they sensibly keep them for their own militaries).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Absurdity of the Afghanistan Policy

By now, millions of people have seen the footage of individuals allegedly affiliated with the Taliban flogging a young woman, allegedly for exiting a home of a man who was not her husband. Violence of this type is naturally abhorred, but what about the violence inherent in war? Why is there no video of what U.S. forces are doing in Afghanistan and (illegally) in Northwest Pakistan? There is no military solution to abuse against women. You don't call in the Marines to improve gender relations. Imagine if domestic disturbance calls in the U.S. resulted in a military response, where black clad Special Forces invaded a home with flash-bang grenades and M-16s? The thought is it is absurd, so why are people implicitly using this instance of assault to justify the wholesale military occupation of an entire country? Why did people regularly ask about President Bush's exit strategy in Iraq (he had none), yet no one asks about President Obama's exit strategy in Afghanistan (he has none)? Both military adventures burn billions of dollars to no recognizable end. One cannot kill one's way out of political extremism; violence only begets more political extremists, because it shows by example the use of violence for political ends.

When will people realize that war is almost never the answer, in 99.9% of most scenarios, war only serves to enrich a few who sell weapons systems and military paraphernalia? So sad to see the same con game played on generation after generation, yet the deeper questions never receive media attention: what is the purpose of this and how can violence create peace?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Obama Convinces Russians to Reduce Nukes/What YOU Can Do

This is excellent news. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev met and agreed that we need to reduce our mutual warhead numbers below the level agreed upon in 2002 (possibly even lower than 1700, which is still enough to incinerate the human population many times over, unfortunately). This is a great step, since in the current economy, neither country can afford to maintain its current number of warheads, anyway, nor does our current level of warheads serve any national security purpose (since even 10% of 1700 warheads is enough to pretty much wipe out humanity).


(from the article)

"Obama also pledged to work for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the Senate rejected in 1999. Senate aides said Wednesday that trying to bring the treaty to a vote probably would take time, and they predicted that it does not currently have enough votes to pass."

PLEASE LOBBY YOUR SENATORS TO SUPPORT OBAMA BY RATIFYING THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY. Contact information to email or call your Senator can be found at in the upper right hand corner (the "find your senator" search box). As much as it probably pleases the arms industry for us to randomly detonate nuclear weapons in superfluous tests (so we have to buy more to replace the ones detonated), this does not serve the interest of the U.S. taxpayer in an era of ballooning deficits and financial crisis. Further, and of equal importance, tests will invariably have a negative environmental impact, so the fewer there are, the better. I'm not sure if there is some worst case scenario where a test procedure could mistakenly be viewed as aggressive, but even a miniscule possibility of this should be reduced as much as possible (the fewer tests that occur, the less likely this is, if it is likely at all) (although traditional missile tests are more likely to cause such a misunderstanding than what I imagine would be underground detonations that are probably standard for nuclear testing).