Henrietta Hay Column May 08, 2009

Tea parties, torture and Supreme Court justices

What does it feel like to be 95 plus a few days? Tired. And happy. And inspired.

It was a wonderful 95th birthday. My friends put on a great party and the staff here at the Commons seemed to have a good time helping.

To all the people who helped and all the people who came and those who sent cards, I can only say, thank you.  It was great fun becoming 95.

But now it is time to get back to work. So many things have been going on during my mental absence.

It must be tough being a broadcaster on one of the news stations. For a week or so there was absolutely no exciting news, so we had a full week of discussion about torture, the president’s first 100 days and now the coming retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

The most ridiculous, I think were the tea parties on April 15. They did not get major coverage nationally.

The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was a spontaneous action, one of several that lead to American independence. The slogan, “No Taxation without Representation” was a positive plea for justice.

In 2009, what were called a tea parties were planned national protests against something. I never knew for sure what, although it had to do with taxes.

To compare it to the original tea party is, at best, ridiculous. Oh well, one big sign said, “Representation Without Taxation.” Let’s eliminate all taxes and we’ll all be happy.

The subject of torture was the No. 1 subject on the news stations for several weeks. It poses a very serious ethical question. 

The use of torture as a means of obtaining secret information is against international law.

But torture has been used in Guantanamo, and possibly other American military prison
installations, under orders from the highest levels in the Bush administration.

The question as to whether those persons who gave the orders to torture prisoners should be prosecuted is being debated everywhere.

Ethics are not situational. An ethical situation cannot be altered “depending on circumstances.”

Or can it? The motivation would almost certainly be considered in a legal action. Such action could split our country right down the middle.

Wiser heads than most of those in Washington need to solve this one.

The really big story is the resignation of Justice David Souter from the Supreme Court, and the firestorm it has started. One would think we might have given President Obama at least one night to sleep over it, but that’s not the way it works.

Within hours of the announcement, all the talking heads were discussing probable candidates and how the president should go about his making his decision. 

But even faster, within minutes, the right wing of the Republican Party was in full cry. President
Bush made two appointments to the court and they have had lots of practice in trying to control the court.

The conservatives are sure Obama will appoint a wild-eyed liberal. They are more concerned with issues — abortion, stem-cell research, same sex marriage — than intelligence, education, experience, knowledge of the law and an open mind.

One Republican senator is already planning a filibuster, assuming that President Obama will appoint a flaming liberal and that he can get enough votes. Doubtful. 

I trust the president’s judgment over that of the press or the Republicans to make the right choice.

President Obama’s first 100 days are over. His record is stupendous. He has made progress on his promises and has given us more reason to hope than we have had in eight years. Go, Barack!

Henrietta Hay can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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