SCOTUS lets the Greens (Hobby Lobby) redefine abortion based on their religious “beliefs” that preventing pregnancy IS abortion,  That’s a little to the right of Attilla the Hun, isn’t it?

Due to a wandering cursor and an inadvertent “enter” I lost a whole editorial on that subect, so i will proceed with the original intent of this post.  It is a copy of an email ( sent to some friends who are veterans of the Canadian military, and among my best friends.  (though I confess I am not as fond of soldiers as was my deceased sister,she married, in order, a captain in the reserves a Major who was a trainer for Special Forces, and a Colonel who was part of the command staff in the capital as well as former commander of the base where the Royal Military College is based,)  Anyway here’s the whole email.

Karen (and Doug)

I’ve met more than one Vietnam veteran who would be saluting the kid, and a few draft dodgers who had run away to Canada and were (smart enough?) not to trust the US Government that it meant what it said when it offered “amnesty”.  After all, one of the first things the American government does to someone who enlists (or is drafted) into the army here in the USA is to take away almost every civil right they ever had as a civilian, and substitute the “Uniform Code of Military Justice” for all laws and jurisdictions. That’s one of the main reasons they (the US military) couldn’t agree with the Iraqi government on a “status of forces” agreement to leave a residual force in Iraq.  The US military demanded immunity from local prosecution, in fact total immunity, so that only the “Uniform Code of Military Justice” was the governing law over US soldiers. (And the abuses of that immunity by the Blackwater contractors was one of the main reasons Iraq wasn’t having any of that shit from the US any more.) (Although they seemed to have “caved” on that issue to get US “advisors” back to help fight ISIS.)
The arguments are a lot more nuanced than the writer of this (original) message seems to think. (That email contained a cartoon of a the kid refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and the disabled veteran who “fought for his right” to do so.)   Before the “Muslims” it was the Catholics (who couldn’t even hope to get a President elected for almost 200 years), not to mention the Irish, and the Negroes, and the Jews.  It is SUPPOSED to be for the freedoms of ALL, and especially the 14% who disagree with the 86% for whom the military are engaged in either “protection” or battle.
There is something “noble” about people like you, who (Karen and Doug) are willing to maintain watch, manning the barricades, as it were, against potential threats, willing to sacrifice all if need be.
It has been over 70 years since any of: the US, Canada or Britain; fought a war of aggression against their countries. Terrorism isn’t an ideology, it is a strategy.
Now, I don’t deny that Islamism and the Islamists do mean ill to all our “countries” (although only to the extent that we don’t want to submit to their religion, so the “we believe in ‘God'” really means, in the context of this email (the cartoon contained that phrase from the Teacher character) that we believe in the Christian “GOD”, not just “god” in general, because that would have to include believe in Buddha, or Allah, too.) But Muslims are not the same as Islamists.  Islamists are the UN-crusaders, they just took a thousand years to getting around to doing with the (mostly Catholic) Christians were doing on their crusades through (and especially on the way to and from) the “Holy Lands”, trying to rid the world of “infidels”, although they enjoyed a good slaughter and pillage without inquiring as to the beliefs of small towns before they burned and pillaged to obtain supplies for their massive (hundreds or thousands) or knights and logistical staff.
Unfortunately the Islamists are also a little too like the Inquisition; theoretically if you profess to follow the “true faith” you are “saved” and therefore not subject to death or imprisonment, but like the Inquisition, sometimes that wasn’t good enough and they lopped off your head anyway. Putting away your religious fervour is not quite as easy as taking off your cowboy hat and gun belt, especially if your sword is already drawn. Watching a good beheading was more popular than football in France for a while, and it drove the crowds wild when they combined the football and beheadings in Iran not so long ago. (I think it was Iran, although my memory never was as good as I thought it was.)
Islamists are a little like Jehovah’s Witnesses, except that when they come to your door, if you don’t want to let them in to talk about Allah, they grab you by the throat and say, “You MUST believe in Allah, or I will have to strangle you to death. Two simple choices, yes?”
Muslims are not all Islamists.  One guy I talk to, a writer, in Pakistan says about 10% are on the side of the radicals … wait, more on that in a minute.  I just remembered something.
About 80 or 90 years ago in New York city you could spit on people and not be very likely to be arrested if it was one of those women with the scarves over their heads and dark clothing, or their men who wore the funny hats and almost always had beards … ooops, sorry, that’s what a lot of Muslims look like today, but back then that was the Jews.  My mistake. Never mind.  Back to my story.
But even in Pakistan, only about 10% of the radical 10% are genuinely supporters of violent means of spreading Islam.
Islamists, at least the current violent crop in ISISIL (or ISIL, or ISIS) are almost all Sunnis, which is kind of like the “Catholics” among Christians, it’s the most popular subdivision, but many, if not most, of the Islamists are like the radial Evangelicals (in the USA at least) the literalists in bible interpretation (Islamist also emphasize a lot of “selective” use of the Qu’ran for motivation) and as I say, many from the Osama (or Usama if you like) bin Laden followers are from the Wahabi sect (the “Evangelicals” of the Moslem world), as are a lot of the rest of al Qaeda.
Anyway, if you had your state impose a religion on you, like Henry VIII did to a country of Catholics you’d probably grumble a bit, but when another ruler tried to reinstate Catholicism after a few generations, and well, say 86% were Catholic, there (might) have been some pretty bloody opposition (again).  For that matter, isn’t that what started the last 400 years of war in Ireland?
Okay, I’m getting in over my depth here, but my point is that yes, the Soldier in the previous email’s cartoon, actually ALSO fought for the right of the Moslems to pray in the streets, and the Jews to wear funny hats (not just the yamakas, but those flat black felt ones of the really devote sects too), but NOT for the 86% to impose their religious beliefs on “other people’s children” through state sponsored education, or courts, or city halls.  Us Jews (like Maggie) and atheists (like me, although we both are more “pantheists” than completely any organized religion) can stand up for our own beliefs, but little kids don’t know any better than going along with the crowd, and succumbing to peer pressure to be “Christians” too. Hey even my Jewish wife is a bigger fan of Christmas than I am (she loves to get presents, I was raised in a Protestant home) and I am the one who tries to keep her on the “straight and narrow” of using only blue and white lights consistent with the tradition of Chanukah (not always successfully, since some years I don’t want to participate in the light hanging at all).
Right now, the fighting in the Middle East is a religious war between Muslim sects, the Sunni against the Shia, it involves “the West” because we seem to believe that the political borders as they were drawn on a map by the British at the end of WW I are still “important”.  But that is not the main reason. Syria doesn’t have a lot of oil. Did you notice how “laissez faire” the US has been with regard to the largely religiously sectarian civil war in Syria between the Sunni rebels and the [Shia] Alawites (despite the obvious excesses of the dictator), though removing chemical weapons was a clever “coup”.  Now in Iraq it also involves the West,, i.e. USA, because Iraq is now the SECOND LARGEST EXPORTER of crude oil of all the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC), and that’s a BIG economic interest, especially to the extent that a lot of the shareholders of the multinational oil companies are American citizens (and pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies and other “corporate citizens”), and thereby we are “protecting the vital strategic interests of the United States“, as we were in the first Gulf War.
Now that is not as patently clear as a political rant from Keith Olberman, or “lesson” from Rachel Maddow, but I hope it is a fairly balanced and factual account of how some of us come to our opinions based on more than jingoistic, xenophobic slogans.
So pass THIS along if you believe in religious freedom,or the “right” (??) to chose your foreign military entanglements.  (What was Canada doing in Laos in the mid-1960’s anyway?)
Doc Williamson

Habeus Corpus and the Patriot Act and NSA

I found an interesting site today called YEDDA.COM though I have no idea where they got that name for it.  In any case, though, it was quite interesting because it was very much like a couple of other popular sites where people post questions and others post answers.  I tend to be a “know-it-all” so I was a little conservative as to which topics I might be able to answer questions about, but the automated scripts had no trouble finding one that fascinated me.  I decided having once put the effort into writing my opinion on the subject, I would share with you too.  And besides I wanted an excuse to try out my new “social bookmarking” script that allows a person to bookmark to several of the social bookmarking sights, each with a single click, and it automatically provides the article title and URL.  Look for it below somewhere (or maybe it will be above, or maybe it just won’t work, but it will be an interesting experiement anyway)  ;O0

The question I found was “What is ‘habeus corpus’ and why is there a campaign to restore it?”

The first answer was nicely put, giving an historical perspective on the origins of habeus corpus in the British roots of constitutional democracy in the Magna Carta, signed by King John (the first, and the worst) at the insistence of his barons.  The second and third answer outlined “habeus corpus” as a writ from a court to a jailer to release a prisoner, or equally a petition to a court to have an imprisoned person released (or at least show cause).  Here, then, was my (lengthy, is anyone surprised?) response.


Those are three excellent descriptions of what Habeus Corpus means, historically, and both the writ (issued by a court) and a petition (made on behalf of someone to a court, soliciting release).  The campaign to “restore” habeus corpus actually contradicts HarryVan’s statement that, “It has never been abrogated in the U.S. as it has in otheer countries.”

The idea behind the “restore” campaign is that true habeus corpus was suspended by the (socalled) Patriot Act.  The act provides for imprisonment of enemies of the state (generally these days they are called “terrorists”, but the definition is VERY broad and includes people who “give aid” or support to terrorists, or organization believed to support terrorists).  The point is that no proof of wrong-doing is required to place these people in a jail (the special jail at Guantanamo, where we also have a Navy base on the island of Cuba, is especially controversial because it was created specifically to avoid legal issues like habeus corpus, and the burden of proof principle).  All that is required under the patriot act is the accusation that the person is, or even just MIGHT be a terrorist, and the government is allowed to lock them up with no time limit on a)When they must be released, or even b) when they must be brought to trial to determine guilt or innocence of any crime or wrong-doing. 

The “right” to a speedy trial is in the US constituion, as is a provision that the punishment should be in proportion to the crime (“cruel or unusual” punishment is not justice is the way that is generally stated) I believe (though I am often wrong about many things).  

 So essentially the campaign to bring back the right of habeus corpus is a campaign to correct the injustice(s) of the Patriot Act that attempts to throw out a person’s right to know the crime he/she is being accused of, of the right to speedy trial, and several other things including a “right” to reasonable privacy, which includes both a right not to have police search or “sieze” (confiscate) any property without prior authorization, and a reasonable expectation that one could hold a “private” conversation (as in a phone call, or email) without the goverment being allowed to look at or listen in to it. 

Another recent act of Congress allowed for the National Security Administration to “intercept” communications INSIDE the US (previously they were only allowed to listen in on communications OUTSIDE the US) as a kind of “extension” of the Patriot Act’s idea that we need to watch terrorists wherever they are.  This came about partly because internet communications and much of the world’s telephone traffic now travels THROUGH the US even if it is on its way from (for example) Germany to Saudi Arabia.  It just has become more “practical” for the NSA to “listen in” on this foreign traffic as it passes rather than go out and seek a method of listening in both Germany and Saudi Arabia (which they were doing before anyway).  But this other “act” goes further to legitimize the (previously “illegal”) tactic of the current Bush Administration of wiretapping conversations between Americans in the US and other persons (citizens or not) outside the US.  (Which the NSA was doing anyway even before the Bush administration, but they would have to do it FROM Germany or Saudi Arabia or some other foreign place.)

Generally Americans don’t want to give the government the “right” to listen to their private conversations without going through the proper channels (the courts) to seek permission, and having to at least show the court some evidence (not necessarily “proof” but some evidence) that listening in on those people is in the interest of justice and the public good.

Since these “rights” are not only believed by most people to be “natural rights” that belong to everyone, but in our case are also GUARANTEED to us in the US Constitution, it seems to many of us that these things should never have been allowed to be provisions of a less important law, and are therefore “unconstitutional” (and therefore unenforceable).  There is a famous old saying (no, Ben Franklin did NOT say it) that goes roughly, “Those who give up fundamental rights to secure a little temporary security, deserve neither their rights nor can they expect security.”

I hope this has helped you understand this more fully.


Stafford “Doc” Williamson

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