Beyond the Cusp

May 4, 2013

The Horrors of Prisoner Hunger-Strikers

What a dilemma for the government on how to address the prickly problem that hunger striking terrorists and other assorted prisoners being held on security issues. According to International Law it is illegal to force feed such prisoners unless they can be ruled in mortal danger or are suffering from some form of mental instability. This applies even if the prisoners should become in danger of death. Even then the prisoners can continue to refuse food and the government authorities holding them technically must not take actions even to save the prisoners’ lives. But when there are approximately one-hundred prisoners who have all joined the hunger strike demanding immediate trials or to be released what does the government do to address the situation? This is especially true when their claims seems so reasonable, especially those who are being held on political charges of being potentially dangerous as planners and organizers of terrorist attacks and training. Such prisoners have not actually committed any crime yet have been determined to be a serious threat of fomenting or aiding terrorist functions including attacks on the public.


Making this situation even more difficult is that the prisoners’ hunger strikes are being taken up by a number of human rights activists who are demanding that the government either charge and give a speedy trial to these hunger striking security prisoners or release them if there are no charges to be brought. What should be done with prisoners who it has been determined require being held for a thus far undetermined amount of time as the threat they are suspected of posing warrants such imprisonment by the government acting in the protection of the people, all the people, both their own citizens and those of others throughout the Western World. The human rights activists claim that since some of those held have not actually committed any crime and are simply being held due to the positions they held in what the imprisoning country has classified as a terrorist organization which allow their claim that the leaders of such a group may be imprisoned without charge as a precautionary action. It is likely that eventually the human rights activists will refer their charges against the government’s position claiming the right to preemptively hold these political prisoners to the ICJ in The Hague (International Court of Justice). This will present a particularly difficult challenge should the right to detain security prisoners without charge attempt to be defended by the government.


What has been most interesting about these particular hunger strikers has been the lack of news coverage either their hunger striking or the objections and protests of the human rights advocates have received. With the coverage that the mainstream media, especially the European media, has given the Palestinian hunger strikers held in Israeli prisons one would expect equal vociferous protest headlines in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the AFP and other international mainstream news sources denouncing the continued incarceration and the ongoing forced feedings being foist upon these prisoners against their wills at the United States high security facility at the Guantanamo Naval Base on the Cuban Islands. One would expect the human rights activists to be even more incensed about these particular hunger strikers as well as the rest of the terror security prisoners continuing to be held at Guantanamo as President Obama made promises he would close the facility. Especially since it has been at Guantanamo is where torture has been rumored to have taken place as well as other deprivations which had been vociferously protested at the end of the Bush Administration but have been mostly silent since President Obama was sworn in as President. We will have to wait and see whether the recent pronouncement by President Obama to finally close the Guantanamo Holding Facility using the impetus of the sequester cuts as the leverage to at last accomplish this. The problems of whether or not to release these prisoners or, if it is decided they continue to require being held, where can the government imprison the most dangerous of these terror threats. This issue will very soon become an issue that’s time has come and the human rights advocates will finally be granted the front page coverage they have thus far been denied. Will the public display of the realities of the situations that must be confronted when guarding and fighting against terrorism in all of its manifestations by the United States mitigate the position and condemnations the Israelis have faced in their difficult fight against terrorism or will the world continue to pretend that terrorism against Israel is completely separate from the terror faced by the rest of the world and terror against Israel is understandable while terrorism against everybody else is an evil they fight out of necessity. My deepest fear is that the moral relativism which allows many progressives to differentiate between terrorism against Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world to be completely separate and worthy of a united effort to eradicate while expressing understanding and tacit, or even vociferous, support of terrorism which targets Israel, Israeli interests around the world, or Jews because such terrorism has a worthy cause.


Beyond the Cusp


January 14, 2013

If at First You Don’t Convict, Try Try Again

Well, Egypt is opting for their first of what may become a series of do-overs as they prepare to hold a second trial for deposed President Hosni Mubarak. Not satisfied with the result of life in prison sentencing, the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s top appeals court, has accepted the State’s appeal for Mubarak as well as his two sons Alaa and Gamal, his former interior minister Habib al-Adly and top security chiefs on their numerous charges including responsibility for the deaths of protesters during the revolution that led to Mubarak stepping down from power. The new trials will have a high probability of attaining the desired result of executions of those responsible for years of oppression. If we study this presumptive oppression it will reveal everything one needs to know about the impetus driving these new trials.

When we take a sober and somber view of Egypt under President Morsi and the large influence of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egypt under the long running Mubarak regime we find two diametrically opposed governments that share a remarkable but eerie sense of similarities. Under President Mubarak Egypt held the Muslim Brotherhood under limits bordering on repression while Coptic Christians were sheltered from directed hatreds and violence by the Muslim majority. Under President Mubarak Egypt had a sense of balance where every group knew they had a feeling of guaranteed minimum of rights and freedoms as long as they minded their politics and did not challenge the ruling elites. There was an excess by the ruling elites under Mubarak which was mostly financed by an officially accepted level of corruption. Perceptions of the new Egypt under President Morsi with a strong Muslim Brotherhood influence over the mechanisms of power are coming into focus despite their short time ruling the post-Mubarak Egypt.

The first and most obvious difference is the influence wielded by the Muslim Brotherhood and the precarious position those remaining Coptic Christians who have been unable or unwilling to leave to escape the new and dangerous position in which they find themselves. The Coptic Christians and the Muslim Brotherhood have changed positions in an uncomfortable manner where the Muslim Brotherhood has gone from facing repression to enforcing repressions while the Coptic have gone from protected minority to repressed and despised minority under an uncomfortable level of perfidious suspicions. Another difference is that under Mubarak the average Egyptian knew the rules and could live their lives under a relative comfort that they would be safe provided they stayed within the laws while the laws are under a slow but building transformation which will eventually end with the Sharia, or at least a Sunni interpretation of the sharia will come to be the law of the land and along with it the fear of falling within the crosshairs of any cleric who has a sufficient following. This will be particularly true for any non-Muslims, especially the Coptic minority.

The one improvement thus far has been a definitive drop in the amount of corruption. This perceptible drop may be due to the near collapse of the Egyptian economy which will become a severe problem if measures are not instituted to allow for a return to normal economic opportunities. One main sector of the Egyptian economy that has suffered from the turmoil and unrest resulting from the uprisings has been the tourist industry, a mainstay of the Egyptian economy and essential if Egypt is going to restore their economic engine. This retrial which will be perceived by many outside of Egypt as simply a viscous and vindictive witch hunt to satisfy a demand by the most hateful of the anti-Mubarak forces for their blood revenge. Where there is quite likely a kernel of validation of their desire for retribution but their desire to retry these officials from the Mubarak era rather than be satisfied with the life sentences most of them received have the aroma of a form of tribal vengeance. One must question if a retrial and the emotions it will bring back to the fore and the possible unrest with rekindled conflicts is worth the price that will be played by the currently so fragile Egyptian economy. It would appear logical that getting Egypt to move on rather than retrying the past and getting Egyptians back into a normal cycle of life, work, and moving forward with healing would be better than reopening recent wounds and cleansing them with salt, fire and executions simply to satisfy the revenge of those who were denied the power they now wield would be preferable. But that is my feelings from afar; perhaps those closer to the flames will take somewhat longer to cool from the recent fires of change.

Beyond the Cusp

September 10, 2012

Thoughts on the Upcoming American Choice

President Barrack Obama stated during his acceptance speech that, “It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.” He could not have said it any more plainly and could not have nailed the truth about this election any more honestly. Actually, the one thing that must be said about President Obama is that he often says exactly what he is planning to do in broad and sweeping terms fashioned to make them appear so tempting and attractive mainly due to the fact that he allows space for each person to fill in the gaps and adjust his thoughts so they mesh perfectly with your thoughts. That is what was so appealing of his first campaign slogan of “Hope and Change.” Barack H. Obama never went into any details of exactly what it was he desired to change or where his hopes would take the Americans and their country, the United States. Some claim that now, after almost four years, we have a much clearer definitions for “Hope and Change” than during the 2008 campaign. This has made the President more attractive to one group and less so to another. The two factions of the American populace have been equated with one side being mostly made up of unions and those who favor a socialist view relying heavily on government to address any social problems and the other has been related to the Tea Party and made up of strict interpretation of the Constitution, smaller government and relying on individuals to address any social problems.  The election will define which group is the larger of the two.

The group more likely to support President Obama being reelected to a second term is the ones who believe that reliance on government is the best way to solve the needs of the society and the people. Like President Obama, these people believe that everybody having a fair and equal chance to make it in today’s world must be guaranteed by government intervention such that in the end there is an equaling force making the society equitable. They have a belief that for the most part the economy is like a big pie and if one person takes a double helping of pie then two other people will only get half a slice and that government needs to assure that everybody gets a fair and more even piece of the economic pie. They believe that greed will drive businesses to do whatever it takes to make more profit with absolutely no regard for who gets hurt, crushed even, or what affect they place upon the environment. That is why they are in favor of more and more regulations in order to guide and steer those who would otherwise wreck the planet in the name of profit take the correct attitude and minimize any adverse effects on the planet. There is a fear that if not for the government watching over businesses carefully that he leaders in industry would act with little regard for the health of the workers and that it takes government to assure that even the lowest person in the workplace receives sufficient wages to meet the basic needs of life. These people look to Europe and envy their healthcare systems and support Obama Care and would like to take it one step further and have the government take complete control over the healthcare industry. They will claim that only through government takeover can we assure that every single individual receives top notch healthcare and nobody goes without. They will sight the huge numbers of citizens who do not have health insurance because they have recently changed jobs and will likely receive coverage if they choose within a year or them who cannot afford to purchase health insurance. This group believes that without government society would cease to operate with any degree of fairness or equality and the people would end up divided into two groups, those few who have almost all the wealth and comfort in life or the majority who would be destitute and near starvation with no healthcare or other necessities of life. For the reason of making life fair and all people equal, they call upon government to smooth out life and remove any roadblocks and other difficulties which people would likely fail at if left to face them unaided.

The Tea Party oriented group, which includes Constitutionalists, Capitalists, Religious Conservatives, and others who likely had not supported President Obama in 2008 and had read things they disapproved of into the campaign of “Hope and Change.” These are the people who believe that government should do only that which are required to allow people to pursue their own paths and be as little felt in an individual’s life. They believe that government exists simply to give everybody the same starting point, the same opportunity to succeed and not assure that everybody succeeds. They feel that by trying to assure that everyone succeeds that government, by necessity, must take from those who are the most successful and give to those who failed and that by assuming such a role government is rewarding failure and punishing success. The capitalists within these groups feel that the economy is not simply one big pie which everybody gets a share of; they believe that those who produce continue to make more and more pies therefore allowing for everybody to receive more because the amount of pie is constantly being increased and is not a set amount. The Constitutionalists are the ones who make heroes out of the Founding Fathers equating them with inspired brilliance unequaled through all of political history. They will tend to quote them, each one crediting their own favorite, as having said in some form that, “The government that governs best governs least.” One point that many in this camp would support is that, as President Reagan said, “…government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” The Constitutionalists believe that the present day government has gone completely wild and take actions and jurisdiction over countless things which were forbidden by the Constitutional limitations. These are strong supporters of the entire Bill of Rights emphasizing often Amendments II,IV,V,IX and X and call for the repeal of Amendments XVI and XVII getting rid of the Income Tax and the direct election of the Senate returning control of the Senate to the State Legislators or whatever method each State might choose for themselves.

The idea of competition as a constructive force is something which both Capitalists and Constitutionalists will portray as a constructive driving force behind their philosophies. This is fairly obvious for the Capitalists as Capitalism is dependent upon competition as a limit on prices as when two or more businesses have to compete for customers, the one vital point very often is price such that whichever one can sell the product or provide service for the lower price with all else being basically equal, the lower price competitor will sell the most product or provide the majority of the services. The Constitutionalists will point out that by allowing the individual States to control the largest possible amount of governance over the Federal Government taking the lead, and then the fifty different States will act as fifty experiments in how to meet the needs and requirements of their citizens. In time a few States will be found to have the best ideas and the others will adopt the most appropriate and efficient of these methods. And as the other States adopt the technique proven by others will also make some modifications and some of these will be seen as an improvement which can then be made available even to the State originating the most efficient base approach.  The one thing that all of these people in this camp will agree is that the federal government has grown into an unmanageable behemoth which needs desperately to be put on a diet and trimmed down to size by reducing its size, power, scope, and influence even to include doing away with some of the Federal Government’s departments. As to how much or how far to restrict and trim the Federal Government is a matter where there may be numerous differing opinions and is where many are able to point to give evidence of hypocrisy. What they find is each group want the Federal Government to hold on to particular items which they support and these differences are the points of contention which often break the conservative groups apart and makes having an universal platform near impossible. One example to make the point is those who believe in the “Right to Life”. Where the entire group likely can find common ground against abortion and possibly even work something out considering birth control, they will break into two separate camps when addressing capital punishment. A large percentage of the Right to Life people support the death penalty as they are also “Law and Order” supporters while another large percentage extend the right to life to include being against the death penalty. There is no way to bridge this divide and any candidate running for office when addressing this issue is in a no win situation, whichever side they choose a large portion of their Right to Life supporters will disagree.

Which side is more aligned with what it means to be American of these two very different and separate groups? Well, that will completely depend on this upcoming election and everything else that follows. Everyone who is calling this a critical election which will determine much of the future of the United States are partially correct. This election will very likely set a course of the United States for the next decade or two. What is frightening is that an argument can be made that with the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, whoever wins the election may not take the country in as diametrically different direction as we are being led to believe. One point which may place a spotlight on the exact reasons why this is likely true concerns Obama Care, also known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has been given as the perfect example of the difference between the two parties in this election. It is not necessary to point out where President Obama stands on this program, it is his signature legislation despite the fact that he did little to write it and likely did not even make any huge contributions beyond pushing it through Congress by any means required. But where does Mitt Romney stand on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? All one needs to do is read the message on the front of the podium at which he stood when making the promise to address The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act first thing should he be elected to the Presidency. The podium signaled Mitt Romney’s real intentions where it said Repeal and Replace Obama Care. When considering this position one is tempted to ask the same question as should have been asked of Obama concerning Hope and Change. What exactly do you mean by Replace Mr. Romney? Will anybody ask this before they vote or will we once again elect somebody because we foolishly hope he means the same thing we do when he says Repeal and Replace?

Beyond the Cusp

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