Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2008

Hot from the presses folks… now that habeas corpus has been restored for the detainees at Gitmo, the first cases are being heard and guess what? The government’s evidence is pure bullshit, or as the New York Times put it, “based on bare and unverifiable claims” (source).

…A three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that the detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant (source).

The sad part of this story… sadder than the fact that it has taken six fucking years to finally return the rights that should have been afforded to these people in the first place… is that the man in question in this case has already told his wife to remarry because he considered himself “already dead” or at least unlikely to ever see the light of day outside of Guantanamo. But even worse than that is that he probably cannot return to China and over 100 countries have rejected taking him in.

So, as these cases are reviewed, we’re likely to see those who are freed also have no where to go… so not only have we wasted 6 years of their lives by locking them away for no reason, stripping them of their humanity (because these detainees still lack the rights that we afford to even our worst enemies under the UN charter–assuming we still follow it, anyway), no, robbing them of 6 years wasn’t enough. We’ve created a class of “untouchables” that no country wants. These people have nothing. Their lives have been completely severed and tattered… and for what reason?

Well, in this case, it was simply because the Bush administration went Snark hunting: statements about this man were repeated in 3 documents and that was enough “evidence” to destroy his life.

I can’t express the anger and shame I feel right now to live in a land that has been so derailed from its once noble ideals of justice and fairness. I thank god that we seem to have finally come to our senses. What a pity that it has taken so long and damaged so many in the meantime.

The first step is to set the innocent free. The second step must be taken by people like you and me… we must hold these treasonous fearmongers accountable for the lives they have destroyed on a whim. We have allowed them to betray the spirit of democracy and justice for far too long. If we have any sense of justice, we’ll stand up and speak for all those that remain unjustly shackled and languishing.

We must face our own cowardice. It’s so easy to sit there and shrug our shoulders because we haven’t been tossed behind bars. Our families haven’t been torn asunder. We don’t have the power to do anything about this… right? Are you sure? How many lives must be uprooted, displaced, bombed, dismembered, disabled, blown up, shot up, hacked up, or severed before it becomes wrong enough for us to muster the courage to act?

Shit like this will only stop when we make it stop.

Read Full Post »

Don’t get me wrong… I’m excited to think that the United States may finally end its racist monopoly on the country’s highest position of power. For all of our bullshit and crowing about freedom and our progressive democracy, the U.S. is one of the few democratic nations on the planet that has yet to see a woman and/or person who is not of the dominant race in this position of power. And, out of the choices that we Americans have faced for that office over the last 8, or even I’d go as far as to say 16 years, Barack Obama is the best candidate I’ve seen on the docket.

He speaks of hope. He has an understanding of issues of both race and class that, from what I can tell, is unparalleled to any past president. He seems grounded in a sense of fairness and rationality. He was spoon-fed the same bullshit yet still managed to vote with his conscience when going to war with Iraq. He’s able to form an argument and defend his position with useful, informed perspectives… something I have really missed ever since George took the reigns. Just the simple instance of hearing someone make a logical case for something they believe in has been so rare these past 8 years. But most importantly, he seems willing to listen to other people and is not afraid to have his ideas challenged… which I’d say is the opposite of our current president, who is so afraid of ideas outside the party line that he insulates himself from them almost entirely.

So yes, Barak is the best choice. Far better than anything Clinton had to offer… although what a shame that Hillary had to essentially paint herself as an aggressive, aloof hardliner in order to compete with the likes of the (republican) competition. I understand why she did it… electability and sexism. If she had been any less callous about her stance on the war or shown any signs of compassion, she would be labeled weak by the male population (and the many women who have been brainwashed by the system to consider such qualities a frailty).

I don’t think I need to go into why Barak is better than McCain considering that McCain is just as willing as the current administration to spin the truth. My favorite, tell-tale quote from McCain is the line about how, when he visited Iraq, he could walk “down the streets [of Baghdad] with no body armor on…” to which any number of news outlets then cut to photos of McCain wearing body armor, he and his delegation guarded by over 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawks and 2 Apache gunships overhead ensuring the area was safe. Clicky for more McCain bullshit. McCain, to me, is just another branch of the extremely privileged, out-of-touch with reality elites that think they know what’s best for us little people.

But why do I think Barak is only the best out of the available choices and not a glowing candidate in and of himself?

With Hillary out of the race, Obama promptly declared on CNBC: “I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.” Jason Furman is heading up his economic policy. Mr. Furman is a Wal-Mart supporter who thinks the people who are desperately trying to get Wally World to raise its wages are the problem, not the fact that Wal-Mart pays extremely substandard wages and cuts corners in nearly every way possible regarding benefits and compensation. Hell, Wal-Mart is one of the biggest drains on government hand-out programs since it actually suggests that its employees make use of federal programs so that the company doesn’t have to worry about things like health insurance (Medicaid and other taxpayer subsidized health services) or paying enough money on which a family could live (food stamps usage has shown to drastically increase once a Wal-Mart moves into town).

Let’s step away from economics and markets and take a look at foreign affairs. Obama has said that he supports an “undivided Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel. Not even Bush has been this myopic and callous regarding both the UN Resolution and international consensus that regards Jerusalem as an international city.

Obama has also decided to continue the embargo against Cuba… which, last time I checked, was in violation of so many human rights that every government of the United States since the beginning of the embargo (1962) could literally have crimes against humanity charges successfully brought against them for supporting it.

And then there’s the reappearance of the Monroe Doctrine in his speeches… or at least the spirit of it. For those unfamiliar with the term, the Monroe Doctrine has been used by politicians to sanction U.S. military and covert intervention in Latin America since its inception. When we don’t like the way a democratically elected government is running things, Monroe tells us we have the right to support death squads and Contra forces to beat the population to an utter pulp until that country’s government is forced to stop its socially-minded programs for the poor and working class and spend its money and time on defending its borders and civilian population (Nicaragua). Or, it means we have the right to support brutal dictatorships or carry out coups to install tyrants and thugs as long as they keep the way paved for U.S. investors (Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc.) . Read my article on Nicaragua for one example. If more info is needed here, just toss a comment at the end of this entry and it’ll be provided.

Obama has been quoted as saying we have “lost Latin America” (makes you wonder why we’re entitled to possess it in the first place…) and has talked about other ways we should be using our influence within the continent. Considering how many names of Latin American countries you can type into Google with the words “coup,” “dictatorship,” or “death squads” and then add “United States” and come up with a large number of hits detailing our sordid history within those lands, you would hope our best choice for president would be a little bit more aware of what he was saying….

And then there’s Iraq. Will Obama end the war he initially voted against? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Even though the Barak Obama website claims we will “have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months,” Americans should understand that merely means we will have, at best, half our troops home. It says nothing of the military training forces, mercenary troops, no-bid contractors and commercial enterprises that have been bleeding the country and its resources dry since they set foot in Iraq.

And, even if we did somehow miraculously pull all of our troops out of Iraq, Obama thinks we need to “finish the fight in Afghanistan” (Obama’s website). Okay, so Obama was against the obviously misguided war against Iraq. But saying we need to finish the fight in Afghanistan means he thinks it’s a conflict that is worth fighting… that we “should” be there. I do not share this view.

The purpose for attacking Afghanistan was to respond to the attacks of 9/11. Yet, even when the Taliban gave us an opportunity to bring the supposed mastermind of the attacks to justice (first they asked for evidence against Osama, then later offered to give him up w/o that requirement), we opted to dismiss their offer and proceeded to bomb the hell out of the civilian population. Since “we don’t do body counts” (Gen. Tommy Franks), we’ll never know the true number of civilian casualties… yet I can imagine that the continuing occupation of Afghanistan has only made it more difficult to distinguish civilian from “insurgent” as those fighting the U.S. and its allies have had to resort to guerrilla-style warfare in order to survive. (Hey, we did it vs the British, too.) Thankfully, some people have tried to keep a tally.

Afghanistan also paved the way for Iraq as it allowed us access to areas within the Middle East from which we could launch attacks, position troops and gather intel (for what little good that did us… heh). With these things in mind, I see the war raging in Afghanistan as little more than a punching bag to satisfy our need for vendetta for the crimes committed against us in September several years ago.

Now, for those of you who believe the War on Terror is a just cause, you may want to make sure you’ve thought the whole thing through thoroughly. My views on the subject are readily available.

So, yeah, Obama is the best choice out of a series of crappy ones. Let’s hope his desire for change keeps his mind open and flexible in the years to come if he indeed succeeds in becoming our nation’s next president.

Read Full Post »