Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Margaret Atwood, and advocating due process

In The Guardian, an article appeared with this title:

"Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo"

( It is at:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/15/margaret-atwood-feminist-backlash-metoo?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=260620&subid=21429986&CMP=GT_US_collection )

Upon reading, I find that Margaret Atwood (and others) are calling for due process.  She (and others) signed an open letter about it.  (See the article for a link to the open letter.)

But some people are objecting to what Margaret Atwood is saying.  (See the article and the open letter, for details about what Margaret Atwood is saying.)

As for me, I am favor of due process.  Imagine the alternative:  An absence of due process.  Could an absence of due process be a good thing?  Shall we abandon the idea of due process?  I think due process is important; if it is not happening, then we should endeavor to find a way to make it happen; or if it shall not happen, then there should be an explanation telling why it shall not happen.

I am also in favor of the legitimacy of requesting, and claiming the right to, due process.  Imagine the alternative.  What could an opponent say?  Imagine it:  "If due process occurs, that would be alright, but it would be wrong to request it, and it would be wrong to claim the right to due process."  Does that make sense?  I don't think so.  It would make about as much sense as saying:  "You have a right, but only if you do not exercise it."  In my opinion, that would not be sensible.  What do you think?

-jrl 2018/January/16

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The existence of poor countries; and, Refusing to be offended by what Trump says

Sisonke Msimang writes, in:


[begin quote]

[...] I am wondering why so few people want to address the truth that lies at the heart of Trump's statements. It is indeed a fact that millions of poor people who happen to have been born in poor parts of the world are desperate to leave their homes in search of opportunities. Poor people do not leave their countries because of wanderlust: They leave because life feels pretty "s***ty".
This - it seems - is a more important reality to address than whether a discredited man who is a known provocateur has hurt some feelings. I personally refuse to be offended by anything Trump says or does - he is powerful, but this does not change the fact that he is a fool.  [...]


[...] We may point out there is a strong historical dimension to the present-day existence of "shithole countries", which were turned into poor places by the acts and policies of countries like the US.  [...]

[end quote]

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"LGBT", Palm Springs, etc.


"The real victory, [...] council members said, was not that LGBT candidates swept the election but that they did so with barely a mention of sexual orientation or gender identity. Voters cared more about policing, homelessness and roads."

Upon reading the article, one also sees on the web page other links, a couple of which are also about gender, including one with this title:  "20,000 lesbians in the desert: welcome to the Dinah, a world without men"

Monday, January 1, 2018

Lorde, Boteach, Palestine, Israel

I read this article: 


which says that Boteach calls Lorde an anti-Semitic or anti-Israel bigot for her cancellation of a concert in Israel.

Would thousands of settlers in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank of Occupied Palestine, at least some of whom actively harrass Palestinians, be anti-Palestinian bigots?  Would the Israeli government, which encourages such illegal settlement and also disrespects Palestinians' right of return, for decades and continuing, also be anti-Palestinian bigots?

If a crime were found to have occurred, and I were to object to the crime, would that make me anti-something?  Anti-crime?  Or anti-women (if the criminal happened to be a woman)?  Or anti-black (if the criminal happened to be a black person)?  Or anti-Semitic (if the criminal happened to be a Semite)?  If you were to ask me, I would say that I were against that crime.  Would I be wrong to be against it?  What if the person who committed the crime were Semite, black, or female -- would that make me wrong for opposing the crime?  No.  If such characteristic of the criminal were to make it wrong to oppose the crime, that would allow people with that characteristic a free pass to commit crimes.  That would create an over-class in society:  some people free to commit crimes, while other people are not.

Some say that one group is terrorist while the other is only defending itself.  (For example, some say that Palestinians are terrorist while Israel is only defending itself; whereas others say that Israelis are terrorists -- or land thieves or criminals -- while Palestinians are drawing attention to those wrongs, or retaliating.)

There are those who refuse to consider one side until all the other side's concerns are remedied.  But that takes forever.  In effect, while both sides have legitimate and significant needs, only one side is respected.  Is it so hard to see our way through this?  Rather than respect only one side, we must respect both sides!  That means, in the case of Palestine and Israel, both should be tried simultaneously in a joint trial, by an international body.  The ICC (International Criminal Court) or an appropriate arm of the United Nations are obvious choices for this.

And what happens if one side refuses to participate?  Just go ahead without them.  An enormous number of criminals throughout the history of the world have wanted to opt out of being tried, but we didn't let them all stop the process, and with good reason.

John Lehman, San Jose, California, USA

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Impeachment. Also: Is oppression legal?

 Committed Republicans are hereby warned that they probably won't like this post.

"Scholars are clear that Trump has already provided sufficient legal grounds for [impeachment] – the case against him is far more compelling than the one against Bill Clinton. But impeachment proceedings are triggered by the House of Representatives, followed by a trial in the Senate, and nothing will happen so long as Republicans control both houses of Congress."

That quote's from:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/30/trump-us-constitution-weakness-founding-fathers?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=258697&subid=21429986&CMP=GT_US_collection

"far more compelling"?  That's what this Guardian article is saying.

The article says that "when confronted with a leader unbound by any sense of shame – and shamelessness might just be Trump’s defining quality – America is left unexpectedly vulnerable."

If we are to believe that article, then, it would appear that most Republicans in Congress are shameless.   That is, they refuse to impeach the Republican president even when impeachment is obviously needed.

I have encountered shameless people, or temporarily shameless people -- perhaps they are shameless for parts of their lives but not all of their lives -- and a few of them have had significant impacts on my life.  So, seeing this drama, of a reckless shameless President of the United States having impunity, may be educational for me -- not because I haven't seen shamelessness and impunity before, but because eventually things may get so bad in this drama that something will finally be done to stop it, and _that_ would be relatively new and educational.  The whole world is watching and is affected.  Perhaps somebody in the world knows what to do about it and can address the problem adequately?  It is odd to suppose that nobody in the world can fix such an obvious problem.

Who will bell the cat?  That is the question that ended the meeting of the mice.

If it were not illegal, I might suggest, hypothetically, that the oppressed class might revolt against the elite rulers.  It would be as in 1776, when there was the American Revolution, which was illegal.  We wouldn't want to do anything illegal, right?

Is oppression legal?  I think it usually is.  That's because oppressors tend to be the same powerful people who create the laws that determine what's "legal" and what's "illegal".

"How mainstream media gets Palestine wrong"

See:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/mainstream-media-palestine-wrong-171230101955202.html

Friday, December 29, 2017

Climate Change, and Donald Trump

Committed Republicans, turn away, because you will not like this, and I did not bother to write it politely.  I write this piece to the rest of the people.

Here's an article:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/29/donald-trump-good-old-global-warming-us-winter?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=258587&subid=21429986&CMP=GT_US_collection

It is the latest in Trump's “troll-like” missives in which he  “delight[s] in sparking outrage among [his] opponents”.

Trump gives an excellent impersonation of an arrogant ignoramus.  His tweets support this.  They could have been carefully crafted by a master dramatist, to convey the impression of feather-brained sound-bytes.

If one presumes that Trump is really very intelligent and well-meaning (beneath a heavy facade of feigned stupidity and reckless disdain), one is led to conclude that there is some hidden strategy at work here -- perhaps the strategy of appearing so bad that someone else will be forced to take up the slack.

This is similar to an idea I heard 30  or 35 years ago, when a President said or did something wrong, and a friend explained that it could be a "trial balloon", that is, a decoy or dummy proposal just to see what the reaction would be to such a proposal.

However, for my part, I prefer open sincerity.  A direct approach is more efficient and allows for good-faith honest responses.  The indirect "trial balloon" or "feigned stupidity" approach leaves us to never feel any confidence that the politician is telling the truth; and, it invites more of the same "trial balloons" and "feigned stupidity" in response -- a great waste of our time and other resources.

What kind of confidence can we have, when "the President of the United States" doesn't know, or pretends not to know, the difference between weather and climate, and perseveres with policies in like manner, disdainfully regardless of scientists' arguments to the contrary?

It is:  not much confidence in the presidential administration.

But then, is this not the Republican way, that government should be as bad as possible, so that people will learn to not rely on government?

-jrl, 2017/Dec./29