Monday, May 22, 2017

"For Spacious Skies, For Amber Waves of Grain..."

America, "Land of the free, home of the brave," is bi-polar. At once, she professes to love freedom, and then she hates it. Her minority peoples of color have borne the brunt of this Jekyll-Hyde personality. It comes of a germ deeply embedded in America's DNA. How else to explain a history of confinement of innocents unparalleled among civilized societies?

America enslaved her African-American population for over 250 years, despite those unfortunate people having done nothing wrong. Again, she forced Native Americans unto reservations though they had done nothing wrong. She forced Japanese-Americans into internment camps though they had done nothing wrong. Today, America holds me in prison though I have served my time and have done no wrong since my initial offense.  

In all these instances, the State has made lame assertions to justify its prolonged confinement of hapless human beings. Of prolonging slavery, they said: "Imagine what chaos would ensue if four million people, ignorant and lacking in survival skills, were set loose upon the countryside." Similarly facile statements - made to play upon the public's own self-interests, and its fear of the confined - were laid at the feet of Native Americans, Japanese-Americans, and me. It has never mattered to the State that such assertions are without merit. What matters is that the State is vested with great power. The power to deny liberty is awesome.

What will it take to cease this endless assault upon precious liberty? First, it will take acknowledgement that such assaults have, and continue, to take place. A sickness must be realized before it can be cured. Then, it will take real people demanding that this aberrant nature be purged from our national psyche once, and for all.  

I was sentenced to parolable life in 1997. Explicit in that sentence was that if I served that time with good conduct, I would be eligible to go home in 2013. I went about serving my time with distinction. That was my plan. (What other plan is there for a serious man who needs to get home to his family?) Now, at the age of 66, I am in my 21st year of confinement, courtesy of America's sick tendency to defer freedom for as long as it possibly can. Again, there is no end in sight.

Today, we have the modern version of America's well-documented obsession with mass incarcerations. Over two million souls languish in America's prison - a quarter of all of the imprisoned people on Earth. There are even private prisons to complement the State's efforts. Yes, everyday Americans can profit, financially, from the imprisonment of their fellow Americans. (How sick is that? Out of the window goes any incentive to set men free once those men become inventory on the shelves.)

Americans are numbed to this nation's bent for mass incarcerations. They take solace in believing they will not become one of the confined. During slavery, whites were assured, by virtue of their race, theat they could not be enslaved. Likewise, whites - even blacks - were assured, when they saw Native Americans a being herded onto reservations. When the Japanese-Americans were rounded up for the internment camps, again it was race that saved everyone else from the same fate. 

Individuals manage to circumvent a sense of guilt for these mass imprisonings by casting the prospect of such guilt against their sense of relief that the same could not happen to them. As startling as this self-centeredness sounds, it is more astounding Americans' lackluster desire to redress this fundamental defect i its creed.  

I once was guilty. Then, I paid my debt to society. Now, I am owed my liberty - like the slaves were owed; like the Native Americans and Japenese-Americans were owed. 

Free me, and the many others like me who have served their time, and yet continue to be held in America's deep State. Let us go home. Then, let us all free America. Yes, this nation - guilty for so long of imprisoning innocents - must, and can be liberated from her compulsive need to confine. She, too, deserves a second chance.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nikki Ain't Playin' No Games

For all of President Trump's limitations, give the man credit: He has surrounded himself with some tough cookies. (If only they and their boss could get on the smae page.) There's defencse secretary, "Maddog" Mattis, secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the fiery Nikki Haley, Ambassodor to the United Nations. 

Haley is the one who, as governor of South Carolina, shed tears when nine of her constituents - African-Americans at a prayer meeting - were shot dead by the racist, Dylan Roof. Days later, she looked up at the confederate flag flying over her capitol - the most prominent symbol of America's racist past - and demanded that flag come down, forever.  

While Trump is loathe to impugn the Russians in any way, neither Mattis nor Tillerson has hesitated to call them out. And, Nikki, if she wasn't such a fine lady, would spit in their eye. Of America's attack on that Syrian air base, Nikki stood toe-to-toe with her Russian counterpart and assured him, "there is more where that came from." 

Trump has been quick to call out the Chinese over North Korea's provocative behavior, (despite China having less control of its client than Russia has over Assad.) Yet, in the days leading up to America's attack on the Syrian air base, and in the days that followed, Trump has not once let the words "Russia" or "Putin" escape his lips. Senators Graham McCain has called Putin everything from a "thug" to a "war criminal." Trump will not so much as call Putin "contrary." 

What is this wedge that rives that Republican leadership? How odd becomes this American president when faced with the spectre of Putin. Trump is blinded to what everyone else seems to know: Without his Russian benefactor, Assad would be toothless, and as dead as Khadaffi.  

This has left many ordinary Americans shaking their heads and wondering, "What do the Russians have on Trump?" Perhaps the ongoing FBI and congressional investigations into Trumps's ties to the Russians will tell us.  

Meanwhile, chew on this: Russia has sophistacated anti-missile systems - the S-300 and S-400 - deployed in Syria. If the Russians had chosen to use those systems against America's incoming Tomahawks, chances are they could have stopped many of those missiles in their tracks. They did not choose to do so. Trump got a freebie. Putin cannot afford to let that happen again. The next time Trump sends a tomahawk cruise missile anywhere near Putin - or Putin's boy, Assad - America had better be ready for a fight. Just sayin'...

So, why did trump bomb Syria? (Believe me, it wasn't for the babies.) It would appear, with his approval numbers tanking, the only thing Trump fears more than Putin, is low ratings.