Wednesday, February 08, 2012

While You Were Sleeping....

It has been a while since I really blogged about American politics. Maybe it is because NOTHING is ever knew. Every four years, there is a circus, and every decade or so, you start seeing the same patterns as of those of a decade ago.
If you have been in the US long enough, you have to see the humor in following American politics. Every four years, there is a showdown of the ridiculous, the mean and the unspeakable. - Thankfully, the US has a system that can absorb the shock of such a ridiculous circus.
However, every four years, the people who end up losing the most are the people. No matter who wins, the public will expect a savior of sorts and a year later, they will be disappointed. Two years later, they are so fascinated with the election circus that they fail to see when congress is screwing them over.
So while you were sleeping, or being entertained, some of your voting rights have been stripped away. if they have not, then they are getting there. In 2011 the most fundamental American right was under attack as a legislature was being passed around that would make it voting for some very difficult. The legislature which apparently seeks to minimize voter fraud would require proof of ID, and in some states they called for restrictions on early voting and voter registration, not to mention proof of citizenship requirements.
Lets do a mini-lesson on voting-
“Every American Citizen must have the right to vote,” said Lyndon Johnson on eve of passing a stringent bill that would assure equity in voting for all American citizens, particularly African Americans. Supplementing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the voting rights Act of 1965 is significantly relevant both as a breakthrough for the civil movements in equating voting rights for all, and secondly the pre-clearance requirement in the bill changed the relationship between state and federal governments.
Even though the Civil Rights Act was significant in the process of equating civil rights to blacks, in the southern states of the US, discrimination still ran rampart. For example, laws were passed that required fillings out forms and transcribing part of the constitution before one could vote. In early 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. led a peaceful demonstration in Salem, Alabama protesting these discriminations. However, there was a public outcry when the state police brutally attempted to suppress the protests.
With the guidance of President Lyndon Johnson, both democrats and republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate were called to discuss a new bill that would address the issues of voting discrimination. With Johnson’s guidance, the Voting Rights Acts did away with controversial restrictions to voting that had kept blacks from participating in elections. Particularly, the bill specified that states were no longer permitted to impose voting taxes and literacy tests. The bill was extended most recently in 2006. Up to date, states like Texas are calling for the delay in implementing the extensions, claiming the bill as unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional? I am still waiting for someone to explain how giving rights to vote would be unconstitutional.

In the meantime, Gingrich is calling for child labor, racism and massive order of inequalities. Mitt Romney is changing his mind as much as he changes his shoes- and these are the candidates that Americans are choosing. just have to wonder: where did these jokers come from?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why the Surprise?

We generally like to panic. Human nature. But do we really need to panic with every news we get? Recently, American politics have become a circus- oh wait, they have always been a circus. However, the recent circus has been around the defense bill that would give the military powers to detain US terrorist suspects. The outrage might be rather misplaced. Honestly, if the people have the insights to vote for leaders who are willing to put them into prison, shouldn't they be the ones to blame? On other hand, this is nothing new. After all, Guantanamo has been detaining American citizens for years. So why the outrage?

There is the concern for the American constitution and the implications of such a bill- however, one has to look to the past decades to understand that the American institution has been taking a hit for years now. The last straw might have been the Supreme Court passing a law that would essentially give corporations more rights than people. That was unfortunate. Thus, there should be no outrage for such a bill when it is supposed to protect the Freedoms that have become the reason of American existence. Although one has to wonder- do these freedoms really exist?

This bill should be cause for concern. it should cause outrage. Think of the potential ramifications if the military would go into the streets picking up potential terrorists, and locking them away- without the hope for justice? yet, this will become just a memory soon.

Give this bill a couple of months, and it too shall be forgotten. People are drawn to order rather than justice. Hence, before protesting for the potential implications of such a bill, the people would rather find the peace in the moment. For justice, as they say, will always find you at the most surprising moment- even though it might be too late.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far

A West African Proverb (according to Roosevelt)- well implemented in the US.

It has always been fascinating to outsiders that America’s favorite past-time is watching men wielding big sticks as they hit a very small ball…precisely meant to infiltrate the opposite team and destruct them as the man runs for a home-run. Yes, baseball is a rather dull game, made exciting by the beer, peanuts, hotdogs, and the chant of “Take me out to the ball game”.

A big stick…meant to make a ball go far. But enough of baseball.

Roosevelt made the big stick theory popular off course. However, over the years, this theory, has been the making of American policy, specifically, foreign policy. _Until recently when Obama took power, the general principle for American rather narrow glorified exceptionalism, was to talk of democracy while simultaneously employing regimes that destroyed societies. Double-standard- basic operating procedures US Policy- it is not just a recent phenomenon.

Roosevelt would be the one to say:

“A just war is in the long run far better for a man’s soul than the most prosperous peace”

-then he will go on to be known best for his extension of the Monroe doctrine as he believed that he had the right to intervene to "stabilize" the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America- None of these countries thanked him kindly.

He would be quoted saying “Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaiden of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy”

-the truth however is that to epitomize on his big stick theory, the Roosevelt Corollary an explicit or maybe even implicit threat to the very states that supposedly were to be protected, as the government muscled to obtain concessions and privileges for American corporations.

He would again be quoted saying, “I abhor unjust war. I abhor injustice and bullying by the strong at the expense of the weak, whether among nations or individuals, I abhor violence and bloodshed. But it takes strength to put a stop to abhorrent things”-

- and to that, we only have to think of the canal diplomacy. I am sure Nicaragua and Panama are thankful for that. Right?

The big stick theory- or rather, the whole idea of the “man with the big stick” is an ideology that can only be implemented once- and the US has gotten the license already, and did a few test-runs on that. The concern is that, the rest of the world is trying to follow suit. The whole idea of Realpolitik and the Machiavelli ideals fall short of humanity. There is a reason why Machiavellianism is closely related to narcissism and

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Iran Issue

Is Iran really a threat to the US? Killing their scientists in 2010 was not such a smart idea- although neither Mossad or the CIA will make statements as to their guilt. It does not help the issue when the country is tittering on a revolution. Now there are Iranians who are both pissed off at their government, and the US/Israel as well. So who wants to predict the future of this predicament? Sooner or later Iran will come around but maybe they should stop killing their people to build a greater society-their history is one that is complex and intriguing at best. The Iranian government is not innocent and no excuses can be made to for their actions. However the US and its allies are not innocent either. They should also stop bullying the country around, because it does no good. Maybe they should learn that you don’t piss off a madman and then expect them to act according to your wishes.

Between the US and the UK there is enough bad blood to justify the anger of Iran and it's people. The plunders of the 1900s did not make for good diplomacy in the part of the Britons-especially the 1918 bloodbath. The US and UK absolute siding with Iraq in the Iraq-Iran was not a great way to bridge the already increasing gap between the west and Iran. Don’t forget the Iran-contra affair. Then there is the embargo and the nuclear energy fumbles. Then off course there is the Israel issue-lets not forget, it is Israel that has nuclear capabilities, and since Iran is not a suicidal rampage, it might be time to regroup for NATO. All in all, the Western allies cannot claim innocence in the disastrous policies concerning Iran.

What happened to making policy based on long-term ramifications? Usually not investing in human capital is a bad idea. And such are the mistakes made by international policy makers and even the countries themselves. Investing in people instead of weapons is a smart investment. If the US is so concerned about the Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians and the Palestinians, where is the justice them? Obviously Iran posses no treat to the US- H.Clinton and even Chirac have pointed out just as much. Even on the basic level of nuclear capability Iran could work as a deterrent for the Israelis, for next time they decide that they can attack Lebanon, Syria or Gaza, they might have to think twice. Clearly, the Israelis would prefer not to have to look over their shoulder at what Tehran might contemplate doing in the way of retaliation- hence their staunch allies in the US puff and huff about a dangerous Iran. Obviously Iran is doing little in assuring the peace of its people, yet, pissing of the leaders is not the interest of anyone least of all the Iranians themselves.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What if the US Constitution was flexible?

I have a godbrother whom I love very much. He is an annoying little twerp, but like my very many brothers and sisters (blood or adopted), he has been an integral part of my political thinking. He is a Jew, non-practicing, and I am a Christian. I would call myself Pro-Israel, for I am never pro any country. I do love its people but like many other governments, its politics disgust me. I am skeptical and would rather hope that Palestine will be free someday.
My brother is a 16 year old who has grown too fast, and has learned quality music like the Beatles and BB King. In one of our daily squabs, we have started on the constitution. i can always excuse him for not having read the whole document- he is in HS after-all. But he has bought into the whole American-exceptionalism and the menace of the idealism of manifest destiny. However, he is advocating for a flexible constitution. His argument? Things have changed! Apparently, the "founding" fathers could not possibly imagine a world where there were bombs, nuclear weapons, the internent, and spies. I couldn't get past a word to let him know that in those times, all these dangers, maybe with an exception of the nuclear war, were all a possibility or in existince, albeit on a smaller scale.
So I had to wonder if he was not onto something. What would it mean if the US constitution could be flexible? One of the most fundamental values of the US is the Constitution. In fact, it can be said that it is what holds this country together. It is what lawmakers boast about, the platform for many political debates, and the tool for justifying a lot of actions by the government and its people. The constitution is the fundamental brick, in the making and sustaining of this nation. Therefore, arguably, if the constitution was to be flexible, so would this country. The national debate would not be on the Federal government becoming bigger, it would be bigger. The states, well, one can only imagine that with all these states co-habitating under one umbrella, there are those that would have like to sucede. The price to pay for a flexible constitution is chaos. From the preamble, to the last sentence of the constitution, the laws that established this country have seen it come this far. But by all things comparable, the country is still young-Europe is much more like a good, bitter aged wine that takes a lot of getting used to. However, guaranteeing freedom of the people, and establishing the checks and balance system, the constitution has assured that the people have a louder voice in politics than those in the government, and that there can be some form of separation of powers in government that makes it essential in managing the very many facets fo the American system.
Things have changed, and there are things like the second amendment that could use some refining, but to make the US contitution flexible would be disastrous, as the government could claim the power they want, without the censorship of any law. There could also be a Bush dynasty in the making....Think about that. The arguments for a bigger government is just not pertinent. Even with Obama's efforts of a health care upheaval, the country is no where near becoming a socialist government. Even France at its best is not worst off for being a social democracy.

Monday, May 02, 2011

OBAMA GOT OSAMA "but where is the Justice?"

This title is attributed to my boss. This morning, he came in the office chanting that, and it stuck with me.
Obama got Osama and then fed him to the fish-unlike Jonah and the whale, he won't be spit out alive.
So we have heard the news...Osama Bin Laden was killed in the compound that he was "hiding" in. Now let us use the word "hiding" lightly, for the man was surely not hiding in such open air. Ask the Pakistanis, they would tell you all about it.

Now, back to the real issue. Bin Laden is dead. So where is the victory? And what Justice?
Let me preface this by saying that in the Nairobi Bombing, I lost friends and my father nearly died. So why don't I feel justified, or rather victorious? Oh wait, I know why- this is not justice. and sadly no victory either. You see justice includes having a man face his crimes, and the decision is made not by a gun, but by word of mouth. Justice has to be considered by three components: Punishment, reparations, and the right to truth.- none of which is what happened to Osama. What justice have the victims received? and what about the war that is still going on in Afghanistan? Where is their justice?

A flashmob at Ground Zero is -well- touching. I used to work there, so I can imagine how great it would have felt to see the jubilation. Lets be clear- Obama has just won his second term. Polically, this is a huge victory. But what are we celebrating? The lives of Americans lost in what was essentially a war against a man who lived in a cave? the Lives of Afghanis lost in this warped sense of retribution? The now bleak future of the people of Afghanistan who live in a shadow government? Or are we celebrating the victory of Halliburton in protecting its assets? Please tell me, for that American whose dollars have been misused-what exactly are you celebrating? Feel free to correct me if I am wrong here.

Whose death are you celebrating? The real problem is still out there. Osama Bin Laden was a general- but of the worst kind. He was a monster. Much like we can attribute lunacy to Qaddafi.
Osama bin Laden was much human, and very much led by his ego—he was a leader after all. He was really if you think about it, like those of us who have never thought of going to war- or confronted others from the opposite fence. Osama bin Laden was an aristocrat warrior- think of the princes of Persia. Or you just study the aristocrats of old. He loved to be photographed alongside his rifles- but did he really use them? But like a highly decorated general, he spent his life sending others to battle without discrimination- men, women, even children to die. He killed Muslims as easily as the rest of the others(infidels). A very sad comparison-but he learned how to use religion to his defense, and the West kept giving him all the ammunition he needed. he killed Muslims as freely as he killed the rest of us—infidels.

So what victory? Please remember, Osama Bin Laden was no martyr. Those who are fighting are still alive. For all his madness- he was smart. Never forget that. Unfortunately, you can't say the same about those around him.- He might be dead, but the terrors he surfaced are still alive.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is it Freedom?

Freedom....and what is supposedly stands for.

"Freedom" has become an American cliche. You could shout in opposition, however, in lieu of Sarah Palin, John Stewart, Ann Coulter and fellow political pundits there is much to be said about Freedom. I believe in freedom, infact I advocate for it. But you've even heard from spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibiliyt", Freedom is powerful. However, freedom without the responsibility runs to chaos. The freedom rant has become the norm in American political discourse. It is become lame, really, because people and leaders mostly, shout about the word, yet, lose its meaning in the process.
Freedom is freedom if all parties act responsibly. A while back, after the shooting in Arizona, I was first of all shocked, but also blamed Sarah Palin. It is not her fault really, but she can take responsibility with the rest of inciters who have a lot speech, and tongue without thought. You cannot put cross hairs into political discussion and tell people to reload and attack without thinking that someone somewhere out there is crazy, and you might be giving them the right ammunition to act.As much as we would like to think that we can do whatever we want-we really can't. Our actions affect others, directly or indirectly, and most importantly, our words affect others. Everyday we speak out curses and blessings. We say words that we take for granted while cursing others along the way. Be careful of what you say, for words have power. Be careful of what you do, for you are not an island to yourself.
My dislike for Sarah Palin was not really helped by her statement of the day of the funeral. The woman for all her appearance lacks class, and maybe for all her education and practice might lack some brains. Her speech was tactless at best. It might be harsh for me to call her out on responsibility of the actions taken by the mad-man/druggie, but I believe that she lost her chance to be seen as a leader.She is responsible because she labeled herself a leader. It could have been anyone else, Obama, Pelosi etc, and if they had incited words of violence, they would be responsible.
Unlike the common belief "Words are NOT cheap!" If she is truly a Christian, then she should read carefully where it talks about being careful of our thoughts and words.
She has no problem comparing women to animals, and calling for an up in arms battle...and then using words that would mean a historical wounds to those who were short i.e Gifford(happens to Jewish). "Blood libel" might come to CLOSE to what people are doing, but that is not what they are doing. There is a difference there. and I think Jews should be offended. They have been attacked throughout history that they don't need a brainless speech to remind them that they were once targets of madmen. Other than that...she missed her opportunity to be seen as a leader. because she chose a most sensitive day, and time, to sprout her ignorance.
If history has taught us anything, well, is it that we fight the same battles over and over again. We just hope that the second time or the third round, we do better. However, we use usually forget to learn the lessons, and we repeat the same mistakes. Such is the discourse of the political arena of the world.

Political pundits/commentators are great. However, that we need to start acting more responsibly towards those who might be caring enough to listen. Freedom is nothing if we do not practice it with a grain of salt. One might have the freedom to walk naked, but that doesn't mean one should walk naked. One might have the freedom to carry a gun and shoot, but, first, thats stupid and second, jail awaits. our actions of freedom or in the name of freedom have consequences. They always have, and will always do. Newspapers can publish what they want, but there will be reaction to the actions, its quiet simple really. Freedom is great. But there are consequences, negative or positive.