Principles

Robert P Casey Jr, Senator for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Joeseph Simon Donnelly, Senator for Indiana
Christopher Coons, Senator for Delaware
Mary Kathryn Heitkamp, Senator for North Dakota
Joseph Manchin III, Senator for West Virgina
Mark Lunsford Pryor, Senator for Arkansas
John Walsh, Senator for Montana

Honorable Senators,

All of you have distinguished yourselves by failing your President, in the Senate of the United States on March the 5th, 2014. You could have helped the President of the United States get his appointment confirmed to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, but you chickened out. You voted against President Barack Obama’s candidate: Debo Adegbile.

You are all members of the Democratic party – doesn’t that mean when the President of your party selects someone to work for him; you should vote to confirm his choice: if the candidate is qualified.

Why did you vote against Debo Adegbile? Is he not qualified?

The reason your ‘Honorable’ Republican colleagues in the Senate voted against him is because he successfully led a team of NAACP lawyers representing Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American man convicted of the murder of a policeman – Daniel Faulkner- in Pennsylvania: reducing his sentence on appeal from death to life imprisonment. The fact that Debo Adegbile was able to get the Supreme Court to vacate a death penalty sentence seems to more than demonstrate Mr. Adegbile’s competence as a lawyer and advocate. Debo Adegbile also had a strong case, at the time of Daniel Faulkner’s murder in 1981, Philadelphia was having an inter-racial war. Even the highly biased United States Supreme Court could not fail to recognize several irregularities in the trial against Mumia Abu-Jamal, and decided that his death sentence should be struck down. At the time of his original 1982 trial, Mumia Abu-Jamal faced a racially hostile court with defiance. As a witness, he testified more against the unfairness of the court itself; his judge – Albert F. Sabo – and his attorney – Anthony E. Jackson – rather than speaking to the facts of the case against him.

We still have not discovered why you voted against confirming Debo Adegbile.  He seems like the perfect candidate to lead the Civil Rights division in the Department of Justice. Is it because Debo Adegbile is a black man?

There is little doubt why your Republican colleagues voted against Debo Adegbile’s confirmation – the institutional racism of the Republican party is well established.

Why did you vote with the Republicans?

Giving you the benefit of the doubt – assuming you are not racists yourselves. It seems you voted along with your racist Republican colleagues against a highly qualified African-American candidate for high office; because of your fear that Republicans in your state might find some racist candidate to run against you in the mid-term elections. So, you voted as you did because of your fear of losing your job. What if you had voted for Debo Adegbile anyway? We would have had one more good man in the Justice department. We are not going to defeat racism in the United States by siding with the racists. In your vote on Debo Adegbile, even if you do not hold racist views yourself, you have now demonstrated with this vote: the same racism as your Republican colleagues.

Political office should not be an end in itself. It is an opportunity to act with justice.

Take a stand.
Judge people on their merits.
Get out there and campaign about fairness.
You might be surprised – I believe most Americans are trying to be fair.
Americans will support someone who is principled – doing what they feel is right.

Secrets

President Barack Obama,

I am glad to see you issuing your recent executive orders. With Congress tied up in partisan knots – especially in the House of Representatives – it is not likely that anything productive will come out of the Congress until after the mid-term elections.

There was a news story last week that I thought I might bring to your attention. It is Senator Feinstein’s change of heart about her friends at the CIA. It is not christian, or gentlemanly of me; but I must now laugh at Senator Feinstein. She has certainly made of herself an idiot on this issue.

Even though Senator Feinstein has immunity to release the Intelligence committee approved 6000+ page report on CIA wrongdoing to the public – by simply publishing it in the Congressional record – she has not done so. Even after all the recent revelations leaving Senator Feinstein repeatedly embarrassed by the brazen lying of the Intelligence community to her oversight committee – she still does not understand or is too intimidated by the Intelligence services to do her job. She cannot even bring herself to use the word ‘torture’ in open session in the Senate of the United States: even after we all know that torture has taken place. She seems to have forgotten why she is in the Senate, and to whom she should be responsible.

One thing has kind of been overlooked in all the reporting on this issue. The Central Intelligence Agency works for you. As President of our United States, you can call the CIA and order them to do things. If they do not do them – you could order the army over to Langley, Virginia to take the place apart. But. you. have. not.

If you wanted to, you could order the declassification of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report. Don’t you know by now, that a government report that is this damaging and sexy will be leaked by somebody? Some anonymous staffer in the Senate or in the CIA will leak the report. If you release this report, you can get out in front of this issue instead of having it drag you around like an over-sized dog. It is already being reported, that this is just the latest way that you are covering up the crimes of the Bush Administration. You are not running for office again. You have nothing to lose by declassifying this report and everything to gain. Your gain could be the restoration of the honor of our United States.

The report will be released: now or later.

The release of the report could be to your credit, or will add to your already established legacy of covering up for George W Bush.

It is up to you.

page 1

letter page one

page 2

letter page two

page 3

letter page three

page 4

letter page four

Abdel Malik al-Rahabi

President Barack Obama,

I have been remiss in my duty to my fellow men – especially the men which our government is holding prisoner in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

A story about Abdel Malik al-Rahabi was posted on the New York Times web site on March 12th. Abdel Malik al-Rahabi has been imprisoned by the United States for 12 years. He has had some military training with al-Qaida, but he is not implicated in any violent action against the United States. According to his wikileaks file, compiled by the United States Southern Command, the reason he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay was to provide information about the financing, training, and recruitment of clergy by the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Abdel Malik al-Rahabi seemed to work for al-Qaida mostly as a bodyguard, which placed him in close proximity to several al-Qaida leaders. In fact, I believe the principal reason he is still being held is that his sister married Osama bin Ladin. I wonder if she was with her husband when we captured and murdered Osama bin Ladin? Are we guilty of murdering  Abdel Malik al-Rahabi’s sister as well?

Abdel Malik al-Rahabi has a wife and 13 year old daughter. In spite of the many infractions of prison rules listed in the wikileaks document (last updated in 2008), the transcript of his parole hearing reveals that he is receiving (and presumably sending) letters and phone calls from his family in Yemen. Perhaps he is permitted this communication because he did not participate in the hunger strikes last year.

Surely Abdel Malik al-Rahabi does not have any further intelligence value after all this time.

We cannot continue to imprison Abdel Malik al-Rahabi for something he may do in the future.

These men have suffered enough. Please let them go.

You could pardon them. You could do it today.

Abdel Malik al-Rahabi could be back with his family next week.

Liberty

I read a very interesting article on Salon this morning: Conservatives’ backward view of liberty: Why they’re so stubborn about discrimination by Brian Beutler.

It presents a very interesting philosophical discussion that conservatives are having about individual rights and freedoms. Conservatives, not liking the way they feel their societies (these issues seem to be in flux throughout the western world) are changing, are attempting to resist change; to turn back the clock to what they remember as more simple, better times. The above article touches on issues of discrimination. Specifically, what types of people we, as a society, are allowed to discriminate against.

The issue of the moment is gay (same-sex) marriage; and how religious institutions and organizations with a religious viewpoint – and the people who identify with those institutions and organizations are tying themselves into knots about how ‘society’ is taking away their freedom: the freedom to discriminate.

It is an interesting contrast to the public debate the United States is continuing to have about race, because in all the cases I have been considering personally; if I substitute ‘black’ for ‘gay’: then the discrimination involved becomes pretty clear. It becomes a bit more troubling if I substitute ‘black’ or ‘gay’ with ‘nazi’.

One of the examples in Brian Beutler’s article is the bakery. There is a bakery and the owner has strongly held beliefs. An African-American couple go to the bakery and want to get a wedding cake. If the owner won’t sell them a cake – most people would say that the owner is a racist and in any case should sell them a cake. Now the second case, a same-sex couple go to the bakery and want to get a wedding cake. Many conservatives are arguing that the religious-minded owner has a right not to sell them a cake. As a liberal, my opinion is that the baker should sell them a cake. Then we come to the third case, a couple go to the bakery and they want to buy a cake in the shape of a red and black swastika, and moreover it is apparent that they are archetypal Nazi’s in thought and beliefs. Even a liberal bakery owner, might have some problems with making such a cake. What would his neighbors think if they see an elaborate swastika cake coming out of the bakery? What if the owner’s employees include Jews who are upset (if not enraged) about making such a cake? What if the couple’s friends are dressed in German SS uniforms when they come to pick up the cake? (again what would the neighbors think?)

We as citizen’s of our United States have always had a standard in deciding about freedom of speech.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

– Voltaire

I would extend this principle to include all our basic freedoms.

I do not agree with what you say, or believe, or do; but I’ll defend to the death your right to say, or believe, or do anything; which does not hurt your neighbors, and fellow citizens.

We usually say that our liberty or freedom is also limited.

Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.

– Zechariah Chafee, Jr

But this limitation traditionally has only been on negative action. I believe that we also have responsibilities to our community as citizens which could limit our liberty. Conservatives are trying to label this responsibility as a burden. Conservatives are attempting to re-introduce discrimination (remember those good old days of discrimination…) because it limits their personal freedoms. The baker losing the freedom to refuse services to any person who may come through the door. This burden the conservatives complain about is the responsibility we all have as citizens in our communities and country.

The baker gains far more as a citizen by serving everyone, than the baker gains in personal freedom when discriminating against anyone.

As a citizen, of a non-discriminating community, the baker gains freedom in not being discriminated against in speech, or belief, or action by anyone who through deeply held belief may have some reason to discriminate against the baker.

It is really the case that when we discriminate against anyone, everyone is discriminated against.

Our responsibility to our community should always trump our exercise of our personal liberties. I should not shout ‘fire’ in the crowded theater as that might cause panic and hurt my fellow theater-goers. And when the local Nazi’s come to me ( as a baker ) for a swastika cake – I should bake them the best swastika cake I can. While never forgetting the evils that National Socialism has committed.

Only through this maximizing of the liberties of our fellow citizens, by our self-control of our own prejudices and beliefs, do we become truly free. Imagine such a community – if everyone practiced this idea – not only would the citizens of this community be freed from their own prejudices, but they would be freed from all the other citizens’ prejudices against them as well.

This is the kind of community, country, and world that I want my daughter to have.