Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Americans have sold us out

In a story about the reintroduction of the death penalty in Iraq, the WaPo points out the irony that Coalition of the Willing (COW) countries like Britain which don’t have the death penalty, are fighting and dying to install and keep alive Iraqi politicians who then start executing their subjects. No executions have been carried out yet, legal executions I mean, but all the COW countries will be complicit in them.

A couple of days ago Laura Bush endorsed Egyptian President Mubarak’s plan to reform the electoral law by the smallest amount humanly possible, just prior to a referendum on those changes. This sort of intervention in another country’s elections is strictly verboten in international relations, and whoever it was — Condi Rice I assume — who fed Laura her words should not be sending messages to the Egyptian electorate through the First Lady, who was probably just lucky no reporter asked her to describe any details of the changes she was praising. Since then, demonstrators protesting the referendum, who evidently hadn’t gotten the word about Laura’s stamp of approval, and who were chanting “The Americans have sold us out” (which is simply incorrect: the Americans don’t care enough about them to sell them out; they gave them away) (also, were they really surprised to be sold out?) were beaten up by police. Robert Fisk has a useful article on Egypt in the Indy behind a pay barrier, but this search or this link should bring it up within a day or so.

The Post’s article on the centralization of power in fewer and fewer hands in both the executive and legislative branches in the Bush years, and the increase in secrecy and lack of transparency, is a good summary of these trends. I would have liked a longer analysis of the greatly increased practice, which I consider unconstitutional, of legislation being rewritten in conference committee. These process issues keep getting bound up with policy issues and they’re at least as important for the long-term health of the republic, but they’re harder to get the American people interested in. I was heartened that the polls consistently showed support for the right to filibuster; I was afraid that the R’s would successfully spin it as unfair and undemocratic, the minority threatening the majority, but Americans still like an underdog and dislike a bully, which is good to know.

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