Saturday, November 14, 2009

Opinions on a Lot of Stuff

You may think that because I haven't posted anything here this week that I have no opinions on the various things that have been happening. Oh no, that isn't true. It's just that whenever an opinion struck me about some topic, it was not the right time to be blogging. And by the time I had time to blog, the will to blog had become weak.

So I thought I'd spend today catching up with the various things that I've wanted to post about all week.

Let's go backwards in time starting with the most recent news first.

In regard to the decision to try the 9/11 masterminds in civil court in Manhattan:

I'm totally in favor of this decision. It shows that the our country will stand up for its principles of justice and try these men fairly in a court of law. Of course, not everyone is in favor of this decision. According to the NY Times, opponents included members of Congress, some 9/11 victim's families, and neighbors near the courthouse.

"They argued that Qaeda suspects did not deserve the protections afforded by the American criminal justice system, that bringing them into the United States would heighten the risk of another terrorist attack, that civilian trials increase the risk of disclosing classified information, and that if the detainees were acquitted they could be released into the population."

TomCat over at Politics Plus has a good post about this. As he says,

"While it is true that these terrorists do not deserve the protections afforded by the US criminal justice system, look at the statement that giving them these protections anyway makes about the US before the world. Dispensing justice in full transparency can go a long way toward undoing some of the damage that eight years of torture and abuse of prisoners under Bush and the GOP did to our world prestige."

He also points out how the GOP, represented by Boehner, is once again showing no support for the American principles of justice. Sure, these people aren't citizens. But their crimes were committed on our soil and they should face our type of justice.

And if anyone is worried they may just get off and be released into the United States? Think about it - if you let them go in downtown Manhattan, how far do you really think they'd get? No worries there. (Yes, I know that is not a nice way to think about it. But I can't help it).

Onward to the health care debate.

I am glad the health care bill passed in the House. I know there are many progressives who feel as if this is a Pyrrhic victory, given Nancy Pelosi was forced to allow the Stupak Amendment that will effectively eliminate the possibility of coverage for abortion for a large number of women.

I understand and agree with the disappointment and outrage on the part of progressives and women. But I am practical, and believe that "the best is the enemy of the good." Sometimes it's better to get part of what you want even if it's not perfect. Opposing the bill and refusing to pass it is probably not the right answer.

First of all, this is not the final bill. The Senate needs to pass their version, and then the two versions have to be made into one. A lot can happen during that process.

Secondly, even if the final version includes these abortion restrictions, providing all Americans with health care will still do more for the greater good than if the abortion amendment were left out, but the legislation didn't pass. Having health care coverage will save money for poor or currently uninsured families if someone in the family became ill and incurred large medical bills. Ongoing well care will also ultimately help them stay in better health overall.

Third, whatever passes is not set in stone. When Medicare originally passed, it wasn't the same program as we have today. Later legislation can amend the terms if we have the will to force this to happen.

That said, I have grave concerns about the way the right wing and religious groups are slowly but surely chipping away at a woman's right to choose. Please, go over to Utah Savage's place and read what she has to say on the subject. She has forcefully reminded me of what it was like in those dark days before Roe v. Wade and also made an impassioned plea to the current generation to take up the cause and not take women's rights for granted. Please, read her most recent three posts (starting with the one entitled "My Abortion in 1968"), as she tells it better than I ever could.

The last issue I'd like to talk about today is the defeat of gay marriage in Maine on Election Day. Naturally, I was very disappointed that the voters of Maine voted for this miscarriage of justice. To me, it is ridiculous that basic human rights for our citizens are being put to a majority vote. If this had been done in the past, there would still be a number of states that would have had miscegenation laws on the books - and be enforcing them. Heck, there might even still be slavery!

Why should the majority get to rule on the rights of a minority? It doesn't even make sense. This is a constitutional issue and rightly should be decided by the courts. This is not activist judges at work - this is exactly what the courts are meant for - to enforce civil rights even when it's not something the majority may want.

Of course, the real solution would be for the government to get out of the marriage business altogether. Civil unions for all - let your religion dictate whether it's called marriage. That way religious groups that didn't want to marry gay couples wouldn't have to, and those that do, could. Either way, you could be married, whether you were gay or straight.

This evenhandedness should extend to benefit designations as well. If a person has medical or other coverage from their company or organization, they should be allowed to designate anyone as their beneficiary: spouse, domestic partner (male or female), relative, even friend. We pay extra to add spouses/families to our benefits anyway - why should the company care who you designate? It's all ridiculous to keep basing everything on whether someone is married or not, in this day and age when there are so many different types of households. It is time to move past this antiquated way of judging everything.

That said, the interesting thing is that we are even having these conversations today about gay marriage. A decade ago the idea of domestic partnerships or civil unions was what was setting off the right wing nutjobs. Now even they are hedging and saying that civil unions are OK, but marriage is another story. Change is happening - too slowly, yes - but happening nevertheless.

So, I think I'm all caught up on being opinionated. Baxter will be back next with his own thoughts on the latest news. In the meantime, I'll start trying to catch up with all the blogs I'm behind on reading!


MRMacrum said...

As A Mainer I am truly disappointed in how Question One went. But that is a price of living in a country where the people actually have a voice. And that is why the majority can dictate the rules. The majority is not always right or fair. But I cannot think of a better way other than ceding even more power to an indiferent central authority.

Utah Savage said...

Thank you my dear for the honor of this link.

This is quite a post and pretty much covers everything that's pissing me off these days. Even though it all pisses me off, we need to stay focused on these issues until they've been fixed, resolved in a way that gives us all the civil rights we are entitled to.

Dave Dubya said...

Your views are well articulated and utterly sensible. And I'm not just saying that because I completely agree with you.;-)

Fran said...

9-11 trials. I'm all for them, but not in Manhattan. We've got military fortresses out in the middle of nowhere (Nevada).... Manhattan seems like a security nightmare & it's too much.
Have the trials in a remote place, and include trials for the biggest criminals-- Bush & co.
I would have a lot more respect for Obama if he prosecuted Bush for his war crimes & crimes against humanity, breaking both domestic & international laws. It is not for revenge, but to restore our moral compass.
I'll be bold here-- Bush is just as much a criminal as Bin Laden. Maybe worse?

The health care bill. I see the problem is prostitution. As in politicians whoring their votes for lobby money. I mean seriously... they are raking in billions of dollars to sell their votes. In what other sector would taking money in this way be either allowed or ethical?
No way families on the brink of medical bankruptcy, foreclosure, and or distress of a health trauma event can compete with the monied lobbies and their vast power.

It is disgusting. When you see the amounts they have collected, I wish they had to have the amount of money they have taken written across their foreheads in red indelible Sharpie ink- for all to see, when they take to the podium and rant about "freedom" and "government takeover".... more like lobby money takeover, preserving the status quo.
I resent that this is allowed & they are on the take.

The fact they felt like throwing in the "A" card-- stirring up the abortion issue to try to fractionalize & derail getting healthcare reform underway should have been predictable- yet underhanded and discriminatory.

I'm certain if men could get pregnant, the rate of abortion would be much higher & that right to abortion options & medical procedures would be guarded fiercely.

As far as healthcare, Kucinich voted no....
holding out for an all or nothing public option. Wake up Dennis..... the all or nothing strategy would yield nothing & we've gone too long with that horrific reality.
I agree with you-- we've got to start somewhere.

S.W. Anderson said...

Applying our system of criminal justice for the 9-11 detainees, including defendants' rights, isn't about being nice to them. We're not cutting them a break because they've been abused and their cases otherwise mishandled for years. It's about honoring and upholding our justice system by following it.

This says to us and to the world we have standards and we have faith in our system. We don't just make things up as we go along. Obviously, neocon Republicans would have a problem with that.

Christopher said...

It looks like the Xristians and Maggie Gallagher and NoM will be bringing their freakshow to New Jersey in a few weeks to fight any effort o pass gay marriage equality before your new, rightwing, antigay Republican governor is sworn in.

This promises to be a real circus.

I hope you will be blogging about it because a lot of us don't live in New Jersey and you will have a unique perspective.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

If I have never said this before, let me say now that I appreciate your understanding of process and incremental change. Truly, none of this is perfect but we have to take heart in the changes we've made and keep moving forward. I believe that strongly and like you, I agree that "The best is the enemy of the good." Thanks for that phrase.

libhom said...

My view on the healthcare bill and the Stupak Amendment is different. If the legislation was single payer healthcare, I might be persuaded that taking out abortion coverage might...might be worth it. But, for legislation that doesn't even have a strong public option, I'm not convinced.

Also, the legislation does not provide everyone healthcare. It fines people who can't afford to pay the premiums. Also, HMOs and insurance companies don't always provide healthcare to people who have "coverage."

TomCat said...

Maui, thanks for the hat-tip. I also share your opposition to Stupak-Pitts. Great job on this post.

Robert Rouse said...

Don't worry about the blogs. Relax. That's one of the special parts of blog reading, you can always catch up on what you missed.

Speaking of which ... WELCOME BACK!

Randal Graves said...

I still think we should set up a steel cage battle royale involving Chimpy & Co. and the terrorist masterminds. Pay-per-view, all proceeds go to charity.

Tom Harper said...

You're right, I thought you didn't have any opinions on current political events :)

I agree that we need to get this health care bill passed and signed ASAP. There are already some disappointments, like the one you mentioned, and there'll be a lot more of them as the Republicans and Blue Dogs continue to hammer away at it. But it needs to get passed, whatever the final form is. We can tweak it and improve it later.

As contemptible as Jim DeMent is, he's right when he says that defeating Obama's health reform agenda will be his "Waterloo." We can't let this happen.

Life As I Know It Now said...

If the pace of change becomes any slower we may have to wait another 100 years to tweak this bill and change it to something we really want instead of the lowest and crappiest denominator allowable.

But wait...we don't have another 100 years on this planet--not us middle aged peeps or the generations coming up after us. Truly we ARE killing this Earth.

Kvatch said...

According to the NY Times, opponents included members of Congress, some 9/11 victim's families, and neighbors near the courthouse.

In other words...people with no faith in the American justice system. Ironic that Congress is in that mix.

Well...OK...maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was pretty unhappy about the way the Maine thing went, but I too thought the trial in NYC made sense - being a former New Yorker who was there, breathed the fumes, and watched those towers fall, wondering what was going on. I agree that the health care bill needs passed, however, I am beginning to wonder if *any* of our leaders will be able to dig us out of all this.