Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Abraham Lincoln - Superhero Anti-Royalist

There is a movie out in theaters now called Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter.  I haven’t seen this film (and don’t plan to) but it is being billed as presenting a secret life of our greatest president, and an untold story involving vampires that supposedly shaped our nation.

I admire Abraham Lincoln. He was born in a one-room log cabin on a farm in Kentucky.   His father Thomas Lincoln and mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln were very poor and uneducated farmers.  Abraham’s mother died when he was child and he used to help his father in farming as a manual labor.

In his youth, he had less than 12 months in total education and as a young man, he was entirely self taught in law. In 1836, he was licensed to practice law, become a very successful attorney with his own large law practice, prior to becoming President; yet, he had no apprenticeship training, and never attended college. 

Yet Abraham Lincoln became our greatest President.  He preserved the union and freed the slaves. Despite the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, he fulfilled the promise of the Constitution to millions more. And more than any other president, Lincoln reminds us that we can rise above our differences and respond to the “better angels of our nature,” as he once said.

That is good enough for me to admire Abraham Lincoln. I don’t need to see any film that tries to portray him as superhero vampire hunter. 

But come to think of it, Abraham Lincoln did speak out against another group of evil blood sucking parasites – royalists.

Lincoln applied the principles of America’s founders by comparing the evil of monarchy to that of slavery. Referring to the arguments circulating in support of the supposed justice of slavery, Lincoln held in his famous speech of July 10, 1858:

They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge [i.e., Stephen Douglas] is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent …

Slavery and king-craft:  “[I]t is all the same old serpent[.]”  Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. 

May we borrow that ax of yours to deal with some certain serpents?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ambassador Kenney Reaches Out To Political Prisoners in Thailand

Every year the U.S. State Department releases a report on human rights practices for each country in the world. These Human Rights Reports – cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the U.S. Congress in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974. The content of these reports are primarily based upon input from the U.S. Embassies located in these countries. 

I’m just getting around to this but just over a month ago, the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices were released.  One of the grave deficiencies in Thailand’s 2011 report concerned political prisoners.

It wasn’t just that the U.S. Embassy failed to highlight the predicament of political prisoners in Thailand.  They completely denied the existence of any political prisoners at all.  From the report:

“There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Really?! There are so many political prisoners in Thailand that the government has built a special prison just for them.  It wasn’t as if it were secret as this was routinely reported in all of Thailand’s news outlets. For example: here, here, and here.

By denying their existence, the U.S. embassy in Thailand is complicit in the Thai government’s evil handiwork involving political prisoners. The question which arises is “why?”.

Certainly, many of the political prisoners in Thailand are the direct result of the unjust lèse majesté laws.  There has been a surge of lèse majesté cases since the 2006 coup which isn’t surprising.  Most of the power-mad royalists use the charge to silence those who would prefer a more democratic Thailand with justice and equality.

I’m sure the U.S. Government, which supported the 2006 coup, would prefer not to criticize the royalists’ primary tool of stifling dissent by classifying lèse majesté prisoners as political prisoners. Or perhaps, Ambassador Kenney doesn’t want to miss any invitations to royal birthday celebrations.

Of course, there could be another reason.

I would hope that the U.S. Embassy would consider our country’s very first document on this eve of its two hundred and thirty-sixth anniversary when they help draft any more “human rights” documents of their own.  

I’m only happy to share the words of our Declaration of Independence below.  Happy Fourth of July!   

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.