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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Words from the United States’ declaration of independence, wonderful sentiments, a great creed for a nation to aspire to, a bar by which the US set itself, at its inception, to be measured, and the creed by which I measure the US.

This creed is a dream. It is a dream that Martin Luther King Junior alluded to in his famous 1963 ‘I have a dream’ speech. It is a bar that the US has never reached, but from time to time it does something to show the world that it is aware that that bar is still there. The most recent example of this is the election of Barack Obama. At all other times, the US appears to me, to be at war with what it stands for.

The United States’ ongoing war with its own creed, while frustrating in its outcomes, is highly entertaining to watch.

The California Supreme Court today has guaranteed another series of episodes of this war, specifically the battles surrounding the right to marry, by validating both Proposition 8 (which banned same sex marriage), and those same sex marriages that were legal at the time they were performed. It has guaranteed such a sequel by delivering a decision that gives each side of the issue, both heart, and a direct cause to fight again for their point of view. Conservatives would have been heartened by the court’s validation of prop 8 but not the validation of the 18, 000 marriages. Progressives would have been heartened by the court’s validation of the marriages, but not the validation of prop 8.

Let me set the scene for this inevitable sequel. Same sex marriage is illegal in California as per the legally validated Proposition 8… BUT, the 18,000 same sex marriages that were performed before Prop 8 was voted on have been declared valid. 18, 000 couples are in essence legal precedents. In a state where only straight people can be legally married, these couples are in effect  ‘honorary straights‘ in relation to marriage law.

As I understnand it, and in my opinion, the situation that the California Supreme Court has presented, is not only contradictory, it is untenable and will be resolved in one of two ways.

Firstly ballot initiatives. Opponents of prop 8 will raise signatures to place a question removing prop 8 law from the California Constitution onto the 2010 Ballot; and proponents of prop 8  will also raise signatures to place a question to invalidate the 18,000 marriages onto the same ballot. I cannot wait to read about and follow those battles.

Secondly, the issue will be taken to the US Supreme Court. This is where the whole issue of same sex marriage in the US may eventually have to be resolved anyway, as was the issue of mixed-race marriage resolved there in 1967.

So, coming soon to a news servise or blogsphere near you, a gripping saga with a 2010 release date, PROPOSITION 8 – THE SEQUEL, when the US is once again at war with what it stands for.

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If the denial to gay and lesbian people of the right to marry is based upon a PERCEIVED threat to children – it must then stand to reason that those people who are ACTUALLY a threat to children, or who have who have been found GUILTY of ACTUAL child abuse, ought have their right to marry revoked.

In my opinion, if you take the Christian right’s arguments against marriage equality to their logical conclusion, then the right to marriage can be revoked on many levels. For example, a couple of old chestnuts… Claim – Marriage is about procreation. Logical conclusion – non-productive consummation of marriage is grounds for annulment of that marriage, as they have done damage to the institution as a conduit for procreation… another… Claim – The love between a man and a woman is special/sacred and must be treated as such. Logical Conclusion – Those found guilty of spousal abuse ought have their right to marry revoked, as they have done damage to the institution as a special/sacred loving union.

Religious rightists railing against marriage equality between hetero and homosexual people are not really interested in protecting’ marriage, nor are they really interested in protecting children, nor are they really interested in protecting the wellbeing of those in marriage. They are by their words, coupled by their lack of action in actually doing what they say they are defending, are simply protecting and defending their own ideology and positions of power.

The institution of marriage, of itself, does not create nor protect children, it does not protect those in a marriage from each other, nor does it elevate one class of couple’s love above another’s – for love simply is… The quality of, relevance of, protectiveness of, and the loving and nurturing nature of the institution of marriage can only be generated in the hearts and minds of those involved in such relationships. Such virtues are not the sole preserve of one class of person or couple, are not found in greater or lesser quantities in straight, gay, bi, or asexual people – but are intrinsic to individuals, and are amplified when coupled through love.

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Obama says that he will not prosecute people who practised the actual hands-on torture (enhanced interogation techniques), arguing that those people were carrying out orders and committing acts that they were lead to believed were legal… They were ordered to do something they were told was legal at that time by their county’s powers that be…. they were just following orders… The Nuremberg defence!!!

If torture techniques are important and successful ways of obtaining information for the Americans… wouldn’t torture techniques have been seen as important and successful ways of obtaining information for the Nazis, Japanese, the Chinese, etc.?? and the Americans prosecuted some of those people and some were sentenced to death because of their acts of torture…. But when it is Americans who are accused and implicated in perpetrating torture how thick and fast the excuses flow…I cannot believe that Americans can justify what has gone on through the Bush administration – especially with what is emerging from torture memoranda and discussions.

The logical conclusion to the arguments supporting the “enhanced interrogation techniques” is that the ends justify the means; that is to say that if lives were saved, it doesn’t matter HOW they were saved… it doesn’t matter HOW information was obtained to potentially save those lives, it doesn’t matter HOW the people who threatened those lives were treated – ANY behaviour, ANY policy, ANY technique  can be justified if the desired ends are achieved… If Americans believe that, then America (the idea of what America once claimed itself to be. The dream of what America stood for – as articulated in its Declaration of independence) as a moral leader in the world is dead, and George W Bush killed it… I hope Obama will not be the undertaker but the resuscitator.

I understand that by international law and by treaty, waterboarding is defined as torture. The US is a signatory to such laws and treaty and as such is duty bound to act against those who prepared and perpetrated such torture… all else is hypocrisy.

Prosecute the guilty without fear or favour

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In the US another report has been released dealing with an issue from the Bush administration. In this case, a report about the treatment of detainees in the so called war on terror, at places including Guantanamo Bay Cuba and  Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

I will not yet make comment on this report or the memoranda that were released by the Obama administration last week lest I speak too soon and other reports on the actions of the previous US President and his administration are released to a (now) not too disbelieving world.

With every disclosure on the behaviour of the Bush White House I think of just two things… That administration lead Australia and other countrys into an unnecessary and illegal war… and in the face if the illegality, imorallity of the things we are learing about the government of George W Bush, I can’t help thinking that his predecessor was impeached, hounded and publically condemned for having (and lying about having) a blowjob (oral sex).

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The Obama administration has just released memoranda from the Bush administation that detail techniques of enhanced interrogation imposed on prisoners of the war on terror, many of which are recognised as torture. On the surface (in my unqualified opinion) these memos could form the basis of either war crimes charges, or even simply charges within the US military or civilian court system.

On waterboarding, in which a person gets the sensation of drowning, the memo said, “although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result” to violate the law.

In my mind, it stands to reason that a country that prides itself, and describes itself,  as the defender of freedom and justice through the rule of law, would (as a matter of course) in the light of such damning evidence of immoral and (by international law) illegal activities, lay charges, try these people in a court of law, and if found guilty, punish them…. But not in Obama’s America... no… the crimes of the Bush administration both foreign and domestic will not be answered for, no charges laid, no courts to examine what happened, no punishment meted out – no responsibility accepted.

President Obama said in an interview with CNN “I’m a strong believer that it’s important to look forward and not backwards,” Like a hit and run driver, Obama does not wish to examine the damage the vehicle he now drives has caused in the world.

What if the situation were reversed and it had been US or ‘coalition’ members being tortured by agents of another country in contravention of international law? Would ANY US President stand to see such a country wash its hands of responsibility for its stated actions? That would be hypocrisy at its most pure.

Barack Obama, your predecessor blackened the name of the US around the world through his administration’s cavileer, even illegal, approach to international laws and conventions. PLEASE do not carelessly spend the good will that your accension to the Presidency is leant to your country around the world, by giving tacit approval for the actions of the Bush adminisration through not prosecuting crimes committed in your county’s name.

Why should this concern an Australian writer? Apart from the assult on basic human morality that torture must elicit in most people, Australia was/is a member of the “coalition of the willing” lead by the US. If Australian forces surrendered JUST ONE person who was subsequently tortured by US interrogators using techniques outlined in these newly released memoranda; then not only were these crimes committed in YOUR country’s name… but also in MINE.

You have a responsibility to the world to prove that the US does indeed defend freedom and justice through the rule of law, even when the accused criminals are American.

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In oral submissions in the case seeking to overturn Propoition 8 in California, Kenneth Starr, the chief lawyer defending Proposition 8, on Thursday said that the majority has the power to overturn any right it so chooses to, including that of free speech.

As reported by ReutersKenneth Starr… repeatedly told the court that a simple majority could limit rights up to and including free speech under a state constitution designed to give citizens broad power to legislate through the ballot box.

Think about it  – any right, to anyone, would be subject to the whim of the majority at the time.

Starr’s position is extremely dangerous.

Scenario, the government creates an environment of extreme hostility against a specific minority at a specific time. There is a propposal launched to punish or ‘get rid of’ this minority, and the majority like sheep vote for it.

Imagine if Kenneth Starr’s opinion was law during the 50s comunist witch-hunt period?

Could the majority be so convinced to act in an extreme fashion against a disfavoured minority? Remember, a democratic Germany was convinced enough to vote for the anti-semitic Adolf Hitler.

Perhaps some of the words in the US declaration of Indepndence should be rewritten thusly:
We hold these truths to be generally agreed to at this time, that all men are created, if they correspond to cetain acceptable conditions, equal. That they are endowed by the majority with certain momentarilly granted Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, as the majorty may define them.

Is that the way it should read Mr Starr?

It seems to me that some Americans love their Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights like a boxer loves their punching bag.

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Whilst it may be within the rights of Americans to express hatred for a minority within their own country, and to extend that vitriol to their own country as a whole; it is an entirely different matter if that group begins to express their hatred for that same minority in other countries. To go further than this, and to condemn and wish misfortune on those countries; to try and enter such countries and incite the inhabitants of those countries, is to assume the position and to perform the acts of terrorists.

The so-called Westboro Church, a family of extreme fundamentalist Christians, whose fixation on homosexuality (or perceived homosexuality) appears to be well within the realms of psychotic. Their vitriolic and accusatory rants against anything, everything,  and everyone, is reduced into homophobic language that is almost pornographic in nature. This and their picketing activities in the US of funerals of US soldiers killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have now gone beyond the borders of the their own country and they are exporting their brand of terror.

They planned to picket a performance of The Laramie Project’ in England, but some members of this ‘church’ have been banned from entering the UK and If THIS is true, they plan an act that must border on incitement, and they ought be banned from Australia as well.

Such people are free to believe what they believe. If what they believe is fulfilling to them and enriches their lives, then I am happy for them, as should we all…  BUT what one believes and how one behaves around that belief are two different things. Condemning and attacking others (domestically and internationally) because they do not correspond to, behave in accordance with, or agree with your belief, is, in my mind, the kind of behaviour that the US and Australia (among other countries) are fighting a war in Afghanistan against.. but then the Westboro Church hates the US and Australia This so called church blackens not only the name of religion (as fundamentalists of any kind do), they tarnish the image of Americans internationally.

They are a Christian version of the Taliban, and irrespective of their beliefs, their behaviour must be opposed. If they attack your country with words, enter it to incite hatred – ban them!

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