“Patient sufferance”

A few highlights I pulled out from the Declaration of Independence because they jumped out at me on this July 4th:

[…] certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.


In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. […] We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.

Makes you think.


When will White violence be addressed?

Last week, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage in all 50 states in the U.S. legal. Right wing and conservative newspapers, websites and news broadcasting companies referred to this as an attack on Christianity. They fumed at the idea of gay marriage, saying it would ruin good Christian values and negatively influence young children. Yet in the weeks since the Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston, 8 churches and counting have been set on fire, with almost complete media silence. It seems odd that this isn’t also considered an attack on Christianity.

In April, a “riot” broke out in Baltimore after weeks of peaceful protests went unheard. Hours of news footage replayed images of damage to police cars and the burning and looting of a CVS, while news anchors and viewers at home chided those involved. How could those people destroy their own neighborhoods this way ? — was their lament as they ignored the much deeper systemic problems in the city. Yet when 8 churches across the Southern U.S. burned, no one mourns the loss of property.

In Texas, the police were called and harassed teenagers at a pool party because of the perceived threat of their presence. They were accused of general misbehavior and were considered a threat to the other (white) residents there, and a 14-year-old Black girl was slammed to the ground by a police officer. Yet when nine people were murdered during Bible study, their killer was arrested unharmed and treated well.

There’s a very strict yet unspoken code of conduct that Black people have to live by in order to be even considered human and worthy of life in the U.S. That list becomes stricter and stricter with each passing day. It’s inhumane that perceived violence by Black people seems to bother White America more than the actual violence that happens to Black people daily from White people.

Instead of the violence towards us being addressed, we’re told the ways we must act in order for it not to happen. But as the list gets stricter, Black people in the U.S. are still being killed by police, racism, White supremacy and violence at an alarming rate.

FT reports Jordan may invade Syria soon

As Turkey’s civil and military leadership spar over whether or not to invade northern Syria (full story➚) to establish a unilateral buffer zone for refugees, a similar drama is playing out on the other side of the war-torn country within one of the region’s absolute monarchies.

The Financial Times earlier this week broke the story that Jordan is planning to invade southern Syria and take over part of the country by force to assist the rebels, under the guise of a “humanitarian” mission to establish a buffer zone southeast of Golan Heights in the Daraa area next to the Jordanian border.

Click to enlarge: Detailed conflict map of Southern Syria, July 1, 2015, including Daraa. Red = Syrian regime. Green = FSA/Nusra rebels. Blue = Hezbollah. Dark Gray = ISIS. (Adapted by Arsenal For Democracy from Wikimedia)

Click to enlarge: Detailed conflict map of Southern Syria, July 1, 2015, including Daraa. Red = Syrian regime. Green = FSA/Nusra rebels. Blue = Hezbollah. Dark Gray = ISIS. (Adapted by Arsenal For Democracy from Wikimedia)

More details from the FT:

It is also unclear how much co-ordination has so far taken place to prepare southern Syria’s existing brigades of rebel fighters for the operation: senior figures in the southern brigades contacted by the FT said they were unaware of the plans. While Jordanian intervention is likely to be welcomed in Deraa, there is also a question over whether forces backed by Amman will be so readily supported in neighbouring Suwayda province, where Druze tribes have an uneasy relationship with anti-Assad forces.

The U.S. State Department claimed it had not seen any evidence that Jordan or Turkey were planning such invasions or buffer zones. But the State Department never seems to have any clue what’s going on in Syria, so. I don’t take that at face value. The contention also seems to be wrong based on the large troop movements everyone else is noticing and the fairly public debate in Turkey.

Both countries have absorbed huge numbers of Syrian refugees and appear to have reached saturation of what they are willing to handle internally. Jordan also appears to be concerned about the possibility of ISIS reaching key border points. In February, Jordan stepped up its air campaign against ISIS (full story➚) in Syria and Iraq after the execution of a hostage Jordanian Air Force pilot.

Greece’s default, day one

National democracy at its Athenian birthplace crashes head-long into the distant technocracy of the wider European project.

On Tuesday night, Greece became the first developed economy to default on an IMF loan (though not its other obligations). The IMF loan was itself a bailout to repay other loans, including those the EU failed to stop years ago:

In a sense, like so many American homeowners before the end of 2007, Greece was given subprime loans it couldn’t possibly repay. Regulators and monetary authorities failed to perform due diligence ahead of the accession of Greece to the eurozone and then ignored the escalating danger as long as the rest of the global and European economy was doing fine. They only stepped in after the house of cards collapsed and then demanded round after round of budget cuts and other measures that hurt average Greeks who had nothing to do with the bad debt decisions that the rest of the Eurozone should have stepped in to prevent years earlier.

Greece now heads into a referendum (full story➚) on the bailout conditions offered by European leaders.

Here are a couple reactions since the referendum was announced and default became very likely.


“Joseph Stiglitz: how I would vote in the Greek referendum”:

I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60%.

It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned. The troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP by 2018.
In January, Greece’s citizens voted for a government committed to ending austerity. If the government were simply fulfilling its campaign promises, it would already have rejected the proposal. But it wanted to give Greeks a chance to weigh in on this issue, so critical for their country’s future wellbeing.

That concern for popular legitimacy is incompatible with the politics of the eurozone, which was never a very democratic project. Most of its members’ governments did not seek their people’s approval to turn over their monetary sovereignty to the ECB.

Paul Krugman, arguing no to additional austerity; no to the euro:

First, we now know that ever-harsher austerity is a dead end: after five years Greece is in worse shape than ever. Second, much and perhaps most of the feared chaos from Grexit has already happened. With banks closed and capital controls imposed, there’s not that much more damage to be done.

Finally, acceding to the troika’s ultimatum would represent the final abandonment of any pretense of Greek independence. Don’t be taken in by claims that troika officials are just technocrats explaining to the ignorant Greeks what must be done. These supposed technocrats are in fact fantasists who have disregarded everything we know about macroeconomics, and have been wrong every step of the way. This isn’t about analysis, it’s about power — the power of the creditors to pull the plug on the Greek economy, which persists as long as euro exit is considered unthinkable.

So it’s time to put an end to this unthinkability. Otherwise Greece will face endless austerity, and a depression with no hint of an end.

On the other side of the debate there has been some sighs of exasperation, tongue-clucking, and then particularly disturbing responses that are clearly the wrong takeaway from the situation… Read more

Weep not for the fallen statues of tyrants

People have been destroying physical public symbols of their oppressors since at least as far back as the ancient Egyptians. It often helps societies clarify their direction at the end of an era or in a period of transition.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of attention of the symbols of historic oppression omnipresent in many public places in the United States. While the bulk of that has been about the Confederate Flag and monuments/statues related to the Confederate cause, this week public tributes to Christopher Columbus came in for a round of well-deserved criticism. Far less deserved was the perennial but diehard defenses, which usually show up in October (around our mystifying national holiday dedicated to him), but which made a special mid-year appearance.

People around the U.S. who are now distraught over a (once-again) vandalized statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston need to find better things to cry over and build idols to. We need a better statue and the elimination of Christopher Columbus from public spaces here. Nothing even vaguely useful or positive that he did in his life offsets the scale of the horrors he personally unleashed directly, let alone set in motion for others. If, in 2015, your hero is an incompetent 15th century genocidal “explorer” who almost single-handedly began mass chattel enslavement in the Americas, you need to admit that and own it or find someone else to cheer. There have been billions of people in history who were not total monsters. It’s not that hard to find someone halfway decent to get behind instead.

I’m also confident that, with 15 minutes of solid research, the Italian-American community — where many (but not all) of the diehards come from — could find someone way cooler and less awful (and more Italian!) to get excited about and feel pride in. This is truly not the hill to die on.

July 1, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 133

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Topics: Co-host Kelley returns from the Peace Corps in Guatemala; Nate explains the wider significance of Denmark’s recent elections. People: Bill, Kelley, and Nate. Produced: June 28th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– The Peace Corps experience in the globalized internet age, and the challenges facing Guatemala.
– Danish People’s Party: Why the far-right’s huge success in Denmark is a big problem beyond Denmark.

Episode 133 (46 min):
AFD 133

Related Links

AFD: January 31, 2013 – Arsenal For Democracy 35
AFD: When bad people are good at politics
AFD: Meanwhile in Denmark, more bad news
AFD: Denmark’s Thorning-Schmidt: Preview of a Hillary 1st term?


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

From The Globalist: The softest of soft powers

My latest: “Tanzania and the Soft Power of the United States” – The GlobalistMedia circuses surrounding unqualified presidential candidates are the U.S. political system’s new export :

It’s easier than ever to run for several months, get a lot of attention and then get a media or publishing deal out of it. It’s like youth soccer participation trophies for rich men (and a few women) with frothing fanbases.

The media circus and ratings bonanza of a field of utterly unqualified clowns is showing the political parties and media operatives of the developing world the glorious future of lucrative, nonsensical democracy.

Gone will be the days of rigged coronations where one candidate bullies the others out of the race and captures 97% of the vote. Only a few people benefit from that. Why not follow the U.S. model and let literally everyone participate in the feeding frenzy?

Read the full piece.

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