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03/21/2003 Archived Entry: "The second day of the Iraqi invasion"

On the Political/Economic Front:

An eloquent statement by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D WV), Today I Weep for My Country.

How on earth will America foot the gargantuan bill for Homeland Security and war abroad? Taxes will go up, the non-stop printing presses will inflate the currency and devalue every unit in circulation, government services will be reduced, and every agency -- from the local dog-catcher to the feds -- will grab at the pennies in your pocket. Expect a lot more "user fees" and special charges such as the just authorized by Wisconsin -- a surcharge on cell phones to pay for upgrading 911 emergency response systems statewide. The amount discussed has been 50 cents per month. Using a 2001 federal anti-terror law, the feds are also seizing en masse and without legal recourse the money that foreigners maintain in the US. They have already seized
$1.4 billion
in Iraqi financial assets, marking only the second time since World War II that it has taken ownership of a substantial amount of frozen foreign assets. Currently, only Iraqi finances have been targetted but, with this precedent in place, how long before North Korean, Iranian, Syrian....plunk your finger on a globe and pick a nation...is next? The seizing of foreign assets will have a chilling impact on foreign investment within America. But the money-grab will continue because the Bush administration is willing to bankrupt anyone and everything in the name of war and Homeland Security. Republican leaders are currently considering a plan that would include an additional $1 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, $200 million to $700 million more for the Coast Guard, and a large increase in federal grants to local police and fire departments for counterterrorism training. And that's just the latest funding for Homeland Security. Some are predicting a $400 billion pricetag to the war.

A paranoid insanity has gripped America. Some of it is laughable, like French's mustard issuing a press release to assure the American people that it isn't French. No wonder cartoonist Mark Fiore is having a field day: check out his latest offering, Blusterizer. Other actions are bone-chilling and totalitarian. For example...according to New Jersey head of Homeland Security "If the nation escalates to "red alert" which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home." In essence, he is saying that the entire US will be under a 24-hour constant curfew at the discretion of the politicos. For example...The rules on detention of "suspicious" have now been widened, allowing for the indefinite detection without recourse of those who have committed no criminal offense. The FBI has had such power for some time but the agency follows restricting guidelines. Ashcroft's new "order appears to include no such restrictions. Those covered by the order include, but are not limited to, visiting foreign nationals who must register with immigration officials as part of a government effort to fingerprint and photograph visitors from countries believed to have a significant al Qaeda presence." How long before Canadians are treated in such a manner, especially since Pakistanis and other nationalisties who are forced to register with US authorities are flooding Northward across the border?

In listening to the major American media, you would never know that massive anti-war rallies have been going on across the United States and around the world. They are most pointedly not covering the reaction of the Arab world Or even America. Our friend Gordon wrote to us yesterday, "an Anti-War protest that began at Chicago's Federal Building has taken to the streets, and currently has traffic completely paralyzed on Lake Shore Drive, as several thousand people march north up the southbound lane, in between the rows of stopped cars. Police in riot-gear initially and unsuccessfully attempted to stop the march; they now appear to simply be following alongside the march, cautiously observing it. More police are attempting to reach the area, but are being hampered by rush-hour traffic conditions. So far, the march appears to be peaceful --- even the stopped motorists do not appear to be harrasing them --- but it is not clear what will happen once the police reinforcements arrive." Not all protests were peaceful, especially in San Francisco where 1,300 people were arrested.

On the Personal Front:

Yesterday was grim and I didn't have the emotional energy to blog or to do much else, other than sit in the sunlight and read. But the lethargy seems to have broken overnight, like a fever. Life goes on. We have finally received our first solar energy panel and the roof is close-to-clear of snow, which means we may be able to install the panel in a week or so. Brad has been weathering the commencement of war better than I have, I am pleased to say. Yesterday, he shouldered all the responsibilities of our relationship and left me alone to read, read, read, and read some more.

Here in Canada, the mood is turning anti-American, I'm afraid. In Montreal, fans booed during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the New York Islanders' 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. I hate to see this happen.

Best to all,
mac

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