I’m at a point in my life right now where many decisions have to be made; to shave my head or not to shave my head, to change my major and take an extra year to graduate or keep things the same and maybe not be as happy, to move in to the mountains like I’ve always wanted or to stay where a social life is still possible. Making all these decisions seem petty when compared to the upcoming presidential election and which candidate to throw myself behind. None of the Republicans appeal to my non-murderous side except Ron Paul on occasion. I go back and forth between whether or not voting for a third party is a waste of time (I think voting in general may be a waste of time, but I can’t help myself). The major Democratic candidates (Obama, Clinton, and Edwards) all seem to talk good games; while Hillary scares me and would probably make me vote for a third party, Obama and Edwards make themselves appear to care about every day people. However, the problem with the voting class of the United States is that we base our vote either on which party we are associated with, or – for the independents – which candidate talks a better game; not many people actually pay attention to whether or not the candidates back up what they say. The telecom immunity bill is proof of this; the administration is pushing hard to get immunity for all the telephone companies who allowed spying on their customers, while the Democrats (sans Chris Dodd) are doing little or nothing to stop it. Harry Reid and Jay Rockefeller, with the backing of their fellow Republicrats (and the lobbyists who are putting massive amounts of cash in their pockets), are using all their power to push for the passage. They are using scare tactics – like saying that if this bill is not passed, there will be no way to tap conversations that terrorists planning an attack might have – that are mostly completely made up. The Republicans tried to use this tactic during the 2006 elections and got their tickets home, proving that the people of this country were starting to realize that we might be getting lied to about how much of our freedom we have to surrender in order to be safe. Now would be the perfect time for any of the major candidates to rush back to the senate floor and take a stand – give a speech, help Dodd, or create a filibuster of their own – but none of them are anywhere to be seen. If they are too afraid to take a stand when their country needs them the most, how can we give our votes to any of them and then act surprised when they continue the policies that have gotten us into the situation we now lie in? The next few days will be interesting to see A- what the major three do and B- how much Chris Dodd gets upbraided by his own party for standing up for people’s right to privacy.
I believe it was yesterday that I wrote of mysterious things happening – terror plots being foiled and so on – at politically opportune times, only to either never be heard about again or lead to nothing. Today I remind you of the recent incident in the Gulf of Hormuz; the incident in which small boats allegedly provoked and threatened a US Navy warship patrolling the area. This was reported without investigation by the mainstream media here in the United States, and then was quickly discredited (although the discrediting was not covered quite as thorough). The incident was not even reported for more than twenty-four hours after it occurred because – according to Navy sources – it was an incident not very different from what normally happens to boats patrolling that area of the world (even though we rarely – if ever – hear about any of them). Coincidentally, this incident was reported (blindly) in every major newspaper and on every major TV news channel the day that Bush was to leave on a tour of the Middle East promoting his “Iran is the biggest threat in the world” campaign. Once again, where are the major Democratic candidates on this issue? Why aren’t they incorporating the lying administration and the sheep dog mainstream media into any of their ‘change’ speeches? Could it be because if they did, their candidacies would almost instantly cease to exist? So what if they would get respect from anyone with half a brain? Who cares that they would be able to sleep soundly at night, knowing they did the right thing? Their chance at fame and an increased bank account would wither away faster than the worldwide respect that the United States used to demand.
Maybe part of the reason our countries’ respect throughout the world has diminished has something to do with the horrendous acts being committed. War is bad enough; the fact that US troops are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan killing their people is a pretty good reason why the people who survive would grow to hate this country and its policies. It goes beyond just killing ‘terrorists’ though; secret prisons, torture, and abuse of human rights are three very good reasons why this war will never end; for every ‘enemy combatant’ we kill, we probably create quite a few more. In an article in the Guardian today, Anita Inder Singh (although writing a mostly good article) claims that the only way to fight terrorism is with guns. That is the same thing as saying that the only way to fight war on drugs in the US is by locking anyone who has anything to do with them in small cages for long periods of time. This has been proven over and over as completely ineffective. The US has bigger weapons and spends more on their military than all the other countries in the world combined and yet cannot seem to do anything with their guns besides make more enemies. A little child growing up in Afghanistan right now has the potential to be either a terrorist or an ally when she or he grows up; it is pretty much up to our leaders. If our country were to go into Afghanistan and spend money on building schools, hospitals, and infrastructure it’s a pretty safe bet that less people would hate us. However, if the same amount (or probably way more) was spent on killing the child’s family, the chances of him growing up and wanting to kill anyone with an American accent increases greatly. The same thing goes for the war on drugs; go into the South Bronx and build school and give the children growing up there options besides selling drugs or working for $5.50 an hour, and maybe we’ll see things start to change. Maybe the reason these (obvious) things aren’t happening is because the people in charge don’t want them to happen. When the candidates say that they stand for change, they don’t mean changes in any of the major policies; just the change in the faces of the actors.
Raila Odinga’s party in Kenya – the Orange Democratic Movement – has so far done a great job of keeping their protests mostly nonviolent. The police force of the ‘president’ Mwai Kibaki have responded as expected; by shooting tear gas and live ammunition blindly into the crowds, so far killing at least seven people. There has been some rock throwing and machete wielding by the opposition but so far no reports of violence on their side. The ODM will be back on the streets today – for the second of three planned days of protest to show their disapproval over the alleged fixing of the presidential election by Kibaki – for what hopefully turns into another peaceful demonstration. It is a lot harder for one to not fight back as he or she is getting beat or tasting tear gas, but in the long run it works a lot better than using violence to continue the never-ending cycle. Eventually either the world responds or the humanity in the oppressors rises to the top when confronted with nonviolence. Responding with violence only gives them reason (although obviously not valid reason) to continue their oppression.
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