Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Second Chances" by Cindy Sheehan

In case you don’t know, Michael Vick is the current starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, but while he was QB of the Atlanta Falcons, he was arrested, tried and convicted of running a dog-fighting ring that contained some of the most vile torture, cruelty, and death to mans’ “best-friend” that were tragically bred for Michael Vick’s sick and twisted pleasures.
After spending 23 months both in prison or under house arrest, Michael Vick was signed to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and he earned the position of starting QB with a seven million dollar, two-year contract.
I believe prisons should be rehabilitative and not punitive, but was justice served and did Michael Vick pay his debt to society for his horrendous crimes? Is he redeemed? Of course, what he did was heinous and inhumane and thinking about it fills me with disgust, but our president is not similarly conflicted. On Sunday, from Hawaii, Obama reportedly called Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Eagles and huge donor to Barack Obama and other Democrats to “thank” him for giving Vick a “second chance.”
Hmmm—“Second chances” are almost miraculous for some people and impossible for others. One similar call could take Mumia off of death row, or pardon railroaded defense attorney, Lynne Stewart, or get Pvt. Bradley Manning out of his inhumane imprisonment (this list could fill a book, I am afraid, so I’ll stop now).
Also, a study by the Independent Committee on Reentry and Employment, for example, found that up to 60% of ex-cons in New York was still unemployed one year after release. Stats on this are difficult to find, like most statistics on unemployment (which only count those that are receiving unemployment checks, or applying for them), but I am almost 100% sure that 100% of the 60% are not Michael Vicks or fictional, Gordon Gekkos, looking for multi-million dollar salary scores after incarceration. Most certainly, many of these “ex-cons” looking for work didn’t commit as heinous of a crime as Vick did, either, but that’s something we can only speculate on.
Many humans (including myself) have a soft spot in their hearts for animals. In America, we seem very fond of our dogs. In fact, I remember back in March of 2008, a video emerged on the interwebs showing a US Marine named Lance Corporal Motari throwing a puppy off of a cliff while on duty in Iraq. The outrage was enormous and according to Snopes.Com, the Marine Corps eventually discharged the Marine and one of his buddies. My thought at the time was: “Of course, Marines can throw puppies off of cliffs, they kick Iraqi doors in, kill innocent people, and spray population centers with white phosphorous, among other war crimes. What’s a puppy?”
So, in my mind, the “second chance” for Michael Vick evolves to the video of Marines throwing a puppy from a cliff which itself evolves to the Wikileaks Collateral Murder Video that was released last March. This video clearly shows an Army unit in the air and on the ground attacking journalists and children and laughing about it on tape. The Collateral Murder video has 302, 000 hits on “Google,” yet when one “Googles” Michael Vick and Barack Obama, we get 10,700,000 hits! What’s wrong with this picture?
Almost three thousand of our fellow humans were killed on 9/11, and their murderers still haven’t been brought to justice, whether you think Osama bin Laden or Dick Cheney was the “master-mind.” One is either dead, or in hiding, and the other hiding out in the open with his phalanx of Secret Service and evil sneer to protect him. Both of them are extremely wealthy, in any case, and are protected from accountability by the institutions that gave birth to their evil and which help sustain them with phony investigations predicated on institutional, not justice. There are no “second chances” for those killed on 9/11 or their families who miss them and long for their presence.
After 9/11, whether Dick Cheney planned the crime, or not, he and the cabal of evil that surrounded him invaded two countries in search of massive profits, but talked a gullible public into believing that these high crimes and crimes against humanity (wars of aggression, according to the Nuremburg Tribunals, are the highest form of war crime) were for “justice.” I think, unless one is the most recalcitrant neocon or Fox Noised American, most of us realize by now that the wars that still rage on after a decade were bogus and based on fairy tales supported by centuries of a mythic America that, if she doesn’t “do the right thing,” at least she always has “good intentions.”
The few that still support the wars, often use “3000 Americans were killed on 9/11” as their excuse for revenge, but even if we only count U.S. troop deaths, over twice that number have died now from the war and hundreds from suicide or other illnesses caused by deployment. Aren’t these “Americans,” too? They have no “second chance” to make better choices. I can’t help it, but sometimes I go over the dozens of different choices Casey could have made differently to be alive today—even if the bullet that made mincemeat out of his beautiful brain was a few inches to the right or left. Sometimes, I can’t bear the fact that I didn’t carry through with my threat to hit him with my car the last time he was home. Sigh, “second chances” don’t usually appear to we here down in the working-class.
Then the biggest class of humans who don’t get much of a “second chance” are the millions killed or displaced by the “hot wars” of Iraq/Af/Pak and the other almost 1000 places the US military is currently deployed around the world like a thinly-sliced Christmas ham. Also, we never hear about the millions of people “living” off of less than $3 a day, while Vick, Osama, Obama, George and Dick get their millions and the banksters get their billions.
Reading the stories of how Vick’s associates tortured the dogs broke my heart, but former Justice Department employee, John Yoo, wrote the justification for HUMAN torture methods that included water-boarding (Vicks’ scum actually hung dogs in the pool to drown them for not performing well), yet Yoo has a cushy professorship at UC Berkeley teaching Constitutional Law of all things. George Bush reports yelling: “Hell, yeah” when asked about the use of waterboarding and he got millions of dollars for a book he didn’t write and gets thousands of dollars reading speeches to people that have been prepared for him. The scum of the Bush regime don’t even need “second chances,” because Obama protects them with that institutional immunity guaranteed to the worst of the worst.
The 22,000 children per day who die quietly from illness, dehydration and/or starvation due to poverty are the silent scream that is never heard and most of them were born with very slim chances to survive past age five. The explosions on 9/11 drowned out the fact that for every one American killed that day, 3 children died—the apathy of our materialistic lives hasn't allowed that stunningly sad fact to penetrate our “rat race” existence every day before 9/11/2001 and every day since.
This isn’t about whether Michael Vick has been rehabilitated or not, or whether he deserves a second chance—I am about as much the “second chance monitor” as the POTUS is—it’s about perspective. The one person with so much power and so little compassionate perspective is Barack Obama. With his blood-drenched hands, Obama theoretically has the power to stop allowing imperial torture and death and to order a halt to economic tsunamis. Then literally billions of good people could get that magical “second chance.”
I guess a phone call to a large campaign contributor is far easier than actually doing the right thing!

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