Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 23, 2011

As the week meanders to an end this country continues its love affair with death – another week, another two state-sponsored executions. But the fact that only one execution was the subject of protest tells a lot about this country’s ambivalence when it comes to killing people. Meanwhile, Rodeo Rick Perry has been bamboozled and hogtied by the right wing of the right wing of Israel and they have him spreading the gasoline of incendiary rhetoric in the most flammable region of the world – Yee Haw! It is also clear that now is the time for Ralph Nader to stop before he does more harm to this country than he did in 2000.

In Love with Death

This past Wednesday morning there was a wave of national protest aimed at stopping the execution of Troy Davis in the state of Georgia. Much of this protest against Mr. Davis being legally put to death has been based on claims that he is actually innocent of the murder with which he has been charged.

Meanwhile the execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer in the state of Texas was accompanied by the sounds of silence. Mr. Brewer, who is white, was convicted of the particularly gruesome murder of James Byrd, a black man. Mr. Brewer was convicted to wrapping a chain around Mr. Byrd and dragging him to death from the back of a pickup truck.

There are 137 countries on this planet that have outlawed capital punishment. Australia banned the practice in 1984, Bulgaria in 1998 and Russia (as a matter of practice if not law) in 1999. None of these countries are thought of as being particularly soft on crime.

Nevertheless, this country continues its dance of death, joined by its dance partners – China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In 2007 88% of all state sponsored executions in the world took place in three countries plus the United States of America. It is certainly a dubious accomplishment.

It is more than odd that, in a country where the sanctity of life is regularly proclaimed and defended (witness the ongoing choice-right to life debate); those who announce themselves to be “pro-life” are decidedly “pro-death” when it comes to capital punishment. Witness Texas governor “Rodeo” Rick Perry who will proudly let anyone know that 243 human beings have been put to death while he has been in office (that comes to a state sponsored killing every other week for ten years) – and he hasn’t lost a minute’s sleep about it.

It seems that the occasional protest against the execution of someone who may be innocent misses the point. Capital punishment is a state-sponsored crime. Whether it is the possibly innocent Troy Davis or the admittedly guilty Lawrence Brewer, it is wrong for the government to put people to death. People who only rally around the “innocent man” actually do a disservice to the cause of abolishing capital punishment and they should make up their mind – either the death penalty should be a part of this society, or not.

Perhaps it is just finally time for the United States to drag itself away from this medieval relic. And the occasional protestors would have a much stronger argument, and much broader support, if they opposed all state sponsored murders, instead of just a select few.

Rodeo Rick is Loco!

The misadventures of Rodeo Rick Perry in his quest for the presidency would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high. His latest gaffe was to allow his campaign to be hijacked by the right wing of the right wing of Israel.

While it was clear that he knew next to nothing about the Arab-Israeli conflict except that Israel is always right, that didn’t stop him from opposing any accommodation or recognition of the Palestine Authority. He made sure to also say, “Who cares what the Palestinians think?”

One shudders to think what Palestinians and their supporters will think about the United States with Rick Perry as its president. We should also worry about what they will do. There’s a line from a Janis Joplin song, “…….freedom is another word for nothing left to lose…..”

It is Time for Nader to Stop

Ralph Nader was rightfully called a hero when he almost singlehandedly took on General Motors and exposed the company’s treacherous safety practices in his historic book “Unsafe At Any Speed”. Mr. Nader was rightfully called a villain, and worse, for his vainglorious presidential candidacy in 2000 which siphoned just enough votes from Al Gore, giving the Republican Party just enough leverage to be able to steal the election for George W. Bush. And we all know how that turned out.

Now, Ralph Nader is calling for a series of primaries against President Obama in 2012. These primaries can only weaken the candidacy of President Obama and could very likely result in the inauguration of President Perry or President Bachmann or…………. On that very sad day in January of 2013 Mr. Nader might be satisfied that he proved his point – but the rest of us will suffer from his self-indulgence.

It is time for Nader to stop…………..now.

Have a great weekend!

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