Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guantanamo, A Lingering U. S. Problem

A Two-Fold Moral Dilemma:
#1: Occupation of Cuban land;
$2: The infamous Bush-era prison.
        Marjorie Cohn has long been one of America's greatest legal minds. She is a former President of the National Lawyer's Guild and is now the top Professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is also a journalist and author. On November 14, 2015, Ms. Cohn penned a long article in The Huffington Post. It was entitled: "Close Guantanamo And Return It To Cuba." Democracy loving Americans should go online to read it and heed it. She lays out all the legal reasons for closing America's democracy-sapping prison at Guantanamo. And she also shows concern and passion for democracy by being ashamed of the image Guantanamo Bay casts on both the U. S. and democracy. The infamous prison attained an intolerable reputation during the last Bush administration; the theft of the magnificent Cuban port in 1903 lingers as a reminder to the world of America's imperialist past. Now, as Marjorie Cohn's article points out, there remains in the U. S. Congress a sufficient number of right-wingers who simply don't care how injurious the notorious Gitmo prison and the theft of Guantanamo Bay continues to be for America and democracy. The rationale that the U. S. needs the Naval Bay at Guantanamo is ludicrous; the rationale that the prison on Cuban soil is less of a bad thing than on U. S. soil is bullish, puerile, un-American, and plainly stupid.
      The U. S. Naval Base/prison at Guantanamo Bay occupies Cuban soil in defiance of Cuba's sovereignty, international law, and world opinion. Even its image on maps like this one shames the United States, especially as most people in the U. S. and the world strongly desire peaceful U.S.-Cuban relations.
        Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania just led a large group of Pittsburgh-area officials and executives to Cuba. They eagerly toured Havana and Matanzas, 70 miles east of the capital. They were surveying buildings in need of repair with the hope that, one day, companies and products from Pittsburgh will have a significant share of the reconstruction. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto had earlier visited Cuba. Congressman Doyle said, "A lot of challenges, but a lot of potential in Cuba. Pittsburgh needs to be ready."
         This photo, courtesy of The Macon Telegraph, shows a large group of Georgia officials and executives in Cuba now scouting out potential business. Georgia State Senator David Lucas said, "We want Georgia to be ready for opportunities when Cuba and the U. S. begin trading. Sooner or later, something's going to happen. We need to be ready." Previous trips by the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and the President of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, recently toured Cuba, paving the way for groups such as these Georgians to visit. Such U. S. interest has already benefited Cuba by encouraging other nations to compete stronger for Cuban business. For example, Vietnam is now selling rice and other products to Cuba and giving the island two years to make no-interest payments. The nearness of covetous U. S. ports is an American advantage but the bellicosity of the Republican-dominated U. S. Congress remains the biggest enemy for Americans and U. S. companies desiring normal relations with Cuba.
       I have nothing at all in common with Jennifer Lawrence, except for one thing. The brilliant, rich, and famous 25-year-old actress was a lifelong Republican. So was I. The operative word is was. As conservatives, the Republican Party was home to many Americans for many decades. But no more. The Republican Party is now a reservoir for thuggish right-wingers. including a fresh crop of radical young Tea Partiers. That creates a dilemma for me, and probably for Jennifer Lawrence, because America has a two-party political system -- the Republicans and the Democrats. And both, for the most part, are bought-and-paid for, especially the Republicans. That leaves two options for me, and probably Jennifer Lawrence: vote Democratic or don't vote at all. I agree with Jennifer Lawrence regarding the Republicans disdain for "women's basic rights." In fact, it is quite apparent that the Republicans care mostly about the "rights" of billionaires because they are convinced the more money billionaires have the more they will donate to political PACs, a process that has virtually destroyed the democracy envisioned by the Founding Fathers. To her credit, Jennifer Lawrence seems to comprehend that fact and seems very concerned about it.
Please take note........
        ........of this photo. It was taken by Tonny Onyula and is used to illustrate a major article in USA Today today -- Tuesday, November 17th. It depicts the ongoing Nigerian terrorism of Boko Haram, a group affiliated with ISIS. The little girl holding the baby is 7-year-old Jumai Ganbo. The baby she is holding was injured by "Boko Haram militants," the article says. Last year Boko Haram massacred and cut off the limbs of many in Jumai's village, including her 8-year-old brother. Notice the baby's left arm as its right hand clings dearly to Jumai's neck. And study the faces of childhood innocence trying to cope with adult madness. Does it reflect the fact that civilized adults are losing and little girls like Jumai are left to pick up the spoils?
And by the way..........
         .............in this forum I have been critical of CNN for being almost as bad as Fox and MSNBC when it comes to saturating newscasts with onset Talking Head pundits instead of hiring reporters to actually go out and cover the news. But I heartily congratulate CNN for hiring Clarissa Ward away from CBS, which had hired her away from ABC. Ms. Ward, a 35-year-old graduate of Yale, is an absolutely brilliant reporter, as indicated by her coverage of the tragedy in Paris this week. Its Talking Heads aside, CNN remains the source for America and the world when it comes to breaking news. But CNN's boss, Jeff Zucker, should fire all of his Talking Heads and continue to scout other networks for truly great broadcast journalists such as Clarissa Ward.
        This photo is courtesy of David Shaw and Birds & Blooms Magazine. It's a reminder that our beautiful feathered friends, like these Eastern Bluebirds, need our help this winter. Their survival depends on a food supply, which is scarce this time of year except for human-provided birdseed.   


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