Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Big Day in NJ

Today is a pretty big day in New Jersey. Today, the NJ Supreme Court will issue its ruling on whether it will allow gay marriage to be legal in NJ.

As readers know, I support gay marriage and don't feel as though the government should have a position on the sex of your spouse. Religion, and religious institutions, are another thing entirely. Considering that for governmental purposes, marriages are contractual agreements anyway, I don't see why the government should hold a moral or philosophical opinion on who you marry.

The ruling is expected at 3pm EST. I guess we'll see what we see!

** Update**

I had a nice updated post when the ruling first came out, but stupid blogspot lost my post. Anyway, I'm relatively satisfied by the ruling. The NJ Supreme Court basically said that under the equal protection clause of the NJ Constitution, you can not deny same sex couples any rights that are afforded to heterosexual married couples. Whether or not to call it 'marriage' or 'civil unions' is up to the legislature. They then gave the legislature 180 days to either re-write the existing marriage laws or come up with another vehicle for conferring those rights upon same-sex couples.

I see this as a victory. Not being gay myself, I see the whole "marriage v. civil union" debate as a debate of semantics. When the rights are the same, who cares what you call it? But of course, its not directly affecting me or my relationships, so I can understand how others might feel differently and I have seen passionate responses from those part of the actual case who still feel as though their relationships are less with the 'marriage' label.

I also think that people who are against same-sex 'marriage' are holding onto a tradition that is a tradition in name only. In the eyes of government, your marriage is a civil contract, now no different, in NJ anyway, than a civil union. Why deny the term 'marriage' to same sex couples when all the rights are exactly the same. It seems to me that the resistance to 'marriage' is based only in reluctance to let go of a traditional view of marriage, even while being receptive to the idea that same sex couples should have all the rights afforded to married couples. Its this last vestige of tradition that is so hard for some to let go of.

Either way, there will be no more discrimination in NJ when it comes to heterosexual and gay couples. That IS a victory.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Being forced out of the closet

I'll go on record, not that its a big leap for me, as being against the forceable outing of gays, either in public or private life. Whether Senator Larry Craig is gay is his own business. Its wrong, and many people on the blogosphere, right and left, are rightly condemning it.

However, as Glenn Greenwald notes in a devastating post, the Republicans lost their right to outrage a long, long time ago. Private sexual activities have no place in the public arena, and they didn't 10 years ago either.

Environmental Republican also thinks its a disgusting tactic and notes how the 'donks will do anything to win seats in this election'. Ah, one blogger equals the whole Democratic Party. Pretty impressive for a blogger I've never heard of, but ok. Of course, the demonization of gays by the entire Christian right wing (Dobson, Perkins etc), that doesn't reflect on the Republican party they vote and campaign for though right? Republicans are the 'big tent' party, the party of inclusion. Yeah, except when it can get them votes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Couldn't happen to an American citizen?

Think again. Everyone in this country should be deeply disturbed by the Jose Padilla story, whether they area Republican or Democrat. Jose Padilla is an American Citizen who was help for over three years as an 'enemy combatant'. Jose Padilla was held without access to a lawyer, without ANY CHARGES WHATSOEVER brought against him and now we learn, tortured. Finally, charges have been brought against Padilla, but that doesn't erase the previous 3 and 1/2 years.

Glenn Greenwald brings us up to date on the latest. The details of his imprisonment should shock the conscious of this nation. Whatever Jose Padilla did or did not do is not relavent. The only thing relavent is that he is an American citizen whose rights were trampled upon, taken away from him and abused, at the sole discretion of this administration. His Constitutionally protected rights. Rights that President Bush swore to uphold.

I've written about this before. It is an outrage.

Money Quote from Glenn:

In an effort to gain Mr. Padilla’s "dependency and trust," he was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live.

The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity. For nearly two years – from June 9, 2002 until March 2, 2004, when the Department of Defense permitted Mr. Padilla to have contact with his lawyers – Mr. Padilla was in complete isolation. Even after he was permitted contact with counsel, his conditions of confinement remained essentially the same.

He was kept in a unit comprising sixteen individual cells, eight on the upper level and eight on the lower level, where Mr. Padilla’s cell was located. No other cells in the unit were occupied. His cell was electronically monitored twenty-four hours a day, eliminating the need for a guard to patrol his unit. His only contact with another person was when a guard would deliver and retrieve trays of food and when the government desired to interrogate him.His isolation, furthermore, was aggravated by the efforts of his captors to maintain complete sensory deprivation. His tiny cell – nine feet by seven feet – had no view to the outside world. The door to his cell had a window, however, it was covered by a magnetic sticker, depriving Mr. Padilla of even a view into the hallway and adjacent common areas of his unit. He was not given a clock or a watch and for most of the time of his captivity, he was unaware whether it was day or night, or what time of year or day it was.

. . . .Mr. Padilla’s dehumanization at the hands of his captors also took more sinister forms. Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors.

...He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla.

Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.Throughout most of the time Mr. Padilla was held captive in the Naval Brig he had no contact with the outside world. In March 2004, one year and eight months after arriving in the Naval Brig, Mr. Padilla was permitted his first contact with his attorneys.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Return of the Attack of the "Signing Statement" II

As we all know, President Bush likes to act like he supports the laws passed by Congress, all the while, he issues 'signing statments', like his most famous, to the McCain Amendment, bascially saying that he doesnt have to comply with them.

These are humorous.

In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.
But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency’s 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section “in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.”

And not to be outdone by himself, another triple whammy:

Congress passed the law last week as a response to FEMA's poor handling of Hurricane Katrina. The agency's slow response to flood victims exposed the fact that Michael Brown, Bush's choice to lead the agency, had been a politically connected hire with no prior experience in emergency management.
To shield FEMA from cronyism, Congress established new job qualifications for the agency's director in last week's homeland security bill. The law says the president must nominate a candidate who has ``a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management" and ``not less than five years of executive leadership."
Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions.
The law, Bush wrote, ``purports to limit the qualifications of the pool of persons from whom the president may select the appointee in a manner that rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office."

God knows we wouldn't want Bush to pass up yet another opportunity to appoint a well qualified, applicant, like "Heckuva job" Brownie.

Your democracy at work.

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