Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday Ramble

today, president bush addressed the nation via radio and defended his 30 times renewed policy of secretly spying on americans, stating that it was vital in protecting us from terrorists. tomorrow, he will speak to us via television and probably not bring this up (because many more people watch tv than listen to radio). there is much debate over the legality of this surveillance. the NSA can read my emails, tap my phone, search my purchase history, demand access to my employment personnel file, track my library visits, and walk through my home without a warrant of any kind when i'm not there. every 45 days bush must re-authorize this and he has done so more than 30 times. in a row. no time off for good behavior for us (with no assurance that this works other than bush's tired "trust me" ticket like he tried to use with harriet meirs). and it wasn't until recently that anyone other than a very select few at the highest levels of government knew about this. a top secret memo was leaked to the media last week, i think, and it immediately created an uproar. sen. arlen spector has called for an investigation into the policy's legality. at first, bush said that confirming its authenticity would put the program and its operatives at risk and expressed deep concern that someone would leak this type of intelligence (evidently, bush has a very short memory or he would have noted the irony in relation to valerie plame's outing and his statement at the time that anyone involved in this would be fired). one quote to make one think:
"our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country."
but the crux of this post is to remind people that this is not a one-off by our "elected" administration. in case you have forgotten, a while back we bugged UN secretary general kofi annan's office in order to get a leg up on anyone who might oppose our dirty little war. you can read alternet's article from the archives here. we spied on the UN in flagrant violation of international and domestic law. and our so-called newspeople wouldn't touch it. why? dunno. maybe because at that time no one was standing up to the government. objective press then meant no future access. and, as bob woodward so eloquently put it when he finally admitted he'd sold his journalistic integrity to the highest bidder, access is all that matters.

Also, i did not know this until recently, but evidently it is a crime punishable by prison time in many european countries to deny that the holocaust happened. and, as has been proven of late, this law has teeth. two men have been arrested and accused in the past month. one of them was convicted in absentia by germany and extradited by us. now, iran's bigwig has stepped into this by calling the holocaust a myth. and our administration is talking about economic sanctions in order to punish iran. now, as dumb as i think someone would have to be to claim that a whole shitload of jews weren't killed by the nazis, i have to wonder about this being a crime. it's an opinion. it's a thought. and it lends real credence to george orwell's fictional thought crimes. europeans are very reluctant to discuss racism (and denying the holocaust does fall into that category). it's a very, very sensitive subject. polls have shown that they admire america for the fact that (at least) our racism is out in the open and is debated publicly and often. in europe, it's different. perhaps because of the holocaust no one wants to talk about the fact that some countries didn't learn their lesson when it comes to tolerance and acceptance. perhaps in their rush after WWII to bring in immigrants for the workforce they overreached. perhaps being seen as a rolemodel for tolerance was more diplomatically important than monitoring the potential fallouts to the native populations. france just experienced what can happen when non-natives are allowed in and then ignored for great lengths of time.
but anyway. i was wondering what will happen to the people of iran if international sanctions (i.e. economic, military, agricultural, medical) are placed on them. history has proved that over 500,000 iraqi children died as a result of sanctions we placed on them after the first war back in 1991. we put the sanctions in place to purportedly force the iraqi government into heeling. it didn't and as a result we helped cause our own little holocaust. is this what we're willing to live with in iran? no sane westerner would want iran to have nuclear bombs. but will that same sane westerner be willing to relive a recent historical failure of grave consequence? we've done the same thing to north korea. while our sanctions haven't produced one iota of governmental difference there many hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died from starvation and freezing. and that's the thing about sanctions: if we get to the point where we are forced to impose them, then we've already failed. the threat of sanctions can work on weaker regimes. most of them rely on foreign investment if only to prop an unpopular figurehead or group of cronies. but when dealing with strong (and you can read that as totally despotic with the backing of the military) governments that refuse to yield it's somewhat inevitable that war will ensue.
so, i'm done wandering. see you later.

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