Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) Does the Right Thing

Since I am critical of the Republican Party on most issues, and of the conservative base of the GOP even more, I have made it a policy on this blog to note and praise every time I see something done by a Republican politician of which I approve. I have been accused of “knee jerk GOP hatred” which is not true. 

Today, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) signed legislation increasing FL’s tobacco taxes by $1 per package of cigarettes.  Excellent!  It will help curb teen smoking and addiction and it will add $900 million per year to FL state revenues–which will offset the state’s Medicare costs and will help fund research into cancer cures!  Well done, Gov. Crist!

I especially highlight Crist’s actions here because they take some political courage (a virtue always in short supply in either major party).  You see,  Gov. Crist is running for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and this action is bound to be used against him–not by his Democratic opponent in the general election (which increasingly looks to be Rep. Kendrick Meeks (D-FL) ), but by his Republican primary challenger, Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is more conservative than Crist.  The rightwing of the GOP hates any and all taxes.  Crist is very popular in FL and will probably win the primary, but he is not all that popular with the conservative GOP base.  Rubio has been endorsed by national conservative Republican Mike Huckabee (formerly Gov. of Arkansas and former presidential candidate who is now a Fox News pundit) and by Jeb Bush, Jr., son of the former FL Gov. and nephew of George W. Bush.  There is no doubt that the GOP right will use today’s signing to brand Crist as a terrible tax hiker!  He had to know it, too.

So, here’s my hat tip to Gov. Crist for doing the right thing REGARDLESS of the risk.  Politicians of all parties take notice: This is what a spine looks like!

Update:  Of course, Crist had to follow this good deed with a kick in the teeth to injured workers!  Nice, Governor Suntan. I sure hope that your Democratic opponent for the U.S. Senate (probably Rep. Kendrick Meeks) highlights this nastiness in the general election!

May 29, 2009 Posted by | ethics, politics, taxes | 6 Comments

U.S. General: Prisoners Were Raped at Abu Ghraib

I’ve said all along that the torture the U.S. committed was more than so-called “waterboarding,” which used to be called “water torture.” Atrocities happen in every war and should always be prosecuted.  This is the first time in U.S. history, to my knowledge, that committing atrocities was POLICY! 

Now, a U.S. General, Maj. General Antonio Taguba, has said that the classified Abu-Ghraib photos show far worse abuse than we knew, including at least one picture of a U.S. soldier raping a female prisoner!!  Another shows a male translator (military or contractor?) raping a male prisoner!!  Other photos show such graphic abuse as sexual assaults on prisoners with objects, such as phosphorescent bulbs, truncheons, and a wire!!!!!

Years back, when Bush called the Abu Ghraib incidents the work of a “few bad apples,” Pvt. Linsay Graham Lynndie England  (shown in photos taunting nude male prisoners) claimed she was being punished for others’ crimes.  She spent 6 years in jail, but so far the rapists are free.  And now de-classified documents show that, far from being the work of a “few bad apples,” the Abu  Ghraib prisoner abuse in Iraq was the result of the “interrogation” program designed by Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, with the collusion of the Dept. of Justice under Ashcroft and the White House legal counsel with Gonzalez and Yoo, and first worked out at the prison in Guantanemo Bay.

THESE ARE WAR CRIMES.  They are war crimes designed at the highest levels  of the Bush government, possibly with the collusion of some high ranking Democrats.

DEMAND that Attorney General Holder appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute ALL who are responsible for these crimes!! 

Currently, in my state (Kentucky), a U.S. soldier has just received life imprisonment for rape and murder in Iraq.  I am glad to see justice done here. But this was a random atrocity of the type that so often happens in war (another argument for pacifism, in my view). It was not policy and not systematic.  The torture program WAS policy and not only the lower levels should pay the price.  Here is where I agree with Dick Cheney. He says he wants to spare the grunts “just following orders.” Fine. So, let’s indict the ones who gave the orders, INCLUDING CHENEY.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | torture | 6 Comments