Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Politics and Poetry: The Peace Keepers

Happy hump day all - as I perused the cacophony of news stories this morning, I began tracing a red thread through all of the military, police and other various "peace keeping" and "law enforcing" headlines. And now, I will share them with you. Enjoy...

"The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis."
- Dalai Lama

The Cradle Will Rock: Egypt smells a bit like South America, and it's not just the summer heat rolling in. There is widespread contention over who won the seat of the first democratically elected president in Egypt, and the military is stepping up to settle it...well not settle, really just dictatorially mandate. Mohammed Mursi, the candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, claims to have won 52% of votes while Mubaraks former aide, Ahmed Shafiq accuses the Brotherhood of "organized and persistent election fraud," further declaring his victory in the election runoff. Now, this might not sound like Chile or Argentina yet, but try this on for size: The Supreme Constitutional Court (aka a collection of Mubarak appointees and military muscle) dissolved both house of parliament last week, which are controlled by the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. The junta (hmmm...seen that word before) then announced a new "interim" constitution that gives generals the ultimate seat of power, basically making any official or unofficial winner a frivolous figurehead. According to this new constitution, generals now have the power to pass laws, control the budget, declare war and steer the drafting of a permanent constitution. 
Now, the issue here is a little sticky. Unlike Chile, for example, neither the Brotherhood nor the ex-Mubarak monkey are attractive choices. The people were deflated about these two before the military stepped up their game. However, the question is this: do you allow someone like the Brotherhood to gain control of the presidency and both houses, thus feeding fear that Egypt will devolve into an Islamist state, or go the military route? In effect, the military staged a coup, usurping the rights of the people and declaring their choices, whatever they may be, a wash. 
Many feel that based on Egyptian activism in the past few years, even if the Brotherhood had gained control of the whole country, laws and customs that would push bitterly won progress back wouldn't fly with such an engaged populace anyway. 
Verdict? My take is that military rule is never a good thing. As one protestor bittersweetly remarked last year, "Military has no problem taking power - but can they let it go?" 
That remains to be seen, but doesn't look promising. 
I may sound naively romantic, but a true government by the people, of the people and for the people is the best - a true republic, where peoples wants and needs are reflected in the decisions of the rulers, not by a military, not by a corporation, by the people. 
Eyes are on you, Egypt. 
Speaking of Chile: For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Chilean coup, I strongly recommend Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine. I won't get into detail now, but long story short. On September 11, 1973 (yes, 9/11), the CIA helped back a terrorist coup of the prosperous and democratic nation of Chile based on economic dissatisfaction with their government. Now, 40 years later, they are still struggling. Last week, Chilean lawmakers were happy to announce a victory over the military that has ruled the country since the 70s. Their victory: repealing the "copper law," that guaranteed the military 10% of the annual income from the nation's copper mines. Instead, the Congress will set the military budget every 4 years. Sounds great...but according to Andres Velasco in La Tercera, it's not as rosy as it looks. Every other aspect of Chilean government is funded yearly. So, let's say another earthquake hits and it's another two years before you can meddle in the military budget. Education, health care and pensions would be slashed before military funding in order to finance rescue and reconstruction...yikes. Furthermore, the new law guarantees that defense spending be no lower than 70% of what it's been for the past 6 years, when copper prices were sky-rocketing and the military was richer than Trump. As Velasco chillingly writes, "Cutting social spending while keeping the military flush is exactly what Pinochet did." Pinochet, the CIA appointed dictator post-coup is casting a lasting shadow on the people of Chile. Like many seeming victories, the vast corruption of this disjointed government overwhelms the small triumphs...unfortunately, the whole damn thing needs an overhaul. 

This side/That side: Well, just in case you were still holding on to any mushy feelings about our two party system, here's a good one for you: Virginia took steps to research the growing flooding problem in the state by funding a study that would investigate causes and possible prevention. However, lawmakers had to omit any reference to "climate change" and "sea-level rise" in order to be granted the funding. Scientists, in and outside of the study say that sea levels along the coast of Virginia have risen more than a foot, and continue to rise. While Republicans agree that flooding is a rapidly growing issue, they refused to allow such terms as "sea-level rise" because it is....drum roll please...
"a left-wing term." 
Well oh my - some would say, hey, be happy they're at least looking into the problem. Well, that's not really true is it? Let's say they find that the cause of flooding is due in large part to global warming...but oh shit, they can't say that. So instead, they'll say - build an ark, God is mad, buy another Hummer and Go America! 
You can't solve a problem if you don't look at the god damn problem to begin with.
Literally undercovers: British minster of policing, Nick Herbert, said last week that undercover police trying to infiltrate, for example, animal-rights or anti-globalization groups have every right to have sex with group members in order to protect their cover. This announcement is met with widespread dissatisfaction and disgust after 8 women lodged a legal action against the Met (Metropolitan police) claiming that they had been "duped into forming long-term loving relationships" with undercover cops. The women feel violated, claiming that they would obviously never have slept with an undercover cop - one woman actually had a child with a policeman who just fucked off as soon as his stint was over.  Herbert's response to the suggestion of banning undercover sex was that such rigid rules would out undercover agents. Barbara Ellen, a writer for The Observer, offered this response. "I'm sure activists don't deliver ultimatums: 'Shag or we'll think you're from the filth.'" Now, maybe they will. 
I take this stance. Is everyone you've had sex with exactly who you think they are? Are facades not a part of our inherent mating ritual? I don't know anyone who is their absolute true self on a first date - I mean come on. Sex can just be sex - it doesn't have to turned into a "long-term loving relationship." Police should not lead them on to the point of having kids or picking out curtains, but let's be honest here: people lead other people on all the time. 
The only thing I would say is wear a rubber and don't promise her the world. 
And ladies, don't get all gushy with a guy who only seems interested in the secret hiding place of those Hummer bombs. 

Don’t Call Me Baby

Twisted glass and broken beams
This smoke don’t taste like steam
Let the sirens mock your lies
And please don’t call me baby

Lookin’ down on a Tuesday night
Eyes tear that face the sky
I know that it ain’t alright
And please don’t call me baby

Thinkin’ were they afraid to fly
Jump up to close my eyes
But this is far too real to hide
And please don’t call me baby
No, please don’t call me baby

I’m not the one to save
My innocence has caved!

City’s quiet as a grave
I ain’t seen you smile in days
And you don’t know just what to say
But please don’t call me baby
Please don’t call me baby

It’s sick and it’s true
Hell’s written all over you
Rip Tide tears my mind
This ain’t no lullaby
I won’t be sleeping tight
Wide awake on this endless night
A new day reaps what’s sewn
Ain’t how you dreamt it but now
I’m grown

Twisted truth and broken dreams
That seat’s as empty as it seems
I feel your eyes now let me see
And please don’t call me baby
Please don’t call me baby

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