Quote of the Day: On Saying Sorry

by matttbastard

…I had a chance to watch the prime minister’s apology for the residential schools and the subsequent speeeches [sic]. I wish I were in Canada to take part in a moving moment in Canadian history. I hope, as I am sure almost all Canadians do, that as a society we can collectively start to tackle the problems that so many aboriginal communities face.

But, please, let the apology not become an icon, something that we pull out from time to time and admire and then put away again. Let it not be something that makes us feel good about ourselves so that we can avoid thinking about the things that should shame us.

Apologies are a fashion today, and on the whole a good one. This past February, the Australian government finally said sorry for the decades-long practice of seizing its Aboriginal children from their families and giving them to white families to be brought up “white.”

Apologies are good both for those who are admitting their past sins and those who receive them. Accepting the past, as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission showed, is an important step towards moving into the future. But words are cheap if they are not preceded by serious thought and followed by serious action.

What did it really do when Tony Blair apologized for the Irish potato famine? Or when the descendant of the notorious Elizabethan Sir John Hawkins apologized for slavery? Are such apologies anything more than easy sentimentality? And what do apologies mean when they are not accompanied by any significant acts of restitution? Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said “sorry,” but significantly did not explain what his government was going to do about the lot of present-day Aboriginals.

What is Canada going to do for today’s Aboriginals? I am still waiting to know. I don’t want to think that dwelling on the past a way of avoiding dealing with the present.

Margaret MacMillan

It’s a bit of a mystery…why Stephen Harper is only apologizing today for the residential schools program. The program certainly merits a plea for forgiveness, but it was only part of the program aimed at eliminating Indian culture and completing the European domination of the country.

You could argue that, since Canada didn’t exist as an independent country until it was already too late for the natives, the broader campaign wasn’t really our doing. That would make it the fault of somebody in London or Paris, since they were the ones calling the shots at the time. But stealing an entire country demands more than just a government order; it requires the enthusiastic participation of the general population, which in Canada’s case was willingly given.

So, strictly speaking, the apology given in the House of Commons today should be for the overall willingness of Canada’s founders to participate in the subjugation and humiliation of the First Nations before, during and after 1867, viewing it as a necessary evil towards establishing a new nation in their place. It derives from the same sense of guilt the Catholic church plays on, the need to recognize the roots of the entity you belong too [sic].

I don’t know why the government isn’t doing that. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact the subjugation and humiliation goes on to this day; that the government, and Canadians in general, are embarrassed and frustrated that the poverty of so many native communities continues to resemble third world countries rather than prosperous, pleasant Canada. It may also reflect the continued lack of a clear understanding of what to do about it. Begging forgiveness might highlight too much that the government doesn’t have a solution.

Kelly McParland

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In Which matttbastard Puts the Habeas Decision in a Partisan Context

by matttbastard

Ages of the majority:

Stevens 88
Ginsburg 75
Kennedy 71
Breyer 69
Souter 68

Ages of the minority:

Scalia 72
Thomas 60
Alito 58
Roberts 55

The LA Times:

Whoever is elected in November will probably have the chance to appoint at least one justice in the next presidential term. The court’s two most liberal justices are its oldest: John Paul Stevens turned 88 last month, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75.

McCain promised that, if elected, he would follow President Bush’s model in choosing Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

That could establish a large conservative majority on the court for years. With conservatives in full control, the court would probably overturn Roe vs. Wade and the national right to have an abortion. The justices also could give religion a greater role in government and the schools, and block the move toward same-sex marriage.

If elected, Obama would be hard-pressed to create a truly liberal court. But by replacing the aging liberal justices with liberals, he could preserve abortion rights and maintain a strict separation of church and state.

Related: Marcy Wheeler provides a detailed report on today’s Center for Constitutional Rights conference call on the Habeus decision:

  • The 40 to 60 people who have already been determined not to be enemy combatants will now have court assistance in finding a way and a place to be released. One of the key issues for these men is that they often come from countries like Syria where, if they were to return, they would be tortured. A number of them have petitioned to be released to third countries, in some cases where they have family. DOD has refused to consider this up until now. This ruling gives courts the ability to provide for relief to those being held even after they were determined not to be enemy combatants.
  • There are roughly 260 people at Gitmo who have not received a Combat Status Review. Over a hundred have already petitioned for Habeas, and a number of those have been stayed awaiting this ruling. Some of those stays require the petitioners to restart their petition within 10 days of the ruling, so you’re going to see them move into a Habeas process within the next two weeks.
  • Michael Ratner, the head of CCR, stated that he believes in many of these cases, the government will be unable to prove it has reason to detain these people–either because the evidence is tainted or because there is no evidence. So the government may be forced to release many of these men as well.
  • It’s unclear where and how these Habeas petitions will be heard–so it’s an open question whether detainees will be able to come to DC to present their case.
  • Carol Rosenberg, my favorite journalist covering the show trials, asked if the government will rush to charge detainees under the Military Commissions Act. Gutierrez responded that they’re really limited by whom they can charge; she put the number at around 60-80 people who they have enough evidence to charge.

More on Boumediene from skdadl @ pogge, SCOTUSBlog (round up here), Hilzoy, David Barron and Marty Lederman, who notes that there were two questions that the court did not answer, but, as Lederman goes on to explain, did provide hints as to where it was leaning:

1) Would habeas rights extend to alien detainees held in foreign locations other than Guantanamo (such as Bagram)?

and

2) What is the substantive standard for who may be indefinitely detained?

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Transformette!

by Isabel.

If you want to avoid spoilers for the new Transformers movie, I recommend that you don’t read the leaked call sheet. However, you probably still want to check out the new girly-bot that is set to appear in the anticipated sequel.

Pink paintjob? Check.
High-heeled shoes? (wtf???) Check.
Barbified body type? Jesus-fucking-check.

Vomiting all over my keyboard in disgust? Check, check, and a slimy pile of more check.

Why does a motorcycle need breasts?

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