Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

Michael Steele Should Feel Aggrieved Today

November 7, 2012

If I had to pinpoint the key moment when Mitt Romney lost the election, it would long pre-date his eventual securing of the GOP nomination.
In January 2011, Michael Steele was essentially fired and replaced with Reince Priebus. As time passed, it became increasingly clear that by taking this decision the RNC was dicing with electoral disaster. Michael Steele had articulated and taken an inclusive approach that paid dividends in the 2010 election. By dumping him and installing Reince Priebus as the new Chair of the Republican National Committee, the GOP had put in place a person that had no interest in adopting the sort of inclusive approach that would hand victory to Mitt Romney on a silver platter.
My evidence? The treatment of Ron Paul and his supporters by the RNC was atrocious.  All the way from the Iowa straw poll to the Convention in Tampa.  The Republican Party also totally failed to address big issues relating to the role of the Federal Reserve, Civil Liberties and the immediate need to drastically cut Federal spending on programs such as Medicare parts C and D.  This lead to the alienation of natural, small “l” libertarian, Republican supporters and, shock horror, the chickens came home to roost.  Obvious or what.  I had the opportunity to vote for Gary Johnson, who was similarly poorly treated by the RNC, and took it – in the swing state of Ohio, too.  Many others just did not vote.  Political blowback.

As Chair of the RNC, Reince Priebus executed appallingly bad judgement; a charge of which he will certainly not be alone.  For that he, and his cronies, should immediately quit.  They were instrumental in delivering an epic fail.  Or maybe they prefer to fail rather than do what we all know needs to be done to restore fiscal sanity.

Civil Liberties through the Prism of Northern Ireland

November 2, 2011

My mother’s grandparents left Ireland in the late 19th Century and moved to the West of Scotland. That familial link, my many Irish friends, geographic proximity and historic links meant that Ireland, specifically Northern Ireland and The Troubles, have never been far from my thoughts. Be it Bloody Sunday, disenfranchisement, internment, Diplock courts, Castlereagh, Colin Wallace, hunger strikes, extrajudicial killing, the Stalker Inquiry, Bobby Sands, state collusion with paramilitaries, H-blocks, dirty protests, phone tapping, kneecappings, the Birmingham Six, or the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). I had a friend from Northern Ireland that had been brutalized by the RUC after his brother had been sent to an internment camp. (This was but one example of RUC bungling; multiple people were interned that had no association with the IRA. This action was one of the best recruiting tools the IRA ever had.) My friend had actually been a hospital laboratory technician and voiced concerns that post-mortem reports of victims of The Troubles had been altered. He subsequently quit his job, emigrated and changed his name.
So, living in the United States now, when I read about the PATRIOT Act I think on the PTA. When I listen to people stereotyping Muslims I recall how Irish Catholics were similarly treated. I equate whistleblowers Scott Ritter and Craig Murray with the likes of Colin Wallace and Fred Holroyd. Military commissions with Diplock courts. Drone strikes with the extrajudicial killing sanctioned by organs of the British state. The CIA cosying-up to thugs and MI5/Special Branch collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.
When I left school and was in college then university the Scottish economy was absolutely terrible. I actually gave serious thought to taking the King’s, or should I say Queen’s, Shilling. Enlistment seems attractive in bad economic times. The thought of being posted to Germany and risk being crushed by Red Army tanks or vaporized by tactical nuclear weapons seemed a risk worth taking; especially since I had grown up during a time when nuclear annihilation was a real threat. But the thought of being posted to Northern Ireland to be potentially used in ways that I considered to be flat-out wrong was too much. I could not be so mercenary for a paycheque. I have long since ceased to be amazed by how willing others are to take the King’s Shilling.
It’s with this background that I view state encroachment on civil liberties – through the prism of Northern Ireland.