Matthew Hoh and the Dark Side

Matthew Hoh’s self-reflection on PTSD is brutally honest and insightful, especially coming from someone who has everything going for him – smart, articulate, personable. He talks about a moral dissonance that ex-soldiers suffer from when what they did or failed to do doesn’t match who they thought they were, and they have to live with that knowledge:

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Will Republicans Go the Way of the Federalists?

Ten Years After Iraq War, Neo-Cons Struggle to Hold Republicans

By Jim Lobe, March 19, 2013

Originally published in Inter Press Service

Ten years after reaching the height of their influence with the invasion of Iraq, the neo-conservatives and other right-wing hawks are fighting hard to retain their control of the Republican Party.

That fight was on vivid display last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) here where, as the New York Times observed in a front-page article, the party appeared increasingly split between the aggressively interventionist wing that led the march to war a decade ago and a libertarian-realist coalition that is highly sceptical of, if not strongly opposed to, any more military adventures abroad.

The libertarian component, which appears ascendant at the moment, is identified most closely with the so-called Tea Party, particularly Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, whose extraordinary 13-hour “filibuster” against the hypothetical use of drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. territory on the Senate floor last week made him an overnight rock star on the left as well as the right.

Republican unity was not helped by the hostile reaction to Paul’s performance by Sen. John McCain, and his long-time ally, Sen. Lindsay Graham, whose national security views tilt strongly neo-conservative and who are treated by most mainstream media as the party’s two most important foreign policy spokesmen.

McCain dismissed Paul and his admirers as “wacko birds on the right and left that get the media megaphone” and charged that Republican senators who joined Paul – among them, the Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell – during his oratorical marathon should “know better”.

Read more at Foreign Policy in Focus

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The River That Is a Person

Written by Stephen Messenger

From the dawn of history, and in cultures throughout the world, humans have been prone to imbue Earth’s life-giving rivers with qualities of life itself — a fitting tribute, no doubt, to the wellsprings upon which our past (and present) civilizations so heavily rely. But while modern thought has come to regard these essential waterways more clinically over the centuries, that might all be changing once again.

Meet the Whanganui. You might call it a river, but in the eyes of the law, it has the standings of a person.

In a landmark case for the Rights of Nature, officials in New Zealand recently granted the Whanganui, the nation’s third-longest river, with legal personhood “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests”. The decision follows a long court battle for the river’s personhood initiated by the Whanganui River iwi, an indigenous community with strong cultural ties to the waterway.

Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.

“Today’s agreement which recognises the status of the river as Te Awa Tupua (an integrated, living whole) and the inextricable relationship of iwi with the river is a major step towards the resolution of the historical grievances of Whanganui iwi and is important nationally,” says New Zealand’s Minister for Treaty for Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson.

“Whanganui Iwi also recognise the value others place on the river and wanted to ensure that all stakeholders and the river community as a whole are actively engaged in developing the long-term future of the river and ensuring its wellbeing,” says Finlayson.

Although this is likely the first time a single river has been granted such a distinction under the law, chances are it’s not the last. In 2008, Ecuador passed similar ruling giving its forests, lakes, and waterways rights on par with humans in order to ensure their protection from harmful practices.

And, while it may seem an odd extension of rights, in many ways it harkens back to a time when mankind’s fate was more readily acknowledged as being intertwined with that of the rivers, lakes, and streams that sustained us — a time in which our purer instincts towards preserving nature needn’t be dictated by legislation.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.

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Crowdsourcing a Constitution

Crowds and constitutions
Thorvaldur Gylfason
13 October 2011

Iceland’s economic meltdown has led to a change in its constitution. This column, by one of the 25 people elected to draft the new document, documents the journey.

. . .

The constitutional assembly/council (CAC) assembled by the people and parliament to revise Iceland’s constitution decided to do things differently. The CAC decided to invite the people of Iceland to participate in the drafting of a new constitutional bill on the internet, an arrangement that has attracted considerable interest in foreign media.

1 This decision proved advantageous and trouble-free. It was known that ordinary people from all walks of life were interested in – or even passionate about –seeing the constitution revised. Otherwise, 522 people would hardly have run for the 25 seats in the constitutional assembly.

2 The election campaign, if campaign is the right word, was exceptionally civilised, and quite different from parliamentary campaigns. Hardly any advertising took place nor did any significant amounts of money change hands; in fact, most of the candidates did little or nothing to promote their candidacy apart from posting articles or blogs on the internet. The media, including state television and radio, did little to inform the electorate. The political parties did not field candidates, perhaps in part because the main opposition parties were firmly against the project from the start. Interest organisations did not field or openly support any candidates.

Read more.

A history of the process can be found here.

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Iceland Proposes a New Constitution

Our different origins enrich the whole, and together we are responsible for the heritage of the generations, the land and history, nature, language and culture. Iceland is a free and sovereign state, resting on the cornerstones of freedom, equality, democracy and human rights. The government shall work for the welfare of the inhabitants of the country, strengthen their culture and respect the diversity of human life, the land and the biosphere. We wish to promote peace, security, well-being and happiness among ourselves and future generations. We resolve to work with other nations in the interests of peace and respect for the Earth and all Mankind.
In this light we are adopting a new Constitution, the supreme law of the land, to be observed by all.

Read more.

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Glenn Greenwald’s Not-an-Endorsement of Ron Paul

In the first part of this Salon article, Glenn Greenwald states, “I’m about to discuss the candidacies of Barack Obama and Ron Paul, and no matter how many times I say that I am not “endorsing” or expressing support for anyone’s candidacy, the simple-minded Manicheans and the lying partisan enforcers will claim the opposite.” A Google search shows this to have played out, calling him duplicitous and a libertarian. But perhaps anyone who simply states the facts is going to be accused of being a RP supporter, no matter how they protest, because the facts support RP. The original article is dense with links that don’t show up here, so I recommend reading it here.:

“Whatever else one wants to say, it is indisputably true that Ron Paul is the only political figure with any sort of a national platform — certainly the only major presidential candidate in either party — who advocates policy views on issues that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial. The converse is equally true: the candidate supported by liberals and progressives and for whom most will vote — Barack Obama — advocates views on these issues (indeed, has taken action on these issues) that liberals and progressives have long claimed to find repellent, even evil.

“As Matt Stoller argued in a genuinely brilliant essay on the history of progressivism and the Democratic Party which I cannot recommend highly enough: “the anger [Paul] inspires comes not from his positions, but from the tensions that modern American liberals bear within their own worldview.” Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception.

“The thing I loathe most about election season is reflected in the central fallacy that drives progressive discussion the minute “Ron Paul” is mentioned. As soon as his candidacy is discussed, progressives will reflexively point to a slew of positions he holds that are anathema to liberalism and odious in their own right and then say: how can you support someone who holds this awful, destructive position? The premise here — the game that’s being played — is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.

“The fallacy in this reasoning is glaring. The candidate supported by progressives — President Obama — himself holds heinous views on a slew of critical issues and himself has done heinous things with the power he has been vested. He has slaughtered civilians — Muslim children by the dozens — not once or twice, but continuously in numerous nations with drones, cluster bombs and other forms of attack. He has sought to overturn a global ban on cluster bombs. He has institutionalized the power of Presidents — in secret and with no checks — to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA, far from any battlefield. He has waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, the protection of which was once a liberal shibboleth. He rendered permanently irrelevant the War Powers Resolution, a crown jewel in the list of post-Vietnam liberal accomplishments, and thus enshrined the power of Presidents to wage war even in the face of a Congressional vote against it. His obsession with secrecy is so extreme that it has become darkly laughable in its manifestations, and he even worked to amend the Freedom of Information Act (another crown jewel of liberal legislative successes) when compliance became inconvenient.

“He has entrenched for a generation the once-reviled, once-radical Bush/Cheney Terrorism powers of indefinite detention, military commissions, and the state secret privilege as a weapon to immunize political leaders from the rule of law. He has shielded Bush era criminals from every last form of accountability. He has vigorously prosecuted the cruel and supremely racist War on Drugs, including those parts he vowed during the campaign to relinquish — a war which devastates minority communities and encages and converts into felons huge numbers of minority youth for no good reason. He has empowered thieving bankers through the Wall Street bailout, Fed secrecy, efforts to shield mortgage defrauders from prosecution, and the appointment of an endless roster of former Goldman, Sachs executives and lobbyists. He’s brought the nation to a full-on Cold War and a covert hot war with Iran, on the brink of far greater hostilities. He has made the U.S. as subservient as ever to the destructive agenda of the right-wing Israeli government. His support for some of the Arab world’s most repressive regimes is as strong as ever.

“Most of all, America’s National Security State, its Surveillance State, and its posture of endless war is more robust than ever before. The nation suffers from what National Journal‘s Michael Hirsh just christened “Obama’s Romance with the CIA.” He has created what The Washington Post just dubbed “a vast drone/killing operation,” all behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy and without a shred of oversight. Obama’s steadfast devotion to what Dana Priest and William Arkin called “Top Secret America” has severe domestic repercussions as well, building up vast debt and deficits in the name of militarism that create the pretext for the “austerity” measures which the Washington class (including Obama) is plotting to impose on America’s middle and lower classes.”

Read the full article here

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The notions of citizenship, liberty, and equality of political rights, as well as popular sovereignty, were closely interrelated. The most essential feature of citizenship was one’s origin and heritage: Pericles was the ‘son of Xanthippus from the deme of Cholargus’. From 451 BCE, one had to be born of an Athenian mother and father in order to become a citizen. Defined by his belonging, the citizen (polites) was opposed to the idiotes, or non-citizen—a designation that quickly took on a pejorative meaning (from the notion of the isolated individual with no belonging came the idea of the ‘idiot’). Citizenship as a function thus derived from the notion of citizenship a status which was the exclusive prerogative of birth. To be a citizen meant, in the fullest sense of the word, to belong to a homeland – that is, to a homeland and a past.

- Excerpt from: The Problem of Democracy, by Alain de Benoist

Read more from Alain de Benoist at FolkAdvance.org...

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If the World Could Vote


Newt Gingrich 1.32% (96 votes)
Jon Huntsman 1.5% (109 votes)
Ron Paul 92.71% (6745 votes)
Rick Perry 0.51% (37 votes)
Mitt Romney 2.27% (165 votes)
Rick Santorum 1.69% (123 votes)

Which Republican candidate would you vote for?

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