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November 05, 2004

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K.

Concerning the e-mail Andrew Sullivan received: Michigan voted Democratic (2307040 votes for Bush) yet the anti gay amendment got 2681137 votes. Note also that at least half a million Kerry voters (23% of all Kerry voters) did not vote against it. Not only Bush but also a lot of Kerry supporters are against people who are different.

Kevin

You're worried about what country this is. I think before you start writing off America, you really should try to be a bit more open minded about the values and ideas that won this election and has been winning elections in the U.S. for a looooong time.

You take a number of complex issues and ignore any reasonable explanation so that you can pigeonhole your opponents. This is not a good way to understand or even oppose the ideas that won the day.

A few things you might consider:

* Americans don't hate gays. They oppose gay marriage and especially the idea that it will be opposed on them undemocratically by a bunch of judges who use extraordinarily twisted legal logic to do so. They believe homosexual Americans deserve the same legal protections and rights that all Americans enjoy, nothing more nothing less and they do.

* Most Americans, including a majority of American women believe abortion is wrong.

* Both of these positions are held by ALL major Christian denominations not just evangelicals (which I am not I might mention) and to the best of my knowledge Jewish and Muslim ones as well.

* Habeas Corpus has NEVER applied to prisoners of war.

* Most Americans do care about world public opinion but care more about America's security.

* I know of NO international treaty or other agreements that this government "scoffed" at.

You say, "I'm not worried about "theocracy". I'm worried that a clear majority of Americans don't care if people are locked up, tortured, humiliated, stigmatized, denied basic human rights" All Americans I know and I am sure a vast majority of Americans would care about those things if they were true. They aren't.

Doug Muir

Taking just one point

* Habeas Corpus has NEVER applied to prisoners of war.

Well, she NEVER... sorry. She never said that it did.

Her point is that the administration claims the power to label anyone, at its own discretion, an "enemy combatant" -- and then deny that person habeas corpus.

It has already happened to over six hundred people, including US citizens.


Doug M.

Bernard Guerrero

"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Ok, I say we've been invaded. Fire away, Doug...

Gareth Wilson

"We've had civil unions in Germany for years"

But you've never had gay marriage, right? And in New Zealand, which is so liberal that the leader of the _conservative_ party can attend a gay pride rally without raising eyebrows, we don't have gay marriage either. And 73% of Americans oppose gay marriage, far more than the proportion that voted for Bush. But a clear majority support civil unions. I have no objection to gay marriages that I don't have to buy gifts for, but it does seem that the Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot over this issue.

Kevin

Not to get too far off into latin legalisms but she did say in reference to potential Supreme Court appontees "Who say, well, habeus corpus doesn't apply to prisoners of war, and this is sort of a war?"

Hence my point that habeas corpus NEVER... sorry never applied to prisoners of war.

Not that any of this matter in relation to those in Guantanamo as they are enemy combatants, not prisoners of war.

claudia

Gareth -- no, we don't have gay marriage but I find that civil unions are a first step in the right direction. Maybe the Democrats ought to have done small steps first, yes.

Btw, these 15 countries recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

You will have noticed that the US is not included in this list. I'm all for international understanding and love, as you all know. I do support immigration for same-sex couples. At the moment, though, I suggest that those Californian-Bavarian or Wisconsin-Kenyan couples just emigrate to Sweden or New Zealand (Germany's economy is just so bad, I can't really recommend anyone to go there).

It's sad, isn't it?

Although the INS, pardon me, the USCIS - part of the Homeland Security - is bad all around.

But that's got nothing to do with this particular issue.

claudia

Kevin -- let me say that I enjoy disputes but I would like to ask you to read carefully what I say before you reply. You're either misunderstanding me -- or you're twisting my words. You're also assuming positions that I don't hold and you're putting words into my mouth. Please don't.

As an olive branch: you have a very cute kid.

OK, let's see now.

Americans don't hate gays. They oppose gay marriage and especially the idea that it will be opposed on them undemocratically by a bunch of judges who use extraordinarily twisted legal logic to do so. They believe homosexual Americans deserve the same legal protections and rights that all Americans enjoy, nothing more nothing less and they do.

Now, here are two issues -- one is the protection of minorities. If you deem it undemocratic if minorities are protected or granted certain rights, just because the majority is against this... oh, boy. Then things are looking really bleak.

Nothing more, nothing less? Well, it is less if homosexuals are denied the right to marry. It is less if they are denied the right for visitation, to decide their partner's medical treatment if the partner cannot do it him/herself, to take medical leave if the partner is sick, etc. That is way less. Not speaking of taxation and all that.

Nothing more? What am I missing here? Why would gays be granted something more than the average American citizen if they were allowed to marry? Two wedding gowns at one wedding?

Most Americans, including a majority of American women believe abortion is wrong.

I didn't claim anything else. I said that there is a good chance that Roe v. Wade might be overturned if Bush gets to appoint more anti-choice SC judges. Which is true.

Both of these positions are held by ALL major Christian denominations not just evangelicals (which I am not I might mention) and to the best of my knowledge Jewish and Muslim ones as well.

Again, I didn't claim it wasn't so. I replied to Andrew who said:

Christians get abortions. Think about it: if you come from a faith that says that sex outside of marriage is not permitted, then when you do slip up and wind up having sex, chances are that there was probably not much preparation in the way of contraception. The natural result, plus the messy man-made solution happens more often than you'd think.

I know that Christians are getting abortions too. But I don't think for a moment this means that they secretly don't want it banned so they have an emergency door if things go wrong. They do want it banned.


I know of NO international treaty or other agreements that this government "scoffed" at.

Hm. Steel tariffs and hardwood lumber? Violations of WTO and NAFTA. Those for starters.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court? You may not agree that it's a good idea (Doug's not sure of this himself), but the US signed it. Then Bush "unsigned" it.

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Google it.

Geneva Convention? You're not supposed to declare someone an "enemy combatant" without giving them a hearing first.

International Convention Against Torture? "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

United Nations? You're one of the founding members. You're not supposed to invade people just because you think they're Bad. (Especially if you haven't done your homework.)

There are more, but those will do to start.

You say, "I'm not worried about "theocracy". I'm worried that a clear majority of Americans don't care if people are locked up, tortured, humiliated, stigmatized, denied basic human rights" All Americans I know and I am sure a vast majority of Americans would care about those things if they were true. They aren't.

Well, yes, they are. Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Those are true and Guantanamo is still happening. If you say that this is not an argument because they're all foreigners and enemy combatants, then we just don't understand each other.

And the vast majority of Americans don't seem to care. In fact, several of the torturers from Abu Ghraib have become local heroes, back in their hom towns. (Admittedly, they are horrible towns in West Virginia but they are part of the US.)

Meanwhile Joe Darby, the guy who first blew the whistle on the abuses, has been in protective custody since last May, and is likely to end up in the Witness Protection Program.

And nobody seems to be paying attention. Most Americans don't know who Joe Darby is. Hell, most Americans still seem to think Saddam had WMDs.

I don't think y'all realize how deeply creepy this looks from over here.

Natalie Getzoff

As Claudia well knows, I hate "me, too" posts. ME TOO! Everything she said.

I wish I could as elequent my first language as you are in your third (fourth?). Hmph. You said it all better than I could or would without even screeching (how you do that?). I wouldn't be able to restrain myself. Kudos to you for rational discussion. :-)

Natalie -- now I just have to get Larry un-mad at me. I forgot to pay his business phone bill, and guess what happened....

Randy McDonald

Kevin:

Americans don't hate gays. They oppose gay marriage and especially the idea that it will be opposed on them undemocratically by a bunch of judges who use extraordinarily twisted legal logic to do so. They believe homosexual Americans deserve the same legal protections and rights that all Americans enjoy, nothing more nothing less and they do.

Which is why the Supreme Court had to strike down sodomy laws in more than a dozen states this year, and why conservatives so strongly and consistently favoured the destigmatization of their non-heterosexual fellow citizens in law, and why they took the initiative to propose civil unions long before the left even thought of gay marriage.

Right.

Kevin

Okay. Let’s see, where to start. First, thanks for the “olive branch”. I’m not sure a peace offering is necessary though. I don’t feel any animus or any ill will toward you I just enjoy a good exchange of ideas. Since you had posted that you were deeply depressed and oscillating between despair and disbelief I thought I might help by giving some insight to the real reasons for the results of the election. However, that being said the olive branch is valued and I appreciate the comment about my girl. She is a cutie pie and the apple of my eye.

I must say that I did read your post carefully. I’m not sure you did the same with mine. The points I tried to make weren’t all necessarily in rebuttal to items in your post. I said simply that they were a few things you might consider. You wrote, “51% of Americans voted for a government that tortures people, that insists it has the legal right to torture people. A clear majority voted for a government that cares nothing about world opinion, that scoffs at international treaties.” You expressed concern that, “Millions of Americans voted for narrow-minded, mean spirited provisions targeting an unpopular minority.” And among many other things, you worried about the possibility of Roe being overturned, US citizens being stripped of their rights, expressed concern about habeas corpus for prisoners of war and disputed that we are indeed engaged in a war. Not every one of the points I made was necessarily to dispute something you said or implied.

My overall point, however inarticulately conveyed, was that it seems that many people on the left are despairing, literally weeping, at the results of the election and are without a clue as to what they mean. My main concern is that this is primarily because they live in an echo chamber where they only hear their own opinions reverberated back to them. They seldom if ever take into account any opinions or facts in contradiction to their world view. Having spent a couple of years living and working in England, I feel this is especially true for Europeans. I was astonished at both the picture of GWB and America as a whole painted by the press there. It resembled very little of the man I knew as the governor of my state nor of the country I love.

If you fit this mold, stop accepting The New York Times, The Nation, the BBC, and Le Monde as gospel and start realizing that all these outlets are seriously flawed as unbiased sources of information. By all means continue reading and listening to them but do so understanding that reality.

Now, to get to you most recent points.

· You mention that you thought I “deem it undemocratic if minorities are protected or granted certain rights” and worried that the majority of Americans are also against this.

My point wasn’t that it is undemocratic for minorities to be protected or granted rights. I was saying just the opposite. Gay Americans have exactly the same right as I and everyone else. Gay Americans enjoy exactly the same legally protections as I and everyone else. Neither most Americans nor I want anything less. That being said, what is undemocratic is to have judges override the wishes of the vast majority of the population to impose the allowance of gay marriages. By the way, marriage is not a right it is a legal designation. An understanding of this fact is important.

My statements that the majority of Americans believe abortion is wrong and that both these positions are held by mainstream Christian, Jewish, and Muslim churches were made not to dispute any specific point you made but simply to point out that when you express concern about American voter’s “fundamental Christian values” and ask yourself, “how can this be? Most of the Americans that I know are decent, kindly people” that these positions are not at all out of the mainstream.

· Regarding the international treaties and agreements you listed that the US “scoffed at”, the following:

- Steel tariffs, hardwood lumber, WTO, NAFTA, etc… To that I say, touch. As very much a free trader myself I disagree with the current administrations lack of commitment to upholding these agreements. They made short-term political calculations at the expense of free and fair trade and it didn’t pay off. Steel tariffs didn’t seem to throw Pennsylvania into the Bush column.


- As for the so-called “unsigning” of The Rome Statute of The International Criminal Court, let’s be real shall we. The Clinton administration was foolish to ever sign it and did so knowing the next administration would have to pull out. This, like Kyoto, is not even remotely in the interest of the US and would never have passed the Senate. This idea that because Clinton signed and then we “unsigned” means we somehow backed out of a binding agreement is a fallacy that seems to especially be common in Europe. A treaty is not valid or binding by the US until the Senate ratifies it. That was not going to happen with either The International Criminal court or Kyoto. Anyone who believes otherwise is just kidding himself.

- The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The US pulled out of the ABM as per the ABM itself allows with six months notice. We abided fully by the terms of the treaty. That is hardly scoffing at it.

- The International Convention Against Torture. The American government does not sanction torture. As for those who engaged in what, really lets be honest, was a very mild form of it, they are being prosecuted with some already in prison.

- The United Nations. While I personally believe that any organization that endows Libya with the chair of the Human Rights Commission and uses the oil for food program to enrich its members, not the Iraqi poor is not worthy of a hell of a lot of respect. The US is both its largest source of income and most important member and as such is an extremely active participant in all its operations. If you’re implying that the war in Iraq was in defiance of the wishes of the UN, you are wrong. Setting aside the multitude of reasons both humane and security related in favor of ousting Hussein, remember that there were thirteen years of sanctions, uncounted blocked, deferred, and diverted inspection attempts, and multiple resolutions warning Iraq of action. The UN never passed a resolution negating any US action.

As far as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are concerned, see the above regarding the International Convention Against Torture for my thoughts on Abu Ghraib. It was an anomaly. With regard to Guantanamo, I as most Americans prefer that the Islamo-fascist who would just as soon cut your or my throat as take a walk in the park be put in a cell in Cuba than be out running around the world trying to find more jets to hijack, trains to bomb, or construction workers to decapitate.

You’re right about most Americans not knowing who Joe Darby is. I had to Google it to find out. However, who is to say Joe Darby wants anyone to know who he is. I didn’t find anything regarding protective custody, threats to him, or a witness protection program for him. That being said, he and his family did appear on both the Today show and the CBS Early Show two of the most widely viewed national morning shows in the US. He couldn’t be seeking that much anonymity.

Finally, to get back to my original point, if you are despairing or confused by the election results, try getting some fresh and dissenting perspectives. I can recommend a few of the many blogs I follow.

Try the following:

http://www.atlanticblog.com/ -- Written by an American economics professor living in Ireland. He has an especially relevant post entitled “The Values Thing” that might interest you.

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com/ -- An American professor and self-described atheist living in Australia. He’s a bit more of a bombastic writer but still instructive.

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/waddle/ -- A Harvard law student with a very good post about why he supports gay marriage but disagrees with the prevailing wisdom about why it fails to gain popular support.

Thanks for the debate. It’s been enjoyable.

Bernard Guerrero

"- Steel tariffs, hardwood lumber, WTO, NAFTA, etc… To that I say, touch. As very much a free trader myself I disagree with the current administrations lack of commitment to upholding these agreements. They made short-term political calculations at the expense of free and fair trade and it didn’t pay off. Steel tariffs didn’t seem to throw Pennsylvania into the Bush column."

Amen. That'll teach 'em who they _should_ be pandering to!

Maria Rqamspott

There is nothing to add to this but to agree to all opinions of all subjects stated at your blog.
As as an Austrian now US citizen I can not tell you how awfull I feel regarding the path this country is walking on.
I think there are only a few of us who know what democrazy means, I do!
I lived in Austria during a hatefull regime as I stated in a blog remembering when I was very young.

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