“America Has Lost It’s Fracking Mind”

August 20, 2016

“America Has Lost It’s Fracking Mind”

Hundreds of pipeline oil spills and fracking and drilling have contaminated private and public water wells, lakes and rivers used for drinking water and underground water aquifers. From Pennsylvania and Ohio, to Oklahoma, Texas and California (and anywhere the Army Corp and legislatures have given carte blanche approval to oil, gas and pipeline interests), these operations have contaminated folks drinking water. Google Kalamazoo River and Santa Barbara oil spills.

There’s a mad rush to drill, frack and pipe for export, every ounce of fossil fuel asset, before American’s and our legislatures and courts come to their fracking senses. It’s not easy standing up to these companies. They have more power than God and more money than the U.S. Government. These companies try to intimidate landowners. I stood up to Enbridge when they wanted to take part of my organic farm for Pipeline 78 in Illinois. I forced them to move it off my land. You can read our story at gofundme.com/2xpggwfw.

Enbridge was responsible for the July 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, which occurred when the 6B pipeline burst and spilled 1,100,000 US gallons of tar sand oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. A six-foot break in the pipeline resulted in the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The pipeline carries diluted bitumen (dilbit), or tar sand oil from Canada’s Athabasca tar sands to the United States. The Calhoun County, Michigan Health Department told 30 to 50 households to evacuate, and twice as many were told not to drink their water. The heavy tar sands sunk to the bottom of the river. Thirty-five miles of the river were closed for 2 years. In March 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Enbridge to return to dredge portions of the river to remove submerged oil and contaminated sediment.

And these pipeline company spill detection guarantees  are a load of bull. Although alarms sounded in Enbridge’s Edmonton headquarters at the time of the ruptured pipeline, it was eighteen hours before a Michigan utilities employee reported oil spilling and the pipeline company learned of the spill. Meanwhile, pipeline operators had thought the alarms were possibly caused by a bubble in the pipeline and, while for a time it was shut down, they subsequently increased pressure for extended periods to try to clear the possible blockage, spilling even more oil. The cost of the six year old clean-up has surpassed $1.3 billion dollars; it’s still not cleaned up and probably never will be. Sections of the river remain restricted because of the ongoing cleanup.

In the summer of 2012, the United States Department of Transportation “fined Enbridge $3.7 million dollars and listed 22 probable violations that happened relating to the spill.” And a number of those violations, concern what happened in the Edmonton pipeline control room. One of the reasons for the enormous escalation in time and expense of the cleanup was that the EPA had never handled a tar sand oil spill. In addition, it is reported that Enbridge never informed the EPA of the distinction in the properties of tar sands oil. Unlike conventional crude oil, tar sand oil floats briefly in water but then sinks, causing a much more difficult cleanup, especially if dredging is considered too ecologically damaging. This disaster was the largest on-land spill in American history to date.

In July 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. federal agency with regulatory authority over the failed pipeline, issued a report outlining the official conclusion of the investigation into the incident. The investigators found that Enbridge, which had received an automated signal from the pipeline that a breach had occurred, misunderstood or did not believe the signal and continued to pump tar sand oil through the pipeline for 17 hours after the breach. Local firefighters were notified, and tried to locate the southern Michigan wetland site of the breach, but were initially unable to do so, further delaying the shutdown of the line.

The NTSB investigation report pointed to corrosion fatigue as the underlying cause of the catastrophic breach. The incident was exacerbated by the pipeline’s disbonded tape coating, that emerald green coating we see on all these pipelines. NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman likened “Enbridge’s poor handling of the spill to the Keystone Cops”, asking: “Why didn’t they recognize what was happening, and what took so long?” NPR reported that “NTSB investigators determined that the six-foot break in the pipe was caused by a flaw in the outside lining which allowed the pipe to crack and corrode. In 2005, Enbridge actually had learned that this section of pipe was cracked and corroding. That same 2005 internal report pointed to 15,000 defects in the 40-year-old pipeline. But Enbridge decided not to dig up this (Talmadge Creek) area to inspect it.”

“In 2013, while deliberating on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, the EPA recommended to the State Department that pipelines that carry tar sands oil should no longer be treated just like pipelines that carry other crude oil. Stephen Hamilton, an ecology professor at Michigan State University and the independent science adviser at Talmadge Creek, detailed the challenges and expense of the still-ongoing Michigan cleanup.” They estimate that about 180,000 gallons of Line 6B oil remain in the river bottom sediment after cleanup activities through 2012. On March 14, 2013, the EPA issued a new order to Enbridge to remove this oil and oil-contaminated sediment.

The 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill from a 34 year old pipeline that had worn away by 80% to 1/16 of an inch from external corrosion spewed 143,000 gallons of oil onto pristine beaches and killed more than 300 animals after they failed to initially detect the spill and then restarted the line after stopping. That pipeline company was indicted on dozens of criminal charges and could face fines of nearly $3 million. Is there any question that these new pipelines, which pump sand embedded tar at high pressures won’t wear through these 1/2 inch thick pipelines?

What will it take to wake America up, a catastrophic spill on the magnitude of a ruptured 65 year old Pipeline 5 under the straights of Mackinac, which would contaminate at least 2 of our Great Lakes and at least 700 miles of shoreline in both Canada and the U.S.? Would that finally be enough? And after America finally gives up its addiction to fossil fuels and fully embraces alternative energy, who is going to dig up all these 250,000 miles of old decaying oil pipelines, some full of toxic tar sands and chemicals? I believe that 10,15 or 20 years from now, these oil and pipeline companies will be the new coal companies, failing and headed into bankruptcy. Are the oil and pipeline companies like Enbridge going to abandon them and just leave them in the ground until they rust away and leak whatever is left in the pipes into the nations aquifers and contaminate our drinking water and wells? We know the cleanup will be foisted onto the land owners and taxpayers.

Americans must stand up to those who couldn’t care less about protecting our water. We must oppose and delay these interests until renewable energy can prevail. We’re getting closer every day. Germany is powered with 45% renewable. Costa Rica was powered for an entire quarter by 100% renewable. Fortune 100, 200 and 500 corporations and even oil companies are investing heavily in renewables. Even Apple plans to build electric autos. And oil rich Texas is heavily investing in wind energy. We are finally investing in off-shore wind farms. Alternative energy is getting cheaper every day. Folks and Universities who have supported divestitures of fossil fuel companies has caused investment in dirty Alberta tar sands to be cut by two thirds.

The lawsuit by DAPO against a sovereign nation tribe is just the latest attempt at intimidation. Native tribes, farmers and activists like Bold Nebraska, the Sierra Club and IL Climate Activists stopped Keystone XL. That case was headed to the Nebraska Supreme Court before President Obama decided against approving the pipeline.

We can stop DAPL and shut down Line 3 and its replacement brothers and sisters. I believe these eminent domain lawsuits violate the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (takings clause), and Native American Treaties and Sovereignty. Foreign companies taking Americans property for private gain is buffalo dung. Although difficult, we can live without oil, but as we’ve seen in the drought regions out west, we cannot live without water.

Unfortunately we can’t rely on our governments and courts to save America’s water. Please stand up any way you can. Support Bold Nebraska, IL Climate Activists, 350.org, 350 Kiswaukee, MN350, The Sierra Club, Action Network.org, Bold Iowa, the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme campaign and anyone else who believes in environmental common sense. And vote in November for progressive Earth Protectors.

Jan, Great info & I wish you luck with your struggle, as well. The Sierra Club & 30 plus other environmental groups have written a letter to President Obama.

John,   Thanks Jan. I signed.

Stephen,  So you folks know, you can message the President at White House Facebook. Even works for Australians.

John,   Thank you Stephen. I sent a letter on their Facebook. It really is a small world, especially now that global warming has caused these powerful storms that circle the earth in a single day. What we do here in America and elsewhere effects our neighbors around the world.

The Origins of The Tarbaby

John Hanno   March 30, 2017

“Origins of The Tarbaby”

For thousands of years, storytellers of mythologies and folklore around the globe and from every culture have used animals to tell their stories. Rabbits (the cunning tricksters) and Foxes (often portrayed disparagingly) have played prominent roles.

Some of America’s most popular stories draw from Aesop, a slave and storyteller believed to have lived in Greece between 620 and 564 BC. First published in English in 1484, he created stories using various intelligent animals to illustrate an important morality, “the moral of the story”. One of Aesop’s Fables, “The Fox and the Grapes” told of the fox in a vineyard trying to get at the grapes hanging from the vines. Hard as he tried, he couldn’t reach the grapes. He took solace in the fact that they were probably sour anyway. The moral of that story is: people sometimes belittle things they can’t have. This fable brought about the popular expression, “sour grapes”.

These oral stories, eventually transcribed long after Aesop’s death, have been passed down for millennia. The fables were originally written for adults and encompassed social, religious and political themes, but were eventually used for the education and enlightenment of children. Some first appeared in the bible (A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing). These stories, parables or fables, having been passed down orally, transcribed, and eventually translated into dozens of languages, are colored and reinterpreted by cultures and religions throughout the world. No doubt 10’s of millions of stories, fables and interpretations did not emanate solely from Aesop but were created and nurtured  independently from the hearts and minds of folklorists trying to establish a moral compass and to cope with a world rife with danger, bondage, war and chaos.

It’s believed that interpretations of these fables were brought to the new world by slaves. Some also originated from European and Native American traditions. Joel Chandler Harris (December 9, 1845 – July 3, 1908) was an American journalist, fiction writer and folklorist best known for his Uncle Remus stories. Harris was born in Eatonton Georgia. He worked as an apprentice on a plantation as a teen and recorded these slave tales. He spent most of his adult life working as an associate editor at the Atlantic Constitution. He worked and supported racial reconciliation during and after Reconstruction. He recorded many Brer Rabbit stories from the African-American oral traditions and thereby revolutionized children’s stories.

One of his most popular stories, from his collection of American African Fables, The Uncle Remus stories was “Brer Rabbit and the Tarbaby.” Harris published the stories in the dialect used by African slaves. There are no doubt dozens or more versions of  the Tarbaby story, but one later interpretation printed in English, is a version we were told as children. Like the statement orally repeated down a long line of people, where that statement often changes markedly by the time it gets to the end, this is my own version. Feel free to pass on your own versions. And if you’re really ambitious, you can relate the stories in Harris’s original slave dialect.

One day Brer (Brother) Fox, Brer Wolf, Brer Bear and Brer Possum and all the other animals, except Brer Rabbit, decided to dig a well. Brer Rabbit refused to help and only wanted to play. After the animals dug the well, they decided to plough the field and plant corn. But again Brer Rabbit refused to help and only wanted to play. When the animals asked what Brer Rabbit would do when he needed water and corn, he said he would just go and take it.

After the well was dug and the corn was planted and cut, Brer Rabbit just came along and helped himself to it. Brer Fox, Brer Wolf, Brer Bear, Brer Possum and all the other animals decided to catch Brer Rabbit so he couldn’t steal their water and corn any more. But Brer Rabbit was very clever, and nobody could catch him. Brer Wolf took some straw and made it into a baby with a head, arms, legs, a body, and he covered it with sticky black tar until the tar baby looked just like a real baby. Then he sat Tar Baby right next to the well and went away.

Brer Rabbit came along, saw Tar Baby and stopped. He thought it was a real person sitting there. But he needed the water, so he said politely: ‘Good evening, sir. Fine weather we’re having, sir!’ But the Tar Baby made no reply. Brer Rabbit came closer and asked politely, ‘How is your mother, sir? And your grandmother? And your children? And all the rest of your family?’ But still the Tar Baby made no reply. Brer Rabbit came closer and still Tar Baby did nothing and said nothing. Then Brer Rabbit said, ‘You there! Get out of my way!’ But still Tar Baby said nothing. ‘You there!’ said Brer rabbit again. ‘If you don’t move out of my way, I’ll hit you with this paw!’ And he held up his right paw. Tar Baby still said nothing. So Brer Rabbit hit him on the head, and Brer Rabbit’s paw got stuck in the tar and he couldn’t pull it loose! Then Brer Rabbit began to shout, ‘Let me go, let me go!’ But Tar Baby wouldn’t let him go. So Brer Rabbit hit him with his left paw, and with his right foot, and with his left foot – and they all got stuck in the tar! Now Brer Rabbit was very angry, and butted Tar Baby with his head – and his head got stuck in the tar! Brer Rabbit pulled and pulled, but couldn’t get loose, and there he had to stay till the morning, when Brer Wolf came by to see what he had caught.  ‘Good morning, Brer Rabbit,’ said Brer Wolf. ‘How are you this morning? You seem to be a little stuck today!’ And Brer Wolf laughed until his stomach hurt. Brer Rabbit said nothing. Brer Wolf picked up Brer Rabbit and said, ‘It seems you wanted water. So let me throw you into the well.’ ‘Yes Brer Wolf, throw me into the well, but please don’t throw me into that briar patch!’ cried Brer Rabbit. Brer Wolf looked surprised. Brer Rabbit wanted to be thrown into the well? ‘Well then, I will light a fire and roast you and eat you,’ said Brer Wolf. ‘Yes Brer Wolf. Light a fire and roast me and eat me, but please don’t throw me into the briar patch!’  Brer Wolf thought for a minute. ‘Brer Rabbit doesn’t mind the well, he doesn’t mind the fire. But he minds the briar patch!’ And Brer Wolf pulled Brer Rabbit loose from Tar Baby and threw him straight into the briar patch. ‘There now! The briars will poke him and jab him and hurt him!’ he said. Brer Wolf waited and listened for Brer Rabbit’s howls, but instead he heard Brer Rabbit laughing. ‘Thank you Brer Wolf, thank you for sending me back home,’ cried Brer Rabbit. ‘I and my family grew up in this briar patch!’ And off ran Brer Rabbit through the brambles.

When our father told us, in his own words, stories of Aesop and from the Joel Chandler Harris Uncle Remus books of children’s stories, he tried to impress on us the lessons to be learned; the principles of empathy, sharing, generosity, hard work, humility, cooperation and of taking responsibility.

In books and films and songs, the fables and parables of Aesop, Uncle Remus and others have taught many generations of American children and even adults these important principles. Many of these fables have ensconced themselves and their morality firmly into American literature, culture and our everyday vocabulary: Most are attributed to Aesop. Some of those principles are:

(Generosity and Greed) “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” or “The Dog and the Bone (Reflection)”

(Never trust someone who deserts you in need), “The Bear and the Travelers”

(Telling the Truth) “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”

(renown is accompanied by risks of which the humble are free)”The Bramble and the Fir”

(A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush) “The Fisherman and the Little Fish”

(The perils of flattery) “The Fox and the Crow”

(Honesty is the best policy) “The Honest Woodcutter”

(Carry your share of the load) “The Horse and the Donkey”

(Notoriety is often mistaken for fame) “The Mischievous Dog”

(Being charitable with your fortune) “The Miser and His Gold”

(Warning against the promises of politicians “Great cry and Little Wool”) “The Mountain in Labour”

(The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence) “The Ass and His Masters”

(Clothes may disguise a fool but his words will give him away) “The Ass in the Lions Skin”

(“In my opinion, Golden Rule, Better be lonely than be with a fool”) “The Bear and the Gardener”

(group of mice who debate plans to nullify the threat of a marauding cat) “Belling the Cat” or “The Mice in Counsel”

(When we are avoiding present dangers, we should not fall into even worse peril) “Jumping from the frying pan into the fire”

(One’s basic nature eventually betrays itself) “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” From the Bible.

I will attempt through this blog, to use the lessons we were taught or should have learned from our parents growing up, to make sense of a world often obsessed with fortune, fame and winning at all costs. I’ll explore how they help to effect our nature, our ambitions, one’s humility, intelligence, temperament, compassion and how they nurture our souls. The modern day definition of a tarbaby is “a situation, problem, or the like, that is almost impossible to solve or to break away from.” In a legal sense, its a case that just won’t end or be resolved.

A Tarbaby, like Brer Rabbit’s dilemma, embodies something that appears worthy or profitable but turns out to be a grandiose illusion; It could be a person, a place or an object, or anything we lust after but may then regret getting.  There are tarbabys in every aspect of modern society. We’ll explore them together. I ask that anyone who contributes, to please respect the process; and to refrain from restating talking points repeated time and again. Please be creative, original and entertaining. And please respect the fact that younger folks and children might be contributing. Thank you, John Hanno

Growing up in East Germany during the cold war

The Detail

Growing up in East Germany during the cold war

By Mia Lerm Hayes – February 17, 2014

Mia aged 6 at home. Her parents home schooled her for as long as possible

Mia aged 6 at home. Her parents home schooled her for as long as possible

By Barry McCaffrey

Mia Lerm Hayes is a professor of Art History at the University of Ulster. Her family moved from East to West Germany in 1975 and she has worked in Northern Ireland for ten years. She recalls what life was like growing up in East Germany during the Cold War.

Mia was born in the East German city of Jena in the late 1960s. Her parents had met around the time when the Berlin Wall was built between the two Germanys on June 15, 1961. An old map of London, bought from an antique bookshop, hung on a wall in the family’s living room as a daily reminder of the free world, which they knew they could never see.

Despite (or because of) the parents’ university education – in Theology, which did not conform with the regime – they knew that Mia and her younger sister would never be allowed the same opportunity. The communist leadership’s punishment against anyone who opposed its regime meant that the children of those interested in human rights in the Eastern bloc would have to pay a heavy price.

“My parents knew that their daughters would never be allowed to do ‘A’ Levels, study or have a proper job that would allow us to use our brains,” Mia now explains.

“Those regarded as oppositional or academic children, whose parents were not members of the communist party, were not allowed to study. It was the social engineering of the East German dictatorship. They wanted to ensure that children who were socialised at home to be independent thinkers and would not rise to any position.”

As the top student in her class, the seven year-old Mia had to bring her schoolmates to attention every morning and give a military salute to her teacher. Even then the schoolgirl was aware of the dreaded Stasi and the dangers they posed. We were aware of the fact that we really could not speak to anyone about certain things that were said at home.”

When a parcel containing chocolate arrived from the west one day Mia offered some to a friend.

“No, I don’t want anything from the class enemy,” the indoctrinated child replied.

Knowing that their daughters faced a life of discrimination in the GDR, the Lerms applied in 1973 for permission to leave the Eastern Bloc.

The fact that Mia’s mother had been injured in a car accident some years before meant that the Communist regime saw her as a financial liability and was happy for her to leave.

“My mother had a car accident in 1970, which meant that she was left a ‘pensioner’ at the age of 28. She could travel to the West, because the GDR government let anyone who was on a pension go to the West and receive their pension there.”

This may have been a longer-term separation, but those in the West who agreed to help the family convinced her that she could return and enough money would be made available to pay for their release from the East. Even if permitted by the East German regime to escape to the West, each person had to pay a ‘ransom’ to leave the GDR.

“It was 1975 and was in the middle of the Cold War and very early on in terms of expatriations,” Mia now recalls.

“For someone who was educated and highly skilled it would have been a lot more, but for a little girl like me I think I was worth only a couple of thousand West Mark to them. They needed the hard currency to buy more and better surveillance equipment, thus making our friends’ lives more difficult by leaving.”

It would take a full two years before the Communist regime would finally allow the family to leave. In that period moving boxes were constantly packed, ready to leave their east German lives behind within the required 24 hours.

“I remember the day in 1975 when we moved very well, because it was so strange. Everybody came and helped with the moving. We were so lucky that we didn’t have to escape on an air balloon or dig a tunnel or swim across a river like other people had to do.”

The fear that the Stasi was watching to see who helped the Lerms meant that only a family of close friends, who were already known to be active in the opposition, felt brave enough to wave goodbye to them at the train station. It would be another 32 years before Mia would see them again.

The final remaining obstacle between the family’s freedom was the infamous Friedrichstrase train station, known to Berliners as the ‘Palace of the Tears’, as it was the final place where loved ones could embrace as a handful escaped while others were forced to stay behind the wall.

Despite making it to the West, it was difficult to have left family and friends behind.

“We knew that we would not necessarily be allowed to go back. In the first year we didn’t have the money to go back a lot. After that we weren’t allowed to visit our friends or family for another seven years as the East Germans wouldn’t let us in. Once we drove from Northern Germany to Bavaria, just to pass Jena (their former hometown) on the transit motorway. We weren’t allowed to stop – it was heart-breaking.”

Mia’s mother has never requested her Stasi file

Despite huge problems the family made every effort not to lose contact with their loved ones in the East.

“Even then I knew that all the letters being sent back and forth were read and all the parcels were opened. Every telephone conversation was monitored. You could hear the click on the line. Just because we were now in the West, didn’t mean that the spying had stopped. You grew up with that sort of knowledge, that they always listened in.”

In 1989 both the Berlin Wall and then the GDR finally collapsed after tens of thousands of East Germany citizens took to the streets in what became known as the Peaceful Revolution.

Later, thousands of former GDR citizens sought to discover whether or not they had been spied on by the Stasi, but Mia’s mother has chosen not to.

“Mother never requested her Stasi file,” explained Mia.

“I went to the Stasi Archive and wondered whether I could have a look at my family’s file, but I got a letter back to say that there were no files on children.

“I don’t know about my father, because my parents separated, but my mother, probably because of her culture of forgiveness, decided not to ask if the Stasi had spied on her and who might have informed them.”

Mia’s mother’s unbreakable determination that her daughters had access to a good and democratic education was a direct factor in her decision to move to Northern Ireland in the 2000s.

“The link between my history and being here in Northern Ireland is very straight forward for me.

“Economic prosperity wasn’t part of the motivation for my mother at all. It was her daughters’ education that drove her. From my schooling I learned to think critically. I feel I have an obligation to use the education that I received under such difficult circumstances for the democratisation of a society that needs it. That’s why I chose to come to Northern Ireland.”

While the University of Ulster art history professor believes there are lessons that her adopted home Northern Ireland can learn from her place of birth, she warns that it would be a mistake to try to impose a “one-size fits all” approach to truth recovery for victims.

“I do think there are parallels, but not the kind of parallels you might find in the technicalities of simply saying ‘let’s use what happened to the Stasi files in Northern Ireland’.

“If you say: ‘we’ll look at the Stasi archive and see what we might learn from that for Northern Ireland’ you’re making a lot of assumptions. You’re assuming that there are archives in Northern Ireland, and did the paramilitaries on both sides have archives?

“What you are actually talking about are the crimes committed through collusion. You are talking about state violence. You’re assuming almost that it was a dictatorship here, which, in a systematic way, gathered information on those who were not supporting it, and you’re assuming that the state has not carried on doing the same.

“One is encouraged of course by what happened eventually in the case of Bloody Sunday and David Cameron’s apology.”

However, Mia believes that the intransigent approaches adopted by all sides in Northern Ireland remains a stumbling block to progress.

“What we could learn is that there are more than just two sides.

“What you see in a film like ‘Good Vibrations’ is that there was also a music community here, which didn’t care if you were from one side of the fence or the other; similarly with visual artists.

“There was also the Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s and the tragedy of Northern Ireland is that the moral high ground that it had was not sustained as a model. Obviously it was considered by the government of the day to be dangerous; otherwise Blood Sunday wouldn’t have happened.

“The sad thing is that the Civil Rights movement is not universally acknowledged as having been a cross-community movement. People like John Hume aren’t enough considered to be the heroes of Northern Ireland. If this was the model, the thinking might be quite different. We might actually consider having someone like Heaney as a president, like Vaclav Havel was in Czechoslovakia. It is as if Northern Ireland is still stuck before 1968 or 1989, desperately trying to hang on to hierarchies, to authoritarian thinking.”

Un “Till’….The Trayvon Martin Case

John Hanno, tarbabys.com  –  July 17, 2013

                                                               Un ‘Till’

Following the decision in the George Zimmerman trial, John Lewis, Congressman from Georgia since 1987, said: “I am deeply disappointed by the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. It seems to justify the stalking and killing of innocent black boys and deny them any avenue of self-defense. … I hope this verdict will serve to open some kind of meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America.”

Of course Congressman Lewis is correct, but under Florida’s dangerous stand your ground laws, its not just unarmed young black males that are in jeopardy of being blown to kingdom come; its everyone who might end up in the gun sites of these wacko vigilantes. All teenagers, white, black or Latino, 90% of who wear hoodies, should not venture out at night. And, based on the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, anyone is now free to arm themselves, approach and pick a fight with someone or provoke someone they have a beef with or don’t approve of; and as soon as that prey offers some resistance, you’re able to put a bullet through their heart. I see similar stories like this on WE-TV, in reruns of “Gunsmoke” and “The Rifleman”. Who said the Wild West is dead?

As we know, Congressman Lewis was one of the leaders in the civil rights movement and helped lead the March 7, 1965 Bloody Sunday march for voting rights, from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. He was one of the marchers who were confronted and then clubbed, whipped and tear-gassed by more than 150 State Troopers, Sheriff’s police and posse men (vigilantes) on the Edmund Pettis Bridge and then had his skull fractured. I think Mr. Lewis can recognize a vigilante when he sees one.

Mr. Lewis also stated he believes the shooting of Trayvon Martin resembled the Emmett Till case of August 1955, where a 14 year old South Side Chicago boy visiting his cousins for the summer, was dragged from his great uncles home at gun point in the middle of the night for talking to a white women 3 days earlier in Money, Mississippi. Emmett was found 4 days later in the Tallahatchie River, beaten, shot in the head and lashed to a large metal fan with barbed wire. He was so unrecognizable, the only way he was identified was by his fathers initials L.T. on the signet ring given to Emmett by his mother before he left Chicago. Till’s alleged killers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were arrested and charged with his murder. Despite the overwhelming evidence and even though Till’s great uncle Moses courageously put his life in jeopardy by testifying and identifying the two as Till’s kidnappers and killers. both were acquitted of all charges by an all white, all male jury.

The deliberations lasted only 67 minutes. A few months later, the defendants then sold the story of how they kidnapped and murdered Till to Look Magazine for $4,000.  Emmett’s body was shipped back to Chicago. His mother, Mamie Till, decided to display his body at Roberts Temple Church of God in an open casket. Although she said it was very painful seeing her dead son’s body on display, she said: “let the world see what has happened, because there is no way I could describe this. And I needed somebody to help me tell what it was like.”  I remember seeing pictures of thousands of mourners parading by his casket and the graphic pictures of Till in his casket in Jet magazine. It didn’t look like a human body. He’s buried in a nearby South Chicago suburb. He was only about 6 years older than me so we grew up on the South Side of Chicago at the same time. We were both born in July, 2 days apart.

Emmett Till’s death and his mothers efforts to publicize his tragedy, for all the world to see, served as an impetus for the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and go to the back of the bus. Her actions sparked the yearlong Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. Mamie Till believed her son’s death, and stories, pictures and films of other beatings and lynchings in the south, including those of nonviolent protestors being attacked by police and State troopers with dogs and fire hoses, helped America come to grips with racial inequality and injustice. She said that before her sons murder: “people really didn’t know that things this horrible could take place. And the fact that it happened to a child, that makes all the difference in the world.”

The case that the Zimmerman prosecution team presented leaves a lot of room for criticism. Legal media experts across the country have picked apart their ineffective case. I too, was shouting at my TV during much of the trial, imploring the prosecutors to either ask this question or why in the world would they have asked that question or why not follow up with that question. The biggest mistakes allowed the inclusion of Zimmerman’s many self-serving statements and video’s, without somehow assuring he would have to testify under oath and be subject to cross examination in order to counter the prosecution’s presumed fact based theory of events.

I believe the prosecutors gave the jury too much credit for being able to analyze the evidence and fill in the blanks. Instead of laying out a clear scenario they wholeheartedly believed flowed from the known facts and from Zimmerman’s proven lies and false statements, they somehow believed the jury would base their decision simply on the fact that Zimmerman lied about what really occurred and then refused to testify and face rebuttal.

I would be willing to bet these jurors were not analytical people. They are probably intuitive people of faith and not reason, and consequently swayed more by their biases than by facts and reasoned argument. Defense attorney Don West unfortunately had it right with his knock, knock joke about picking a jury reliably void of knowledge about the case. Unfortunately those usually chosen as jurors are often void of any knowledge or analytical talent concerning anything. The prosecution proffered a timeline without filling in the blanks. The prosecution then helped Zimmerman prove his own case by fully accepting Zimmerman and his defense’s claims that assumed, and consequently established for the jury that Trayvon was clearly the aggressor. I screamed at my TV, all my teachers taught me that: when you assume something, “you make an ass out of u and me.” They allowed the defense to put Trayvon on trial. And he was reliably found guilty.

We don’t know exactly what happened in the dark that night because (1) Trayvon is dead, (2) Zimmerman refused to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, (3) it was too dark for neighbors to see what really transpired, or video what happened (4) no one had the courage to venture out to help someone crying out for help. (5) The police department failed to initially charge or take serious the allegations against Zimmerman.

If young black Trayvon had been the one pulling the trigger, he would have been in a maximum security prison before they served him his first baloney sandwich, and (6) lets face it, Sanford P.D. did not have “The Closer’s” Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson to interrogate Mr. Zimmerman. If they had, she would have wrapped up the case within the hour; and  Zimmerman would have confessed to killing Trayvon, been placed in cuffs and headed to prison for 30 to life.

But I would be willing to bet my check on a few plausible certainties. Trayvon was simply on his way back home to his 12 year old step brother with skittles and a bottle of ice tea, to play video games and to watch the NBA All-star game on TV. He was unarmed. He was not on drugs or acting suspicious as Zimmerman claimed. We saw him on video inside the Convenience Store and he looked like any other merely confused teenager trying to make a decision about what he wanted to buy and how much he had to spend. The store clerk, as he testified to at trial, was obviously not suspicious or threatened.

I’m pretty sure Trayvon was not sticking his hands in his waistband as Zimmerman claimed. He was talking to a friend on his phone with one hand and holding his bag of goodies with the other. Trayvon really believed he was being followed by some crazy ass cracker. And was probably scared shitless. Zimmerman was clearly profiling Trayvon as a suspicious f—ing asshole, a punk that was probably on drugs and some thug about to get away with something.

Zimmerman refused to stay in his vehicle, as he was told to do, until the police arrived a few minutes later. And I firmly believe Zimmerman, who his MMA type trainer testified at trial as soft and a wuss, was not afraid to take off after a suspicious hooded young black man because he probably drew his gun from the holster as soon as he left his vehicle. And finally, Trayvon was intercepted from going home by a vigilante aiming a gun at him.

This is where its gets complicated. Did uncoordinated Zimmerman trip and fall while he was running after Trayvon; did Zimmerman slip and fall in the damp grass or onto the hard sidewalk and hurt himself; did Zimmerman trip or slip and fall, and did the gun then accidentally fire a bullet through Trayvon’s heart; did Zimmerman just get excited and stick a gun into Trayvon’s chest and accidentally or on purpose shoot Trayvon through the heart?

After possibly accidentally shooting Trayvon, did Zimmerman then injure himself on purpose and concoct an unbelievable story so that it would appear that he had to defend himself against an unarmed skinny boy armed with a cell phone and a bag of skittles? We don’t know if there even was a struggle or fight and if there was, who started it. Was Trayvon desperately trying to defend himself against someone (not a police officer) aiming a gun at him? The prosecution proposed none of these possibilities to the jury.

Because I spent my entire life building and repairing things, I necessarily had to be analytical and logical and could not assume anything. So after shaving with a razor for more than 60 years, I realize that all blood vessels in the head and face are numerous and very close to the surface. I know that any little mishap while shaving makes you bleed like a stuck pig, extracts about a half pint of blood from ones facial capillaries and causes you to stick a half roll of toilet paper on the cuts.

I once blew my nose during a cold while I was in the Army, ruptured a blood vessel, lost about a quart of blood, which I spit into a butt can and had to have an Army specialist cauterize the vessel while I passed out. The supposed injuries to Zimmerman were at best, extremely minimal. He could have scratched his own head with a fingernail, a car key or with one of his flashlights; and it would have extracted more blood than was displayed in the photos of his injuries.

If Trayvon had violently slammed Zimmerman’s head onto the sidewalk as Zimmerman’s attorney did to the dummy during trial over and over, Zimmerman would have been knocked out and then rushed to the hospital with a severe concussion and a severe brain injury that would have swelled his brain and forced a neurosurgeon to cut open his scull so that his brain could swell without causing irreparable brain damage.

But most important, if Zimmerman had just waited as directed for 2 or 3 minutes, the police would have shown up, walked up to Trayvon, as uniformed police officers, (something I’m sure Trayvon or any other young black man has experienced multiple times), and simply asked Trayvon what he was doing. Trayvon would have shown the cops his bag of goodies and his receipt from the store. The officers would have patted Trayvon on top of his hoodied head and either sent him or driven him home to his waiting brother. As they dropped him off, they would have told him to be careful because there are some dangerous armed people driving through his neighborhood.

And if heaven forbid, in the extremely unlikely case a cop would have shot an unarmed boy, that officer would have his badge and firearm taken away immediately and would have been subjected to not only an automatic internal investigation, but probably a state or federal use of force investigation. I just can’t believe there is any conceivable way, Trayvon would not be alive today, if only the police had confronted him instead of Zimmerman.

Interesting and informative was Sean Hannity’s interview of Zimmerman. Hannity asked him why he thought Trayvon was on drugs. Zimmerman said because it was raining, Trayvon was walking between houses, cutting through houses and walking very leisurely. That sounded like nonsense, as did much of Zimmerman’s answers during the whole interview. When I was a teen walking through my South Side Chicago neighborhood, we often flipped fences and cut through backyards and alleys. It simply appeared Zimmerman was attempting to keep from tripping himself up on previous lies.

But I think most interesting part of the interview, besides the fact that he claimed he didn’t know anything about or ever heard about Stand Your Ground Laws (Obviously pure bullcrap), was when Hannity asked Zimmerman if he regretted anything that night, regretted getting out of the car to follow Trayvon that night. Zimmerman said no sir. Hannity then said do you regret that you had a gun that night. Zimmerman said no sir. Hannity then asked Zimmerman if he felt that he would not be there tonight if he didn’t have the gun. Zimmerman said no sir. Hannity asked him if he would do anything differently in retrospect, time having passed a bit. Zimmerman said he felt it was all Gods plan and for him to second guess it or judge it…umm and then shakes his head no. Hannity then asks, is there anything you would do differently in retrospect, now that a little bit of time has passed. Zimmerman again said no sir. I think even Hannity was clearly incredulous, but Zimmerman failed to relent.

If I was the prosecutor in the case, I would have played that part of the Hannity interview and then while looking directly at Trayvon’s parents and then at the 6 women jurors, I would say, I believe Trayvon’s parents and family surely believe in God but I know they also don’t believe it was “Gods Will” that some reckless individual should shoot and kill their unarmed boy.

The prosecutors in this case could have presented all these arguments in a more coherent way. If they did, I believe Zimmerman may have had to testify in order to not be convicted of 2nd degree murder and at worse, may have been convicted of manslaughter. Yet if the prosecutors had put on a much more competent case and done everything right, would it have made a difference to this 6 person non representative jury; maybe not?

I’ve seen enough jury trials to believe the idea of a jury of ones peers may have outlived its benefits. Most civilized countries, if not all, don’t rely on that system. I think its time we have jurors trained and paid as professionals. They can still be chosen as representative to a particular case. But Trayvon was in actuality tried, convicted and found guilty, yet he did not have a jury of his peers. How about a 12 person jury, six of which were people of color and who may have been profiled at one time or another. It would also be interesting to hear what Judge Debra Nelson felt about the jury’s decision. We will probably never know. What I do know for sure is that:

If I had felt it necessary to inject myself into community policing, like Zimmerman did and which I definitely wouldn’t, and;

If I had felt it necessary to stick my nose into someone else’s (Trayvon’s) business, like Zimmerman did and which I would never do, and;

If I had owned a gun designed primarily for killing fellow human beings, like Zimmerman did and which I have refused to do for more than 6 decades while living on the South Side of Chicago and South Suburbs, and;

If I had routinely carried a concealed weapon, like Zimmerman does (he told Hannity that he carries his gun everywhere except work) and which I don’t and which I believe is antithetical to a civilized society and unbelievably reckless, and;

If I had routinely targeted young black males in my community, like Zimmerman did time and time again when calling police (he always reported only black males) and which I have never done in more than 60 years, and;

If I routinely profiled young black men by referring to them as “those F—ing assholes”        and “punks that always get away”, like Zimmerman did and which I think is obscene, and proves Zimmerman harbored ill will and malice of forethought, and;

If I decided to get out of my vehicle and follow Trayvon, even thought the police dispatcher told him not to and to stay in his vehicle, like Zimmerman did and which I would never even consider doing, and;

If I decided to un-holster my loaded gun and chase after a young boy who did nothing to me or anyone else, as Zimmerman probably did, and which I would never, ever even consider doing, and;

If for some inconceivable reason, I engaged in such outrageous conduct, like Zimmerman did in this case, I guess I wouldn’t have the guts to testify before a jury of my peers either.

But I just can’t believe a jury would not find a person guilty of manslaughter after refusing to explain or justify the reasons he found it necessary to shoot and kill an unarmed boy. How can juror B37 “reasonably” believe “Zimmerman’s heart was in the right place.”

And how can Juror B29 “reasonably” vote to acquit Zimmerman. She initially voted to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. After the trial, she told Robin Roberts, during an interview on “Good Morning America” that she believed Zimmerman “got away with murder.” She said “George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” “[But] the law couldn’t prove it.” “You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.” “I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury. I fought to the end.” She also stated she thought the case was a “publicity stunt” and should not have been brought to trial. “The truth is that there was nothing that we could do about it.” “I feel the verdict was already told.”

She blamed the lack of evidence and Florida’s laws to somehow justify acquitting Zimmerman. She now second guesses her decision to acquit; but of course its too late. She said she owes Trayvon’s parents an apology and believes “like I let them down.” I think she let Trayvon Martin and our jury system down.

I guess it’s too much to ask one 6 person jury to put a dent in America’s race relations problems but I was hoping for just a little common sense. I guess I was waiting for Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) or “Elementary’s” Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (Sherlock Holmes and Watson) to step in and figure out ‘who done it.’

Conservative media and Bloggers view Zimmerman as a hero. He is not a hero. He’s a “wantabe” cop who was repeatedly determined unfit for police work. He profiled a young person innocently walking through his neighborhood. He refused to stay in his vehicle when told to by the police dispatcher. He refused to wait for just a couple of minutes more for the dispatched trained police officers to arrive. He shot Trayvon, as he told Hannity, 15 or 30 seconds before the police arrived.

He is at best a reckless buffoon who was probably chasing after Trayvon with his finger on the trigger of a loaded high powered weapon that didn’t have a safety (“never run while carrying a scissors”). He either stumbled or otherwise accidentally, or on purpose, shot Trayvon through his heart. He then concocted a story only a mother could believe. I believe Zimmerman then told us a lot about his intensions and state of mind by not trying to save Trayvon’s life by initiating any efforts to help him or perform CPR.

George Zimmerman got away with murder because of (1) a tardy and mediocre investigation of his conduct and the facts of the case by the Sanford P.D.; (2) because of ineffective prosecution; (3) because of Florida’s nonsensical and dangerous Stand Your Ground Laws, and the consequential confusing jury instructions; and (4) because of a 6 person jury that was not representative of both the defendant and the victim, and a jury that was probably not capable of using their common sense to render a just decision.

Un “Till” young black men, especially those wearing hoodies, are not automatically viewed by half of American’s as troublemakers and thugs;

Un “Till” America stops incarcerating young black men at ever increasing rates;

Un “Till” more young black men refuse to join gangs when looking for some semblance of family;

Un “Till” America is able to offer young men of all colors, including and especially Veterans, living wage jobs, instead of a life of fending for themselves on the streets;

Un “Till” more young black men end up graduating from college, than from being released from prison;

Un “Till” we reach a point where the innocent young black victim of a hate crime can’t be proven guilty of his own murder;

Un “Till” all those, including jurors, who say they are not prejudiced, but harbor many subtle and toxic biases, can see themselves for what they are;

Un “Till” Police departments throughout America, view all young men the same regardless of how they walk or talk or what they wear or the hue of their skin;

Un “Till” Legislatures everywhere, including the United States Congress, find some balls, and stand up to the NRA, ALEC and these extreme wacko 2nd Amendment zealots;

Un “Till” America “Stand’s It’s Ground”, and refuses to turn its back on responsible gun laws;

Un “Till” this all happens, we will continue to see, especially on the streets of our South Chicago neighborhoods, innocent children placed in caskets and carried to the cemeteries.

If there are any positives in this case and reason for hope, its that:

A recent Poll said that 62% of American’s believe George Zimmerman unnecessarily killed Trayvon Martin.

At least 450,000 people, and probably much more now, and including myself, signed a petition asking the Department of Justice to go forward with their suspended civil rights investigation of Zimmerman’s conduct.

Peaceful demonstrators across the country were not just African Americans but from every group. Black, white, Latino and Asian; men, women and children, old and young. I would say the demonstrators I saw were an overwhelming white majority.

And, a large majority of Florida’s prosecutors are now asking the legislators to change and correct the flaws in Florida’s current Stand Your Ground Laws.

And, most experts believe a Civil Trial against George Zimmerman probably will be undertaken; a trial where Zimmerman will be forced to testify. At least he may not be able to profit from Trayvon’s murder.

Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, said he would like Trayvon’s hoodie for its permanent collection. “It became the symbolic way to talk about the Trayvon Martin case.” “It’s rare that you get one artifact that really becomes the symbol.”

Maybe the pictures of Trayvon Martin lying on a slab in the morgue will, like the pictures of Emmett Till lying in his coffin did in 1955 for civil rights, spark change; and in this case, some sensible modification of these egregious and dangerous Stand Your Ground Laws, in at least some of those 24 states. Our own Illinois concealed weapons ban was recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Illinois was the last of the States to have a reasonable ban on concealed weapons. Our legislature is still wrestling with a revision of those laws that would conform with the Constitutions 2nd Amendment. Gentlemen and women, please pay attention.

And as Congressman Lewis implored: “I hope this verdict will serve to open some kind of meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America.”    John Hanno

Happy Independence Day America “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

July 4, 2012     John Hanno

Happy Independence Day America  “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (or Obama Care to the tea-party and free market zealots) are apoplectic that someone, especially “the Government,” should force them to do anything. They believe it violates their constitutional rights if the “Government” should require them to purchase health insurance, ignoring the fact that for generations, we’ve required individuals, businesses and institutions to purchase automobile liability, workers compensation and other forms of insurances.

Our founding fathers and the framers of our constitution could not possibly have foreseen the complexity of our society today, the 50 million Americans without health care or the hundreds of hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy because they must treat for free, millions of sick folks who flood their emergency rooms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nor could they have contemplated the burden on the taxpayers who must ultimately pay the interest on those unpaid costs.

The Republican’s demonized the President for wasting too much time and effort on getting the Affordable Care Act signed into law, instead of dealing early on with unemployment and the national debt; again conveniently ignoring the fact that a large portion of that debt is caused by our dysfunctional health care system and also that a cornerstone of the Act is it’s provisions designed to help control runaway health care costs and enhance preventative medical care. The Republican’s have had no plan of their own, other than their business as usual doctrine of tacking closely with the insurance industry; but that approach was thoroughly indefensible.

And of course for the last 30 plus years, corporate leaders joined at the hip by Republican apologists throughout the country, have disowned our working class and preached from the mountain tops that the reason they were closing almost 50,000 factories and exporting those good paying manufacturing jobs was because of the generous and untenable benefits paid to our middle class working men and women. We’ve heard for decades that the American auto industry can’t compete when the average legacy costs for each American made auto was more than $1,500 (now between $2,300 and $2,700), compared to a small fraction of what it is in Mexico, Korea or China. But is that what America has become; a society that will build things but only as long as the workers are willing to forsake the benefits the American worker has fought and died for over the last century?

So in order to level the playing field a bit, President Obama and critical thinking Democratic Congressmen and women realized early on that if we’re going to create living wage jobs for hardworking Americans, they would have to first tackle our health care crisis. They believed that if American manufacturers were not burdened with unpredictable and ballooning health care costs, they could more easily compete with the rest of the industrialized world and consequently bring back those good paying manufacturing jobs.

But the Republican’s pledged, soon after President Obama was sworn in, to do everything they could to keep him from being reelected. They obstructed each and every one of his and the Democrats efforts to pull us out of the depression era financial collapse and debt crisis, which the Republicans created, by disregarding and dismantling financial industry regulations, giving unnecessary and unneeded tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and by waging two unnecessary and unfunded wars.

Their single minded campaign to overturn the Affordable Care Act and obstruct the President at every opportunity during the last three and a half years, has stymied America’s fiscal recovery and brought us to the edge of the cliff, wondering whether a majority of our Supreme Court Justices would cling to their ultra conservative ideology or side with the 50 million Americans without health care and the 36 to 112 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t afford or even find any form of health care if insurance companies had their way.

Would the Supreme Court side with the special interests that have funded these attacks on the Act and the President and his party’s attempts to begin removing the albatross around the neck of America’s recovery and prosperity or with the 13.7 million young American’s between 18 and 25 who are now able to remain on their parent’s insurance policies until they’re 26 years of age.

Would the Court side with the tea party crowd that has commandeered the Grand Old Party or with a large number of the 65% of America’s prison population who have some mental health issue and who might not have even been institutionalized (at $50,000 per year) had they had medical insurance and the specialized care they desperately needed. Our prisons are not equipped and their employees are not trained to care properly for these mentally ill inmates. And taxpayers should not have to pay for their expensive incarceration because even the best of the mental health care provisions of health insurance policies cover only 65% or less of the costs of mental health care, if at all. The Affordable Care Act strengthens mental health coverage for all.

Would the Court side with the libertarians who firmly believe they are not their brothers or sisters keeper or with the tens of millions of working poor who can’t afford health care insurance even if it were available.

Would they side with the insurance companies who skim more than 30% off the top of America’s astronomical health care expenditures (which is 50% more per person than virtually all industrialized nations) or with the 86 million people who have already received free preventive care, the 105 million people who no longer face a lifetime cap on benefits and the 17 million children who already cannot be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions.

The new tea-party controlled Republican members of Congress were adamant that no part of President Obama’s health care act should survive the Supreme Court’s decision. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa outlined their ideology when he stated the previous month that “I don’t want any vestige of Obamacare left in law,” “Not one particle of DNA.” Could the Affordable Care Act survive if the individual mandate were to be struck down or would it be in jeopardy of collapsing, as the Republican’s prayed, because the mandate is what makes the law affordable? In fact we already have a mandate, one that requires taxpayers to pay the unreimbursed medical costs for those who can’t afford, can’t find or refuse to purchase health insurance. The irony is that this mandate was proposed by Republicans who, at one time believed in personal responsibility; that is before they flip flopped on the issue just so they could oppose President Obama and the Democrats. Would the Supreme Court side with these uncompromising neo-con’s or with the tens of millions of hard working American’s who have fallen out of the middle class.

Should our Supreme Court have even choose, or be allowed to rule on, such a consequential law; a law written by an elected legislature, which had struggled for decades to reach a hard fought, acceptable compromise that finally passed through both houses of Congress and then signed into law. Would these privileged deciders, none of which ever held elected office, have an inkling of what it took for President Obama and the Democrats to accomplish this feat over the monumental obstruction from special interests and their congressional minions?

Do you think any of the Justices ever had to worry about paying for health care for themselves or a sick family member? Thanks to the American taxpayer and our socially democratic form of government, they have one of, if not the best, health care insurance in the world and will have that insurance until the day they die.

Do you think any of the justices have had to sit with a gravely ill or injured family member or child at the emergency room hoping and praying that they will be taken care of instead of just being patched up and shunted off to fend for themselves, by a hospital struggling to keep its doors open?

Do you think any of the Justices or their loved ones have ever been denied hospital care and admission for mental health issues because they had no health insurance and the hospital claimed they had no available room at the inn and just shipped them off to a state run mental institution?

Would all of the justices be able to sympathize with the parents of chronically sick children that kneeled on the steps of the Supreme Court during oral arguments praying for divine intervention?

European and many other countries believe it’s obscene that we allow Americans to be forced into bankruptcy and lose their homes and wealth because of catastrophic health care expenses. Here in Illinois, our governor had recently signed a bill booting 25,000 poor working Americans off of Medicaid. And many other states had or were contemplating similar belt tightening legislation. The Affordable Care Act was not perfect but it’s a start on the road to the universal health care system America needs in order to remain a world leader. A healthy America is a vibrant and prosperous America.

I don’t have an ax to grind when it comes to health care or medical insurance. Fortunately I’m (knock wood) very healthy. I don’t take any medications and I’m old enough to qualify for Medicare. I worked hard in the trades for more than forty years and earned supplemental insurance from my past employer, for which I pay affordable subsidized premiums. And because I spent three years in the Army serving my country, I can go to our local V.A. clinic and hospital if I need routine exams or prescriptions. But not all Americans are so blessed.

I believe health care for all human beings is a right, not a luxury only the rich can afford. I believe health care for all is essential to the “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” principal embodied in our Declaration of Independence. That Declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, exactly 236 years ago. After the Court announced that the Affordable Care Act decision would be issued before Independence Day on June 28th , I wished that our Supreme Court would ask themselves, what Thomas Jefferson would do if he were here today and then decide do what’s best for America for our nation’s upcoming anniversary by upholding the law.

I believe we should have long ago implemented a universal, single payer health care system like much of the civilized world. But there were more than a hundred million Americans who desperately needed that mediocre token of what America really needs and deserves. Considering the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, I didn’t hold much hope for a “just” decision that would be in the best interests of all Americans; but hope springs eternal. A week before the ruling, Sen. John McCain, one of the architects, together with Sen. Russ Feingold, of the 2002 campaign finance law limiting donations to candidates, commented on that Citizens United decision. “I wish one of them had run for County Sheriff” he said of the Justices. Well I think many American’s wished the 4 or 5 most conservative Justices had, at one time or another, lost their health care insurance, been at the mercy of an uncaring and unbending insurance company or had been on the verge of loosing everything they owned because of a catastrophic illness. They wished those Justices had found it necessary to go to a banker, hat in hand, asking for financing to get back on their feet after their credit was destroyed by overwhelming medical expenses. They wished the Justices would try to put themselves in their shoes, as the highest court in the land routinely used to do.      John Hanno


Post Script: After the oral arguments were completed, a poll of constitutional lawyers and experts believed, almost unanimously, that the Act would be upheld. But after months of intense ranting by the right wing noise machine, the odds had changed and were almost 75%, that the law would be overturned.

But miracle of miracles happened, the four more progressive Justices joined with Chief Justice Roberts to uphold most of the act

The ink was barely dry on the court ruling when the cacophony of  Republican congressmen and women, past and present presidential candidates, vice presidential wantabes and most conservative pundits were tripping over themselves to demonize the act and Justice Roberts.

It’s now the job of the President and his surrogates to convince a substantial majority of Americans, that his administration’s courage and determination against the rights scorched earth opposition, and even his own party’s indifference, was worth splitting the union into a medically induced civil war.  Portraying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as (1) vital to creating living wage jobs, (2) helping to reduce the deficit and (3) bringing America’s health care system into the 21st century, will eventually convince most of America, that this is an important step on the path to universal, single payer health care.        John  Hanno