Thursday, March 31, 2005

Farewell to Mr. Korematsu

Fred Korematsu, the brave pioneer who challenged the U.S. government internment of Japanese in the United States, died today at the age of 86.

Korematsu, the son of Japanese immigrants, was a 23-year-old welder living in Oakland in 1942 when military officials ordered all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast — including U.S. citizens like Korematsu — to report to internment camps. Korematsu refused. As he explained, "I thought what the military was doing was unconstitutional. I was really upset because I was branded as an enemy alien when I'm an American."He was arrested, convicted of violating the order and sent to an internment camp in Utah. The Supreme Court upheld Korematsu's conviction in December 1944, agreeing with the government that it was justified by the need to combat sabotage and espionage.

Speaking out against the Patriot Act, Korematsu compared the plight of Arab-Americans in America today to Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Mr. Korematsu's heroism serves as a powerful reminder to all Americans who truly respect democracy and human rights of the need to curb government abuses of power, especially in the time of war.

Fueling Overpopulation

The Australian government — responding to a falling birth rate, looming labor market shortage and shrinking tax base — offered to give mothers $2,319 for each baby born after July 1, 2004. Indeed, the government treasurer added increased childbirth to the list of patriotic things Australians should do for their country.

Instead of fueling the overpopulation of the earth, however, I do not understand why the Australian government simply doesn't permit increased immigration to boost the population. I am sure there are workers with varying degrees of skills, from doctors to laborers, who would happily leave their impoverished countries for a better life.

Perhaps the Australian government's official "white only" immigration policy that it supposedly did away with only a few years ago is back in effect.

The Impotence of the U.N.

Congress is about to debate whether John Bolton, who the Emperor's administration describes as a "tough-minded diplomat", should become the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. The following is an excerpt from one of Mr. Bolton's speeches describing the United Nations:

The point that I want to leave with you in this very brief presentation is where I started, is that there is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States, when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along. And I think it would be a real mistake to count on the United Nations as if it is some disembodied entity out there that can function on its own.

Aside from the puzzling quandry as to how Mr. Bolton can work at a place that he insists does not exist, I hate to admit that he has a point. When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1990, it used the U.N. as a front to make it appear as if Iraq's legitimate right to protect itself from Kuwait's slant drilling of its oil was a world problem. Notwithstanding Saddam's persistent efforts to diplomatically resolve the slant-drilling problem with Kuwait (including an appeal to the U.S. to act as a mediator), the U.S. wanted to attack the oil-rich country and made the U.N. tow the line. In line with the so-called concern for democracy, the U.S. bullied the world "to go along" with starving Iraq's population for 10 years (which killed over 500,000 Iraqis).

When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it again used a U.N. resolution as the justification to attack and colonize an otherwise sovereign nation. Saddam's refusal to let in weapons inspectors in the face of U.N. resolutions requiring transparency in the Iraqi weapons program, was one of the myriad justifications offered for this multi-billion dollar never-ending morass. The U.S. wanted to attack Iraq, and did so without the support of the world community and, indeed, against the opinions of other members of the U.N. Security Council.

Compare the U.S. militant intransigence regarding Iraq's violations of U.N. resolutions to resolutions that the U.S. finds of no concern. For example, U.N. Resolution 242 requires the "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict [West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights]". Notwithstanding this unambiguous directive, Israel has not only remained in those territories, but has built countless settlements that it will never dismantle. The punishment from the U.S.? Ten billion dollars of aid each year.

The U.N.'s humanitarian work suffers from the same shortcomings. It is apparent from its own statistics that AIDS continues to spread at alarming rates through Africa, the gap between rich and poor in the world continues to widen, women continue to struggle for rights in much of the world and war is endemic. If it was in America's interests to solve these problems, they would be resolved (stop arming murderous regimes). As it is, however, Corporate America's insatiable appetite for ever-expanding profits conflicts with the U.N.'s humanitarian aims. Nike can't make a profit on tennis shoes if the Chinese factory worker who makes the shoes is paid a living wage and defense contractors rely upon oppressive dictators to provide a market for their wares. The World Bank system of so-called "aid" ensnares poor countries into a never-ending spiral of debt, forcing them to finance debt rather than education and healthcare for their people. (Check out Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins).

The only difference between Mr. Bolton and the rest of the administration is that he is honest about U.S. dominance of the rest of the world. The United Nations cannot "function on its own" and it never has. Everyone else in the world understands this except the dim-whitted Americans who cry that the U.S. should get out of the U.N.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Would You Like Fries With That?

According to Advertising Age Magazine, McDonald's is offering to pay $5 to any rapper who mentions Big Macs in a song -- $5 each time the song is played in the United States. Although most rappers typically mention products that have an allure of the elite, like Prada and Dom Perignon champagne, I suspect that the mysogenistic purveyors of filth will have a tough time passing up $5 a pop for the Biggie Big Mac.

McDonald's has already opened branches in churches and schools, capitalizing on the desperate financial conditions in our public schools. With this new campaign, the ubiquitous golden arches will expand their domination of the media realm. The songs we hear on the radio and the ads that fill space between the songs will soon be indistinguishable.

Welcome to the fatter and dumber America. Would you like fries with that?

(If you haven't seen the documentary Super Size Me, you should!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Did You Know

Little bits of information go a long way, so I will periodically post factoids that are not circulated within the corporate media.

Did you know....

The United States was convicted of terrorism in 1986 by the World Court for its "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua and ordered to pay reparations (which it has not done).

The Sanctity of Marriage

Michael Schiavo's decision whether to remove the feeding tube that has sustained his wife's life for the past 15 years is both tragic and intimately personal. To those who believe that the institution of marriage is sacred, it is a decision that Mr. Schiavo should be able to make without government intrusion.

The fundamentalist Christian right that pulls the political puppet strings, however, does not believe in the sanctity of marriage. To the contrary, the religious lunatics of this country have demanded that the President, the governor of Florida, the U.S. Congress, the Florida legislature and the state and federal courts intrude upon the marriage of Michael and Terri Schiavo and make decisions for them.

The phenomenal contradiction is inescapable. Gay marriage was banned in thirteen states because the Christian right puppeteers convinced the voters of those states that gay marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage -- an institution, they insist, so holy and sacred that it is the very foundation of American society. But when the puppeteers themselves become a threat to the institution of marriage, the bait and switch advertising campaign regarding the right to life kicks in. Which is it? Right to life or sacred institution of marriage?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Arms for Abuses

The decision of the U.S. to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan is made at the same time that the U.S. State Department issued a critique of Pakistan's human rights record. An excerpt from the State Department report on Pakistan for 2004 reads as follows:

Security force personnel continued to torture persons in custody throughout the country. Human rights organizations reported that methods used included beating; burning with cigarettes; whipping the soles of the feet; prolonged isolation; electric shock; denial of food or sleep; hanging upside down; and forced spreading of the legs with bar fetters. Officials from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) estimated 5,000 cases of police torture annually; the Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid Madadgaar Project recorded 1,101 cases of torture during the year.

Indeed, President and Chief of Army Staff Pervez Musharraf overthrew the elected civilian government in 1999 and has ruled since. And, showing its true colors, the U.S. rewards this tyrant who destroyed democracy and imposed a repressive dictatorship with F-16 fighter jets that have the capacity to transport nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein didn't overthrow a democratically elected government.

Sorry State Department - it doesn't matter what your reports say regarding a country's human rights abuses - corporate America still needs to make a profit.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

W Is For Women

Now that Emperor George has rationalized the morality of attacking a possible enemy without provocation, it is my sincere hope that the rationale will trickle down to the laws governing domestic abuse. Under the law, a woman cannot get a restraining order against someone who threatens her unless there is evidence that the man will take physical action against her. Usually, that evidence is a physical attack that she was lucky enough to survive. More often than not, unfortunately, all that is left is a body surrounded by friends and family crying about how helpless this woman was to defend against her abuser.

Condoleeza Rice pleaded at length that the U.S. should not be forced to wait for a "mushroom cloud" to determine whether to attack Iraq. And, women should not be required to wait for an attack to get legal protection. Under the W is for Women law that I propose and that is based upon the principles justifying the War in Iraq, women who have been threatened in any way by a man should not be required to seek a restraining order but, rather, should be permitted to use deadly force to ensure that all that is left is not a "mushroom cloud". The women who are in jail for taking the law into their own hands should be released and hailed as heroes for bringing stability to their homes by ridding themselves of oppressive dictators.

Stickers Aren't Support

The popular cliche these days is "Support Our Troops". The worshippers of the false god of patriotism scream at anti-war protesters that we must support the troops and, to do otherwise is somehow unpatriotic. This hollow phrase and the pretty yellow ribbon stickers on cars beg the question as to what the sticker people do to support the troops.

The word "support" is defined as follows:
1a : to promote the interests or cause of b : to uphold or defend as valid or right c : to argue or vote for
2 : to provide with substantiation or corroboration (support an alibi)
3 : to provide with the means of livelihood (as housing, food, or clothing) esp. in accordance with an agreement or court order
4 : to hold up or in position : maintain the physical integrity of the right to have one's land supported by the underlying land.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
Do these sticker people pick up guns and spend their weekends in Iraq supporting their friends and family in battle? Do they buy the body armor? Do they send money? Maybe some send money, but I would bet that most don't do anything.

Support implies some type of active conduct. A common example of support is, as illustrated by definition number three set forth above, financial support. A father who is ordered to pay child support cannot shirk this responsibility by putting a sticker on his car that reads "I support my kids". Even if that father, with the best of intentions, keeps pictures of his kids with him at all times, no one rational would argue that he supports them by doing so. No judge would ever accept that.

The military has been having a tough time meeting its recruiting goals and, more and more, is refusing to allow soldiers to go home when they are due to be discharged. To all those who claim to "support our troops", I suggest that you put your money where your mouth is and run to your nearest military recruitment office so that you can enlist and really support our troops. Until then, shut up hypocrite.

Robert Blake v. O.J.

Given the remarkable silence of the media, I can't help but wonder if White people are equally as outraged by Robert Blake's acquittal as they were about O.J. Simpson's acquittal. After O.J.'s acquittal, White people cried about the failure of the justice system and rallied for professional juries. Where is that outrage now hypocrites?