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Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

So This is Goodbye

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

This Saturday, I will officially make the transition from professional student to career professional. Okay, that’s not quite true. I actually plan to prolong my misery by spending one more year in Syracuse, New York, pursuing my master’s in television, radio and film.

As my short-lived career as a Joplin Globe blogger comes to an end, I’ve decided to reflect on the many things I have learned while floating about in the blogosphere:

  • First and foremost, check your facts, check your facts, and then check your facts. I should have learned this lesson a long time ago when I would argue with my father and his only rebuttal was to ask me to “cite my sources.”
  • It’s human nature to form an opinion, and then seek out facts/information in support of that opinion while ignoring contradictory evidence; “What’s that? I can’t hear you — la, la, la, la!”
  • Bloggers are arrogant.
  • Our opinion really doesn’t matter.
  • People like political identity — it makes them feel safe.
  • Mainstream media lies (OK, I already knew this one).
  • Generational discrimination, although subtle, is more rampant than gender discrimination.

And there you have it: My quarter-of-a-century years’ worth of wisdom.

Peace and Liberty.

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National Sovereignty vs. the Anglo-American Empire

In foreign policy, liberty and rights, sovereignty on May 16, 2010 at 1:59 am

“Every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will; and externally to transact business with other nations through whatever organ it chooses, whether that be a King, Convention, Assembly, Committee, President, or whatever it be. The only thing essential is, the will of the nation.” –Thomas Jefferson

Conspiracy theorists are often berated for warning about the coming “New World Order.” But the global government is not some scheme cooked up by Ron Paul nut jobs. On the contrary, the concept of establishing a “new world order” has been referenced by the likes of George Bush Sr., Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama.

Really, we already have a partial “new world order” — better termed the “Anglo-American Empire.” Basically, the Anglo-American Empire describes the already existing global power structure seated in Western Europe and the United States.

Policy-making think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission already exercise excessive global sway. And institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and International Criminals Court already function/govern at a global level.

Ultimately, the goal of these intuitions is to lessen national sovereignty and further global governance. CFR President Richard Haass has openly advocated to such goals:

State sovereignty must be altered in globalized era.

Our notion of sovereignty must therefore be conditional, even contractual, rather than absolute. If a state fails to live up to its side of the bargain by sponsoring terrorism, either transferring or using weapons of mass destruction, or conducting genocide, then it forfeits the normal benefits of sovereignty and opens itself up to attack, removal or occupation.

Globalization thus implies that sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker.

Moreover, states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies if the international system is to function.

But is trading national governance for global governance a wise idea? To be sure, most nations’ governments are corrupt and many oppress their people in one form or another. But would a more centralized, powerful form of government guarantee the “liberty and justice for all”?

Immigration and human capital

In economics on May 14, 2010 at 3:23 am

“Free trade is a lot like technology. It lowers the price of things for consumers, expands markets for businesses and provides jobs.” — Drew Carey

“Illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from hard-working Americans.” The claim is repeated often — but is it true?

Some fans of a Facebook page created “for conservative Americans” apparently think so. While perusing the discussions tab, a thread titled “Top Ten Myths About Immigration” caught my eye. The title seemed oddly out-of-place for a conservative group.

The creator of the discussion simply reposted information from the Justice for Immigrants website. Basically, the post attempts to debunk popular myths about immigration. One reoccurring falsehood is that undocumented workers are flooding the workforce with cheap labor, thus stealing jobs from American citizens.

But an understanding of simple supply and demand economics renders this argument void.

The fact is, immigrants would not be able to come to this country and work if it weren’t for market demand. And the market is controlled by consumers, so ultimately, it is American consumers who create job opportunities for their Mexican neighbors.

The argument that somehow an increase in population depletes the number of available jobs is completely illogical. If this were fact, the reverse argument — that a decrease in the population makes more jobs available — would also be true. Job availability has nothing to do with population. It has everything to do with the condition of an economy.

Human beings are not a burden, they are a benefit. Labor, or human capital, is a valuable resource for an economy. And an economy that has jobs available for labor to fill is a healthy one. Robinson Crusoe author Daniel Defoe thought so:

“People are indeed the essential of commerce, and the more people the 
more trade; the more trade, the more money; the more money, the more 
strength; and the more strength, the greater the nation…All temporal 
felicities, I mean national, spring from the number of people.”

Mary Richards and Newsroom Sexism

In media, women's rights on May 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm
 
When Mary Richards asked Lou Grant if she didn’t get a promotion because she was a woman, Lou Grant unapologetically replied “Yes.” The 1970s show poked fun at the very serious subject of sexism in the newsroom. But more than 30 years later, a still gender-biased media is no laughing matter.
 

To be sure, women have made major strides in the predominately male field. But 20 minutes spent watching the evening news and one begins to wonder if mainstream media still operates under the “good-old boys club” pretense.

From FOX to CNN, women are either portrayed as sexy bimbos or serious bitches. Take, for example, FOX News. The network boast an impressive list of female co-anchors and guest commentators — most of which are beautiful and blonde. Apparently, everything, from these women’s skirt-lengths to their hair lengths, makes them unmarketable as hosts.

Of course, there are a few female hosts such as Greta Van Susteren and Rachel Maddow who command their own shows. But notice how these women are marketed: Short hair, masculine attire and zero sex appeal. The message is clear: To be taken seriously, a woman must become a man.

According to the Women’s Media Center, women hold only 3 percent of clout positions in the mainstream media.

In the words of feminist founding mother Gloria Steinem, “Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke.”

The Many Faces of Libertarianism

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights, politics on May 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm
So I just completed the quiz, “What Kind of Libertarian Are You?” at QuizFarm.com. My results were both surprising and enlightening — at least to me.
 
I scored 92 percent “left-libertarian.” According to the quiz, left-libertarians are “more associated with the anti-authoritarian left” and are “more critical of conservatism and corporatism.” Evidently, recent bailouts have put a bad taste in my mouth toward corporate welfare.
 
My second highest score was 75 percent “minarchist.” Curious as to what the term meant, I decided to do a little research.
 
Minarchy, or “minimal statism” is a political philosophy that advocates a system where government acts only to protect the life, liberty or property of an individual. Basically, it sees government as a necessary evil.
 
Minarchy comes closest to describing my political leanings. It is in contrast to anarchy, which argues against any form of a compulsory state.
 
Here are the rest of my results:
  • Anarcho-capitalist: 67%
  • Agorist 67%
  • “Small L” libertarian: 58%
  • Paleo-libertarian: 42%
  • Geo-libertarian: 42%
  • Libertarian socialist: 8%
  • Neo-libertarian 0%

Information Overload? Obama Tells Graduating Class TMI Becoming a ‘Distraction’

In media on May 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Yesterday, President Barack Obama gave a commencement address to Hampton University’s 2010 graduating class. The president urged students to stay “informed and engaged,” saying the American experiment “depended on the participation of its people.”

However, before bemoaning apathy and ignorance, Obama ironically bemoaned information itself, telling students they are coming of age in a “24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments.”

This 24/7 environment coupled with the explosion of technology is making information a distraction rather than a means of empowerment, according to the president.

“So all of this is not only putting pressure on you, it’s putting new pressure on our country and our democracy,” he said.

Basically, Obama is suggesting Americans today are suffering from information overload.

The idea of information overload is nothing new. In 1755, French philosopher and contributor to the Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot, wrote about the explosion of information and its negative effects on the population:

“As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe.”

If only Diderot was here to witness the internet.

However, more than 250 years later, human history has been proven the French philosopher wrong.

There exists today more information and greater access to that information than ever before. But contrary to Diderot’s prediction, human beings and societies have adapted to the ever increasing onslaught and access to data. We, as a species, have evolved.

As writer for the Social Computing Journal Stowe Boyd points out in his article “The False Question Of Attention Economics, the idea of information overload is a false one:

“The human mind is exceptionally plastic, especially when young people are exposed to media and symbolic information systems at an early age.”

As technology and access to data continue to increase, so too, will information critics such as the president. However, what these critics fail acknowledge is the power of the human mind to collect, sort and store information deemed relevant.

To be sure, the human mind cannot absorb and store a limitless amount of information. But in a day an age where technology is exploding, let us remember that knowledge is power and push the human mind to its limits.

Meet Miranda: ‘You Have the Right to …’

In liberty and rights on May 10, 2010 at 12:20 am

 

There has been much to do lately about so-called “Miranda rights.” Specifically,  when they should be read and who should be read them. 

The truth is, there are no such thing as Miranda rights. There is the Miranda warning as established by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona.  

Miranda, once read, does not magically entitle a suspect with rights as in “the right to remain silent” and the “right to an attorney.” Rather, it simply recognizes privileges already established in the U.S. Constitution — specifically the Fifth and Sixth Amendments which guarantee suspects “the Assistance of Counsel” and from being “Compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” 

Actually, the purpose of the Miranda ruling wasn’t to protect suspects at all: it was to protect evidence obtained by law enforcement so that it may be admissible in court. Chief Justice Warren, delivering the opinion of the Court, said: 

“More specifically, we deal with the admissibility of statements obtained from an individual who is subjected to custodial police interrogation and the necessity for procedures which assure that the individual is accorded his privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution not to be compelled to incriminate himself.” 

Miranda also provides a “public safety” exception where officers may question a suspect without first obtaining a waiver if they believe a person to have “information that could help save a life, prevent serious injury, or neutralize a substantial threat to property.” This exception was recently employed by officers interrogating New York car bomber, Faisal Shahzad.  

But Miranda doesn’t apply only to U.S. citizens. All arrested persons, before being interrogated, are read the Miranda warning. The Supreme Court ruled that “persons suspected or accused of a crime” should be read the safeguard. Likewise, the Constitution refers to “any person” and “the accused.” In some states, suspects who are not citizens are read additional warnings such as “If you are not a United States citizen, you may contact your country’s consulate prior to any questioning.”  

Chief Justice Warren explained the Court’s conclusion: 

“Today, then, there can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves.  

We have concluded that without proper safeguards the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual’s will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely.” 

So when we’re talking about reading terror suspects their “rights,” it’s important to remember that these aren’t actually rights, but warnings to protect officers and, most importantly, evidence obtained. Miranda is merely a safeguard put in place to ensure the rule of law and promote justice.

‘Rights Aren’t Rights if Someone Can Take Them Away’

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights, politics, rights on May 7, 2010 at 1:25 am

Who says Congress is can’t come together for the common good?

Yesterday, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) and Congressmen Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) introduced the Terrorist Expatriation Act.

It should be renamed the American Citizen Expatriation Act.

The bill aims to strip Americans of their citizenship if suspected of affiliating with a foreign terrorist organization and are apprehended abroad. It would amend the 1940s bill, 8 USC 1481, which gives the federal government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship if they choose to fight for a foreign military force. So far, the White House appears to not support the bill.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the bill’s main architect, wants to expand 8 USC 1481.

“Because it just seems to me if you basically declare yourself to be an enemy of the United States you’re no longer entitled to the rights of citizenship,” he said.

While civil liberties groups are rightfully crying “unconstitutional” and pointing to the bill’s disregard for due process, Lieberman’s remarks reveal a more serious, and dangerous, assumption: That the rights of Americans are dependent on their status as citizens and therefore, may be taken away.

Deceased controversial comedian George Carlin is rolling over in his grave:

“Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away, they’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country is a bill of temporary privileges.”

But the U.S. Constitution wasn’t meant to protect “temporary privileges” — it was meant to recognize already existing human rights. Having these rights declared in the first ten amendments of a document doesn’t make them valid.

Actually, the Bill of Rights doesn’t even bother differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Like the freedoms of expression and religious conviction, justice is not some privilege to be revoked. It is an inherent right — one that suspected terrorists own.

Reason for War: Is Iran Violating the NPT?

In foreign policy, war and peace on May 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Has Iran violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? That depends on who you ask.

Yesterday, at the opening session of the May 3-28 conference in New York meant to review the NPT, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested Iran has violated its international obligations.

“Iran has defied the UN Security Council … and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy,” Clinton said. “Potential violators must know that they will pay a high price if they break the rules.”

However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again denied his country has nuclear ambitions. Instead, he berated the U.S. for its possession and use of nuclear weapons.

“The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride; it is disgusting and rather shameful.” Ahmadinejad said in a speech on the conference’s opening day.

Iran is often accused of violating section 3 of the NPT which reads in part:

“Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

The key phrase is “accept safeguards” as determined by the IAEA. Article XII of the IAEA Statute outlines these safeguards which include “To examine the design of specialized equipment and facilities” and “To call for and receive progress reports.”

The fact is, Iran has allowed AIEA inspectors in the country since the early 90s and continues to do so. However, it has sometimes not reported otherwise legal activity until after it has been discovered. Iran’s has failed to meet its “obligations” not by violating the NPT, but by failing to report. The IAEA has consistently reported Iran’s activity as peaceful. 

Rhetoric against Iran by the international community is gaining momentum. The accusations are not dissimilar to those that were used against Iraq and made to justify a U.S. invasion. While nations such as Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel posses nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the NPT, the international community is concerned with Iran: a basically compliant signatory who has yet to be proven in pursuit of nuclear energy for non-peaceful purposes. 

Additional Sources:

IAEA Says No New Concerns Regarding Iran Inspections, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty

NPT 101: Is Iran violating the nuclear treaty? The Christian Science Monitor

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, IAEA

Iran did NOT violate the NPT, Iran Affairs: Iranian foreign policy and international affairs

Fact Sheet: Violations of U.N. Sanctions and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, The Israel Project

HB 1070: Profiling Implied

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 2:48 am

On Thursday, Republican Sen. Gary Nodler met with Missouri Southern students to talk politics. During the question and answer period, one woman asked Nodler his opinion on the Arizona immigration bill.

Twenty-three year old student Echo Essary brought up the issue of discrimination. However, Nodler dismissed the idea that the law advocates “racial profiling.”

But does Arizona HB 1070 indeed promote prejudice law enforcement?

Here are the more controversial exerts from the bill:

FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON.

A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, WITHOUT A WARRANT, MAY ARREST A PERSON IF THE OFFICER HAS PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PERSON HAS COMMITTED ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE THAT MAKES THE PERSON REMOVABLE FROM THE UNITED STATES.

It should be noted that HB 1070 was amended on Friday in an attempt to make the bill constitutionally correct. The amending legislation, HB 2162, changed the phrase “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest.”

However, HB 2162 only clarifies what constitutes legal contact. A “stop” can be legal — all that is needed is probable cause. As every person residing legally in the United States knows, probable cause can be anything from mud on your license plate to jaywalking.

So the problem has not been put to rest. The real controversy is that surrounding the phrase “REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN.” Arizona lawmakers have yet to clearly define what exactly would make a person suspect of being an “alien.”

So a person is lawfully stopped with probable cause present. What then suggests to the officer(s) the person is undocumented?

What Nodler and others refuse to recognize is that the Arizona law makes racial profiling nearly unavoidable. Both the plight and reaction of Arizonans is understandable. But let us be honest about the consequences their new legislation.