Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coalition of the willful homophobes

In the past, the US has joined with the Vatican and Muslim countries to keep women's sexuality under wraps, so to speak (see: any of the UN Conferences on Women --ie, Beijing 1995). Now the US has joined a coalition of the willful homophobic nations--Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran & China --in a bid to deny advocates of sexual minorities (read: gay, lesbian, bi-, transgendered, and let's throw in women) access to the United Nations as NGO (non-governmental organizations).
Democracy & Human Rights, anyone?

From: CommonDreams http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0130-07.htm
'Bigotry Conquers All,' Gay Rights Groups Say of U.S. Vote at UN
by Abid Aslam

WASHINGTON - The governments of the United States and Iran--part of President George W. Bush's ''axis of evil'' and his current nuclear bete noire--demonstrated rare unity of cause this past week when Washington backed a Tehran initiative to deny UN access to advocates of sexual minorities' rights...

''This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard,'' said Scott Long, director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
''It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran, and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic,'' Long said.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamas & democracy

To paraphrase Nietzsche's comment that liberal institutions are not liberal: terrorist organizations that join in mainstream democratic processes such as elections, are on the road to being non-terrorist organizations.

For instance, the Irish Repupublican Army (IRA) political arm, Sein Fein was co-opted by the political process, and has shed its terrorist ways--in fact it was only late last year that the IRA disarmed itself.

I think the President of the USA is undermining democracy when he refuses to recognize the winners of the first Palestinian democratic elections. We should be modeling peace, not keeping groups' proverbial backs to the wall.

Democracy is messy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is what is supposed to be taught in college. Critical thinking is the ability to reason, to examine, to analyze, synthesize, to question. It means questioning assumptions, looking at what is backgrounded and foregrounded.
Unfortunately, critical thinking is hard, and hard work.

"Broadly speaking, critical thinking is concerned with reason, intellectual honesty, and open-mindedness, as opposed too emotionalism, intellectual laziness, and closed-mindedness. Thus, critical thinking involves: following evidence where it leads; considering all possibilities; relying on reason rather than emotion; being precise; considering a variety of possible viewpoints and explanations; weighing the effects of motives and biases; being concerned more with finding the truth than with being right; not rejecting unpopular views out of hand; being aware of one's own prejudices and biases, and not allowing them to sway one's judgment." Kurland, Daniel J. I Know What It Says . . . What does it Mean? 1995.

I raise this issue because it seems that there is a very conservative faction that believe that students should be taught not to question, just to accept whatever is the (correct?) canon. But then again, some conservative members also believe in "intelligent design."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Slippery Slope of UnChecked Power

The Slippery Slope of an unChecked Government
Ever since December 2000 when the Supreme Court selected George W. Bush president (can everyone say judicial activism?) and the terrorists attacks of 9/11/01 led to the September 18, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in response to Al Aqaeda’s September 11th Attacks which somehow led to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq in October of 2002; the United States has moved from having a constitutional and democratically elected president to having an imperial one. Being commander in chief has gone to W’s head--he believes he is the all powerful ruler.
Unfortunately, W ‘s actions are eroding democracy, in fact they seem to be eroding all the progress we have made as a civilization since the Enlightenment!
True, there was no indication that W ever believed in democracy or our constitution; after all he was borne into an elite family with all the privileges thereof. He was trained to be a business man equipped with an MBA, in business the bottom line, not people, matters. Though prior to his foray into politics W was an unsuccessful businessman; thank goodness for Daddy’s friends who bailed him out.
We also know he does believe in God. And, thus has no need for scientific knowledge --he even scrapped a NASA mission that would have given us tangible evidence of global warming--besides the hurricanes, the glaciers that are melting.
But, what if he also believed in the constitution, in our democracy, the rule of law not just his own usurped power as commander-in-chief in a never ending war on terrorism? (Guess the wars on poverty and drugs are over. I think we the people lost.)
Then he would know that the president is not above the law--domestic and/or international, no matter if his non-benevolent God speaks through him. We would not be a nation that speaks of human rights yet tortures captives; as if that information pulled from the torture victims would still be valid.
W would also respect the tradition that Montesquieu set forward and our founders adopted : the separation of power, and the checks and balances of the three branches of government, so that one branch of our government would not become all powerful.
He would not have withheld information from Congress nor falsified information given to Congress thus gaining support for the Iraq war. A war that had no connection to the war on terror (BTW where is Ossama Bin Laden?), a war that destroyed the infrastructure of a country, that went against international rules of war not to mention the hundreds of thousands of lives lost or devastated--Iraqi and American.
He would not abide by any in his administration violating the law by for instance outting a CIA operative in retaliation for her husband’s public renouncement of the President’s statement that Iraq tried to purchase Yellowcake from Niger in the late 1990s. (BTW, Where is Scooter Libby now? Hint, like a cat he landed on his feet at the Hudson Institute.)
Nor would he have sought to limit the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in cases brought by the prisoners held at Guantonamo Bay. Or nominate ideologues to the Supreme Court.
Our government would not eavesdrop on American citizens without a court approved, even a Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) secret court, search warrant. The president can not so order a wiretap, as if he were King. Nor would he do so while still assuring American citizens as he did on April 20, 2004 “"[T]here are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way..."
A president who lies and disregards the law is one who threatens the very essence of our democracy, our government. The president is no Machavellian Prince where the ends justify the means, nor an imperial king (King George , hmm, sound familiar?).
So what does this all mean? Is it just part of the wild swing of the pendulum to the authoritative right as one of my colleagues has suggested, and there is still more to the arc before it reaches its zenith and starts to swing back? Where everyone who is not part of the privileged norm, or can not pass as a member of the norm, or cover is at risk until the pendulum starts to swing back towards the principles of a democratic republic? You know: equality, justice and liberty.

Or, has this brought us to a constitutional crisis, where if we do not rally around the constitution, it will be lost. But how can we, the people, rally when we are so distracted trying to make ends meet: paying over 50% of our wages for housing, figuring out which medicare prescription plan really works, trying to pay off --or at least the minimum- our credit cards which we seem to be using more and more to pay for essentials such as gas, heat, food…more people are living just one pay check from poverty. Who has the luxury to think about things such as rights, democracy, the rule of law?
When we do rally it is away from the President’s view, unreported in the media, peaceful protests are infiltrated and turned confrontational (see: RNC protests in NYC),
Perhaps it will be easier to live in an authoritarian regime, one does not have to think. Of course, most of us will be living in a gulag somewhere--if we are still alive for his culture of life does not seem to include us.

To paraphrase Thomas Paine: “the law is King” not the President.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rule of Law

To paraphrase Thomas Paine: “the law is King” not the President.

see also Elizabeth Holtzman's column in The Nation 1/30/06--

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Save our Constitution, Save our Governemnt

Today I want Justices Holmes' & Brandeis' statement (written in their dissenting opinion to Gitlow v New York) to ring loud and true: "Every Idea is an Incitement." Especially the ideas that Al Gore expressed yesterday. We are at a constitutional crisis if we do not regain the rule of law and limit the power the president has assumed--a president can not be above the law (see:Nixon) . I do not want to live in an authoritarian government under King George.

Here's the citation for Gore's speech, please read it!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Alito:A little too unambiguous

First off: Yes, I believe that people can change--their opinions, their clothes, their hearts, their ideas. And, when people change, there is evidence of these changes.
Unfortunately, Judge Alito has not proven that he has changed from his very conservative student days and as an alumni when he proudly belonged to Concern Alumni for Princetion-- alumuni group that wanted the university to be exclusively white and male, or his days in the Reagan Administration (nb: his job application memo about overturning Roe V Wade --can we say brown-noser?-- and his , not to mention his pro-executive power memos). His time on the federal bench has shown that he has become even more entrenched anti-individual (nb:he was in favor of a police strip search of a 10 year old child not accused of any criminal action, Doe vGroody) and pro-big business and government/ executive branch abuse of power.
He talks out of both sides of his mouth when he says that he believes that the right to privacy is in the Constitution (a constructed right brought to light in Griswald v Connecticut --the birth control case, and Roe v Wade) yet he has defended the illegal invasion of privacy via wiretapping.
So far, we have yet to hear from him anything that amounts to even a moderation of his opinions. This does not bode well for the American citizen, especially women and homosexuals, and especially for the non-Americans who are being held as suspected terrorists or enemy combatants.
Alito's successful ascent to the Supreme Court will help solidify the right wing's rise to authoritarian power, and the slipping away of a democracy of the people, for the people and by the people to paraphrase Lincoln.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Some cites to visit

I might be off line for a bit, so here are two websites that you should visit:

www.politicaltheory.info/ and www.theocracywatch.org

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


How can people be so righteous without being right?

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