Friday, March 11, 2011

A disappointing week

First, Wisconsin. A union-busting governor tacitly admits that stripping unions of the right to collective bargaining isn't about fiscal issues at all - and then does it.

Yesterday, a grandstanding congressman (one who, by the way, enthusiastically supported the IRA and says that's okay because they never attacked America) pandering to his base began exposing the worst of American anti-Muslim bigotry in the guise of hearings - and I say that advisedly. If he were interested in finding out anything, as opposed to declaiming things, he'd be calling no witnesses who actually have anything to say about the threats we face - for instance officials of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and he'd pay attention to the one who did show up:
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca testified in opposition to King's premise, citing figures demonstrating that radical, extremist acts of crime are committed by non-Muslims as well, and that seven of the past 10 known terrorist plots involving al-Qaeda have been foiled in part by information provided by Muslim Americans. Baca said his officers have good, productive relationships with Muslim leaders and citizens. Law enforcement officials from other jurisdictions where there are large Muslim communities could have given similar testimony, had they been invited.
Instead, King is grandstanding, pandering, and allowing baseless accusations to stand as "facts". Way to reassure the world's Muslims that we aren't at war with them. (Did I hear someone say we should intervene in Libya?..)

Today, Maryland sent marriage equality back to committee - the direct result of a bunch of predominantly black churches panicking over the possibility of having gays getting married: several delegates who had been for the bill were scared off by their constituents' ill-advised phobias; nothing in the bill would compel any church to perform same-sex marriages (any more than Catholic churches are compelled to marry non-Catholics or divorced people) but my how the possibility terrifies the deeply-fundamentalist, whether evangelical, black, Catholic or Mormon...) And at least one delegate decided to play games with others' civil rights, saying
that while she believes in the civil rights of gay couples who want to marry, she wants to "send a message to leadership" that there are other critical issues, too.
As the Baltimore Sun points out:
By moving it back into committee rather than taking a final vote, the 141 delegates avoided putting on record their position on gay marriage.
And, of course, in what's probably the most disturbing news of all, the president elected to make locking people up in Guantánamo for the rest of their life - without a trial, without charges, without hope - a reality.
To bereave a man of life, or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.
—Alexander Hamilton quoting William Blackstone
A couple of more recent (like Tuesday) reactions:
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a dogged civil liberties supporter, said he was disappointed with the decision. He called military commissions "legally dubious" and labeled Guantánamo "a blot on our national honor," insisting that terrorist suspects must be tried in US civilian courts.

"Unfortunately, despite the objections of some of us, Congress has foreclosed that time-tested option through legislation prohibiting bringing detainees to the United States to stand trial. As a result, the Administration has turned to the legally dubious military commissions to try these suspects. It is unworthy of this great nation," Nadler said.
And this one - my emphasis:
Republican Rep. Peter King (NY), chairman of the House homeland security committee, praised Obama's move as "clearly another step in the right direction."

"I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order," King said. "The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities."
(And yeah, praise from King? That's pretty much all it should take to make you realize you're going the wrong way.)

So... yeah. A bad week.

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