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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The loss of the Maine same-sex marriage law obviously is a big disappointment and certainly is around our household. I want to say the same thing my old friend and gubernatorial candidate Steve Rowe said,
While I share in the sadness of this defeat, I woke up this morning feeling hopeful for the future and focused on the many gains we have made on our journey for justice for all.

Let's remember how far we've come, and how fast.

Put plainly, a decade ago, marriage equality was unthinkable. President Bush used fear of marriage equality as a political tool for his re-election only 5 years ago. Just a few years ago, states couldn't sell civil unions as a compromise to marriage equality.

Yesterday, 47% of Mainers voted to recognize what now seems obvious to so many of us: equal should mean equal. Thousands of straight volunteers joined their gay and lesbian friends and neighbors in knocking on doors and making calls - starting a conversation about fairness and equality that will far outlive this one vote.
The sun will rise again tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Be sure to read the fine Comment today in the Guardian of London on Maine Ballot Question 1, by our contributor, Gerald Weinand: Putting gay marriage to the test.

If you haven't yet, you still have one hour to get out and vote No on 1.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm proud of him:


Maine governor on Rachel Maddow Thursday 10-29-09

He signed the bill, LD 1020, in May. Now he actively endorses rejection of the repeal above and beyond what he'd really have to do. Thank you, Governor Baldacci.

Gerald has more at Dirigo Blue.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New poll has the Question 1 contest a dead heat, 48-48


Jesse Connolly of Protect Maine Equality (the No on 1 campaign) appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show yesterday evening.


Gerald at Dirigo Blue has been all over the school canard fueling the anti-marriage-equality campaign, for example in the previous post (much more HERE). Jesse Connolly dissects that type of fear mongering from proponents of Question 1 in the interview with Rachel Maddow.

Meanwhile, a new release from Public Policy Polling says that in a survey of 1,130 likely voters from October 16th to 19th,
48% say they will vote to over turn the law while 48% say they will vote to keep it with only 4% of the electorate still undecided.
The survey's margin of error is +/-2.9%.

Yikes! This is a much closer result than a Pan Atlantic poll released last week showing a 51-42 lead for No on 1. Nate Silver has a rundown on these and two other Question 1 polls HERE. The polls are "somewhat contradictory." What matters, then, according to Nate Silver, is who actually turns out to vote.

Silver writes, " if you had a 2008-type turnout, the marriage ban would fail." But, "there's not going to be a 2008-type turnout."

So it all rests on who gets their supporters to the voting booth on November 3. Silver continues with a deep analysis of the PPP age demographics, which he characterizes as perhaps "on the pessimistic side." So No on 1 may still have a slight lead. But the contest can fairly be called a toss-up.

Update: Did I really have "opposition to" Question 1 doing the fear mongering? Oy. Confusion. I fixed that above.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cross posted at Dirigo Blue
The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff. -- Ambrose Bierce
In a way, one has to feel for Marc Mutty. He is the chairman for Stand for Marriage Maine (S4MM), the group opposed to same-sex marriage, but only because, as he explained to the WaPo:
he agreed to lead the opposition campaign "because my boss told me to."
His boss is Bishop Richard Malone, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland (Maine).

S4MM hired Schubert/Flynn, the PR firm that was behind the success of Prop 8 in California in 2008, to head the campaign here, and they have used the same tactics - in some cases the exact same ads - as they did out West.

Except that this time supporters of equal marriage were prepared, and the news media has been pretty good at investigating the egregious behavior of the Yes side.

Which brings us to this report by Josie Huang on Maine Things Considered tonight, controversy rages over Question One's impact on school curricula. Deception has been the order of the day in ads from S4MM, as has been shown in these posts here: 16 Oct; 6 Oct (a); 6 Oct (b); 25 Sep; 23 Sep; 22 Sep. And that deception seems to have taken its toll on Marc Mutty, as Huang's report shows:
Marc Mutty, a spokesman for the Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine campaign, says the other side is missing the point. "We understand that schools will not be mandated to provide one curriculum or another, but neither will they be discouraged or will they be unable to provide the kind of curriculum they could so choose that well could include teaching about same-sex marriage."

Mutty contends that if same-sex marriage is upheld, then it makes sense that teacher would bring up same-sex relationships in the context of a discussion on marriage - which he says is not OK with some parents. "We have never said that schools will be mandated -- or actually perhaps we did in one ad, or certainly led people to believe that inadvertently."
Never? The S4MM campaign has "inadvertently" led people to believe that "schools will be mandated" to teach about "homosexual marriage?" Whatever "teaching homosexual marriage" actually means, it is scary to the target audience of the S4MM ads.

Scary enough that the Yes campaign was willing to lie about it in order to convince them to vote against allowing same-sex marriage.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the construct of lies collapsed - I just thought it would happen after the election, not two weeks before it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm noting here that I've been remiss on the No on 1 campaign. Briefly, a vote of NO on 1 means you are IN FAVOR of marriage equality in Maine. Officially, Question 1 on the November 3 ballot would repeal LD 1020, the law that would allow same-sex marriage that was signed by Governor Baldacci last May.

I note today that both the Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News have endorsed No on 1.

Meanwhile a poll shows the good guys (NO on 1) are winning.

But it's like Gerald at Dirigo Blue says, "There is still [two] weeks to go, and while these numbers are great news, it is important to keep the foot on the gas all the way until 3 November."

The No on 1 media campaign is vastly superior to the other. It's why we're winning. These guys are doing a GREAT job:

NO on 1, Protect Maine Equality

Please go there and hit the "Donate" button early and often.

Please keep up with the news through the extensive postings [this link is the rss feed] at Dirigo Blue (and if I can get Gerald to cross-post here).

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thrust and twist in the heart

The Obama DOJ has filed arguments in the Smelt/Hammer challenge to the Clinton-era federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Obama's arguments are "despicable" and "homophobic" according to John Aravosis.

The Obama filing is a panoply of legal arguments we are bound to hear in the coming election fight to keep Maine's new same-sex marriage law.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Month in review: President Obama seeks to legalize black-hole detention and makes a bad turn on disclosure of photos showing American torture in Iraq


Rachel Maddow distinguished for making "prolonged detention" the top story on the day of the Obama speech on national security, May 21


Professor Jonathan Turley (May 22): "We're going to decide?for one thing, we're willing to give trials to people, unless we think they're going to win. And if we think they're going to win, we're going to deny them trials and we're just going to hold them indefinitely."

It's been a bad month for Terror War policies in the Obama administration. Decisions and statements by President Obama in May 2009 firmly have established his ownership of some of the worst aspects of Bush-era attacks on civil liberties. Furthermore, the president has attempted to maintain secrecy surrounding American use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in its occupied lands. Here I post a brief review in order to mark this inauspicious month.

Indefinite arbitrary detention
In the major National Security speech on May 21, President Obama said he wants formally to codify US power to "hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war." This would be at least as dangerous to human rights and civil liberties as any official action of the administration of George W. Bush.

This I find to be the most alarming and dangerous aspect of what the president is proposing--his desire to carve out a new kind of legal space where human beings may be held forever without being charged of committing any crime through an established process.

Though the president says "we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight", it cannot be anything other than executive edict cloaked in secrecy and fraught with opportunity for abuse. The bottom line is that Obama wishes to have buy-in from all branches of government for indefinite detention of accused persons who would have no hope of release, even though there is no credible evidence they ever have committed a criminal act.

It looks to me like President Obama wants to take Bush's "misguided experiment" and guide it, not get rid of it. In fact it's telling that in all the criticism of the previous administration Obama does manage to spit out in the speech, he called the Bush detainee actions an "experiment" rather than a travesty.

Glenn Greenwald explained the emerging Obama tactic in matters concerning conflict of rights and justice with the National Security State:
Greenwald: The speech was fairly representative of what Obama typically does: effectively defend some important ideals in a uniquely persuasive way and advocating some policies that promote those ideals (closing Guantanamo, banning torture tactics, limiting the state secrets privilege) while committing to many which plainly violate them (indefinite preventive detention schemes, military commissions, denial of habeas rights to Bagram abductees, concealing torture evidence, blocking judicial review on secrecy grounds).

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Truly a good day in the State of Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine -- "Gov. John Baldacci on Wednesday signed a gay marriage bill passed just hours before by the Maine Legislature."

Update note: Turn Maine Blue has extensive coverage, HERE.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The big news here is that the court "review" procedure on determination of "enemy combatant" status as set forth in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 has been ruled "inadequate." I may write more later as the significance of this generally positive decision emerges. Meanwhile, Balkanization is the best place to go for details.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Scrubbing torture from the Gitmo trials

It's not working.

The Ongoing Collapse of the Gitmo Military Commissions
Betrayals, Backsliding and Boycotts
By ANDY WORTHINGTON
Anyone who has kept half an eye on the proceedings at the Military Commissions in Guant?namo -- the unique system of trials for "terror suspects" that was conceived in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by Vice President Dick Cheney and his close advisers -- will be aware that their progress has been faltering at best. After six and a half years, in which they have been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, derailed by their own military judges, relentlessly savaged by their own military defense lawyers, and condemned as politically motivated by their own former chief prosecutor, they have only secured one contentious result: a plea bargain negotiated by the Australian David Hicks, who admitted to providing "material support for terrorism," and dropped his well-chronicled claims of torture and abuse by US forces, in order to secure his return to Australia to serve out the remainder of a meager nine-month sentence last March. ...

In the world of the Military Commissions, al-Qahtani's case was damaging for two specific reasons: firstly, because, although the other five men were tortured in CIA custody -- and the CIA has publicly acknowledged that KSM was subjected to the torture technique known as waterboarding (a horrendous form of controlled drowning) -- he and the others have been reinterrogated by "clean teams" of FBI agents, who have solicited confessions without resorting to torture, whereas al-Qahtani, according to his lawyers, has not.

Leaving aside for a moment the implausibility of somehow "purifying" confessions obtained through torture by using "clean teams" -- and what it reveals, unintentionally, about the "dirty teams" whose activities are purportedly being airbrushed from history -- the second reason for dropping charges against al-Qahtani only reinforces the legal netherworld in which the Commissions operate. According to their rules, the records of al-Qahtani?s interrogations, which took place in Guant?namo, could be produced as evidence of torture, whereas those of the "high-value detainees," interrogated by CIA teams in secret overseas prisons, can be overlooked, because, as Time put it, "Military courts overseeing Guant?namo have indicated they cannot compel evidence from US intelligence agencies."
Worthington is an essential writer on the Terror War trials, the tortuous path of which is very fully chronicled at his site, HERE.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dissidents within Commissions process give glimmer of hope for American justice

A friend of Maine Owl sends THIS LINK. I have always liked legal reporting by Dahlia Lithwick:

A Few Good Soldiers: More members of the military turn against the terror trials
By Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Legal commentators have argued for years about whether there might ever be legitimate trials for the so-called "enemy combatants" we're holding at Guantanamo Bay.... Key actors are declining to play their part in a piece of theater designed to produce all convictions all the time. These refusals, affecting two trials this week, suggest that the whole apparatus?seven years and counting in the making?cannot ever be fixed. The trials are doomed, and they are doomed from the inside out.

Today we learned that the Pentagon has dropped charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani?the alleged 20th hijacker (or maybe the 21st or 22nd, since that title has gone to others before him). Along with five other "high value" detainees, al-Qahtani was facing capital charges at Guantanamo. The decision not to try him comes from the convening authority for the commissions, Susan Crawford. She didn't give an explanation for halting the prosecution, but, then, we don't really need one. As Phillip Carter notes elsewhere in Slate, it's been clear for a while that the evidence against al-Qahtani was torture (or near-torture) tainted, and prosecutors at Guantanamo had announced long ago that "what had been done to him would prevent him from ever being put on trial." In light of all that, you might wonder why he was one of the six trotted out for the big show trials in the first place....
There is a lot of additional coverage in Maine Owl blogs. For more in this blog, on the situation with the military commissions and the chafing of Col. Davis due to their injustice, please see HERE, HERE, and HERE. I also recommend my interviews with Maine Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Shenna Bellows, available HERE and HERE. THIS Shenna Bellows program too.

Update: First, I fixed a garbled sentence in the last paragraph. Also, in post 431, I noted the claims of fairness of the trials presented by Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann on February 11. It turns out that Hartmann was party to pretrial instructions that would have foreclosed the possibility of acquittal. How's that for justice? In the Slate piece, it is reported that Keith Allred, the military judge presiding over the Hamdan case, has rebuked Hartmann and removed him from the case:
Allred still isn't quite prepared to play his designated part. Last Friday, he disqualified Davis' old boss Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann from any further participation in Hamdan's prosecution. Hartmann has to back off, even though he is the tribunals' official legal adviser. In a written opinion, Allred took the general to task for attempting to direct Davis "to use evidence that the Chief Prosecutor considered tainted and unreliable, or perhaps obtained as the result of torture or coercion."
This was reported in some media earlier this week. I missed it. But the source I cited for Hartmann's February 11 remarks, the PBS News Hour, has not seen fit to do so.

Friday, April 04, 2008

King & Gandhi on assassins
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., January 15, 1929–April 4, 1968
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, October 2, 1869–January 30, 1948


We've shown the powerful documentary At the River I Stand a couple of times in recent years:
Memphis, Spring 1968, marked the dramatic climax of the Civil Rights movement. At the River I Stand skillfully reconstructs the two eventful months that transformed a local labor dispute into a national conflagration, and disentangles the complex historical forces that came together with the inevitability of tragedy at the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Democracy Now! had an hour-long remembrance today, with extensive, incredible interviews:
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated forty years ago today. He was in Memphis, Tennessee to march with sanitation workers demanding a better wage. We spend the hour on his life and legacy. We hear from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with King at the Lorraine Motel, where he was killed; Harry Belafonte, who was with Coretta Scott King at the King home in Atlanta on April 4, 1968; Dr. Vincent Harding, a close friend and colleague of King?s who wrote King?s major antiwar speech, ?Beyond Vietnam;? Taylor Rogers, a former sanitation worker in Memphis; Charles Cabbage, a longtime activist and community organizer in Memphis who met with King hours before he died; Jerry Williams, one of the only African American detectives in the Memphis Police Department in 1968; Judge D?Army Bailey, a circuit court judge in Memphis and co-founder of the National Civil Rights Museum; and we hear King in his own words, giving his major speech against the war in Vietnam and his last public address given the night before his death in Memphis, Tennessee.
Both of these are recommended highly by Maine Owl.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Guess who made the list

Promises, promises:

President and Mrs. Bush Celebrate Women's History Month and International Women's Day
March 7, 2006 - The East Room
President Bush: In the last four years, we have also seen women make great strides in Afghanistan and Iraq -- countries where just a few years ago women were denied basic rights and were brutalized by tyrants. Today in Afghanistan, girls are attending school. That speaks well for Afghanistan's future. Women hold about 20 percent of the seats in the National Assembly. Nobody could have dreamed that was possible five years ago. In last fall's elections, about 40 percent of the voters were women. In Iraq, women are voting in large numbers, and when the new Iraqi parliament takes office, women will hold about one-quarter of the seats.
Looks like something is sorely lacking in the follow-up to these developments, because, according U.N. Human Development Report data assembled by the Toronto Star, "In spite of real progress around the globe, the bedrock problems that have dogged women for centuries remain."

Ten worst countries for women
Toronto Star - Olivia Ward - Foreign Affairs Reporter - Mar 08, 2008
The image of the 21st century woman is confident, prosperous, glowing with health and beauty.

But for many of the 3.3 billion female occupants of our planet, the perks of the cyber age never arrived. As International Women's Day is celebrated today, they continue to feel the age-old lash of violence, repression, isolation, enforced ignorance and discrimination.
Here's how things are going at the two principle U.S. demonstration projects:
  • Afghanistan: The average Afghan girl will live to only 45 ? one year less than an Afghan male. After three decades of war and religion-based repression, an overwhelming number of women are illiterate. More than half of all brides are under 16, and one woman dies in childbirth every half hour. Domestic violence is so common that 87 per cent of women admit to experiencing it. But more than one million widows are on the streets, often forced into prostitution. Afghanistan is the only country in which the female suicide rate is higher than that of males.
  • Iraq: The U.S.-led invasion to "liberate" Iraq from Saddam Hussein has imprisoned women in an inferno of sectarian violence that targets women and girls. The literacy rate, once the highest in the Arab world, is now among the lowest as families fear risking kidnapping and rape by sending girls to school. Women who once went out to work stay home. Meanwhile, more than 1 million women have been displaced from their homes, and millions more are unable to earn enough to eat.
The U.S. itself has a lot of work to do. It's not one of the worst, but neither is it in the top ten.

Update: I realized my headline for this item was ungrammatical. Even though no one seemed bothered, I changed it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rules of evidence in 2006 law were written for kangaroos

The New York Times covers today the amazing saga of Col. Morris D. Davis, former chief prosecutor for the Guant?namo Bay Military Commissions. Maine Owl has posts HERE and HERE describing the circumstances under which Morris resigned from his post last October, and the subsequent and likely related resignation of Pentagon general counsel William Haynes.

Former Prosecutor to Testify for Detainee
Col. Morris D. Davis, once chief prosecutor at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, and still with the Air Force, is now a chief critic.
By WILLIAM GLABERSON - Published: February 28, 2008
Until four months ago, Col. Morris D. Davis was the chief prosecutor at Guant?namo Bay and the most colorful champion of the Bush administration?s military commission system. He once said sympathy for detainees was nauseating and compared putting them on trial to dragging ?Dracula out into the sunlight.?

Then in October he had a dispute with his boss, a general. Ever since, he has been one of those critics who will not go away: a former top insider, with broad shoulders and a well-pressed uniform, willing to turn on the system he helped run.

Still in the military, he has irritated the administration, saying in articles and interviews that Pentagon officials interfered with prosecutors, exerted political pressure and approved the use of evidence obtained by torture.

Now, Colonel Davis has taken his most provocative step, completing his transformation from Guant?namo?s chief prosecutor to its new chief critic. He has agreed to testify at Guant?namo on behalf of one of the detainees, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden.

Colonel Davis, a career military lawyer nearing retirement at 49, said that he would never argue that Mr. Hamdan was innocent, but that he was ready to try to put the commission system itself on trial by questioning its fairness. He said that there "is a potential for rigged outcomes" and that he had "significant doubts about whether it will deliver full, fair and open hearings."
Wow. This is the kind of person that gives me hope that the ideals of my country are real, and not just throwaway lines for President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their minions. Here is a military officer once stationed deep inside the process who believed even those he thought were the most dangerous anti-U.S. "combatants" in the world deserved a fair trial, one that was really fair and could lead to acquittal. When it became evident that others above him felt that the proceedings rightfully could be conducted as show trials with pre-determined verdicts of guilt, he chafed and resigned. Now he is a witness against the process!

Below the fold I am including some subsections on rules of evidence from the Military Commissions Act of 2006 under which these trials are being conducted. No decent American should think very highly of this. No matter how much Bush tries to scare us, how can we reconcile our consciences to this separate "justice" system so un-American at its core? It allows arbitrary use of faulty evidence & exclusion from view of secret evidence by official fiat (though it's claimed not to be secret). In fact it's shameful that Congress would cower before Bush's fear-mongering to hand so much power to people conducting such an obviously flawed process.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Judicial nominee once was deemed so provocative even the Democrats blocked him, to return to Cardassia

Via Atrios, TPM Muckraker reports HERE that a Pentagon press release says Pentagon general counsel William Haynes is "returning to private life next month."

This follows a recent expos? in The Nation magazine, "Gitmo Trials Rigged," which carried on-the-record statements by Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for Guantanamo's military commissions.

Davis said he resigned last fall because Haynes had been placed above him in the chain of command for the military commissions process. Haynes had told Davis that, "We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions," in the Terror War trials. This contradicted assurances given by President Bush that during the process, "they will be presumed innocent."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gul Dukat from Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Gul Dukat from Star Trek Deep Space Nine (Update: Or is it Pentagon general counsel William Haynes?)
The Nation:
Gitmo Trials Rigged


About the time that Congress in its wisdom and with the support of many Democrats, passed the odious Military Commissions Act of 2006, I posted on the nature of the U.S. justice system for Terror War prisoners. Consumers of the teevee science fiction program Star Trek Deep Space Nine will get my reference--it is "Cardassian" justice, in other words no justice at all.

(See below for list of Democratic Senators voting "yea" on final passage, September 28, 2006.)

For the uninitiated, here is a review of what this means:
  1. You are denied knowledge of what you are accused of until your trial.
  2. You can never know who your accusers are--for "security" reasons
  3. Trials are a show for the public, to explain how the guilt was determined, not to find a verdict.
  4. The verdict is always predetermined- guilty.
  5. The duty of your Consort is get you to valiantly accept the charges and execution.
The follow passage reported today by Ross Tuttle in The Nation and broadcast this morning on Democracy Now! seals forever the shame of the mentality behind Gitmo/Cardassian non-justice:
When asked if he thought the men at Guant?namo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes--the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. "[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"

Davis submitted his resignation on October 4, 2007, just hours after he was informed that Haynes had been put above him in the commissions' chain of command. "Everyone has opinions," Davis says. "But when he was put above me, his opinions became orders." [emphasis added]
The thing that gives me hope here is that Davis resigned.

Let me recommend my interview with our own Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, during which we really air out and analyze this false statement President Bush explicitly has made: "they will be presumed innocent".

Meanwhile, here is a list of senate Democrats who voted for the MCA in 2006. (Nearly every Republican, save Chafee who's now out also voted for it.) If you have a senator on this list or one that's a Republican, drop 'em a line and remind 'em of what they did and that they may want to try to correct it:

Carper, Johnson, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Stabenow

Monday, February 04, 2008

12th Annual Greater Bangor NAACP and University of Maine Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast


This rocks!!

Too bad Senator Susan Collins was too busy to stay for this during the MLK Day Breakfast at the University of Maine in Orono. Mike Michaud also was there, but did have time to listen. Maybe Senator Collins could visit here and review what she missed, though I can see why she in particular would have been made uncomfortable by this.

More information is posted HERE at peacecast.us. See also THIS earlier Maine Owl post. I included a speech Doug gave in 2007 there. This one is even better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Audio: Doug Allen analyzes the uses today by those in power of the memory of Dr. King

The image of Dr. Martin Luther King this time of year has become a handy one for those in power--a backdrop for photo ops. This post and accompanying audio file studies how President Bush and other persons with power present King for publicity but ignore the bulk of his legacy.

Last year I produced a piece for WERU Community Radio featuring Professor Doug Allen (see the previous post) where he discusses on January 14, 2007 the typical uses of King and why these fail to lead us to challenge and overcome oppressive power through non-violence--where King himself would want us to go. In the elite, non-threatening adaptation of King that President Bush produces, admirable notions of "promise," "justice," and "opportunity" are associated with America. But there is a disconnect. To Mr. Bush, there is no sense of struggle, only charity, associated with terms like "compassion," "volunteerism," "kindness," and "loving your neighbor." In previous years, Bush has mentioned "helping," "lifting spirits," and "lifting your soul" as well on this occasion.

Here is the rendition of the pattern produced by the White House team this year:

President Bush Visits Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library
Washington, D.C.- January 21,2008 - 9:42 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for having us. Listen, Laura and I are thrilled to be with you. Proud to be with the Mayor and Councilman Jack Evans. We appreciate very much the Serve D.C. that is working to inspire volunteerism, and I want to thank this beautiful library for hosting us.

I just got a couple of comments I want to say. First of all, Martin Luther King Day means two things to me. One is the opportunity to renew our deep desire for America to be a land of promise for everybody, a land of justice, and a land of opportunity. It's also an opportunity to serve our fellow citizens. They say Martin Luther King Day is not a day off, it should be a day on. And so today Laura and I witnessed acts of compassion as citizens were here in the library volunteering their time, and that's what's happening all across America today.

But a day on should be not just one day. It really ought to be every day. And our fellow citizens have got to understand that by loving a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself, by reaching out to someone who hurts, by just simply living a life of kindness and compassion, you can make America a better place and fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King is a towering figure in the history of our country. And it is fitting that we honor his service and his courage and his vision. And today we're witnessing people doing just that by volunteering their time.

So we're honored to be with you. We're proud to be with you on this important national holiday. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming. Jack, glad you're here. Appreciate you all taking time out of your day to visit with us.

Thank you.
Sadly, the president misses nearly 100% of the teaching and methods of Martin Luther King. For more, please listen to the approximately 21-minute audio file.