Obama’s Mojo

August 4, 2016

After Michelle Obama brought down the house at the DNC with a speech that many call one of the greatest in convention history, the pundits were all pitying the poor speakers who had to follow. Enter President Obama. Twelve years ago he electrified the Country in a convention speech and consequently lit the fuse for his own Presidential run. Now Michelle and Barak have given us 3 of the most memorable speeches ever. In a brilliant speech, the Democrat and President used a quote from the patron saint of Republicans to unfavorably contrast the Republican candidate with Hillary Clinton. To use Reagan as a foil to Trump was the ultimate rhetorical takedown of a Party that struggles to maintain a sense of self-respect while their candidate reveals their silent hypocrisy.

There is no doubt that President Obama has suffered through years of outrageous treatment from the right wing, primarily because he was a black man (e.g. birther movement, secret Muslim movement, etc). How wonderfully fitting that he is finishing his second term as one of the most popular to leave office since President Bill Clinton. Well, I guess the new Obama is Hillary.

Contrasting the speeches given by Michelle and Barak Obama with those of Trump and wife #3, one has to be amazed at the intellectual gulf between them. I can understand Melania wanting to plagiarize Michelle, and perhaps we will hear Michelle’s speech again at a future GOP convention. But the revealing contrast is that of President Obama with Trump. Intelligence, class and authenticity with a birther, bombast and bigot. It may have taken a few too many years and another great speech, but finally we are realizing what we have had in President Obama and what we could get with Trump.

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CIA Torture

January 6, 2015

Torture.

One of the excuses to go to war in Iraq was that Saddam tortured his own people. Remember?

Then, in response to 9/11, America began to detain human beings and torturing them to get “information.”

The Bush-Cheney administration approved methods of “interrogating,” including: waterboarding, rectal re-hydration, shock treatment, sleep deprivation, confined movement, beatings, threats, forced nudity, and the list goes on. This is torture, no matter how you spin it.

The Bushies referred to these methods of torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Mr. Cheney recently said he would do them again “in a minute.”

What has happened to our country?

I understand that September 11th 2001 will never be forgotten and that it will never be right – but to engage in torture in response does nothing to honor the lives lost on that terrible day, or protect us.

In fact, many detainees were only being held in Guantanamo because people in the Bush administration “thought” that they had intelligence. It turned out, they didn’t. And now, we don’t know what to do with these people.

And let’s not forget the fact that this truly was George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s doing. The only thing that stopped the torture was Obama signing an executive order upon taking office, banning it.

Although the recent senate report says that the Bush Administration was “misled” about the extent of the torture, Darth Cheney actually admits that he and George knew about the torture and approved it.

One person who did have something to do with Al-Qaeda was captured in Pakistan in 2002, and before ever being tortured, he confessed through legal interrogation techniques. After he confessed, he was tortured: waterboarded 83 times.

Waterboarding, for those that don’t know, is when someone is placed on a board nearly upside down. A cloth is put over there face and water gets poured down there throat, simulating drowning. It makes people think they are dying and induces panic. “Torturers” would continue pouring water for up to 45 seconds, give the detainee a break, and then, start again.

When U.S. soldiers were waterboarded by the Japanese during World War II, the Japanese were tried and executed as war criminals – by the U.S.

Like I said, what this country endured, what the people in the twin towers went through –is unforgivable, it’s sickening and wrong. But this country is supposed to be a paragon of enlightenment when it comes to human rights. When we torture people, what moral ground can we possibly stand on now?

In my America, this would have never happened. But in Bush and Cheney’s America (and in the Republican Party’s America) this is what America should be.

God help us.


Jesus and Conservative Republicans

March 13, 2014

Paul Ryan is a lot like many other Republicans insofar as he likes to think of himself as a conservative whose “Christian” values guide his policy. His recent speech at CPAC used coded words and Christian symbols to communicate his political pitch.

For example, he told his fellow Christian conservatives that the left was making a mistake by advocating programs to feed the poor (such as school lunches), because the poor don’t want full stomachs, they want “a life of dignity – of self-determination.” He suggested that feeding poor children hot lunches fills their stomach but empties their souls. I suggest that Paul Ryan has never been poor or hungry … or Christian. 

In fact Ryan isn’t even a very good Catholic boy either. His own church teaches that the economy must serve people, not the other way around … protect the rights of workers to organize and join unions and to have fair wages. You know, the exact opposite of what Ryan stands for. 

In fact, I challenge any person who claims to be a “Christian” and a “Conservative Republican” to justify the following.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that the Father would welcome those who fed the hungry… took care of the sick, welcomed the stranger and visited the imprisoned. He hardly advocated turning his back on those in need and saying “you’re on your own”.  

Right wing nuts claim that our country is a “Christian Nation” and that the government should reflect Christian values, yet they want to eliminate programs that feed the poor, deny medical benefits, deport immigrants and imprison people (well, mostly black men anyway).

I suppose they will answer with the Left’s support of abortion rights and gay marriage, but the Left really doesn’t claim any unique political connection to God. 

Maybe Ryan and his religious right would do well to remember what Jesus said about Pharisees.

 

 


Trials: Every Verdict Tells a Story

March 13, 2014

I am in the process of trying a case in Wayne County Circuit Court on behalf of a little girl who was forced to be born in a jail cell because her mother was imprisoned and denied necessary medical care by a local hospital. As I was taking the drive to court this morning I heard a radio report of a hunger strike among prisoners in California protesting that state’s practice of condemning large number of prisoners to solitary confinement. That state already is under a court order to relieve massive overcrowding. I wonder how it is that we have become a country that imprisons more people than any other nation in the world.  

In Michigan, one of the largest segments of employment, especially in the Upper Peninsula, is corrections. In a state with more prisons than some countries have, more prisons are being built. If one were to base a guess on what is happening with the prison system based on who is there, one could say that our country has decided to imprison African-American males as a social policy, and the mentally ill, and non-violent drug users. 

Violent crime is at an historic low, yet our prison population is at an historic high. I wonder if imprisonment has become the default setting on a society that refuses to address the social problems that require more effort and long-term investment. Just like the medical and prison staff who turned their eyes away from a woman and child in need, as a society we turn our eyes away from those in need: the mentally ill and homeless, the impoverished, the marginalized in our society. 

Or when we can’t avert our eyes, we imprison them.