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