Archive for the ‘International Affairs’ Category

Help this woman, please…

Friday, July 9th, 2010

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

I was told there is a woman in Iran that is sentenced to be stoned to death. I did some research and the official statement from the Iranian government in response to these allegations is that it is not true that she will NOT be stoned to death1. However, I am also well aware that official statements are not always true and thus, I am moved to do something.

Being stoned to death means she will be buried up to her head and then people will throw rocks at her face and head…and continue to do so until it kills her. This is an extremely cruel and unfathomable means of torture and death. We must stop this OR any state-sanctioned death from happening. It is not a question of whether she is guilty of a crime or not…but for the record, she is not…it is not a matter of cultural sensitivity or cultural imperialism or relativity, it is a matter of human injustice, cruelty…it is a matter of fundamental human rights. We all have a right to live and be free from gender domination or state-sanctioned governmental death.

We must help stop this death (and all unnecessary deaths) immediately as humans. Please, please, please help save this woman from this horrific torturous death OR ANY DEATH. She is charged with adultery which is a gender bias crime, the premise being that women are property, property of their fathers then their husbands and thus have no fundamental rights. I disagree!

I digress, this is such a complicated case but before we get lost in all the minutiea, please…let’s prevent this senseless death in whatever way we can. I will come back to the breakdown of the issues within this case for afterthought but now more than my opinion or thoughts or yours on everything else, we must try to save this woman’s life.

This video will help explain the case:

This is what you can do to help save this woman, Sakineh’s, life:

  1. http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=134025&sectionid=351020101 []
  2. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38140909/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/ []
  3. http://www.amnesty.org/ []
  4. http://missionfreeiran.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/sakine-children-2/ []
  5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/08/iran-death-stoning-adultery []

56 Days of Action

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If I had a nickel… for every time I have heard some variation of questioning Obama’s ability to deal with the mess the Bush debacle left for us… I would be rich.

It has been all of 8 weeks and 1 day since Obama was sworn in. It is unrealistic at best to think he can fix everything in such a short period of time. He has done more in this eight weeks than the last yahoo ten fold. He is keeping his campaign promises. He is restoring our country to pre-Rovian/Bush days to the best of his ability.

Let’s look at what Obama has done so far:

18 Executive Orders

January 21, 2009 Executive Order 13489 – Presidential Records

January 21, 2009 Executive Order 13490 – Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel

January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13491 – Ensuring Lawful Interrogations

January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13492 – Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities

January 22, 2009 Executive Order 13493 – Review of Detention Policy Options

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13494 – Economy in Government Contracting

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13495 – Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13496 – Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws

January 30, 2009 Executive Order 13497 – Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Regulatory Planning and Review

February 5, 2009 Executive Order 13498 – Amendments to Executive Order 13199 and Establishment of the President’s Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

February 5, 2009 Executive Order 13499 – Further Amendments to Executive Order 12835, Establishment of the National Economic Council

February 5, 2009 Executive Order 13500 – Further Amendments to Executive Order 12859, Establishment of the Domestic Policy Council

February 6, 2009 Executive Order 13501 – Establishing the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board

February 6, 2009 Executive Order 13502 – Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects

February 19, 2009 Executive Order 13503 – Establishment of the White House Office of Urban Affairs

February 20, 2009 Executive Order 13504 – Amending Executive Order 13390

March 9, 2009 Executive Order 13505 – Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells

March 11, 2009 Executive Order 13506 – Establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls

17 PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUMS

3/11/2009 Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Related to the Continuing Conflict
in Pakistan

3/9/2009 Memorandum on Presidential Signing Statements

3/9/2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies 3-9-09

3/4/2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies – Subject:
Government Contracting

3/3/2000 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

2/27/2009 Transfer of Detainee to Control of the Attorney General

2/5/2009 Appliance Efficiency Standards

2/4/2009 Presidential Memorandum — State Children’s Health Insurance Program

1/30/2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

1/27/2009 Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Related to Gaza

1/26/2009 The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007

1/26/2009 State of California Request for Waiver Under 42 U.S.C. 7543(b), the Clean Air
Act

1/23/2009 Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning

1/22/2009 Review of the Detention of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri

1/21/2009 Freedom of Information Act

1/21/2009 Pay Freeze

1/21/2009 Transparency and Open Government

PROCLAMATIONS

3/13/2009 National Poison Prevention Week, 2009

3/3/2009 Women’s History Month, 2009

3/2/2009 Irish-American Heritiage Month, 2009

2/27/2009 National Consumer Protection Week, 2009

2/27/2009 Read Across America Day, 2009

2/27/2009 American Red Cross Month, 2009

2/27/2009 Save Your Vision Week, 2009

2/2/2009 American Heart Month, 2009

2/2/2009 National African American History Month, 2009

1/20/2009 National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, 2009

In these Executive Orders and Memorandums a plethora of change has been initiated:

  • He froze salaries for the top staff in the White House almost immediately.
  • Gave us a definitive date to close Gitmo.
  • He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 making it easier for people to get the pay they deserve — regardless of their gender, race, or age
  • He sped up the process for new fuel standards application.
  • He also is working towards allowing California to set its own auto emissions standards as long as they are stricter than those in place currently by the Federal Government.
  • Signed a detailed executive order to ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
  • He signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, better known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or SCHIP. Once signed into law, this legislation will continue coverage for six to seven million children and increase that coverage to four million more.
  • He signed an executive order restoring the 30-day timeframe for former presidents to review records before they are released. It also eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews.
  • He implemented the Employment Qualification Commitment, a fail-safe measure in the governmental hiring process ensuring no one is hired or not hired for their political beliefs or ideological stance — age, sex, race etc. He did this by making those hiring sign a declaration that they will not choose upon arbitrary, unfair criteria. This is a small step but it will be beneficial for accountability later on.
  • He banned lobbyists from gifting politicians and restricted government employees from accepting a position with a lobbyist for a period of 2 years after leaving office to help reduce government corruption.
  • He lifted the ban on giving money to international groups that provide abortion services.
  • He signed the DTV Delay Act to allow ample time for millions of Americans to be prepared for the digital transition.
  • He signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which will jump start our economy in ways we really need such as creating alternative energy jobs and production, modernization of homes and federal buildings to improve energy efficiency, bringing our schools and hospitals up to date with
    technology, investing in science, research and technology — this is vital! We must be able to compete in these areas.
  • He restored public access to the Presidential records in Executive Order 13489 — revoking the order Bush put into place severely limiting access to Presidential actions by the public.
  • He signed the Freedom of Information Act — in which he set the guidelines for the government to adopt a “presumption in favor of disclosure” and take “affirmative steps” to make information
    publicly available.
  • He took the necessary steps to restore a transparent, participatory and collaborative Government in the United States.
  • He restored our commitment to treating prisoners according to Geneva Convention Standards.
  • He ordered a stop to all torture and most rendition.
  • He created a task force on detainee disposition to develop realistic, humane policies for the lawful detention, transfer, trial and eventual release of detainees from the war on terror. This task force must report to him within 180 days with its findings.

These are some of the fundamental steps Obama has taken towards restoring our national pride, our political legitimacy and bringing us into the 21st century while getting us out of this economic depression.

In the first 56 days of his Presidency, Obama has done more positive things for this country than George W. Bush did the entire eight years in office. Obama has been working diligently to undo, revoke, overturn, reverse the crooked policy of the last eight years. I say he is doing an excellent job.

McCain LOST the 1st Presidential Debate

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

I watched the debate intently. I recorded it. I played it back. I listened to hours of post-debate commentary and despite all the rhetoric, and there was a lot of that in the right wing sector media, Obama won this debate no-contest.

A debate is not about talking over your opponent. It is not about points gained by aggression or emotions raised by non-sequiturs or rhetorical nonsense. It is about logical debate on the topics. Obama gave us plenty of that, McCain did not.

The McCain campaign had ads prepared declaring they had won even this morning, BEFORE they even confirmed that McCain would be going to the debate at all. All of this after the dramatics of the past few days. McCain is a drama-king. He announced he would not go to the debate until the $700 billion bailout was signed. Yet, it was not signed and there he was. He is simply willing to say whatever at the moment to get and keep attention, even if it is under false terms. This seems to be his only consistent m.o. in this campaign. He had a television ad prepared just minutes after the debate, filled with snippets of misused quotes by Obama. He is a scoundrel and his campaign knew he lost. Apparently, he knew he would lose ahead of time.

McCain’s ad used Obama’s words out of context. When Obama said, “John McCain is right…” or “I agree with McCain” it was more to show common ground not to demonstrate he agrees with McCain’s policies. Should we not be looking for reasonable people who want to find common ground with others to lead us as a nation? Or do we want to continue fostering the useless ideology that to disagree 100% is the only way to be true to one’s party. Is it really all about the blue or the red? Should it not be more about the policies that will improve our lives and protect our collective interests? We need a reasonable, flexible President. This is what Obama demonstrated with his willingness to find common ground.

The reason John McCain needed to distort Obama’s gentleman-like behavior was because he lost on the real debate. He could not convince the American people in rational, reasonable or articulate manner that he was superior in matters of foreign relations. He couldn’t even look Obama in the eyes. He was huffing and puffing and fidgeting about. He was completely unprofessional. He avoided answering the questions or responding intelligently to Obama or to Lehrer. He lied about his voting record and the things he had and had not done. And Obama mostly let him.

Why? Some argued Obama lost points because he let him. I disagree.

Obama was trying to be polite. He was trying to debate the way you are supposed to debate. In a debate a topic is brought up, one person opens with an argument, the other gives their argument. The original speaker is allowed a rebuttal and then a counter rebuttal is given from the 2nd person. John McCain seemed to miss this on numerous occasions. He would often go on and on, over Lehrer, over Obama. He was rude and off-point throughout the debate. Obama tried to interject when he was interrupted but he didn’t want to be rude. He assumed any reasonable, intelligent person would not be swayed by such ridiculous tactics. Just because Obama is not rude or angry in his demeanor, does not mean he is weak. He is anything but.

Obama’s reasonable, rational approach worked. It is evident in the polls. It was evident in his answers. He handled himself extremely well and demonstrated unarguably that he is not a novice in matters of foreign affairs. Words you would expect to hear in a real political debate about foreign affairs would be words like diplomacy, legitimacy, discussion, negotiations and phrases like “broader strategic plan” that included something more than just military might. The came out of Obama’s mouth, not McCain, the supposed expert in foreign affairs. Obama also addressed how other countries around the world, including allies (especially allies), perceive us and noted that this is important to international affairs and, ultimately, national safety. It is absolutely vital to national safety. Political legitimacy must not be forgotten. It is tantamount to military might in international affairs. Why is this point lost on so many?

McCain didn’t mention any of these things integral to successful international affairs. Furthermore, he never mentioned the middle class, bettering the lives of every day people, or anything positive at all really. While he was busy being angry and breathing like a dragon, avoiding eye contact with Obama and ignoring Lehrer’s attempts to move on to a new question, he failed to really focus on what he had to offer the country in terms of foreign affairs or national security. And he failed to prove Barack Obama was incapable to lead the country in terms of foreign affairs or to protect the country. Therefore, he lost this debate, period.

Paramount to positive, strong international affairs is diplomacy, tact, calm and reasonable interactions with the leaders of other countries. McCain can’t even look Obama in the eye. He is rude and dismissive. He believes we shouldn’t even engage in conversation with countries who disagree with us. This is not foreign relations, this is forced relations. You must first relate to foreign heads of state to have foreign relations, long before you can have positive relations.

McCain believes we can bully the whole world around but we can not. This has been proven over the past 8 years, time and time again. Ask foreigners what they think of us. Read their newspapers. Once upon a time we were thought of as the beacon of hope, the land of dreams, the forefront of freedom and democracy. Now, we are the ignorant bullies of the world. Even the citizens of our allied countries are raging against us. And McCain is completely out of touch with regards to this entire concept. We are the joke and irritation of the world. And if you think it is not important what other countries thinks of us, think again! If China owns almost a trillion dollars of our debt and we are at war with countries who have or could soon have nuclear weapons. How many more wars can we begin and how many more allies or countries can we alienate before they form an alliance against us? Think about it…

Torture. Military first, no-talking approach to international disagreements. Bullying. Lying. Cheating. Not caring for our own people. Illegitimate wars. Loss of civil liberties. Ignoring our own Constitution. Secret Renditions. Double-Standards with regards to Nuclear Proliferation.

These are the things that are making us lose our political legitimacy and tarnishing the American brand, if you will, throughout the world. We are seen as hypocrites. Are we really so xenophobic we are afraid of talking to people who have different opinions than us? different religions? Certainly, we should not allow terrorism to reign supreme but have we lost all sense of political discourse? of moral discourse? of thought discourse? The mindset of this country has been divided. There are those of us who believe political dissension strengthens us as a country. That we can disagree with our neighbors but not kill them for it or force them to change their views with a gun. And there are those who would have you believe that any disagreement with the Bush policies or the choices made by this country’s leaders in the past eight years, or simply a different ideology is tantamount to treason.

Dissenters are made out to be anti-American, unpatriotic, haters, anti-troops, anti-military… against the U.S. in every way. This is simply preposterous. We love America. We think for ourselves. You should try it sometime.

Obama has a reasonable, comprehensive plan with regards to how he will approach foreign affairs. His will include the real tools of foreign relations. (Diplomacy, tact, discussions…etc.) This is how you deal with people.

Imagine for a moment, your neighbor and you were feuding. He disagreed with the way you keep your yard. You disagreed with the way he kept his. Would it be better to have a formal discussion, to try to work it out diplomatically? Or do you think you it would be better to jump in a military tank and blow him up? It is simply not reasonable. Period. Even if you wanted to go with the latter, how many tanks  can you reasonably come up with and how many neighbors can you reasonably alienate or declare war with? After awhile, you will run out of tanks but never of neighbors. Then what? The neighbors will join together eventually, to fight against your military tyranny. And what then?

Obama discussed another international relations point eloquently when he talked of our absence in Latin America, in Asia, and in Africa. He noted our absence in these places is amplified by China’s presence. Even Cuba is present in all of these places. Yet, somehow, we are not represented? How is this? How can we, effectively and legitimately, continue to say we lead the world in democracy and freedom, if we are not only NOT present in many countries in a positive manner but simply bullying them into doing what is best for us, even to their detriment?

Furthermore, when asked if McCain would meet with the president of Spain, he didn’t even know who he was. He was obviously mistaking him with a Zapatista (a Mexican revolutionary group). How can he be a foreign affairs expert and not know the foreign heads of states, even those of our allies? That is simply ludicrous.

“We have weakened our capacity to project power around the world because we have viewed everything through this single lens [war].” — Obama

Obama understands that international relations need more than guns to be successful. We must restore our political legitimacy before we lose the support of the allies we have left.

This is spot on. STANDING OVATION.

Obama knows the fundamentals of international relations. McCain does not.

POINT OBAMA TEAM!

I will go through the debate transcript at length this weekend… till then, keep informed and goodnight.

(And what exactly was the existential threat to Israel McCain referred to with Iran? Does he know what existential means?) And what about McCain’s comment about not wanting to go back and forth… um, this was a debate, isn’t that the point?

Obama WON the 1st Presidential Debate — HANDS DOWN!

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Listen and watch (< --- CLICK THERE) the first Presidential debate in 2008 between Obama and McCain on National Security and International Affairs, as well as the urgent economic issues. (I will be blogging about this later for in-depth analysis but thought you might want to see it for yourself first). (Source of video: CSPAN) Complete Transcript from CNN:

LEHRER: Gentlemen, at this very moment tonight, where do you stand on the financial recovery plan?

First response to you, Senator Obama. You have two minutes.

OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Jim, and thanks to the commission and the University of Mississippi, “Ole Miss,” for hosting us tonight. I can’t think of a more important time for us to talk about the future of the country.

You know, we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is involved in two wars, and we are going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And although we’ve heard a lot about Wall Street, those of you on Main Street I think have been struggling for a while, and you recognize that this could have an impact on all sectors of the economy.

And you’re wondering, how’s it going to affect me? How’s it going to affect my job? How’s it going to affect my house? How’s it going to affect my retirement savings or my ability to send my children to college? Video Watch footage of the debate »

So we have to move swiftly, and we have to move wisely. And I’ve put forward a series of proposals that make sure that we protect taxpayers as we engage in this important rescue effort.

No. 1, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole process; $700 billion, potentially, is a lot of money.

No. 2, we’ve got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market — and when the market returns.

No. 3, we’ve got to make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes.

And, No. 4, we’ve got to make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country. Read more about the expectations

Now, we also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down.

It hasn’t worked. And I think that the fundamentals of the economy have to be measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake. That’s why I’m running for president, and that’s what I hope we’re going to be talking about tonight.

LEHRER: Senator McCain, two minutes. (more…)