Politics as Usual

TalkingPast

The report issued by the Senate Select Committe on Intelligence has not done anything towards  creating a better policy on permissible interrogation methods to be used with people apprehended during the fight against terrorist organizations.  The report was prepared only by the Democratic members of the committee without interviewing any of the people who were involved with the decisions on the methods of interrogation to use.  The report, if prepared by a bipartisan group which looked at all of the relevant facts (such as the report prepared by the 9/11 commission), could have helped in creating a better policy which protects the values of our democracy while allowing us to effectively obtain intelligence information that would be useful in the ongoing fight against these terrortist organizations.  Instead, it was done in a partisan one sided manner not for purposes of creating a policy going forward, but for being able to place blame.  It did not put forth any recommendations and does nothing for those on the front lines who are responsible for gathering information and intelligence but create greater uncertainty going forward.  An opportunity for constructive dialogue and progress has been missed and we are left with people talking past each other yet again.

BG@FreeVoter.com

Ebola in NYC

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Is it me or has common sense gone out the window? There is breaking news tonight that about a positive case of Ebola in New York City. This is breaking news so more information will be forthcoming. But here is what we know so far:

  • The positive case is that of a doctor
  • The doctor just returned from West Africa working with Doctors Without Borders treating Ebola patients
  • He was at a bowling alley on Wednesday and travelled via subway and taxi

Again, details are not fully available, but it appears he just started showing symptoms this morning, Thursday, which according to what we know now is the only time the virus is contagious. He has been taken to Bellevue and was taken in the prescribed HAZMAT method.

I’m not in favor of eliminating flights from West Africa as some have called for (people will just travel through other countries and we would lose track, plus increase the number of folks exposed). I also applaud doctors who at their risk go to help in West Africa. Something all Americans should be proud this doctor did.

However, if we know the incubation period is 21 days, why not quarantine health workers returning from West Africa for 21 days to make sure they are free from the virus? That may be inconvenient for the volunteer, but as a healthcare worker they would understand what exposing the virus would mean to the general public.

Simple precautions for a not so simple problem.

Just What Does Post-Racial Mean

My wife and I recently spent time with some good friends, whom we’ve known for years, in a New England beach town. At dinner, the host made a comment about each couple at the table. When it came to us, he said “Our African-American friends.” While our host said it as a passing joke, it sparked a lively but unintended conversation. It rambled from race relations, to American foreign policy, to JFK (don’t ask, still haven’t figured that out yet).

It did get me thinking about race relations and just what it means to be post-racial and if that is a good thing. I looked up post-racial in my favorite online dictionary, Urban Dictionary. They define it as:

A term used to describe a society or time period in which discussions around race and racism have been deemed no longer relevant to current social dynamics. Popularized after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States of America in 2009.

Can’t imagine we will ever get there, nor am I so sure we should on the first part. One of the guests who lived overseas for part of her life, described how race/color wasn’t seen nor ever an issue. While that is laudable, it is not a world in which I want to live or think we should live in. What I would like to see is a world that recognizes our differences and celebrates them.

In a prior life, I traveled extensively for my job. I was always struck by what I considered the downside of globalization. Nothing was more depressing than seeing a Starbucks, KFC, Gap, or Walmart dotting the landscape. At every destination I tried my best to explore and see the local shops and culture. why travel that far to pick up a pair of blue jeans or sip a caramel macchiato. So much more can be gained by seeing how others live.

Getting back to the US and race relations, I’m happy to say that while we may not be post-racial, we are at a point where friends can sit around a dinner table and have an open and honest conversation without judgement. More and more folks are having these conversations and its through dialogue where progress and understanding is achieved.

I’ll leave with this one last thought. Let’s dispense with the description of America as a melting pot and start talking about America as a tapestry. Each strand adding its unique perspective that makes America what it is today.

Jeffrey Hastie
@jhastie963
jahastie@gmail.com

First Do No Harm?

images-2While the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t contain the phrase referenced in the title of this article, it is considered its underlying principle. Just like a blindfolded Lady Justice (who originally was not depicted with blindfolds, but that is a discussion for another post), healthcare is supposed to be administered without concern for the patient’s religious beliefs, economic status, race, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender. In the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the system failed.

How does a patient with 103 degree fever, vomiting, and a reported pain level of 8 on a scale of 10 get sent home with some antibiotics? The Reverend Jesse Jackson is now representing Mr. Duncan’s family and injecting race into the equation. I am not certain that race is a factor, but I’m also not certain that race isn’t a factor. What I do think though is that his level of care was based on his socio-economic standing and his lack of citizenship. Take a look at this CNN article. The article is interesting because it delineates the difference in care Mr. Duncan received versus other Ebola victims treated in the U.S. but what is more concerning to me are the comments posted. The general thread is that he lied (not true, his information was not reported to people who could have made a difference), came here for free healthcare, and since he’s not a citizen we owe him nothing. It’s the last statement that concerns me most. Since when do our morals and values end at our borders? If that were the case, we’d station our military along our borders and demolish the State Department.

A common view you will see on this site is our belief that human rights supersedes politics. If as a nation we want to project our moral authority, we need to practice what we preach by not picking and choosing which international crises we decide to engage in. Whether its Rwanda, Kobani, or Ebola, we as a nation should stand behind our moral obligations and values.

Jeffrey Hastie
jahastie@gmail.com
@jhastie963

 

Stopping The Continuing Terrorist Threats Must be a World Priority

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The attempt to form a coalition to fight the ISIS terrorist group does not appear to be going well thus far.  It seems that there is no unified plan and no end in sight for dealing with this problem and with the continuous terrorist threats which exist.   The United States has taken the lead in fighting against terrorist organizations and their sponsors since September 11, 2001, but it is time for all of the nations of the world to come together to do so as it is in all of their interests.  The United Nations was created to address such threats and deal with such situations following World War II, but does not appear to be capable of doing so at the present time.  Other organizations, such as NATO, also have to invest in defeating this threat.  The dangers are too extreme for the United Nations and organizations such as NATO to sit on the sidelines on this.  The United States is not the world’s police force but it has the might to assist or lead militarily.  For a long term solution, the decision and resources must come in unison from all nations as all nations are at risk.  Only a concerted world effort will be able to eradicate this threat from the level at which it currently exists.  It must be made a priority for the sake of living in a civilized world.

Kurds holding off ISIS in Kobani, but still waiting for more help

images (1)My first post on the Free Voter Blog addressed the issue of the potential human rights crisis relating to the ISIS rampage through Syria and Iraq. The major battleground right now is Kobani near the Syria/Turkey border. The Kurds are courageously defending that city while waiting for more help from the U.S., Europe or Turkey, although they are being assisted by air power from the U.S. led coalition. Turkey will not even let its Kurdish citizens cross the border to help defend Kobani. If Kobani falls, you can expect innocent Kurds to be slaughtered by ISIS. I continue to believe that a few battalions of troops from U.S., Great Britain or France would easily repel ISIS, but don’t see the necessary leadership to make this happen. Here are some articles about the crisis:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29581728

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-kobane-syria-kurds-claim-to-prevent-islamic-state-forces-from-taking-central-square/2014/10/11/07997505-3d6d-4f02-9b62-cb78157a88b3_story.html

http://online.wsj.com/articles/turkey-sits-out-battle-in-syrian-border-city-1412899331

Jim Maisano

Jim@FreeVoter.com

 

Kobani: The Whole World is Watching . . . and Doing Nothing?

I remember being an idealistic young attorney only 2 years out of law school back in 1994 cringing every time I saw media coverage about the Rwanda Genocide. I kept asking: Where is the UN? Where is NATO? Where is my country? Where are the free nations of Europe? The world did nothing and about one million Rwandans were slaughtered – most by machetes. A majority of the Tutsi people were murdered. It all happened over about 100 days. It’s an issue I will always hold against President Clinton.

I’m reminded of that horrendous moment in history because I fear we may soon be dealing with another genocide in Syria and Iraq by the ISIS barbarians. And we may see such horrors very soon in Kobani, a Syrian city controlled by Kurds near the Turkish border. ISIS boasts about massacres when it takes control of the city. Is the world going to allow this Kurdish slaughter? How do free and democratic nations like the United States, France, Great Britain and Germany just watch and not take real action to stop ISIS? The solution is painfully obvious. If the world wants to stop and defeat ISIS, it must put troops on the ground to fight them. ISIS will not be defeated with only an air campaign – all credible military officials recognize this very clear fact.

For example, the former Marine Corps Commandant, General James Conway stated, “I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.” Retired Marine General James Mattis added: “Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground’ . . . If a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.” (See: http://goo.gl/dPSmH9).

I recognize that President Obama made a campaign commitment to remove our troops from Iraq, but leadership and a commitment to human rights should cause him to revise his strategy, along with his duty to protect our national security. President Obama’s priority cannot be politics and sticking to prior positions – he must assert himself as the leader of the free world and take the necessary actions to stop ISIS before the atrocities and eventual genocide begin. As a former Marine Sergeant, I expect that a few battalions of Marines with supporting air power could finish off ISIS in a few weeks. If President Obama can find other nations to send troops, that would be just fine, but the one thing that can’t happen is for our President and the world to do nothing and allow ISIS to begin the next genocide.

ISIS will never stop its rampage across the Middle East to create a Muslim fundamentalist state supporting international terrorism. So I ask the same questions that I did in 1994 on Rwanda: “Where is the UN? Where is NATO? Where is my country” Where are the free nations of Europe? Either the world unites quickly to defeat ISIS, which will require well-trained and properly equipped troops on the ground, or the possibility of the next genocide becomes more serious each day.

Jim Maisano

Jim@FreeVoter.com