Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Save Troy Davis

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

I’ve made several posts asking for your help in support of Amnesty International’s efforts to save the life of Troy Davis.  This is a summary of the case from Amnesty International.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

A 90-day stay of execution has been granted in this case, but Troy Davis remains in peril of his life.  Even those who believe in the death penalty must grant that a man must not be executed if there is doubt about his trial and the verdict against him.

Unfortunately, Mr. Davis would not be the first African-American to suffer such an unjust end in this country. 

Please follow this link to take action to keep the pressure on the State of Georgia to see that justice is done in this case.

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Posted in America, Amnesty International, death penalty, Human Rights, taking action, Troy Davis, United States | 1 Comment »

George Bush Augustus

Posted by Gerald on July 20, 2007

This has got to be the most astonishing thing I’ve heard from this White House, and damn that is saying something.  The administration will not allow the US Attorney to pursue contempt charges in any case where the President has invoked executive privilege – because that is the end of the argument as far as the executive is concerned.  In essence, the President gets to define his own powers.

Read about it here.

I particularly like the rationale of a “unitary executive” in which the US Attorneys are “emanations of the President’s Will.”  Why is it that these so called “strict-constructionist” Neo-Cons are so enamored with autocracy.  Even if the American Presidency is supposed to have been modeled on the British Monarchy (or so they claim), the 18th C. British kings were LIMITED monarchs.

I always knew these guys think George Bush is LIKE a Roman Emperor – I didn’t realize they think he IS a Roman Emperor.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, Constitution, Federal Courts, law, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »

An Ongoing Crime

Posted by Gerald on July 17, 2007

Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than other American women.  1 in 3 of these women will be victims of sexual assault.  Part of the problem is the result of an ongoing erosion of funding and support for Tribal law enforcement while the responsible Federal law enforcement authorities put their focus elsewhere.

The number of white perpetrators of these crimes and the role of Federal authorities here makes this the most recent chapter in the ongoing history of crimes against the Native populations of this hemisphere.  We have a moral obligation to act.

There is a debate going on about funding in support of the Violence Against Women Act and of Title IX of that act, which specifically addresses the situation for Native American and Alaska Native women.

Please click here to find out more and to help support Amnesty International in its efforts to support fully funding the VAWA.

Posted in America, Amnesty International, politics, taking action | 3 Comments »

Yes Virginia, There is a Legislative Branch

Posted by Gerald on July 16, 2007

The L.A. Times has published a nice little primer on executive privilege.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, law, politics | Leave a Comment »

Found It!!! (Meaning My Sense of Moral Outrage)

Posted by Gerald on July 12, 2007

I was saying earlier that I wasn’t able to find my sense of moral outrage.

Then I read this in the Washington Post.

This is one interesting story that simply highlights all of the problems with the administration and its Iraq “policy.”  Last November we have Bush giving a “Churchillian” vision of victory in Iraq to the Iraq Study Group.  “‘A constitutional order is emerging,’ he (Bush) said.”  (“T’ings is looking pretty bad dere right now, but dere seems to be hope for a constitutional settlement.”)  Bush’s own CIA director was telling him it ain’t happening.  All of this before the “surge.”  Here is the quotes that really struck me:

“Our leaving Iraq would make the situation worse,” (CIA Director) Hayden said. “Our staying in Iraq may not make it better. Our current approach without modification will not make it better.”

“The levers of power are not connected to anything,” he (Hayden) said, adding: “We have placed all of our energies in creating the center, and the center cannot accomplish anything.”

“It’s a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts when they are viewed as a predatory element,” he said. “Strengthening Iraqi security forces is not unalloyed good. Without qualification, this judgment applies to the police.”

To me, though, the most important quote from CIA Director Hayden was:

“The Iraqi identity is muted. The Sunni or Shia identity is foremost.”

I think this is the most important realization we need to have about the situation in Iraq – identity.  There is not going to be any sort of national reconciliation or unity unless more Iraqis see themselves as Iraqi first and Shia or Sunni second.  I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t see themselves that way, I’m just saying that an Iraqi nation can only be built if its people want it.  Unless the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds WANT to be in the same country with one another, there is no way that political stability is going to emerge.

I’ve said this before in this blog.  WE (America) cannot make this happen.  It isn’t a matter of our will or of our ideals or of anything else about us – this is something that only the people in Iraq can decide.  What is important to them?  Where do their primary loyalties lie?  Who do they believe they are?  Who do they want to be?  We cannot force an answer on them – and I do not think we can even help them find an answer.  I do believe that our presence there – even with the best of intentions (which may or may not be the case) – is making the internal struggle over national identity more difficult by involving a foreign occupation and strengthening the hand of the militant Islamists.  No matter how good their intentions, if you are watching soldiers from another country and another culture walking armed down your streets and kicking in the doors of your neighbors (even the ones you do not like), you cannot help but feel belittled, provoked, and irritated.  Add in the inevitable mistakes and misconduct that will happen when you have armed human beings, with all of our flaws and vices, trying to police someone else’s home and you have a recipe for a spiral of hatred and violence.

Will there be violence if we leave?  Absolutely.  There is violence right now.  Things are gone too far for that not to happen.  But it is ultimately going to be up to the people in Iraq to decide when they no longer want to fight each other.  All we can do is decide whether we are going to continue to provoke the violence we are involved in by our very presence there.

Will Al-Qaeda be able to recruit in Iraq and operate there?  Yes.  We’ve already guaranteed it, and every time some Iraqi kid watches our soldiers leading his Dad off in handcuffs, we are helping swell the ranks.  Our only real hope at this point is to stop doing anymore damage ourselves and then to be ready to provide non-military help on an almost unconditional basis to those who ask.  Maybe, just maybe, that will eventually lead to whatever government or governments emerge from the aftermath being willing to forgive us one day and to not actively support our enemies.

Is all of this a thin strand of hope?  You betcha, but all of the really good options disappeared during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Now we are just left with the possible – with bad and worse.  We need to choose while we still have even this little amount of choice left.

Posted in al-Qaeda, America, Bush administration, Diplomacy, international relations, Iraq War, Middle East, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »

Blogging and Grading Do Not Seem to Mix

Posted by Gerald on July 12, 2007

What with the intelligence report on the resurgence of Al-Qaeda, the White House interim report on “progress” in Iraq and the President’s active spinning in the new press room I should have lots to say.

I don’t.  At least nothing new.  Maybe it is because I’ve been grading essays all day, and I’m kind of tired (but not dispirited – the kids are doing well.)

I’ll see if I can’t find my usual sense of moral outrage later tonight.

Posted in al-Qaeda, America, Bush administration, Iraq War, news, terrorism, United States | 6 Comments »

All of a Piece

Posted by Gerald on July 11, 2007

Former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified that the White House “buried” any information that didn’t match their ideological preconceptions on things like stem cells and teen pregnancy.

Can anyone be surprised by this?  This administration led us into war by ignoring intelligence it didn’t want to hear, it has violated international law and the Constitution by ignoring any voices that said they were doing so, it has consistently simply believed what was convenient for it and damn the consequences.

Consequences we are going to be dealing with for years after Dubya retires to Crawford and Cheney becomes the chief commentator on Fox News.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Bush Legacy, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | 1 Comment »

Not King, But Pope!

Posted by Gerald on July 9, 2007

Can you call something news if you knew it was going to happen?

Guess what!?!

The President isn’t going to allow his aides to testify before Congress.

and

The President is not going to change his Iraq strategy, even in the face of Republican defections.

After all, the executive answers to no one and is never wrong.

All hail His Holiness George I

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, Iraq War, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | 3 Comments »

More on Cognitive Dissonance and George Bush

Posted by Gerald on July 9, 2007

In an earlier post I theorized that the entire Bush Presidency is best viewed as an experiment in cognitive dissonance.  According to the Washington Post a couple of people with things like qualifications and experience and who know what they are talking about agree with me and have written a book about it.  I’ll be expecting my royalty checks.

You can read about it here.  I’ll be busy straining my elbow and patting myself on the back.

Posted in America, Bush administration, George W. Bush, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »

Go Read This Blog!!!

Posted by Gerald on July 9, 2007

There is an excellent post on the Scholars and Rogues blog about the attitudes in the west about globalization and protectionism and the realities of Africa written from an African’s perspective.

Probably even more than the other things, this is about unwanted Western paternalism. 

You can find it here.

Go read it, it is excellent.

Posted in Africa, America, economics, globalization, inequality, International, protectionism, South Africa | Leave a Comment »