civil liberties


General Peter Pace

 

photo from ABC News

General Peter Pace is the chairman of the joint chiefs, making him the most elevated military office in the United States. He is not our priest-in-chief or our parent-in-chief, but he seems to think he is, and that his “upbringing” and his beliefs make him qualified to tell the rest of us, the entire military, and the United States Senate what is immoral. Why is that his job? It isn’t, but he doesn’t seem to know that!

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The first amendment to the United States Constitutions says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This may be why Pace refers to his upbringing and not his religion, but it is commandments from his RELIGION that is causing him to repeatedly condemn homosexuality and adultery.

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In a March newspaper interview the general said that:

My upbringing is such that I believe that there are certain things, certain types of conduct that are immoral. I believe that military members who sleep with other military members’ wives are immoral in their conduct, and that we should not tolerate that. I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts. So the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell allows an individual to serve the country, not — [inaudible] that allows individuals to serve their country. If we know about immoral acts, regardless of committed by who or — then we have a responsibility. And I do not believe that the Armed Forces of the United States are well served by saying through our policies that it’s okay to be immoral in any way, in any way, not just with regards to homosexuality. This is from that standpoint saying that gays should serve openly in the military to me says that we, by policy, would be condoning what I believe is immoral activity. And therefore, as an individual, I would not want that to be my policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that, if were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with someone’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior between members of the Armed Forces.

You can listen to that here.

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Two days later, the Washington Post reported this,

The Pentagon’s top general said Tuesday he should not have voiced his personal view that homosexuality is immoral and should have just stated his support for the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in an interview that has drawn criticism from lawmakers and gay-rights groups.

The written statement by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not apologize for his stance on homosexuality. In a newspaper interview Monday, Pace likened homosexual acts to adultery and said the military should not condone it by allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

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But ….. the general repeated all his opinions again this week in a Senate hearing, and this time the Code Pink protesters replied by quoting (very loudly and repeatedly) their favorite bible verse, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL! THOU SHALT NOT KILL!” They are absolutely correct — if we need any religion at all mixed in with the military, THAT is the kind of morality we should be following.


Like most of my political posts,

 

this is cross-posted at Political Teen Tidbits

 

and at YouThinkLeft.

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Who would have the courage to do this today, 50 years later? She is a hero.

Elizabeth Eckford, Of The Little Rock Nine, Tells Her Life Story

It was a school night, and Elizabeth Eckford was too excited to sleep. The next morning, September 4, 1957, was her first day of classes, and one last time she ironed the pleated white skirt she’d made for the occasion. It was made of pique cotton; when she’d run out of material, she’d trimmed it with navy-blue-and-white gingham. Then she put aside her new bobby socks and white buck loafers. Around 7:30 a.m. the following day, she boarded a bus bound for Little Rock Central High School.

Other black schoolchildren were due at Central that historic day, but Elizabeth would be the first to arrive. The world would soon know all about the Little Rock Nine. But when Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Central, and thereby become the first black student to integrate a major southern high school, she was really the Little Rock One. The painfully shy 15-year-old daughter of a hyper-protective mother reluctant to challenge age-old racial mores, she was the unlikeliest trailblazer of all. But as dramatic as the moment was, it really mattered only because Elizabeth wandered into the path of Will Counts’s camera.

You can read more about the history here.

photo by Will Counts/Arkansas History Commission

Why would anyone in congress keep the people of Washington from voting?

Washington DC vote

 

D.C. Vote Bill Dies in Senate

By Mary Beth Sheridan

Washington Post Staff Writer

Republican lawmakers yesterday blocked the Senate from taking up the D.C. vote bill, a potentially fatal setback for the District’s most promising effort in years to get a full member of Congress.

The opposition to the bill is this, but I think that the Republicans don’t want people in Washington, DC to vote because many of them are black and most of them are registered Democrats.

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the White House have strongly criticized the legislation. They maintain that, because the District is not a state, the bill violates the constitutional mandate that House members be chosen by the “People of the several States.”

“I opposed this bill because it is clearly and unambiguously unconstitutional,” McConnell said in a statement. “If the residents of the District are to get a member for themselves, they have a remedy: amend the Constitution.”

The article points that out too.

In addition to voicing legal concerns, opponents were wary of the bill’s potential political repercussions. Some Republicans feared that the measure could eventually lead to the addition of two full D.C. senators, who probably would be Democrats.

If this is a real democracy, then the citizens of our country’s capital city should be able to participate also.

It’s very hard to stand up to a bully on your own. Bullies can be very intimidating, which is why bullying works until someone stops the bully. This is a wonderful account of how some high school kids in Canada reacted to a bully in their school, and how they worked as a group to show that the bully’s opinion was meaningless.

 

students in pink shirts

‘I’ve stood around too long’
Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau | 3:51 PM

CAMBRIDGE — Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

RELATED: Pink shirts legend grows

“It’s my last year. I’ve stood around too long and I wanted to do something,” said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

“I made sure there was a shirt for him,” David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the school’s 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

“The bullies got angry,” said Travis. “One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted.”

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

“Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, that’s ridiculous,” he said.

“Our intention was to stand up for this kid so he doesn’t get picked on.”

Travis said the bullies “keep giving us dirty looks, but we know we have the support of the whole student body.

“Kids don’t need this in their lives, worrying about what to wear to school. That should be the last thing on their minds.”

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, “he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off is shoulder,” David said. No one at the school would reveal the student’s name.

Travis said that growing up, he was often picked on for wearing store-brand clothes instead of designer duds.

The two friends said they didn’t take the action looking for publicity, but rather to show leadership in combating what they say is frequent bullying in schools.

( ifairclough@herald.ca)

spy vs spyWhy can’t we go back to a time when the government didn’t spy on people? Who are FBI and NSA spying on today? What happened to all the rights that are amended to our constitution?

Paper: FBI spied on MLK widow for years

Federal agents spied on the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. for several years after his assassination in 1968, according to newly released documents that reveal the FBI worried about her following in the footsteps of the slain civil rights icon.

Coretta Scott King might try to tie “the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement” according to some of the nearly 500 pages of intelligence files, which go on to show how the FBI trailed King at public appearances and kept close tabs on her travel.The documents were obtained by Houston television station KHOU in a story published Thursday. Coretta Scott King died in January 2006. She was 78.

One memo shows that the FBI even read and reviewed King’s 1969 book about her late husband. The entry made a point to say that her “selfless, magnanimous, decorous attitude is belied by … (her) actual shrewd, calculating, businesslike activities.”

The documents also focus on her relationship with Stanley Levison, who was a close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and a person the government long suspected was a communist.

There is also evidence that the Nixon administration and then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were kept informed of the FBI’s surveillance.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s activities were long known to have been monitored by the federal government. News of intelligence gathering on famous Americans and war critics became so infamous that rules to curtail domestic spying were put in place in the 1970s.

TV clipartThink Progress has a post up called

If It’s Sunday, It’s Karl Rove

and in it they have a list of questions that they want the talk show hosts to ask Rove. Here’s the list:

In addition to those, I think they should also ask him about these things:

  • Who Jeff Gannon was spending nights with in the White House?
  • Is George Bush drinking or doing drugs?
  • Who is the real president, Bush or Cheney?
  • Why did you decide to leave now?
  • What gave you the idea that there are no rules for you and your friends?
  • Why did you decide Congress doesn’t matter anymore?
  • Did you rig the voting machines?
  • Don’t you feel guilty destroying the country like this?

What else would you ask him?

Am I the only one that is not surprised by this headline? Or the details? People a lot older than I am seem very surprised that the government is behaving like this, but kids are used to having no privacy and no personal freedom. So, if they can take this from Americans now and patriotic older Americans (who expect the constitution to be in force) get upset, what will it take to upset my generation?

Domestic Use of Spy Satellites To Widen
Law Enforcement Getting New Access To Secret Imagery
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 16, 2007; A01

The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft, giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers.

A program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use of secret overhead imagery beginning as
early as this fall, with the expectation that state and local law
enforcement officials will eventually be able to tap into technology once largely restricted to foreign surveillance.

Administration officials say the program will give domestic security and emergency preparedness agencies new capabilities in dealing with a range of threats, from illegal immigration and terrorism to hurricanes and forest fires. But the program, described yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, quickly provoked opposition from civil liberties advocates, who said the government is crossing a well-established line against the use of military assets in domestic law enforcement.

Although the federal government has long permitted the use of spy-satellite imagery for certain scientific functions — such as creating topographic maps or monitoring volcanic activity — the administration’s decision would provide domestic authorities with unprecedented access to high-resolution, real-time satellite photos.

They could also have access to much more. A statement issued yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security said that officials envision “more robust access” not only to imagery but also to “the collection, analysis and production skills and capabilities of the intelligence community.”