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Illumination

by Robert Halfhill

I first had my moment of illumination about the nature of this society,  the moment when it hit me on a gut level what I had known intellectually since the 1960's in 1999, after I had been beating my head against a wall about the plight of the HIV positive inmates at Parchman State Prison in  Mississippi since early August of 1997. The HIV positive inmates were being  confined in summer temperatures that are lethal to anyone who is debilitated from AIDS, cancer or any other cause.  Temperatures at Parchman could reach  99 degrees Fahrenheit, which with the humidity common in the Gulf states, is equivalent to 115 to 120 degrees.  Needless to say, five inmates had already died from the heat in the last year and others would die over the next two years while I fought to mobilize support and help for the inmates.  The plumbing in the building where the inmates with HIV were segregated from the rest of the prisoners was so bad that, when the toilet in one cell was  flushed the toilet in the adjacent cell overflowed and dropped down onto the  bedding of the prisoner in the cell below.

     The inmates had to constantly bat flies away from their food in the mess hall and, given the propensity of flies to fly around and alight at random, it was a statistical certainty that some of these flies had been crawling around in the toilet waste from the overflowing toilets before they alighted on the inmates' food.  Most of the food was of poor quality and inedible and had become cold by the time it reached the AIDS unit from where it was cooked.

     Most of the inmates with HIV/AIDS were not even getting AZT, let alone the three drug regimen with regular viral load monitoring that was the standard of care for HIV/AIDS.  There was very little of any other medical care as well.  One inmate, Michael Buckley, broke his hand while playing ball.  In spite of the prison nurses repeatedly telling one of the two prison doctors that there was something wrong with his hand, the doctor kept saying there was nothing wrong with his hand.  He was left in pain and in danger of losing his hand for eleven days until he was finally treated at  the University of Mississippi Hospitals. Inmates who had had strokes  received no rehabilitative therapy and did not regain the ability to move the parts of their bodies affected by the stroke.

     Another inmate, Manuel Carothers, had injured his back in a car accident and the prison doctor told him that he had injured his back before coming to prison and it was his responsibility to treat it. One of the inmates later wrote me that the prison doctors had "criminal medical backgrounds."  In other words, the doctors could not get a job anywhere but a prison "medical" facility.

     In addition to sending letters of protest to the warden and other prison officials, as well as Governor Kirk Fordice, and later, Governor Ronnie Musgrove, I contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty  International and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Amnesty International began having people write the prisoners and publicized their  plight.  The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights can only investigate with the permission of the government that is the subject of the complaint and cannot tell the complainant how his complaint worked out.  It took  thirteen months for the ACLU to decide to take the case after I contacted  them.  I also wrote the U.S. Justice Department but they wrote back that  they could only intervene if there was "a pattern or practice" of discrimination.  When I first learned about this situation, there were over sixty HIV positive inmates so, if that does not constitute a "pattern of practice" I don't know what does.  The last time I checked, there were over 150 HIV positive inmates.

     The ACLU was eventually able through litigation to get a judge to order that the plumbing be improved and that the inmates receive the three drug  treatment and regular viral load monitoring.  The guards retaliated against the inmates with what was called "a reign of terror" with beatings, fabricated rule infraction reports and solitary confinement.  (Inmates in solitary had to wash their clothes in the toilet.  I forgot to ask whether they had to DRINK out of the toilet bowl, although I remember reading in one of the popular, mainstream magazines (Life? Look?) about a Mississippi  inmate on  death row who did have to DRINK out of the toilet bowl in his solitary cell.   I remember reading this sometime in the 1950's.)

      The lower court would not remove the class counsel for the inmates and replace him with the ACLU, even though all of the 150 HIV positive inmates asked that the ACLU be their class counsel.  The inmates' class counsel, Ronald Reid Welch, had been the inmates' class counsel for twenty years, in one year receiving nearly $100,000.00, while doing virtually nothing for the inmates.  The ACLU eventually won on the appellate court level, replacing Ronald Welch.  The situation as reported to me by the ACLU lawyer for the inmates, as I contacted her at intervals of several months for updates, was that the Appellate Court ruling had led to the ACLU's achieving a livable solution to all the problems of the HIV positive inmates except for the lack of air conditioning.  At best, this means that half the problems of the HIV positive inmates have been solved; at best, with the better plumbing and adequate medical care, only about half as many inmates will die.  But with the extreme heat and humidity during the summers at Parchmen, approximately half as many HIV positive inmates will still die.  The ACLU counsel for the inmates, Margaret Winter, told me that no court is likely to order the prison to install air conditioning.

     I sent letters to Physicians for Human Rights and Amy Goodman of the radio program, Democracy NOW!, at the Pacifica Network in the hope that PHR would be in a publicity campaign to pressure the Mississippi Department of Corrections to take the final step of installing air conditioning and that Amy Goodman would cover the plight of the inmates.  But Physicians for Human Rights, which used to have chapters in cities around the country, is now apparently down to one chapter in Boston.  The letters to PHR and Amy Goodman were written in December, 2001.  I have not received a reply from PHR and when I call their office, the secretary cannot tell me anything.  I don't know if  the letter to Amy Goodman got lost in the Pacifica bureaucracy and never reached her, but she has not replied to my letter and I don't know if she has covered the story.

     But the Parchman situation, at least by 1999, had led to my realization on a gut, emotional level, as opposed to only intellectually, that hey, this Parchman situation REALLY is something going on in this country that is just as bad as the atrocities that went on in the death camps of Nazi Germany and the former Yugoslavia and what happened in those medieval dungeons!  Actually, that realization came as soon as I read the letter from Mike  (Julius) Neilson, a former resident of Bloomington and then current Parchman inmate to ACT-UP/MINNESOTA asking for help in August, 1997.  The additional realization I reached at least by 1999, sometime during the stretch between the District Court's decision and the Appellate Court's favorable decision in the ACLU's appeal, after I had been already been slogging away with this case for two years and having started with the realization that it rested on  my shoulders as a single individual to organize a fight against an entire state to win justice for the inmates, was that, having grown up in the 40's and 50's, I had grown up being taught that our government didn't do things like this, that things like this didn't happen in America!  I had realized intellectually in the 1960's that our government was not the proponent of unalloyed goodness that I had been taught it was, but now it struck me on a  gut, emotional level that our government REALLY was JUST AS BAD as those other governments I had cited.  I did not realize the full significance of my realization until a week  later while I was listening to the news on the radio and found I was getting excited over the realization that unlike most of the people in the world outside my apartment, I really understood what was happening.
     
     This gut realization that our government REALLY is this BAD was like what people who have mystical experiences have in that it did not give me a special route to knowing new facts, but gave me a sudden new emotional attitude to the facts I already knew.  But, this moment of illumination not only threw into high relief facts that I already knew, but brought my attention to facts that I had previously noticed in the back of my mind, facts which I was only peripherally, if at all, aware of.
     
     I said to someone a short time later that I had grown up being taught  that our government didn't do things like this and that I expected at least that much.  He indicated that my expectation was unrealistic, "especially for late capitalism."  I thought about this for awhile; is it true that all  human societies must inevitably fall under the control of "power  elites?" that it really is too much to expect a government that actually represents the will of the majority of its people, where police only used the minimum of force necessary to subdue criminals, where prison guards only used the minimum of force needed to keep inmates under control, where Departments of Corrections did not preside over death camp like conditions for its inmates, where the government is actually trying to promote freedom around the world  instead of supporting dictatorships, etc?

     Some of the founders of the United States tried to achieve such a government by establishing a tripartite system of checks and balances - legislative, executive and judicial - and the ACLU has proposed a special prosecutor with his or her own investigative staff to investigate accusations of police brutality since county and state attorneys are reluctant to prosecute the police upon whose cooperation they depend to prosecute criminal cases.  A tripartite system prevents any one group from monopolizing power since the other parts of the triad can keep watch over each one.  So maybe, by abolishing large concentrations of economic power - i.e. overthrowing capitalism - extending democracy into the economic realm, maintaining free elections, civil liberties, freedom of the press, etc and extending tripartite checks and balances throughout the institutions of our society, we can really have a government and society that is like what we were told we already have.  It was within a week of this conversation that  the realization that our government REALLY WAS THIS BAD and that we REALLY  DID HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPECT THE KIND OF GOVERNMENT WE WERE TOLD WE ALREADY  HAD, that my gut realization solidified.

     This experience did not give me a special route to knowing new facts other than the ordinary route of tedious empirical investigation.  It did not give me direct knowledge of the existence of God or put me in direct touch with a "ground of being;" in fact, I am still an atheist.  I suppose mystics who have a sudden realization of the "basic rightness" of  everything would also be an example of acquiring a whole new attitude towards facts already known.  But, I would still say that anyone who has an "illumination" of the "basic rightness" of the plight of the HIV positive Parchman inmates, a feeling that everything including the situation at Parchman is "just right," is suffering from an hallucination, even if it is only an attitudinal hallucination.

     My experience, incidentally, should only be considered a minor mystical experience in that it was only a realization and new attitude towards the society I am living in; it was not an "A-ha!" experience about the whole universe.  I doubt that anything useful would result from an A-ha! experience or attitudinal shift about anything transcending our range of experience and knowledge as the whole universe.

     Another example of how the U.S. government REALLY IS THAT BAD is exemplified by the issue of medical marijuana.  But first, a basic principle of ethics is that no one has the right to interfere with the behavior of anyone else unless it harms him or her. If you don't like commercial sex or prostitution, then don't participate in it yourself; neither a buyer or a vendor be.  But you have no right to interfere if someone else wants to buy or sell sex.  This includes supporting laws that make commercial sex illegal. You're out of line, and at least half of the evils of this world are due to people who just won't mind their own business.  If you don't like abortion, then neither have or perform one yourself.  But mind your own business is someone else chooses to have or perform one.  And if you don' t like marijuana (or heroin or cocaine or crystal meth, for that matter), then don't use it yourself and mind your own business if other people use it.

     But beside the ethical principle that no one has the right to interfere with behavior that does not affect other people, the government is continuing its drug jihad in the face of evidence that marijuana has important medical uses.

     Drs. Steven Sallan and Norman Zinberg published their results demonstrating that marijuana was a superior anti-vomiting agent for patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy in the October 15, 1975
New England Journal of Medicine.  Dr. Alfred Chang confirmed these results in the December, 1979 Annals of Internal Medicine.  Fourteen states and the District of Columbia conducted studies of the medical efficacy of marijuana before the federal government forced the states to halt their research.    The Tennessee study included over 100,000 people and found that 90.4% of the people could control their nausea and vomiting by smoking marijuana but that only 66.7% of the people were successful when they took Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, one of  the active ingredients of marijuana, in pill form.  As opposed to smoked marijuana, which acts almost immediately, patients suffering from severe nausea and vomiting often had trouble keeping the THC-9 pill down long enough for it to begin to work.

     Drs. Robert M. Hepler and Ira M. Frank reported that marijuana is effective in treating glaucoma in the September 6, 1971
New England Journal of Medicine.  Glaucoma is a disease in which the build up of severe pressure in the eye leads to blindness.  The Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Pharmacology of Cannabis, held in Savannah, Georgia in December, 1974 reported that other cannabinoids in marijuana were more effective with glaucoma than Delta 9 THC.  THC 8, for example, was far superior. Drs. Hepler and Frank, along with J.T. Ungerleider, reported on the superior efficacy of marijuana in treating glaucoma in the December, 1987 American Journal of Opthalmology.

     Marijuana has also proven superior to the THC pill in the treatment of the muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.  During hearings before Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young of a case brought by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Valerie Cover, who had been confined to a wheel chair because of multiple sclerosis, testified that she was able to resume her normal activities after smoking marijuana for three months and that her symptoms would resume each time she stopped using marijuana.  At the end of hearings that took place between 1987 and 1988, Judge Young ruled that marijuana was useful for nausea, glaucoma, muscle spasticity, stimulating appetite, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, pain, asthma, and alcohol and other drug withdrawal.

     The
Star Tribune of May 29, 2003 (p. D1) reported that about 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Over 1 million end up on chemotherapy.  About 70% to 80% experience nausea and vomiting during their treatment.  In other words, at least 700,000 people suffer nausea and vomiting each year because of the government's ban on marijuana, which mounts up to millions of sufferers after three years.  How many more People With AIDS suffer and have their deaths hastened because they cannot keep their food down or absorb adequate nutrition or because they don't have the appetite to even eat a sufficient amount of food and are denied the appetite stimulating effects of marijuana? How many more are condemned to blindness or confinement to a wheelchair because the government has made the medicine that can help them illegal?  But, of course, we are taught that our government wouldn't condemn millions of its citizens to suffering, disability and death.  These things don't happen in America!

     The right to due process of law has been abolished in many cases because of the government's fanatical drug war jihad.  The federal government can now confiscate property worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on the mere suspicion that the property was acquired with money from drug dealing.  Even if the victim of the confiscation is acquitted in a criminal trial, he or she must sue the government to recover their property.  Yet Amendment V of the U.S. Constitution states that "no person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property (my emphasis) without due process of law..."  And Amendment VII requires that "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars (my emphasis), the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law."  Yet the government can now confiscate property without a trial, even though the U.S. Constitution requires that there can be no confiscation in criminal cases without "due process of law," and, even in civil suits, where "the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved."

     We threw out the British for less than this, taxation without representation.  But now we have confiscation without trial.  We considered it the right of the Serbian people, when they were under the thrall of a tyrannical government, to take to the streets to regain their rights. Should not the citizens of the United States have no less a right? The Serbian revolution was achieved primarily non violently, although the threat of violent means was always there, lurking in the background.  Yet our ancestors (at least the ancestors of those of us of European ancestry whose ancestors were in this country before or during the Revolutionary War of  1775 to 1783) even raised armies, i.e. they used violence, and we considered it their right.  And Thomas Jefferson said it was the right of the people to alter or abolish their government when it no longer met their needs.  Doesn't the present generation of Americans still retain this right?

     Furthermore, the courts no longer allow the medical necessity defense, either not allowing the defense lawyers to raise it at all or instructing the jury, if there is one, to not consider it.  Yet the necessity defense is generally allowed in most cases, i.e. if you are lost in the woods in thirty below temperatures, you can avoid criminal liability by raising the necessity defense if you break into a cabin and even start a fire in the fireplace and even eat any food that is stored in the cabin.  Yet, if you must smoke marijuana to control the nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and AIDS, avoid blindness from glaucoma, control the muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries, or for a host of other reasons, you are not allowed to raise the defense of medical necessity because of some legal sophistry.

     Also, for a very long time in English common law, juries have had the power to acquit, even if there is guilt according to the laws in force, if they determine that a verdict of guilty would be unjust.  Yet, defense lawyers and defendants are not allowed to raise this defense.  The defense lawyers would be cited for contempt and lay defendants would be ordered by the judge to stop if they tried to inform the jury that they had this power and the jury would be instructed to disregard what the defendant had said.  He or she would be cited for contempt and fined or jailed if she or he continued to inform the jury that they had this power in violation of the judge's orders.

     One of the many outrageous cases resulting from this legal tyranny and sophistry is the case of Peter McWilliams, author of "Ain't Nobody' s Business If You Do."  McWilliams had been arrested after attempting to control his nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy with marijuana.  Upon his conviction and placement on probation, he was told that not only would he be imprisoned if he smoked marijuana but that he would be regularly drug tested and the property which he intended to will to his family would be confiscated. After vainly attempting to control his nausea and vomiting with the inadequate FDA approved drugs, he was found dead.  He had died after a severe attack of vomiting.  The government had condemned him to die by vomiting his guts out!

     The Supreme Court also overturned the referendum passed by the majority of California voters to legalize medicinal marijuana although legislating what substances people choose to put in their bodies is not one of the powers granted to the federal government in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.  And Amendment X provides that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

     The U.S. Supreme Court reached a new low in the election of 2000 A.D. when they ordered the vote counting halted before all the votes had been counted.  If five generals had conducted a military coup and ordered the vote counting halted, the government thus established would have been illegitimate and illegal.  A government established by five black-robed Neanderthals on the Supreme Court is equally illegitimate and illegal.  Hence, the government of George II has no more democratic legitimacy than that of George III.  And the news media count of all the votes established that Al Gore won under every scenario in which all the votes were counted.  Again, when Milosevic stole the Serbian elections, we considered it the right of the Serbian people to take to the streets to regain their rights, and even if their implicit threat of violence had been converted into actual violence to regain their rights, we would have considered it their right.  The people of the United States have no less a right.

     In Puritan New England, insane women were hanged as witches.  We are not further advanced when a Texas woman who drowned her five children, a  prima facie indicator of insanity, is sentenced to life in prison.

     Another example of how the U.S. government commits acts which REALLY ARE JUST AS BAD as acts committed by the governments of Nazi Germany and in the former Yugoslavia, as well as the acts committed in medieval dungeons, is the immolation of the Branch Davidians.  The U.S. government has long had the policy in hostage situations to strike as quickly as possible, using the element of surprise to rescue the hostages and capture or kill the hostage takers.  The success of the Peruvian, government in digging a tunnel under the Japanese Embassy where the Shining Path were holding hostages, planting explosives under the floor of the embassy ballroom, which is normally not occupied, setting off the explosives, storming into the Embassy, rescuing all but one of the hostages and killing or capturing the guerillas is an example of the effectiveness of this technique.

     Yet in the case of the Branch Davidians, the government drove tanks up to the Branch Davidians' compound, punched holes in the walls and introduced tear gas through the holes, giving the Branch Davidians more than enough time to set their compound on fire and immolate themselves.  And Janet Reno, the then U.S. Attorney General, claimed that they had microphones planted on the roof and were able to tell that David Koresh was becoming more and more abusive to the children in the compound and thus knew that they had to act soon.  It is very likely that modern listening devices are sensitive enough to pick up normal conversation since they are used to detect the movements of armies miles away.  Therefore it is likely that the government listeners could overhear the Branch Davidians making plans to immolate themselves.  But even if the government listeners could not overhear the Branch Davidians planning to set their compound afire, and could only pick up Koresh's yells and the children's screams, the first point about the generally accepted need for fast and decisive action in such situations still holds.

     And the press mentioned the possibility of the Branch Davidians immolating themselves a number of times before the final holocaust.  The few children who were released from the compound, the ones not sired by Koresh, produced drawings of fiery holocausts when they were examined by psychologists and had verbalized these images and this was widely reported by the press.  Therefore the U.S. government had ample reason to know about the strong possibility of the Branch Davidians immolating themselves.

     We were brought up being told that even in cases where there are criminals holed up, the government doesn't normally permit holed up criminals to burn themselves alive, let alone allow them to burn hostages and small children with them.  We were taught that things like that don't happen in America!  And the press keeps alternating from reports of evidence that the government caused the fire, to reports that a reexamination of the evidence has cleared the government of starting the fire, to reports that there is evidence the government caused the fire.

     Still another example of how the U.S. government commits acts which REALLY ARE JUST AS BAD as the acts of other governments is Ruby Ridge.  Randy Weaver, a right wing, racist, fundamentalist Christian, had been entrapped by the government into breaking some law against possessing certain weapons.  Weaver and his new wife, also a right wing, racist, fundamentalist Christian, and his teenaged son from another marriage had holed up in a cabin on Ruby Ridge.  Federal law enforcement agents had been probing around the cabin for about a year when the final assault began. Weaver's wife was shot in the head by an FBI sharp shooter and killed as she was nursing her new baby.  Weaver's fourteen year old son fought with his father in the ensuing gun battle and was killed.  Weaver was subdued and received a year or two in prison.

     Now we clearly see how the FBI sharpshooter had to shoot Weaver's wife in the head as she was standing by an open window nursing her baby.  Why, she might have come charging out of that cabin swinging her baby by the heels and bashed all those FBI agents brains out and killed them all!

     The case of Richard Jewel, a guard at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics who realized that a bag lying unattended in the park as the crowd was celebrating might be a bomb and got the crowd moved far enough away so that only one person was injured is another example of the U.S. government's stupidity and dishonesty.  When the FBI could not find out who planted the bomb, some of their personnel got the brainstorm that Richard Jewel had planted the bomb so that he could rescue people and have them think he was an hero.  They had no evidence for this supposition but leaked the story to the press anyway.  Jewel and his eighty something mother were harassed with obscene and threatening phone calls and could not even shop at the supermarket without the media following them around with both TV and non TV cameras.  The identity of the bomber eventually became known but the government did not apologize to Jewel, let alone indemnify him and award him the hero's recognition and medal that he deserved.  Even after the administration of Bush, Sr. was succeeded by the Clinton administration, the federal government did not award him the apology and medal that he deserved, with the press reporting that Jewel was still persona non grata within the federal bureaucracy.  The administration of Bush, Jr. has not coughed up the apology and medal either.

     Then there is the case of Wen Ho Lee.  When the government was smarting  with embarrassment over the Chinese government's coup in obtaining America's nuclear secrets, the government looked around for a scapegoat and picked out Lee out of pure racism.  He was Chinese American.  Lee was held in solitary confinement for eight months and when brought to the visiting room to see his daughter, he was handcuffed to the table.  It took a month before his lawyers were able to get him even allowed a radio in his solitary cell.  As the evidence of Lee's innocence mounted and the government became more and more embarrassed as its case came nearer and nearer to collapse, the government finally offered Lee a plea bargain where he would plead guilty to one of the counts the government had trumped up against him and would be released with no further imprisonment.  Faced with a government determined to get him and with multi billions to spend prosecuting him. Lee agreed. His career as a government research scientist was destroyed and he now had a criminal record.  He was convicted of taking computer tapes about top secret nuclear research home to work with on his home computer.  It was a common practice for other government scientists to take computer tapes about secret government research home to work with on their own computers but Lee was singled out.  Richard Deutch, who headed the CIA, also took computer tapes about his work home to work with on his own computer, but there had been no effort to prosecute him.  In a feeble  attempt to lessen its own embarrassment, the government did have Deutch plead guilty to some crime or other a few months later.  But Deutch had not had to spend any time imprisoned.

     In the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, congressional investigators knew of three other woman whom Thomas had sexually harassed besides Anita Hill.  Yet the Senators confirmed Thomas as a Supreme Court Justice after ritually raking him over the coals about Hill.  The Democratic Senators went along with this, apparently putting their unwillingness to bring the system into disrepute over the interests of their own party.

     Also, the May 29, 1996
Star Tribune (p. E1) printed a review of a book by a Black woman, Rebecca Rice, who had adopted a Black male child.  Her son, Jo Jo, was now 23 and had just graduated from Rice University.  Yet as he had grown into adolescence, he would return home "bruised, sometimes bloodied, invariably humiliated after being stopped, frisked and roughed up by the police."  Rice had found that she could not protect her son from being beaten by the police as he grew into adolescence.  The police would explain "He fits the description."

     Isn't this an outrage? That in a country that claims to have "liberty and justice for all," that it is accepted as a matter of course that a black male teenager is far more likely to be beaten by the police than he would be if he were white?  And that this could be printed in a newspaper off-handedly, as if it were something everybody just knew and took for granted without the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the citizens DEMANDING that this situation be put right IMMEDIATELY!  And the solution to the problem of racial profiling should be obvious to any government.  And that is to make it clear that we hired those pigs to protect us from murderers, rapists and robbers, not to work out some racist, sexist or homophobic agenda of their own.  And if they will not or cannot do their job the way we want it done, there are plenty of other people who would be willing to do it the way we want it done.

     The Civil Service Commission has degenerated from a body that protects workers from arbitrary and unjust firing to a body that makes it virtually impossible to fire a policeman for brutality, even if he has cost the city, as in the case of Mike Sauro, a million dollars in damages!  Mass demonstrations and even mass civil disobedience will be necessary to force the replacement of the present Civil Service Commissioners with new Commissioners who will operate under new and reformed rules.  And as for racial profiling, the government should make it clear to the police that if  you don't have any reason to stop the car or make an arrest if it is a white person involved, then you don't make that arrest or stop that car if the person involved is Black, Brown, Yellow or Red!

     There is no excuse for homelessness.  The societies of the developed world are richer than any societies that have previously existed on earth.  If even primitive hunting and gathering societies can take care of their elderly and infirm, there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for our society not doing it as well!

     As for the war in Afghanistan, the pacifist claim that we must let someone kill 3000 people and not retaliate is enraging.  If the pacifist chooses not to resort to violence to keep himself or herself from being beaten, raped or killed, that is a personal, albeit stupid, choice.  But what if she or he must resort to violence to prevent someone else from being beaten, raped or killed?  If he or she is clever enough to prevent another person from being beaten, raped or killed without resorting to violence, we may admire her or his cleverness.  But if there is no other way  except violence to keep someone from being beaten, raped or killed, it is immoral not to resort to it.  Can someone maintain and prove that someone can always prevent assault, rape and murder without resorting to violence?

     However, dropping bombs on Afghani cities and killing people indiscriminately is a war crime, the bombs have only a remote chance of landing where Osama bin Laden or his lieutenants are, and can only make Afghanis less likely to cooperate with U.S. forces in capturing bin Laden. Slipping special forces into Afghanistan to capture or kill bin Laden would have and will have far more chance of success.  President Bush's policies will only provoke more of the bitter hatred that led to the atrocity at the World Trade Center.  The attack on the World Trade Center cannot be justified, of course, since most if not all the victims of September 11 had nothing to do with the U.S. policies that provoked such suicidal retaliation.  But then, President Bush's indiscriminate bombing and slaughter are unjustified for the same reason.

     Virtually all the commentators in the press assured us when 9-11 happened that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and that, in fact, Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda were hostile to one another.  Yet, through constant repetition of the lie that Iraq is responsible for 9-11, the Bush Administration has the majority of Americans believing it.  The oft alleged weapons of mass destruction have never been found in Iraq and we can now paraphrase a much earlier proponent of belief without evidence, Saul of Tarsus, and call the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction not "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" but as the nonsubstance of things never hoped for and the lack of evidence of things not seen.  The much touted weapons of mass destruction have not turned up although chemical and biological weapons manufacturing facilities and both nuclear weapons and their manufacturing facilities are large, bulky and hard to hide.  Since one of the President's constitutional duties as Commander In Chief is to keep us accurately informed about dangers to the nation and effectively counter them, the malfeasance in office involved in fabricating false reports of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is an impeachable offense!

     The Bush administration has now changed the reason for the war on Iraq to freeing the  Iraqis from a murderous dictator. The actions of the first Bush administration in the first Gulf War proves that freedom for the Iraqi people was never a reason for either Bush administration.  When the U.S. forces under Bush, Sr. were within 100 hours of toppling Saddam Hussein and presumably "freeing the Iraqi people," U.S. forces suddenly halted their advance, allowing Saddam to remain in power and recover his forces so that he could slaughter the Shiites and other revolting groups.

     At the time, the
Star Tribune published a cartoon showing the Allied generals facing a map of Europe with only Germany marked as still under Nazi control and saying, "We'll force them back into their own borders so that they'll only be able to oppress their own people."  Actually what the United States did in Iraq was far worse, comparable to continuing the embargo on Germany after the War and causing millions of their population to die from starvation and disease.  The United Nations estimated that a million Iraqis died from disease because they were not allowed to import chlorine to purify their water.  There are undoubtedly Iraqi parents who lost not one but several of their children because of the embargo.

     This ought to give us reason to comprehend why there is so much bitter hatred against the U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere around the world that there are people willing to immolate themselves by crashing airliners into the Pentagon and World Trade Center in order to get at us.  As I have already said, their actions were unjustified because most if not all the people in the World Trade Center did not have anything to do with the policies that led to a million deaths in Iraq and millions of other deaths around the world.  The atrocity at the World Trade Center cannot be justified of course but considering such facts as the deaths of a million Iraqis because the U.S. would not let them import chlorine to purify their water and to import other medicines ought to break through people's naive bemusement as to why people hate us so much that they are willing to burn themselves alive in order to get at us!

     And actually, since National Public Radio and other news media played tapes of U.S. ambassador April Glaspie assuring Saddam Hussein that the U.S. would have no objection if he invaded Kuwait, it seems that Saddam Hussein was set up by the U.S.  For years before the first Gulf War, the press had periodically ran reports on how Iraq was allegedly months away from obtaining nuclear weapons.  The most likely explanation was that the U.S. government had decided that Saddam was a third world client who was getting too big for his britches, even though it was the U.S. who had originally put him in power.

     Now, that the U.S. has invaded Iraq for the second time, we need only contemplate the economic advantages of cheap oil from Iraq, especially since National Public Radio has reported that the U.S. is forcing Iraq to sell its oil at below the world market price, and remind ourselves of the views of  pundits such as Richard Pearl, who is now part of the Bush Administration and who advocated that the U.S. embark on a course towards empire, to understand why the Bush Administration is now trying to digest Iraq in its attempt to make Iraq the first province in a Twenty-first Century Roman Empire.

     Attorney General John Ashcroft and others have been defending the decision to institute military trials (so far, only for non citizens) by arguing that the terrorists are not "entitled" to the protections afforded by due process and civil liberties.  But it is not only "merit" that entitles the accused to due process but also the interests of the rest of us.  If the accused is not permitted to hear the evidence against him or her and present evidence in her or his own defense, we run the risk of convicting someone who is not guilty.  This would leave the person who actually is guilty free and able to inflict another terrorist act on the rest of us.  Due process thus defends the rest of us from being victimized again.

     Another problem with arguing that the accused is not "entitled" to a fair trial is that before we have had the fair trial, we don't know if the accused is, in fact, guilty of terrorism, so by arguing that he or she is not "entitled" because she or he is guilty, we have begged the question by assuming what needs to be proven.

     And finally, we are all entitled to not be convicted of something we didn't do and to live in a society where we don't have to worry about becoming one of the disappeared. The United States has now joined Chile, Argentina, and other dictatorships around the world by acquiring 1100 of the disappeared.

     Upon rereading the U.S. Constitution, I could not find any clause authorizing the President to establish military tribunals.  Yet the Supreme Court has upheld Presidents acting this way at least as far back as Lincoln abolishing the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War.  The Supreme Court has thus been planting the seeds of the destruction of whatever democracy we purportedly have since the Civil War.  Wars typically last for years so there is no justification for the argument that we don't have time for due process. But because of past Supreme Court decisions, it will either require an "extra constitutional moment" to remove the black-robed buffoons presently sitting on the Supreme Court and ride them on a rail over the bridge out of the District of Columbia, and to be as safe as we can, constitutional amendments specifically outlawing the establishment of  military tribunals by presidential fiat before we are free of the danger from our purported democracy's containing within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

     Since my moment of illumination, my realization that the U.S. government REALLY is THAT BAD, I feel like I am privy to a special knowledge about the true nature of U.S. society.  But, as I have previously stated, this illumination has not given me an extra empirical way of knowing new facts, only an entirely new outlook on the facts I already know and an extra sensitivity and likelihood of noticing facts whose significance I did not realize before.  An analogy might be suddenly deciphering a visual puzzle upon realizing what the puzzle was supposed to represent.  Out knowledge about the position and orientation of every line and dot of the picture is exactly the same as they were before; yet the lines and dots have taken on a whole new meaning in a new context.

     There is nothing transcendent or supernatural about such an experience.   The prominent British Agnostic, Bertrand Russell, once described a mystical experience he had had in
Mysticism and Logic.  It can also be described as a writ large version of the aha experience involved in telling, or thinking of, someone, "I've just realized how despicable, or admirable, you are!"  In my case, the aha experience was writ somewhat larger in that I suddenly realized JUST HOW BAD the U.S. government and ruling class is!

     Actually, the only new significance I realized with respect to facts I already Knew was with respect to Ruby Ridge.  I had been bothered in the back of my mind by the FBI sharpshooter shooting Randy Weaver's wife in the head.  I am embarrassed to say that I only had a vague discomfort about the way Randy Weaver's wife died.  One shouldn't have to have a moment of mystical illumination to realize that the government had no reason and should not have killed a nursing mother as she was standing by an open window by shooting her in the head.  But we all tend to take habitual injustices for granted until we find a new way of thinking about them.  Bush stealing the 2000 election with the aid of five black-robed Neanderthals on the Supreme Court happened after this moment of illumination so, at most, it only helped me realize the full implications of this theft a little sooner than I otherwise would have.


Page 2

Illumination

An Open Letter To Senator Michele Bachmann, RE: Same-Sex Marriage

9/11 Allowed To Occur

9/11: Further Replies

The Folly of Lesser-Evilism

Gay Marriage:  The Afghanistan Connection

We Should Be Mad As Hell And Refuse To Take It Anymore

Lavender Debate On Supporting Democrats

Home

Regime Change Needed At Home

Why Do You Cling To A Religion That Has Burned You At The Stake For 2000 Years

Military Tribunals Are A Security Threat

Bombing Civilians Not "Eye For Eye"

Oil, Empire and Lies

No Pledge Of Allegiance

Historical Bigotry

Police Brutality

Marijuana And Medicine

Pro-Medical Marijuana Letter to MN Legislators

An Agnostic's Reply

OpEd and TruthOut's Kennedy Article Leave No Excuse For Indecision About Theft Of '00 and '04 Elections

Malign Intent Behind Conservative Philosophy


Page 3

Reply To Green Theists

Mpls. City Councilor, Lisa Goodman No Friend of Northwest Airlines Mechanics

Human Rights Complaint To Amnesty International and U.N.

More Amnesty International

Holberg Learns What It's Like To Be Treated Unfairly By The Majority

Minnesota Supreme Court--33 Years of Homophobic Rulings

Links:

The Pen


To email Robert Halfhill CLICK HERE

AN OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR MICHELE BACHMANN, RE: SAME SEX MARRIAGE

by Robert Halfhill

I have a number of points to make in opposition to your proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman.  The first point is that your claim that marriage has been limited to one man and one woman throughout human history ignores the fact that same sex marriages have been honored in many cultures.  George Devereux  reports in "Institutionalized Homosexuality of the Mohave Indians," printed in Human Biology, 1937, as well as in his "Mohave Ethnopsychiatry and Suicide," put out by the Government Printing Office in 1961, that the Mohave performed Gay marriages as late as the 1890's.  E. Evans-Pritchard says in Kinship and Marriage Among the Neur (pp. 108-9) that it was not uncommon for the Neur to perform marriages between two women. According to R. Spencer and J. Jennings in The Native Americans (p. 373), many of the berdaches among the Teton Indians of the Dakotas became the second wives of prominent men.  (The berdache among the American Indians and many other indigenous cultures around the world were men who dressed in women's clothing and who often served as the medicine men and religious figures in the societies.)  E.A. Hoebel says on page 77 of The Cheyennes that the Cheyennes had a similar institution.  Ruth Benedict reports in Patterns of Culture, published in 1934, that the Berdache took husbands among the Zuni Indians.  C.S. Ford and F.A. Beach report in Patterns of Sexual Behavior, published in 1952, that the Shamans of the Siberian Chukchee often lived as wives also.

Before the European colonization, the American Indians living in what later became Minnesota had a place in their society of honor and prestige for Gays and Lesbians and also, as we shall see from the autobiography of John Tanner, the institution of same sex marriage.  Thomas A. MacKenney in his sketches of a Tour to The Lakes, of the Character and Customs of the Chippewa Indians and of Incidents Connected with the Treaty of Fond du Lac mentions in a letter dated August 4, 1826 the man-woman, men who dress as women and perform all the tasks allotted to women among the Chippewa.  MacKenney's letter is cited on pages 214-25 of Jonathan Katz's
Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.  Both the fact of the acceptance of same sex marriage among the Chippewa and European disapproval of the same institution comes through in the autobiography of John Tanner, who was kidnapped while still in his teens from Kentucky by the Indians and who lived among the Chippewa for thirty years before returning to live among the whites.  In A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, (U.S. Interpreter of the Sault de Saint Marie, ) During Thirty Years Residence among the Indians, Tanner tells of being "almost driven from the lodge" where he was staying when the son of a chief who lived at Leech Lake who was an agokwa took up residence and made it clear that she had "come a long distance to see me and with the hope of living with me.  She often offered herself to me, but not being discouraged with one refusal, she repeated her disgusting advances until I was almost driven from the lodge."

John Boswell in his
Same Sex Unions In Pre-modern Europe has even documented the performance of same sex marriages in the Christian Church in classical and in medieval times, and in some parts of Europe, as late as the 19th century.

Secondly, you have argued that allowing same sex marriage would undermine "the fabric of the family on which society depends."  All the people who are inclined to enter this "fabric of the family and society" by entering a heterosexual marriage will not have their inclination to marry heterosexually altered or diminished in the slightest degree when same sex marriages win legal recognition.  But even more crucial is the fact that heterosexual marriage is not helped - in fact it is even harmed - by forcing people who are not suited for heterosexual marriage because they are Gay or Lesbian to enter heterosexual marriage anyway because of social pressure, society's disapproval of same sex relations still causes many Gays and Lesbians to enter heterosexual marriages in a misguided attempt to "straighten themselves out."  M. Saghir and E. Robins in the first part of their article "Homosexuality" in the February, 1969
Archives of General Psychiatry found that 19% of Lesbians had been married and subsequently divorced, in the--second part of their article in the August, 1969 Archives of General Psychiatry, Saghir and Robins along with B. Walbran found that 14% of Gay men had been married and subsequently divorced.  These divorces are not only emotionally painful for the adults involved but they must be especially traumatic for any children involved who see the two adults on whom they are dependent for love and security breaking apart.  This societal bigotry, part of which is the unequal restriction of the right to marry to only the heterosexual part of the population, which impels Gays and Lesbians to enter heterosexual marriages in a futile attempt to "straighten themselves out" leaves traumatized adults and children behind and harms, not helps, the institution of heterosexual marriage.

Another argument brought up by opponents of same sex marriage is that it will teach children that "homosexuality"  is "an acceptable lifestyle."  Of course, this argument could be brought up in opposition to any attempt to allow liberty.  In the days when there were religious wars and the followers of the dominant religion in any particular state attempted to outlaw all competing religions, many parents would have protested that they did not want their children exposed to other people openly practicing those "false religions."  As a woman from Prior Lake testified before the legislature in the early 1980's in opposition to a proposed Gay rights law, "when you pass laws like this, you are telling my children it is alright."  Actually the state was not saying anything about whether any lifestyles were "alright" or "not alright" when a Gay rights bill was finally passed in 1993, just as it had not been saying what particular religions were "alright" or "not alright" when it had earlier passed laws against religious or racial discrimination.  The state was merely saying that if you are in a position to employ or rent to people, there will be legal sanctions against you if you arbitrarily refuse to hire or rent to people on the basis or their religion, or race, and now, sexual orientation.  If you are in a position to control access to public or private accommodations by, for instance, being the driver of a publicly owned bus or the manager of a private restaurant, you may not deny access to people of certain religions, races, sexual orientations, etc without being liable to legal sanctions.  Just as society is justified in not allowing people to exercise their private property rights by maintaining a store of hazardous or explosive chemicals on their property if that property is in the midst of a crowded urban neighborhood, society has found that when there is widespread bigotry against particular groups, the toxic social effects of many individual, bigoted, personal decisions is to create groups that are ill housed and under or unemployed.  There are also the toxic social effects of the justified anger of the individual members of the discriminated-against-groups against the larger society and against members of the dominant community.

Actually, in a pluralistic society with many differing values and moral codes, the only grounds for outlawing any behavior has to be limited to whether the behavior does demonstrable, concrete harm to other people.  Else, the only alternative the differing religious and ideological groups will have is to come to blows in an attempt to seize control of the state so they can impose their views by force.  In order to avoid such religious warfare, the standard of demonstrable and concrete harms to others must be strictly adhered to and the views of any particular religious group towards Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders should never be allowed to determine how we are treated by the law, whether it be the criminal law, anti-discrimination law or the legal status society gives our intimate relations through the institution of marriage.

Fourthly, opponents of same sex marriage have raised the bugaboo of people in other countries suffering legal sanctions because of negative opinions they have expressed about Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders.  However our country is unique among the democracies in guaranteeing freedom of speech and opinion so those who express bigoted, anti-GLBT attitudes need not worry about being legally prosecuted.  In Canada and Western Europe, one can be legally prosecuted for expressing racist, Nazi or anti-GLBT views but the written Constitution of this country expressly forbids such political correctness run amok.  Of course, the words of a constitution cannot simply leap off the page and enforce themselves,  this is a reason why anti-GLBT bigots might find it in their interests to ensure that all the provisions of the Constitution, including the provisions against enshrining the doctrines of any particular religion into law, are strictly adhered to.  If the doctrines of a particular religion are enacted into law, the violation of one provision of the constitution may tomorrow may be used by the promoters of political correctness  as a precedent to violate the free speech rights of anti-GLBT bigots.

Fifth, opponents of same sex marriage also raise the argument that only a heterosexual marriage can produce new life so this is a factual reason for giving heterosexual marriage a special status.  But as long as two people in their nineties are allowed all the benefits of heterosexual marriage, this argument must be dismissed as nothing more than a desperate searching around for reasons to justify the present discriminatory laws limiting marriage to heterosexuals.

Sixth, opponents of same sex marriage argue that it threatens the sanctity of marriage.  The same number of heterosexuals who think now that their marriage has some sort of religious "sanctity" will think the same after the day when same sex marriage becomes legal.  You will not on that day have legions of heterosexuals saying to one another; "Oh honey, our marriage has lost its sanctity!  It has been desecrated!  We're going to have to get a divorce!"

Seventh, the argument is also made that if we let the barriers down, people will argue for polygamy, or letting people marry their children, or even marrying animals, etc.  If these proposals ever come before legislative bodies, legislatures will not automatically adopt them.  Most of the people who support same sex marriage will have a host of reasons not to support these extensions.  These and other arguments will be raised if such proposals come before legislatures, and if the majority of the legislators consider these objections to these extensions of the right to marry valid, the legislators will be under no compulsion to pass than.

And eighth, I almost forgot the argument that a small group of "activist judges" are not allowing the people to vote on same sex marriage.  But the U.S. Constitution has provisions requiring super majorities to amend it and which permit judges to override legislative enactments precisely to prevent 51 % of the population from getting together and outlawing the other 49%.  While the above possibility might seem rather theoretical, unpopular minorities would never have got the first civil rights laws passed without "activist judges."  If it were not for the much maligned "activists judges," the first desegregation laws would never have been enacted!

Sincerely,

Robert Halfhill


9/11 ALLOWED TO OCCUR (A REPLY)

by Robert Halfhill

I myself have reached the conclusion that the government allowed 9/11 to occur. Although some of the actions and inactions of the government can be explained as bureaucratic stupidity, the entire chain of stupidities is too implausible to be credible.

The most important implausibility is that although the military air defense system has been portrayed as being on hair trigger alert, we are asked to believe that ten years after the end of the cold war, the U.S. air defense system had deteriorated to the point that the military could not scramble its fighters in time to defend the World Trade Center and the Pentagon! Everybody knew that the world was still a dangerous place after the demise of the Soviet Union. And the civil air control system has every plane flying in the country in its radar and can detect a plane going off its assigned course immediately. The stupidity is compounded when we learn that the organizational protocol was for the civil air traffic control system to inform the military air defense system immediately whenever a plane deviates from its assigned course.

Secondly, no plans were made to defend the World Trade Center after the first terrorist bombing in 1993. I have never had any government job where I was responsible for counter espionage or forestalling terrorist attacks. I have never had any training in these subjects either. Yet I realized immediately after the 1993 bombing that the terrorists would try to hit the World Trade Center again given its symbolic importance as the center of world capitalism and we would have to be successful in fending off every attempt, whereas the terrorists only had to be successful once. If I, a layperson who had no experience with counter espionage or counter terrorism could think of this, can we believe that the government officials responsible for counter terrorism and counter espionage didn't think of it? Incidentally, the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 could have demolished one of the buildings support pylons. If that had happened, the World Trade Center would have fallen on at least five surrounding blocks (a standard block is 200 feet long) and more people would have died in 1993 than in 2001.

Third, the Minneapolis FBI Office wanted to go into Zacarias Moussaoui's computer after his arrest but the Washington FBI office opposed it. When the Minneapolis Office sent its report to Washington justifying its request, the Washington Office rewrote it so the special espionage court rejected it!

Fourth, the Phoenix, Arizona Office had taken note of the number of middle eastern men enrolling in flight training. One of the Phoenix agents warned the Washington Office that a plane could be used as a weapon. And I, without any background in terrorism had thought of this much earlier. I can remember it being mentioned at a meeting of the Gay Men's Political Discussion Group in the 1980's that planes were not allowed to fly within one mile of the White House. I wondered what could prevent someone from turning a plane at the last minute and crashing into the White House. If I could think of this, why couldn't the government?

Finally, and fifth, the CIA had detected a great deal of chatter on the internet indicating that an attack on the U.S. was immanent. Yet no extra precautions were taken. One of these blunders might be explained away as bureaucratic stupidity. But five?

However, I have some problems with Tim Davis' theories about 9/11. First, if the passengers on four planes were taken as prisoners to another four planes, how did the terrorists solve the logistical problem of transferring not one, but four planeloads of captives to another four planes? Large passenger planes cannot land at isolated clearings in the woods; they require large airports with runways over ten thousand feet long. And since the air traffic control system can detect a plane going off course as soon as it happens, how did the terrorists manage to spirit the first four planes away and where did they hide them! And finally, it is generally known that the passengers made many cell phone calls about their situation. Why didn't they call about the terrorists taking them from one plane to another? And if the terrorists did not allow the passengers to make calls until they boarded the second set of planes, how could the terrorists stop them from talking about it when they did make calls? If the terrorists had threatened to kill them it they did, the passengers who would have received cell phone calls about the first planes crashing into their targets would have realized they had nothing to lose and at least a few of them would have managed to blurt it out.

NEWSWEEK in its article about the neoconservatives quoted Richard Pearl as saying maybe the American people needed another Pearl Harbor to wake them up. In fact, all of Americas's entry into wars since the 1890's have been preceded by incidents in which questions have been raised. These incidents are the blowing up of the Maine in Manilla Harbor, the sinking of the Lusitania (sp?) prior to World War I, Pearl Harbor before which the U.S. intercepted Japanese cables about the plans to attack Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin incident prior to the escalation of the Vietnam War. I don't know of any incident prior to the Korean War but I wouldn't be surprised if there were one.

9/11 not only justified the second Iraq war in many peoples' minds but also the Patriot Act and other steps toward establishing a totalitarian government.




9/11: FURTHER REPLIES...

by Robert Halfhill

First, large passenger airliners file detailed flight plans before they even take to the air and fly well above the height where they can be detected by the air traffic control radar.

(RICK AHRENS HAD POINTED OUT THERE WERE "DEAD SPACES" WHERE SMALL, LOW FLYING PLANE COULD NOT BE DETECTED BY THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM.)

Secondly, it requires human air traffic controllers to notice when a plane goes off course. We have not developed a computer with an artificial intelligence equal to humans that can automate the process of detecting planes going off course. I have not reread my statement word for word but I believe I didn't even use the word automatic. I said immediately or almost immediately.

(AHRENS HAD "REFUTED" ME AS IF I HAD SAID THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL WAS COMPLETELY AUTOMATED SO THAT COMPUTERS COULD RESPOND WITHOUT HUMAN INTERVENTION. I HAVE CHECKED MY EXACT WORDS AND THEY WERE "AND SINCE THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM CAN DETECT A PLANE GOING OFF COURSE AS SOON AS IT HAPPENS...")

Third, the transcript of the 9/11 events in the 9/11 Commission Report shows the air traffic controllers detected the planes deviating from their flight plans almost immediately. And news accounts about the military air defense system since I was shown movies about in in elementary school in the 1950's did portray it as ready to react with hair trigger speed. Yet we are expected to believe the military could not scramble fighter planes fast enough to defend the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And if the Air Defense system was as fast as it was depicted, they could have shot the planes down before they were over populated cities. And even if they had shot the planes down over New York, I doubt that the flaming debris would have killed as many as the nearly 3000 that did perish.

(AHRENS DEMANDED RHETORICALLY WHERE I WOULD CHOOSE TO SHOOT THE PLANES DOWN OVER NEW YORK AND DESTROY THE BUILDINGS BELOW.)

Finally, Mr. Ahrens made much of the accusation that I did not know about the small private plane hitting the White House. I do remember news accounts of the plane hitting the White House. There are many facts in my background knowledge that I may neglect to include in order to avoid producing a text of unreadable length. I am sure Mr. Ahrens has such facts in his background knowledge too, as do many other people. But Mr. Ahrens' technique seems to be to seize on some bit among the indefinitely large amount of background knowledge we both know, imply that the target of his rhetoric is ignorant of this bit of background knowledge if he or she didn't mention it, and hold forth with a seemingly devastating refutation. I wonder if Mr. Ahrens knows about the plane crashing into the Empire State Building in the 1920's. It was not large enough to threaten the structural integrity of the Empire State Building. I have known about this since the 1940's since I can remember my mother telling me about it when I was a child. But don't worry, Mr. Ahrens. Even if you didn't know this fact, I am not going to use it to attack you as ignorant since even if you didn't know about this fact, your lack of knowledge of this one fact would not prove you are ignorant.

Lastly, Mr. Ahrens creates the impression of delivering a crushing and devastating refutation while missing all the main points. Small, private planes may be able to avoid detection by the air traffic control radar at certain heights and places. But this says nothing about the large passenger planes that were involved in the 9/11 hijackings. The air traffic control system's detecting planes deviating from their assigned flight paths is not automatic in that there are no computers that can do it for us. It requires humans who are trained to interpret radar signals. I don't think I even used the word automatic and, if I did, I did not think it was done by computers with human like artificial intelligence
.





THE FOLLY OF LESSER-EVILISM

by Robert Halfhill

I just sent the following post to OpEdnews in response to someone who said he voted for Nader in 2000 but "learned" that you had to be "practical" and voted for Kerry in 2004. The only thing I would add is that if the arguments herein are sound arguments against supporting the Democrats as the lesser evil, they are equally sound against covert lessers evilism where you secretly hope the Democrats will win by only making a serious attemt to campaign in states where you are not likely to throw the election to the Republicans. David Cobb's Vice Presidential running mate, Pat LeMarche said she wouldn't even vote for herself unless the polls predicted that Kerry would get 70% of the vote in her state.


The Democratic Party is always, on balance, less right wing than the Republican Party but both are moving in the same direction -- to the right. So it is not even practical to support the Democratic Party as the lesser evil. If you are on a run-a-way train speeding towards a cliff, your ultimate fate will be the same, whether you are in the Republican first car or the Democratic second car. You had better, if you value your survival, think outside the box and figure out how to get off the train and vote third party.

The futility of continuing to support the Democratic Party is highlighted when we consider the Planned Parenthood fundraising letter that quotes a former President as saying that "a woman ought not to be denied access to family planning because of her economic circumstance." That President was NIXON, once the greatest of greater evils, the bete noire of everyone on the left. The political climate in this country has moved so far to the right since then that Kerry is now to the right of Nixon.

The extent to which people have been conditioned to ASSUME WITHOUT THINKING that the Democrats are always the lesser evil is vividly illustrated by the antiwar movement shutting down to campaign for Kerry. Polls showed that most people THOUGHT that Kerry was against the Iraq War. But Kerry was on record as saying he would have been for invading Iraq even if he had Known there were no weapons of mass destruction there and that he would send more troops "if the generals asked for them." It should be a no brainer that you cannot fight against the war on Iraq by campaigning for a candidate who would have been for invading even if he had known that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and who would send even more troops if the generals asked for them.

I guess we are fortunate that Bush, Sr. didn't defeat Clinton in 1992. If Bush, Sr. had won, he would have ended welfare as we know it! The Democrats frightening us into supporting them with the threat that the Republicans are even worse has played out on the local, state and national stages. In Minneapolis, the majority of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities supported Democrat Don Fraser for Mayor. But police arrests and brutality against Gays was even worse under Fraser than it was under Charles Stenvig. Stenvig had won as a right wing independent candidate, supposedly the GREATEST EVIL, even more evil than the right wing, greater evil Republicans.

It is for reasons like these that in both 2000 and 2004, I did not let the Democrats scare me with the threat of the Big Bad Bush and voted for Nader both times. I will be voting for either Nader or another third party candidate in 2008

The person who wrote on your blog asked what we would do if our vote really doesn't count and elections continue to be stolen. The answer is scary but we must face up to it. If they continue to steal elections and it is impossible to get them out through the ballot, we will have no alternative but to OVERTHROW THEM! The Serbs, Georgians and the Ukraine did it. Why can't you?




GAY MARRIAGE:
THE AFGHANISTAN CONNECTION


This letter was sent to the STAR TRIBUNE on April 4, 2006

The Republicans and religious right wingers who are trying to exploit same sex marriage as a "wedge issue" are doing exactly what those ignorant mullahs in Afghanistan were doing when they tried to rouse the population against the Afghan government for not executing the Afghan who converted to Christianity. They are both trying to use religious bigotry to gain political power which is a tactic that is beneath contempt.

Secondly, even if the Afghan Muslims ratcheted down their bigotry under international pressure and conceded: "We won't execute Christian converts; we won't even imprison or fine them. We just won't recognize Christian marriages so that the relatives of a deceased Christian's spouse can take all the couple's joint property," that would still be bigotry. If instead of showing the full, naked face of bigotry by killing members of the Christian minority, as the Nazis try to exterminate the Jews, you just deny the minority access to all the rights enjoyed by the majority, it is still a softened form of bigotry.

Right wingers argue that if alternatives to heterosexual marriage such as same sex marriage become legal, there will be less reason for people to enter heterosexual marriage and the institution will collapse. If they think the only way they can motivate people to enter heterosexual marriage is by leaving people with no other alternative, they must not have much confidence in the worth of heterosexual marriage.

When it comes to religious marriage, guarantees of freedom of religion preclude the government from either ordering or forbidding any religion to perform a same sex marriage. But when civil marriage is concerned, it is merely a matter of the government providing all couples access to the same rights and benefits and our constitutional guarantees of equal protection forbid the government from offering these benefits to one group and not the other.

Sincerely,
Robert Halfhill



WE SHOULD BE MAD AS HELL AND REFUSE TO TAKE IT ANYMORE

by Robert Halfhill


Statement by the Gay Supremacist Socialist Alliance Distributed at the Friday, July 10, 1986 Minnesota Alliance Against AIDS protest against the U.S. Supreme Court's Hardwick v. Bowers decision.

Most, if not all, of the things that Gay and Lesbian leaders have and will point out about the June 30, 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of sodomy laws -- that it goes against the separation of Church and State, that it reflects AIDS hysteria, that it is homophobic and bigoted -- are all true. But, with the exception of some mention of a protest against the decision in conjunction with the proposed March On Washington, no one has yet addressed the question of what we are going to do about it.

The first thing we should remember is that the civil rights movement forced businesses to stop discriminating BEFORE civil rights legislation was passed by picketing, sitting in and boycotting. It was in fact this massive pressure that led to the passage of civil rights legislation. We can fight for our rights even without legislation and the current wimpy conservative leadership of the Gay and Lesbian movements is putting the cart before the horse.

Secondly, one demonstration will not overturn the Supreme Court's decision, not to mention the even more wimpy response of limiting ourselves to mere statements of protest. It will take a sustained effort. One of us remembers from his own activities in the civil rights movement how it took over a year of picketing and sitting in to integrate a hotel in Lexington, Kentucky. If we had been satisfied with a one shot demonstration, the hotel would still be segregated. And it would still be legal to segregate since such one shot tactics would have never achieved the passage of civil rights legislation. People should be prepared to continue to fight against this decision after today's demonstration. They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step but you will never complete the journey if you don't take the succeeding steps.

To throw out some ideas on things we could do, we could have a weekly vigil of the Federal Courts Building like segments of the antiwar movement did at the University of Minnesota Armory during the Vietnam War. We could picket or sit in at the Legislature to demand consenting adults and civil rights legislation. We could collect signatures on a statement affirming that we have violated the sodomy law and daring the state to do something about it. Perhaps we could revive Frank Kemeny's slogan of the early 1960's and begin a campaign around the slogan of No Taxes For Second Class Citizens.

A due regard for the extent of human stupidity would cause us to stop at this point. Even though we will point out that people can still carry out some or all of the above suggestions even if they disagree with what follows, we are sure that many people will be too dumb to grasp this point, even after it has been pointed out. And there are grounds for doubt as to how much a community where 150 Gays can watch three straight hoods beating up two other Gays only ten feet away without doing anything can be mobilized to do. (Incidentally, those of you who were in that crowd should be too ashamed to look at your faces in the mirror. You know who your are!)

If the Gay Community were decently organized, we would have an arm of our movement analogous to the IRA in Ireland or the Red Brigades in Italy that would be in a position to make the life term appointments of the five Supreme Court Justices who voted to uphold the sodomy laws somewhat shorter than the actuarial statistics would lead one to expect.

Many people will react with outrage to such a statement but consider an analogy. Suppose you were a Black slave on a pre Civil War southern plantation. You had been kidnapped from your homeland and chained for three months on a narrow ledge while the slave ship transported you to this country. The human waste from the captives chained on the ledges above you had dripped down on you during those three months. On arriving in this country, you had been beaten and forced to work for someone else's profit. Wouldn't you have been justified in killing as many of your captors as necessary to effect your escape? And perhaps a few more for revenge? The only consideration would have been the pragmatic one of whether you could get away with it; there would have been no moral constraints whatsoever.

The present oppression of Gays is more comparable to the present oppression of Blacks and other racial minorities than as it is to slavery. But this is a mere quibble. Does one have to wait until he or she is kidnapped or enslaved before he or she is justified in using any means necessary to resist?

Yet many people have been brainwashed into believing that the law, whatever its nature, whether just or unjust, should be obeyed. But if you have the right to defend yourself when a groups of hoods attacks you, that right is not abrogated if the majority of society gets together and calls their unprovoked assault the law. Far too many people have the attitude of "The law giveth and the law taketh away; blessed be the name of the law."

And if Gays ever want to get anywhere, we will have to stop clinging to Christianity, the flag, and the Democratic and Republican parties. As long as this society does not recognize our rights, the flag should be no more than a star spangled rag to us.

The straights' statistics on child and spouse abuse, as well as straight society's record of war, pollution, overpopulation, racism, sexism, classism, etc proves that it is heterosexual perversion, and not Gays, that is a threat to the continued survival of life on this planet. (By perversion, we mean monstrous immorality and not unnatural, since anything that exists is IPSO FACTO natural and heterosexual perversion, unfortunately, exists.)

The science of ethology has established that the aggressiveness of male (heterosexual) animals is due to the survival advantage of the more aggressive animals who are able to impregnate more females and thus leave more progeny behind -- progeny that inherited their aggressiveness. Female (heterosexual) animals however have been shown to be no less aggressive when the opportunity to attack an animal smaller and weaker than themselves is present. It is thus only the homoerotic component in the genetic makeup of humans and other animals and its ability to form bonds between animals of the same sex that enables any social unit larger than the family to exist. The heterosexual aggressiveness in the human genetic makeup led to slavery, class dominance, war and the subordination of women as our species evolved to intelligence and civilization. Heterosexism is thus the root of most if not all other social ills.

While individual heterosexuals can live moral lives despite their perversion, they are statistically more violent and murderous and when they dominate the society, we have the results we see around us.

Furthermore, since the heterosexual at best has no sexual attraction to members of the same sex, and probably regards the idea of sex with his or her own sex with loathing,, he or she, at best, cannot consider him or herself sexually attractive, and probably regards him or herself sexually with loathing. Since there is a sexual component at the root of all forms of love, this means that he or she cannot really love him or herself. A person who cannot love themselves cannot love others. This is perhaps an even more fundamental reason for the violent aggressiveness of heterosexual perversion.

However, despite the present setback at the Supreme Court, Gays can and will win in the end. Sociobiologist James D. Weinrich has demonstrated in a survey of intelligence tests comparing the relative intelligence of Gays and straights that Gays are more intelligent than straights. ("Non-reproduction, Homosexuality, Transsexualism and Intelligence, Part I: A Systematic Literature Search," JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, Spring, 1978. Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 275-289) At present, heterosexual perversion is a necessary perversion. But in the future, artificial reproduction will become possible and Gays can establish our own independent society. Since Gays are more intelligent than and superior to heterosexuals, the new Gay society will crowd out the heterosexual societies.

Hopefully, at the end, some type of genetic therapy for straights can be devised to cure their perversion and convert them to normal Gay sexuality so that this vicious and violent perversion can be put to a humane rest and a humane but final solution to the problem of heterosexuality can be implemented.





LAVENDER DEBATE ON SUPPORTING DEMOCRATS

This is an exchange of letters in LAVENDER MAGAZINE debating whether GLBTI's should continue supporting the Democratic Party. The first letter is by Robert Halfhill in the June, 14-27, 2002 LAVENDER.

BLUE DFLer LOOKS TO GREENER PASTURES

B.J. Metzger (lavender, May 3, Letters to the Editor) is missing the main point, when she makes the question of whether GLBT and Intersexed people should continue to support the DFL, into the question of whether she is "hypocritical" or our straight supporters in the DFL are "bad." It is just that she and other GLBTI supporters of the DFL are, as she thinks Log Cabin GLBTs are, incredibly wrong.

In Minneapolis, under the liberal, DFL administration of Mayor Albert Hofstede and what was regarded as the even more liberal administration of Donald Fraser, who was welcomed back in Minneapolis as a liberal hero after his martyrdom by Robert Short during Fraser's campaign for the U.S. Senate, police brutality against GLBTIs was worse than it was under Mayor Charles Stenvig. Stenvig was a right wing, third party candidate who was supposed to be even worse than the Republicans.

Going from the local to the national level, I guess we are fortunate that George Bush Sr did not defeat Bill Clinton in the 1992 elections because if Bush had won, he would have ended welfare as we know it! Clinton also promised to end the ban on GLBTs in the military, but, within months of his election, gave us "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which resulted in even more GLBTs being expelled from the military.

And Senator Paul Wellstone turned on us and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the specious grounds that "marriage is for a man and a woman."

There has to be some limit on how evil we will let the lesser evil become before we stop voting for it. If we continue pursuing this tactic of supporting the lesser evil, the greater evil can afford to become more evil, which will leave the lesser evil room to become still more evil, which will allow the greater evil...and so on, ad infinitum. This is what accounts for the steady rightward march of the U.S. political climate.

This is why I did not let the Democrats pull this lesser evil scam on me, did not let the Democrats scare me with the bugaboo of the big, bad Bush, and voted for Ralph Nader in November 2000. It is also why I will be voting for the Green Party this coming November.

Robert Halfhill


My letter was answered by this letter by Koreen Phelps in the June 28, 2002 LAVENDER.

THE CHOICE: WELLSTONE OR RIGHT WING

In response to Robert Halfhill's letter to the editor ("Blue DFLer Looks To Greener Pastures," LAVENDER, JUNE 14): If you want to risk the loss of all your civil liberties, vote for the Green Party this year. Look at Paul Wellstone's voting record, and you will see that he has supported GLBT issues more times than any other senator.

I have nothing but respect for Bob Halfhill. He was one of the key people in the beginning of FREE(Fight Repression of Erotic Expression), the first group to fight for gay rights. However, I must warn Bob and the GLBT community that voting for the Green Party candidate against Wellstone in the coming election would be a big mistake!

Even though I support the existence of third parties, we cannot afford to vote for anyone other than Wellstone this time. If he loses this election, it would allow the right wing to take complete control of the government. Complete control of Congress and the presidency by the right will not be good for us. Need I say more?

Koreen Phelps


I submitted this reply to LAVENDER on July 2, 2002 but it was not printed. July 2, 2002

When Koreen Phelps raises the bugaboo of GLBT's losing "all your civil liberties" if we don't vote for Wellstone, she has failed to grasp the fact that sometimes the Democrats have been WORSE than the Republicans and therefore the GREATER evil.* Again I remind you that under the administration of liberal "hero," Don Fraser, there were MORE arrests and police brutality against GLBT's than under independent right winger, Charles Stenvig who was supposed to be EVEN WORSE than the Republicans. In this case, the "lesser evil" turned out to be the greatest of three evils. Under George Bush, Sr., the old ban on GLBY's in the military would have remained in force and the number of GLBT's expelled would probably have remained at the same level as before. But under Clinton, who had promised to end the ban on GLBT's in the military but who broke his promise as soon as he was elected and gave us "Don't ask, Don't tell," the homophobic military brass was provoked into stepping up the search for GLBT service people. If evidence was discovered, this constituted the service person's "telling." EVEN MORE GLBT's were expelled from the military under Clinton, which meant that Bush, Sr. had turned out to be the LESSER evil.

Furthermore, Wellstone joined the Republicans and most of the other Democrats in voting for the Patriot Act. Under the Act's definition of "terrorism," if even ONE member of a given group engages in the kind of civil disobedience that led to the abolition of racial segregation, the FBI can secretly investigate ALL the members of that group by secretly searching homes, computers and businesses, listen to phone conversations, obtain internet communications, and search medical, financial and student records. Under this "Patriot" Act, non citizens can be deported by secret tribunals, or after no trial at all, and incarcerated for life if no country will take them back. The Act has enabled the government to announce plans for ethnic profiling and listening in on conversations between inmates and their attorneys.

Voting for the Patriot Act is particularly unforgivable since, if we give up our civil liberties, we have no guarantee of ever getting them back.

The Democrats have been pulling this lesser evil scam on us since, at least, the Roosevelt administration, and, the longer we let them pull this scam on us, the longer they will continually become more and more evil.

Robert Halfhill


The Democrats sometimes turn out to be the greater evil and it is useful to point out such instances to liberals in whom the habit of supporting the Democrats as the lesser evil has become so habitual that they often just assume the Democrats are the lesser evil without even investigating. And example of this is how the majority of liberals in 2004 took it for granted that Kerry was against the Iraq War while, in fact, he was for escalating it.

However, for the Democrats to have successfully served as lesser evil bait since 1867, The Democrats by and large and on most issues will have had to have been slightly less right at any given time than the Republicans. But the movement of both is towards the right and this explains the futility of lesser evilism in the long term and, usually, in the short term. If you are on a run-a-way train hurtling down the tracks towards a cliff, the final disastrous impact will only be slightly delayed if you are in the Democratic second car instead of the Republican lead car. To vary the analogy slightly, if the train is hurtling out of control down the tracks towards a raging forest fire, the heat may be momently less stiffling in the Democratic second car than the Republican first car. But the final fiery denouement will be the same.

Since this exchange of letters, Wellstone, most of his family and two members of his campaign staff were killed in a plane crash under questionable circumstances. It was supposed to have been caused by an off kilter radio beacon at Eveleth which was alleged to have been left unrepaired for thirty years even though the danger of such a non repair was illustrated by the plane crash of Wellstone and his party. The Republicans did win Wellstone's seat as Phelps had feared. Bush was allegedly elected again in 2004, although he actually stole the election.

But the independence of the gains made by social movements from the fortunes of the Democrats was vividly highlighted by subsequent developments. After a second Bush win and with Republican Norm Coleman sitting in Wellstone's old seat, the following year witnessed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling sodomy laws unconstitutional and the Massachusetts Court legalizing same sex marriage.

Robert Halfhill


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