On April 28th 1965, the United States invaded the Dominican Republic ("Operation Powerpack"). The Imperial Power was already being defeated in Vietnam and so it needed someone to bully, some action to make it feel superior.
The Bigger Picture on the Attorney Scandal
Many of us have been following with interest the twists and turns in the Attorneys scandal in the United States. What many of us have missed -- mainly because the mainstream media have failed to pick up on it -- is the bigger picture: The attempt by the Bush regime to use electoral laws and US Attorneys to create an environment specifically better for Republican voters than for Democrats.
McClatchy's Washington Bureau has an excellent and detailed overview of the situation today -- it really is a MUST READ.
One quote stood out for me. It stood out because it was not made by a Democratic politician or someone in the "liberal" blogosphere. It was made by Joseph Rich, who left his job as chief of Justice Department's Voters Rights Section in 2005. He said the actions of the Bush regime fit a definite pattern:
"As more information becomes available about the administration's priority on combating alleged, but not well substantiated, voter fraud, the more apparent it is that its actions concerning voter ID laws are part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens."
None of this comes as a shock to those of us who have believed for decades that the western electoral system is a crock. It must however be upsetting to any regular American who has the naivete to believe that the DOJ and its various "Rights" sections are there to actually protect them.
The Bush Doctrine Wins Again!
In yet another stunning victory for the Bush Doctrine of "Talk Democracy, But Do Nothing", the world's fifth largest democracy, Bangladesh, has now become -- a repressive military dictatorship. They join the ranks of Bush's other favourite allies -- Mushareff in Pakistan, Mubarak in Egypt, the leaders of the post-Soviet Central Asian Republics -- who have rejected electoral politics in favour of the big gun.
The US State Department has said they are not interested in a specific date for a return to Bangladeshi elections. I guess it is easier for them to deal with one big general rather than that awful mess you get when the ordinary people get to choose.
The Imus Firing
Don Imus has now been fired by NBC and CBS and his show taken off the air because of some viciously racist statements he made last week. In an earlier post, I wondered whether the FCC would levy fines as they did in the "wardrobe malfunction" incident on TV. I still believe they should do that, in order to show that they are not hypocritical. However, I certainly do not believe Imus should have been fired.
What Imus and his sidekicks said was disgusting, racist and sexist. But I doubt they would have said any of those things if we had not developed a culture where black rappers make millions of dollars peddling "tunes" that viciously and brutally condemn women to a second class status. For a rapper, calling a woman a "ho" is far from the worst thing. Much worse violence, physical and mental, is praised in too many rappers' songs. How is it that it is OK in one case, but not for Don Imus?
Let me reiterate that the things Imus and his crew said were disgusting, racist and sexist. That is not in dispute. However, in a country where the right of free speech and the powers of market capitalism are so highly touted, the firing shows a lack of trust in both ideas.
As many many posts can attest, I hate censorship more than most things. There can NEVER be a reasonable determination of "good" versus "bad" in speech that is not coloured by one's own beliefs. Americans claim to support that idea of free speech -- and loudly proclaim their First Amendment --, but the millions of dollars of fines by the FCC for so-called "transgressions" of "standards" prove that that is in fact not so. Free speech is only "free" so long as the authorities say it is OK.
Most Americans also proclaim the virtues of the market capitalist system. If they truly DID believe this, then they would accept that the answer to the Imus's of the world would be simple -- switch off! However, the people making these censorship judgements refuse to accept that the millions of people who listen to these jerks every day have the right to listen. The people must be forced to abide by the censors' views regardless of what the market wants.
This whole affair is a sad business from beginning to end.
Breasts and Racism
Not that long ago, a television network was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl halftime show that allowed us all to glimpse, for one quarter of a second, a tiny part of Janet Jackson's nipple cover.
Radio legend Don Imus last week, on his widely heard morning radio show, called a group of mostly black female college athletes "nappy-headed hos". His excuse, apparently, is that he was just trying to be funny.
It will be interesting -- and I think informative -- to see the level of fine (assuming there will be even that) levied against this vicious racist sloganeering. Perhaps then we can judge the value the FCC puts against an extended conversation that included gross racism as compared to the momentary revealing on public television of a silver pastie.
Today is the fourth anniversary of American tanks pulling into Baghdad, and pulling down the statue of Saddam. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld said the Iraqi people would be dancing in the streets to greet their liberators. Is this what they meant?
At the end of the season last year we dug up the tulip bulbs and put them in a cardboard box, covering them with rocks; no soil. They've been sitting out at the back end of the yard all winter and now we have a dozen accidental tulips just about to bloom.
An Horrific Catch-22
One of the many tragedies within the US justice and corrections system is the Catch-22 that affects only the genuinely innocent. If you are truly innocent but are found guilty of rape(s), you will generally serve more time than will a genuinely guilty rapist.
The problem: you cannot qualify for sex offender treatment in prison unless you accept your guilt; and you cannot get parole without having completed the sex offender treatment. Thus, the truly innocent -- those who simply cannot accept guilt for something they haven't done -- don't even get on the parole track and have to serve their entire sentence. Meanwhile, vicious rapists are released years or even decades earlier.
An unlikely scenario? I bet that's what Anthony Capozzi thought some 22 years ago when he was charged with two rapes. DNA evidence finally cleared him earlier this year, and the prosecutors fully supported his release.
Unfortunately, it is a bit late for Mr Capozzi. He has severe schizophrenia and is currently confined at the Central New York Psychiatric Centre. The system literally drove him crazy. Can you blame him? His lawyer intends to sue the State to ensure that he receives the treatment he now needs.