Saturday, July 20, 2019

A heinous crime, a heinous penalty

The more heinous the killing, the more we must all oppose the death penalty. Many wonder why Brendt Christensen is even eligible to die for the torture murder of a visiting Chinese scholar in his Urbana apartment in 2017, since Illinois abolished the death penalty eight years ago. Alas, for us death penalty opponents, the authorities used the FBI's involvement in the death of a foreigner to move Christensen's case from state to federal jurisdiction where the death penalty lives on. Sure seems like that decision was taken simply to resurrect the gallows for a truly nasty murderer.
That's unfortunate. The death penalty was not abolished just to prevent an innocent person from being executed. Since Christensen has confessed some feel that reasoning is moot. What is not moot is that the death penalty is barbaric, hearkens back to a primitive view of justice, and makes every citizen involved or supportive of it a party to state sponsored murder. There will always be horrible individuals who will commit horrendous crimes. But there is no need for society to mimic such behavior simply to satisfy the bloodlust of John Q. Public. A hundred thirty-four countries have abolished the death penalty. The United States, which lays claim to being No. 1 in everything good, needs to become No. 135 in promoting life rather than death for the worst of the worst. That will help bring out our best as a civil, sane society.

Friday, July 19, 2019

House votes for peace....Senate prefers war

Some praise is due the US House which passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with less war like features than the Senate version
1. Tho still obscenely high, the House chopped $17 billion off the Senate version.
2. It defunded America's criminal support and enabling of Saudi Arabia's near genocidal war against neighboring Yemen.
3. It pre-emptively defunded a wholly made up and senseless war against Iran.
4. It repealed the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force which have served as a blank check for the last 3 presidents to wage perpetual war.
The Senate and House must now reconcile their two versions; the former preferring perpetual war, the latter a roadmap to peace. Trump will likely veto any version which ties his hands to keep the bombs bursting in air.
Perpetual war is the coin of the realm in 21st century America. The House took steps yesterday to change the currency.

First racist prez in century

It's been a hundred years since we've had a certified racist president. Woodrow Wilson's progressive administration from 1913 to 1921 was anything but regarding blacks who saw Virginia born Wilson, who never escaped the white supremacy of his southern upbringing, re-institute segregation in DC government jobs, decimating the black middle class there. Woody Wilson invited DW Griffith to screen his 'Birth of a Nation' at the White House and exclaimed 'Fine history DW'. But Wilson didn't cynically use his racism to gain or retain power like this century's presidential racist. It was never part of his governing mantra as blacks were preyed upon by virtually the entire white establishment, with Wilson simply part of that pre-civil rights mentality. His successor Warren G. Harding, was relatively progressive in racial matters, so much so he was accused of having black blood coursing thru his veins.
A century on Trump's grotesquely cynical exploitation of color to retain the 30 red and purple states and the White House has become one of the saddest chapters in recent American history. How long it will take we can only 

Shanahan, Esper: foxes in charge of the hen house

Shanahan, Esper: foxes in charge of the hen house

Patrick Shanahan and Mike Esper are the last two nominees for Defense Secretary. Shanahan dropped out recently over a messy divorce that he tried to hide from his congressional questioners. Mike Esper is next up for confirmation which will likely sail through to confirmation. Shanahan and Esper both come from top jobs at Boeing and Raytheon, the number two and three defense contractors respectively, with annual defense goodies of $51 billion. This represents our tax dollars that could be better spent on infrastructure, education, renewable energy, health care and others instead of senseless, perpetual war. Ike warned us back in 1961 about letting the foxes guard the henhouse of our national treasure. Fifty-eight years on the foxes are still in charge.


It's disappointing the House tabled an impeachment inquiry yesterday. Trump's blatant racism, xenophobia and demagoguery has caused irreparable harm to the targets of his venom. Indeed, it has caused great harm to our entire populous, including his supporters. It has brought discredit upon the presidency and consigned its perpetrator to a place in infamy regardless of any impeachment inquiry outcome; even his possible re-election.
This is not a new or one-off course of misconduct. It was on display from his June, 2015 announcement calling the undocumented, murderers and rapists who must be marginalized.
The damage to our republic increases every day he's allowed to foment his cynical hatred unchallenged.
To paraphrase what we in the peace movement call the need to end perpetual war: Impeachment...if not now, when.

Ives should start campaign with apology to Sixth District voters

No surprise former state rep Jeanne Ives has joined fellow conservative Evelyn Sanguinetti to unseat Democrat Sean Casten as Illinois 6th District Congressperson. Getting 48.5% of the GOP vote against former Governor Bruce Rauner last year virtually assured Ives would seek to expand her role as chief proponent of the GOP's extreme conservative wing.

But Ives has a despicable homophobic history to overcome if she wishes to make inroads among highly educated and tolerant Sixth District voters who gave 53.6% of their votes to Casten, whose campaign was devoid of fear and loathing. Casten campaigned wholly on common sense solutions to climate destruction, health care and other issues to send absentee incumbent Peter Roskam packing.

How despicable? Ives called gays seeking to marry "disordered" with gays "trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy... and we can't allow that to happen." Having lost the battle to prevent marriage equality, Ives turned her fury on school administrators seeking to offer dignity to transgenders, likening them to dirty old men in trench coats lying in wait to expose children to sordid things.

As a believer in human redemption, I would welcome an Ives candidacy if she would first apologize for her destructive comments and renounce the politics of hate. If she doesn't, the first question from any voter or any reporter at a campaign stop should be: "When will you apologize, not just gays and transgenders, but every citizen of the Sixth"?