I have a confession to make. I put this weblog on hold for a while because I was trying to put a radio show in place, which I was planning to run in conjunction with a weekly update here. Unfortunately, I didn't get the show, which is (so say the least) a tremendous disappointment, given the amount of pre-planning I did. Moreover, I had been told that the chances of getting a public affairs show on the campus radio show were really good, as if approval was almost automatic. Oh well. Anyway, after that tremendous disappointment, my attention comes back to this blog.
Patriot Act: Part Deux
A lot has been going on recently, the most frightening of which is John Ashcroft's intention to further restrict the civil liberties otherwise guaranteed in a little document called the Bill of Rights. The Center for Public Integrity managed to get its paws on a copy of the proposed legislation now being distributed among Republican Congressional leaders. It's good to see the separation of powers in the Bush Administration alive and well. Anyway, there's some scary stuff here, including secret trials and the elimination of judicial review, all based on circumstancial evidence of "terrorist intent." Remember, John Ashcroft has already branded environmentalists as terrorists in Oregon and the Justice Department is blacklisting members of certain peace movements and leftist groups from boarding airplanes. Anyway, this is what's particularly scary:
Section 501, “Expatriation of Terrorists”: This provision, the drafters say, would establish that an American citizen could be expatriated “if, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a ‘terrorist organization’.” But whereas a citizen formerly had to state his intent to relinquish his citizenship, the new law affirms that his intent can be “inferred from conduct.” Thus, engaging in the lawful activities of a group designated as a “terrorist organization” by the Attorney General could be presumptive grounds for expatriation.
Wow. As I've already suggested, Ashcroft has not been shy about using his power to attack ideological enemies, including environmentalists, euthanasia proponants in Oregon, leftist and anti-war organizations and (most recently) distributors of medical marijuana in California. This, of course, is not even mentioning the appalling conduct involving the semi-recent detainment of Islamic immigrants in CA. And now he wants to expand the power of the Justice Dept. to expatriation? Man oh man.
This legislation has no chance of passing, although the Justice Department could try and slip it through while the Congress has its attention elsewhere, such as what happened in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. But it signifies the continued attempts to erode civil liberties that the Ashcroft Justice Dept. has been undertaking, especially after the attacks on New York and Washington.
It should be noted that the Patriot Act has not 'caught' a single terrorist.
Time to Screw Germany
Another piece of apalling news: Rumsfeld's plan to completely pull all American troops out of Germany as retaliation for that country's opposition to war in Iraq. Grow up. According to the article:
Another Pentagon source said: 'The aim is to hit German trade and commerce. It is not just about taking out the troops and equipment; it is also about cancelling commercial contracts and defence-related arrangements.'
The Pentagon plan - and the language expressed by officials close to Rumsfeld - has horrified State Department officials, who believe that bullying other countries to follow the US line will further exacerbate anti-Americanism and alienate those European countries that might support a United Nations resolution authorising a war.
OK, so we want to send the German economy into a tailspin, increasing anti-Americanism and feelings of bitterness from the EU? This is completely and utterly absurd. Yes, the German economy has grown up on the presence of American troops there, but to unilaterally pull out of Germany with destructive intent will, in the short term, damage the country most likely to emerge as the EU's primary economic engine, which, in the long term, will ruin relations between American and German businesses. What a stupid idea.
Are we trying to destroy the EU? Sometimes I think we are. After all, the whole point of this stupid war is to get Iraqi oil easier and more cheaply than the EU gets it now.
Protests Protests Protests
And then there's the anti-war protests in New York, London and other cultural and economic centers throughout the United States and Europe. Which, of course, is not getting the just media attention it deserves. Take this CNN article, for example. First, we have the (typical) violent image of raucous protestors. There's no mention of the massive London turnout in the first half of the article, even though it was the largest public demonstration in British history. And then, of course, is the mention of pro-war gatherings--this time, portrayed in a photgraph, with patriotic looking Americans and some flags smattered in the foreground for good measure--as if those these sorts of gathernings somehow matched anti-war rallies in terms of scope, size and political importance.
Maybe they're right. As Atrios points out, these guys got pretty good turnout. Over 50 people! Well, that's certainly as noteworthy as the hundreds of thousands in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Good job CNN!