Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On The Supreme Court and Cuba

A couple of headlines caught my eye this morning. The one that rang my bell the loudest was that the Supreme court had decided not to hear a lawsuit against the BushCo domestic surveillance program. In spite recent history, I’m still ready to accept the court as a valid weight in the balance of powers although there is no question that it is not a politically balanced body at this point and so cannot be expected to be cutting edge in moving the country forward as some on both sides of the aisle wish it to be.

But, in my view, leadership is not its reason for existence anyway. The courts purpose is to review legislative and administrative actions to determine whether or not they comply with the requirements of the Constitution. That’s exactly why this ruling rubbed me the wrong way. It wasn’t the headline that grabbed me. It was the explanation for the rejection that was buried in the story that earned my attention.

The issue came to the attention of the Supreme Court because the ACLU appealed when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court dismissed a Detroit federal judge’s ruling in favor of the ACLU on the grounds that, “. . .the plaintiffs could not prove their communications had been monitored and thus could not prove they had been harmed by the program.”

The next line in the story was, “The government has refused to turn over information about the closely guarded program that could reveal who has been under surveillance.”

It seems to me that the country is in trouble when the Supreme Court won’t hear a case because the injured parties can’t prove the damage because the government won’t release records that could prove the injury. What a circular argument! Shouldn’t the first step be to force the government to release such records? Instead, the refusal to pursue the case offers tacit shelter to the government with the silent message that they can do anything as long as they aren’t caught.

I don’t know any more than you do whether or not the government has inappropriately wiretapped American citizens as this case purports, but I do believe in openness in government and the right to privacy guaranteed by our Constitution.

Probably the main difference between me and my friends on the right who will say the government is only acting to keep us safe in the face of terroristic threat is that I believe that the biggest threat to our freedom comes from within the country not from some bearded cave dwelling terrorists halfway around the globe. That threat is real, too, but when our own government refuses to explain its processes and motivations to its own citizens through its own court system, then I become very suspicious of that government.

The second story that caught my eye was about the resignation of Fidel Castro. I vaguely remember Castro’s triumph in driving Batista out of Cuba. It was celebrated in Cuba at the time by a citizenry that had grown tired of being beaten down by an elitist government that enriched itself and its friends by catering to the hedonistic desires of the rich who came there to party and the corporations who came to take advantage of cheap labor in the production of exportable agricultural products.

Castro’s promise was to destroy the elites and lift up the impoverished. It was a promise he fulfilled, but it was a promise that did not fit well with the economic desires of the United States. In shopping for the support the limited resources of his country needed in order to survive, he chose alignment with the Soviet Union over alignment with the United States. Why? I think it was because the spoken ideology (as opposed to the actual reality) of the Communist Party was to share the wealth of the nation among the people of the nation. On the other hand, the western world had already established a very negative history in South America and the Caribbean region as plunderers who had never hesitated to topple governments that did not comply with their strategy of production, which always included cheap labor and ownership by corporations based outside the host country.

To a large degree, Fidel lived the philosophy he espoused. Certainly he lived at a higher standard than the average Cuban, but he did not become a grossly wealthy man and he did not install the corporate and governmental means by which to keep his people downtrodden. He did improve schools and emplace a health care system that enhanced the quality of life for his citizenry.

His brother, Raul, now president, may or may not be capable of running the country. Hopefully, he will reduce the restrictions on the personal freedoms of his people, but if so he will have to deal with a potentially large number of émigrés. Certainly he will be faced with the same problems his brother faced in terms of the lack of resources capable of making his a rich, competitive nation. For that reason, he will be forced to forge alliances with other nations in order to achieve any level of economic well-being for his people.

Will the United States offer itself as an ally and thus perhaps move away from the adversarial position that has kept our two nations at more than arms length for the past 50 years, or will we continue our stance of isolation and so force Cuba to continue and perhaps expand its ties to the old guard Soviets who seem to be gaining ascendancy in Russia and other eastern nations today?

What do you think?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -


USpace said...

Interesting angle. Cool. Castro is human garbage who has killed thousands of innocent Cubans in his failed pursuit of a communist paradise.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Castro was BRILLIANT

like Marx, Lenin and Mao
he helped redefine EVIL

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
celebrities are GUILTY

of having talent and luck
so they must praise dictators

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never admit you were wrong

Communism’s FANTASTIC
BEST false ideology

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
keep your people poor

deny them decent health care
convince them they have it GREAT

Fidel Castro
murderous tyrant
- fools' hero

communist freedom killer
imprisons many poets...


BR said...

Castro imprisoned any dissident including many writers. He failed to raise the standard of living to any great heights for the average person. He joined hands with communists who held their power through the subjugation, torture and imprisonment of their detractors.

He has not been the IDEAL leader. Not any more than any American president has been the ideal leader, but the thing I found to admire in him was that you always knew where he stood. That gives puts him a leg up over at least 3/4 of the presidents I have lived under.

Bottom line - there is no ideal leader, but I also believe that little of value comes from hostile relations. Without avenues of communication, how can we expect to facilitate change?