Police State?

Top Ten American Steps toward a Police State

Posted on 06/23/2013 by Juan Cole [Reblogged here. Please visit the Juan Cole site]
Police State

The police state, a term first coined in the mid-19th century in German (Polizeistaat), is characterized by a standing political police, by intense domestic surveillance and by restrictions on the movements of citizens. Police states are on a spectrum, and unfortunately in the past decade the United States has moved toward police-stateness in small but key ways. Here are the signs:

1. The United States National Security Administration recently requisitioned all Verizon phone records in the US for a period of 3 months. Your telephone records (who you called and for how long) say a great deal about you. This is a form of mass surveillance.

2. The US has assigned 250 NSA agents to sift through a massive further British database of US telecommunications and email, derived from attaching packet analyzers to transatlantic fiber optic cables.

Continue reading

My bi-annual sports posting

Where Are the Champions?

An interactive map of every championship in the history of MLB, the NBA, the NHL, and the NFL.
By Chris Kirk|Posted Thursday, June 6, 2013, at 7:52 AM on Slate

USA

Click here first

 

This interactive method of viewing the distribution of sports championships around the country through time is fascinating. It is also applicable to many other subjects and I suspect visualization might make the results even more obvious (how about the distribution of Federal money to the states?).

 

What Do You Do?

The AHA is running a poll asking people what they do during the Pledge of Allegiance. The options they allow are:

  • Stay seated
  • Stand quietly
  • Stand and recite but leave out the “under god” part
  • Stand and recite including “under god.”

There was also a roll-your-own option but even as I started to answer the poll, I realized the story was too big for a poll response and decided to answer it here.

First, I am one of those people that learned the Pledge before the Knights of Columbus and the red baiters insisted on the additional phrase being inserted. I still remember one day in school when the teacher instructed us that there had been a change to the pledge and we now had to say “under God.” Probably because the pledge was not written but recited from memory, I had a terrible time remembering just where those new words should go and I made so many mistakes that I started to mumble the words to cover up my confusion.

Looking back on it now, we as kids were required to recite several pledges, some that didn’t even involve Grover Norquist. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the insidious indoctrination that defined most of those pledges. Today I would no more embrace a pledge than I would stick my head in a cryogenic vat:  both would be detrimental to my own independent thought.

So what do I do when it comes time for the Pledge of Allegiance? Well, first I tend not to be present when pledges such as that are expected, but if I slip up and find myself at a Lion’s Club breakfast because a neighbor drug me out, I do not stand and do not recite. Actually, the not standing is because I’m partially disabled and getting up out of a chair is a difficult process. If I could, I would stand, but would not recite. I would stand because I do acknowledge my country and have my own thoughts and feelings about the United States. However, to me a pledge is the same as saying “my country right or wrong.”

Not only is the thought of blind patriotism abhorrent, but it is possibly one of the major detractors from the ability of this country to progress and even survive.

There is also a major problem with those inserted words, “under God.” We could spend a lot of time on this one but suffice it to say that associating the nation with a god is not only wrong, it’s unconstitutional (not an argument I make too often but the conservatives seem to love it). I don’t know about you, but I secretly assume that the “god” being referenced is not the christian god and envision a large stone idol on a primitive Pacific island.

So I sit quietly and respectfully; I don’t chomp on a taco or slurp my soup; I don’t call attention to myself; I don’t acknowledge a supreme being; I don’t mix up church and state; and I don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

What do you do?