Saturday, November 28, 2015

Closing Doors: Why Russian Travel Restrictions May Signal a Return to Soviet Days

by Nomad

By the use of tighter travel restrictions and fear tactics, The Russian government may have a few very good reasons for trying to spoil its citizens' vacations abroad.  

The Freedom of Movement
St. Augustine once said:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
The liberating effects of leaving your native land and seeing how others live -if only for a short time- are well-known.
The freedom of movement is, in fact, a human right, recognized in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This right to travel covers not only inside one's own country but to other countries. Furthermore, the right pertains not just to visiting and holiday-making but, if desired, the right to change one's residence permanently.
The provision in the UDHR states:
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
  • Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
In that respect, internal borders should be as limited as possible and external borders should act as a regulator of the flow but not a block.
Like a lot of things in the UDHR, there are quite a few limitations to the real-life applications.  It's is, indeed, hard to imagine how this freedom of movement could be applied strictly or even in a practical way.

Immigration and emigration will always be considered a part of national sovereignty. There will always be zones in every country where people cannot travel. There will always be costs imposed that in themselves limit this freedom.
Moreover, persons charged with or convicted of crimes are  denied this right.

With so many exceptions, you might even wonder about the wisdom of including such a right in the first place. Why was this article deemed necessary you might ask?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by Nomad

Somebody on Facebook pointed out this touch of irony. But it goes even a little further than even this.  Thanksgiving is a holiday about being helped as refugees and giving thanks to God for that blessing." 

The same people who last week absolutely refused to accept refugees from war-torn Syria are now preparing to dine on their Thanksgiving dinner right now and feel no sense of hypocrisy at all.

Monday, November 23, 2015

GOP Congressman's Defense of the First Amendment and Religious Liberty Outrages Conservatives

by Nomad

One Republican Congressman was given a stern dressing down for a letter he sent to a constituent regarding fears of a Muslim takeover. Apparently, upholding the First Amendment and the Constitution's defense of religious liberty makes some conservatives livid.

Earlier this month, a widely-read conservative website, RedState, posted an article expressing outrage about a letter sent to a constituent by Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger from Illinois. As per the Tea Party echo chamber, this article was re-posted ad nauseam.
The original letter sent to Kinzinger's office was related to the fears of the supposed spread of Muslim Sharia Law in his district.
To this, Kinzinger gave a polite and well-considered reply. That did not sit well with the conservatives. At all. 
Kinzinger’s email response begins by acknowledging that many people inside and outside of the expansive 16th congressional district have concerns about Sharia Law, but then took things a bridge too far by stating that Sharia Law was protected under the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment and that it was his sworn duty as an elected member of Congress to defend the Constitution and by extension Islamic Sharia Law.
First elected to Congress in 2010, Kinzinger was re-elected to Congress in both 2012 and 2014 to represent Illinois's 16th congressional district. He is also a United States Air Force vet and flew missions in South America, Guam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. With a military record like that, Kinzinger's loyalty to his nation and all that it stands for is something few would dare to question.
The writer of the RedState piece, Ulysses Arn, said that the reply made Kinzinger, the spokesperson for the House GOP establishment on all things related to the military and foreign policy "look like a fool."
Even for a conservative, that's a pretty disrespectful thing to say to a veteran who risked his life fighting Islamic extremists.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Night Nazis Fought on the Streets of New York City

by Nomad

The United States has had its share of fascist groups that have come and gone. One of those was the American Nazi Party, the Bund Party. Here's the story of its 1939 rally and how it led to its collapse. 

On The night of 20 February 1939, something occurred that became an interesting footnote in American history. Today it is mostly a forgotten bit of the history of New York City. And for many, it could be a period they would rather not recall.

That evening, Madison Square Garden was the venue for the American- German Bund party Washington's Day celebration, hosted by American-German Bund party. 
You may not be familiar with the Bund party, it was better known as the American Nazi party. 
Advertised as a "Pro-American Rally" it was attended by somewhere between 17,000 and 22,000. It was one of the largest gatherings of American Nazis of its time.

From the photographs of the event, there were the usual Nazi rally fixtures, flags, the swastikas, and uniforms. In order to establish its brand as true blue American, a forty-foot portrait of George Washington graced the stage. That was more than just window dressing. The organization had declared that Washington was "the first Fascist" who did not believe democracy would work. 

The meeting opened with a salute to the flag and the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." (It was to end with the Nazi anthem, however.)

Race to the Bottom: Trump's Minimum Wage Cuts and the Competitive Hoax

by Nomad

Ever imagine a day would come in America when a candidate for president would tell voters that the lowest wage was too good for them. The moment came in the last Republican debate.

At the last Republican debates, we heard GOP candidate Donald Trump trying to explain why he was against an increase in the minimum wage. Trump told the audience that that wages are “too high” in the United States. 
A lot of audacious things come out of the mouth of The Donald, but, coming from a one of the wealthiest candidates in US history, this remark had to be the hardest to hear for people making the lowest wage in the country.

Trump's Tactical Blunder
In response to a question about the New York decision to raise the minimum wage for certain workers to $15 an hour, he said
“Taxes too high, wages too high. We’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”
Cutting wages may have been something Republicans often implied but never dared to say outright. For good reason. For a lot working men and women, a remark like that puts you smack dab in the category of the oligarchical class.
The following day, Trump remained adamant in his declaration and insisted he had nothing to retract.

Almost immediately Trump's foes- a group not limited to the left- jumped on the remark, calling it a colossal blunder. Not in terms of  economic policy. If it were left to conservatives, wages would decrease, and there are probably plenty of CEOs out there who dream of wages dropped to zero. 

After all, nobody seemed to mind the fact that for most workers, wages have remained stagnant for the last two decades. Everything else, like food and housing costs, retail prices and medical costs, all these have soared.

So, few commentators on the Right considered Trump actually be wrong but only that his remark was a tactical misstep. You can think it, you can hint at it, and you can camouflage it with trickle-down redux but if you want to get elected, you sure as hell shouldn't say it. 

It showed, his critics said, a lack of understanding of where his core support originates. The angry working class.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Malcolm X on Listening to the Media

by Nomad

Closing Mosques: Trump Exposes The Right Wing's Hypocrisy on Religious Liberty

by Nomad

Well, I suppose we ought to be thankful to Donald Trump. Whether it's intentional or not, nobody has done more to expose the abject hypocrisy of so many of the position of the Republican Party than The Donald. 
The tragi-comedic aspect of it all is how so few conservatives actually notice it when the hypocrisy is on full display.

As we all witnessed with the Paris attacks, there is no tragedy too horrific that Republican wouldn't dare to make political use of. While this habit might offend and shock our allies around the world, Americans have become unshockable and somewhat desensitized to it. The rest of the world might call it "shameless" but jaded Americans now just say, "what else is new?"

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, an opportunist to the core, is certainly no exception. Take the outrageous remark he made  the other day about closing mosques. In order to stop radical Islam, the US government may be forced to close mosques.
He wasn't specific whether he meant particular mosques or all mosques. (A statement like that really demands clarification too.)

In an interview on Fox News  Trump was asked about his earlier statement, Trump refused to back down an inch
"Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice."
It was, he implied, the only effective way to protect America from attacks like the one we saw on Friday which left 130 Parisians dead. 
Hannity did not seem to think there was anything extraordinary in the suggestion.