Saturday, September 24, 2011


If you want to gauge the pulse of the GOP, don't tune in their weekly debates to hear the same old tired cliches of the candidates lined up on stage. Tune in to hear the crowd reaction to issues of life and death and human dignity that will literally take your breath away with their heartlessness, insensitivity and plain old meanness.

First we had the wild applause at the announcement that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has presided over 234 executions during tenure as Texas governor. At the next debate we heard cries of "Yes", cheering and laughter at the question posed to Dr. Ron Paul whether we should let a seriously ill 30 year old uninsured man die. Just to show that Republicans aren't just for something, they booed and hissed when a gay GI Iraq war veteran asked whether the GOP aspirants would try to undue gains made for gay soldiers by the Obama administration.

After gauging the pulse of the new GOP, it appears to be bloodless, and GOP must stand for Grand Obscene Party.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


One of the most famous photos of the Jim Crow era is the 1936 street scene shot from an upper floor of the New York headquarters of the NAACP, showing a large flag billowing overhead with the words, "A man was lynched yesterday". It calls attention to one of thousands of lynchings of blacks in the South (and occasionally the North) that occurred with all too grisly frequency from Reconstruction through the 1930's and beyond.

While lynchings and other forms of vigilante justice are an almost extinct blot on American history, the state sponsored killing of people convicted of heinous crimes and deemed too undesirable to live goes on in 34 states. While most of the 1,268 killed since Gary Gilmore's firing squad ushered in the modern era of capital punishment in 1977, were guilty of the crimes involved, it is certain that one or more innocent souls were, for all intents and purposes, legally "lynched" by the state for a multitude of reasons besides the alleged crime, including incompetent legal representation, poverty, minority status, undesirable character, demeanor or whatever fit the bill for snuffing out a person's life without sufficient evidence. Eleven condemned men were set free from Illinois' death row when new evidence established their innocence; one of which, Anthony Porter, had but fifty hours to live.

Possibly another such innocent soul was Troy Davis, convicted of the murder of off duty Savannah, GA police officer Mark MacPhail twenty-two years ago. Davis was convicted solely on testimony of nine eyewitnesses, seven of which have recanted, asserting police pressure to convict Davis. Several have now implicated Redd Coles, one of two eye witnesses who have not recanted their testimony naming Davis the shooter. Three of twelve jurors now say they would vote to acquit.

Yesterday, Davis failed to dodge his fourth date with the executioner and became state sponsored homicide number 1,269 in the modern era when the US Supreme Court waited the obligatory four hours before giving Georgia the "all clear" to snuff out Troy's life. The folks in America who cheered Texas Governor Rick Perry's record of presiding over 234 executions during his ten years as Texas Governor when that fact was announced at a recent Republican Presidential debate, demand more souls to feed their bloodlust. Troy Davis, whether guilty or innocent, was offered up to them last night.

No, a man was not lynched yesterday, if lynching involves a mob busting into the jailhouse, grabbing the undesirable and stringing him up for the nearest tree. But that is no consolation to the innocent among the 3,250 doomed still waiting on death row for a polite and smartly uniformed state employee to say "It's time".