Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Off the Rails!

It may be caused by an entire generation being exposed to way too much commercial speech on TV. It may be that someone has poisoned the water supply, it may be some strange and previously unobserved "cultural senile dementia," or maybe a side-effect of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on anti-depression medications over the last 30 years, but there's something bad going on in the minds of Americans. You can discern it in the fingernails-on-blackboard voice patterns of Sarah Palin. You can witness it in the dizzy, vulnerable, but pugnacious thought patterns of Christine O'Donnell, and in the gruff dismissive snarl of Paul LePage (Maine GOP gubernatorial candidate).

Now it appears the wife of a supreme court judge wants an apology from a woman who accused the judge of gross sexual harassment oh so many years ago:
(message in voice mail at work) “Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”
Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”
This is a phoned in request, by one woman, for another woman to apologize for being harassed by the first woman's husband more than 20 years ago!

I don't know what's more offensive, doing something like this, or reporting something like this as political news. Frankly, it scares me-- deeply. I do believe the wife of Clarence Thomas is likely disturbed, and may require counseling. I also believe the rest of us could use some counseling as well. Oy vey.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My comment on a Washington Post story

If you go to the story, and search "jaydavis" you'll see the comment. If not, here is my comment in its entirety:
It's clear from the posts here the "right" has lost its moral (and rational) center and is prepared to accept any drivel fed to them by anyone who declares themselves anti-Obama, no matter what the promise, and no matter what their reasons. That's fine because they're a fringe minority. Anyone who is not lying to themselves knows O'Donnell is an idiot at best, and a vote for sale (cheap) at worst.

Listen up! The bad guys aren't the GOP or the DEMS! The bad guys are the greed capitalists who will, and can afford to, do anything to promote their money-making ways. GWB gave 'em a few trillion (tax cuts, a privatized war, and a bank bailout) but now they want more. Obama made it illegal not to have health insurance (they lick their chops) but he had the audacity to require them to deliver something in return. Now they want someone else in power, who might for instance deliver the Social Security system to them on a big platter. Look at Fox-- who's running that? The billionaire Rupert Murdoch. It doesn't matter that he's Australian, because billionaires aren't tied to one country or economy. And the funding for the late Tea Party surge is coming from the Koch brothers, and all of Karl Rove's zillionaire friends.

The best friends of greed capitalism are politicians who blame the other party for the problems of their constituents, or blame the constituents themselves (the "culture of welfare and dependency"). Or they blame Afghan peasants, or Somali pirates, or "godless liberals." Don't believe them! In ten years our economy has doubled in size, but the average workers' pay is flat! Where's the money? Ask Lloyd Blankfein. Ask Mark Zuckerberg. Ask Hank Paulsen. Don't vote for O'Donnell because you can't stand Obama. Tell your GOP party that's not the choice you want to make. I have to assume there's at least someone in the leadership who still has a mind. And a soul!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Does our country really want this?

I've been posting about the Guantanamo problem for quite awhile, about the problem of detaining people for long periods of time without trials, and the problems of finally prosecuting them when they actually do get a trial.

This subject is apparently on the minds of others, including a former senior Justice Department official under the Bush administration who is also a Harvard Law Professor. This morning in the New York Times, he's published an opinion piece that recommends indefinite military detention for all "terrorists" currently held at Guantanamo and elsewhere, and never bothering to try them. This strategy neatly sidesteps the problem of how to get a conviction when the judge won't allow evidence gained under torture, and it's likely reflective of the opinions of a large swath of the American public. Khalid Sheik Mohammed has been waterboarded so many times (according to reports-- I have no direct knowledge of this) they won't even be able to introduce his name in court without a coercion challenge. And no one wants to see KSM freed.

But think about the ramifications of this strategy-- we abhor terrorists so much that we will refuse to try them, even though only a trial can determine whether they are indeed terrorists!

The implications of this are deep and broad, and cut across many layers of today's US politics. We must ask whether we want to empower the federal government with the ability to capture and indefinitely detain any persons, foreign or domestic, without charge and without trial, simply on the assertion they're terrorists. Do "smaller government" Republicans actually think it's in our interests to hand this power to our military or justice apparatus? Do libertarians think it's OK to snatch and lock up anyone indefinitely, such that they have no recourse to legal proceedings which could offer them some possibility to explain their actions, and force their accusers to make their case? What is a terrorist if they haven't been demonstrated in a court of law to have committed a terrorist act?

I'll tell you what they are: they don't speak English, they hate the US government, they believe their ideology precludes any compromise or accommodation of any sort with their perceived enemies, they believe extremism is the only way to confront the powerful forces with which they differ, and their skin is brown. Except for the brown-skinned part, they're not much different from any member of the Tea Party. Think about that. This isn't about America vs. Islam, this is about America vs. one of its own most basic principles, that the state does not have the right to throw its opponents into a dungeon forever, without trial and without recourse. It's called habeas corpus, and it's cited in the Declaration of Independence. Without it we are all just pawns in the contests of power. And once we cede that right to the government, there is absolutely no way to gain it back.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

More bad news for Guantanamo prosecutions

Today I've found another piece of bad news for Guantanamo prosecutors, who were barred by a judge from calling a "key" witness against a Tanzanian man accused of participating in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. This has become a repeated topic here, because it's become so obvious the previous administration's "gloves off" policies regarding torture have only stymied prosecutors who are now attempting to obtain criminal convictions. In the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld system of kidnappings, torture, extraordinary rendition, black sites, and torture by proxy, the program has proved to be an utter and spectacular failure. While it may make good TV, torturing the bad guys to get information does not make for good law.

Sorry, American people-- when we elect a bunch of dumb-as-dirt pugnacious Republicans to office, we shall reap what we sow. Let's remember that in the upcoming election, Mkay?