Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels

June 24, 2009

In his press conference yesterday, President Obama was stellar.  Almost all of the questions had to do with Iran and our own struggle for a health care plan.  I will deal with the issues of Iran today, and save health care for a later post .

The almost universal political reality  is one of power- hungry leaders acting for their own good and survival as the ruling party; their instincts are to preserve and protect  themselves and not to deliver the democratic principles that underscore the type of government that the people want.  What we have are scoundrels out for themselves, dedicated to the maintenance of their thrones,  rather than getting to the nitty gritty of a fair and just government.  The allegiance is to the framework of power rather than to the substance of running a society.  Dirty, rotten scoundrels.

Similarly, we have our own scoundrels right here in America.  Yesterday, President Obama gave the Party of No what it wanted: strong language, such as “condemn”, “appall” and  “outrage”, to describe his reaction to the stealing of the Iran elections and the subsequent attack on protesters.  Don’t hold your breath: the GOP will still not be satisfied.  Their first and foremost objective is to bring Obama down.  No matter how honest, effective or appropriate our President’s policies might be, the Republicans, with their main objective of antagonism and obstructionism, just want Obama to fail.  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham will never back off of their attack of President Obama, even if  their logic is unfounded.  Whatever the issue at hand, these close-minded senators will take the opposite position of our President, damn the effects on the people.  They do not care one whit about whether or not the people of our country, or Iran, will get the help they need.   These purposes are secondary to destroying the Obama administration and reclaiming themselves as the ruling party.

But our President was strict, as usual.  He said — correctly — that ever since the Iranian election and resulting protests, he HAS voiced a strong and consistent opinion against the government’s attack on free speech and the right of assembly.  He acknowledged that what is going on in Iran is “profound”.  What he would not capitulate to is the next step, i.e. creating retaliatory consequences in response to Iran’s internal turmoil.  Since we do not, as yet, know how this civil unrest will play out, our consequential options are not clear right now.  What?  Does the GOP disagree with that careful, wait-and-see attitude, or do they think the U.S. should start yet ANOTHER war in the Mideast?  Just like Dick Cheney seems to want another terrorist attack on our soil to prove his opinion that President Obama has weakened us, so too do the Republicans want us interfering in what is clearly a national problem in Iran.  This unwanted interference would definitely muddy the waters for the freedom fighters in Iran and perhaps then the ruling Mullahs WOULD have some basis for calling the unrest a force of outside manipulation, rather than a deep response to the injustice in their own country.  The GOP’s policies are stupid and selfish, totally aimed inward at their own survival rather than turned outward to govern effectively.  Dirty, rotten scoundrels.

There is a larger issue regarding Iran that comes into play: secular democracy versus religious democracy.  This is a much more esoteric, philosophical issue with relevant opinions on both sides.  I will save that debate for another time.  Specifically, in Iran there exists a supposed religious democracy, not a theocracy.  The Iranians are a profoundly religious people; they are NOT protesting against their religious hierarchy.  What they are battling is the abuse of their democratic principles.  Crackdowns against human rights are not acceptable whether or not the leader is a religious cleric or a secular politician.  A scoundrel is a scoundrel is a scoundrel.  Ayatollah Khamenei is a scoundrel, as is Ahmadinejad.  So while we may debate whether or not a democracy can truly be a democracy if it is within the framework of a religious construct, what is going on in Iran is a fight for DEMOCRATIC principles.  The religion argument will have to wait for another day.

President Obama made it quite clear yesterday that the path available to Iran in handling this internal civil unrest will dictate how the international community will react.  The legitimacy of the Iranian elections and its government’s subsequent actions in dealing with the protests will determine Iran’s viability in the world at large.  President Obama spoke of Iran’s obligations to its own people, in terms of assuring them their basic human rights,  as the first part of the overall blueprint of adhering to international standards of fair and just governance.  Internal actions will effect external consequences.

Please read Roger Cohen of the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/opinion/24iht-edcohen.html?ref=global

But our President is no fool.  He is well aware of the political antics in Washington.  His dedication to doing what is good and right will supercede the selfish intentions of our Washington legislators.  They can bait him all they want; he will not jump to premature decisions that could endanger us as harmfully as our foray into Iraq has.  Eric Clapton, in his mournful ode “Here in Heaven” to his young son who died after falling out of a window, had to reconcile his unending grief with some sort of peace for himself here on earth.  His conclusion was that “I know I don’t belong here in Heaven”.  He recognized the need for time, place and perspective.   So must we in our response to the events in Iran.  Yes, we can wear green, as does Senator Barbara Mikulski, to show our compassion for and unity with the Iranians.  Yes, we can speak openly and loudly about the injustice going on in Iran.  Yes, we can follow the incredible reporting by Andrew Sullivan on the events in Iran (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com).  Yes, in the words of NPR’s “Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor, we should all “be well, do good work and stay in touch.”  Whether or not the Iranian freedom movement will succeed, or go underground and lie dormant for years once again, or totally die out, is not ours to call or determine now.

Democracy and freedom are quirky, not perfect and certainly not easy to obtain and maintain.  The fight must come from within.  What we certainly do not need are internal (to Iran) scoundrels crushing the people’s democratic rights and  external scoundrels ensuring a total collapse of the deep-founded quest for personal rights.   Barack Obama’s  sense of time, place and perspective is indeed intact.  No scoundrel is our President Obama.  That role has been filled by the GOP and Ayatollah Khamenei.   Dirty, rotten scoundrels.

POSTSCRIPT

In case any of you are having some difficulty with my use of the term “scoundrel”, I cite two more examples of despicable scoundrels from today’s news.

First, read about the “Disappearing Governor”, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/24/south.carolina.governor/index.html

As if it wasn’t bad enough that he deserted his state and citizens, his disappearance was also quite the slap in the face to his wife and four sons.  Dirty, rotten scoundrel.

Secondly, there was a release of more information from the Nixon tapes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/us/politics/24nixon.html?ref=todayspaper

What a statesman!  What a human being!  Trashing Jews by holding them responsible for all of the anti-Semitism since the beginning of time.  Reducing women to the sexual objects that they are.  Blaming the efforts to end the war in Viet Nam as purely a means of political advancement rather than the will of the people.  Sound familiar?  Dirty rotten scoundrel.

If you should have any further doubt as to what a scoundrel is, do get in touch with me.

Advertisements

The Crack Becomes a Crevice

June 22, 2009

The citizenry of Iran is fighting tooth and nail for what is EVERY human being’s right: freedom.  This uprising, based on the essential, most basic principle of individual rights, is not going away.  The crack in the system that I spoke of last week has now widened into a crevice.  Can the valley of freedom be far behind?

Despite Khamenei’s threats and actions that the protesters will be violently stopped from voicing their opinions, the civil unrest continues.  In over 50 cities in Iran, it has become public knowledge that the number of votes reportedly to have been in Ahmadinejad’s column were actually millions more than the total number of voters.  On top of being repressive and crooked, it appears that the Supreme Leader is stupid —– and very bad in math.

His stupidity will be his downfall.  His tampering with the election results was the first crack in the system.  His follow-up actions, of quashing the public outcry against fraudulent election practices, of invading people’s homes and rounding up those he blames for organizing the rallies, of directing the misplaced responsibility for the riots on outside influences such as the U.S. and Britain, for murdering his own people for standing up for their rights, have widened this crack to an irreparable void in the system.

This public fight for justice will not die.  Yes, bullets are much more powerful than tweets, but the stage has been set.  As sure as I know my own name, I am positive that President Obama provided the ideological impetus through his speech in Egypt a few weeks ago for the people of Iran to go out and fight in the streets for what is their deep and fundamental rights.  Perhaps our President’s words were just enough to nudge the Iranians to not tolerate unfairness in their elective process.  Iran’s desire for social and political parity was there all along; it had just been dormant.  With the Supreme Leader’s fixing of the election and the echoes of President Obama’s words, of course the people’s response  was to fight hard.

The fly in the ointment is that Mousavi has become the accidental hero, or martyr, whichever future events will dictate.  Sure, he has never denied the Holocaust or called for Israel’s destruction as has Ahmadinejad, but his national and international policies are basically the same as the group currently in power.  Maybe though, this people’s uprising has shown him the light; just maybe, his possible leadership might bring with it a respect for human rights, a moderation of discriminatory religious and political mores  and the guts to really be a ruler of the people.  This is the real danger inherent in these protests: the ensuing party or individual who shall rise to the country’s leadership might  be just as bad, or worse, than what they have now.  At any rate, there exists a distinct possibility that this awakening in Iran might spell the end of having a cleric as the Supreme Ruler.  Their deep religious roots not withstanding, they might want to try a different route this time around.

No matter what happens, there have been significant signs that this is a country-wide effort.  Over half of the protesters have been women.  Similarly, the people fueling the urban protests are the young.  Also significant, there are protests in many other cities and towns outside of the major metropolises, and old people as well as the young are active participants.  The majority of these rebels are consigned to their homes now, due to the government troops use of force, violence and live arms.  The more this government abuses the people and their rights, the larger the chance that it will be overthrown.  There are many clerics, on the Guardian Council included, that have voiced horror to Khamenei’s actions.  Trust me: the crack is growing.

What Iran needs is their own Barack Obama.  Not an easy thing to find.  Not that our President is a savior.  He is not, but he has a tremendous capacity for speaking the truth, for listening, and for common sense and reason.  I said it last week and I will say it again now: the Iranians want what we finally have, i.e. a just, honest and respectful leader who supports and defends our liberties.  So far, no such figure has emerged in Iran to lead them out of the hell hole they currently occupy.  Unfortunately, as I see it, that is the major factor lacking in this uprising: no obvious leader to fuel the fight, to inspire further action.  Thus, this void might just be the undoing of Iran because these circumstances may provide a bully pulpit for yet another dictator to enter the foray.  Also, without strong leadership, the national furor for freedom just might die out and fall victim to the bullets and terror of the current regime.

So the crack in Iran’s struggle for freedom has definitely widened.  This premature victory can very well, though, contract.  The Mullahs have cooked their own goose.  The Irani people and international sentiment have turned this election dispute into a revolution.  It did not have to be that way.  The sitting government could have had a recount, a new election even, and done things democratically.  The outcome, however, will be either a return to just a crack in the system or, with strong, honest leadership, a new horizon that affords  all the people their human rights, justice and freedom.

POSTSCRIPT

I have two more points that I can not leave on the table.  First, one of my readers on the Daily KOS used the term “the genie is out of the bottle” to describe the revolutionary fervor and reawakening seeds of freedom that are fomenting in Iran.  This is a perfectly descriptive phrase about the situation.  The genie, being freedom, is out of the bottle.  However, will the genie grant the Iranians their three wishes, or will he simply impose another regime of demonic dictatorship on the citizens?  No matter what: yes, people can be killed,  dissidents jailed and families destroyed.  Violence and ammunition can quash civil disobedience in an instant.  Ideas CAN NOT be put to death so easily.  The Iranians remember 1958 and 1979.  Today’s fight is a reawakening of that underlying, most basic need for freedom.  Indeed: the genie IS out of the bottle.

Secondly, another fly in the ointment has come to my attention.  Those who are criticizing President Obama for not taking a more vociferous stand with the people of Iran (The GOP excepted because they are just total morons who want to incite anger towards our President at any cost.) might actually have a degree of  logic attached to their accusations.  How far can the United States  really go in support of a new regime when we have been told that the new regime would be just as hellbent on nuclear proliferation as the old one was?  Do we support a new government in Iran knowing that a possible outcome might be the destruction of Israel or even a catastrophe on our own shores, should a nuclear device get loose from Iran?  Though many tweeters from Iran have messaged that they think President Obama’s reaction to events have been nothing short of perfect, it is important to acknowledge that this crisis is not as simple as it may seem.  Somehow, we must be steadfast in our support of Iran’s quest for freedom while still being cognizant, NOT NAIVE, that any old regime change might solve the problem.

Let Freedom Ring

June 19, 2009

Look.  The reality of the situation in Iran is that it IS a religious country and the people support the ruling theocracy.  Or so it has been up until now.  The people outside of the cities are in favor of the exact government that is now in place.  But step on their rights, on the very essence of their human dignity and sense of fair play, and all of that can change.

What might bring down this theocracy is the depth of its corruption and its denial of human rights.  This election, if fixed, will be the straw that truly broke the camel’s back.  Regardless of the majority’s supposed conservative, religious stance, if the people’s rights, such as the right of a free and fair election, have been violated, even those most conservative in their politics will want a new regime.  In the long run, it is about bettering one’s life, and especially wanting a fair and just life for their children:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/opinion/19iht-edhooglund.html?ref=global

Ayatollah Khamenei can dictate all he wants that the elections were fair, he can round up and jail all the dissident political advisers, strategists and academicians, he can threaten the protesters with harsh retaliation if they do not stop taking their fight to the streets and finally, he can falsely place the blame for his country’s internal unrest at the feet of outside forces, such as Britain and the U.S.   The Supreme Leader can do whatever he wishes up until the fervor for freedom invades even the countryside, up until some of the other clerics on the Guardian Council have the backbone to speak up against his religious, crushing dictatorship.

Khamenei is, as precedent and current developments show, digging quite a deep hole for himself.  He is backing himself in to a corner from which it will be very difficult to emerge.   For the sake of future generations, the Iranian people KNOW what it is they are seeking, and it is NOT the present they want to protect.

President Obama also knows this to be true.  Thus, his reaction has been spot on perfect.  Senator John Kerry states his, and Obama’s, case quite well in the New York Times yesterday:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/opinion/18kerry.html?_r=1

Democracy and especially genuine freedom, can not be imported.  That was Bush’e mistake.  Freedom is a hard-fought process which must be battled for on the home turf by the native sons and daughters.  A government that is restrictive and exclusionary will fall.  The fight will be messy and dangerous and there is no guarantee that the new government will be any less harsh or corrupt.  The process is in motion though, and if truly desired, freedom will ring out in the countryside as well as the cities.

So far, Senator Kerry’s theory is proving correct.  We need to hold back our accusations and let the events within Iran play out.  Khamenei’s declarations and follow-up responses have been totally expected.  I can’t wait to see him try to dig himself out of this hole.

C’mon Baby, Let’s Do The Twist

April 18, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me the way politicians, and especially world “leaders”, twist the truth so that it fits in perfectly with their own special interests.  Words are powerful and people are stupid.  The higher the office, the greater the charade.

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is becoming masterful in the ways of deception.  In support of the recent tea bag parties, he has called for Texas to possibly secede from our Union.  These tea bag protests are plain and simple, a response to the GOP’s paralysis in coming up with any meaningful alternatives to President Obama’s policies and popularity.  As the time grows closer that the top 5% of wage-earning Americans will see their tax bills rise (never mind that 95% of Americans will see their taxes decline), the tea baggers are all incendiary bluff with no underlying substance to their protest.  Gail Collins of the New York Times, in one of her better columns, hit the nail right on the head this time:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/18/opinion/18collins.html?_r=1

For the Republican party, Rick Perry and the tea baggers, I have but two words: SOUR GRAPES. Furthermore, their deception in using our Constitutional values, such as freedom and justice for all, to fulfill their own greedy, selfish purposes, is despicable.  Twist baby, twist.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld also used their own self interests to thwart not only our national but also the civilized world’s international legal code of ethics.  This issue of torture will not go away, nor should it.  Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the many rendition sites and the use of illegal tactics here on our own soil are the ultimate treason to the ideals on which our country was founded.  This judge Jay S. Bybee, whom during the early years of the Iraq war was a member of the Office of Legal Counsel (a body of constitutional experts that offers advice to the President), is now a federal appeals court judge.  Yeah, right: reward the bastard for nipping and tucking the verbiage of illegal executive branch decisions so that it all appears legal.  Only in America can torturers, judges and lawmakers, not to mention the President, twist the legal lingo to supposedly offer a basis for their decisions.  Only the great United States of America would be interested in supplying a legal basis for their atrocious and immediate acts.   Surely this upholds our honor to the Constitution.  What happened to abiding by the actual content of the Constitution?  Twist baby, twist.

Anyway, here is an article from the Washington Post that will explain the evil goings-on in the Bush administration’s efforts of “balancing” security and monstrous torture:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/16/AR2009041602768_2.html?sid=ST2009041602877

Andrew Sullivan goes even further in his disgust with the “banality of evil”:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/the-banality-of-evil.html

No one speaks to an issue better than Sullivan.  The sick irony of this situation is that Bybee, with the advice and consent of Bush, ruled on the acceptance and legality of various torture methods AS IF there was any moral basis for any of them!  Bottom line: there is no law or rationale in the universe that would sustain inhuman torture.  Twist baby, twist.

Finally, that ideal example of international enlightened leadership, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, is being faced with protests from women who — oh my!— will not abide by the law Karzai signed off on last week to make marital sex mandatory, i.e. marital rape.  As I stated in my previous post, “The Pecker Wars”, Karzai okayed this aspect of Sharia law because he is trying to amass votes for the upcoming August election.  I stated that he would be appealing to half of his population, i.e. the men, with this measure.  I stand corrected; the Shia population of Afghanistan is only 20%.  That makes Karzai’s intentions even more degrading and desperate.  Was this an action to titillate the sex lives of tired marriages, or is it an effort to spice up Karzai’s electoral base?  Did I miss something here?  Since when has violence and rape been “sexy” and legislatively permissible?  He has since said, on Thursday in a CNN interview, that he will have the Shia Muslim clergy revise that law so that it will be in agreement with Afghan constitutional law.  Mr. Karzai: make believe I am from Missouri.   SHOW ME.  The true test of Karzai’s intentions will come in the courts and then the world will see if the Afghan constitution overrides the sectarian, inhumane Shariah law.  Twist baby, twist.

I am proud of the immense progress President Obama has made during his first almost 100 days in office.  If I have but one critical complaint, it is on the topic of human rights.  When Secretary of State Clinton visited China right after the inauguration, no mention of human rights was made.  Similarly, the administration has been publicly (could they be working on this in private?) silent on the recent events in Afghanistan and Pakistan regarding women’s civil and human rights.  Also, no mention of human rights was made this week by Obama when he cracked the door ajar to relations with Cuba.  It is still early days.  I am patient though, and have confidence that President Obama will deal with the very basic issues of human existence that he truly believes in.

Do I think that his ruling this week, not to hold those military personnel responsible for delivering the torture legally accountable, to be correct?  Surprisingly, at this juncture, I do.  If  Eric Holder and the Justice Department were to bring charges against these servicemen and women, there would be absolutely NO EXCUSE not to go after the depraved individuals who gave those orders, namely, at the top of the pyramid, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.  I think Obama is still on the fence about this mainly because he wants to spend his time on a new world order to fix what ails us.  Eventually, he is going to have to come to the conclusion that a new world order can not come into being unless we deal with the atrocities of the OLD world order.

Until that time, the arena of public opinion will be key in how this scenario plays out.  However, I do not believe there will be a huge outcry against the evil Bush triumvirate because the average American does not care enough about global principles of right and wrong.  Their apathy is realistically based on their time-constrained efforts to make a living and meet the often hard tasks of daily living.  Not an excuse, just an observation.

The black stain of deliberately miscommunicating, of altering the facts to fit whatever current situation in which we find ourselves, is an abomination.  It is especially harmful when our leaders participate in this sham.  In fact, it is outright lying.  Twist baby, twist.