Saturday, March 19, 2011

Comments on events around the community

Comments from around the community:

From Politico.org: Newt Gingrich tweaked President Barack Obama Friday for taking time to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket when he could have been working on the Libyan crisis.

“If they want to, they can get rid of Qadhafi,” he said. “The president announced on March 3rd that Qadhafi has got to go. This is the opposite of Eisenhower or Reagan.”

Obama’s position on Libya “makes us look weak and uncertain and increases the danger in the Persian Gulf,” he said.

Responsible Community’s Comment: And, Mr. Gingrich, who should we replace him with, someone from the rebels that are fighting him? Reagan drove the Russians out of Afghanistan by helping the rebels that was lead by some guy named bin Laden. Now look what we have on the world stage. It isn’t so certain that the rebels would be better than the status quo.

Besides, Mr. Gingrich, should we be involved on a third front in this War on Terror?

From Reuters: Judge temporarily blocks Wisconsin's anti-union law. A complaint filed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and County Board Chair Scott McDonell, alleges that the anti-union measure contained fiscal items that required a quorum in the Senate.

Responsible Community's Comment: It was clearly wrong that the Democrats left the state to hold up the vote on the legislation. It was nothing more than a filibuster by any other name and The Responsible Community doesn’t think they are right. As wrong as the legislation is a filibuster only blocks the will of the people.

But, it was wrong for the Republicans to reduce themselves to using trickery to get the legislation past.

From The Oakland Press: Two former local Democratic party officials from Michigan face up to 14 years behind bars for allegedly forging paperwork to put fake Tea Party candidates on the November 2010 ballot.

Responsible Community’s Comment: This should receive the highest honor for the lowest act (and dumbest) in politics. This is the sort of thing that happens in third world countries and in Arizona. There, Republican officials created fake Green Party Canidates to pull from Democrats.

From the New York Daily News: Right-wing blowhard Ann Coulter took her incendiary views to a whole new level Thursday, this time finding the silver lining in Japan's nuclear disaster.

During a segment on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show, the conservative firebrand tried to calm jittery viewers by telling them "radiation is good for you."

"So by your account, we should all be heading for the nuclear reactor" leaking radiation in Japan, joked a skeptical O'Reilly.

[O’Reilly continued,] "The prevailing wisdom is there's a level of radiation that's gonna hurt you and perhaps kill you ... What you say may be true - there may be some doses of radiation that in the human body can ward off infection. But in something like this, you gotta get the folks out of there, and you have to report worst-case scenarios."

O'Reilly pointed to the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as proof that radiation kills, but Coulter wouldn't budge.

Responsible Community's Comment: Well, I would like to purchase a one way ticket for Ann to help out with the work that is going on with the reactors in Japan. She can help get them up and running at the same time she is becoming disease free.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

American Exceptionalism

Clearly one of the most troubling issues during the Bush administration were the “detainees” at Guantanamo Bay. Then, Senator Obama, while campaigning to replace Bush in the oval office, promised that he would close the prison one year from the time he took office. He signed an executive order to just that two days after he took office.

It has been more than two years and the prison is still open.

Now, President Obama has signed another executive order to keep 50 of the prisoners there without trial for an indefinite period of time. The same order initiates his own “military commissions” trials for the other detainees. This is creating a bill of attainder that is prohibited in the Constitution, or, just picking someone up and creating a law that allows the individual to be held.

Every administration since Clinton has said the “war on terror” is worldwide. The combatants are located in many countries around the world, including the United States. The battlefield, therefore, as defined by The Geneva Convention is not a tightly defined field but encompasses most of the globe. When people in this “war on terror” are captured the Geneva Convention Treaty has very detailed guidelines on how these prisoners of war should be treated. The United States signed the treaty. But, Obama, who promised to end this abuse of power, has now signaled that we will not follow the convention’s rules, but will only follow our own.

What is so troubling about this?

The United States expects every country in the world to follow these rules. If a United States citizen, civilian or military, are captured, the first thing we request is that they be treated fairly and by the rules. The executive order that Obama signed tosses the Geneva Convention rules out for the United States, just like previous administrations. The people that are being held in Guantanamo Bay are not classified as prisoners of war to avoid the convention’s rules and will not be classified as common criminals to avoid United States law. So, how is it we can expect others to follow the rules when we are not?

The answer is that as a culture, we often believe in American Exceptionalism. In its current use, it is the belief that we are better than other nations because of our belief systems, government, culture and history. The idea means that we can make our own rules at the same time that we expect others to follow different rules, rules of course, that we have agreed to but don’t follow.

Well, we are different. Our form of government is nearly perfect compared to most everything out there. Our belief in civil rights that are enumerated in the Constitution has made us a great country. If someone is arrested and charged with a crime, they have the right to due process. This means they can’t be held until we come up with something to charge them with. Or, if they are a prisoner of war, we have other rules that we agreed to follow.

But, our Exceptionalism shouldn’t provide us with an excuse to make our own rules, but rather that we follow them better than others. It is because we became great in our own right not because we were above everyone else, or in a phrase - above the law, but because we are a community of law.

Our Exceptionalism should compel us to follow the rules as an example, a shining beacon to the rest of the world. President Obama needs to resend his executive order and classify the detainees as prisoners of war or charge them with a crime where they can be tried in open court.

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