20 August 2010

Good news in the news -

For once, some good things going down.

1. Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was captured in Thailand in 2008 in a sting operation led by the US, has finally been extradited by the Thai government to stand trial in the United States. As reported by the Bangkok Post and others, Bout has dealt arms to the FARC in Colombia, to Angolan rebels, and to murderous villains around the globe. This is a win for US diplomacy and law enforcement, and for people around the globe caught in the crossfire of armed conflict.

2. Talks! I know, I know, we've been down this road many (many!) times before, but direct talks have been restarted between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. From the reports today on the News Hour, we'll know they're serious if the principals involved are Netanyu and Abbas, not delegations, but this is a hopeful first step. There were no pre-conditions set for talks, and everyting is on the table. We'll see where it goes.

3. And in a story covered by the NY Times, there has been a shift in who is holding our nation's debt - away from other governments and toward us. For the first time since 2000 foreign governments were net sellers of US bonds and most of the rest of the new debt is held by Americans. This has significant implications for foreign policy, long term solvency, and the ability of the Treasury to issue more bonds.
"In calendar year 2007, the Treasury borrowed a net $237 billion. Of that, 81 percent came from foreign governments, mostly from central banks. Private foreign investors took up the rest, as American companies, banks and individuals reduced their combined Treasury holdings by $13 billion.

It's a step in the right direction - there are many, many more to take, but it's a step.

05 August 2010

Good result, but...

Prop 8, the gay marriage ban in California, has been ruled unconstitutional.

No, I'm not elated. I'm not relieved. I'm perhaps a tiny bit pleased, but that's all I'm allowing myself.

Of COURSE it's unconstitutional.

And of course it isn't over.

There was no other way the judge could rule, really. A majority of my neighbors, no matter how much they hate me, can't vote to take away my civil rights. Sorry. Even if they are motivated by centuries-old superstition or belong to an out of state cult that believes the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, and even if they lie and lie and lie and lie to get 50% + 1 of my neighbors to share the belief with them, it doesn't matter. The Constitution gives me protection. Or it should. I'm sure my fellow citizens of African descent can tell me what cold comfort that is - to be guaranteed things in writing that people will kill you to prevent you from having - even as they voted in favor of taking away my civil rights.

This decision means nothing. We have the most conservative Supreme Court in decades sitting now in DC, and Ms. Kagan is unlikely to have any effect on that. Justice Thomas, that intellectual light weight who is the ultimate of all affirmative action hires, is the most activist judge in the history of the court; Alito and Scalia are mean spirited, mendacious bigots, and Roberts give it all a pretty face. No, it comes down to Justice Kennedy to decide if equal protection before the law means what it has been read to have meant since 1954 - or not.

So the decision by U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker - a President Bush (père) appointee - is welcome, of course. It was a good result, and was reasoned in a way to make overturning it very difficult. We're not done, though.

The fight isn't over, I'm not elated, and I see no cause for celebration.

Well funded superstitious people - the same folks who would have made a constitutional amendment to allow witch burning because of their "faith" - will keep pouring in millions to keep the queers from having their same legal protections.

Until I get to vote on their marriages, why would I be happy? Until the Supreme Court rules, why would I be happy? Until a majority of my neighbors decides that the 14th Amendment DOES apply in California, why would I be happy?

I'm not.

I remember November mornings in Colorado in 1992; in California in 2000; in California in 2008...

Until I wake up with MORE civil rights than I had when I went to bed, well, I'll believe it when I see it. When it has some sense of the final.

Until then, it's a good result, but...