Tuesday, March 22, 2011

THOUGHTS WHILE SHAVING (With all due respect to Herb Caen)...

-The Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives for almost 3 months. In that time, they have secured tax breaks for the richest of the rich, attempted to radically restrict a woman's right to choose, cut funding for food safety inspectors and Wall Street watch dogs, but so far they have not proposed one idea about how to create more jobs. Since they came into power campaigning against Obama and the Dems for their failure to cut the unemployment rate, how does the public let them get away with it?

-A while ago, I wrote the Progressive Insurance Company is going to ask customers to let it spy on them. Now I look at the latest issue of Newsweek and there it is. They call it "snapshot". Isn't that cute? Will you sign up?

-Charlie Sheen, Julian Assange, John Galiano, Mel Gibson...what is up with all the anti-semitic remarks by celebrities? I don't understand prejudice against Jews. I know its ancient roots, but how were any of these men harmed by the existence of the Jewish race?

-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wanted public employee unions to contribute more to their health care premium, restructure their pension system and modify tenure. The unions said no. He then introduces legislation to wipe out all collective bargaining rights and the unions agree to his initial demands. Now, that is how you negotiate. Unfortunately, it turns out her really wants to bust the unions which will come back to haunt him, but can you imagine how the health care debate would have progressed if Obama's opening gambit had been to propose eliminating all health insurance companies and going to a single payer health care system?

-Speaking of negotiating...with all the turmoil in the Middle East, Israel is getting concerned about its ability to defend itself. It is going to ask the United States for up to $20 billion in military hardware. At the same time they ignore President Obama's calls to freeze construction in illegal settlements and East Jerusalem and his call to restart the peace process with the Palestinians. I know Obama isn't much of a negotiator but isn't he holding all the cards at the moment?

-Regressives in the House voted to gut funding for National Public Radio based on a tape of an NPR fundraiser allegedly saying the tea party is racist and xenophobic. I thought truth was always the ultimate defense in such cases. Oh, and why does the corporate media ignore the tape was selectively edited, as was a similar tape used to attack ACORN, from two hours to 11 minutes and is a complete set-up job intended to create false impressions? Is NPR that big of a threat to them?

-I just read an article on Howard Stern in Rolling Stone. Is it me, or did he stop popping up in conversations the moment he went to satellite radio? Have you heard a baba booey caller on any talk show in a long time? He's making a lot of money, but his cultural impact seems to be diminishing.

-The people running Lehman Brothers hid $50 billion in debt from regulators and investors. It was fraud on a level Bernie Madof could only dream of, and yet Madoff is in prison for the rest of his life but the SEC has announced no charges will be filed against anyone at Lehmans. They destroyed the company, wiped out life savings, cost the taxpayers billions and not one of them will go to jail. As Yakof Smirnoff used to say, "...what a country."

-Finally, an apology to James Howell of Cloverdale who frequently comments on this blog. He had written to me enlisting my help in bringing attention to the scandal of how PFC Bradley Manning is being treated. I did not do so soon enough and I'm sorry. This is the worst type of unconstitutional abuse of power by the government. Manning is accused of blowing the whistle on the State Department and leaking documents to Wikileaks. He has not been convicted. Yet, right now he is kept in solitary confinement and has been for the last 10 months. (Amnesty International says it is torture and a war crime to keep someone in solitary for more than 90 days.) He is stripped naked every night and has to sleep that way because the military says he could harm himself. (They offer no proof) His prison psychiatrist says he should be treated like any other prisoner and put in the general population. He is being tortured by our government. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley lost his job for committing truth when asked about Manning. Crowley said his treatment is "...ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid."

Despite running for office on the promise to end torture by the government, President Obama says Manning treatment is "...appropriate." I'm sorry James. You were right. This is a disgrace. Manning is being singled out and tortured because he had the audacity to bring some sunlight into the dark corners of how our government conducts diplomacy. There are petitions circulating calling for justice and an end to torture for Bradley Manning. I hope anyone who reads this will tell others about it and sign one of the petitions. I hope you will also lobby your member of Congress to end this disgrace. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, with the Constitution being our ultimate protection. We are not supposed to be a nation composed of a bunch of judicial vigilantes.

1 comment:

  1. I have mixed feelings about Manning. I agree that he should either be charged or released and that he shouldn't be subjected to the hardships you say he is. I also believe that there's a time and place for whistleblowing and that some state secrets should be disclosed.

    However, I'm not sure that Manning's actions qualify. I guess I need to know more about the information he turned over to Wikileaks and think about it more.

    In the meantime, I confess that I'm having a difficult time mustering enough sympathy for Manning to take action on his behalf, and I suspect that other Americans feel a similar ambivalence about him.

    After all, does every intelligence officer have the right to decide for himself which military or other state secrets should be disclosed to the public against the wishes of his superiors? Might this not be a road to ruin? And if it is, doesn't the reportedly harsh treatment of Manning make it less likely that this dangerous road will ever be built?

    Yet, even if it does, does the end justify the means? Like I said, I'm ambivalent about this whole story.