Saturday, July 30, 2005

American Dictators: Bush and Big Lumber

It has long been known that some individuals and corporations will stop at nothing to get their way. Power and wealth corrupt them absolutely, driving them over the cliffs of reason into a stormy sea of deceit. Two examples of these corrupt extremists have come to my attention this week. One involves President George W. Bush. The other involves former paper manufacturer Boise-Cascade Company. Both the President and Boise-Cascade are dictators of a sort, trying to undermine society's will and it's institutions in an effort to get what they want. Here's how.
President "I-Always-Get-My-Way" Bush
In the months since his re-election, President Bush has embarked on a campaign to get his way on as many things as possible, a mission he claims as his right and duty because of the "mandate" that his narrow 3 percent victory gave him. By using propaganda and playing issues like a chess game, he has managed to sidestep much of the discontent that his quest for power has given rise to. In many cases, he has even managed to coerce and/or force his way on the nation by making the public think that he's doing it a favor by taking more political and military power on himself, or as he refers to it, more burden.
Among the most obvious signs of Bush's quest for power are efforts to strengthen and make permanent the Patriot Act, efforts to make permanent the support of gun owners by protecting gun shops from litigation even when they sell arms to dangerous individuals who shouldn't have them, efforts to give corporations the thumbs up to continued dumping of toxic waste into the environment and efforts to force ideological nominations through the Senate. It is one of these ideological nominations that has garnered my attention this week. Officials say that President Bush is going to use an obscure Presidential power to unilaterally confirm John "Hate-Speak" Bolton as America's ambassador to the UN, a body for which he has demonstrated deep hatred in the past. This action will go against the wishes of the Senate, which voted against confirming Bolton several times this year. Speaking on condition of anonymity, senior Bush Administration officials said Friday that Bush will announce his intentions for Bolton by Tuesday before he leaves for his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
The Blitzkrieg
If Bush goes through with this plan, Bolton would become America's chief UN diplomat until January 2007, by which time the law states he would lose the post unless the Senate confirms him. This move would be a blatant attack by Bush on American Democracy and an insult to the public that elected him to do its bidding. It is important to note once again that while Bush wouldn't be doing anything illegal, he would be going against the wishest of the nation, aka his employers. The Senate, as mentioned above, voted several times this Spring not to confirm Bolton. In addition, polls show that Americans are overwhelmingly against sending Bolton to the UN. Did someone say Generalissimo Bush?
Apart from being an abuse of power, there are many things wrong with this move on Bush's part. First, it's a cowardly action that insults Congress and undermines the Democratic institutions on which the United States was founded. Second, it promotes a hatemonger to a position where he will be working with those he hates to promote American interests, a situation that will most likely push American interests backwards, not forwards. Third, fellow diplomats will not consider Bolton an equal because his nomination without Congressional consent will shed a light of illegitimacy on his work. Fourth, Bolton is a documented bully and one who believes in changing or presenting in a misleading way data that doesn't suit his agenda. Does he sound like the kind of person we should trust to fight our battles and push for reform in the already corrupt UN?
Conclusion: For King Or Country?
In the larger context, Bolton is a man almost as crooked as Bush himself. As anyone who isn't sipping Republican Kool-Aid can attest, this nomination is wrong in every single way. If Bush uses his power to send Bolton to the UN, he will prove his growing contempt for Democracy and all that it stands for. While it is true that America elected Bush to the White House, it is not true that America wants him to be all-powerful. A 3% victory margin does not give him the right to do as he pleases; not even a 90% victory margin would have done that. With the very foundation of our Democracy under assault, we must ask ourselves: Is Democracy about fulfilling the will of the People or is it about fulfilling the will of the Individual? Is Bush a President or a Dictator?
Big Lumber: Profits At Any Cost
Like President Bush, logging companies have decided that having their way is the most important thing on the agenda. Their ongoing battle to destroy Mexico's Sierra Madre, a virgin-forest covered mountain range along the Pacific Ocean, has led to violence and even bloodshed. Yet despite all of that, logging companies still maintain that their will must be carried out.
Boise-Cascade: Once Upon A Time
In 1998, Boise-Cascade Company announced plans for a massive logging operation in the Petatlan Mountains, a sub-range within the Sierra Madre. This led to massive discontent among local peasants as the logging, which had been ongoing since 1992, was slowly destroying the environment and their way of life. In fact, Peasant Ecologists of the Petatlan Sierra, a grassroots organization seeking to protect the Sierra Madre, said deforestation was making the watershed dry up, which lead to dead streams, dying springs and unprecedented drought. It was because of this that PEPS rallied against Boise-Cascade, gathering members in the mountains to slow or peacefully prevent their operations. The Mexican peasant organization won the battle, but at a terrible cost as you will see.
The Aftermath
After fighting PEPS to no avail for nigh on a month, Boise-Cascade cancelled cutting operations in the Petatlan. As a result, 15 logging permits were subsequently revoked. Shortly afterwards, former Boise employees and their supporters in the corrupt local government began pursuing a mission of terror, seeking to dislodge, terrorize and even murder PEPS members so that logging operations could return to the region.
As the violence continues against its members, PEPS claims that local government, local police and the military are all working together with logging advocates to punish those who oppose the logging industry. Many PEPS members have been arrested on bogus charges and forced into hiding. Still others have been targeted for assassination.
The Murders
One night, about three weeks ago, PEPS member Reyna Mojica saw two of her children shot to death in retaliation for her family's involvement in the 1998 fight with Boise. The assassins struck just as her family arrived home. Her husband was injured in the attack and her 9-year-old and 20-year-old sons were killed. The attack, Mojica says, was the result of her husband's continued activism in PEPS. Note that local authorities, who are bought-and-paid-for by the logging industry, have yet to make any arrests in the case.
The Boise Connection
While there is not yet conclusive proof that Boise ordered former employees to attack the individuals who prevented the company from logging in the Sierra Madre, there is enough evidence to suggest a strong link. In Boise's defense, the company is no longer in the logging business, having sold that portion of the company recently. However, Boise is still responsible for the murders at least indirectly because there would not be so strong a sentiment to eliminate conservationists if Boise and companies like it had not supported the terror campaign in the first place. In perspective, this is a classic case of profit being valued above life itself, proof that companies should not be allowed to have free reign to do as they please. Honestly, do companies run nations or do governments?
Conclusion: Once Evil, Always Evil
Anyone who believes companies should be the controlling aspect of free trade would do well to tour the 223,200 acres of devastated forests in the Sierra Madre. They should also visit the graves of those who have been murdered by big business' bought and paid-for cronies. If America is truly fighting a War on Terror, shouldn't we be fighting the companies that condone terrorist tactics? Do murder and false arrest not fall under the category of terrorism? The Republican leadership in Washington should take its "Pro-Life" views and fight atrocities that American companies promote and/or conveniently fail to prevent in the name of profit. Considering, however, that Republican leaders are on the payroll of such organizations, gaining $47,763 in donations from Boise last year alone, such action is unlikely. Are we the United States of America or the Corporate States of America? You be the judge.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Washington: The Cantaloupe Manifesto

Welcome to The Independent Liberal. I expect the format of my new experiment in political dialogue will be much the same as my old one, The New Oklahoma Democrat. One difference readers will notice is that I intend to be true to my Centrist self and will no longer defend Democratic positions that I do not share. Something else I hope to see is a decline in counter-attackism. As a Democrat, every time I would point out something negative about a Republican or Republicans in general, I would suddenly face a barrage of "Well what about such and such Democrat who did this?" Hopefully, as an Independent, I will no longer face such pointless circumventist tactics. Perhaps now there will be more dialogue. In fact, to kickoff my new experiment, I have chosen this issue of counter-attackism as the topic of today's post. As a political quandary, it extends well beyond the blogosphere to Washington D.C itself. I refer to it as the Cantaloupe Manifesto. Read the following, be patient and don't draw any conclusions until you reach the end.
The Cantaloupe Manifesto
Anyone who has ever eaten a cantaloupe can tell you they usually have a sweet and a sweeter side.
The Sunny-Side Down is usually the sweetest side, the one with the thinnest skin. This is the weightier portion of the fruit and the one that is easiest to infiltrate. It is well established in the grassroots sector you might say and that leaves it open to outside influences.
The Sunny-Side Up is usually less sweet than its opposite because it's hardened by external forces, giving it a more gnarled appearance and taking away from its immediate appeal to the senses. However, this experience with the world makes it a bit more sturdy and less easy to be infiltrated by unwanted agents.
It is true that this explanation of proper cantaloupe biology may seem odd but it is a true representation of the political crisis facing America today. It is important to note that even though the Sunny-Side Down is the sweeter portion of the fruit, the flesh around the middle is the sweetest. Now, let's look at the major political parties and contrast them to our cantaloupe.
Democrats And Republicans: Manifesting The Cantaloupe
As with the cantaloupe, there are two sides to politics including the Left, the Right and everything in their ideological spectrums. Like the sides of a cantaloupe, both Left and Right struggle to come out on top so they can be closer to their energy source: the people.
The Right Side of the Aisle, The Republican Party, has been the Party out of power for most of the last hundred years. It constitutes the bottom half of the political spectrum, the half that has become power-hungry as a result of its struggle to come out on top. Similar to the way the cantaloupe's thick under skin fails to protect it from external influences, the GOP's ideology has grown so thin because of its quest for power that is traditional values have been compromised. Corrupt ideals have now infiltrated the Republican platform and are now its masters. The Republican battle cries for low taxes and local control of government are no longer sincere, but instead serve as covers for new intensions: rewriting the law to serve the agendas of corporate and religious special interests.
The Left Side of the Aisle, The Democratic Party, has been the Party in power for most of the last century. It constitutes the upper half of the political spectrum, the half that has enjoyed the light of the sun so to speak. With its greater access to resources over time, the Democratic Party has strengthened its ideology and, like the thick skin of the cantaloupe's Sunny-Side Up, has become more resistant to change. This resistance to true progressiveness has made the Democratic Party pompous, putting it out of touch with regular Americans. Its agenda has become lost in its gnarled ideology, a mission of maintaining the status quo rather than of pursuing its platform. Thus, many Americans have become disillusioned with the Democratic Party.
Conclusion: The End Result
The end result of the constant struggle for power is that consequences vary based on circumstance. The cantaloupe's struggle for sunlight creates a sweet and a sweeter side but in the end, the middle of the fruit is the sweetest because that is where the two sides meet and share resources. The war between Democrats and Republicans has resulted in the corruption of both parties. Both sides are pursuing an agenda, not America's will.
In conclusion, it is necessary to point out that the land of Centrists and Independents, the middle ground between Left and Right, is where the true power in American politics can be found. No ideology can reign supreme without the middle masses and yet both Left and Right have indeed forgotten this realm. Like the sweet center of the cantaloupe, the middle is where the America's best can be found. If the nation is to move forward, the Left and Right will have to meet there. Otherwise, we will continue to lose one opportunity after another to better ourselves until at last, we lose the greatness that has been handed to us by past generations. To remain great or to become a fading mediocrity, that is the question.
Recent Poll Results: Is The White House Covering Up For Karl Rove's Alleged Leak Of A CIA Operative's Identity?
Yes (Democrat) 30%
Yes (Republican) 5%
Yes (Other) 25%
No (Democrat) 10%
No (Republican) 25%
No (Other) 5%
Total: YES 60% NO 40%

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Last Modified On January 31, 2006