Proposed Twenty Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
"No person having been a member, official or aide of Congress or the Executive branch shall be compensated, outside of the federal government, for any advisory activity, directly or indirectly given, intended to influence any executive or legislative policy of the federal government."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oh, the Irony

Americans are contentedly uninformed regarding the trail of causation that led to the suicide mission of many Saudi Arabian men, the mission we know as 9/11.  The delusion of innocent victimization, a ploy historically used by ruling houses, was carried out with nary a suspicion from a public long drunk on its own sense of infallibility.

More attention is routinely given to the provocation that brought about a boy's blackened eye, than was ever given to understanding the truth behind a dozen educated men's willingness to die for their country.

A decade of sporadic attacks on U.S. military and political installations in the Middle East and North Africa were not enough to move U.S. leadership to respect the message they sent.  Only after 9/11, and with little news coverage in America, was the simple thorn that provoked it all removed.

This is in not a defense case being presented, an easily jumped to presumption; instead it is a prelude to a case for a just prosecution of those who've not only escaped it, but have reaped amazing rewards from their deeds.            

The recent outcry over the building of an Islamic cultural center in New York City has presented the greatest of ironies and that headlines in American newspapers are not screaming this irony is further evidence of the depths of our ignorance, so great it rivals any tragic series of events Shakespeare could have conceived.  
 A public outcry has occurred over construction of a facility in our midst by those so very different from us, who do not share our values and have used violence against us, whom we distrust and whose motivations we find suspicious.  And more over, they dare to build this facility on, or close to, that which we hold as sacred ground. 
  
Outrageously, they’ve been permitted, if not invited, to undertake this action by our government.  How much protestation does it take to make our government and these intruders realize we will not rest while this goes on.  If they build it, we will not rest until they are gone.   It is the people whose will must be done here, not outsiders, not leaders who are out of touch and in bed with the enemies of our people. 
   
If it takes violence to protect that which we have a sacred trust to defend, then so be it.  We tolerate these foreigners in our nation; we break bread with them, we engage in business, we incorporate them into the fabric of our society, but we will not allow them to inflict upon us the presence of their institutions which have historically made war upon our people, culture and religion.

Our government dares to say this facility is of no harm to our country; that it is a well intended presence, meant only to foster stability and a peaceful existence for us all.   But, to allow this is to insult us.  We are capable of providing our own peace and security.  Every patriot of our land must arise in fighting this intrusion and we shall not rest until this affront has receded. 

Whether through the electronic or print media or in assembled protests or in millions of private conversations, the above words and far less cogent arguments have taken place expressing the outrage felt by a large number of Americans regarding the construction of an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan, near the site of the felled World Trade Center and tragic deaths of 3,000 people.   The reasoned arguments pale in number to the irrational ones, which are largely vitriolic exhortations. 

As well suited as some may find it, the styled protest above is not in reference to that proposed cultural center in New York City, and yet it poses a very American styled (so we think) argument.  Indeed, its themes could be found in the preamble to any Republican Party (or Tea Party) platform, that of patriotism, protesting government’s imposition over the will of the people, defiance, indignation, the protection of sacred places, acceptance of multiculturalism without institutionalizing it, determination and, once again, patriotism. 

What event in our history could it be describing, perhaps the Cuban missile crisis?  At that time, our political nemesis was bringing into our midst weaponry which, though purported to be defensive, was viewed as threatening.  However, the citizenry was not protesting its own government, as the federal government lead in the protest against the perceived intrusion.

It does evoke memories of the federal government attempting to implement portions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the South, as Southerners expressed outrage.  And yet, ending institutional racism wasn’t about constructing facilities as much as it was about racially integrating them.

Perhaps there is an event of which I'm unaware.   Was there ever an attempt to open a Mexican Consulate on the grounds of or adjacent to the 'holiest' of Texas shrines, the Alamo?  Or worse, did we hand over the Lackland Air Base in San Antonio to the Mexican military?  Or maybe recently President Obama allowed the Chinese military to take over that air base, serving a dual role in protecting its own oil interests in Venezuela and to protect us from illegal border crossings from Mexico.

I can't find anything about a Mexican consulate next to the Alamo, but that last one about the air base sounds awfully familiar, though I've yet to hear about a Chinese military base in Texas.  But then, why would having another nation's military operating within your own country be objectionable?  

Some Americans have heard/read a rare reference to an American military installation in Saudi Arabia, yet they have not been 'told' how they should feel about it.  Today, most all Americans have grown up with the knowledge of America's military presence across the globe, not unlike McDonald's.  And, quite the opposite of thinking it an unwanted presence by the host country, most Americans are convinced that our military is a benevolent and wholly welcomed entity; why, only a bad person, i.e. an enemy, would think otherwise.   But even among those with whom we seem to have very good relations there have been signs of hostility to our military presence, most notably Japan. 

The concept of sovereignty within one's homeland and the psychological disposition of men (and women) to take pride in their country, their people, their religion, and their families are not limited to men of western cultures, like, say Texas.   Imagine the scenario hypothesized above, where thousands of Chinese soldiers, pilots, and other military personnel, are permitted by President Obama (in Texans eyes, a socialist) to operate a military installation (home base), only a few miles from the Alamo, the most revered site of independence and self dependence in Texas.

By standards of the American South, an air base of the Chinese People's Liberation Army would represent a community of atheistic communists and pagans, culturally reviled.   Is there any question as to the response from the 'machismo' men of Texas, who, by virtue of the Chinese military presence, would be cast as incapable of defending themselves and their country?   Texans would mine the runways with explosives to prevent landings and takeoffs, and that would be the least of it. 

The protestation presented above isn't reflective of voices in America, they are words mirroring the cries of the majority of citizens in Saudi Arabia during the 1990's.  The intrusive object, of which they protest, isn't a mere cultural center, but a center of military power and the 'so thought' intruders aren't fellow country men, like the case in New York City where American Muslims are the object of scorn, but are soldiers of a foreign government.  The protest isn't decrying the acts of appeasement by a democratically elected government; as Saudi Arabia is ruled by an autocratic government.  The Saudis don't have a 'Tea Party' type political movement, and elections, as an outlet for their anger and means to peaceably alter their government's policy.    

And, not only was the intrusion (as viewed by the populace) into Saudi Arabia by foreigners, but it was by a foreign people whose cultural and social customs are objectionable to many, and in whom a political alliance is viewed unfavorably by a large number of citizens.  Worse, the foreign entity, obviously the U.S., represents Western religious cultures that have historically tread over their people for centuries, killing innocent men, women and children in the name of religion or acting as a political puppeteer in their affairs to reap economic benefits from its people and natural resources.   Can Americans point to another nation or culture who has repeatedly imposed themselves upon us by force for a millennium?

The Saudi people were never antagonistic toward Americans, though they might share differing aims regarding Israel, they simply wished to have a peaceful existence without having their nation tread upon.

That was a message sent to Americans loud and clear for nearly a decade.    But, America's leaders refused to pay it heed.  Even Ronald Reagan was able to recognize the need to end the American presence in Lebanon in 1984.   What benefit to the U.S. could an airbase in Saudi Arabia provide such that it justified antagonizing the Saudi people for many years?

Could the message have been any clearer?   What more could have been done to express the anger and indignation of Saudi citizens?   King Fahd had absolute rule over their land, but he did not speak for the Saudi people.   Ever increasing efforts were made to impress upon the Americans the seriousness of the matter, through assaults upon U.S. military and state department facilities in the Middle-East.   And, yet, those messages were ignored by the President and the Congress, and they went virtually unreported by the American press.

Attacks on military and state department facilities in the 1990's were largely dismissed as unprovoked and irrational anti-American sentiment by political extremists, 'extremists' used as a label to propagate a false impression that they represented only a tiny fraction of the larger populace.  In fact, these so called 'extremists' (as dubbed by the American authorities, and the Saudi government, i.e. the King) represented a large portion of the Saudi populace, likely a major majority.  Among those supporting these protests through militant acts were many educated professionals, not merely poorly educated religious zealots, which are to be found among American political activists as well. 

In the U.S., the citizenry is suitably gullible for a leader who intends to mis-lead, even one as clumsy as George W. Bush.   Where else would "They attacked us because of our freedom," be accepted as a rationale explanation?   How easy it was for President Bush to become the 'war time' president he had sought.

It is of little wonder that Americans are so ignorant of the facts.  Their individual egos are so tied in with merely being an American, that they will allow no tampering with the image of superiority and righteousness which they have bestowed upon it.  Twentieth century economic advances and middle class contentment has left little inclination for Americans to empathize with others, for it might reveal that our good fortune is not solely of our own personal making.

Little do Americans understand that its government's policy in foreign lands is almost always guided by the financial interests of the very few, under the guise of acting in the nation's economic or security interest.  At a younger age, I'd have been stunned by the wholesale lapse in the reporting of these facts, but I've observed too many similar failures to think it an aberration of our collective intellect.  There are very, very few Americans who know the facts on the years leading up to 9/11.  Many of those have their personal reasons for ignoring them, or obfuscating on the subject if it is raised.

It will, likely, take a hundred or more years for the 'record' to even approach accuracy, and only if there be unbiased historians willing to right that record. 

-R Lee

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Has the U.S. Government Outgrown Our Ability To Affect It?

I've placed a post here which I wrote for the Boston Globe website discussion section.  I titled the discussion "Have New Englanders Considered an Independent New England?"

It has been prompted by my many years of observing national politics, exasperating experiences with local and state governments in Georgia, and more recently the massive failures of economic stewardship by the federal government; the latter of which provides the primary argument for the topic.  And, though this post was directed to the six states we think of as New England, it is has applicability to any region in the U.S.

POST:

I fear my topic here shall be a lightening rod for knee-jerk reactionaries, but it is a subject worthy of deliberation.

There are varied reasons for prompting such, but the most compelling is likely that which ends up moving people the most, and that is economic survival.  First, let's not forget that men, as well as women, in New England broached this very subject less than 24 decades ago.  So, I say to those who wish not to even entertain the idea, you are following the precedent set by many a Tory and Loyalist of the Colony of Massachusetts, who thought it folly and madness to think of leaving the British Empire, then the world's wealthiest nation and, arguably, its strongest military power. 

We first must dismiss the modern notion of the secessionist movements in North America, to which we've been exposed.  They've largely consisted of disaffected political groups whose most distinctive rationale for their movement has rested more on social and cultural grounds, and little, if any, on economics.   That isn't to say that social and cultural differences are not important in setting political divisions, but they must be stark and pervasive to bring about major political upheaval for their own sake.

At the founding of this country, our knowledge of markets and our need to tend them as a people was still in its infancy, as were our expectations of our government as a provider of services.   The joint action and collaboration of the thirteen British colonies in America in declaring their independence and fighting to attain it was a necessity, as the British government was not given to relinquishing profitable expansionist endeavors.  The continued union, of the now sovereign states, after winning their independence was in large part seen as a necessity to provide a defense against foreign aggression.  The political and economic power of the states at the beginning of their new country was likely more akin to the existing European Union of today. 

Since that time, massive growth has occurred in the role government plays in our lives.  In conjunction with that growth, control of its economic elements has moved well away from the state governments to a federal government, now overseeing 50 states.  It's not unreasonable to believe that such a pervasive role by the federal government was never intended when the, then independent, states acceded to a union.  This is not meant to applaud or disapprove of any particular government activity at the federal level, nor suggest a states' rights argument.  It is intended to bring up the subject of size, though it is not the only subject to discuss here.

The U.S. government's fiscal business is enormous.  And yet, the element of fiscal responsibility is not there.  A discussion on size, and how it adversely impacts fiscal responsibility would take more space than I have here; and too, I am not wholly convinced that size alone is the principle culprit. 

Yet I do know, the political structure we began with and have evolved into has destined us to our current economic ills.  Given the significant percentage of our collective wealth put into the hands of the federal government, the massive expectations we have for that government and our dependency upon it to protect our markets from the ills of unfettered capitalism, we are imperiling ourselves by giving little attention to the methods by which we choose those who direct the government.  

Our electoral processes and legislative structure are ill suited to safely handling such a massive government.  It will take many generations for this nation to collectively assess and be willing to make the changes necessary to safely govern in our age.  Though no political system is perfect, Europe has progressed far ahead of us in this area.  Canada too, is yearning to make changes, and is only 1/9 the population of the U.S.

There are certainly other reasons which can be cited to justify an independent New England.  And, such a nation would be no small instance, having what would be the tenth largest population in the EU, the tenth largest in the Western Hemisphere and more populous that 2/3 of the world's sovereign nations.

If only John and Samuel Adams were here; what would they think?   

-RLee