Friday, November 18, 2005
Most of my family were thrown in internment camps during WWII by FDR for the "crime" of being Japanese-American. Of course, none of those internees ever committed even a slightly treasonous act but suffered the consequences of the loss of their civil rights. On the other hand, my (now deceased) father's story is a great deal more complicated. My great-grandfather was forced to leave Japan because he was a supporter of the old order. When the Meiji restoration occurred (the emperor seized control), he was on the losing side of the power struggle and emigrated to the U.S. where he was a successful farmer. He went back to Japan and bought real estate and lived quite comfortably. His daughter and her husband stayed in the U.S. and that was where my father was born. He was sent to Japan at the age of seven to be educated. His parents stayed behind, so he was raised by his grandfather, a very strict but fair man. When the shit hit the fan in 1941, my great-grandfather publically stated that the Japanese government had their heads up their asses and would lose the war. The police questioned him but let him go. Actually, the Japanese government and military knew that it was a bad idea but, for extraordinarily stupid reasons, they went ahead and attacked Pearl Harbor anyway. Why would a government knowingly commit an idiotic and catastrophic mistake? (Sound familiar?) In any case, my father, then 14, suffered beatings and abuse because he wasn't a "patriotic Japanese citizen." Determined to prove his loyalty, he ran away from home at 16 and found work making bombs in a Tokyo factory. I suppose he may have committed high treason for this activity. His bombmaking job didn't last, however. The U.S. firebombed residential sections of Toyko, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians who were NOT engaged in the war effort. People ran for the rivers but the heat was so intense, the water boiled and they were literally cooked to death. My father saw bloated bodies floating in the water with their skin peeling off their flesh. He escaped the same fate through sheer luck. After Japan's defeat and the subsequent economic dislocations perpetrated by Douglas MacArthur, my great-grandfather lost most of his money and had to sell his real estate holdings. My father eventually decided to go to the U.S. He was still a U.S. citizen. When the Korean War broke out, my father was drafted by the U.S. Army. He served two years and was a model soldier. For the next 50 years, he worked hard, raised a family, and was a law-abiding, contributing member to society. I believe that a rational person would forgive my father's "treason." He was young, his allegiance was to the country where he was raised, he was pressured as disloyal by his peer group, and he later served in the U.S. military (a rather ironic twist, imho). This is my father's odd history with bizarre twists and shifting patriotism (or lack thereof). FDR and the U.S. government are hardly the heroes in this story, but neither are the Japanese; atrocities abound for all. So what country deserves the patriotism of its citizens? George Bush's America? HAH! Not a goddamn one deserves my loyalty, but that's a consequence of my family history and post Vietnam/Watergate cynicism.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Supporting the Troops
We're coming up on 2000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. Will anyone care? Besides Cindy Sheehan, that is. I care. I can't really comprehend why anyone would join the military with Bush as Commander in Chief and with the current crop of gutless bureaucrats who call themselves the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but I don't want these enlistees to die. I am sure that Bush and the Neocons don't care. They're incapable of any emotion except greed. Does the public care? Bush has tried to insulate them from any effects. As a result, they haven't sacrificed anything for this war except their children's future. Poll numbers show that support for the war is very low but will that translate into real anger over these pointless deaths? When so many servicemen died in the beginning of July, Bush's approval rating dropped. The public took that as a sign that the war was progressing poorly. Still, earlier this month, there were several deaths which received scant attention. If Fitzgerald issues indictments over the Plame/WMD hoax AND the insurgents manage to kill a substantial number of soldiers/marines this week, that might make a dent in public opinion. What will the next set of polls show?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I Love Texas Judge Bob Perkins
My God, on Friday, Perkins is ordering Tom DeLay to be to arrested, booked and arraigned, mug shots, fingerprinting, bail, the whole works. The Republican leadership was so arrogant in their belief that they were above the law, but they miscalculated. Fitzgerald is likely to issue indictments tomorrow and Frist is under investigation by the SEC. Hey, maybe democracy isn't dead.
Monday, October 17, 2005
October is the Cruelest Month
Some of my random thoughts. Washington and Iraq are heating up the rumor mill. Fitzgerald is on the verge of indicting Rove and Libby over Plamegate (possibly on Wednesday) and Dick Cheney is in the crosshairs. Cheney must be one of the unindicted co-conspirators but there are rumors of another unindicted co-conspirator. Could it possibly be Bush? Even if Bush isn't impeached, the indictment of high-level aides will weaken his presidency tremendously. Iraq's constitution is certain to be ratified which is rather interesting since the votes haven't been counted yet and statistical analysis shows inconsistencies in voting patterns. Does any rational human being believe that the vote wasn't fixed? The Sunnis have no reason to support the constitution and will turn toward the insurgents as their only legitimate voice; the U.S. keeps bombing innocent Sunni civilians and reducing their towns to rubble while the Shiites and Kurds are looking for payback on the Sunnis. The new Iraqi flag should have been blood-red. The massive earthquake hit Pakistan very hard and news reports indicate dissatisfaction with Pakistani Pres. Musharraf's handling of the crisis. Even before the disaster, Musharraf was hardly in complete control of his country. That's why he doesn't want to capture Bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S.; Musharraf would be facing open revolt in the streets of Islamabad. We're also looking at Tropical Storm Wilma which is predicted to turn into a cat 3 hurricane. It's going to be a record-breaking year and I keep wondering how many hurricanes will hit U.S. oil-drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The possible destruction of oil-rigs and processing plants is dangerous to our debt-ridden economy. In general, October is a dangerous month for possible economic collapse; mutual funds sell some of their holdings in October in order to lock in their profits for their yearly reports. Historically, in a weak and unstable economy, that sell-off has led to severe drops in the stock market. We live in exciting times.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The Valerie Plame case has heated up with news stories strongly suggesting that indictments are imminent. In particular, Huffington Post is fanning the flames under Bush which is particularly ominous for the Republicans. Huffington Post has graduated from Arianna's pet project to a very legitimate source of news and informed opinion. Will Cheney be an unindicted co-conspirator? It sounds like Fitzgerald has Libby by the short hairs; if so, Libby may flip and offer up Cheney. Would Cheney offer up dubya for a plea bargain? That would be so sweet. Can you impeach the president AND the vice-president at the same time? Probably not but it's a fun question. The executive branch has become too powerful and Bush arrogantly claims presidential privilege whenever anyone tries to hold him accountable for his actions. Remember Nixon and the "imperial presidency"? IIRC, Tricky Dicky wanted to dress up White House security personnel in uniforms that suggested they were guarding royalty, i.e. Buckingham Palace or the Vatican. The country has to hold the Bush Admin responsible for their misdeeds and kick them and their supporters out of office. If another incompetent, neocon-controlled president takes office after dubya, God only knows what will happen. I wrote my previous post on the fall of America as a speculation on the necessary factors for a military coup. In retrospect, I see that I failed to include the breakdown of constitutional law. If Congress fails to hold the President responsible for his illegal and unconstitutional actions, this is clearly a step down the road to disaster. How many more steps will it take?
Monday, October 03, 2005
Future History: A Wikipedia Article From The 22nd Century
The Decline of the American Republic The decline of the United States was due to several factors which are obvious from the perspective of the 22nd century. However, even at the time, the weaknesses were well known; political and financial leaders chose to ignore the warning signs. America rose to economic, political, and military superiority at the end of World War II. European and Asian countries had been devastated by the damage to their cities and industrial base while the U.S., due to its relative geographic isolation, had suffered little harm. This, coupled with an educated populace, allowed their economy to achieve substantial growth, far outstripping its rivals. Allegedly, their great rival was the Soviet Union due to its nuclear capabilities and European client states. The economic "threat" of communism was far overblown since the Soviet economy was never more than a fraction the size of America's; the military threat of nuclear war was more serious but, since no sane leader would contemplate initiating a first strike under any circumstances, this horror was averted. The cost of avoiding World War III was the rise of the military-industrial complex in America. These generals, politicians, and large corporations helped launch a massive arms race which sought to deter the Soviet threat while making large profits for themselves. By the end of the republic, however, protection of the nation was forgotten and the system had devolved into little more than a method for funneling government funds into the hands of a few wealthy industrialists. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, America appeared ready to enter a Golden Age. No longer burdened by massive military commitments, it seemed that the U.S. could afford to concentrate on its infrastructure and economic needs. Unfortunately, the founding fathers had not created a government able to handle the demands of a large and complex nation. From the beginning, the immigrant nation was beset by massive divisions of class and race. Class divisions were common to all nations of the period, but race differences and slavery, in particular, splintered the national identity. This lack of cohesion weakened loyalty and patriotism to the common good. Other nations managed to overcome these problems and accept diversity, but Americans could not escape their legacy of exploiting minority groups. Thus, when the oligarchy began their final attack on the lower and middle classes, average Americans could not organize themselves to battle this threat. The founders knew that corruption would be a constant threat to their democracy but they could not foresee how economic success would create an intellectually lazy and complacent populace. By various financial machinations, corrupt politicians increased the national deficit by issuing government bonds which would be paid by future generations. The voters were not immediately affected by this chicanery; the debt would be paid by their children and grandchildren. The populace eased their conscience by criticizing the morality and values of their offspring who "deserved" this financial burden. An honest accounting of the fiscal disaster would have required the voters to work for integrity in government and raising taxes, neither of which was popular. Deep down, Americans knew that their government was leading them astray. Wars of conquest and economic exploitation of third-world nations were commonplace and millions died as a direct and indirect result. This uncomfortable knowledge of war crimes was masked by rascism and Christian fundamentalism, i.e. "heathens" were subhuman and damned to suffer by God. Christian extremist leaders worked hand in hand with politicians to create this propaganda campaign. The efforts of religious extremists were also used to subvert and ultimately destroy the educational system. Science was no longer of value; faith and belief could "solve" all difficulties. The oligarchy found this particularly useful since an ignorant population was easier to exploit. Of course, the lack of educated workers led to the breakdown of the manufacturing sector and economic collapse. At the time of the final economic catastrophe, the U.S. military had been fighting yet another decades-long war of conquest in the Middle East in an attempt to shore up poor financial decisions and corruption by top government officials. The overstretched military was forced to send servicemen and women into tours of duty that lasted several years. Foreign mercenaries were recruited with the promise of U.S. citizenship. As a result, the military rank and file lost touch with mainstream America; the native-born citizens hardly knew their own country and the mercenaries were motivated solely by the promise of future economic rewards. When the government stopped providing basic necessities like body armor, transport vehicles, munitions, etc., the war became untenable. In desperation, a few highly placed generals decided the only solution was a military coup. *** So, what do you think? Total bullshit or scary stuff?
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Musharraf Sucking Up to Pakistani Fundamentalists
The unelected leader (i.e. dictator) of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, recently came out with a statement that denigrates the rights of women. He's playing the "blame the female rape victim" game for the religious fundamentalists. I find it very suspicious that Musharraf suddenly spews out a statement like that. Why should Musharraf suddenly throw a bone to Islamic fundamentalists with close ties to the Taliban? Granted, the fundamentalists are a very large and powerful group in Pakistan but why suck up to them at this particular time? I think he's getting nervous and he's not the only one making suspicious statements. Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, is trying to act like some type of Afghani patriot and whining about U.S. airstrikes and other abuses to civilians. Funny, it didn't seem to bother him before (snark). The Iraq War continues to deteriorate for the U.S. military and the public wants to withdraw troops. How long can the U.S. occupy Iraq and Afghanistan? If Bush cannot have both, he'll stay with the oil in Iraq. At least, he'll try. But, how much does he really care about Afghanistan? Karzai has good reason to be nervous given the fate of the last puppet ruler of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah, in 1996. Click here if you want to see a gory picture. The Taliban dragged him out of a UN compound and hanged him from a street light. Recently, news reports state Iraqi insurgents have exported their guerrilla tactics and munitions to the Taliban. Thus, the Taliban have strong international support from the Middle East and from Pakistani religious fundamentalists. Granted, the recent elections seem to encourage Karzai's government and the Taliban are not the most popular group in the world, but historically, Afghanis hate foreign invaders. They've hated them for at least 2500 years and I don't think that will change in the near future. If we pull out of Afghanistan, will we keep throwing $billions to Pakistan and Musharraf? Can we even afford to keep on throwing money around with a massive budget deficit? The Iraqi insurgents will continue to support the Taliban and teach them urban guerrilla warfare. That must be making Karzai nervous. Will the Taliban teach these techniques to an insurgency in Pakistan? Is that making Musharraf nervous?