Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hero Manning's 1,000th Day Of Imprisonment Nothing To Celebrate

Today, Saturday, February 23, 2013, marks the 1,000th day that Private Bradley Manning has been imprisoned by Uncle Sam for following his conscience and releasing intelligence reports to Wikileaks, detailing American war crimes in the Middle East. The biggest bombshell (publicity wise, that is) was the video "Collateral Murder" showing US helicopter gun ship pilots gleefully blasting Iraqi civilians. These reports also showed how our military underreported civilian casualties and enabled our local allies to practice torture on presumed bad guys. For his heroic and principled actions Manning was imprisoned in solitary confinement for the first 330 days of his stay at Club Fed, kept virtually naked and subjected to harassment that UN torture chief Juan Mendez, supported by 295 legal academics, concluded was....torture.

Was dear ol' Unc hoping Manning would kill himself or somehow windup dead so they wouldn't have to try him in open court which, in effect, puts Uncle Sam himself on trial for all the world to see what Manning was exposing to the sunshine of public scrutiny? Is that why virtually all the current pre-trial activity is largely being conducted in secret as will his actual trial scheduled to begin June 3, roughly 1,100 days after his arrest.

While lowly Private Manning's long march to a certain life sentence (prosecutors have ruled out a possible death sentence) drones on, the perpetrators of the war crimes Manning sought to expose, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Rice, have spent the last 1,000 days living large on the millions they've earned promoting the war party.

Life isn't always fair, is it?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Does Dillard's No Vote On Gay Marriage Disqualify Him From Being Governor?

In my State Senator Kirk Dillard's political universe, gay marriage is the issue that dare not speak its name. Try to get the Senator to explain his position and you'd better have a lot of patience. After repeated attempts, he finally emailed me with the cryptic statement that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, in spite of the thousands of legally married same sex couples in the US and millions more in the enlightened countries of the world. Although avoiding how he'd actually vote, I got the picture and was not surprised, though thoroughly disappointed, that he voted "NYET". Fortunately, most Senate Democrats and one lone Senate Republican, Jason Barickman of Bloomington, voted to have Illinois join the other 9 states and Washington D.C., who fully believe gays, being US citizens, are entitled to the same civil rights as non-gays. What a novel idea!

Go to Dillard's website and his obtuse mention of the historic Senate passage of marriage equality treats it as a frivolous diversion from the state's business and simply trots out right wing talking points against gay marriage, without mentioning his vote or his personal position.
We should care about Dillard's NO vote because he is the only one of the 19 GOP Senators officially running for governor. One would think that anyone seeking to be governor of all the people would be careful not to go on record for withholding one of the most basic civil rights, the right to marry your lifetime partner, from hundreds of thousands of your intended subjects.

Why then would Dillard cast such a self destructive and embarrassing vote? One word: Politics. To face a Democrat in the general election Dillard must get past the energized and ultra conservative voters in the GOP primary. He's already lost one such primary by an eyelash to far right conservative Bill Brady, paving the way to Pat Quinn's election in 2010, and he's not about to lose another. By most accounts a moderate, Dillard would be crucified by a far right opponent such as potential Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh had he voted for gay marriage. This is Dillard's "Romney" problem: a moderate who must swear allegiance to ludicrous Republican culture war issues to get past the primary in hopes of convincing the general electorate he's neither a bigot nor a fool in the main event. Good luck with that Senator.

To answer the question, "Does Dillard's no vote on gay marriage disqualify him to be governor", the answer for me is an emphatic YES!  All Illinois voters should ponder this essential civil rights issue he disavowed, to answer that question for themselves.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fat Chance We'll See This Exhibit At George W. Bush Presidential Library

Surely amid the 207,000 square feet on 25 acres nestled into the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, the George W. Bush Presidential Library could find room for what would certainly be its most popular attraction. That would be a mock trial courtroom where actors could perform a war crimes trial for President Bush and his criminal war cabinet of Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld.

Maybe we could even recruit the cast of the Oliver Stone movie "W" including Josh Brolin as Bush and Richard Dreyfuss as Cheney. The trial would include endless tape of this nefarious foursome spouting lie after lie after lie, including Rice croaking, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud", and Cheney saying over and over that it is certain, "if you will", that Saddam Hussein is re-constituting his nuclear weapons program. We could even hire a couple of Brits to re-enact British M16 intelligence officials admitting that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD... but the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Another witness could be former diplomat Joe Wilson, testifying how Vice President Cheney and his henchman Scooter Libby outed his CIA wife Valarie Plame to discredit Wilson's demolishment of the Nigerian yellow cake fantasy that allegedly tied Iraq to WMD.
Library visitors could serve as Bush's jury. If the mock trial would be held one thousand times, it is quite likely Bush would suffer one thousand convictions.

Who knows? Maybe a mock war crimes trial might actually spur enough moral outrage over the 4,488 dead GI's and hundreds of thousands wounded, injured or mentally broken; as well as the millions of Iraqis who lives were either ended or ruined by Bush's madness, to demand a real war crimes trial for them and their other co-conspirators. If that justice is eventually meted out, the quarter billion dollar cost of this massive exercise in Presidential Library excess will be worth it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dillard Flunks Civil Rights Test; Pihos Up Next

Though not surprised, I was disappointed my State Senator, Kirk Dillard, voted against legalizing same sex marriage in IL, February 14. Dillard is apparently locked into the self destructive Republican mindset that opposes every progressive improvement in our society favored by the Democratic Party. But the drive for same sex marriage, now legal in 9 states and Washington D.C., should not be a partisan political issue. It is purely a civil rights issue, something I've promoted and worked to achieve for over half a century. Last century my focus was on full civil rights for African Americans, and I have always been proud of having played a tiny, individual role in seeing that dream of equality come to fruition.

Alas, man's capacity to discriminate against his fellow citizens is tough to stamp out. Here we are 13 years into the 21st century and we're still engaged in the latest campaign to grant full civil rights to a minority class that wants nothing other than to live and love in peace, doing no harm whatsoever to those denying them that basic right. The "do no harm" standard is the essence of when a majority must be prevented from legally exercising discriminating behavior against others.

Sadly, just one of 25 Republican state senators, Jason Barickman of Bloomington, broke with this outmoded Republican mindset to deny marriage equality to all Illinoisans. Now the marriage equality measure moves to the Illinois House, where its passage is still not assured. Besides Barickman, one other prominent Republican, Illinois State Republican Chairman Pat Brady, has parted company with the Republican mainstream, to support marriage equality in Illinois.

My state representative, Sandy Pihos, has rebuffed all my entreaties these past 5 years to support marriage equality. I hope she will consider long and hard the courageous vote of Senator Barickman, and the succinct words of her state party chairman Pat Brady: "Our party is on the wrong side of history".