Conservative Rapprochement Bias

Meet the FOCRs? I’d really like to call it the FOCR Theory (Favoritism of Conservative Rapprochement), but let’s just call it Conservative Rapprochement Bias (CRB). Conservative Rapprochement Bias is the propensity for diplomatic breakthroughs to be initiated or codified by political conservatives. The phrase “Conservative Rapprochement Bias” is not an attempt to be derogatory, but to be descriptive; more moderate protagonists and those with a wider viewpoint are often already committed to change, so the gamechanger occurs when conservative or extremists commit to change or peace.

I wrote about this years ago and called it Narrowism. At the time, I defined the phenomena as a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. That definition certainly describes the negotiations that led up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In that situation, there were four Northern Irish political parties, as well as three nation-states party to the negotiations. The three nation-states (The US, UK, and Ireland) all wanted a deal. Among the Northern Irish, there were the more mainstream parties that desired a deal, namely the Social Democratic and Labour Party of John Hume, and the David Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party. Those two Nobel Laureates deserve all the praise that the peacemakers received, but the deal was never a deal, until the other two parties with narrower and more politically extremist parties agreed to the Agreement, or at least participated in the result. The extremist Loyalist, Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), initially participated in the negotiations but withdrew when his ideological mirror, Gerry Adams of Sein Fein was allowed a seat at the table following his Nationalist party’s paramilitary (terrorist) affiliate the Provisional Irish Republican Army announced a ceasefire. My point is, negotiations between centrist Nationalists like SDLP, and center Loyalists like UUP, was never going to end The Troubles. The Troubles ended when the IRA announced a ceasefire, Gerry Adams and Sein Fein took their seats at the negotiating table and, post Agreement, Ian Paisley’s DUP took control of the new government after winning the plurality of seats and, ultimately, with Ian Paisley becoming First Minister in 2007.

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Yes, the Good Friday Agreement is a perfect example of Narrowism, however, when I proposed the term in 2011, I was naïve. Narrowism is certainly valid, but I now see the phenomena differently. I know believe that the more common pattern is Conservative Rapprochement Bias.

Sometimes that Conservative Rapprochement may even play out within a side of the political spectrum. Look at the US Civil Rights movement: It took a conservative Southern Democrat and master legislator like LBJ to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Would Southern Democrats ever accept a deal brokered by Northerners like JFK, had not been assassinated?

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Let’s look back at a few examples of the Conservative Rapprochement Bias:

1972, US President Richard Nixon travels to China and meets Mao Zedong. Would a President Eugene McCarthy have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader?

On September 17, 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of the conservative Likud Party, not the liberal Labour Party of Yitzhak Rabin or the centrist party of Yigael Yadin.

In the 1980 Election, candidate Ronald Reagan ran for president against Jimmy Carter railing against Iran and called Russia the Evil Empire, but later the Reagan Administration coordinated the infamous Iran-Contra deal with Iran, and Reagan sits down with Mikhail Gorbachev on multiple occasions. To paraphrase my earlier rhetorical question, would President Jimmy Carter have had enough political capital to sit down with a Communist leader? Or a President Mike Dukakis?

We already discussed that in the Anglo-Irish peace process, nothing mattered -not only Gerry Adams came to the table- but moreover, the Agreement didn’t truly matter until Paisleyists took ownership of the new government. When political extremists like Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, or even Yassir Arafat as another example, when the political extremists (or even terrorists or former terrorists) participated in peace talks, THAT’S when peace happens. Hardline soundbites like, “The US does not negotiate with terrorists” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different.

I would even point out that it was a conservative US Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), but on the other hand, there hasn’t been a liberal SCOTUS since the Warren Court ended in 1969. More to the point, it was also the transitionally conservative Burger Court that legalized abortion, banned the death penalty… most recently, it was the conservative Roberts Court that not only legalized same-sex marriage as mentioned before but also confirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

[As I said, hardline soundbites like, “No ‘bamacare” and “Repeal Obamacare” plays well on the 24-hour news and social media, but the reality is starkly different when a person or a party has to govern, not just criticize. Heck, the repeal shouters even changed their mantra to “Repeal and Replace,” and it’s still the law of the land… but I digress.]

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Back in 2008, former Presidential candidate William J. Bennett wrote in the National Review: “Barack Obama’s position on negotiating with U.S. enemies betrays a profound misreading of history,” adding that if Obama were to meet with Iranian officials, “he will lower the prestige of the office of the president.”

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And now we have, not kimchi, but Kim-Trump: The Singapore Summit. The reclusive leader of one of the most reclusive regimes in the world, travelled 3,067 miles to meet with the man who has described Kim as:

“North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons.”
~Sept. 16, 2015~

“Rocket Man [who] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
~September 19, 2017~

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea… is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people”
~September 22, 2017~

And, finally, on November 11, 2017, the President of the United States referred to Chairman Kim as “short and fat.” Perhaps even the same words General George Washington used to describe King George III or perhaps it was what Abraham Lincoln called Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis?

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When US President George W. Bush uttered that infamous phrase ‘axis of evil’ in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, it got all of our attention. For some of us who follow international relations closely, personally I wondered why “W” baited the Iranians since the Iranian government had just shared their intelligence on Afghanistan with the US military in September and October of 2001… just 3 months earlier… but anyway…

Most people, and the media, we knew what he meant, the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Libyans, and the North Koreans… the Bush Administration was serving notice to these rogue states. In fact, one of those rogue-states, Libya, straight-up capitulated and offered to give up its WMDs programs. To an extent, it hurts me to admit it, but the Libyan reaction to the 2002 speech is an example of saber-rattling actually working as an instrument of peace, to an extent.**

  • Libya, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil. Done. Credit given to Bush 43.
  • Saddam’s Iraq, neutralized as a member of the so-called Axis of Evil by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Done. Credit (as it were) given to Bush 43.
  • Iran, neutralized by the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework. **Done. Credit: none.

What???? The Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And they were *all* somehow duped?

Under the Corker-Cardin framework establishing oversight of the Iran deal, Congress could vote to approve or disapprove of a final deal, determining whether Obama has the authority to temporarily lift Iran sanctions needed to implement the Agreement. If Congress fails to pass disapproval of the deal — or if Congress does pass a disapproval measure, then fails to override Obama’s veto of it — the deal would move forward.

And it did. The Corker-Cardin framework provided Congress with the right to review the Iran Agreement, regardless of what you’ve heard spun by the pundits.

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No sitting-President of either political party has ever met with the leaders of North Korea. This policy was to avoid legitimizing a rogue-state as well as to hold onto that strategic carrot in order to draw concessions from North Korea. And now, like the US Embassy move in Israel, the United States has given up a negotiating item, for apparently nothing in return. But, the reaction to Trump’s meeting with the dictator of North Korea?

Senator McConnell praised the “historic first step” and noted that it was “the beginning of the arduous process,” but he said, “I support the goals contained in the statement and I remain supportive of the administration’s mission.” On the Iran Agreement, Mitch McConnell criticizes Iran nuke deal as “windfall” for Tehran…

On the Iran Agreement, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said, “It is an agreement that will reward a violent, terrorist regime. Instead of stopping the Iranians from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, it merely delays it. This deal is shortsighted and dangerous for our security.” But of the Trump-Kim Summit, Rounds said: “Good news coming from Singapore. @POTUS has made early strides in making our world a safer place. A lot of work to do yet.”

And how about this for sarcastic bitterness:

Of Obama and the Iran Agreement, Jim Risch (R-ID) said: “This deal falls disastrously short of what the Obama Administration originally promised and gives the Iranian government what it desires.”

And of Trump and North Korea? Risch said “If Barack Obama had accomplished what Donald Trump just accomplished, they’d be calling for the stonemasons to get out to Mount Rushmore and put off his head on Mount Rushmore. This is a historic occasion.”

Hahahahahaahhaha…..

Personally, I’m kinda wondering what exactly Trump *has* accomplished besides a handshake that North Korea has been seeking for decades, and now the regime received without capitulating on anything.

On Trump and North Korea, Sen. James Inhofe (OK) said “I do not trust Iran who has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism for generations, and I have no faith that President Obama’s deal will change the irrational and dangerous behaviors of Iran’s government leaders,” so I guess I’m really curious how Inhofe feels about Kim and his country’s history of bank fraud, cyberterrorism, saber-rattling and breaking of promises to South Korea as well as US Presidents of both political parties….

Here ya go: Of Trump and North Korea, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) even said “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen,” and even praised Trump for being the first person to ever get Kim Jong-un’s attention and for playing him “like a fiddle.”

Really? Inhofe knows this already? Isn’t it equally possible that Kim played Trump like a fiddle?

The truth is that we won’t know for a long time whether President Trump gave away the cow for free, or if he was the one who started the North Koreans down the road to peaceful coexistence. John Delury, a North Korea watcher and professor at Yonsei University, thinks that it’s even possible that Kim Jung Un is creating a détente with the United States to pivot out of China’s orbit. At this point, who knows? Certainly not I…

But what I do know, is that there is a hypocrisy in the rightwing media (not that there’s not a blindness in the leftwing media on other issues), that there is a selectivity in history and an inconsistency in opinion on international rapprochement initiatives.

Perhaps it’s just partisanship? Or perhaps it’s just that the worst of partisanship is what ultimately becomes the dominant narrative in history. I hope not.

As I said, the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework was a multinational agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, and Iran… six parties! And somehow *all* six parties are incompetent and have somehow duped?

To be fair, North Korea and Iran are not in the same place in their nuclear research and capabilities. And that’s some of the reason for the confusing messages out of some conservatives. After all, North Korea’s research has been entirely weapons-based, so *if* (and that’s a huge if) North Korea stopped its nuclear weapons research, then it would be stopping all of its current nuclear work.

Iran’s nuclear research is much more sophisticated and more of a dual-tracked research. Iran has civilian nuclear research programs as well, so the Agreement honors civilian research.

So, on Trump and North Korea:

Sen. Jon Ernst (R-IA) can say that she was “excited about the opportunity.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) can say the “critical summit is happening because of President Trump’s leadership and unwavering resolve to make the world a safer place,” and added that “[t]he Trump Administration has my full confidence as they move forward in these key talks.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) can say a “big opportunity” and “clearly there has been progress.”

But on Iran, the same three said:

Ernst: “This to me is a pathway to nuclear armament for Iran…This deal does not stop them from developing nuclear capabilities.”

Purdue: “This deal won’t prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state — it just delays it,” and “As I’ve said all along, I cannot support any deal that allows Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.”

Sullivan: “Principal objective of Iran negotiations was to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This #IranDeal does NOT do that.”

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These statements, to me, are a lot more consistent than the statements by Inhofe, Risch, Rounds, and McConnell…

Ernst, Purdue, and Sullivan are correct. The Iran Agreement does not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in 10 years if the Iranians want to. It was never intended to. The Agreement was intended to create breathing room, for Iran to be integrated into the world economy for a period of ten years, so that, as a member of the world economy, there would be a disincentive for Iran to throw those incentives away after ten years of participation in the international system.

Whereas the Trump Administration has, at this point, not offered North Korea the path to peaceful nuclear technology as Iran has been guaranteed, and at this point North Korea is still expected to terminate its nuclear weapon programs in perpetuity as South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and the former Soviet Republics outside of Russia have all done.

Two different nation-states. Two different nuclear programs.

So, the issue isn’t so much about the “deal” but about the reception of engagement with rogue leaders and rogue states.

  • Nixon meets Mao, and is praised.
  • Reagan meets Gorbachev, and is praised.
  • But Clinton normalizes relations with Vietnam, and its criticized.
  • Clinton allows Gerry Adams a visa to the US as part of the Northern Irish Peace Process, and its criticized.
  • Bush pressures UK PM Tony Blair to release the PanAm 103 bombers to reward Libya, and its ignored by the public.
  • Obama normalizes relations with Cuba, and its criticized.

Yes, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro, and it’s the end of the world, but President Donald Trump shakes hands with the leader of a rogue state one called a member of the Axis of Evil by President George W. Bush and…

Sen. Jim Inhofe says “I’m so convinced that good things are going to happen.”

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The two most consistent voices have been Ben Shapiro and Jim Geraghty:

“I’m not certain why meeting with Kim without preconditions is suddenly a grand coup when we would have gone nuts had Obama done the same,” said conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who criticized Obama back in 2009 and is now often critical of Trump.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wondered the same. “Remember how much we condemned then-senator Barack Obama’s pledge to ‘meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?’ That wasn’t wrong,” Geraghty wrote.

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Yes, Conservative Rapprochement Bias is a suggested political theory which recognizes the tendency for meaningful social and international decision-making must be completed only by those with the narrowest and extreme political perspective. While “not fair” it is none the less true that there is a pattern in politics, sociology, psychology, and religion that the seminal events are most often decided when those with the narrowest perspective agree to change or compromise.

As Yogi Berra said, “Déjà vu all over again.” And here we go again…

Ron Robert and RI Sports

Hello! And Welcome to this Day in Today

Today’s theme is going to be on Rhode Island sports history, specifically, the weekly sports show Lil Rhody Sports Show on 89.9 The Juice every Saturday from 10 to Noon. I want to shout-out and thank Ron Robert and his co-host Eric “E” Levy for taking my call today and allowing me part of the show. We talked a little bit about this week in RI sports history, but I want to go back and look at the previous week as well as the upcoming week in RI sports history…

Earlier this week, June 3, 2018, Chris Iannetta went 0-4 against the Dodgers at Coors Field. I know that because I watched the game! Two Rhode Islanders at the game, though I think Chris had better seats! Iannetta was born, April 8, 1983, in Providence, Rhode Island, and named Christopher Domenic Iannetta. He went to St. Ann’s School in Providence, Rhode Island, and attended St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He played in college for the North Carolina Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously played for the Rockies, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently, Iannetta is an American professional baseball catcher for the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball (MLB).

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Also this week, on, June 5, 1987, Cody Wild was born in Limestone, Maine, however, he grew up in North Providence, Rhode Island. He attended LaSalle Academy and graduated from North Providence High School. Wild was selected in the 5th Round (140th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Wild played college hockey for three years for the Providence College Friars until he left after his junior season to sign with Edmonton Oilers. He last played in the 2015 season for the Nottingham Panthers in the UK.

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But the best story this week is that on this day, June 7, 1884, Providence Grays Pitcher Charlie Sweeney struck out 19 batters in a nine-inning game, a record that would stand until broken by Red Sox Pitcher Roger Clemens 102 years later. He is also quite famous for the rivalry with fellow Gray pitcher, and future Hall of Famer, Old Hoss Radbourn.

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On this day, June 8, 1939, the Sakonnet Yacht Club was formed as a Rhode Island non-business corporation. Of course, Rhode Islanders have been sailing Narragansett Bay for hundreds of years before that, especially those little schooners that, on this day, 246 years ago, June 9, 1772, the disgruntled people of Warwick burned the Gaspée off the coast of Warwick, Rhode Island.

Looking ahead this week

On this day, June 10, 1923, Howard Shannon was born in Manhattan, Kansas. Shannon (June 10, 1923 – August 16, 1995) was an American basketball player and coach. Shannon was the first overall pick in the 1949 BAA Draft, selected by the Providence Steamrollers. Shannon averaged 13.4 points per game during the 1948–49 BAA season and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

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On this day, June 12, 1969, Mathieu Schneider was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York. He lived with his family in West New York, New Jersey until moving to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, for his high school years. In Woonsocket, Schneider attended high school at Mount Saint Charles Academy. Under coach Bill Belisle, Schneider and his team won three of the school’s 26 straight Rhode Island state hockey championships. Schneider left Mount Saint Charles after his junior year and joined the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League. Later, he was drafted in 1987 by the Canadiens and won the Stanley Cup with the team in 1993. He was also a member of the 1996 World Cup champion Team USA squad.

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On this day, June 13, 1999, the Providence Bruins defeated the Rochester Americans four games to one to win the first Calder Cup in team history.

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On this day, June 17, 1880, John Montgomery Ward pitched the second perfect game in MLB history.

Other

On this day, June 12, 1987, The Witches of Eastwick was released. The Witches of Eastwick is a 1987 American comedy-fantasy film based on John Updike’s novel The Witches of Eastwick (1984). The film stars Jack Nicholson, alongside Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon as the eponymous witches.

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On this day, June 15, 1775, the United States Continental Navy acquired the USS Providence sloop. Originally chartered by the Rhode Island General Assembly as Katy, the ship took part in a number of campaigns during the first half of The American Revolutionary War. It was destroyed by her own crew in 1779 to prevent her falling into the hands of the British after the failed Penobscot Expedition.

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On this day, June 16, 2010, Deer Tick made their network television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. Deer Tick perform a song from their debut album, “Baltimore Blues No. 1.” Deer Tick is an American alternative rock band from Providence, Rhode Island composed of singer-songwriter John J. McCauley, guitarist Ian O’Neil, bassist Chris Ryan and drummer Dennis Ryan. John McCauley is the son of former RI State Representative John J. McCauley, Jr., is also the husband of singer Vanessa Carlton; the two were married on December 27, 2013, in a ceremony officiated by none other than Stevie Nicks.

Religion v Speech ~ June 4th

Freedom of Religion versus Freedom of Speech

The tyranny of the Majority versus The Tyranny of the Minority

On this day, June 4, 1738, George III (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was born in Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1791, George begrudgingly assented to the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The Act relieved Roman Catholics of certain political, educational, and economic disabilities. It admitted Catholics to the practice of law, permitted the legal practice of Catholicism, and the existence of Catholic schools. (On the other hand, there were continued restrictions as well: chapels, schools, officiating priests, and school teachers had to be registered with the government. Assemblies with locked doors, as well as steeples and bells to chapels, were forbidden. Catholic priests could not wear clerical robes or offer Mass in the open air; Protestant children could not be admitted to Catholic schools. Monastic orders and endowments for Catholic schools and colleges were prohibited.)

The Tory Leader, William Pitt the Younger, as well as the rival Whig Leader, Charles James Fox, had pledged full Catholic Emancipation. Amazingly, however, King George III argued that full freedom for Catholics would be a violation of his coronation oath.

It wasn’t until 1766 that true Catholic Emancipation did not occur until the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. To overcome the vehement opposition of both the House of Lords and King George IV, the Duke of Wellington worked tirelessly to ensure passage in the House of Lords and threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King did not give Royal Assent.

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On June 4, 1870, Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad was born. Hesselblad worked tirelessly at inter-religious dialogue, and against racism. During World War II – and after – she performed many charitable works on behalf of the poor and those that suffered due to racial laws and promoted peace between Christians and non-Christians. The war also saw her save the lives of Jewish people who would have otherwise have perished in the Holocaust had it not been for her direct intervention. Pope John Paul II beatified her on April 9, 2000, and Pope Francis approved her canonization in late 2015. Hesselblad is also recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations due to her efforts in World War II saving the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

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On this day, June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred in response to the pro-democracy demonstrations. At the heart of these demonstrations was the lack of freedom in China… no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and -certainly on June 4th– no freedom of assembly or petition of grievances.

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And today, June 4, 2018, the US Supreme Court announced its decision in Masterpiece Cake v CCRC. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I don’t think it’s as simple as either of the two sides think that it is. I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults

As my friend David Stacy said, its perhaps “one of the most intelligent decisions they’ve written in some time… What I think is so brilliant about it is that it’s allowing for a better conversation. SCOTUS set the standard for how government officials treat religious individuals and cases of religious expression outside of the clergy. The fallout will be interesting, for sure.”

I sure hope Dave is correct. but I am nervous about the fact that there were three different concurring opinions. That kind of tells me that they couldn’t agree among themselves, and that’s why they made a narrow decision, not for their altruistic and brilliant reasons that David is hoping for.

Where is that line between religion and speech?

  • Would we expect a Muslim cakemaker to put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on a cake? Would a Jewish cakemaker have to create a cake with a swastika on it? Would a Catholic cakemaker have to make a cake with the image of a pope or priest as a pedophile or with condoms?
  • On the other hand, would we be comfortable with a cakemaker denying to make a cake for a mixed-race wedding? Or a cake for a marriage between persons of obvious age discrepancy?

What right does a service provider have to limit their services? What right does society have to force services from unwilling service providers? I sure don’t know…

I also think, but I’m not sure how this would be worded in a judicial decision, that there is an issue of access. I’ve heard this issue come up in abortion/women’s reproduction cases. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Court held that if legislation is crafted in such a way that the access to abortion clinics is essentially eliminated, then that is unconstitutional. So, to a degree, as long as there are fair alternatives to Masterpiece Cake, then the Court perhaps should lean toward protecting the religious freedom of the business owner, however, if there was not a fair alternative, then the Court ought to lean toward protecting the rights of the customer.

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Regardless, and as I said to David Stacy earlier today is that, personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I also don’t think it’s as simple as it might seem prima facie. Personally, I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults…

June 3rd ~ Irrendentism

Nation-States

Yesterday, I explored the term “citizenship” as well as what it means and doesn’t mean. Sadly, citizenship is not a Golden Ticket as many believe. It is not the automatic panacea that some immigrants believe it is, nor is it an automatic giving away of the cow as those who already have citizenship might believe. Citizenship is tied up into the constructs of the nation-state and modern international relations as well.

Nation-states are sovereign entities recognized by other members of the international community. One of the first definitions of sovereignty is often the definition of borders… that is an argument that is frequently mentioned when discussing southern border security in the United States. After all, what kind of a country cannot delineate and secure its own borders, right?

By THAT definition, of course, Western Sahara and Tibet are not nation-states, but wouldn’t that also mean that Ukraine is not a nation-state either? Nor Syria?

And, inversely, wouldn’t that mean that South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Kurdistan are nation-states? Or, how about this one, wouldn’t securing of the borders mean that Taiwan is nation-state? Shall we tell the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations?

No, securing of borders is not the only standard for sovereign recognition. It’s important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the only measuring stick. Sometimes, an existing nation-state believes, demands, takes extraterritorial land, and then claims sovereignty. There’s even a term for when a nation-state expects former land to be returned to them; it’s called irredentism. Let’s look at the US annexation of the disputed land between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers 175 year ago… or 50 years ago, the Chinese annexation of Tibet. Or, most recently, Russia’s annexation of Crimea….

On this day, June 3, 1998, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland entered into effect. The Nineteenth Amendment was approved by referendum on May 22, 1998. It was an amendment, essentially, codified the Good Friday Agreement. Yes, it enabled the establishment of shared political institutions between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But more importantly, it renounced the claim to the whole island of Ireland and replaced the irredentist claim on the whole island of Ireland to an aspiration towards creating a united Ireland by peaceful means, “with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.”

Also, on this day, June 3, 2010, the competition for territorial claims to the former British Mandate of Palestine played out again. If it’s strange to think that Russia should have the right to annex Crimea after less than thirty years… If it’s strange to think that the Irish Constitution claimed the whole of an island that has been divided since 1922, and not independently unified since 1175 and the Treaty of Windsor…

If those are strange irredentist claims… how do we objectively look at the Israeli annexation of West Jerusalem in 1948 and the Israeli annexation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem in 1967?

Palestinians have been trying to call attention to the situation for decades… sometimes ethically and unfortunately sometimes through violence. The eye for an eye mentality of the Irish Troubles and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has left a lot of us blind.

On June 3, 2010, Huwaida Arraf gave her first interview of what happened on the supply ship, Challenger 1, in the Med, on May 21, 2010. Arraf (born 1976 in Detroit, Michigan) is a Palestinian American human rights activist, lawyer, and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. ISM a Palestinian-led organization focused on assisting the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using non-violent protests. At the times, Arraf was also the chair of the Free Gaza Movement which organized the Gaza Freedom Flotillas. These ships carrying Pro-Palestinian activists and were organized to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Arraf was aboard the 2008 Free Gaza boats as well as the 2010 flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos in international waters on May 31, 2010.

Perhaps irredentism belongs in the past and off the negotiation tables. Perhaps wars of aggression, frankly any wars, should not be rewarded with territorial annexation. Perhaps the exercise of civil rights should not require oaths of allegiance as they once did in Britain’s Ireland and oaths shouldn’t be required of Palestinians in order to vote in Israel. If Israel claims the extraterritorial land, then all the people living there should be afforded equal rights.

George Mitchell, the US negotiator in the Good Friday Agreement and later US Representative for Peace in the Middle East recently said,

“Each conflict is unique. Each requires a solution that is grounded in the specific and particular history of the people, the region, the issues. There are similarities, of course: religion, territorial demands, national identity. All of that are factors.”

Let’s remember that modern Nation-states have modern responsibilities and that peace can only be achieved through concessions by all parties, and a rejection of irredentist claims on history.

NFL Kneelers, 4,645 Dead Puerto Ricans, and Native American Citizenship

Citizenship

On this day, June 2, 1924, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act into law, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States.

It was enacted partially in recognition of the thousands of Indians who served in the armed forces during World War I. The Fourteenth Amendment already defined as citizens any person born in the U.S., but only if “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”; this latter clause excluded anyone who already had citizenship in a foreign power such as a tribal nation.

So what do Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, the District of Columbia, African-Americans, and the NFL kneelers have in common?

 

June 1st Saints and Sinners

Hello June! What a month! What a day! Welcome to, This Day in Today!

When we look back at this day in history, June 1, 1762, we find that Edmund Ignatius Rice was born in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland. Rice was a Roman Catholic educator. He had a successful career in business but, after a tragic accident which killed his wife, and left his daughter disabled and with learning difficulties, he devoted his life to the education of the poor. Rice was born in Ireland at a time when Catholics faced oppression under Penal Laws enforced by the British authorities. He lived in a time before Catholic Emancipation; he lived in a time in which the Irish couldn’t speak Irish in Ireland; Irish Catholics could barely own land. The Irish could not enter seminaries in Ireland; Catholic Masses were curtailed, and Irish Catholics could barely vote. That’s one of the many reasons that Rice’s work was so important. As a layman, he could do more than the ordained clergy could in Ireland. Edmund was the founder of two religious institutes of religious brothers: The Congregation of Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers. Today, Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers schools around the world continue to follow the traditions established by Edmund Rice.

The same say, but two hundred years later, on this day, June 1, 1962, Adolf Eichmann was executed. Eichmann’s body was cremated at a secret location, and his ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, outside of Israeli territorial waters by an Israeli Navy patrol boat.

Earlier that evening, at 8 p.m. on May 31, Eichmann had been informed his appeal had been denied. Eichmann’s execution was scheduled for midnight, but due to a slight delay, it happened a few minutes after midnight at a prison in Ramla. He refused a last meal (preferring instead a bottle of wine) as well as the traditional black hood. His last words were:

“Long live Germany. Long live Argentina. Long live Austria. These are the three countries with which I have been most connected and which I will not forget. I greet my wife, my family, and my friends. I am ready. We’ll meet again soon, as is the fate of all men. I die believing in God.”

Such a self-indulgent, self-absorbed view of the world, of history and religion. A man who actively participated in the murder of between 6 and 15 MILLION human beings… his last words were that he died believing in God.

Me? I remember clearly a few lines in the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhists, Sikh, Jain, Hindu, well, I dunno, ALL the sacred scriptures? I remember them ALL saying something about not killing and stuff like that. In fact, John 15:13 says that there is no greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. That’s what Edmund Rice did, metaphorically, and that’s precisely what Adolph Eichmann did NOT do, metaphorically or otherwise… he lay down his life for, well, himself. Eichmann was no Ricky John Best or Taliesin Namkai-Meche.

On this day, June 1, 2017, Micah Fletcher asked supporters to focus their attention on the girls racially and religiously attacked on a train in Portland, Oregon, and not on himself. Fletcher was one of three people STABBED when the trio of strangers confronted Jeremy Joseph Christian. Christian, what an ironic surname, described himself as a white nationalist, verbal attacked two young girls he didn’t know on the MAX train in Portland: Destinee Mangum, a 16-yr-old African-American girl and her 17-year-old-friend, who is Muslim and was wearing a hijab.

While Fletcher survived, Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche died from their wounds.

As I was saying, on June 1, 2017, Micah Fletcher asked supporters to focus their attention on the girls racially and religiously attacked on a train in Portland, and not on himself. “We need to remember that this is about those little girls. I want you to imagine that for a second being a little girl on that MAX,” Fletcher said. “This man is screaming at you. His face is a pile of knives. His body is a gun. Everything about him is cocked, loaded and ready to kill you,” he continued. “There is a history here with this. You can feel that this has happened before, and the only thing that was different was the names and faces. And then a stranger, two strangers, three strangers come to your aid. They try to help you. And that pile of knives just throws itself at them. Kills them.”

Even after experiencing such trauma, Fletcher had such a way with words. The now 22-year-old is a student at Portland State University and a poet; in fact, Fletcher won a 2013 poetry competition for two pieces of work: one that dealt with the blame rape victims face and another focused on the prejudice leveled at Muslims in America after the attacks on September 11, 2001. His work focuses on social injustices, and he wants his poems to inspire change. “We in Portland have this weird tendency to continue patterns that we’ve done forever and one of them is same old just to put it bluntly: white savior complex,” Fletcher said in the video. “I think it’s immensely, immensely morally wrong and irresponsible how much money we have gotten as opposed to how much support, money, love, kindness that has been given to that little girl.”

Yes, we live in the era of self-delusion and self-indulgence… And the Divider in Chief keeps coming… Rosanne Barr has “Freedom of Speech” but Samantha Bee doesn’t? Dinesh D’Souza is a patriot who deserves a Presidential Pardon to continue his expression of free speech and free press, but the media is the enemy of the people and NFL players who exert their right to freedom of speech are unpatriotic? …The Commander in Chief has become, not just the Divider in Chief, but is also the self-appointed Truthsayer-in-Chief? If Trump likes the news, then it’s true, but if Trump doesn’t like the news, its fake news?

We have collectively forgotten Daniel Patrick Monahan’s maxim: we’re all entitled to our own opinions, just not our own facts. In this Brave New World, perhaps we need the Fourth Estate of journalism more than ever? We live in a world in which the 2nd Branch has bullied the 1st Branch legislative majority into the submissive role of rubber stamping? We live in a world in which self-declared protectors of the judiciary, the Federalist Society, are sudden mute, having been bought in exchange for lifetime appointments that will outlast Trumpism… Their 30 pieces of silver…

Now, we live in the time of the tweeter of truth? The Factchecker-in-Chief who says it how it really is and stands up to the lamestream media? Hmm… truth… facts… accuracy… I wonder, Trump correct about Obama’s birth certificate? Mexican rapists? MK’s menstrual period? The millions of dollars secretly given to Iran? His own word that he would sign any DACA deal? The “millions” of illegals who voted in the 2016 Election? And immigrants are from shit-hole countries…

Was Trump correct about TTP being bad, or was he correct last month (4/13/18) when he ordered that we reconsider joining? I guess it could have been when Trump attacked GWB on 2/21/16, that MUST be it, right? He must have been right when he promised that Mexico will pay for a wall on our southern border? Or, maybe it was himself that he was correct about October 1999, when Trump on CNN’s Larry King Live that he was forming an exploratory committee with the intention of running for president, Trump said: “I’m a registered Republican. I’m a pretty conservative guy. I’m somewhat liberal on social issues, especially health care.” No, apparently, he’s not liberal on the Affordable Care Act… or transgender rights either for that matter… And you remember Charlottesville? A lot of good folks on both sides… Funnily enough, I don’t remember Trump recognizing that there are a lot of good people on both sides of the aisle in Congress?

The president can’t be believed about even what day of the week it is, as John Boehner said yesterday, it’s no longer the GOP, it’s the party of Trump. And I’m not talking about Republicans, I’m talking about the fringe Trumpers who are too busy being angry and loud to bother fact-checking anything. The 38% who are so desperate to be right in their vote for a con-artist, then taking personal responsibility for being duped. Where is the wall? Where is the return of American manufacturing? Is it America First to save a Chinese cell phone company, ZTE, while starting a trade war that will ultimately hurt US agriculture, particularly soy farmers? Trump supporters are like the audience in Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, they would rather pretend that the Duke and the King’s performance is legit and drag others into the con game that *they* fell for than admit they were wrong…

In the face of facts, the Angry Minority pivots and make comparisons to Obama, bring up Benghazi, and HRC’s emails… they will wax poetic about the liberal media bias, and then shut down from their high horse of victimization and righteousness…

I suggest we all need the Fourth Estate more than ever. I suggest we need less Adolph Eichmann’s in public discourse today. Less jingoism and more justice. Less being right, and more being respectful. Less vitriol and more virtue…

I wish *I* could be more like Edmund Rice and Micah Fletcher, I wish we all could, and less like the propaganda machines of right-wing populism, or left-wing populism for that matter too. I wish we could remove opinion from the pedestal we have placed it and replace it with facts as well as perhaps compassion.