Friday, July 6, 2007

Something to Think About on July 4

The problem with our policy (whatever there may be of it) in Iraq, it seems to me, is that it is based on the pre-conceived notion that Iraqis are a stupid people. Consider this; the Shiite majority has been suppressed for years by a Sunni minority, headed by Saddam. A great deal of pain and suffering was inflicted in the name of governance by this minority, not only on the Shiites, but on other ethnic groups, e.g. the Kurds. Now it is the Shiites turn; Can any reasonable person think in light of the history among these various factions that there would be agreement on basics? It is naive and, yes, stupid, to think so. The bottom line is that despite outside-imposed deadlines and 'you shall do this and thats' by our leaders, no one over there is listening to them. They are just waiting it out, knowing full well that this is their chance. The sooner our leaders realize that notions of democracy have no meaning or significance to the smart people over there, the better off all of us will be; them and us. Answer this question. Suppose that you are a member of a religious group where your brothers, parents and many friends have been killed for simply being a member of that group. Not suppose even further that you are now being asked to negotiate with the group that did the killing and give them a substantial responsibility in controlling the rest of your life in significant ways. Would you readily accede to this plan? Of course not. These people are not stupid. They are only doing what they need to do, in light of their history, to protect and defend that which is viewed by them as their rightful heritage. We would do no less in similar circumstances. Remember the American Revolution?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Justify This

When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he presided over more than 150 executions. In more than one-third of the cases — 57 in all — lawyers representing condemned inmates asked then-Governor Bush for a commutation of sentence, so that the inmates would serve life in prison rather than face execution.

Some of these inmates had been represented by lawyers who slept during trials. Some were mentally retarded. Some were juveniles at the time they committed the crime for which they were sentenced to death.

In all these cases, Governor Bush refused to commute their sentences, saying that the inmates had had full access to the judicial system.

Libby had the best lawyers money can buy. His crime cannot be attributed to youth or retardation. He has expressed no remorse whatsoever for lying to a grand jury or participating in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the war in Iraq. President Bush’s commutation of Mr. Libby’s sentence is certainly legal, but it just as surely offends the fundamental constitutional value of equality.

Because President Bush signed a commutation, a rich and powerful man will spend not a day in prison, while 57 poor and poorly connected human beings died because Governor Bush refused to lift a pen for them