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Permanent Webstand VI.

The Webstand in the right sidebar is a list of articles I recommend to read. This is the sixth time I've taken the oldest chunk and archived them with selected quotes. For whatever reason, I dated the first five archives in March of 2010. I'll start just regularly dating them from now on. You can get a complete listing of all news quote pages on the original Permanent Webstand post.

The Doctrine of Discovery and U.S. Expansion, unknown author, from the Anti-Defamation League curriculum "Lewis and Clark: The Unheard Voices" 2005.
In 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was written into U.S. law as a way to deny land rights to Native Americans in the Supreme Court case, Johnson v. McIntosh. It is ironic that the case did not directly involve any Native Americans since the decision stripped them of all rights to their independence. In 1775, Thomas Johnson and a group of British investors bought a tract of land from the Piankeshaw Indians. During the Revolutionary War, this land was taken from the British and became part of the U.S. in the "County of Illinois." In 1818, the U.S. government sold part of the land to William McIntosh, a citizen of Illinois. This prompted Joshua Johnson, the heir to one of the original buyers, to claim the land through a lawsuit (which he later lost).

In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that the Christian European nations had assumed complete control over the lands of America during the "Age of Discovery." Upon winning independence in 1776, he noted, the U.S. inherited authority over these lands from Great Britain, "notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens…" According to the ruling, American Indians did not have any rights as independent nations, but only as tenants or residents of U.S. land. For Joshua Johnson, this meant that the original sale of land by the Piankeshaws was invalid because they were not the lawful owners. For Native Americans, this decision foreshadowed the Trail of Tears and a hundred years of forced removal and violence. Despite recent efforts to have the case repealed as a symbol of good will, Johnson v. McIntosh has never been overruled and remains good law.
Shariah at the Kumback Café, Roger Cohen, New York Times, December 6, 2010.
To understand U.S. politics today, try “It’s the fear element, stupid.”

I asked Frank Lawson, 83, about Obama. “I think the young man’s a Muslim,” he said. Case closed. He continued: “I got on the computer, punched in Koran, and there it is in black and white: They are out to rule the world and if you don’t convert, they kill you.” Cherry-picked inflammatory phrases, attributed to the Koran but more often lifted from interpretations of it, course through Oklahoman churches and spread via Internet chatter.
Whose Side is the White House On? James K. Galbraith, NewDeal20.org, December 6, 2010.
The president deprived himself of any chance to develop a narrative from the beginning by surrounding himself with holdover appointments from the Bush and even the Clinton administrations: Secretary Geithner, Chairman Bernanke, and, since we’re here at Harvard, I’ll call him by his highest title, President Summers. These men have no commitment to the base, no commitment to the Democratic Party as a whole, no particular commitment to Barack Obama, and none to the broad objective of national economic recovery that can be detected from their actions.

With this team the President also chose to cover up economic crime. Not only has the greatest wave of financial fraud in our history gone largely uninvestigated and unpunished, the government and this administration with its stress tests (which were fakes), its relaxation of accounting standards which permitted banks to hold toxic assets on their books at far higher prices than any investor would pay, with its failure to make criminal referrals where these were clearly warranted, with its continuation in office — sometimes in acting capacities — of some of the leading non-regulators of the earlier era, has continued an ongoing active complicity in financial fraud. And the perpetrators, of course, prospered as never before: reporting profits that they would not have been able to report under honest accounting standards and converting tax payer support into bonuses; while at the same time cutting back savagely on loans to businesses and individuals, and ramping up foreclosures, much of that accomplished with forged documents and perjured affidavits.

Could the President and his administration have done something? Yes, they could have. Where was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation? Why did they choose not to implement the law — the Prompt Corrective Action law — which requires the federal government to take into receivership financial institutions when there is a significant risk of large taxpayer losses to the insurance fund? Where were the FBI and the Department of Justice? Did the President do anything? No. Is he doing anything now? No. Why not? The most likely answer is that he did not want to. My understanding, in fact, is that there was one meeting where this issue was raised, and the President stated that his economic team had assured him they had the situation under control.
Is Al Gore Responsible for Destroying the PLanet? Sean Carrol, Cosmic Variance blog, December 6, 2010.
Among the many depressing aspects of our current political discourse is the proudly anti-science stance adopted by one of our major political parties. When it comes to climate change, in particular, Republicans are increasingly united against the scientific consensus. What’s interesting is that this is not simply an example of a conservative/liberal split; elsewhere in the world, conservatives are not so willing to ignore the findings of scientists.

Republicans are alone among major parties in Western democracies in denying the reality of climate change, a phenomenon that even puzzles many American conservatives. Denialism is growing among the rank and file, and the phenomenon is especially strong among those with college degrees. So it doesn’t seem to be a matter of lack of information, so much as active disinformation. Republican politicians are going along willingly, as they increasingly promote anti-scientific views on the environment. After the recent elections, GOP leaders are disbanding the House Select Committee on Global Warming.

What makes American conservatives different from other right-wing parties around the world? Note that it wasn’t always this way — there was a time when Republicans wouldn’t have attacked science so openly. I have a theory: it’s Al Gore’s fault.

Actually it’s not my theory, it comes from Randy Olson. For a while now Randy has been vocally skeptical about An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s critically-acclaimed documentary about global warming. I was initially unconvinced. Surely the positive effects of informing so many people about the dangers of climate change outweigh the political damage of annoying some conservatives? But Randy’s point, which I’m coming around to, was that for all the good the movie did at spreading information about climate change, it did equal or greater harm by politicizing it.

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