Sunday, December 5, 2010

Totalitarianism marches on

The big news in Hampshire County this week was the bomb scare at Hampshire High, another example of the general policy of state over-reaction that the Age of Terror has boxed us into. A note with a bomb threat was found Tuesday, and word was quickly out via student social media, so the panic was on. In the spirit of the current totalitarian ethic, where every student is treated as a potential criminal, the school was shut down early on Tuesday and Wednesday and evacuated while bomb-sniffing dogs scoured the place. In other words, we’ve reached a state where, if someone wants to avoid taking a test or get out of school early, they just have to leave an anonymous note in the bathroom.

The terrorists have won.

This incident provides further confirmation that the consolidation of schools into mass education centers over the last half-century has been a mistake. It’s unthinkable that something like this would happen in a one-room schoolhouse. The “economy of scale” that was used to justify the destruction of neighborhood schools has proven to have hidden financial and social costs that exceed the value of school consolidation. I look forward to the day when communities begin discussing this quandary in earnest.


The hunt for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and the attempt to keep people from actually viewing the revealing cables, continues. I found the Wikileaks IP address at Democratic Underground a few days ago, and as of this morning, you could still view the diplomatic cables, as well as the war memos:

We got another confirmation that the government is monitoring Facebook today, via Huffington Post, where an article said that grad students at Columbia and Georgetown universities have been warned not to even mention Wikileaks on their Facebook accounts, if they are hoping for future employment with the US State Department. But at a time of near-universal condemnation of Wikileaks from both politicians and media, it’s good to see that there are a few voices of courage on both the mainstream left (the Charleston Gazette) and right (National Journal, in an op-ed by former Bush speechwriter Matthew Dowd) defending Assange. He may turn out to be the Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers (and who worries about Assange’s safety) of this era.


Speaking of the Gazette, there’s a fiery op-ed this morning from regular contributor Eva Knapp on how the robber barons have again taken over America.

To complete the picture, and in spite of the convoluted rhetoric used to explain their vote, both nominally Democratic West Virginia senators voted with the Republicans yesterday (in separate votes) to make sure that the wealthiest one percent of Americans get to keep their tax cuts from Bush. But the whole process is nothing but a puppet show to maintain the illusion that there are still two distinct parties in the American government.

Those tax cuts originally passed the Senate in 2001 via the “reconciliation” process—which only requires a simple majority. But the middle class tax cuts failed to pass the senate yesterday with 53 votes, because the Democrats are insisting reconciliation can’t be used, and they need 60 votes. How is it that reconciliation could be used in 2001, but can’t today for the exact same tax cuts?

And for that matter, how long will Americans put up with their ruling class’s puppet government?

--Michael Hasty

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