There were four separate news reports today on four different subjects. Let me describe them and then I will connect them to the 2008 Presidential Election and the process to select the standard bearers.
1. A Guantanamo prisoner was found dead in his cell yesterday. The reports do not identify him nor do they tell why he was there. All we can be sure is that he was denied his right to counsel, he was denied habeas Corpus, and he was denied due process. We know that because everyone in Guantanamo is denied these rights we take for granted. We do not know if he was a real bad person or was someone who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We do not know him and probably never would.
What we do know is that Guantanamo will be seen again around the world as an American gulag. We do know that the already tarnished national image got a healthy dose of new tarnish. We can be fairly certain that the Bush Administration will scarcely notice this event and we can be almost certain that this man was not a threat to our security or anybody else’s.
2. On different subject in a much different land, the Indonesian high court ruled 2/1 against a woman seeking to officially leave her Islamic religion and join the Catholic church. The court’s ruling left standing the Islamic Sharia rule that says no one can leave the Islam religion with the Sharia court’s permission. This strikes me as repressive and discriminatory but in a religion where caning and stoning are accepted methods of punishment, this decision should not surprise. The important point is that American tradition would see someone who is a member of Islam (or any religion), that the rules of the religion should be the rules that person must live by unless they ceased to be a member. And further, Islam (or any religion) should refrain from imposing their rules on those who do not wish to belong.
3. A Georgia resident who had contracted a rare form of TB was told by US health officials not to travel by air. Shortly there after, this person traveled to Europe, to several countries in Europe, and return to Canada, and then drove to the US without anyone stopping or questioning him. He is now in quarentine and about to receive the health care he needs.
The real story here is that we have home land security and “no fly lists”. How did this person fly without being stopped? The bureaucratic scare and fear tactics of this Administration’s approach to home land security is very apparent. Airport lines, pat downs, hand baggage searches in no way translate to security and never have. They were intended to impress the passengers that their government was doing something. A secondary benefit was to drive fear into the voters that there must be a terrorist someplace on every plane. What we see from this is the TSA has no idea who is actually flying.
4. Lastly, the Supreme Court ruled 5/4 against a women seeking compensation due to discriminatory pay policies. The Supreme Court reversed a favorable ruling by a lower court on the basis that the woman’s suit was not timely. The decision shows little regard to the issues surrounding sex discrimination since they did not rule on the facts of the case and only on a technicality. You are left with the impression that the Court favored business by using the Ostrich approach.
These four reports all underscore the need for careful consideration of the potential 2008 Presidential candidates. Which candidates will continue Guantanamo and continue to drive down America’s image across the globe? (As our image sinks, so does our influence and our ability to negotiate!) Which candidates will embrace due process, habeas corpus, and the right to counsel? Which candidates on the other hand will claim the ends justify the means?
Which candidates will tolerate the interferrence in the political process of any religious group? Which candidates will stand up and say it is wrong when a church official to tell his followers how to vote, especially when it is directed against one or more candidates? Which candidates will say I do not want the voters support if it is because a church has spoken against his opponent?
Which candidates will consider substance over sizzle when filling Administration positions? Which candidates will choose to promote fear and silently leave the nation’s ports of entry unguarded? Which candidates will hold their Administration accountable and take responsibility (with real corrective action) if things should go wrong?
Which candidates will choose choose new Supreme Court members from the well qualified center? Which candidates will likely work with the opposite party so that consideration of Supreme Court nominees can be fair.
These four reports underscore how many more issues there are to be considered rather than just how good the candidate looks or how much money they have raised.