From NPR: “Do prosecutors have total immunity from lawsuits for anything they do, including framing someone for murder? That is the question the justices of the Supreme Court face Wednesday.
On one side of the case being argued are Iowa prosecutors who contend “there is no freestanding right not to be framed.” They are backed by the Obama administration, 28 states and every major prosecutors organization in the country.
On the other side are two black men — Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee — men who served 25 years in prison before evidence long hidden in police files resulted in them being freed.”
Editor’s note: the following is another in a series of guest posts authored by various contributors who’ve been invited to write on the topics of their choice for Pappillon. Read on to the words of Flick and find yourself challenged to think critically about mass media, politics and the trustworthiness (or perhaps Truthiness?) of government in the United States – as opposed to just “buying into” the “party line.” Flick reviews the words of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in the context of an Obama Presidency that is now 12 months old, and against the historical backdrop of what one might describe as some of the “shadier” dealings of the US Government.
Any random sampling of US citizens might deliver the resulting description of Rev. Wright as a “racist minister who hates America.” It’s my belief that, given the chance to espouse their views on Wright (assuming they had some), those polled would be able to recite – line and verse – their “party’s” take on whatever detail of Wright’s statements is in question. But I sincerely doubt that they could critically evaluate those same details against the historical record and devoid of political bias, regardless of their ultimate position on whether or not Obama was affiliated with Wright and his America-hating ways.
Furthermore, I believe it highly unlikely that you’ll be able to find people who would be able to tell you anything about the Jeremiah Wright controversy other than it involved the acerbic phrase,”God Damn America.”
So, instead of rehashing the old campaign-centric debates, lets take a look at what Wright actually said (writes words, in blue, are taken from such reliable sources as Wikipedia). In a sermon, Wright first makes the distinction between God and governments, and points out that many governments in the past have failed:
Wright then states:
The Pearl Harbor issue is debatable at best. The one to really look at in this section is the Gulf of Tonkin. Declassified documents show that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident – the event used by the Johnson administration as moral cover for America’s full-scale entry into the Vietnam War – was fabricated. The US Government doesn’t even bother to deny the truth (that the Incident did not take place as originally claimed), but rather simply lumps it in with other unfortunate transgressions made by previous administrations and US leaders. As far as Mandela goes, the evidence of the CIA’s cooperation with the South African government on the imprisoning of Mandela for 28 years – 28 years – is considerable. [Ed.: you’ll have to take Flick at his word here, as he didn’t include any links to the evidence.]
In my semi-professional opinion, this is the meatiest portion of Wright’s diatribe, and Tuskegee is one of the most shameful acts of deception and cruelty this country has ever committed – and against its own citizens, at that. If you don’t know the history, agents of the US Government (acting through the U.S. Public Health Service) recruited 399 impoverished African-American sharecroppers with syphilis for research related to the natural progression of the untreated disease, in hopes of justifying treatment programs for blacks. In this Dr. Josef Mengele-like research project, the U.S. Government allowed the study participants to suffer for upwards of 40 years without treatment, just to see what would happen. Even after it was determined that penicillin was an effective treatment for syphilis, the study continued and the subjects remained UNTREATED, for no appreciable reason. Unaware they had been affected, these men went on with their lives, in many cases spreading the disease to their wives and children. This isn’t fiction that forms the basis for some conspiracy theory, nor is it ancient history. The Tuskegee syphilis experiment (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study or Public Health Service syphilis study) was a documented clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, by the U.S. Public Health Service. It is also something that the US Government waited to acknowledge and apologize for until 1997.
On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton formally apologized and held a ceremony for the Tuskegee study participants: “What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry … To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist.” As has been reported previously, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study significantly damaged the trust of the black community toward public health efforts in the United States, and provided clear evidence of the ability of our Government to do intentional harm to its own citizens while at the same time denying that anything was amiss!
But moving on, we KNOW that President Nixon lied about Cambodia’s neutrality during the Vietnam War. We KNOW that Bush/Reagan/North lied and were pardoned for Iran-Contra. And at this point even Bush and Cheney admitted that there was no effective collaboration or even link between Al Queada and Saddam Hussein. These are all facts…truths…and proof that the Government of these here United States has lied to its own people.
But back to Rev. Wright: it’s no accident that he slips an HIV-bomb into the sermon. Alas, it’s also no accident that this reference was the only one to enjoy wide-spread media coverage. But rather than report on Wright’s accusations about HIV in the context of other examples of the US Gov’t’s willingness to turn the cross hairs of destruction upon this nation’s citizens, the mainstream media carved-up the Wright sermon and omitted all but the HIV accusation, which was then dismissed as unproven rhetoric. You see, the Government of the United States of America doesn’t do that sort of thing…..Hitler’s Germany allowed such horrors…Russia did that sort of thing…but never in AMERICA could such ghastly deeds occur at the government’s own hand! Except, of course, for Tuskegee, MK ULTRA, human radiation and other examples of government-sanctioned experiments on human subjects.
He spoke about the government’s rationale for the Iraq War:
It is this lack of critical evaluation and analysis that causes me the greatest concern, because it is reflected at the micro-level by discussions between neighbors, co-workers and even drinking buddies at the local brew pub. Rev. Wright raises what should be considered seriously-damaging events from US history that portray Government as an agent of misinformation, manipulation, or outright immorality and unethical behavior (especially in the case of Tuskegee). This is not happening, however, and in writing this piece, I hope to challenge my neighbors to think critically on issues of great import to this country; to stop regurgitating the preformed ideas of their respective political parties and realize that silent actors within the most powerful branches of the US Government are able to act with impunity on a global scale, whilst avoiding detection by miring the common folk in endless, circular debates about whether or not Barack Obama did enough to denounce the statements of his former pastor, clarify his relationship with Wright, or respond rhetorically with his view of America under the US Government (such as with the speech, “A More Perfect Union“).
I appreciate the opportunity to share my views with you, Dear Reader, via this interesting and, at times, controversial blog – Pappillon. I hope to further develop the themes of this post at a later date, and look forward to your feedback.
[Ed. Thanks, Flick! Readers, please leave feedback as comments, that, while moderated, will be published as quickly as possible.]
I have a pair of Oakley Radar glasses courtesy of Eyetique that I have to test before it gets any cloudier out, so I’m can’t invest any time in editing this post, which is really just a collection of links and quotes. Don’t take that as an insult though, Dear Reader, for the fact that I’m posting to begin with after the night I just suffered through is evidence of my deep appreciation of you. So here is some random politics-related stuff that’s popped up on the Radar recently, and of course a gratuitous Vino shot and Armstrong reference…enjoy your weekend.
Rory Cooper asks if the White House is attacking the advertising base of a TV show just because Obama doesn’t like the message being delivered by the show’s presenter:
“Making fun of cable news is one thing, but is the White House associated with a campaign to not only discredit their critics but also strangle the financial footing these businesses rely on? These are questions that need answering.”
As Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has done an excellent job commenting on Nancy Pelosi’s fear of Nazis disrupting the health care reform debate, I’ll let his words stand-in for mine today:
“A lot of pundits (including me) have been highly critical of the rhetorical Hiroshimas that some Republicans use when battling Democrats or trying to gain political support by mobilizing their political base. And now we have a classic one coming from the Democrats: the use of the label “un-American” to describe town hall protesters who are effectively drowning out discussion of health care reform…” More
Here is Pelosi’s original column, co-authored by Steny Hoyer. And the quote that is of concern to some folks:
“These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”
Thankfully, we have Dennis Miller to counterattack…the transcript of which is recorded here.
Oh, and is Obama keeping a list of un-Americans or not? Don’t count on White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton to clear-up that one…
Actually, would you be surprised to learn that we were living in a country in which the government keeps an citizen’s enemies list? After all, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel mastered the media hit-list quite a long time ago:
“Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team controlled access to the team tightly, giving them considerable power that could be used bluntly – to deny or grant interviews – or with more subtlety. As Dan Coyle reports in “Lance Armstrong’s War,” OLN never showed Ferrari in its series “The Lance Chronicles,” despite following Lance to Tenerife for training sessions (Ferrari’s hands, in one episode, were the extent of the doctor’s presence in the series). Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands 100 miles off the coast of Africa, was referred to only as Lance’s “European training camp.” (The Canaries are a semi-autonomous protectorate of Spain.) Other racers, including Alexandre Vinokourov, train there as well, and the UCI recently announced it had stepped up target testing on riders who use what it called “strange” training locations. Coyle later writes, “To anger Armstrong was to risk losing access – a potentially career-scuttling loss for underpaid cycling writers for whom access to the Postal team was crucial.” Postal team officials even kept photos of journalists they considered unfriendly to the team – the so-called “black list.”
Death Stalks Us All, but some more closely than others. Whether we die from congenital heart failure, or head trauma from the shock wave of a roadside IED blast in Iraq, or even an overdose of some stupid recreational drug…eventually we all die.
Unfortunately, to me it feels like my family has experienced more than its fair share of death and loss recently, which is why it profoundly upsets me that the boorish, dishonorable Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) actually said this week that A.I.G. executives should “resign or go commit suicide.”
There is rhetoric, and there is going too far. And while almost nothing in the political culture of this once-great nation shocks or bothers me, Grassley’s statement angers and disgusts me.
A US Senator publicly encouraging fellow human beings to take their own lives? WTF?!
I don’t care if Grassley claims that he was speaking “rhetoric” (must be some foreign language related to Mandarin, since the Chinese are going to own our asses once we default on those T-Bills)and that he “obviously” never intended to encourage anyone to kill themselves (even though that’s exactly what he did).
The fact is, Grassley said the first thing that came to his (obviously under-developed) mind, which was that his fellow human beings should take their own lives because of their culpability for monetary losses at a public company.
That’s horrible. Worse than horrible – it is f@cked-up, and this country is going to hell in a hand-basket. I never thought I’d say something like that…but it’s in a moment of crisis that the true nature of a country’s leadership is revealed, and this is what we’re seeing: a supposedly pro-life Republican Senator slip-up on a local radio program and reveal the depths of his moral rottenness. And he didn’t even have the guts to stick by his rhetorical statement.
I normally don’t take politics very seriously, but Grassley’s insanity and insensitivity wound me personally. Can you imagine if someone like me gave an interview on the record in which I said that Senator Grassley should commit suicide? I’d either be arrested or institutionalized, and whatever bullsh#t excuse I tried to come up with would be dismissed by the judge. And yet a US Senator can get away with a comment like that and not be censured for it?
Congratulations, America, this is the leadership you’ve chosen to steward this country through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
If people should resign or commit suicide because they spent money inappropriately, then the halls of Congress would be very quiet.