Friday, June 28, 2013

In America, the Rules of Empire Trump the Principles of Democracy

Once again the US procedural republic adds another padlock to the door that would lead the nation onward on the road to democracy.  As has been the case over the last few years, it is the US Supreme Court that has decided to enact the rules of empire at the expense of democratic values. 

This time around, the Court’s decision to render unconstitutional the section of the Voting Rights Act that demands states with a history of discrimination against minority voting rights to submit their plans for changing voting practices, most notably electoral boundaries, for preclearance flies not only in the face of Congress that has voted to extend the Act four times over the last forty years, but also the disturbing results from last year’s congressional elections.

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In defending the controversial decision, Chief Justice, John Roberts reasoned that the country has changed and that “Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
Could Justice Roberts possibly be referring to the Congress put into place by the Great Gerrymander of 2012, where the Democrats received more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin?

Without question, gerrymandering is a major form of disenfranchisement.  For example, in the seven states where Republicans redrew the voting districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats.  This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats, which accounts for the reversal of electoral outcome for the general election, the House majority for the Republicans, and the gridlock in Washington.

Effectively, the Supreme Court decision has effectively made a bad situation worse, but this should not come as a surprize.  The Robert’s Court is also responsible for the infamous Bush v. Gore decision that stayed a judicial recount of the votes cast in Florida, thereby allowing George Bush to steal the election in which he had less of the popular vote and most probably fewer votes from the electoral college – an inconvenient truth that needed to be suppressed by all means.
This is the same Court that also rendered limits on the amounts of money that corporations could spend during elections to be unconstitutional in the equally infamous, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  Remarkably, the Roberts led court found that spending limits to be an infringement on the right of corporations to engage in free speech, (how corporations ever acquired this right, normally  limited to humans, speaks volumes about the political nature of the US Supreme Court ) turning what should be an exercise in democracy into a jaded fundraising and marketing campaign.

Taken together, these three seminal decisions smack of empire because, when stripped to its essence, empire is nothing more than the political embodiment of unchecked greed, and if there is one thing that can reign in the insatiable appetite for wealth, it is the collective will of the majority of Americans; hence the need to undermine democratic outcomes, especially electoral results.

Presently, the greatest threat to America’s corporate plutocracy is the demographic change occurring in the population at large.  In short, the growth in the number of Blacks and Hispanics in the US is rising, while the number whites relative to the population at large is shrinking.  This does not bode well for the Republicans since Blacks and Hispanics overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.  In fact, this demographic shift makes it more and more difficult to elect a Republican candidate to the presidency. 

As a result, in order to prevent a reversal of the flow of wealth extraction in the United States – wealth flowing from the poor to the rich changing direction so that money flows from the rich to the poor – the best that the Republicans can hope for is to control the House of Representatives.  Combined, the Shelby County v. Holder (Voting Rights Act) and the Citizens United decisions increase the capacity of America’s top 1% to do so and to consequently forestall democratic rule in the US from occurring anytime soon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Brian Gibb (313-500? ppm)

We live by numbers and some more important than others.  Some don’t change often so we keep them in our head: age, date of birth, height, weight, phone number, address, various PINs, salary, and our own social insurance number.  Others vary on a daily basis so we check them regularly like temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed, which are useful to know before setting out from the house in the morning.  Others are fairly abstract: stock market indexes, interest and exchange rates, commodity prices, levels of unemployment, and the latest polling results, which upon hearing may or may not tell us something that we want to know.

Yet, there is one number that everyone should keep in mind – the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.  This is the one number that above all others tells us what life is going to be like on the planet.

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Years from now, when people look at the title of this blog, they’ll be able to deduce that I was born shortly after researchers started to record CO2 readings at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.  The second number is a guestimate of the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere when I die.  Looking at these two numbers, people will have a fairly good idea of what the climate was like during my life and the nature of the climate change I experienced.

They will also know that I lived most of my life during the Age of Stupid, the period of time when despite the warnings from the scientific community, people were hell bent on pumping as much CO2 into the atmosphere as they could by burning as much fossil fuel as they could.

Finally, they will conclude that I lived long enough to see the beginning of the Age of Remorse, the period of time when people realized the error of their ways, but which came too late because the conditions leading to the Great Die Off had been irrevocably set into place.