DrMyers’s Blog

May 14, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!: Truth Commission?

tortureIraq7.16831244_stdWhen trying a murder trial, evidence can make or break the decision which could determine one’s  freedom. It is for this cause, prosecuters try their very best to have as much evidence as possible when pushing a jury for conviction. This evidence is important because no one in the courtroom were present at the time of the incident, no one but the defendant; and his/her integrity is in question.  Proving his/her guilt or innocence would be much easier if there were some type of evidence that could paint a clearer picture of what happened during the incident. In many cases, a picture of the crime being commited “in the act” would easily acquit or convict, but having that picture is a rare find to a prosecutor…except for those prosecuting against the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Some (but not all) pictures were released before, giving insight to the treatment of prisoners at the detention facility, but this month the rest of the pictures were scheduled to be released…until The White House told the press that Obama would fight the release of dozens of photographs showing the abuse of terrorism suspects. What’s in the photo’s?

Barack Obama received some unexpected praise today from Republican Senator Graham regarding his decision. Harshly criticizing the President’s stimulus package during the beginning of the administration, and questioning the “Change” Obama touted during his campaign, the Senator praised Obama for choosing to act as Commander in Chief without letting politics sway his decision. In another surprising move, the Senator admitted defeat in challenging the Stimulus Package, and encouraged South Carolina Governor to accept the stimulus money.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU and advocating for the photos’ release, expressed outrage and said the decision “makes a mockery” of Obama’s campaign promise of transparency. “It’s absolutely essential that these photos be released so the public can examine for itself the torture and abuse that was conducted in its name, and so that high-level officials who authorized or permitted that abuse can be held accountable,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said.

A poll done by the Los Angeles Times Indicated:

Should President Obama release the photos showing alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel?

36.1 %
Yes, release all the photos. We need to know the full extent of detainee abuse under the Bush administration.

6.5 %
Yes, but with caveats. The administration should be careful about which photos it releases.

57.4 %
No. Obama is correct: Releasing the photos would put our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in more danger.

2005 total responses

The President has defended his actions by stating that releasing the photo’s “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals…In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger,” Obama told reporters. “Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.” With a future trip to Egypt planned later this month, Obama is clinging to National Security as his main reason for blocking the release of the photo’s; while also discouraging a truth commission from being formed, which is supported by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

One must wonder, what actions are depicted in these photo’s that would reignite anti-American feelings? It has been hinted that these pictures are not as vulgar as the pictures released before hand. If this is the case, why drag out this painful part of America’s past and get these photo’s out and into the hands of American people.

Witholding  these photo’s only further ignite conspiracy theorists, and clouds the transparency of this new administration with dirt from it’s predecessors. Would these pictures further sway public opinion towards influencing their representatives to prosecute members of the former Administration. A bigger question is; if the previous administration broke the law, why are we hesitant to prosecute? Could it mean that many more representatives(other than the republicans associated with the Bush Administration) were fully aware of the going on’s within the prison, and did not stand up for right?

It has been argued that the descisions made by the former administration, was made swiftly with only the concern of preventing the death of more American lives.  Did this protection warrant us to break our treaty signed with the United Nations; and if this treaty endangers America’s National Security…why do we honor it?

Perhaps that fine General could shed some light within our current plight:

 

General Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

 

 

I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.

General Douglas MacArthur

May 13, 2009

Infidelity: To Home, To Party, To Country!

 

Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards

Being born in a part of the country where a man’s word was/is his bond, after growing up, the world doesn’t appear nor tend to operate under the same mantra. I can still remember going to “Mr.Franklin’s Hardware Store”, and at this store, or in my opinion a resale shop, a group of men all in their 70’s and 80’s sat around, told stories, swapped antidotes, and made small business deals,all without paper. My grand-father (who’s 96 years old) has taught me that a man’s word and his name will be permanently attached at the hip. We have seen many great men and women fall from their guilded towers, because the public had lost faith in their (the public figure’s) integrity. Infidelity to ones family, political party, and country has been at the center of news subjects over the last few days. It is these topics I shall address today.

 

Perhaps, we should examine the word Infidelity. One would think that the word “Infidel” would be the root word of infidelity, but it is not. Only within it’s loose definition ( a person who disbelieves or doubts a particular theory, belief, creed, etc.; skeptic.,) can we find a correlation between Infidel “a noun/adjective ” and Infidelity “a verb”; and that is the correlation of disbelieves-creed. Infidelity is a breach of trust or a disloyal act/transgression. It is within this definition that we will continue on within this discussion.

Over the course of the last year, John Edwards (once a celebrated young Senator and Vice Presidential Contender) has been ridiculed by the press and by many Americans due to his infidelity to his wife. Married over 30 years, Former Senator Edwards made the rounds of states announcing his candidacy for president. With a full staff of old and young people who believed in him, he used his charming smile to captivate the hearts of potential voters, before having to convince one last person of his competence. Elizabeth Edwards, who is suffering with terminal cancer, has been promoting her book, “Dilligence”, and speaking out about how this tower of a man is still fighting back to win trust not only with the American People, but with her.

Labeling his infidelity as a “frailty”, she explained in interviews about how this major indiscretion threatened to ruin all of the good that had been wrought within their 3 decades together. Just think, with the country in an economic down-turn, job loss at a record high, and a war still being fought abroad; what would have happened if a then elected John Edwards would have to combat these infidelities to the country, our allies and enemies that are both domestic and abroad. His party and his country would have been dealt a great in justice, at a true time of crisis…a time that should be spent caring for his wife and his family.

Speaking of infidelity to ones party, Vice President Dick Cheney has come to mind recently. Since leaving the Naval Observatory, Mr. Cheney has been a very vocal soundbite, defending the actions of the Bush Administration and staunchly criticizing the actions of the Obama Administration. But out of all things, with an approval rating teetering under 30%, he stated on television that, “I thought Collin Powell had already left the party.” One must ask; at a time when the Republican Party is drifting further and further apart, why would a former VP, who could be using this time/influence to unite his part, re-organize, and get back in touch with the American People, would he make odds with one of the most respected people within his party. After supporting then Candidate Obama, Colin Powell indicated that he believed that the Republican Party had moved away from fundamental values…these principles enacted and supported by the Bush/Cheney Administration, an administration Mr. Powell left in 2004.

Regardless if Cheney feels as if by Mr. Powell slighted him in some way, putting one’s personal agenda ahead of one’s party, will end in horror; just as putting one’s personal agenda in front of one’s country.

Infidelity of one’s country by the members of Congress who have been neglecting the public interest of their districts by playing childish partisan politics, has left this country in shambles. The government revised estimates for the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security on Tuesday, moving up the date when trust funds for the entitlement programs will run out of money. The Medicare fund for hospital care will be depleted in 2017, two years earlier than government actuaries estimated a year ago. This will be negatively effecting a host of democrats and republicans who live all over the country. The Social Security trust fund wouldn’t be exhausted until 2037, but that is four years earlier than last year’s report predicted. In turn, the neglectful eye of the members of congress, has left the future problems of this country almost impossible to be solved by a future generation, who (judging by the current track record of both Republicans and Democrats) may not have ample resources to offer a solution to these inevitable catastrophe’s.

Arlen Specter switched parties because he didn’t think he could win an election as a Republican. John McCain doesn’t use email and doesn’t know how to use a blackberry. Joe Barton is ready to start using “Clean Coal Technology” right now, and the Speaker of the House of Representative can’t remember what she was told…while serving on an “intelligence committee”! The oldest member of Congress is 91 years old (I bet he won’t be twittering any time soon), and the longest serving member of congress, has been in office longer than the President has been alive. In my opinion…both Democrats and Republicans are “out of touch” with reality, and at this point… and unless the American People stand up and pay attention, we will be creating problems that my grand children might not be able to solve.

Infidelity is a hard reality that we are facing at home, within our political parties, and within our country, but maybe this forefather could shed some light on how we can approach our future:

 

James Madison

James Madison

 

 

“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”

~James Madison  

May 12, 2009

He’s Just Doing His Thing!: Miss California Retains Her Crown

 

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Contests typically draw controversy.  At the present moment, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are currently winding down a very closely run contest for the Minnesota Senate seat.  Some controversies can last for decades, while others can last for days.  There are even instances where the public will never be aware of the controversies surrounding some contests whose results are made public.  

 

The latest Controversy, was in part brought to an end today, but raises some very interesting questions, and could affect the progress related to the agenda of Human/Civil Rights Campaigns.  

Today in a Press Conference, Donald Trump (Owner of the Miss USA/Universe Contest) announced that regardless of the public comments made by Miss California and Miss USA Runner up, Carrie Prejean, that she would retain her crown.  This decision came not 24 hours after the administrators of the Miss California Contest “fired” Ms Prejean, due to “Violation of Contract”.

During the Miss USA Pageant, blogger Perez Hilton , who was described as “doing his thing” by Donald Trump, asked a question regarding her support of Gay Marriage.  She responded, predicated with her intent not to offend anyone,  that in “My America” marriage is defined between a man and a woman.  Today, she was encouraged to reiterate her belief, aligning herself with the current belief of the President and Secretary of State (who was also a Presidential Candidate).  Supported by Mr. Trump (who refused to answer questions regarding his own personal belief on the subject) , Ms Prejean proudly encouraged others to use her experience as inspiration when standing up for their beliefs, regardless of the negative backlash that might accompany it.

A very serious question must now be posed:  When does one’s opinion regarding the Definition of Marriage infringe on the obstruction of civil liberties?  And; will the denial of Same-Sex marriage be looked at in the same manner as we look at inter-racial marriage today (which is still looked upon negatively in certain parts of the country).

One must remember that it was a little over 40 years ago, that it was still illegal for interracial couples to be married.  Leon Brazile (who was a trial judge in the case) echoed the rhetoric of German Physician Johann Frierich Blumenbach who stated, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”  The pivotal vote taken by the DC City Council to recognized such marriages, sparked the legislation that was seen before the Supreme Court, which in turn descended that, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

During the Press Conference, the President’s view of marriage was touted by both Mr. Trump and Ms Prejean.  Another important question must be posed:  Will President Obama support legislation to legalize Gay Marriage?  If he does not, does this make him as bigoted as those who did not support his candidacy because of his color?

Today, the celebrated “opinion” of Miss California, has placed the Human Rights Campaign in an awkward position.  They could use this decision to press the Gay Marriage Debate to the forefront to gain definite results, or they could regroup and reanalyze their stance on the subject, which could result in the whole subject to be dropped all together.  What do you think?

Perhaps a voice from the past could help shed light on this subject:

 

 

 

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

 

 

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. 

~Thomas Jefferson

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk: Rush is a Big Boy, he can take it!

1963-streisand-jfk-90For 89 years, the White House Correspondents Association has been hosting a dinner at the Washington Hilton. Some of the biggest names our time have played this event, singing, dancing, and roasting the President of the United States. Jimmy Durante (and his nose) made the crowds laugh, while Bob Hope’s criticism was always taken in stride…he usually golfed with the President. Yakov Smirnoff had a unique play on words that tickled the funny bones of correspondents, while Al Franken was busy making as many friends with the core as possible (he would need their assistance in the future). None of these legendary performances were talked about in the media on Monday, it was the comments of Wanda Sykes and President Obama that took the show.

 

Wanda Sykes made comments during her big night, that some considered a step too far, about one of the most outspoken conservative radio talk show hosts in America, Rush Limbaugh.  A reference to a remark made by Limbaugh at the beginning of the President’s term, caused Sykes to weight in on what sounded like a personal opinion of Rush Limbaugh.  While in a statement Limbaugh stated that he hoped the President fails, Sykes gave her remedy in the hopes that the radio host’s kidney’s would fail.  This joke received mixed reactions, but no one from the correspondence dinner left the event in protest, or even disgust.  Sykes was congratulated for giving a “stellar” performance, and the night went on.  

When does a joke go too far??  One may ask, if the word “joke” is replaced in that question, perhaps we could get to the bottom of a lot of problems.  For instance:

When does policy go too far?

When does bigatry go too far?

When does war go too far?

When does torture go too far?

There are many questions, once again I reiterate, that must be answered long before we question the seriousness of “Jokes” told about a man who is accused weekly of offending at least 1,000 people.  For an example;

On the October 23, 2006 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh imitated on the “Ditto Cam” (the webcam for website subscribers to see him on the air) the physical symptoms of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease. He said “(Fox) is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

 With the boldness to criticize the disabled, I think Rush Limbaugh does not need the press to “stand-up” for him…he’s a big boy!

While journalists today debated whether or not Wanda Sykes took her jokes to far; U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi was set free today after an Iranian appeal court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a suspended two-year term. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, looked thin and tired at Sunday’s hearing. Last week, her father said she had ended a two-week hunger strike and was “very weak.” The judiciary denied she had refused food, and said she was in good health.  

Althought correspondents had the chance today to reflect on a “risque” joke they heard while enjoying some fantasic food and being surrounded by celebrities, Saberi was in prison, refusing food, and listening to the daunting noise of imprisonment…my how our priorities have fallen.

Priorities in the media vary, but regardless of how far the envelope is pushed, comedy will still be comedy.  Perhaps that great comedian could shed some light on how to view the status of this situation:

Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce

 

 

 

“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it”       ~Lenny Bruce

 

May 8, 2009

“Let Me Make Myself Perfectly Clear”: I’ll never tell!

 

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is a coveted position by many politicians. Landmarks around Washington and the United States have been built to honor these great politicians of old. Hailed for their abilities to turn ideas into law, to craft and implement policies, to keep their party’s in check and voting along the proper lines; this role is an important and influential role that can influence the laws that are passed, and the policies that are implemented. Third in line for the presidency if anything unfortunate happens, one must be careful of who fills this position, and parties select as carefully as possible when electing the Speaker to articulate their voices.

 

In years past, we have had some Mice (Howell Cobb, who led the secessionist movement, and is considered to be one of the founders of the Confederacy) and Titans (Joseph Cannon, who was on the first cover of Time Magazine on his last day in office) who have banged that powerful gavel. A little unknown fact about this position is that one does not have to be serving in the House of Representatives to be elected to this position (which I at times believe would be a commodity). Also, it is not often seen, that one is elected to this position within his/her first session; but this has happened before in the past, and the gentleman who filled this position partly crafted the role as Speaker into what it is known to be today. Henry Clay laid the framework to this the role as Speaker of the House as we know it. Followed by Joseph Cannon and Sam Rayburn, the Capitol now boasts a speaker who is a first for this generation, and regardless of politics or party; The First Female Speaker of the House will open doors for many others to follow through.

Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is serving as the Speaker for the 111th Congress of the United States, and as of late, her integrity (along with many others) has been in question. On April 23, Ms. Pelosi told reporters “we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used.” Rather, she said, she recalled being told by the CIA that the techniques “could be used, but not that they would.” With the growing public’s distaste towards the government’s use of “Water boarding”, fingers have been pointed towards, who knew what, when, and why they not spoke up against it. When asked if they were informed, some members of congress (including Speaker Pelosi) stated that they knew about it, but did no know it was in

use.http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/WSJ_JusticeMemo_090507.pdf

In a report released by the CIA, Congressional leaders were briefed in detail about techniques used in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program. This report displays the most thorough
information the CIA has on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. According to these documents, Speaker Pelosi (who was, at that time, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) was one of the first to know about the techniques.

One question that should be asked now, is if this “Change” and “Transparency” heralded by these representatives towards President Obama, will spill over to the Capitol Building, and into the halls of congress. Regardless of party, the American People, in my mind, are tired of the finger pointing which only covers the truth behind the misdeeds performed by those sent to represent us. When and where will this be stopped.

 
 While, in this case, Republican members of congress have taken this opportunity to pounce on the Speaker, and stated last month that congress was informed early on about these techniques; these same Republicans were unable to go further on and state that these techniques were not procedures that adequately or respectively represent the United States of America…all except one (and it wasn’t Arlen Specter).

John McCain and Barack Obama DO agree on this statement….Torture (in any form) is Wrong! As he stated in Newsweek, “Our commitment to basic humanitarian values affects–in part–the willingness of other nations to do the same. Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops who might someday be held captive. “Barack Obama has deemed Water boarding as an unacceptable form of interrogation (or in other words Torture). It is for the safety of our soldiers, currently engaged in battle on foreign soils, and it is to uphold our agreement with the UN, that we do not torture. Regardless of how we feel the “enemy” would deal with Americans as captives; The American Government gave its word to the United Nations and to its people that it would not engage in torture. To utilize these vile techniques, will further ruin the integrity of this country…in which faith is currently being restored day by day.

Still waiting for the Republican Party to find its voice, and waiting for the Democrats in Congress to show bi-partisanship; The American People need a CLEAR answer from both parties, and these answers should be congruent with the agreement we signed with the United Nations.

Nonetheless, we as a nation can make it through this period, and the words from a former Speaker of the House might just help us see the way:

 

Our country–whether bounded by the St. John’s and the Sabine, or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the measurements more or less;–still our country, to be cherished in all our hearts, and to be defended by all our hands. 

Robert Charles Winthrop

Robert Charles Winthrop

May 7, 2009

Bad Advice to the President: Will Lawyers Pay the Piper?

 

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

I can remember running and playing with friends in the country.  Growing up in a small town (Goodlow, Texas; population 312) neighbors and family were plenty, and dirt roads were vast.  Sometimes I can remember climbing down in the creek bed, and following it all the way out by my Aunt Emma’s house (1912- 2002), after which the journey home would began, and there was always a tough decision to make.  We could go straight home or we could go home…but with detours.  Now this individual decision was made with deep thought and consultations with the guys, which eventually lead to mischief, causing something memorable to happen and we would then go home.

 

 

On one occasion, I was with my cousin, and we planned to do the usual, but Aunt Emma instructed us differently.  I will never forget it; Aunt Emma was from the “old-school” and she was about 5’0 (if she was an inch), and always wore an apron.  She made it perfectly clear, that if we were to go away from the house that we wouldn’t stop by Uncle Jay’s her brother (1908-2000).   See, Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie (Married 1935) were great cooks from the good old days!  Typically, when us kids would stop by there, we would fill up on fresh cake and a big glass of milk, which consequently would ruin us for dinner.   Well, my cousin and I set out, and as we were headed back, we decided (after much deliberation) to just pay a little visit to Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie.  Sure enough, we ate to our hearts content, and then walked back to Aunt Emma’s.  On the way home, I told him to make sure that he didn’t mention the whole “dropping by Uncle Jay’s” and he stated with a grin, “You know I won’t say nothing!”.  Now, little did we know, Trey had left an article of clothing there at Uncle Jay’s, and Aunt Carrie thought it would be responsible to call Aunt Emma, and let her know!  Aunt Carrie told Aunt Emma, “ not to scold Trey for losing the article of clothing, that it was safe with her.”

This reminds me of the current status in which the Bush Administration and their lawyers are in.  Being aware of torture as a means of interrogation used by governments to attain information from Prisoners, the US signed an agreement with the United Nations stating that we would not engage in torture; after consulting with their lawyers, the Bush Administration used a technique called Water boarding ( which was used during WWII on our soldiers, and a technique we deemed as torture at that time) and, according to Condaleeza Rice, if the President approved…it wasn’t breaking the Law (just like Nixon).  When asked by the American Public, we were told the truth…but not the whole truth.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, at the center of the frenzy are four detailed legal analyses, “The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in 2002 and 2005 and recently declassified and released, read as you would expect them to. The individuals writing them were reflecting their own interpretation of the law, their own policy views, and quite possibly the policy preferences of their bosses.”  

This problem is a clear representation of what happens when one branch of government, tries to act without proper checks and balances.  Clearly, this method of interrogation was not to be decided upon by just lawyers who were advising the president, or interpreting the law (which is the job of the Supreme Court).  As a result, being that the Executive Branch took it upon their selves to act independently, our reputation was tarnished both at home and abroad.  The question which is now being asked by many, is if the lawyers who gave this advice to the administration, will be prosecuted; or will anyone else from the Bush Administration pay some sort of price if they are found to have broken the law.  

Well, to answer that question, I should finish my story from earlier. .. 

As we walked into the 6 room house, the questions began, and we played it cool.  We told her everything that we did, save the whole Uncle Jay thing.  As I began to walk out, Aunt Emma grabbed me, and said a simple phrase (after giving me a good pop)…,”I’m going to call Velma (my grandmother b.1917) and tell her what you did.”  Now I knew Granny (as I called her) did not want me going over to Uncle Jay’s, and at this point, I was simply scared to walk home.

When I stepped onto the porch, my Grandmother met me there, and she didn’t just talk to me.  She whooped my behind, and told me that “grown folk” make rules for good reasons.  And if I decided to break those rules, I’d have to “Pay the Piper”, just as I did by taking the spanking.

The UN made rules, we broke them knowingly (especially sine we hired lawyers to help us go around the agreement) and those responsible must pay the consequences.  

 

As stated by a great American General:

 

 

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

~ Dwight D Eisenhower  

May 6, 2009

Capital Hill Acknowedges Gay Mariage: Will the Country?

 

One single voice rang out over the sound system, while the DC City Council prepared to vote in the Wilson Building on Tuesday.  Stating that he had always supported homosexuals, but did not support this bill, Marian Barry was the lone voice in opposition against recognizing Gay Marriage in DC.  Voiceterous crowds outside and inside the building, spoke in favor for and against this campaign, and as the members voted, the room stood still.  With four States supporting Gay Marriage (Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) DC will be among many state legislatures discussing the passage of Gay Marriage.  San Francisco started handing out same sex marriage certificates in 2004 and since then, campaigns have been launched for gay marriage to be recognized in states across America.

One would ask, what is the controversy?  But, before we tackle that can of beans, we should familiarize ourselves with the current definition of Homosexuality. *As defined by US Legal Definitions:

“Gays and lesbians are homosexuals who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Typically, gay refers to a man whose sexual orientation is to men and lesbian refers to a woman whose sexual orientation is to women. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to members of both sexes.”  During the 20th century, homosexuality was a “taboo” subject, causing some of our most notable figures to stay “closeted” or to suffer ridicule and/or discrimination because of their sexuality;  Montgomery Clift, Jack Cassidy, Barbara Jordan, Thornton Wilder, Gene Robinson, Rock Hudson, etc.

The definition of marriage is not that simple.  Law dictionaries recognize eight different styles of marriage:

Common Law Marriage

Marriage Licenses

Covenant Marriage

Open Marriage

De Facto Marriage

Personal Relationships Common Law Marriage

Marriage Counseling

Sham Marriage

The type of marriage mostly associated with religious organization is Covenant Marriage which is defined as:

“A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties to a covenant marriage have received counseling emphasizing the nature and purposes of marriage and the responsibilities thereto. Only when there has been a complete and total breach of the marital covenant commitment may the non-breaching party seek a declaration that the marriage is no longer legally recognized.” (Although this was traditionally used by religious fundamentalist, most churches recognize the individual’s right to seek a divorce.  This divorce is typically recognized in most protestant churches).

To make things even more complicated (as far as religion is concerned); according to the CIA, the following is the order of religious preferences in the United States:

§  Christian: (78.5%)

§  Protestant (51.3%)

§  Roman Catholic (23.9%)

§  Mormon (1.7%)

§  other Christian (1.6%)

§  unaffiliated (12.1%)

§  none (4%)

§  other or unspecified (2.5%)

§  Jewish (1.7%)

§  Buddhist (0.7%)

§  Muslim (0.6%

 Within each one of these religious sects, marriage customs are different, and hold different requirements for the parties involved.

Religious circles here in the US (predominately Muslim, Jewish & Christian) view gay marriage as a non-issue because their religious convictions prohibit same sex marriages to be recognized by the Church, Synagogue, or Masque; while non-religious citizens view this also as a “non-issue” stating that due to the separation of church and state, marriage is not legitimatized by a religious sect, to be recognized by the state.  Since the turn of the 21st century, tolerance to same sex marriage has increased, and if continued at the same rate, 10 states will recognize same sex marriage by 2020.  

Sexual Reorientation was a widely used practiced in the United States during the 20th century, and was designed to keep humans from practicing Homosexuality.  Although varied, treatments have included biological, behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, and religious modalities. In recent years, treatments intended to alter sexual orientation have involved religious and psychodynamic counseling.  In recent history, intolerant attitudes and views regarding same-sex marriage and/or homosexuality have been compared to the bigotry attitudes suffered by women in the 1910’s and African American’s in the 1960’s.  In the United States, 45 states and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation (the exceptions are AZGAINSC, and WY).  

Christianity, which most American’s identify with, has varying views on homosexuality and its acceptance by the church.  Most churches do not accept the act of homosexuality, and views it as a sin.  With this view, the idea of marriage between homosexual is not an accepted practice within their religious sect.  Being that this arrangement is not recognized by the sight of GOD, they also believe that it should not be recognized by the state.  Practicing homosexuality, in the eyes of the church, is a moral and mental decision made by an individual. 

My opinion:  Until Religious Leaders step up to the plate, dialog with politicians, and define the line of separation, that properly checks both church and state, this argument will continue.  Homosexuals seek to have marriage recognized by the state, so they can be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples have (such as insurance, medical decision power, property, etc).  This judgment cannot and should not be clouded by the church’s non-congruent attitude towards marriage, divorce, and/or homosexuality.

Both those in favor have created videos:  Some more satirical, others more serious.  How long this debate will last, one may never know, but James Baldwin did have incredible insight that might just tell us the answer:

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. 

James Baldwin


May 1, 2009

“Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”: The Secret Lives of Politicians on Display!

 

Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Growing up in a small town, one grows accustomed to certain “facts”.  The school district could all sit on one parcel of land, and if you are from the south, there is only one place to be on Friday night…the High School football game!  Neighboring families share history and when discussing family history, the family church must be also mentioned.  Dating can be awfully dreadful in a small town due to the fact that “blood relationships” are common among members of the opposite sex.  Feuds and Fights can last for generations, with no need for an explanation of why; that’s just how it’s always been.  

No small town can be a “true” small town, without a little taste of Gossip.  Some of the best Gossip takes place ironically after church, and typically about the people who attended church that Sunday.  “How could she show her face in service after what SHE’S done” or “it’s a wonder he could even stay awake during service, he was out all night!”.  Fashion critics, Music critic, Oratory Critics, show their expertise over the dinner table with always a disclaimer coming from the person with the juiciest person.  This disclaimer came as a warning that simply stated, “If I hear this again, I’ll know EXACTLY where it came from”!  With this staunch warning, one would not dare repeat the information shared over that dinner table;  because if he/her did, they would be nothing more than an idle gossiper, and heaven forbid anyone view them as nothing more than a “Gossiper”.

Believe it or not, there is an old adage about the origin of the word Gossip.  As it was told to me, “Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what was considered important to the people.  Since there were no telephones, TVs or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars, instructing them to ‘go sip some ale’ and listen to people’s conversations and political concerns. When assistants were dispatched, they were told, ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’  The two words ‘go sip’ were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and thus we have the term ‘gossip.”  Now whether or not this adage is really how the word Gossip was formed, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Although the adage has been questioned in years past, the irony lies, in that the lives of Politicians have been notoriously the root of much gossip.  This is most evident during campaign season, as we just experienced with this last election.  The number houses held by one politician and “Who’s the Mama” from his running mate, ran a hard race against a man who we were not sure was born in America, and with a running mate who was going to drop out of the race at any minute.  The gossip surrounding the last election is child’s play if we take a look back in history.

During the presidential campaign of 1800, the Federalists attacked Jefferson as an infidel and a Deist, claiming that Jefferson’s intoxication with the religious and political extremism of the French Revolution disqualified him from public office.  President Andrew Jackson dealt with much sorrow, when his wife was viciously attacked by his opposition after it was discovered that she was not divorced from her first husband when she married Jackson.  Although he won the election, his wife died of a heart attack after shopping for an inaugural dress; for the rest of his life he blamed the opposition’s attacks on his wife for her death.  But NONE of these compare with the gossip surrounding the “Bachelor President”…James Buchanan.

Not much now is discussed about James Buchanan, but when he was in office, scandalous rumors circulated about Buchanan, his “bachelorhood”…and his roommate Senator William R King, who would go on to be the shortest serving Vice-President in our nation’s history, due to his death only 45 days after taking office.  Buchanan and King were inseparable while in Washington.   President Andrew Jackson, known for speaking his mind, would begin referring to King as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”, while Aaron V. Brown (Governor of Tennessee) spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife”.  Below is an excerpt of a letter from Buchanan to King:

“I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

In hindsight, we must remember that men spoke in very classical and endearing ways at that time.  It is very possible that this letter was just a simple letter to a friend he missed while he was away.  Nonetheless, with all the other correspondents between the two gentlemen burned by their descendents, we will never know; but there is a video documentary that will is threatening to “Out” some modern day politicians who have advocated against gay rights in their respective offices.

Directed by Kirby Dick, “Outrage” premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.  One of the politicians targeted by this film is Charlie Crist, Florida Governor, and a viable candidate for the 2012 election on the Republican Ticket.  As summed up by the director, he views this film a way to expose those politicians who live outwardly as straight men for political gain, advocating against issues that would help advance the Gay Community in achieving equal rights; while secretly living as homosexual men.  He hopes by making this film, these politicians will be bold enough to see that this is a bad decision both personally and politically.  Rallying around the fact that this is the 21st century, he hopes that this film will encourage politicians to know that they can run in their districts and win by honestly portraying their sexuality, whether on the Republican or Democratic ticket.

Now in regards to if the adage I told earlier is true…it too is mere Gossip.  The word “Gossip” spans far before our political system was in place, deriving from the old English word godsibb, a combination of god and sib, the term which was used for what we call Godparent.  In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, mostly a woman, one who delights in idle talk and chatter.  The verb to gossip, meaning “to be a gossip”, first appears in the classical work of William Shakespeare.

In regards the reaction the documentary “Outrage” might receive, it’s almost certain to make friends and enemies; this I am sure of.  But maybe this will finally open an honest dialog that will address whether the American people should be more concerned with whom a politician takes to his/her bedroom, or the policies they are introducing in the Halls of Congress, which directly affects their lives.   Maybe James Buchanan had some feedback about the inner thought of a man, who might feel less of a man, because of his/her sexuality and how others view him or her.

James Buchanan 15th President of the United States

James Buchanan 15th President of the United States

“The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.

~James Buchanan

November 18, 2008

In The Hot Seat: Say It Aint So Joe…Lieberman

Two Doors Down Coffee House, is a small, quaint coffee house in Corsicana, Texas.  This small country community, only has about 30,000 people buzzing around on the streets, but this establishment has added life, hope, and a sense of home to all the artistic, unique, old & young…this place does not discriminate, but it loves & welcomes all.  Yesterday, as I checked my email, an older gentleman who I’ve known for a few months, walked in and was glad to see I had come back to town.  “If you had not of gone to Florida, my guy would’ve won”, he said as the patrons all broke into laughter.  Texans, will be Texans, and lets face it, Obama did not win Texas!  No one was upset, no one was offended, at the coffee house, my involvement within this election was appreciated by both sides.  At the coffee shop, we got a good laugh and took it all in stride.

Today on the Hill, there was no laughing matter.  “To reward Senator Lieberman with a major committee chairmanship would be a slap in the face of millions of Americans who worked tirelessly for Barack Obama and who want to see real change in our country,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement Friday.  When Joe Lieberman dawned the steps of the capital this morning, he new he was going to the Hot Seat.

Before we examine the outcome, lets take a look at the track record of Sen. Leiberman.  Sen. Leiberman assumed office January 3, 1989.  It is very, very safe to say that Sen. Leiberman had pleased his constiuents back in Connecticut.  Lieberman made history by winning the largest landslide ever in a Connecticut Senate race, drawing 67 percent of the vote and beating his opponent by more than 350,000 votes.  A “Maverick” in his own right, he was one of the first Democrats on the Hill to address President Clinton’s involvement with Monica Lewinsky.   So respected, Lieberman accepted the offer coveted by many but attained by few, the VP Spot on the 2000 Democratic Ticket.  After the loss, he became chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, again a key spot of trust and responsibility within the Democratic Party.  In 2004 he scored 88 out of 100 by the Human Rights Campaign, but lost 5 out of 5 primaries, and ended his bid for the White house.

Something happened in 2006 that shocked everyone.  After loosing the primaries in his state, he ran as an Independent despite advice from Howard Dean, and Hillary’s support for the Party Primary Winner.  Joe worked his magic, and won his old seat, pledging to sit as a Democrat in the Senate.  And sat he did, he played along just fine with everyone.  The dust had just began to settle, more attention was being focused on another hard fought senate seat by a young up and comer, the Democratic Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.  Ten months and seven days after Barack Obama threw his hat in the ring for President, Joe Lieberman decided it was time to endorse.  And what was thought to be, another hard fought endorsement between several Democratic Contestors, the endorsement went to another man who had previously fought hard to win a bid for the White House as well…John McCain.

Shocked, bewildered, confused, and frankly astonished at his actions, time could not stop nor did he take it back.  The months began to fly by, and as Hillary debated Barack, John McCain sowed up the nomination for the Republican Party with his now “Good Friend”, Joe Lieberman by his side.  What was amazing, is the number of people who were just entering the political process for the first time, who would email me confused at why Democrats would be upset with Joe, “he just moved from being a Republican to being an Independent right?”.  “Say it Aint So Joe…Lieberman” would be the response from the person realizing that we had a rogue Democrat on our hands, and traveling on the Straight Talk Express, Joe was preaching the Gospel of Reform, and Country First.  If you think back hard enough, I think most Americans were more surprised that John McCain did not choose Joe Lieberman for VP pick, rather than why he chose Sarah Palin.  To be honest, the shock for both are equal.  Nonetheless, Joe made his bed and took a long nap in it.  

On November 4th, when the count was in, most constituents surely thought Joe was out, and that was it.  But Say It Aint So Joe…Lieberman, he worked that magic once again but it didn’t work.  For once, there was nothing he could do to justify the neglect of his faithfulness to his pledge and promise to the Democrats in the party.  Blazing away, his seat was awaiting for him this morning, and only the “God’s” could tell what could happen.  Friday, one Senator commented that keeping Joe in his seat was not the change we could believe in, and if this was “Business as Usual”, Joe would would probably be taking up plumbing for a trade, and leaving the politicking to more loyal servants.  

Something amazing happened today on the Hill, and I believe it speaks volumes over all the rhetoric you hear, and the assumptions we make about the filth in politics.  Since November 4th, this country has started practicing a principle that I thought was forgotten…the principle of ONE!  One Nation, Indivisible, not divided, no holding grudges, moving on, working together, looking forward not backward.  It’s becoming more of an atmosphere of “We” the people, not just the people working independently.  Yesterday rivals sat down and met, today Joe Lieberman retained a key spot within the party, and tomorrow the news will report that although not always pleased or happy with each other, United we continue to stand.

Frankly, as a Democrat my self, I am quite astonished that the hot seat didn’t incinerate the Senator:  Say It Aint So Joe…Lieberman.

November 17, 2008

So a Donkey and an Elephant have a meeting…

“News as Usual” one of the patrons at a restaurant replied to me this morning after I asked what good was in the paper.  About once a year, California decides to try itself by fire (and we do keep in prayer those who are being negatively effected by the fires), problems are being hashed out in the Op-Eds across America, and of course Thanksgiving is sliding more and more into obscurity as Christmas pops its head out a few weeks earlier than last year. 

Yes, this was a relatively “normal” Monday Morning, but something out of the usual happened.  The President Elect and the Arizona Senator, once competitors for the Executive Office, met this morning in Chicago.  Why, you may ask?  As expressed by the President Elect, “just gonna have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country. And also to offer thanks to Sen. McCain for the outstanding service he’s already rendered.”  This is again, a true representation of what our troops have fought for, a democracy where we can have peaceful transfer of power.  Whereas a month ago, these men were holding rallies opposing each others views, today they sat down, and by putting country first they believe that while facing all the problems here in America, with the spirit of “Yes we can!” we Will make a difference.

While admiring the meeting between this Donkey and Elephant, what are these peculiar animals going to do in their respective cages across America.  The Democratic Party readjusting after being the underdog for the last 8 years is now in a position to pass some serious agenda, while the Republican Party is looking for a new captain for the ship that lost seats in the house, senate and the executive office.

I believe now would be a good time for both parties to re-evaluate their messages, to be in tune now with a much more vocal America.  With relatively low voter activity in the past, both parties spoke for the voices they could hear, which was not a majority of America.  As we could see during this election, the Democratic Party had an advantage to connect with the American voter as an option to what has currently been in power, while the Republican Party took for granted their old strongholds and sounded an old battle cry that did not move their party to victory.  One may wonder, how Bob Barr or Ralph Nader did not end up in the Executive Office with the last two options make apparent mistakes over and over again.

Whatever happened to the Whig Party?  The answer to that question, could also be the untimely result of both parties in four to eight years.  If over the next 2 years, Democrats can’t pass legislation that speaks to the needs of people in the middle, and not the far left, while the Republicans are left with the task of re-creating its message that does not appear racist, too conservative, and not entirely based upon abortion, the parties will lose their ability to maintain a national coalition of effective state parties, which will ultimately result in the end and renaming of America’s new initiative being a new party.

With so much riding on the line, how will the American People articulate their wants and needs effectively to the respective parties?  Will the American People stay informed and involved long enough, to force the parties to re-evaluate and appropriately adjust?  

These answers lie in the hands of an elected position often forgotten about.  The Political Party’s County Chairs.  These “locals” hold the power in ensuring that the motivation injected and the foundation laid by both parties during the course of the recent campaign will not lie dormant four more years.  It will be the responsibilities of these County Elected Officials, who may have never been to Washington, or agree with their own party’s in Washington, that will keep everything tame, quiet, and “business as usual” or they will use this opportunity to educate, empower, and evaluate the elected officials sent to represent their counties.  

No matter what, Donkeys can be stubborn, and Elephants never forget, but it seems that if Americans want true results and answers, they’ll have to take a trip to the zoo!

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