They Will Inherit the War You Did Not Stop

Henry Rollins is a powerful orator (White Noise Insanity).

After discussing the pain that war causes, and how that pain “radiates” outward, he asks his audience to get angry and get shit done.

“I’m not saying to get up and do something,
I’m begging you to get up and do something.
Because if you don’t get up and do something it doesn’t get done.”

There is so much to be done.

Start by finding that “jewel of rage”.  Get pissed off, then get active.  Fight war and hate.  Go in for an office visit with your state Rep and Senator.  Be creative, and spread the message.

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Wrongfully Imprisoned for a Blowjob

Via Majikthise, this is complete bullshit:

The case of a 17-year-old boy is serving jail time for a consensual blow job from a 15-year-old girl is back in court:

ATLANTA, June 14 — Georgia’s Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear the state’s arguments for keeping in prison a man who had consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. The state’s attorney general later said the prisoner’s release could lead to hundreds of incarcerated child molesters looking for a way out.

The argument is bull.  Why should the guilt of other people incarcerate an innocent man?

As for the crime itself, they were both minors, the sex was consensual.

Wilson, now 21, has served more than 28 months in prison.

He spent over two years of his life in prison for this.  Two years.

Lindsay answers the attorney generals stated worry with another question:

Frankly, I find it hard to believe there’s no legal maneuver that could free Wilson without springing all the child molesters in Georgia.

Even so, it’s it a core principle of our legal system that it’s better to let a hundred guilty people go than to wrongfully imprison one person?

This case is a great argument for building more flexibility into our legal system:

Attorney General Thurbert Baker has been criticized for appealing a state judge’s decision to void Genarlow Wilson‘s 10-year sentence. He said at a news conference that he has no choice under the law, and that the state Superior Court had no authority to reduce or modify the trial court’s sentence.

One question is why hasn’t the state legislature corrected this miscarriage of justice?

From NPR:

An interesting exception in Georgia law would have given Wilson just one year in prison if he and the girl had engaged in sexual intercourse. Since Wilson’s conviction, that loophole has been closed by state lawmakers.

But the conviction remained in place at 10 years.

Judge Thomas H. Wilson said, “The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this court will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice.” The judge is not related to Genarlow Wilson.

So much is wrong with this case.  The fact that it was oral sex rather than intercourse increased the sentence by a factor of 10.  The state of Georgia changed their law, and yet this young man remains incarcerated.

Mitt Romney’s Big Stick

The Washington Post starts off on the right foot with this article title:

Romney Says He Wants ‘Big Stick’

The former Massachusetts governor plans on getting his ‘Big Stick’ by “increasing the military budget”.

Check out this quote from the article, defending Bush:

“Everything he does, he does from the standpoint of what is best for the American people,” Romney said.

So much for speaking softly.

That puts his politics on loud display for everyone to see, and if Bush’s abysmal approval ratings are any indication, the electorate is not likely to agree.

America is Progressive!

America is becoming progressively more progressive!

Pam Spaulding writes:

That’s the name of a new report out by Media Matters. By gathering information from non-partisan opinion polls and sources on a host of issues, it presents a different picture than often painted by the mainstream media about Americans — the country is growing more progressive.

The theocrats and fringe conservatives know this is the trend as well, particularly on social issues — the increasing shrillness of their attacks, and need to use the most desperate anti-LGBT, anti-woman, anti-immigrant racist rhetoric to fill their coffers tells you all that you need to know. The winds aren’t blowing their way, but they aren’t going down without a fight.

Today is a glass half full day.

This means even more liberals holding politician’s feet to the fire come 2008.

From the Media Matters report (emphasis mine):

Conventional wisdom says that the American public is fundamentally conservative – hostile to government, in favor of unregulated markets, at peace with inequality, wanting a foreign policy based on the projection of military power, and traditional in its social values.

But as this report demonstrates, that picture is fundamentally false. Media perceptions and past Republican electoral successes notwithstanding, Americans are progressive across a wide range of controversial issues, and they’re growing more progressive all the time.

This report gathers together years of public opinion data from unimpeachably nonpartisan sources to show that on issue after issue, the majority of Americans hold progressive positions. And this is true not only of specific policy proposals, but of the fundamental perspectives and approaches that Americans bring to bear on issues.

This is more than Americans deciding they like universal health care and energy conservation.  It represents a fundamental shift in overall thinking regarding the role of citizens and government in the US and the world.

The successful candidates in 2008 will reflect not only the core issues but the underlying ethos of progressive politics.

Ron Paul, Cross Burning, and Freedom

In discussing Ron Paul’s position on the Civil Rights Act, classic questions come up. Do we need to restrict freedom at all? At what point does one person’s freedom infringe on anothers?

Let’s take a case in point (Sara at Orcinus):

the Austin American-Statesman let Paul share his views in his own words:

Not all officials express alarm when discussing cross burnings. U.S.Rep.-elect Ron Paul, a Texas Republican from Surfside, described such activity as a form of free speech in some situations.

“Cross burning could be a crime if they were violating somebody’s property rights,” he said during his campaign. But if you go out on your farm some place and it’s on your property and you put two sticks together and you burn it, I am not going to send in the federal police.”

See, here’s that problem again. When Paul explains it, it sounds all nice and reasonable. What you do on your property absolutely should be your business, and nobody should be able to tell you what you can and can’t put on your Saturday night bonfire. But Texas was having a huge upswing in cross-burnings that year, which were part of an (all-too-successful) effort to terrorize its African-American community. There’s plenty of legal precedent that one person’s right to free speech ends when it begins to terrorize others into silence — and, because of this, cross-burning is recognized as a hate crime in many jurisdictions across the country. But Ron Paul, for all his libertarian talk, apparently doesn’t believe in putting any restrictions on speech, even when it damages other individuals and the overall level of civil behavior in society.

Symbolic violence can be a powerful thing. I can’t seem to find the picture online, but a photograph I saw in college is an essential example of symbolic violence. It is a photo of a bloodied body in front of a church. How is this symbolic violence, you might ask? That body could have been left anywhere. It could have been buried or hidden. Instead it was left out for everyone to see. That’s half the message: “We are not afraid of consequences”. A Church has a historical meaning as a place of sanctuary. Leaving the corpse in front of the church says: “You are not safe anywhere”.

So what does a burning cross say?

These days, a cross is burned about every week in the United States. Such an act — historically tied to lynchings, beatings, rapes and other Klan atrocities — is bound to raise fears of violence.

It says “You have been marked. You are next.”. Ron Paul’s suggestion that we might productively limit restrictions on cross burnings down to violations of property rights seems all right on the surface only. If the cross is on a neighbor’s lawn (who approves) or on the street, are property rights being violated? Is someone being terrorized and threatened?

A cross burning is about as defensible an act of free speech as showing up at someone’s house and saying “We are going to drag you out front, beat you, and then hang you until you are dead.”. It is a threat, terrorism in the most direct sense of the word.  It is also currently a crime.

There are many things the government should not stick its nose into, but there are some basic responsibilities a government should have. One of the first and foremost of these is protecting its citizens and their rights. Ron Paul should recognize this, and re-examine his positions on freedom and crime accordingly.

New American Media and Hamas: Misleading Title

Misleading article titles are worth pointing out.

In an article by Jamal Dajani, titled Denied Legitimacy by Vote, Hamas Wins it by Force:

Though Hamas won elections in January 2006, its efforts to govern have been stymied by international sanctions against the Palestinian government and a crippling Israeli siege. On the other hand, Fatah instead of responding to its electoral loss by bringing in new leadership and weaning itself away from corruption has spent its time conspiring to overthrow Hamas.

Hamas, denied the legitimate victory it won in the elections, was not allowed to govern. Now it has won a military victory — with bullets. Yet what led to this was a prolonged Israeli occupation and siege, the international community’s indifference to a starving Palestinian population, and the systematic weakening of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas wasn’t denied legitimacy by the vote, they were granted it.  And this can’t refer to Fatah (who was denied legitimacy, but failed to win power).

It creates a false impression of the events in the Middle East, and should be corrected.