The way the power structure is set up within this USian Democracy is not (or, at least should not be) how it seems. The president – who people think have the most power – actually should not; when he (or soon enough she) does something that seems corrupt or illegal it is the job of the United States Congress to perform an investigation and hold accountable whoever needs holding accountable. If the corruption in the White House gets bad enough and Congress is either just as corrupt or simply turning a blind eye to the situation, it is the responsibility of the people – all of us – to step up and do something. That something that we should do can range from writing letters and making phone calls, to planning a campaign for a third party, to – in some dire situations – a coup. The way our system actually is working is nowhere near this idealistic way; the President and people in his office appear to have been involved in things like ordering torture, spying on US citizens, sending out illegal warrants, firing attorneys, and making millions of emails disappear; among other things. When the Democrats first took over the Congress, they promised investigations; a bunch of people were subpoenaed, some of them came and refused to say anything, and then some (Harried Miers and Josh Bolton) were ordered by the president not to even show up. In a situation like this, it is the job of the Congress to find them in contempt, which could eventually lead to them sitting in jail until they agree to testify. It has been almost a year since some of these investigations started, and six months since Miers and Bolton were subpoenaed and yet – besides a bunch of empty threats – not one thing has happened (although the Senate does go after people like Mark McGuire if he refuses to testify). Congress has recently made clear that, in the spirit of bi-partisanness (a phrase that should make anyone who is paying attention get angry) they are putting all of that on the back burner in order to help the economy. Now we come to step three; now that the President has committed acts which, at the very least, merit an investigation and the Congress (the supposed opposition) has refused to investigate, it is our turn. No matter what we the people decide to do – be it write letters, make phone calls, protest, or do that other thing I mention earlier – there are two important things that must happen first; 1. we have to remember things for longer than a few days after they happen and 2. the majority of us have to care.
Glenn Greenwald points out in a blog from yesterday that Republicans use fear as a threat to the Democrats (saying that if they vote against FISA they will look weak or if they continue with the investigation into the Presidents office, they will look like they’re just trying to start a fight) who fall for it each and every time. He then goes on to quote a bunch of polls that show the majority of people polled approve of investigating the president, think the president should cooperate, and think the Protect America Act is a bad idea. He uses this to say that the fear is false and if the Democrats just did what is right, the people would support them. While I also think that the Democrats are spineless imbeciles, I disagree with this theory. In my opinion, people are fickle; if the Democrats were to grow some courage this afternoon and immediately begin investigations and refuse to give telecommunication companies immunity, the people would be happy. However, if August or September rolls around and suddenly there is another 9/11 type disaster, the Republicans will blame it on the fact that the Democrats spent so much time focusing on getting the president on trouble that they forgot about national security, which the right-wingers are so good at, and suddenly the numbers will shoot downwards. If the majority of the voting public in this country actually took time out of their day to read a couple different newspapers or if the people who sit at work all day surfing Facebook, instead surfed for the truth, maybe I would have a little more faith; but I don’t. I’m not saying that the Democrats are right for doing what they are doing – if they had any kind of conscious they would in politics to make the world a better place instead of making their bank accounts bigger and all of this would be moot – but they are not the only ones who deserve blame.
For those who believe that the reason we are in the dark is because the government is that good at hiding secrets and the truth is hard to find – read independent newspapers. Papers like the NY Times do have some good articles, but they were one of the main cheerleaders for war in the months leading up to March of 2003. When more people can spout out Brittany Spears’ custody agreement than can tell us why we are in Iraq or the name of the current Secretary of Defense, we are a country in trouble. Two nonprofit journalism organizations have just finished a study documenting each and every lie that was told by the administration in order to get us into Iraq. Two websites have been created that make it easy to search for terms such as Weapons of Mass Destruction or Mushroom Bomb; one puts in those words and all the speeches and (public) documents that they appeared in will pop up on one’s screen. This process takes just as long as going to any other website, but instead of hearing gossip about your favorite star or how much the Patriots are favored by (the Giants are getting underestimated yet again) you find out information that directly effects your everyday life, whether your realize it or not.
People are still dying in clashes in Kenya – the total has gone over 800 – but hope has arrived. Kofi Annan has met with both Raila Odinga (opposition party leader) and Mwai Kibaki (president) separately and then together. Although nothing has been accomplished as of yet, Odinga did agree to call of rallies that were supposed to be held today. Maybe they should bring in Jesse Jackson.
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