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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
How To Be Cool
This is totally unrelated to my usual posts, but its something that I want to mention nonetheless: The Farmer Hat. Those of you at Kenyon know what I'm talking about. Those indie kids with the mesh-backed John Deere hats - the kids from Boston or Chevy Chase, Maryland.
"It's hard to say precisely when the trucker hat made its first appearance in the realm of American indie coolness, or to determine its exact origins. One can only imagine that on a seemingly normal spring day approximately a year ago, an anonymous hipster in some urban mecca of disaffected irony—Austin, Williamsburg, take your pick—raided his grandfather's closet and found a foam hat with a mesh backing. The anonymous hipster then scratched his purposely scruffy chin, and thought, "I bet I can get away with wearing this in public."
That's really what indie is: being able to just barely get away with wearing something stupid in public. How lame.
For the first time in the history of the United States Constitution, an amendment has been proposed that will attempt to codify discrimination into the document that has made the United States the longest continuous democracy in the world. This amendment is an attempt to create second class citizens, keep some Americans a glass ceiling away from their personal liberties and contradict the founding principles of federalism.
Other amendments seek to prevent discrimination and prevent government interference. This one would seek to forever stain our founding document with division and inequity.
The proposed text of the amendment is as such:
"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
I'm no lawyer, but wouldn't the second sentence actually prevent anyone from getting married? This proposed amendment is pure hypocrisy on the part of the right wing of this country that has come to see itself as the bearer of freedom and liberty to the citizens of Iraq. Meanwhile back on the homefront they are actively seeking to limit the rights of certain Americans for illogical reasons that, when challenged, always circle back to "the Bible says so." If that's the standard, why aren't there public stonings and crucifixions?
The United States Constitution is the law of the land. It is a document that was written in such a way so as to prevent discrimination and the limitation of personal liberties. Its authors explicitly did not list the rights American citizens may have, but instead limited the prevention of rights by government. It is unfortunate and wrong that some in America don't respect the document enough to see that, but it is frightening that the President of the United States is one of them.
We now have 50 more Marines in Port-au-Prince, Haiti as a precautionary measure to protect the U.S. Embassy building and its American staff. The country is now split north and south between the rebels and the government. It seems that each day that passes results in the rebels taking control of yet another Haitian city.
So what should we do? When confict erupted in Haiti in 1994 the Clinton administration sent 20,000 troops to restore order, primarily, I think, because Haitian refugees were showing up on Florida beaches and its never good politics to have refugees of any kind floating into Miami. Clearly this time the situation isn't as bad, but it is also apparent that we need to have some sort of response that promotes order and prevents armed conflict.
The problem though, is that we have very few resources with which to commit to the Haitian situation due to our heavy lifting in Iraq. If we had true multilateral support in Iraq we wouldn't be forced to stretch our military to its limit like the Bush administration is doing right now.
"However, one has to wonder just what is on the table in the way of U.S. contingency plans for [Haiti]. This is not 1994 -- we can't load the XVIII Airborne Corps onto planes to back up any sort of diplomatic initiative in Haiti. At most, we could probably muster a MEU to send to Haiti on short notice, or perhaps a piece of a unit that's already redeployed from Iraq. But doing so would have tremendously difficult secondary and tertiary consequences for America's military that's already stretched to its breaking point. Our commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan now constrain our foreign policy to the point that we cannot consider the deployment of troops to a place like Haiti as a viable option -- there just ain't any more to give. Ironically, our commitment in Iraq may now force us to pursue an internationalist policy in Haiti, and to support the deployment of an international police force."
That certainly would be ironic, though it shouldn't be. Cooperation with allies should be a fundamental method of action in international relations. We shouldn't have to be forced into playing nice with others. We should play nice to begin with so we don't have to rely exclusively on the French to solve problems in our backyard. Monroe Doctrine anyone?
At this point we will need to gravel with the U.N. in order to get members to commit to an international peacekeeping force. Is that really the situation Neocons wanted us to be in?