Guest Commentary (3283)
STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The negative outcomes of the Boston bombings are multiple. First of all, of course, were the three deaths. Second of all were the injuries, ranging from minor to life-changing. (As a 30-year-plus triathlete and a former marathoner [although never Boston - too tough for me!], I identified particularly with the runners who lost one or both legs.) Third, perhaps the most long-lasting in terms of our nation as a whole, is the attack on various aspects of U.S. Constitutional Democracy, reflecting what has been underway since the response to 9/11 which was exploited with such evil intent by the Bush/Cheney regime.
First, let us consider the use of the term "Miranda Rights" in referring to the initial juridical process applied to the surviving bomber (who has apparently confessed). The way the term is used by most reporters, commentators, and politicians implies that there is some special set of rights that were created at some time in the past to protect persons arrested on criminal charges. The implication always is that there is some special set of privileges granted to certain arrested persons, especially "very bad" ones.
But as it happens there are no "Miranda Rights," no special group of rights plucked out of thin air, or, heaven forfend, invented by some awful (liberal, you know) Supreme Court to protect the otherwise undeserving. The Rights in question are actually Constitutional Rights, ensconced in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. They guarantee, or are supposed to guarantee, due process of the law (which includes right-to-counsel) and protection against self-incrimination, before questioning by the authorities can begin, to any arrestee.
The term "Miranda" which has been so widely used since the Boston horror, refers to a 1966 Supreme Court decision that simply said that all arrestees have these rights, whether they know that they have them or not. Thus the terms "Miranda warning" and "Mirandizing." Virtually any watcher of any TV crime show is familiar with an arresting officer saying to an arrestee: "You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you." Thus "Miranda" simply refers to a process clearly and unequivocally written into the Constitution, not any special group of rights. All US citizens have these rights, or should have them, under the Constitution. "Mirandizing" is to make sure that any person has them in practice, whether they happen to know that they have them, and can articulate them, or not.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In the new security state, not even garbage will have privacy.
“Terrorism,” the ChicagoSun-Times informed us last week, “has created a new market in Chicago and other big cities for a company that started out making bear resistant garbage containers about 14 years ago.”
Clear plastic trash bins are coming! They cost up to $900 apiece. “Monday’s deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon demonstrate a need for the bins at events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon,” a company salesman said, and I marveled at the security minutiae that is now called news. We are kept informed of everything except what matters.
Ho hum, we’re in mortal danger every second of the day, terrorists might strike at any moment, but we’ve got surveillance cameras and metal detectors, body scans, the USA Patriot Act and now, see-through trash bins, though maybe we also need see-through backpacks . . .
And I started to think, we’re chasing infinity here. We’re ceding ever more ground to the Watching Authority but aren’t the least bit safer than we were a decade or a half-century ago. Every high-profile act of violence is followed by some new security procedure and market opportunity, which of course embeds the procedure into our way of life and subtly, imperceptibly increases the fear, suspicion and social alienation that characterizes American society, meanwhile leaving the causes of violence — whatever those might be — unaddressed. And the war goes on.
In mainstream media and culture, indeed, there’s no such thing as “causes.” The concept is just too complicated, unless “illegal immigration” is a cause, or “Al Qaeda” is a cause. Or opaque garbage cans are a cause.
TOM BARRY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Report reveals embarrassing DHS ineffectiveness in its drone border surveillance, and details drone mission creep, congressional drone boosterism and alarming lack of oversight, accountability and transparency in unmanned surveillance program.
Immigration reform proponents in Congress advocate pumping billions of dollars of new DHS spending into a border security strategy that is already overly reliant on dysfunctional high-tech surveillance. Drones Over the Homeland (PDF | HTML) raises questions about the wisdom of linking immigration- reform bills to high-tech surveillance programs – as both the White House and Senate have proposed.
ANN DAVIDOW FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Protecting the second amendment at all costs is nothing to make a lawmaker's chest swell with pride. As the president said after the Senate refused to pass an expanded background checks amendment for gun purchasers it was in fact "a pretty shameful day for Washington." Staring vacantly into the eyes of parents who lost a child at Sandy Hook or watching Gabby Giffords struggle to walk and speak is not a victory for freedom-loving patriots, it is a stain on our national character.
People tend to be outraged at what they see as acts of terrorism but withhold judgment when some crazed gunman shoots an abortion provider or states angrily that he's ready to defend his gun rights to his last breath - - or that his gun will have to be plucked from "his cold dead hands." Those who ask for the enactment of sensible gun laws are accused of just not understanding the "gun culture" that exists in parts of the country. But applying the word culture to the word gun is a dysfunction in the making and that's what we've been about in the lexicon of misnomers we have developed.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While Jay-Z & Beyonce’s recent trip to Cuba to celebrate the couple’s fifth anniversary stirred up significant controversy, a new song by a Christian rapper, relatively unknown to the general public, is ruffling feathers in the conservative Christian evangelical community, especially amongst a gaggle of religious gurus known as “Prosperity Preachers.”
Christian rapper Shai Linne, according to Charisma News, “recently released a song [which peaked at #7 on iTunes’ Hip Hop/Rap charts] calling out prosperity gospel teachers by name.”
The 12 pastors named are -- Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Fred Price, Kenneth Copland, Robert Tilton, Eddie Long, Juanita Bynum and Paul Crouch – and each name is followed by the song’s refrain, “is a false teacher!”
Jay-Z and Beyonce have come under unremitting criticism from a number of long-time anti-Cuban Republican scolds, with Sen. Marco Rubio and GOP Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart leading the pack.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of U.S. visitors to Cuba last year were Cuban Americans (476,000 out of 580,000) , and regardless of the fact that Cuban Americans are a major source of funds for the Cuban government (sending nearly $2.3 billion to Cuba in 2011), “Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen said the music superstars were guilty of funding ‘the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people’ because they went to Cuba with the permission of the Department of Treasury, which regulates the travel of Americans to Cuba,” DeWayne Wickham wrote in a recent USA Today column.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Note from the Author: This is a special Earth Day edition of my weekly social issues column, Wanderings. The information is from my latest book, Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall look at the nature and consequences of high-pressure horizontal hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. Even if you are not a Pennsylvanian or living in the recent boom in the Marcellus Shale, fracking is destroying the health of people, livestock, pets, and wild animals; it is impacting the environment and ecological diversity. It is going on across the country, and is about to expand into the urban and agricultural areas of central California. If you don't want your wine, lettuce, or hundreds of other fruits and vegetables to be methane-tinged or to hold traces of radioactive and toxic waste, you might wish to oppose the development of fracking in California.
Pennsylvania: You Are Fracked
The history of energy exploration, mining, and delivery is best understood in a range from benevolent exploitation to worker and public oppression. A company comes into an area, leases or buys land in rural and agricultural areas for mineral rights, increases employment, usually during a depressed economy, strips the land of its resources, creates health problems for its workers and those in the immediate area, and then leaves.
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Too many Americans are unaware of the extreme disparities that have been caused by the unregulated profit incentive of capitalism. Our winner-take-all system is flailing away at once-healthy parts of society, leaving them like withered limbs on a trembling body, even as the relative few who benefit promote the illusion of opportunity and prosperity for all. Concerned citizens armed with facts are not fooled. Instead, the more they learn the angrier they get. And as in revolutions of the past, discontent leads to change.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
“She had a great sense of humor and freckles and red hair that brought her right to her Irish roots.”
She was “a dream daughter.”
I have a daughter, so maybe that’s why these words cut so deep.
This was a dad’s description of a young woman, Krystle Campbell, who was one of the three people killed in the Monday bombings at the Boston Marathon, with well over a hundred wounded, some critically. The bomb went off in the final stretch of the race — which had been dedicated to the victims of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., four months earlier.
My God. Now another wound has opened in the social fabric. Another enormous question tears at our hearts. Once again we ask: Why?
Even if the police solve the riddle and catch the killers — and we learn the particulars of their agenda or their insanity — we will hardly be any closer to an answer. Beyond the question of why did they do it, a more insidious question lurks. Why does so little change in response to the violence that occurs both in shocking randomness in “safe” communities around the country and as an everyday fact of life in our poor and devastated neighborhoods?
As so many people have said in the last few days: Life is precious. No one ever qualifies that statement. Every life is a unique, invaluable, irreplaceable manifestation of human potential. Yet why is our awareness of this basic truth so fleeting? Why do we make grief hierarchical — some deaths matter more than others — and thereby diminish it immeasurably?
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If bookies in Las Vegas, who set the odds on just about any and everything, had set odds on which Tea Party leader would be the first out of the gate with the most intemperate, uncontrolled and toxic take on the Boston Marathon bombing, Judson Phillips’ Tea Party Nation would certainly have been better than even money.
In an email to members -- and in an article posted on the Tea Party Nation website -- Phillips blamed President Obama for the Boston Marathon bombing maintaining that it occurred because “we have a government that is not committed to protecting America” since it isn’t willing to “destroy radical Islam.”
People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch reported that “Phillips said that ‘Radical Islam and perhaps even non-radical Islam’ is a danger to western civilization, arguing that Muslims believe that ‘non-Islamic nations may be conquered or otherwise taken over.’”
The Franklin, Tennessee-based Tea Party Nation, which was organized by Phillips, a Nashville attorney, and his wife Sherry, describes itself as a “user-driven group of like-minded people who desire our God given Individual Freedoms which were written out by the Founding Fathers. We believe in Limited Government, Free Speech, the 2nd Amendment, our Military, Secure Borders and our Country!”