I saw Artur Davis speak last night; always a pleasure. He's the Representative for the 7th Congressional district in Alabama, my district. Artur might be the most talented public speaker I've seen. I'll stand by that, though there are several contenders for "The Human Animal Award for Excellence in Public Speaking", a highly coveted distinction. But I think that man will go far. His only weakness is that he is trying to use Alabama as a Springboard.
And not only does the way he speaks impress me, but generally, I find myself in strong agreement with what he's saying.
I was right with him when he was talking about education, immigration, healthcare, the environment... Let me interject here: He talked about the recent Supreme Court Case , which fits nicely with my last post . In this case, the EPA went before the Supreme Court to argue that they did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
Right. The Environmental Protection Agency was arguing that they do not have the authority to protect the environment or regulate airborne pollutants. The ruling (from the Court's written opinion): "what the fuck's the matter with you guys????"
Talk about frivolous lawsuits.
So anyway, I was totally digging what he was saying.
...until the last two questions, at which point, he took a giant nose-dive in my book.
Question 1: (paraphrased) Do you believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians?
Davis responded that yes, he does. Then he went on to say (to the best of my understanding) that he can't support gay marriage for 2 reasons: 1) I am a representative for my district so I am obliged to reflect their opinions. and 2) I do not feel that making laws to enforce the equality of gays is the best course of action in the long run. Society needs to progress before such laws can be enacted. (I'm sure Artur would take some issue with my summary)
What is Davis saying? On his first point, I would ask, isn't your first duty to the constitution and your interpretation of what is right? On his second point, Is he submitting that we should not enforce equal rights for all citizens unless everybody agrees about it? Does he think that equal rights for blacks should not have been enforced in the South before we had a majority consensus about the issue?
Question 2: Can you justify your vote for the Military Commissions Act?
I was dying to ask this, though I'm afraid I would have put it a little less politely ("why did you vote for the MCA, you moron?!") So I'm glad someone else asked.
His response: The MCA insures some level of compliance with the Geneva conventions, so it was better than nothing.
Artur Davis could not be more wrong. Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on the MCA. Or just Google it, read from a bunch of different sources and then try to make Artur's statements jive with what you read. I'm not sure we're talking about the same Act.
I have written about this on several occasions, here, here, and here (also a 5 page letter to Davis after realizing that it seemed that he had no idea what the MCA actually did. What? Don't Congressmen read every pissed off 5 page letter they get?). So I'll refrain from pointing out all the problems with the Act. But here are a few excerpts:
"In General- No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories. [Act sec. 5(a)] "
Hello? "No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States..." HELLO?
"As provided by the Constitution and by this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. [Act sec. 6(a)(3)(A)] "
Hello? "the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the MEANING AND APPLICATION of the Geneva Conventions ..."
"The Act also contains provisions (often referred to as the "habeas provisions") removing access to the courts for any alien detained by the United States government who is determined to be an enemy combatant, or who is 'awaiting determination' regarding enemy combatant status. This allows the United States government to detain such aliens indefinitely without prosecuting them in any manner."
Am I missing something?