Lyndon Johnson & The Power of the Presidency

In response to Robert Caro and Lyndon Johnson’s other disparagers, Johnson historian Robert Dallek cautions that “we need to see Johnson’s life not as a chance to indulge our sense of moral superiority, but as a way to gain an understanding of many subjects crucial to this country’s past, present, and future.”[1]  Indeed, Dallek is correct in his implication that to view the decisions and the major policy initiatives made by Johnson during his presidency solely as products of a single mind and a single determination is an analytical mistake.  Continue reading

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John Kerry on Iraq

On Sunday U.S. secretary of state John Kerry publicly assured the Shiite government in Iraq led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that the United States will support its war against militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  It has been reported that the ISIS now largely control the major cities of Ramadi and Fallujah located in Anbar Province.  In his comments Kerry made reference to their “barbarism against the civilians in Ramadi and Fallujah”  and asserted that “these are the most dangerous players in that region.”  In the course of putting emphasis on his claim that the administration is not contemplating the return of U.S. troops to Iraq, Kerry said,

“We can’t want peace and we can’t want democracy and we can’t want an orderly government and stability more than the people in a particular area, in a particular country or a particular region,” he said. “This fight, in the end, they will have to win, and I am confident they can.”

Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention the fact that the primary threat to democracy, peace, order, and stability in Iraq ever since the U.S. completed its troop withdrawal in 2011, has been the U.S. backed regime of one Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  By pledging support to this regime, Kerry refuses to acknowledge that this Shiite strongman has been largely responsible for igniting sectarian tensions in Iraq by branding all legitimate Sunni opposition and protests as “terrorism” and instituting vicious crackdowns against dissenters thus creating the environment in which Al-Qaeda could gain the support of certain tribes.  It is because of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s vicious crackdowns and discriminatory policies against the Sunni minority that 2013 saw the highest number of casualties in Iraq since 2008.  Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention that the strategy al-Maliki is currently employing against the ISIS is largely reminiscent of the counterinsurgency strategy which U.S. troops employed in Iraq in 2006; namely to enlist (mainly through bribes) the cooperation of some local tribal leaders in his fight thus further inflaming sectarian tension and laying the groundwork for the tragic mess that Iraq is today.  The Secretary of State neglected to denounce the most recent raid by Iraqi security forces on an encampment of peaceful Sunni protestors in Ramadi.  Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention the fact that the U.S. has never, is not, and will never support democracy in Iraq.  Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention the fact that the U.S. has always supported strongmen in the Middle East as opposed to human rights and the development of strong civil and political institutions and this policy of supporting al-Maliki is just an extension of that commitment.  Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention the fact that guns, tanks, helicopters, fighter jets, and especially drone strikes have never, do not, and will never solve the problem of Al-Qaeda.  Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention the fact that what Iraq needs from the United States is not military aid funneled to a corrupt government intent on destroying all opposition but rather massive reparations directed at the civilian population.  Of course Mr. Kerry neglected to mention the fact that this resurgence of Al-Qaeda and seething sectarian tension in Iraq is the direct result of the invasion and subsequent occupation which he supported.  Of course Mr. Kerry doesn’t mention the fact that President Obama’s expansion and escalation of the Global War on Terror has actually had the opposite of its stated intended effect and that this foray into Iraq will be no different.  And finally, Mr. Kerry doesn’t mention the fact that that anti-terrorism is just a cover for the assertion of American global hegemony in the twenty-first century much like anti-communism was just a cover for the assertion of American global hegemony during the so-called Cold War period.

Works Cited

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/05/us-iraq-idUSBREA0402P20140105

The Motivation And Purpose To Boycott

This commentary is in response to this recently “Freshly Pressed” Post entitled “I May Shop On Thanksgiving.”

I say this respectfully and not with intent to draw ire but just to poke at your logic a bit…the problem is simply “want”. What I mean by that is that we currently live in an economic system in which workers in the jobs you reference are basically compelled to sell their labor to corporations in order to just have the basic means to survival-food, shelter, etc Labor is viewed and treated as a commodity just as a television or an xbox 360. The market is a disciplining force. It is a compelling force. It’s maxim is maximization of profit at whatever cost. And one of those costs is labor. So if every company in these sectors is offering shitty wages for long hours then the fact is workers have no where else to go. If the exploitation existed with just a few companies then those companies would quickly go out of business because no one would want to work under their conditions when they have the freedom to choose better conditions. The problem is there is a monopoly on exploitation in the sectors you reference, and so the conditions are set for the labor market to act as a compelling force. People need to have access to the basic means of survival. This is the reality of wage labor. Continue reading

Blackface And the Irrationality of Rationalization Within Systems of Racial Oppression

This post is my commentary on some of the comments to this post entitled Blackface and Bloodstains which I reblogged at https://ephraimseducation.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/blackface-and-bloodstains/  The original post is located here http://speakfaithfully.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/blackface-and-bloodstains/#comment-1315

No, some white people, you are not, never have been, and never will be victims of Black oppression in this country.
No, some white people, some of you still do not fully understand the nature of the oppressor/ oppressed relationship.  Evidence?  You read James Baldwin, and you feel insulted.  Evidence?  You didn’t really read and think about the implications and assumptions embedded in your comments to this post before writing them  Why don’t you read James Baldwin and actually THINK about what he’s saying?  Why don’t you read James Baldwin and try as hard as you can to put yourself in the shoes of James Baldwin?  Because if you haven’t, you haven’t really read James Baldwin.  Why don’t you read over your comments to this post and really THINK about the implications and assumptions of your comments?  Or perhaps I’ll do it, since there is very little chance you will.

Let’s start with this one.
1) “I don’t normally reply to these articles, but I have to speak up.
Just because an outfit is in poor taste, doesn’t mean that they can’t wear it. Flip the roles if you will. Are you offended when a minority dresses as Hitler? or George Bush? By the rationale you propose “Western-Europeans” should be. Your article is at the very heart is racist and segregationist at the same time. The fact that people feel more comfortable today expressing themselves across cultures and ethnicity is the true statement of their lack of racism and their willingness to express themselves as they see fit.
You have a right to be offended, true. But I still have a right to express myself.
Also, if you look at the actual history of Halloween you will see that it is all about ACTUAL dead people. Get your facts straight please. Stop perpetuating your racism and let human nature and humor live on.” Continue reading

The War On Terror Is A Tool Of Empire Not An Exercise of Security

The NSA does not protect the American people.  The NSA does not help catch terrorists.  The NSA does not stop terrorist attacks.

The NSA does protect the American government from the American people.  The NSA does threaten the freedom and liberty of the American people.  The actions of the NSA do display the ongoing moral degradation of the American government.  The NSA does work to extend and ensure U.S. imperial hegemony across the globe. Continue reading

The Willingness To Express Insecurity

I wrote this after watching Finding Forrester.  I tried to follow William Forrester’s advice, and just write my first draft with my heart.  I don’t think I have ever written over 1,000 words this quickly.  Sorry William, but my head sees no need for a second draft.  That’s what my heart said.

Too often, because of our insecurities, we perceive conflict where there is none.  That is how conflict arises.  Sometimes I wonder, how willing will a stranger be to open up to me.  Why am I so afraid of being turned down?  Am I as afraid of being turned down as I am of turning someone down?  Perhaps not equally afraid, but I am certainly afraid of both dearly.  Continue reading

My Analysis of Dead Poet’s Society

Better late than never.  I blame myself for never watching it before an educational psych class senior year of college.  This was a truly inspiring movie!

There was a clear clash between the traditional and conservative values espoused by Welton Academy as an institution, and the progressive teaching methods of John Keating.  Welton Academy’s ethos of “tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence not only discourages but makes it a crime for a student to exercise a critical political consciousness. Continue reading