Friday, June 12, 2009

Respect, Strength, and [a] Justice

It was a week ago, but I am still somewhat awestruck by the President of the United States' speech to the Muslim people of the World, those living in the Middle East in particular, at Cairo University in Egypt. It was the first time I have ever heard an elected official from the US treat the people of the "Muslim world", and their religion, with such respect. Neither extremists nor their appeasers or sympathizers were let off the hook, but to hear an American President recognize the largest religion in the world by speaking (a better attempt than failure 43's Spanish) in its native tongue was something different. The New President has gone as far as to say that Iran has the right to use nuclear power for electricity. Any country with nuclear Weapons is extremely dangerous, just ask Japan. But has Our "do as we say, not as we do", "we're in charge" "we know better" approach worked? Has it stopped Iran or North Korea? Did it stop Pakistan? Has it brought any lasting peace to the "Middle East"? When you are threatened, do you back down, compromise and discuss or do you push back even harder? Four days after Obama's speech hezzbollah lost seats in Lebanon's election? Let's hope Iran's election (that's right , ahmadinejad was democratically elected, as opposed to Our Saudi King ally, among others) goes "our" way too.

Another jaw dropping change in Middle East policy was the President's and the Secretary of State's strong stance opposing Israel's expanding its territory through settlements. Wow! Elected officials who are not of the "Israel can do no wrong" ilk are usually way below any position of policy making power. More on Prime Minister Netanyahu's response after his upcoming speech on "security".

But these were not the only historic and possibly transformational moments recently. In what may become President Obama's Reagan moment (not for the reasons you may think) he has nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. I type "Reagan moment", not because he nominated a woman, but because the nominee may turn into more of a right center leaner than a left, which would be reminiscent of Reagan's appointment, Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor, turning out to lean left center. Justice Sotomayor came from the projects in the Bronx, went on to graduate from Princeton University and Yale Law School. She has more judicial experience than anyone on the Supreme Court had when they were nominated. She was first nominated to the Federal bench by President George H. W. Bush and then was promoted by President William Clinton. So far the republicants have had a problem with the way she pronounces her name, the kind of food she eats, the fact that she once said her experience as a "Latin woman" would give her an insight that an old white man or woman might not have (i'm paraphrasing) and of course she said that "the court of appeals is where policy is made". Supreme Court Justice antonin scalia was a bit more blunt when he said "courts often 'make law,' since the precedent of the highest court does not cover every situation, and not every case is reviewed. " Justice Sotomayor has ruled in favor of pro-lifers and pro-choicers. She has been on both sides of discrimination cases during her tenure. She has been a part of thousands of decisions, authored 380+ published opinions, ruled in favor of the Wall Street Journal over the Clinton Justice Department, and ended the baseball strike. But alas, she is a "hispanic" woman, and that has some old white men in a panic.

Speaking of panicking old white men, the republicant party has turned from defeated and disorganized to Down Right dangerous and the Department of Homeland Security's report last month warned us of it. The pro-lifer that murdered a doctor while he was ushering at his church and the white supremist anti-semite opening fire, killing a guard, at the Holocaust Memorial in DC will hopefully be the peak of the violence perpetrated by these domestic terrorists. When the pro-life murderer warned of "more violence to come" where was the outcry from the pro-torture crowd to waterboard him to find out more.

Well, next up health care reform. Why doctors at the AMA may not like it. Why you don't have a choice of whatever doctor and/or procedure you want or need Now. Why a tax increase that is lower than the health care cost it does away with is a good deal. Why America is one of, if not thee, last industrialized, "civilized" nation in the world not to have public health care to go with Our public education and public safety (police & fire).

To Progress.
David Calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ USA