Thursday, September 06, 2012

Willingham's ghost hovers over Peterson jury

Few if any of the jurors who convicted Drew Petersonof murdering third wife Kathy Savio know the fate, much less the name of Cameron Todd Willingham. But before deliberating Peterson's fate, Willingham's story should have been required reading.

Native Oklahoman Willingham died in 2004, not by natural causes but by the twisted scales of justice in Texas, the poster state for killing undesirable citizens, whether guilty or not for a real or imagined crimes. In Willingham's case, he was not only innocent; he was executed in 2004 for an event, the fire deaths of his three children asleep with him one 1991 Corsicana, Texas night, that almost certainly wasn't arson and therefore not even a crime. No doubt the Texas jury viewed Willingham as evil incarnate when Texas prosecutors said the house that incinerated his kids was torched and the only one who could have done the deed was Willingham.

Reading the testimony of dueling pathologists splitting hairs on whether this Savio bruise or that Savio bruise was caused by a fall in the tub or a smack from a tough, streetwise cop bent on murder is mind numbing. But its easy for jurors to replay their mind tapes of Peterson acting the fool on national TV, joking and smirking about how fourth wife Stacy likely disappeared and therefore conclude he too was evil incarnate, and a murderer of Stacy's predecessor.

The controversial hearsay testimony that convicted Peterson aside, its difficult to get over the hurdle that a crime even occurred. The Texas legal system can't call a "mulligan" on Willingham's lethal injection, and by all accounts couldn't care less. But the Illinois appellate courts should ponder long and hard as to whether anyone, regardless of how hated they are, should be convicted of a crime whose actual occurrance is suspect. In Peterson's case, a "mulligan" is still possible.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Letter to Chicago Tribune Editorial Board on Charles Krauthammer column

The Tribune Editorial Board would not advocate, much less give, matches to a known pyromaniac. Why then give column space (The fantasy of 'deterence works', September 3) to Charles Krauthammer, a known criminal war propagandist who was one of the chief media cheerleaders for our criminal Iraq war? Krauthammer will live out his life never apologizing, much less admitting that his bloodthirsty columns helped hypnotize our nation of sheep into allowing the Bush administration to unleash murder and mayhem upon Iraq to the tune of several million dead, injured and displaced Iraqis; and 4,488 dead GI's and several hundred thousand more wounded, injured or mentally broken. The price tag for Krauthammer's folly? Three trillion and counting as the cost of caring for damaged GI's will last a couple more generations.

But, here we are, nine and a half years later, and Krauthammer, instead of being shunned for the immoral, literary war lover he is, continues to spew his war mongering, this time for a combined Israeli, American war against Iran, in the Weekly Standard, the New Republic, Fox News, PBS and over 275 newspapers, one of which, alas, is the Chicago Tribune.

If you haven't noticed, America's run as the world's only super power is rapidly coming to an end as we've squandered trillions, not the mention oceans of blood, on failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The last thing we need is to let, in Krauthammer's words "a speck on the map" drag us into anther senseless, pre-emptive war against Iran. The Israeli war party under President Benjamin Netanyahu recognizes Israel is too weak to successfully defeat Iran unilaterally, so they use their allies in the Administration, the Congress and particularly the press as exemplified by Krauthammer, to draw in American support, thus putting Israel's interests ahead of Uncle Sam's. That is reprehensible and arguably treasonous.

Why give valuable newsprint and electronic space to a venture, with no justification whatsoever, that would unleash chaos throughout the region, further degrade Israeli-Egyptian relations, encourage spread of the Syrian civil war beyond its borders, launch attacks on Israel and US ships nearby, create a new Palestinian intifada, drive gas prices to unseen heights and likely stall any worldwide economic recovery.

Before getting another word printed or beamed in the Trib, Krauthammer, himself a psychiatrist, should be required to see a psychiatrist to unearth the pathology that drives him to go from promoting one failed criminal war after another. Come to think of it, the entire Tribune Editorial Board should take a turn on the couch. Just make sure their psychiatrist isn't the irrepressible Dr Krauthammer.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Congressman Roskam: debate Leslie Coolidge or resign

Congressman Peter Roskam
Washington DC

Dear Congressman Roskam:

On August 14, your IL 6th District House challenger Leslie Coolidge requested you engage her in a series of town hall style debates to discuss the vital issues facing the 700,000 6th District residents. She also requested you respond within two weeks, a very generous window within which to reply.

Here we are three weeks later and one week past the two week window with no substantive response to date. I have placed calls to your campaign office, your local Bloomingdale, IL office and your Washington DC office, all of which personally confirm the Coolidge campaign's frustration in scheduling debates. One of your staffers actually blamed the delay on your attendance at the Republican Convention. Since the convention didn't even start till the expiration date of the requested response, I find that answer disingenuous and insulting.

With just 62 campaign days left before election day, your 700,000 constituents deserve better; much, much better from you as their public servant. If you can't show them and Leslie Coolidge and the democratic process the respect and decency to discuss the issues face to face in a series of debates well before the election, maybe you should consider resigning from office. The office of Congressman needs to be occupied someone not afraid to let the people judge, based on visual and verbal comparison between candidates, who should represent them.

The question should not be whether to debate or not to debate. The question should be whether to debate or to resign.

Time is running out Congressman. It's time for you to decide.

Walt Zlotow
IL 6th District resident

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The old man and the seat

Let's not be too hard on the weird, rambling, disrespectful, profane, and incomprehensible imaginary conversation Clint Eastwood conducted with Presdent Obama at the Republican convention. Rather than suffering from cognitive impariment, the 82 year old Clint, always the savy film maker, was simply previewing his newest film project: Dingbat Harry.

Also published in the Daily Herald, September 5, 2012