Obama’s Shift toward Right

Two disturbing events happened today. One is Obama’s meeting with military generals on Iraq withdrawal. The generals ignored Obama’s call for early withdrawal during his election campaign, instead presented a plan of much slower withdrawal until 2011. At the meeting, there was no objection or pushing back from Obama’s side. The second development is that Obama invited an evangelical Christian pastor to deliver invocation at his inauguration. It turns out this pastor, Rick Warren, is a strong opponent against gay rights and abortion rights. Such ideological views are driving edge between people who are moderate and people who are extreme (with the disguise of religion).

Instead of being the agent of change, Obama changed himself. He adapted himself quickly to the Washington politics, and we are watching another dream slip away from our eyes. But this should not be a surprise. Given democrats’ behavior after they took over congress, and how they yielded to Bush and never tried to stop Iraq war, we know what Obama’s administration will be like. He is just another democrat, no more and no less. The power of corporate influence on democrats is so clear and so disturbing.

Ralph Nader has observed that, Obama’s voting record in the Senate demonstrated “lack of political fortitude”. Shortly after Nader’s comment, Obama voted to give Telecommunication industry immunity for helping government spying on citizens (Ironically,  Hillary voted against it). It’s a big disappointment for people who want to preserve civil liberty in this country. But the general election is between McCain and Obama, and Obama is certainly a less evil between these two. Thus we kept our hope alive and gave him a pass in the election.

Obama was a big supporter of the Wall street bailout plan, which cost taxpayers $700 billion dollars. The fact that democrats push for this bailout suggests the big influence on Wall street on the democrats. Obama is one of them. In his book The Audacity of Hope, he mentioned about fund raising with big donors in New York City. He realized that how these donors started to have much more influence on a candidate as they generate quick cash for him. He talked about how you have to return phone call from these people because you don’t want to risk losing their future donation.

Obama may think he is in the center, by bridging two sides. But he reached too far into the other side that he slipped into them. By embracing a person of fundamentalist view and giving him prominent role on nation’s stage, he shuts out progressive voices. In a battle of ideology, you are either for something or against it. You are either for segregation or against segregation. You are either moving forward or backward. Obama may think himself a great compromiser. But he has compromised the fundamental princinple and our hope for real change.

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In Memory of June 4th: Democracy in China (in Chinese)

今天是“六四“十九周年。十九年前的今天,成千上万的学生、工人和职员在中国涌上街头,要求民主。十九年后,这个梦想仍然显得遥不可及。什么时候我们能看到中国人选出自己的总统、自己的省长和市长?什么时候中国人可以有真正的言论、信仰与结社自由?什么时候中国有自己的反对党,而不再是一言堂?

大部分中国人不知道的是:民主制度已经普及到全世界123个国家,中国是仅剩下的45个专制国家之一,与朝鲜、缅甸和津巴布韦为伍。在过去的十九年中,美洲的所有国家除古巴之外都成为民主国家。阿根廷、秘鲁、智利及尼加拉瓜,这些曾被独裁军政府统治的国家如今享有高度的民选自由。在欧洲,大批的前社会主义国家步入民主社会,这包括波兰、匈牙利、罗马尼亚和阿尔巴尼亚。现在的欧洲只剩下两个非民主国家:俄国和白俄罗斯。在亚洲,韩国、蒙古、印尼和泰国等都成为真正的民主国家,一天天更加自由。十九年前,全世界只有69个民主国家。今天,这个数目几乎增加了一倍。

民主的浪潮席卷全球,浩浩荡荡,不可阻挡。对现今仍处在专制统治下的国家来说,走向民主不再是可不可能的问题,而是什么时候的问题.

如何估计一个国家步向民主的时间表?观察韩国与台湾,民主政治是在经济水平达到一定程度后发生的。我们再观察全世界所有年人均收入超过一万美元的国家。除了中东石油国家外(这些国家无真正的经济发展),全是民主国家。民主是经济发展的必然结果,尽管经济发展不取决于民主。 当一个国家经济发展到一定水平后,中产阶级出现,社会整体的知识与财力提高,民主的趋势就不可阻挡。中产阶级有余力(包括时间和金钱)参加社会活动,当这些人大大增加, 他们会释放极大的能量,影响着社会的话题。他们有多余的时间来监督政府,多余的钱财来组织活动。在这样的环境下,民间组织开始蓬勃发展。从工会到商会,从教会到环保组织,这些以共同的信仰和利益结合在一起的人们有了放大的声音,呼唤民主的声音会越来越强大。

在今天的中国,我们看到的就是这样的发展。尽管政府一再打压,工会开始越来越多,环保组织越来越活跃。一场大地震,展现出民间救人的力量远远超过政府救助的力量。大量的志愿者,反映的就是今天中国中产阶级的蓬勃力量。他们有钱、有时间、有技能去帮助和付出。在今天中国的政治话题中,“民主”不再是一个可怕的字眼,而是官方准许的时髦词。网上论坛中,呼唤民主、抨击官僚的声音处处皆是。

深圳市马上就要进行区一级差额选举,并准备3年后推广到市一级。如果深圳市的选举顺利进行,其他县市就会开始仿效。等到全国性的县市级选举普及开来,省级和全国性的选举就不远了。这样看来,民主不再是中国人的遥不可及的梦想,而是即将到来的现实。少则十年,多则十五年,中国就会步入民主国家的行列。

十一年之后,也将是六四三十周年时,中国民主的梦想就会实现。那时我们可以告慰死去的英灵,他们为之奋斗的理想终于实现了!那时,我写下的再不是憧憬,而将是欢庆的笑语和祝福。

-200864

于北加州

A Death from China

I stared at the Google news page: the CEO of a toy manufacturer in China died. His company supplied the toys to the US company who is in the center of a recall storm. I felt both surprised and sad. Business mistakes happen all the time, why would a man take his life? In the US It is very common that a merchant faces bankruptcy or even indictment (like Enron CEO). Such a person may generate news or even be mocked by some talk show hosts. But in a few days, the news passes, and no one cares. I have not seen any business failure lead to suicide or deaths, at least not for the high-profile cases.

Yet, in China, people die from simple business problem, and from political fallout. I was chilled to bone by the brutal world there. How harsh the China’s social environment is. Death penalty is arbitrarily imposed on political opponents, assassination and mafia run rampant. In a society where law is not trustable and social enthic dissipate, survival takes all kinds of form. Thus life is not treasured. This is directly tied to the fact that people have no basic rights: the rights to speak freely, to assemble, to protest, and to elect their own government. Who will speak up for the normal people? Who will protect them? The government hires police to censor and arrest dissidents. The government bulldozes people’s houses to make room for new shopping center. The government suppressed the news on deadly flu outbreak. When the government is not elected by people, how can you expect that it will work for people?

The Importance of democracy

In the short 8 years of losing democracy (when E-voting machines selects a president against the will of people), the United States is fast deterioriating in terms of wealth, people, funding for future development. A country that is used to be the envy of the world, is now mired in the deep budget decifit, mass poverty, mass deaths and injuries from the war, and restriction on citizen’s rights.

Now imagine a country that is totally without democracy. How much better it can be by just introducing democracy?

While democracy is not the cause of economic growth, it is definitely the cause of equalty and free flow of informaiton. In a democratic society, the good ideas will triumph and reforms can be conducted as soon as possible.

How can we preserve the democracy of the United States? How can we revive this giant that has been the beacon of the world in the last 200 years?

When Evil Prevails

Two million Iraqis became refugee, more than 34,000 have been killed last year alone. Is this the democracy, freedom and justice that we bring to Iraqi people? For every person died there, how much sin have we incurred and how much hatred have we planted? For how many years, we can atone for our souls. We, every American, are responsible even if we are speaking out against this war.

A tragedy that is far away now becomes so up personal. A man-made disaster that is running downhill, pushed by those criminals. The whole country (US) is in pain and anger. We are facing an insane and selfish president who pushes all his criminal agenda regardless public opinions. From replacing Federal judges without notifying congress, to surveillance of civilians, to maintaining above-the-law Gitmo prison.

So who put him here? It is our electronic voting system that has all sorts of secret counting program. Until today, none of the E-voting problems is fixed. There is still no auditing, and no paper trail. As the new election is fast approaching in a year, I worry about the outcome of next election. If my pessimistic prediction became true, it will be a republican.

This republican candidate most likely speak out against war, but he is closely tied to the military establishment. He may be a little milder, but he will continue most policies of G.W. Bush.

On Iraq Study Group Report

Last night, as I drove back home from work, I randomly tuned to a conservative talk show. The host was very agitaged and defensive. As I listend on, I realized it’s about the new Iraq study group report. Then I tuned to Air America, a leftist radio, and there is a lot of gloating and joking from the callers and the host. Arriving home, I tuned on TV. CNN was reporting the death of James Kim, CNet editor who lost in the mountain of Oregan, and MSNBC was continuously covering Bush’s reaction on Iraq study stroup report and pundits’ comments.

The more I watched TV news, the more hungry I am for more information. What did the Iraq study group say exactly? How did people respond to it? TV can only give you so much information. You don’t have the sense of community like on the Internet bulletin board. You also don’t get a link to more detailed text to read on. I turned on my computer, and spent 3 hours on the Web, digging out people’s response, comments, and finally the Iraq study group report itself. After reading through its sparse text in those 120 pages, I was disappointed. Is this a study? Where is supporting evidence, data, and background introduction? Page after page are broad statements. There is nothing new in this report. We all know the situation is grave and deteriorating, and we all know this is a bad war that takes toll on American people and Iraqi people.

People look at Bush as a low-intelligence guy who does not “get it”, The truth, as a reader on a bulletin board put it, is he knows fully well the situation, but he simply doesn’t care. The war began with a lie, and this president and his friends have made huge amount of money in the process. Hundreds of billions of dollars ( 348 billion by now) were pumped into this war. Why would they want to stop this money-making machine? This latter explanation is more chilling, but it is close to the truth. When you are facing a president who does not give a damn about millions of people who protest the war, ten of thousands of sodiers who are maimed, and about 1 million Iraqies who died and millions more who are still suffering, what can you do? The only time he ever relented was when his party lost the mid-term election. He has to court the Democrats because now they control the purse string for this war.

Wayne Dyer once said we can create a “benign world” if we hold on a benign view. The unfortunate reality is that there are people who are so selfish and malice that they are ready to take you life and your children’s life to satisfy their greed. If we don’t face this reality, we will get ourselves and our children in grave danger. How many more Americans have to lose their loved ones before this war ends? Don’t we see how cold and calculating this president and his friends are?

People who are selfish and cold-hearted accept only one thing: force. Hitler will not stop until the ally beat him, and Japanese army will not surrender until the atomic bomb was dropped. Bush will not stop until Congress cut his fund and even impeach him. This is the only resort that we are left now.

The Carnage of War

I was haunted by the images in the movie Why We Fight. The corpes lying on the floor in a Iraqi morgue. Some are still with their clothes, and you can almost see their face. Yet, they are all dead, piling against each other. As the caretaker of the morgue read from his book of the occupation of these people, who died from US bombing, anger swept through me. How can we allow this to have happened? Who gave us right to kill these innocent people?

War used to be remote. It was presented through the TV screens in our living room, and felt like a video game in action. We see bombing but we don’t see its devastating consequences. Commenters’ exciting words grad all you attention, and you are entertained.

While I am always against this war and can imagine its dire consequences based on the death tolls, I was never brought face to face with those victims. They used to abstract, but now they are real. They are human beings like me, with their family, their daily life and their peaceful house. Yet, all of these are taken away in this war. I felt anger, and I felt guilt. As a US citizen, I am part of the criminal action that destroyed another nation.

How much have I done to prevent this war, and to end this war? How much can I do to prevent a similar war from happening in the future? It is much easier to walk away, pretending that the war and suffering are not real. It is much easier to hide in our comfortable daily life, dull ourselves in mindless eating and entertaining. But I can no longer escape this reality that is presented to me. I can no longer shed my responsiblity as a conscience human being.

Even though as an individual, I may be small and the impact of my effort is not perciptible, collectively we can change the tide. Let me join the crowd, becoming part of the social movement. Let me participate and contribute. If we can end this war one day earlier, we can end the suffering one day earlier and reduced the deaths a few number people fewer. When you save a life, you are a hero. What about saving hundreds of lives?

Let the carnage of war no long happen, not in our name, not from this democratic nation. It is my duty to contribute to this cause. It starts from today.

War and Criminals

The ancient Chinese philosopher Zuangzi once said, “A man who steals jewelry is called Thief, but a man who steals a nation is called King.” Those who killed a person is murderer, but those who killed many are called war heroes. The word “war”, which perpetuates all the atrocities, but is still glorified in this nation. What a world we live in!

When we argue against this war, and the incompetent president who could not even win a war, we forget about our collective responsibilities. In our media, all these killings and bombing in a nation that never threatens US are brushed off as “necessary”. Since when we have accustomed to watch the blood, bomb, deaths and crying bystanders? Our hearts have been numbed and hardened.

The media, in its eagerness to please the powerful and the loudest, keep portraying this war in its righteous form. It is as if we are there to “save” Iraqi people. It is as if we “have to” be there to help the course. Who invited us and who wanted us to be there? Isn’t this self-appointed righteousness outrageous? It is not a wonder that US has generated universal hatred in the Middle East.

The invader who has caused the deaths of about a half million people. Do it have any right to be glorified? If there is any international justice, the one who plotted this war — Bush and his aids — will be the top criminals.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Social Reform

Yesterday, the ground was broken in Washington D.C. for the memorial of Martin Luther King Jr. . He will be remembered among those presidents in our nation’s capital, which is rare for a civilian.

The greatness of Martin Luther King Jr. was finally recognized 38 years after his assassination. His dream of one day black and white “will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood” is true today. But the path to such a simple and just dream was filled with turmoil and peril in 1960s. Lynch, murder and prisons are the fate facing the civil rights activists. King did not waiver in his passionate advocacy for the black’s rights : the basic rights to be treated equally in public space and to vote for the government. He was at the front, bearing the hardship of prisons, death threat, and eventually having his life taken.

We admire King because of his unselfish dedication to a just cause; his leadership and passionate advocacy. We admire King because of his foresight that see into the future of a harmonious society, his compassion for both black and white, and his determination of using peaceful means to achieve social change. Martin Luther King Jr. embodies the fight for justice, the human conscience and powerful and peaceful love. As a civilian, he has made more changes than many presidents did.

King spoke loudly, “the time to change is Now”. For everyone who wants to make social changes, Kings words ring a bell of urgency:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as beign too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.'”

Let us start now to make changes. There is no time to wait. Everything we do today will leave its mark in the history, and we can all make a difference.

Democracy and National Wealth

The curtain of Mid-term election has fallen down. I was deeply moved by the power of democracy, particularly its ability of self-correction. For 6 six years, after Bush took office, we are seeing the country dangerously slip into bad policy, war and irresponsible government behavior. Yet, one party rules all three government branches, and there is no check and balance on their behavior. Year after year, people go to streets to protest the war, but it is as if falling into deaf’s ear. After the 2004 election, Republicans even gloated about the the one-party dominance in the next 30 years. So where is the check and balance, and where is the American democracy that was admired throughout the world? Is it going to die because one party controls all three branches of the government, the news media and means to vote?

I recognize the resilience of US democracy shortly after the 2004 election. A meeting was held in a local activist’s house, for petition in San Francisco the next day. The petitioner intended to ask California’s Senator Barbara Boxer not to vote for electoral results because of Ohio’s voting irregularity and mysterious votes went to Bush. As I sat in the lush living room of a spacious house in Palo Alto, listening to the organizer, a woman in her early 60s, I suddenly regained a lot of hope. Here is a society where people are well off and have time to participate in political activities. This is why all countries with National Income of at least $10,000 per person are democratic (with the exception of Singapore).