Tag Archives: r. tamara de silva

Defining Weapons of Mass Destruction and War in Syria

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The calls to war over Syria grow more insistent.  Many of the usual suspects who are convinced it is better to destabilize entire regimes and regions than “lead from behind,” are joining the voices of human rights groups appalled by Syrian President Bashir Al-Assad’s brutal attempts to tamp down the various rebel forces.  An analysis of Syria should leave aside the budget busting $6 trillion dollars we will have spent on Iraq because as has become clear, money is not considered an issue when it comes to grand ideological battles, however existentially or tenuously  related to our own national interests.  Senator Lindsay Graham persists in calling for boots on the ground in Syria.  Sen. McCain does not want boots on the ground but demands the United States enforce a no-fly zone to help the Syrian rebels lest Syria becomes a failed state.  Calls for war in Syria ignore the almost overwhelming odds that what we seek to achieve, may simply not be achievable, and a voluntary war fought at any cost may be a greater threat to our actual national interest than any existential or philosophical ones.

A Case Against CISPA and for the Internet

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Chicago April 18, 2013 – The story to come out of Boston is still in flux, and we are only now putting together the pieces of what happened in the aftermath of that terrible event. It will take much longer to piece together what preceded it. But we now know that within several hours of the attack, law enforcement had named a “person of interest” (an amorphous word that allows media and law enforcement alike to get around calling someone a “suspect” when there is a dearth of evidence against him): a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student who was here on a student visa. Lest anyone think he was merely profiled for being Saudi Arabian, he was behaving suspiciously, according to witnesses: when the bomb went off, he ran away from it. It did not take long to clear him of any wrongdoing. But first, law enforcement had to ransack his apartment in Revere, Mass., and interrogate his roommate for several hours.

Within 48 hours of the Boston Marathon bombing, two other communities of laymen were conducting their own investigations. The first, Reddit.com, produced 14 threads (each with thousands of comments) over the course of two days. Many of those threads were dedicated to disseminating information about the bombing, and about relief efforts. But some of the comments were directed towards aggregating information, any information, that would become useful in identifying the perpetrator. Soon, the site was inundated with videos and photographs of the scene in the lead-up to the bombing, and in the moments thereafter. When law enforcement revealed that the bomb was likely transported in a black backpack, with silver reflective strips, the pictures were combed for information, in a project dubbed “Where’s Waldo?” by reddit moderators.

Rand Paul at Howard University

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“Some argue with evidence that our drug laws are biased-that they are the new Jim Crow.

But to simply be against them for that reason misses a larger point. They are unfair to EVERYONE, largely because of the one size fits all federal mandatory sentences. Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy-handed and arbitrary. They can affect anyone at any time, though they disproportionately affect those without the means to fight them. We should stand and loudly proclaim enough is enough. We should not have laws that ruin the lives of young men and women who have committed no violence. That’s why I have introduced a bill to repeal federal mandatory minimum sentences. We should not have drug laws or a court system that disproportionately punishes the black community.”  Senator Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul spoke at the predominantly black Howard University. This is not exactly like Marco Polo discovering China yet in terms of naked symbolism it was significant. Senator Paul’s actions in going to Howard are most significant considering that Senator Paul is a Republican, but less so given the Senator’s brand of libertarian inspired conservatism. In point of fact, there is more in common between liberals, civil libertarians and libertarians than between either of these groups and some elements in the current GOP. The liberty movement can and should embrace civil libertarianism and parts of liberalism because if it does so, it has a much broader demographic appeal than it may yet realize. It is possible to have libertarian tendencies and embrace the civil rights acts because they are an important arena in which the federal government protects the civil liberties of all Americans.

The GOP’s Theoconservatism Problem

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“The impact of the sound bite mentality which you find in both parties…is there’s been a debasing of the system. Because if you listen to these — I call them the Stepford candidates — on both sides in these debates the only two candidates that speak clearly are the ones they call the kooks.” Victor Gold to Bill Moyer in 2007 interview

 The GOP needs a dose of libertarianism and much less social conservatism if it can ever  honestly claim to be conservative again. Victor Gold, who served as Press Secretary to Barry Goldwater and speechwriter for Reagan and Bush 41, wrote a book entitled, Invasion of the Body Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP. Victor Gold understood a problem for the GOP that would make proclamations of limited government and fiscal responsibility hypocritical and at odds with the desires of its social conservatives. Gold’s diagnosis is prescient; as the GOP has gone on to lose two more Presidential elections since the publication of Invasion of the Party Snatchers in 2007. His book remains a better diagnosis of why the GOP lost 4 of the last 6 Presidential elections and may continue to do so than Reince Priebus’ $10 million “autopsy” written in platitudinous consultancy speak.

GOP’s Neoconservative Problem

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Chicago, March 28, 2013 - One week after the ten-year anniversary of the Iraq War and twelve years into Afghanistan, neoconservatism yet remains the dominant foreign policy influence within the GOP.  With its embrace of big government and unlimited spending on interventionism, neoconservatism has to a substantial degree, taken the GOP away from the Republican Party’s roots in conservatism and back towards its own Trotskyite utopianism. It remains to be seen whether there is anything other than the public’s aversion to more foreign policy quagmires, budget busting debt, or defeat in national elections that will make the GOP self-correct its foreign policy.

Neoconservatism is a loosely defined ideology, which in its most consistently expressed terms as it relates to foreign policy holds that democracy should be spread to all parts of the world and that doing so will result in peace. It advocates global military intervention and unilateralism over diplomacy and statecraft. The theory being that western democratic and capitalist states are peaceable. This works when you think of Canada or Australia, but from a longer historical perspective, this belief is unsupported by any depth of historical evidence. Historical proof is not necessary however as the enthusiasm for ideologies are rooted in faith - in the case of Neoconservatism, it is a belief that commitment to world-wide revolutionary change that will bring peace, can only be achieved by the spreading of that democracy to all nations even if by global intervention. This is precisely what the Communists tried to achieve in spreading Communism across the globe until they were fiscally exhausted and ideologically isolated. They shared the same belief in a revolutionary ideology.

 

The GOP’s Small Government Problem at CPAC and Beyond

Photo Illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Chicago, March 14, 2013- Senator Paul’s speech before CPAC was a call to reason and conservatism to the Republican Party. The future of conservatism does not have to be aligned with the GOP and were it to ignore Senator Paul’s admonishments and listen to the other speakers who may like Senator Rubio, invite the Republican Party, which has lost four of the six last Presidential elections, to feel proud of itself, it stands to lose the next Presidential election as well. Repeating the same statements in an echo chamber is not a winning strategy-Senator Paul is right to call for a re-assessment. One place to start is the oft-repeated if mythical notion that the GOP wants or stands for smaller government.

GOP candidates talk about being distinguishable from the Democratic Party because they prefer small government. The facts do not bear this out to be true. Take for example, Paul Ryan’s budget. During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Paul Ryan and Governor Romney asked for an additional $2 trillion for defense spending, on top of the increases in defense spending that already existed, but refused to say where the $2 trillion extra would go. A lot of Ryan’s cuts were in toto relatively speaking – small, but they disproportionately benefited corporate interests and wealthier Americans. This presents an optics problem not necessarily erased by the mantra of the rich being job creators, others takers and lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans leading to economic prosperity-the latter a subject onto itself and deservedly outside the scope of this post.

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