Tag: Supreme Court

A Note on Robert Bork and the End of Busing as a Desegregation tool

Posted by – April 9, 2013

It’s been a while since I blogged about racism, but this blog has a broader mission to shine a light on the concerns of unheard, marginalized groups everywhere, which is why, in the past, I’ve written about things as far-flung and diverse as an effort to fund safehouses for LGBT youth being hunted down by Islamist death squads in Iraq and the violence against raw food shops and consumers in California, where the government effectively acted as enforcers for big agribusiness, helping them shut down the competition.

As the new About page says:

This blog is a safe space, where I highlight unreported and under-reported issues effecting people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups and the U.S. as a whole.

I really want to give underreported and unreported stories some space. That is what I think the blogosphere should be, a megaphone for the people the news media ignore.

Under racism, in the past I’ve spotlighted the legacy of slavery and the Capitol building, an anti-Latino death squad who were ignored by the media even after killing a family, and more.

Recently, comments on C-SPAN’s BookTV sparked my interest, because Appellate Judge Frank Easterbrook said something very revealing. He talked about how he and then-solicitor general Robert Bork crafted the legal reasoning that now is the dominant precedent that prohibits or stifles desegregation across America. And no one noticed. Segregation and the laws around it deserve more discussion.

This is a clip I made of Judge Easterbrook’s comments, which reveal a history few know about (c-spanvideo.org allows you to make your own clips now!) During a discussion of Robert Bork’s last, posthumously published book “Saving Justice,” Frank Easterbrook reveals how he and Robert Bork’s reasoning that school segregation “by personal choice” is not a violation, though so inflammatory in the ’70s the DOJ ordered it shredded, is now the opinion affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Click here to see the clip (which, for some reason isn’t embeddable).

Even Robert Bork thought the anti-busing opinion should be shredded at the time; according to Judge Easterbrook, Bork was worried it would empower violent bigots in the ongoing Boston busing conflict.

Somehow, this opinion was unearthed from the bowels of hell and embraced by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has again and again affirmed this radical-right reasoning that school segregation doesn’t hurt anyone and is just fine as long as the state isn’t forcing it and it’s “segregation by private choice.”

The nail in the coffin for desegregation seemed to come from Bork and Easterbrook’s brief.

With my own eyes, I’ve seen the retrenchment of segregation in the South. My hometown of Mobile, Alabama was once a good example of relative-racial harmony; Mobile boasts it was the only major city in the Deep South never to suffer race riots. Leaders on both sides of this peaceful, heavily Catholic city made negotiation work instead of the conflagration everywhere else. My college, Spring Hill College (“The Jesuit College of the South”) was praised in MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail for being the first university in the Deep South to integrate, in 1954. When the KKK tried to burn a cross (highly blasphemous) on campus in response, students chased them off with rocks and baseball bats, a couple of Jesuit priests in tow. We showed how possible integration could be; we showed that not everybody in the Deep South supported the Klan. (Also, people tend to see the world through the lens of their hometown values and upbringing, and this post gives you insight into mine, where I am coming from).

It’s been sad watching my hometown leave behind their powerful legacy of peaceful desegregation without discussion, following the other Southern cities. Accelerating subsequent to the 1991 Supreme Court ruling Board of Education v. Dowell, which—in a 5-3 decision—lifted integration-busing court orders (Thurgood Marshall, on the verge of retiring, wrote the dissenting opinion) busing has been jettisoned as a relic, and the busing-integrated high school I went to, John Shaw High School, was shuttered.

There’s been a retrenchment of racial segregation throughout the South—and elsewhere too (see this article about Omaha dividing into separate segregated school districts at the request of the black minority). The reasons for re-segregation are complex and difficult to talk about; it’s clear that both communities are fueling this trend. Black communities may dislike sending children on hour-long bus rides, among other things, while white communities may want to wall off their children from the kinds of things going on in the black ghettos (which may or may not be a true perception, because in MY high school, the white kids were the ones dealing drugs).

Some relevant sources:
Justices Rule Mandatory Busing May Go, Even if Races Stay Apart – New York Times 1991 (reported on the announcement of the Board of Education v. Dowell ruling)
Schools Resegregate, Study Finds – New York Times 2003
Fighting School Resegregation – Editorial – NYTimes.com 2003
and a ton more sources are available on the Google

According to a 2003 Harvard study, following the flurry of court rulings against busing, black students were less integrated at the turn of the millennium than in 1970, “a year before the Supreme Court authorized the busing that became a primary way of integrating schools.” These trends have accelerated unabated since 2000. In many of these segregated communities, a kid has a better chance of winning the lottery than meeting a person of different ethnic background than them. It looks as though our broken judiciary will allow entire states to re-segregate, decades of progress down the tubes, because we’ve made the democratic choice for that kind of society. And in a democracy we should be able to choose that; but let’s not be blind to the destructive potential of segregation: the damage to the children socially and emotionally, the distancing of racial communities, the retrenchment of a U.S. caste system. A growing body of social science research is reaching the conclusion that school desegregation should get some credit for the drop in urban crime in the ’90s and ’00s, and that the rise in crime in recent years can be partly blamed on re-segregation (Source: Slate: Resegregation has led to a spike in violent crime).
We need to be honest about the prejudice, the pre-judging we’re all capable of, and try and do what’s right. Separate but equal can never be equal, and invites a myriad of problems.

My younger brother Jamie, who’s also on a vent, said of visiting one high school, “I felt like the little white chunk no one wants at the bottom of the can o’ pork ‘n beans.”
That isn’t good, but it is the reality in the 2000s and 2010s….

Mobile has its first black mayor now, and peace and negotiation is still the order of the day for the most part, but in places like Atlanta and New Orleans the intensifying of segregation has communities on both sides simmering with racial tension. Racial violence in Atlanta isn’t yet “only of interest to historians.” Economic and social segregation in New Orleans, not to mention the strict geographic segregation—so extreme you wouldn’t believe it—has racial discord at all time highs. Hurricane Katrina (which I barely survived in Mobile) not only devastated New Orleans bow to stern, it opened up a LOT of old wounds. Surprisingly virulent racist memes have come back, big time; too often, Louisiana whites have welcomed that stuff back with open arms.

Libertarians like Ron Paul are right to point out that laws alone can’t turn hearts and minds around, and that’s an important point, but laws provide enforcement of equal opportunity against the worst injustices. Laws that have dis-empowered the most egregious offenders, especially vis a vis voting rights and equality under the law, have driven most of the progress we’ve seen.
Bork and Easterbrook’s brief provide a window into how we got to where we are. And where we are, and the legal opinions behind it, deserve re-examination.

Nick

What Is ObamaCare? 2013-2014: Overview Part 1 (Insurance Subsidies)

Posted by – March 10, 2013

An ObamaCare Overview 2013-2014: Part 1

Oh man, I am so frustrated that people misunderstand ObamaCare—the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and continually frame it as something it’s not. They frame it as some sort of universal health care coverage, or as some vague new program that replaces Medicare and Medicaid, or at least fixes their most egregious problems (Medicaid’s age 21 cut-off, for example). None of the above are true. I’m writing a book, a memoir of my fight against Alabama Medicaid’s age 21 cut off and a book-length exploration of the plight of young vent-dependent people in general, and if you’re wondering how ObamaCare changes things vis a vis Medicaid, it doesn’t. The Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid eligibility, but doesn’t change the underlying rules and regulations, or fill its most egregious gaps. So there’s very little about ObamaCare in my book; it just isn’t all that relevant for those of us with severe disabilities who have to rely on Medicaid and Medicare.

What is ObamaCare?

The public needs to ask this over and over again, until the wrong assumptions dissipate. Congress never debated universal health care coverage. When Congress debated the Affordable Care Act, they were debating a proposal nearly identical to a bill titled the “Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act” (HEART Act) which was introduced by Senate Republicans in 1993 as the conservative alternative to Bill Clinton’s health care legislation (which focused on an employer mandate to provide health insurance). The crux of the conservative proposal was essentially, “we want universal health care too, but through private insurance, and we’ll do that through an individual mandate; every American will have health insurance coverage.” The individual mandate means that the government requires individual citizens to have insurance.

The mandate made its political début in a 1989 Heritage Foundation brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” as a counterpoint to the single-payer system and the employer mandate, which were favored in Democratic circles. In the brief, Stuart Butler, the foundation’s health-care expert, argued, “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.” The mandate made its first legislative appearance in 1993, in the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act—the Republicans’ alternative to President Clinton’s health-reform bill—which was sponsored by John Chafee, of Rhode Island, and co-sponsored by eighteen Republicans, including Bob Dole, who was then the Senate Minority Leader.

Source: Why Republicans Oppose the Individual Health-Care Mandate : The New Yorker

By 2009, the debate had turned upside down, with Democrats supporting the Heritage Foundation‘s individual mandate as the core of the proposed Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans unanimously against the individual mandate. Inexplicably, Democrats have moved to the right and embraced the rightist policies of the past—Barack Obama has positioned himself as a George H. W. Bush-type of moderate conservative president, a dramatic break from prior black presidential candidates like Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson—and Republicans have turned against their own policies after supporting them for two decades. It’s bizarro world!

The costs of the Affordable Care Act. almost all of the costs, come from the individual mandate and the associated subsidies. The core of ObamaCare, the nut meat, is the system of subsidized health insurance exchanges. The main idea is that “health insurance is unaffordable and we’ll fix that by adding subsidies that make insurance affordable, and for the poor we will expand Medicaid eligibility, then most everyone will have coverage.” Affordable Care Act proponents called this “achieving universality” by tweaking multiple pieces of the system, like a piecemeal universal health care. This rang hollow even then; it didn’t even sound like the proponents believed their own rhetoric. I didn’t buy the claims that we’d “get to universality” any more than the incredible claims about health care providers voluntarily holding down prices as part of the ObamaCare grand bargain.

The debate in Congress over the Affordable Care Act primarily revolved around the individual mandate, the potential costs and red tape nightmares involved, and, inexplicably, abortion. Though the ACA includes a firewall between its subsidies and abortion, there aren’t any abortion-funding provisions in the bill, and the legislation is not intended to address abortion at all, still, the debate centered on abortion to an unexpected degree, in the House of Representatives especially. President Obama signed Executive Order 13535 to reinforce the Hyde Amendment’s prohibitions on federal funding for abortion as related to the ACA.

During the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton was for the individual mandate and Barack Obama was against it. I agreed with that version of Obama. The idea of requiring citizens to buy a defective product (health insurance scams) from select corporations is terrifying. The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to rule on the question of whether the federal government can require buying insurance and fine citizens for not acting, for non-activity. The court gave the individual mandate a thumbs up, as long as the fine is implemented as a tax. I think that this sets a horrible precedent in terms of the fusion of corporation and state. The Obama Administration, and future administrations, will decide which health insurance plans meet Affordable Care Act standards and are allowed into the insurance exchanges, and as we already have seen, for example with ACA requirements being waived for the most powerful companies, how corrupt that process can be.

In 2013-2014 the main provisions of ObamaCare, the subsidized health insurance exchanges—some, like New York’s, will be state-run, but where governors have refused to set up exchanges, for example Alabama, there will be federal-run exchanges—will go into effect, along with the individual mandate. Right now, only two percent of health insurance plans meet the minimum coverage requirements to be sold on the exchanges. We’ll see how things change as the requirements kick in and the exchanges come online (literally, the exchanges will be online marketplaces). Expect to see more than a few kerfuffles over the individual mandate penalty fines, plus some serious sticker shock—the cheapest type of plan under the ACA is a “bronze plan,” and according to an IRS estimate, bronze family plans for 4 and 5 person families are assumed to cost $20,000 a year in 2016—though it seems the exchanges’ subsidies may pay for the bulk of the exorbitant costs. I don’t know that pouring subsidies in won’t just incentivize insurers to keep raising prices. Removing the downward pressure on prices consumers exert when they can’t afford premium hikes, the feds saying “no matter how bad you gouge, we’ll pay it” seems INSANE to me, like something that would only make sense to an industry lobbyist.

Political cartoon by Nick, "Obama's Faustian Bargain"

Political cartoon by Nick, “Obama’s Faustian Bargain”

Massive subsidies that only increase are not a positive, in my view. Neither are subsidies to the health insurance companies amid an abusive dynamic “please stop killing children with preexisting conditions! Here, take $500 billion, just stop hurting us!” a positive; they’re actually the worst possible approach to this problem. And anyone who thinks abusive practices like the cruelty against those of us with preexisting conditions will end, you’re naive; new abuses and new loopholes to get old abuses through will appear on day 1. Awful unintended consequences are already arriving. The entire model desperately needs replacement.

Too often, health insurance is a scam. You pay in enormous sums each month just so the insurance company can deny you care in your hour of need. It’s essentially a very sophisticated, legal way to mug you each month. And when you subsidize something, you get more of it…

What is ObamaCare? it’s predominately a requirement to buy health insurance from select corporations with fines for disobedience, plus enormous subsidies for those selected corporations.

Next, in Part 2: the Supreme Court ruled that the “Medicaid expansion” provisions of the ACA must be voluntary for states. This has meant decision time for all 50 state governors across the country, but opting-in to the Medicaid expansion ISN’T “accepting ObamaCare.”

Blog To End Unjust Institutionalization!

Posted by – October 5, 2009

ADAPT is going back to the heart of the civil rights movement, Atlanta, to demand that the promises made to Georgians (and all Americans) by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. are kept. Read ADAPT’s page on the action here.

Segregating people with disabilities in institutions solely because they need daily help, especially given the 21st century technology that can assist them and the widespread success of people with disabilities living in the community, is fundamentally unjust, immoral, overly costly, and, according to the Olmstead ruling, illegal under Title II of the ADA.

Olmstead, the case of two Georgia natives who wanted the state to stop segregating them, affirmed all Americans’ right to receive care in “the least restrictive setting” (i.e. not in prison-like institutions) and ordered all states to end unnecessary confinement of their disabled citizens (which it deemed illegal discrimination) at a “reasonable pace.” Most states have done little to nothing to comply. The institutional bias of the system is deeply entrenched, and even though the Olmstead decision came down 10 years ago last June, millions of people with disabilities are still kept out of sight, out of mind, stuck in institutions. “A right delayed is a right denied,” Martin Luther King, Jr. would say.


Georgia’s system, the focus of the Olmstead case, remains notoriously bad, insisting on expensive life-long institutionalizations that strip people of any choice in their daily lives, block opportunities to grow and become self sufficient, and kill hope. And most states are similarly awful, especially in the South. They refuse to heed the Supreme Court’s orders, reminiscent of their failure to follow school desegregation rulings “with all deliberate speed.”

We can no longer ignore illegal segregation and the community support services states must use to prevent it. We can no longer ignore Olmstead. We mustn’t put long-term care on the backburner and not include it in this year’s health care reform; telling us to wait another decade or more is deeply unjust. ADAPT will be in Atlanta, October 10-15, demanding that this change. You can help raise awareness around the Fall National Action by blogging!

The ADAPT Blogswarm, Fall ’09, will collect posts raising the issues of the institutional bias, ablist and unjust institutionalization, lack of community-based services, long-term care reform, the Olmstead decision and posts highlighting ADAPT’s Fall Action. Blogswarm posts will all be listed here, on nickscrusade.org, on October 12.

Your blogging is incredibly important to raise awareness of these issues (often swept under the rug). Please contribute to the blogswarm!

For instructions on how to participate, see
ADAPT Blogswarm, Fall Action 2009

Thank you!

Nick

Reality Check: Sotomayor NOT “A Radical”

Posted by – May 29, 2009

The Reality: Sotomayor is a moderate, who sometimes makes liberal decisions that anger conservatives and sometimes makes conservative decisions that anger liberals, like ruling against abortion clinics in the “global gag rule” case, and the loathsome ruling that public schools can punish a student for free speech written on a blog off campus.  My beef with that is the freedom-crushing precedent it set, opening the door to much more freedom squashing in the future.

But overall she’s a moderate “pragmatist,” in the Obama mold.

Sonia Sotomayor LOLz

Sonia Sotomayor LOLz

The Far-Right Crazy Land Place: As I reported yesterday, Glenn Beck suggested that empathy is bad and can lead to Naziism, so Obama’s “empathetic” judicial nominees should be rejected.  Sean Hannity called  her a “radical.” Rush Limbaugh compared her to David Duke.   Some are concerned how “platos de arroz, gandoles y perni,” her Puerto Rican foods, will affect her judging, and Jeffrey Rosen in The New Republic allowed an anonymous source to attack Sotomayor as “not that smart” (because, obviously, doofuses can graduate summa cum laude from Princeton).

The corpse-esque visage of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell takes the podium (alongside Sen. Ensign and Sen. Cornyn) to demand that Supreme Court appointees only show empathy for state authorities and multinational corporations

The corpse-esque visage of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell takes the podium (alongside Sen. Ensign and Sen. Cornyn) to demand that Supreme Court appointees only show empathy for state authorities and multinational corporations

With the public opinion of Sotomayor high (polls show 45% of likely voters saying the Senate should confirm her, and only 29% who say they should not) this process will be more about trying the Republicans than her. How badly will they shoot themselves in the foot?

Bush holding his phone upside-down, and the caption Youre Doing It Wrong

Bush holding his phone upside-down, and the caption "You're Doing It Wrong"

Glenn Beck, in Criticizing Sotomayor, Says Empathy Is BAD, and Cites Bad Misunderstanding of Hebrew Bible

Posted by – May 28, 2009

Glenn Beck is stupid.

Glenn Beck is stupid.

Several weeks ago, I slapped down an idiotic routine from Beck, and now, he’s at it again.

This time, he’s making outrageous comments and going completely off the rails about new Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The rallying cry of the Republicans against Obama’s nominations has been “EMPATHY IS BAD!!!”   This from the same group that spent the last three decades beating us over the head with their holy book that commands love and empathy.  They don’t want empathetic judges! They want automatons that will apply the LETTER OF THE LAW without “gay” things like “feelings” or “considering the situation.” And if you break away from this particular party line, you’re THE ENEMY, on par with Hitler.

Beck cites Hitler example to state that “empathy leads you to very bad decisions”

Right, Glenn, when I think of empathy, the first person that comes to mind is HITLER.

Glenn suggests that Hitler’s extermination program to cull people with disabilities (he calls it out by name, Action T-4) was borne of empathy, and thus no judge with empathy should be on the bench.

Hitler’s euthanasia program had nothing to do with “mercy” or “ending suffering,” and everything to do with their sicko “racial hygiene” policies to achieve a “pure” master race.  The notion that the Nazis were “empathetic”–does he think there’s something warm and fuzzy about old Adolf?–puts Mr. Beck decidedly aboard the Crazy Train.

Beck has focused his show lately on beating the drum against empathy.  In a very unfortunate move, he mocked people wanting diversity in our system, joking, “we need a blind, deaf, handicapped Asian woman!” for the Supreme Court (source). He just has to continue his tradition of mocking disability.

And he really misunderstood the Hebrew Bible.  He tried to make a point, and really failed. Dude, you’re doing it wrong.

YES, King Shlomo was empathetic! Because he knew that by pretending to expose the baby to danger, the real mother would reveal herself, and the dispute would be settled. Come on. Someone who recovered from alcoholism through Mormonism should know a lot more about the Bible than that.

No "Personal Responsibility" For Corporations?

Posted by – February 24, 2008

Justices Shield Medical Devices From Lawsuits

Ok, basically, thanks to this Supreme Court ruling, corporations can make products that kill your mom, and can do this with total impunity and have no “Personal Responsibility” whatsoever. They are invincible. You have no recourse as long as the product was rubberstamped by the all-too-fallible, all-too-bribable FDA.

Of course, it would reduce costs tremendously if we banned all product liability lawsuits entirely, but we do not want to live in a society where no one is responsible for their actions.

If my faulty load-bearing wall collapses and kills your mom, you would sue me, right?

Why is it right to sue me over my faulty wall, but impossible to sue me for my faulty medical device?

Why do medical corporations get this level of favoritism? Is it because they bribe everyone like crazy?

Politicians love to scream “personal responsibility,” but this does not apply to corporations, apparently. This is just more tyranny, more special rights for corporations that citizens do not have. I am not pleased.

Nick

Compromise On Torture?

Posted by – September 27, 2006

Government Sanctioned Immorality Reaching Scary Proportions

Okay, we have a President of The United States of America, leader of the free world, who is pulling out all the stops to get a bill allowing more leeway on torture through Congress. This should be incredibly shocking to all of you. This post is Nick ranting about how evil torture is.

Let me lay down the facts, something you don’t get straight from our soundbite news media:

  • June 30, the Supreme Court of the United States put the smackdown on the president’s secret detainee tribunals (WikiNews article). The Supreme Court ruled them illegal, because *news flash* we have a Constitution wherein the legislature creates the laws, the executive executes the laws and the judiciary reviews and safeguards our rights in those laws, and the president, contrary to his claim to unlimited authority to prosecute the “war on terror,” cannot invent a new law out of thin air to secretly try detainees with no oversight whatsoever. Only Congress is responsible for making new laws.


This should be elementary school-level knowledge. It’s what our founders died for in the Revolutionary War.


In war-time the seperation of powers are not suspended, and the president can never assume all powers, overriding all other branches of government, despite what the Bush Justice Dept. people say. Congress decides what our laws are going to be, and they adopted the Geneva Conventions in 1949. So, on June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case that the president’s secret detainee tribunals are unconstitutional, and told him to either try terrorists under existing law, or get Congress to write a new law for it (Washington Post article).
  • Imagine for a moment the (not-so-far-fetched) scenario that Iran captures a US soldier, and tries him in a secret tribunal, without allowing anyone to see any evidence, all in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Rightfully, there would be a massive international outcry. But when we do it, it’s okay? And now the president wants his perverse double standards codified into American law, and Congress is behind him. What??!!
  • Congress makes the laws, and ratified the Geneva Conventions as the law of the land in 1949, and that law forbids secret trials of enemies and torture. The president can’t abolish existing law, and the Supreme Court spanked him about that. So he’s gone to Congress to make the torture and tribunals legal. On Sept. 15, President Bush stood in the Rose Garden and told reporters:
This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court’s ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article 3 says that, you know, there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s like — it’s very vague. What does that mean, “outrages upon human dignity”? That’s a statement that is wide open to interpretation. And what I’m proposing is that there be clarity in the law so that our professionals will have no doubt that that which they’re doing is legal.

I’m not making this up. Here’s the full transcript. Bush seriously said he doesn’t know what outrages upon human dignity are. Step back for a minute, close your eyes, and ponder what it means when the leader of the free world thinks the Geneva Conventions are vague and does not know what “outrages upon human dignity” mean! That explains so much about the last six years of our government, no?

There’s a century or so of case law defining what outrages on human dignity mean Mr. President, and you would look it up if it served your cause. It doesn’t of course, and even a cursory glance at our laws would yank away any fig leaf of legality propping up our dubious “alternative interrogation techniques.”

Stephen Colbert, who does wicked satire along the lines of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” takes on the topic here, suggesting the Geneva Conventions are as vague as a Lewis Caroll verse and if Bush would show us how he defines torture, we’d see his position with perfect “clarity.”

  • Senators John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham went to the press and said they would insist on legislation that would leave the Geneva Conventions intact.

  • Then they caved, announcing a compromise on torture. You read that right, the United States is compromising on torture. Under the new bill, detainees could see evidence brought against them in court (though the House version omits this). But other than murder, mutilation and rape, which would be classified as “severe breaches” of the Geneva Conventions under the bill, any other form of torture, including beatings, stress positions and so on, would be allowed. Step back and consider the moral ramifications of that. American law would allow the executive branch the leeway to interpret Geneva to engage in just about any nefarious act of torture you can imagine. Extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, blaring noise, beatings, just about anything would be considered below the threshold of “outrage upon human dignity,” anything could be done to get them to talk. And the bill would retroactively immunize U.S. officials from prosecution under the War Crimes Act of 1996. See the USA Today editorials: Deal on detainees falls short and Detainee compromise a lose-lose for more details. Senator Specter says he’ll press to allow detainees habeas corpus (the fundamental right to challenge your imprisonment in front of a judge) but it’s a sure bet that the bulk of this horrible bill will pass.
  • Torture doesn’t work. As we can see from the story reported by 60 Minutes about a completely innocent Canadian citizen who was sent to (our enemy) Syria by the CIA to be tortured, the victims will say anything to get you to stop torturing them. Torture ‘never guarantees’ truth, former FBI agent says. During the Great Witch Hunts of Europe (1567–1640), torture forced countless women to confess to “congress with the devil.” If our government doesn’t take a strong stand regarding torture, history will not treat this era much better.
  • Finally, torture is immoral. On MSNBC’s “Countdown,” constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley nailed it: “It is a violation of both domestic and international law. But more importantly, torture is immoral under every major religion, that you cannot fight a moral war with immoral means. And if we‘re ready to embrace immoral means, if that‘s how we‘re going to fight this war, then we have lost. And no one will come to our aid. We will be alone. And that‘s what happens when you become, in the view of many, an enemy to the rule of law. And we cannot afford that to happen.” (transcript)
Torture is immoral under every religion!
Yet, the Religious Right is backing torture like no one else! Molly Ivins reports that “the Rev. Louis Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition is so in favor of torture he told McCain that the senator either supports the torture bill or he can forget about the evangelical Christian vote. I’d like to see an evangelical vote on that one. I don’t know how Sheldon defines traditional values, but deliberately inflicting terrible physical pain or stress on someone who is completely helpless strikes me as … well, torture. And, um, wrong.” Wow, traditional values = torture? The followers of Christ are all about the torture? What Bible are they reading? Are they figuring since Jesus got tortured on the cross, it’s okay, it’s trendy, what is the justification here? How does torture jive with “love your neighbor as yourself?” This just illustrates so boldly how very disconnected American Christiandom is with the true message of the “Prince of Peace.” Who Would Jesus Torture?

Many say we have to do whatever it takes, without restraint, to protect our families from a savage enemy who uses acts of unprecedented brutality. They say we cannot “show weakness” in this “new era.” They are wrong. Nothing shows weakness more than shedding our values in the face of terrorism, something the generation of Pearl Harbor, who, despite fighting a far more dangerous foe, could not fathom. This is the bottom line: giving up our high ideals to protect our high ideals from terrorism, ideals we no longer have if we surrender them in our battle, is plainly nonsensical and should end. There is no justification for losing American values to protect American values.

Nick

Filed Under: Politics and Government

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