The Moral High Ground doesn’t live here anymore

by lestro

Today’s NY Times contains a story titled “A Year Under Hamas Alters Life in Gaza” about how things have changed in the Gaza strip since Hamas, the terrorist group, took over control of the territory from Fatah, a former terrorist group, by shooting their opponents in the knees and tossing them off buildings. US and Israel reacted immediately, of course, attempting to isolate the people and force them to turn on the new leaders by cutting them off from the world.

But, as anyone who has ever read “Animal Farm” knows, isolation only makes it easier for the leaders to control the situation, as now they control the flow of information as well as the means of government, becoming providers for the people. Especially now that goods like food and fuel are scarce and Hamas controls everything being smuggled into the country (which is everything) through tunnels from Egypt.

And that taxes it, of course. It’s like the mob back in the prohibition days, controlling every aspect of business because of a failed policy on the part of the controlling authority (in this case, the US and Israel).

So not surprisingly, life isn’t good. The Israel and American blockade surely doesn’t add to the quality of life, but inside the fences, the religious fundamentalists get to rule over the territory like their own, private West Texas compound.

“The Palestinian criminal code says there should be no improper behavior in the streets,” the new chief justice, Abed al-Raouf Halabi, explained in an interview, pulling the code book from his breast pocket.

“It is up to judges to interpret what that means,” he said. “For us that means no cursing, no drinking and no kissing in public. In the past these things were ignored.” …

Compared with a year ago here in Gaza, more women are covered, more men are bearded, Internet sites are filtered and non-Hamas public gatherings are largely banned. With the Israeli closure greatly reducing the supply of fuel, spare parts and other vital goods, less sewage is treated and more fish are contaminated. Gazans feel trapped and helpless.

Political dissidents also seem to disappear, discouraging those who may no agree with what the government is up to.

“Everything that has happened here has been a terrible mistake,” [a store owner] says of the election victory and subsequent takeover. “It is a mistake for Islamists to get into power. But what can we do? Hamas is even stronger than a year ago. They can take me and put me away whenever they want.”

That is apparently what happened to Mohamed Zughbur, a Fatah supporter who was taken from his home two months ago by Hamas forces, imprisoned and tortured and accused of collaboration with Israel, according to Moustafa Ibrahim, a researcher for the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights.

It’s the kind of thing that has always happened in dictatorial states where the often-elected leadership uses fear and a common, “evil” enemy to expand its authority and power to overwhelm the basic human rights of its people.

[Ibrahim] said that when his organization complained to the Hamas authorities, they pointed to the United States and the Guantánamo Bay prison; a collaborator, they said, can not be treated with kid gloves.

Ouch. That means that terrorist groups and fascist dictatorships are now using the United States of America – a nation once seen as a light of liberty, hope and opportunity the world over – as an example and inspiration and excuse for their evil ways. And they’re not even making a stretch in doing it.

Over the past seven years here in the good old US of A, an elected administration has used fear and a common, “evil enemy” to systematically subvert the rights and beliefs that make this great nation great, including making people disappear into a little prison camp on a communist island where they have no right to a trial and sometimes no right to even know why they are held with no chance of being released.

There is no doubt that some of the people held in Gitmo are vicious terrorists, but the fact is if they are, the evidence should bear it out and those folks should be tossed back in a hole forever. But that sort of thing should be easy to prove or maybe that particular prisoner should not be there.

Thankfully, this past week, the United States Supreme Court tried to remind the administration that their power has limits and that the Constitution serves to remind us of our basic principles of human rights, separation of power and limited government control.

The issues that were weighed in Thursday’s ruling went to the very heart of the separation-of-powers foundation of the United States Constitution. “To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this court, say ‘what the law is,’ ” Justice Kennedy wrote, citing language in the 1803 ruling in Marbury v. Madison, in which the Supreme Court articulated its power to review acts of Congress.

The ruling, by the way, was 5-4, with the “conservative,” constructionist judges (who are supposed to believe in limited government, personal liberty, letter-of-the-law constitutional interpretation) all ruling in favor of more government control, less personal freedom, a more closed and secretive government and to ignore part of the Constitution itself.

Gotta love that.

So now that the USSC has made its ruling – citing, just in case they forgot, the case that reminds us that the presidency is not above the law. The administration will have to change their ways to come back into compliance with the the rule of law, right? After all, only dictatorships and their ilk ignore the rule of law when it doesn’t go their way, right?

You’d think, but this administration is proceeding as if nothing happened and is trying to get new laws written. Of course, since this is a ruling on the Constitution, one has to remember that the new legislation would have to be a constitutional amendment or it too would be shot down.

But at least this is almost over, right? I mean, this lame duck son-of-a-bitch has only a few months left to tear down 230 years of good will and the whole world is breathing a sigh of relief, the Democrat trying to replace him is opposed ot this sort of thing and the Republican has actually had a government strip him of his rights and dignities while keeping him in a tiger cage for five years. So even he must agree that this is no way for the United States of America to operate.

Again, you’d think, but

“The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country,” McCain said to applause from a crowd of supporters in New Jersey.

“Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it,” he continued.

The Declaration of Independence, disagrees with him, of course, but why should a presidential candidate believe in that old thing anyway:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…

Sounds to me like securing rights is the primary function of government, but then again, what does Thomas Jefferson know, anyway? That was a long time ago. Seriously, what has the Declaration done for us lately?

But from a strictly modern perspective, our enemies are now using our tactics, perhaps it’s time to rethink some of that foreign policy and make some changes.

Hamas is nasty company to be keeping and it is costing us the moral high ground we so desperately need to show the difference between us and the evildoers from whom we are trying to protect ourselves and all of civilization.

Just a thought.

One Response to The Moral High Ground doesn’t live here anymore

  1. On June 15, 2008, McClatchy highlights some of the reasons our democracy is fond of judicial review:

    American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo’s Camp Four who hissed “infidel” and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn’t: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

    “He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government,” a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.

    An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.

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