November 2012

In the conservative world view, we are being attacked on all sides by people who would spit on our values and seduce our youth into lives of debauchery. The gay agenda; the “War on Christmas”; Planned Parenthood’s promotion of teenage sex; radical feminism; the President’s assault on religious freedom – to conservatives these are just some of the many fronts in a war on America.

Protecting his interests does nor come at the expense of our sovereignty.

And of all the groups that prey on us, the apex predator – in the conservative imagination – is the United Nations. Its “Agenda 21” is an attempt to strip us of our sovereignty. Its Treaty on the International Arms Trade is a grab for our guns. Its Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is just the UN’s latest assault on America – at least according to Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) and ex-presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Santorum says that he is a good Catholic, but he acts otherwise. He is a big fan of the social restrictions of fundamentalist Catholicism, but not so much of Catholicism’s social obligations. In its disabilities convention the UN addresses the poor treatment so many disabled receive – especially the poor, children and women. It has been ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

It’s not a plot on American sovereignty, its about being able to to the bathroom (and a few other things).

The language of the convention is very similar to Americans with Disabilities Act, but rather than extending the values of the ADA to the global community, Santorum wraps himself in mean-spirited suspicion. “There’s no benefit to the United States from passing it.” He said, “But what it does is open up a Pandora’s box for the most vulnerable among us: children with disabilities.” 

No it doesn’t. He is just making stuff up.

Santorum is the father of a disabled daughter. And I am sure that he loves her dearly and wants nothing but the best for her. Which makes it seem pointedly cruel that he would deny the same protections to children abroad that US law affords to children in America.

Mike Lee is a Tea Party conservative – voted into the Senate in the Tea Party’s banner year of 2010. He has grave concerns that the Convention will encroach on our sovereignty. He has a plan to resist this attack on our liberties. “I will do everything I can to block its ratification, and I have secured the signatures of 36 Republican senators, all of whom have joined with me saying that we will oppose any ratification of any treaty during this lame-duck session.” 

But Lee is no expert on political documents. On his campaign web sight he said “A core constitutional function of the federal government is to “insure domestic tranquility” by protecting our country. We maintain peace and freedom when our national defense is strong.”  It may seem a small point but the “domestic tranquility” in Lee’s statement refers to the Founders desire that the states – now bound into a new nation – would peacefully co-exist. It does not refer – as Lee would have it – to our national defense.

So what, you might say. But it’s important because it illustrates that – despite a law school education, a career as an attorney, and a professed reverence for the Constitution – Lee either doesn’t know it or doesn’t understand it. And yet he would presume to tell us what effect the UN convention would have on our sovereignty.

No, they are not about to invade the US

The sovereignty argument is non-starter anyway. Can you imagine – if we chose to ignore a clause in a UN convention –  the blue-helmeted UN forces landing at Benedict, Maryland; defeating the US military; descending on Washington DC; and burning down the White House in a reprise of the War of 1812.

It’s quite absurd, of course.

It is time for us to act like grown-ups. We cannot influence the conversation by refusing to join it. We will not show ourselves to be an exceptional nation, if we behave like petulant children.

Treaties have been a feature of international life for as long as there has been international life. We are already bound by many treaties without sacrificing an iota of our sovereignty.

This country came into being with both the Treaty of Paris and the Peace of Paris and is bound by many global agreements, on subjects as diverse as arms control, ozone protection and use of the seas. Even conservative icon Ronald Reagan negotiated a treaty, INF, with the USSR.

There is a desire by many to return to a time of “Fortress America”, when we could hide behind two great oceans. But if you look at the great statesman of American history you will find many who were skeptics, but none who shunned the world and none who were paranoid.




Deceit – “Scientists” who once denied that cigarettes killed people, now claim that climate change won’t either.

November 29, 2012

Tobacco companies are “shamed and humiliated” that they have to admit they knowingly killed people Companies caught behaving badly will often compensate their victims, as long as the settlement is sealed and the company does not have to admit guilt. The tobacco companies’ behavior was so egregious that their settlement was very public. And now a […]

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Ruminations on the Holidays

November 25, 2012

The “War on Christmas”. In what has become an indispensable part of the rituals of Christmas, the holier-than-thou have, once again, started their seasonal rant about the “War on Christmas”. Spurring them on is a recent court decision permitting Santa Monica to ban all religious displays in the city’s Palisades Park. The Christians had been squabbling with the […]

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Really? – 11/23/12 – Voter fraud, Boehner wages war on Obamacare and the truth, Allen West revises history, the UN plot against America.

November 24, 2012

Voter fraud vs  intellectual fraud – one is imaginary.  Before the election, polls showing that Obama had a small lead in most of the swing states were dismissed by conservatives as over-sampling Democrats. Mitt Romney was really in the lead they argued. Dean Chambers took it a step further and created an”Unskewed polls” website. The […]

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Utopia – The Republican dream, “Back to the Future”.

November 22, 2012

  There is a yearning on the part of some in this country for a return to a previous time when, they imagine, the country was gloriously simple, usually the 1950s – not the complicated cacophony it is today. The attraction of the mythic 1950s is obvious to today’s white patriarchy. Dad was the king of his castle, mom cooked dinner […]

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Still crazy after all these years.

November 20, 2012

  The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 elections. This year they lost ground in both the House and Senate. Their presidential candidate called 47% of Americans “takers”. The party line is intolerant towards Hispanics and Blacks.  Candidates have made ill considered remarks on rape and pregnancy. There are rumblings that […]

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Our energy future. It’s only a matter of vision, courage, science and profit.

November 18, 2012

Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast a year after Irene caused billions of dollars worth of damage. In 2012 80% of the country suffered through abnormally dry conditions and record heat. In all likelihood this will be the hottest year on record with 2010 and 2005 tied for second. In April 2011, 770 tornadoes broke the one […]

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Really? – 11/16/12 – The Republican reaction to the Democrats’ victory.

November 16, 2012

Profits before health. The last hope the Republicans had that Obamacare would be repealed was crushed by the election. The bulk of the President’s eponymous healthcare plan will now be phased in over the next 14 months. Business people protest they can’t afford to give their employees healthcare, yet they argued against “socialized” medicine. If […]

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What’s wrong with politics?

November 15, 2012

Elections in other countries don’t take long and they aren’t expensive. In the UK the last general election campaign lasted 5 weeks. In the US there are some who are already speculating about potential 2016 candidates. And more importantly, politicians who are thinking about that campaign are already raising money. The problem with American politics […]

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