Momentous Events Give Me Whiplash

Wow, just – WOW.

A person who’s awake is always a witness to history; there are only a few moments when a person realizes how big events can become.  Spent the last few days glued to multiple screens, trying to sort good information from bad, good sources from bad.  It is beyond clear that Al Jazeera needs to come to U.S. distribution outlets.  It can be found online, but it needs to be on cable and satellite.  Al Jazeera covers the world for easily one-third of the world’s population, but is very hard to find in the U.S., which imagines itself as the center of the universe.  It’s not.

Events in Egypt engender a volatile mix of awe and hope and apprehension.  I happened to see Admiral Mike Mullen on The Daily Show.  He discussed the close ties that exist between the U.S. military and the Egyptian military; decades of training, funding and commingling of the officer training corps.  I’m inclined to think that young officers seeing the U.S. up close and living, working and training with young officers here had to have had a large effect on their political thinking.  In retrospect, it was a very smart and fruitful strategy in the hearts and minds war.

No one knows where it goes from here.  It’s not even clear who the players will be.  We have only pledges; at least they’re making good noises.

After observing the good guys winning, I turn to my home.  What’s going on here?  Very substantive piece from Glenn Greenwald here.  His overarching point is that both parties are complicit in the erosion of civil liberties.  He singles out Senator Dianne Feinstein for her support of the Patriot Act: her husband owns part of a corporation (URS Corp. and here) that is winning contracts to ‘combat terrorism’.  He also talks about the remarkable inanity of persons who support only the civil liberties that they like for themselves.  The worm always turns.  And Charles M. Blow, writing for the New York Times has a depressing listing of what the laboratory of the state legislatures is cooking up here.

On another note, Republicans in Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and Oregon are pushing legislation that would require drug testing of welfare recipients.

This despite the fact that, as the American Civil Liberties Union rightly pointed out, the policy is “scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound.” Other states have considered it but deemed it not feasible or impractical. In Michigan, the only state to implement it, only a tenth of those tested had positive results for drugs and only 3 percent had positive results for hard drugs, which the A.C.L.U. points out is “in line with the drug use rates of the general population.”

Most importantly, the Michigan law was struck down as unconstitutional, with the judge ruling that the rationale for testing people on welfare “could be used for testing the parents of all children who received Medicaid, State Emergency Relief, educational grants or loans, public education or any other benefit from that state.”

State legislatures are proposing laws that would restrict same-sex marriage, choice, prisoner’s rights, immigrant’s rights, and even the rights of same-sex couples to draft wills.  This is beyond stupid.  It is reactionary, selfish, and a futile attempt to hold back the tide of human rights.  Put these developments next to the tableau of Egypt.  A person may contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union here.

Lastly, Joe Nocera (also at the New York Times) here illustrates the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon, Wall Street and the big five military contractors: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrup-Grumman and Raytheon.  Post Berlin Wall-Fall, the Clinton administration encouraged a wave of mergers, and then discovered that the concentration of business among these five meant that they had to support these firms.  (HA, HA, HA).  Because if the stock market felt that these companies did not have rosy prospects, these companies could not raise money and could not function well in expanding production and/or research.  Bad news for their only customer.  So now, the Pentagon’s buyers, the big five (and the supporting companies), and the largest investors all get together to figure out what they’re going to do next (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS).  This is mind-blowingly illegal, and yet it appears that someone is protecting it.

Now do you see why I have whiplash?

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