Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Bungled Policy in Afghanistan

I know, by calling the war in Afghanistan a "failed policy," I risk the outrage of the most righteous of the outraged. I do not care. That is what this war is. It is a policy, regardless of what people think of it, and it is a failure.

Right now, as I write this, we are geared for a ratcheting up of this war. Why? Because this is apparently the one promise that President Obama plans to keep--to use the troops we are taking out of Iraq, redirect them to Afghanistan, and perpetuate the same failures that have left Iraq in the shambles that it is currently in. How bad? You do not hear anyone talking about the success of the 'surge' in Iraq anymore. There is a reason for that. Because the country is still in a state of low intensity war against itself, as well as the insurgency against US troops who continue to occupy it. The wonderful stories from Fox 'news' about how the Iraqi government is sovereign, its military in control of the country, is mitigated by the simple fact that the government itself still has to depend on the US military for protection, as few people (including the right-wing which lied us into that conflict) have any illusions about the possibility of the Iraq government lasting on its own.

As bad as Iraq is, Afghanistan is worse. Its entire government, or what constitutes it, is almost powerless outside of Kabul. What government it has depends on ethno-warlords, most of whom are drug dealers, murderers, thieves, and bandits (and that is not an exaggeration [consider just this sweet bio tale of the Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of America's periodic "allies" in the 'war on terror']).

Having to depend on a couple of dozen of corrupt, heavily armed shysters, and a 'president' who is our Quisling, with a brother that is likely the largest drug dealer in this country (and supplementing his drug income through donations from the CIA, at our expense as American taxpayers), begins to illustrate some of the problems this country is having. And we are not even on the failed attempts to dislodge the Taliban, who according to a recent military report is not only in control of most of the country but made up primarily of non-ideologues and common Afghans fighting what they perceive as a foreign occupier. And that does not include al-Qaeda.

And the politics of the current Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is comprised of the anti-Taliban "freedom fighters," congregated with clerics who support laws like forcing wives to congress with their husbands (essentially, legalizing spousal rape), private executions over public ones, and killing apostates. That is democracy in Afghanistan.

And then there was the recent presidential election in Afghanistan. By all accounts, President Hamid Karzai rigged and attempted to steal the election. About a third of the votes are fraudulent. Not that it matters, of course, because regardless of who wins in the run-off the President of Afghanistan will still be a puppet of the US (a puppet that has to depend on the US for his security because his own people would kill him). How in the world anyone expects a 'democracy' to sprout from all of this is beyond my comprehension.

By now, we are most likely in managerial mode in Afghanistan. But for the appeal of catching bin Laden and mullah Omar, there would be no rational reason to have our military anywhere near Afghanistan. It is a graveyard of empires for a reason. And with a political culture that sees human freedom as an act of shirk, I cannot help but mourn the true victims of this society's ideology, its women (the ones who bear the burdens, lashes, assaults, and rapes at the hands of such god-fearing men). But no cause can justify our maintained military presence in this country, and it is not like women's rights has changed noticeably in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban (just the opposite).

If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit defeat and leave. Yes, cut and run. Just as Reagan did from Beirut. Just as Nixon did from Vietnam. Just as Clinton did from Somalia. When your bombings make Taliban converts out of the civilians whose loyalty you want to win, your troops' presence become recruitment drives for the most militant elements in the Muslim world, and your eight year old-installed 'democratic' government cannot rule anything outside of a few streets with ripped off elections, it is a sign. It is a sign of failure. That is the difference between empirical reality and ideology.

Fortunately, there is at least one government official willing to publicly admit to all of this. Sadly, Matthew Hoh is an international news story because he is the only one, to date, to state what all of us have been able to see for the past several years. Here is to hoping there are more people like him in our government, who can prevent the Afghan 'surge' from wrecking this country even more than it already is, and hopefully, just hopefully, get us to honestly debate why in the world we are still in Afghanistan after all this time--and why we should consider the option of getting out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Profiles in Crime: Joe Lieberman's Motivation

Yes, there is a rule in politics that you should never go after someone's family. But what if that connection is one of the reasons why this person is doing everything possible to maintain a health delivery system that kills 45,000 of my countrymen/women/children every year? Frankly, a little insult is the least this wretch and his spouse deserves for the crimes they are committing. For those who still think the Democratic Party is the party of the people.


Both Lieberman and Evan Bayh have spouses who have profited from the healthcare industry

If Democrats are disappointed by Joe Lieberman’s threat to filibuster any healthcare reform bill that includes a public option, they shouldn't be. Despite all of his past promises to support universal healthcare, nothing was more predictable than the Connecticut senator's fealty to the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.

Much the same can be said of Sen. Evan Bayh, who emerged from hiding on healthcare to announce that he too plans to filibuster against reform with the Republicans, regardless of what his constituents and Americans in general plainly want. Like Lieberman, his state is home to powerful corporations that want reform killed -- and like Lieberman, his wife has brought home very big paychecks from those same interests. . (UPDATE: A report published in a South Bend paper Thursday night says Bayh may now support a floor debate.)

The Lieberman family's financial ties to the health industry are no secret, yet their full extent remains unknown. During her husband's 2006 reelection campaign, Hadassah Lieberman's employment as a "senior counselor" to Hill & Knowlton, one of the world’s biggest lobbying firms, briefly erupted as an issue, especially because the clients she served were in the controversial pharmaceutical and insurance sectors. Exactly what she did for those clients has never been disclosed.

At the time she joined the public relations and lobbying conglomerate in the spring of 2005, she expressed the touching hope that she would somehow be able to help those in need. "I have had a lifelong commitment to helping people gain better healthcare," she said in a press release. "I am excited about the opportunity to work with the talented team at Hill & Knowlton to counsel a terrific stable of clients toward that same goal." Less than a year later, having pocketed $77,000 in salary, she quit without explanation -- just as her husband was facing a tough primary that he would eventually lose. Throughout the campaign, Hadassah Lieberman, her husband and their spokespersons explicitly refused to discuss her professional activities, except to note that she had not been required to register as a lobbyist.

But her stint at Hill & Knowlton was merely one episode in a professional lifetime devoted to the corporate health sector. For most of the past three decades, Hadassah Lieberman has been employed by either pharmaceutical companies or the lobbying firms that represent them -- starting with nearly a decade in the "public affairs department" at Hoffman-LaRoche from 1972-81, followed by stints at Pfizer, where she spent four years as "director of policy, planning and communications," and APCO Associates, a major lobbying firm where she served as a "senior associate" in its large healthcare division before retiring in 1998.

She went back to work when she joined H&K, an outfit that became notorious for its billion-dollar defense of the tobacco industry. Not long after her contract began, Sen. Lieberman introduced legislation vastly extending patent protection for pharmaceutical companies -- notably including GlaxoSmithKline, a top client of his wife's firm.

The best that can be said about the Lieberman family's conflict of interest is that it appears to have ended in 2005 -- while the Bayh family continues to collect enormous amounts of money from the same health insurance and drug companies that will benefit from her husband’s actions. Indeed, the smell of ethical rot arising from the Bayh household is even worse than the self-serving aroma that surrounds the Liebermans.

Susan Bayh was invited to join the board of Wellpoint back in 1998, when the Indiana-based company was still called Anthem Insurance and had not yet completed the mergers that made it the largest health insurer in America (and gave it monopoly status in many regions of the country). According to her official biography on Wellpoint's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, her qualifications to sit on the board of a billion-dollar corporation were minimal, to put it politely. She was 38 years old, teaching law at a local university, with limited experience as a corporate attorney at Eli Lilly & Co., the big pharmaceutical company that is also headquartered in Indiana. But then her husband, Evan, after two terms as governor, had just been elected to the United States Senate.

Susan Bayh's compensation from Wellpoint, including the stock options that she has exercised repeatedly over the past 10 years, has reached an estimated $2 million, including last year's director salary of over $300,000. She is the only director who, according to the most recent SEC filing, actually owns no shares in the company, because she sells as soon as her options become available. In January 2007, she exercised her options to acquire 3,333 shares of Wellpoint for an estimated cost of $147,000 -- and sold them the same day for an estimated price of $260,000, netting a tidy sum of $113,000. She repeated the same process five months later for a net profit of $136,000, and then seven months after that, selling another 1,430 shares for $123,000. That represented profits of nearly $400,000 on top of her salary.

Evidently Susan Bayh is most interested in accumulating wealth, and so far she has done a fine job. The Bayhs are now worth somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, an amount that was not scrimped from Evan's salary in the Senate. In 2007 he reassured a Fort Wayne newspaper in sonorous tones that sounded Liebermanesque: "I can honestly tell you that if my wife did not have a job, none, I can't think of a single decision I've made that would be any different. I look at what's best for our state and our country and my own conscience. My integrity matters more to me than anything, so I always do what's right for the people who put their trust in me."

Compared with Bayh's lucre from Wellpoint and the other corporations whose boards she graces, the earnings of Hadassah Lieberman appear paltry. Yet even though she has retired, for now, from counseling the pharma and insurance industries, the devotion to public health she has long proclaimed is still tinged with hypocrisy. Upon leaving Hill & Knowlton, Hadassah joined Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer charity, as a paid "ambassador." Again, it isn't clear what she does besides posing for photo ops in places from Brazil to Israel, but as a Komen advocate she is supposed to be trying to prevent women from losing their lives.

So perhaps someone should point out to her what will happen if her husband kills healthcare reform this year. Millions of uninsured and underinsured women will continue to delay or simply fail to get preventive medical care, including mammography, because they cannot afford those procedures. Thousands of them will die as a direct result of that foregone care, just as thousands die each year from lack of insurance. The swiftest way to save those women from breast cancer is health insurance reform -- and the filibuster will be their death sentence.

I have advocated this before and should do so again. We should consider economic crimes tribunals in this country, so when corporations and their paid up representatives kill people through omission or directly as a consequence of policy, they can be held criminally liable for the deaths they cause. It is a pity the executives of Union Carbide could not be held to this for what they did in Bhopal. It is just as sad that Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman, as well as the Blue Dogs in the Senate, cannot be held to account. Every day that passes with a child or adult in this country who dies as a result of a lack of health care is one more life lost and blood on the hands of these people. At least with the Republicans, you know they don't care (unless you are a fetus).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Modest Proposal: Joe Wilson's Pre-Existing Condition

In light of the insurance industry's recent campaign of murder and rejection on wheelchair-bound policyholders, in between fat 4-month olds and skinny 2-year olds, it has come to light that an elected government health care recipient, who opposes it for everyone else, has a pre-existing condition. A member of his household, assuming he actually lives with his wife and not someone else (as is custom for so many Congressional Republicans anymore), has the swine flu. As you know, there is now a declared state of emergency because of H1N1 (a much nicer way of sucking up to the pork lobby by clinically renaming their deadly pandemic).

Before you whine that I am being overly cruel to this wretch of a soul, after all his spouse might actually care about him, consider that this is the same Joe Wilson who sees nothing wrong with representing the interests of the same companies who tell women it is a pre-existing condition to be raped. Yes, raped. Mr. Wilson shows no outrage, anger, expressions of any kind on this matter, except when denouncing the distribution of health care to people who do not look or pretend to pray like himself.

So, if all of these other seemingly elementary aspects and crimes of life are now pre-existing conditions, why not the disease central that is someone's house, which is tainted by something which will necessitate the kind of medical attention that will cost the same insurance companies who are looking to cut corners on rape victims and 2-year olds? It would seem only fair to force the government employees most opposed to universal health care, which they use for themselves, to have to live by the same laws of the jungle they claim is an act of freedom. Far from being offended, Mr. Wilson should be honored to entrust his life and that of his family to the same invisible hand of the cult of the market that says people with life-threatening medical conditions should die.

If and when Congressman Wilson's coming rejection from his sponsors transpires, we can tell him the same thing Senator Coburn said that the uninsured should do as an alternative to socialized medicine: Just ask your neighbor for help.

Who knows, Mr. Wilson, maybe by some accident of Baal your neighbor will be a doctor who likes to work for free. And even if they are like the other 99.5% of the population who is not, they might be nice enough to call the EMTs for you, so you can get your own ride to a hospital visiting room, and wait for the tallied bill you will be responsible for paying yourself. And if it does not work out, we can say, thank you for your support of the free enterprise system, Mr. Wilson. Your sacrifice of your income, family, and possibly your life is much appreciated by the stockholders of the companies you represent.

After due consideration, I must say no, even I cannot support such a market-enhancing proposal. You see, Rep. Wilson, I have more compassion for your and your family than you do for those 50 million who you think should just ask their neighbors for help with paying their $150,000 hospital bill. That is the difference between you and I. I still see you as a human being.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rape as a Contractual Right: The Republican Way

It is poignant how so many conservatives throw a wingnut over Roman Polanski, as we all should, and yet make excuses for crimes like this. Here is a defense contract company that allows its employees to rape a female co-worker, lock her in a container to prevent her from saying anything, confiscate and lose her rape kit that an Army doctor gathered after she was able to escape, all on the dole of the American taxpayer, and the majority of our oppressed white male Senate Republicans vote to let it continue, least the federal government rears its ugly head and does something communistic, like interfere with 'private contracts' that do such things as tell its employees they cannot sue if they are raped by fellow employees. Yes, that darn liberal-socialist-Islamic-terrorist-Kenyanist new world order getting in the way of a 'private contract' between a government money-sucking company and rape victim employee. If only we just let the market decide.

Without further ado, the party of family values.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reason #45,001 for Universal Health Care

On top of the 45,000 people in this country who are killed every year due to a lack of health insurance (and this from a country whose government spends a trillion dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan), there are the other victims of our private health system--the uninsured who do not die, at least not right away, but go without. Meet 2-year old Aislin Bates, whose insurer (UnitedHeath Care Golden Rule) has decided she is underweight 'for her age' and, of course, beyond coverage.

Underweight Girl Denied Insurance Coverage

Parents Says 2-Year-Old Girl Perfectly Healthy

By Lance Hernandez, 7NEWS Reporter
POSTED: 5:56 pm MDT October 19, 2009

First it was a 4-month-old Grand Junction boy who was denied health insurance coverage because, at 17 pounds, he was considered overweight. Now comes word that a 2-year old Erie girl has also been denied coverage because she doesn't weigh enough.

Aislin Bates weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces at birth.

She now tips the scale at 22 pounds."She's perfectly healthy, yet she has become a statistic," said Aislin's mother, Rachel Bates. "There's no reason for her to be a statistic as a non-insured person."

When Aislin's father, Rob, worked for another company, Aislin was covered under the company’s group health insurance plan.

Now that Rob is working on his own, he's had to get new insurance. The company, UnitedHealthcare's Golden Rule, sent the family a letter, which says in part, "We are unable to provide coverage for Aislin because her height and weight do not meet our company standards."

"It took me by surprise," said Rob Bates. "I didn’t think that her size was that abnormal and that it was something that you'd consider to be unhealthy."

"I had no idea that this would be an issue, Rachel Bates added, "because we always had group insurance with his job. I was floored when a height-weight standard prevented coverage."

A spokeswoman for UnitedHealthcare's Golden Rule said 89 percent of the people who apply for insurance get it. Ellen Laden, the company's public relations director, told 7NEWS that most insurers have their own propriety height and weight guidelines.

"Ours are based on several medical sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, and are well within industry standards," she said.

Laden, who said she couldn't talk specifically about the Bates' case, added that, "When evaluating height and weight, we typically utilize other factors as well in making a decision, such as medical records that show evidence of treatment or any underlying medical conditions."

The Bates say Aislin is undergoing treatment for an active gag reflex."

It's very minor and she probably will only need therapy for a few more months," Rachel said.

Rachel told 7NEWS that both the therapist and her pediatrician wrote letters in support of the family’s quest to appeal the insurance company's decision. Both stated that Aislin is healthy and continues to grow."

We would definitely like to see insurance reform," Rob Bates said. "We are not proponents of universal health care by any means, but what we want to see is that insurance companies have legitimate reasons for denying coverage."

State Senator Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, chairs the state's Health Care Task Force. She said, "If I were making the decisions, I think I would certainly cover this child."

Boyd said it behooves insurers to be reasonable when making their decisions."

If insurers exercise reason, they're less likely to see mandates coming down the pike."

Laden said, "If a child did not meet our weight guidelines and the child was treated and continued to show steady growth for several months after treatment ended, in most cases we would reconsider covering the child."

Laden added that comprehensive coverage is currently available through Cover Colorado for individuals who don’t qualify for health insurance in the individual market. The Bates said Aislin is temporarily covered through COBRA, a federal program that allows people to continue an employer based health insurance plan for up to 18 months. The parents said it costs as much to cover Aislin under COBRA as it costs to cover the remaining three family members."

You’d never think that something like size, something that seems so irrelevant to your health, would be a discriminating factor," Rachel said.

In the Grand Junction case, Rocky Mountain Health Plans changed its policy and now says it won't consider obesity a "pre-existing" condition barring coverage for hefty infants. The Bates are hoping United HealthCare's Golden Rule has a similar change of heart.

It is stories like this that Harry Reid and Max Baucus should be forced to read every morning before they look in the mirror and try to face themselves as members of the same species.

If you would like contact the "people" at United HealthCare Golden Rule (what a name for a company that cuts off 2-year olds), here they are. Be sure to remind them of what you think of their policies of uninsuring children. You may want to ask if any of theirs have pre-existing conditions. I am sure they would appreciate it.

United HealthCare Golden Rule
Hours to call these draculas:
  • Monday-Thursday 8am-9pm (ET)
  • Friday 8am-7pm (ET)
  • Saturday 10am-3pm (ET)
  • Sunday 10am-6pm (ET)
Home Office of This Criminal Entity
7440 Woodland Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46278
Phone: 317-715-71111

The Public Relations Wretch Who Claims Uninsuring Children is OK
Ellen Laden
Director, Public Relations
Phone: 317-715-7843

Does anyone doubt that the posters from the Free Republic would be calling for blood vengeance if one of these denied policy holders were to die, particularly at the hands of a drifter or convict (and even more so if the perpetrator was from a community the average freeper would just as soon commit hara-kiri than live near)? But what if that person dies as a direct result of being denied insurance coverage? You better believe those same freepers would think differently if we held the executives at Golden Rule as criminally culpable under those circumstances. But you see, this is what they like to call having the freedom to choose. After all, according to their company, denying this little girl coverage is "well within industry standards," and we would never want the government to come between that special relationship a policy holder's family has with the doctor they are not allowed to see anymore.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Obama on Sudan: Go Ahead

Back when then-Senator Obama was running for the White House, the condemnations of the behavior of the Sudanese government was commonplace. In the documentary The Devil Came On Horseback, which chronicled the Sudanese military's campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Darfur, the last part of that film included a speech by Obama promising more action against the Sudanese authorities.

Here is candidate Obama on what should be done about Darfur.

Well, I think you know what is coming.......

Monday, Oct. 19, 2009 13:45 EDT

Obama unveils new Sudan policy

The Sudan policy that the Obama administration announced Monday was a shift in more than one way. The administration will be taking some steps to reach out to the government in Khartoum, which appears at least somewhat contrary to the tough stance that President Obama discussed during last year's campaign. Moreover, the administration has typically taken a tougher line on foreign policy than the president did while he was running -- this is one of the first times that the situation's been reversed.

The U.S. will reportedly be offering the Sudanese government some incentives to end the violence in Darfulr, and it will also be engaging with some levels of the government -- though not President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who's under indictment for war crimes.

Obama's full statement on the policy:

Today, my Administration is releasing a comprehensive strategy to confront the serious and urgent situation in Sudan.

For years, the people of Sudan have faced enormous and unacceptable hardship. The genocide in Darfur has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and left millions more displaced. Conflict in the region has wrought more suffering, posing dangers beyond Sudan’s borders and blocking the potential of this important part of Africa. Sudan is now poised to fall further into chaos if swift action is not taken.

Our conscience and our interests in peace and security call upon the United States and the international community to act with a sense of urgency and purpose. First, we must seek a definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses and genocide in Darfur. Second, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South in Sudan must be implemented to create the possibility of long-term peace. These two goals must both be pursued simultaneously with urgency. Achieving them requires the commitment of the United States, as well as the active participation of international partners. Concurrently, we will work aggressively to ensure that Sudan does not provide a safe-haven for international terrorists.

The United States Special Envoy has worked actively and effectively to engage all of the parties involved, and he will continue to pursue engagement that saves lives and achieves results. Later this week, I will renew the declaration of a National Emergency with respect to Sudan, which will continue tough sanctions on the Sudanese Government. If the Government of Sudan acts to improve the situation on the ground and to advance peace, there will be incentives; if it does not, then there will be increased pressure imposed by the United States and the international community. As the United States and our international partners meet our responsibility to act, the Government of Sudan must meet its responsibilities to take concrete steps in a new direction.

Over the last several years, governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals, and from around the world have taken action to address the situation in Sudan, and to end the genocide in Darfur. Going forward, all of our efforts must be measured by the lives that are led by the people of Sudan. After so much suffering, they deserve a future that allows them to live with greater dignity, security, and opportunity. It will not be easy, and there are no simple answers to the extraordinary challenges that confront this part of the world. But now is the time for all of us to come together, and to make a strong and sustained effort on behalf of a better future for the people of Sudan.

I have to wonder what the Save Darfur folks think about this policy shift now?

You might be speculating as to the reason for this "engagement." It appears as though realpolitik has come into play.
I am not saying this policy shift is wrong (he may have no choice [indeed, it is not entirely contradictory to the administration's belief in engagement with other states with less-than-friendly relations with the US]), but it is not the same as his previous statements about Sudan. For its part, the Sudanese government, like the US, refuses to join the International Criminal Court, and ironically enough they cite the American example for why they refuse to be judged for committing war crimes in places like Darfur.

Notice, the US, even under Obama, has not changed US opposition to the ICC, even though he has previously stated his support for the permanent war crimes court (and the court is the lead institution on the potential prosecution of Sudan for its war crimes in the Sudan). Furthermore, if we are going to "deal with" with Sudan's government, which probably makes sense, while refusing to ratify and join and court that would potentially prosecute its head of state, it seems engagement is going to be rather one-sided on the part of the US (since the Sudanese know they can do as they please and will not be noticeably punished anymore than in the past).

The tough part of the administrations 'new' policy (the sanctions) are not going impact the government (those sanctions were imposed three years ago by an act of Congress), but the negotiations and engagement (i.e., incentives) will have an effect. Maybe this will work. Maybe not. Still, it is a far cry from the candidate who gave public support for the ICC and the potential prosecution of the government for its conduct in Darfur (never mind his past proposal for putting a "hybrid" military force on the ground in Darfur and equipping other forces with our arms).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Moron Report #35: Judge Keith Bardwell

Just when you think white conservatives cannot get any crazier these days, a blotch stain comes on to the scene to remind you that actually, yes, they can be even crazier than the people who think Obama was born in a madrassa. Introducing Judge Keith Bardwell. He is a worried judge these days. You see, those rascally couples of different hues do not consider the pain and suffering they will be causing their mixed offspring, and of course since they are interracial considered prime candidates for divorce city.

Interracial couple denied marriage license in La.

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

"I try to treat everyone equally," he said.

Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.

Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.

"That was one thing that made this so unbelievable," she said. "It's not something you expect in this day and age."

Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell's wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.

"We are looking forward to having children," Humphrey said. "And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we're typical happy newlyweds."

"It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009," said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 "that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."

The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending "the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice."

"He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it," Schwartzmann said.

According to the clerk of court's office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.

Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card.

The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is returned to the clerk's office.

"I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."

(This version corrects the date of the Supreme Court ruling.))

I am not sure which racist line is the most preposterous. That he has "piles and piles of black friends" (how many friends does anyone have in piles?) or, "I treat everyone equally," which is why he is targeting interracial couples for marital refusal, not the ones as separatist and stupid as himself. And for those of you who know your law, Loving v. Virginia, the famous 1967 Supreme Court case, banished state laws and acts that restricted or prohibited interracial marriage. Bardwell has sat on the bench for over three decades. There is no way he could reasonably claim ignorance of Loving v. Virginia. He knows he is violating the law.

BTW, if you would like to contact this sweet man, and let him know what you think of his Confederate mentality, here are his particulars. I am sure he will appreciate hearing from you, assuming the old coot even remembers how to answer a phone.

E. Keith Bardwell, Republican, Exp.Date:12/31/14 23288 Bardwell Rd.,Ponchatoula, LA 70454, 985-542-1732

Welcome to my hall of shame, Keith. You have earned it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

John Phillips Award: John Forehand

I remember when I was an undergrad. I used to revel in my readings of Rousseau, used to analyze over Marx's linear application of Hegel's dialectic, and thinking that if only we followed Jean Jacques' stag hunt the world could come together in one harmonious and joyous recognition of our common humanity. Of course, this was before I went to grad school and had my soul crushed and turned into a rational machine, and all of our species shown for being the quantifiable, controllable animals that we are. There were many culprits in this destruction of my dreams. Nash and his game theories, the arrogance of so many of the grad school faculty members who treated everyone as being beneath them, and now apparently incestuous fathers who take to raping (or attempting to rape) their daughters.

And people thought Darth Vader was a bad father.


Dad Jailed For Propositioning Daughter on Facebook

Philadelphia (CBS)-The Pennsylvania Attorney General announced the arrests of several internet predators, including a Philadelphia EMT and a father who propositioned his own daughter online, reports CBS station KYW-TV.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said 39-year-old John Forehand allegedly used Facebook to find and sexually proposition his biological daughter.

Under the name "Bad Daddy, authorities said Forehand described graphic sex acts and asked his daughter to meet him for a sexual rendezvous. The girl's mother contacted police, who set up an undercover operation with Pennsylvania's Child Predator Unity.

Forehand was taken into custody after arriving at a predetermined location on October 7. Investigators found a digital camera, tripod and unopened box of condoms in his vehicle.

Forehand facing charges of criminal attempted incest, unlawful contact with a minor and related offenses. He is being held on $750,000 bail.

Corbett also announced 27-year-old Michael Quartucci, an EMT from Philadelphia, is facing 16 counts of unlawful contact with a minor and other offenses after sending nude photos to undercover officers posing as young teens.

Quartucci allegedly believed he was talking with 13-year-olds from Norristown and Pittsburgh, but he was actually communicating with undercover agents.

Authorities said he sent 56 photos depicting nude women being restrained and tickled. He was arrested in Philadelphia on September 14 and is being held on $25,000 bail.

Three additional arrests were made recently, bring the total number of internet predators arrested this year to 60. Since the development of the Child Predator Unit in 2005, Attorney General Corbett said 241 internet predators have been arrested.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

I cannot even include this wretch on my moron hall of shame. Doing so would give him more credit than he deserves. No, John, you are in a special place all its own. One preserved for the worst of the worst, down with insurance executives, Bush cabinet members, and the $&*@# up dad who permanently wrecked how I will forever see the Mamas and the Papas. Don't get me wrong. Jean Jacques was basically right. All people are born good, but they make some horrific choices at times.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Prize?

If the enemies of Barack Obama were a barometer of attitude, then I should be happy that our president won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not surprisingly, conservatives hate it and with good reason. The awarding of the Nobel prize had little, if anything, to do with peace. Even by the committee's own admission, the President of the US has done little by way of substantive accomplishments in the area. The real reason Barack Obama is $1.5 million richer is because his name is not George Bush (and because he has at least rhetorically separated himself from his predecessor). Every white right-winger in this country understands that much, which they should because the committee's choice is their way (and most of the rest of the world's) of giving them the middle finger. From that perspective, it makes me happy to see them burst a gasket at the very thought of being insulted, just as they do every time the president does something "socialistic" and "radical," like talk to school children and recognize the existence of uninsured people.

Still, if we are being truthful with ourselves, Barack Obama should not have won the award. Talking to the Muslim world in one speech in Egypt does not a peace maketh. What should matter is substance, and it is in results that Barack Obama is not only lacking but woefully so. The Israelis continue to blockade and barrage the Palestinians on a daily basis, an action that is by definition in international law an act of war and a war crime. The Israeli response is to elect the most violently reactionary government in its history, dedicated to the cause of continued warfare against Palestinians (if not their expulsion from the territories altogether). President Obama's answer was to demand the Israelis to stop new construction of settlements in the West Bank, which met with intense opposition, after which the administration caved. That is it. That is the summation of the peace process in the Middle East.

In Iraq, true, we are decreasing our military presence, which admittedly is positive, but we are not leaving Iraq--not now, tomorrow, or by the administration's own timetable of 2011. I have stated previously my willingness to bet anyone in the blogosphere that we will not be out by the end of the Obama presidency (be in 2012 or 2016). That bet still stands, if there are any takers. I doubt there are few people, no matter how supportive of the administration, who would disagree with that assessment. This is in spite of the fact that Obama made a name for himself politically in the 2000s as a vocal critic of the war and stated that we should have never invaded Iraq.

On Afghanistan, our current hot debate has centered around whether to send in 30-40,000 new troops or depend more heavily on drones and special forces, and whether we should be more concerned with internal political development in Afghanistan or hunting down al-Qaeda. Notice, there is no debate within the administration on whether or not we should even be there, even though a majority of Americans are now opposed or critical of our sustained military presence in Afghanistan. How is that promoting hope and peace?

The right-wing hates Obama because he is not more openly militaristic (and to a not insignificant number because he is black), but these are the same people who think you are a Communist for making them wait a week to buy a Glock. Nothing short of threatening the entire world's Muslim population with instantaneous ionization would probably make these Halo 3 armchair bombardiers happy. However, none of that should exonerate President Obama's very real deadly foreign policy choices that are watered down versions of the man he replaced. Until we are out of an Iraq, leaving Afghanistan, or until there is some kind peace accord between the Palestinians and Israelis, engineered by our president, I simply cannot as an honest person look at this award as anything less than a political stunt to say sexual penetration to you to those who voted for George Bush in 2000 and 2004. Understandable, yes; a real promotion of peace worthy of a prize, no.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Domestic Violence as a Deniable 'Pre-Existing Condition'

Just in time to remind us of why no insurance company should ever be trusted, anymore than you would trust a 'protection money' collector, our esteemed insurance industry has over the years partook in a little known money making enterprise, which endeavored to plant the scarlet letter of a pre-existing condition on battered women. This means that they can use such past cases as an excuse not to give you coverage. Here is a story you will not see covered on the Glenn Beck Show anytime soon.

Posted: October 6th, 2009 03:28 PM ET

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Top House Democrats on Tuesday slammed insurers who claim that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition that can be used to deny coverage to battered women.

They pledged to incorporate a ban on the practice in the health care reform legislation currently winding its way through Congress.

Forty-two states have already passed such a prohibition, according to a recent report from the National Women's Law Center. Idaho, Mississippi, North
Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and the District of Columbia have not, however.

"Think of this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "You've survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated (against) in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone."

A spokesman for an association representing health insurance companies backed the proposed change.

"No one should be denied coverage because they are a victim of domestic abuse," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans.

We "strongly support (a variation of) legislation that prohibits discrimination against victims of abuse and we are urging all states to promptly adopt it."

Some reform advocates say the proposed federal action, while a positive step, does not go far enough.

"We have to go further and take affirmative steps to reach out to battered women who may have been denied coverage to let them know the landscape has changed and there may be insurance options available to them," said Shelley Senterfitt, a representative of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"We need to fix the damage that's been done," she said.

Mary Snow and Shirley Zilberstein contributed to this report

What I would like to see are the names of all of the insurance companies who have employed this practice, and only now pretend to care because most states and the federal government are getting ready to ban it. Which insurance companies pay the salary of the spokesperson of America's Health Insurance Plans, much like the tobacco and alcohol industry subsidizing the Coalition for A Drug Free America, bankrolling this operation? That is what I would love to see, along with an accompanying lawsuit by the states attorney generals and our federal Attorney General against those companies for their actions (surely, a fiduciary responsibility has been violated somewhere in their refusal to uphold their contract by inventing an illegitimate "pre-existing condition" like having your significant other beat you to a pulp). I have looked up some third party and other outside sources and cannot find any names of the insurance companies who have previously done this to battered policyholders. It would be interesting to know.

What's next, making rape a pre-existing condition? How about if one of your family members was ever assaulted in a schoolyard, or if your grandparents talked to themselves after turning 65? How could anyone trust people like this (as corporations are legally considered people in the US) with our health care?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Learning from Unions Abroad

Writing about American labor unions is an exercise in self-defeat. It is not just that unions in this country went from about a third of the work force in the 1950s down to a tenth today. It is the conservative nature of unions, which has led to so many of their problems. Oftentimes, union folk can learn from our brethren abroad, who seem to know better how to show a free citizenry should practice their rights. Thus, our brothers and sisters in Romania, a nation that is 1/15 our size in population, partaking in its largest strike, and what would be comparatively our largest since the Great Uprising of Southern mill workers in the 1930s.

Romania: 800,000 state workers in one-day strike

BUCHAREST, Romania—Some 800,000 teachers, medical workers and other public sector employees are on strike to protest a law they say cuts their salaries.

Some schools were closed Monday and in others teachers were only supervising. Medical staff members are only treating emergency cases.

Police wore white armbands to show solidarity.

The Alliance of State Workers, a group of trade unions, is calling on the government to renegotiate a wage law, end lay-offs and stop unpaid vacation.

The government introduced new measures to cut budget spending in September by agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which has lent Romania US$17.1 billion.

Trade unions say they will stage a rally Wednesday in Bucharest to continue their protest.

Juxtaposition that with the lacking response by unionized public sector workers in education and accompanying industries and agencies in the US, in spite of the fact state and local governments are drastically cutting back budgets to meet the balanced budget amendments in their state constitutions (an amendment that has never existed in our federal constitution). We accept as a matter of course that our federal government can spend more than it takes in, and has on a consistent basis since the Andrew Jackson administration, and yet over the last century have allowed right-wing state governments, starting in the Jim Crow South and spreading later on, to impose strict limits on spending at the state and local level. The results has been nothing short of a disaster for state and local governments, and the lack of faith that people have in government services at that level.

Ever wonder why the cops like to pull people over at the end of the month? Federal law enforcement would never dream of partaking in such behavior (you never see the federal marshall's service taking to the roads to meet their money requirements). You can thank our state constitutions for this inequality.

Here is another story you will never see about unions abroad reported on too widely in our media--and that is the manner in which unions outside of the US are active as independent political actors, outside of being lemmings for a political party. Here are our brothers and sisters in Venezuela, protesting and demanding justice from the government over the violence they endure at the hands of large estate owners who kill and maim their workers.

Venezuelan Farmer Activists March Against Killings by Estate Owners
October 4th 2009, by James Suggett -

Mérida, October 3rd 2009 ( -- Thousands of farmer rights advocates marched in Guarico, Venezuela on Thursday to demand an end to impunity for the killings of 220 farmer organizers since the 2001 Land Reform Law was passed. The march was sparked by two recent attacks presumed to have been planned and paid for by large estate owners against well-known land reform activists.

Just outside the state headquarters of the National Land Institute (INTI) on September 11th, two unidentified men on a motorcycle shot José Pimentel, a leader of the Simon Bolivar National Farmers Front, in the body and the head, placing Pimentel in critical condition in a hospital emergency room.

Two weeks later, eight armed men attacked a group of 28 families who had collectively occupied idle sections of a large estate and were in the process of obtaining legal land titles from INTI. The assailants beat several people, destroyed property, shot one leader of the group twice in the legs, and ordered the group to leave the estate, according to a report by the Ezequiel Zamora National Farmers Rights Front (FNCEZ), which is named after the legendary 19th Century land reform fighter.

Since 2001, the government has redistributed more than two million hectares (5 million acres) of idle or underused land to small farmers and state-owned enterprises for food cultivation, for the most part by opening up state-owned land and also by expropriating some idle privately owned land.

During this process, however, hundreds of prominent land reform organizers have been attacked, illegally detained, or killed, in what appears to be a campaign led and financed by large estate owners to exterminate those who challenge their privilege and dominion in rural areas.

Following the September attacks, the president of the Farmer Federation of Venezuela, Miguel Moreno, declared that his organization and many other national farmer organizations were in a state of emergency, and remain on 24-hour vigil to protect the lives of their comrades.

Moreno praised the government's efforts to redistribute land, but criticized the judicial system, saying only a handful of investigations of the attacks against farmers have proceeded, and there have been no convictions thus far.

"We accompany the commander and president [Hugo Chavez] in his policy against the large estates," said Moreno. "We do not want to move toward an open confrontation or war in rural zones... we firmly believe in the institutions, we believe in our government [...] But we are tired of being the ones who die."

National Assembly Legislator Braulio Alvarez, who is also a national farmers' rights organizer, connected the killings of farmers to the infiltration of paramilitary groups from Colombia into Venezuela. "We denounce with revolutionary morale the paramilitary activities and hired killings," he said in a press conference in the Foundation for Training and Innovation to Support the Agrarian Revolution (CIARA).

Alvarez also demanded that the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs and the Attorney General's Office open a special investigation and provide protection to farmer rights activists. "How long is the flagrant impunity going to continue?" Alvarez asked.

Officials from INTI, CIARA, the Agriculture and Land Ministry, and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), as well as all major farmers rights fronts echoed his demand.

The Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) also called for "an exhaustive review of the proceedings on the farmers' cases, through the agrarian courts," but warned that the "opposition sectors" which are responsible for the crimes are in some cases "embedded in the structures of the state." These culprits "utilize police functionaries from the [national investigative police] CICPC," said Eduardo Linarez, the National Secretary for Agrarian and Farmer Affairs of the PCV.

In addition to demanding action by the state, several farmer rights fronts have gradually united forces on the regional and national level. With the support of national PSUV officials, including Agriculture and Land Minister Elias Jaua and Guarico Governor William Lara, these new federations plan to hold a series of assemblies and form armed militias in order to organize and defend themselves against attacks.

"We already have our own organization. What we're going to do now is grassroots reinforcement in the communities and rural settlements," said Argimiro Berroterán, a spokesperson for the National Farmers Front in Miranda state. "The idea is to travel around the whole country to discuss the concerns expressed by different farmer groups, in addition to re-launching this front as an organizational tool in defense of our achievements and for the deepening of the revolutionary process," he added.

Minister Jaua, who is also a regional vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), spoke to the crowd at Thursday's march. "We must consolidate popular strength in rural Venezuela and among the fishers... in order to prepare the conditions for the formation of a great popular and revolutionary organization in the National Fishers and Farmers Front, to concretize the deepening and construction of the Bolivarian Revolution," said Jaua.

According to Jaua, farmer militias may be formed as early as this December for the purpose of farmer self-defense in rural Venezuela. "The Bolivarian government is willing to confront the oligarchy and the large estate owners by way of the law... but if they insist on continuing to act on the fringes of the law, violating our Bolivarian Constitution and murdering farmers, then there will be an armed response," said the minister.

Many farmers' fronts, including the FNCEZ, have advocated armed self-defense for years. The invitation to Thursday's march that the FNCEZ posted on its website calls for, "THE PEOPLE IN ARMS, conscious popular power organized into farmer militias and coordinated by the National Bolivarian Militia and directed by our Bolivarian Armed Forces, in socialist patrols directed and coordinated by our PSUV... with the indisputable leadership of our partner, President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias."

Our businesses, particularly in poultry and agriculture, kill, maim, and oppress workers all of the time. You typically do not hear about them until a bunch of those workers are killed in a fire or industrial accident. Why is it that unions in the US do not make more of issue about it? The right to strike is the most important of any union. It is the equivalent of having a gun at the head of the proprietor. They understand that. Why is it that we do not? We constantly score at the bottom of the list of nations in work stopages and political activity is never on such a massive scale in demonstrations, except when get-out-the-vote drives from traitorous Democrats come November (Democrats who will quickly forget that labor exists upon taking power). How could it be that unions in this country are so complacent?

It is an open question and one I have yet to see adequately answered. I asked that question quite often when I was growing up, witnessing my father's union almost get busted several times during strikes, with little to no support from the national union leadership, which ultimately led to the steel company succeeding in breaking the union, firing all of the workers, and "hiring" them back at half the pay and with practically no benefits (and this was a company that made money every year my father worked for them). When I was in my first union as a young adult, I was treated like a cash register for dues by the local reps, even though my employer had lied about hiring me on full-time, and refused to give me full-time hours, along with the increase in pay and medical benefits. The union sided with the employer (my complaint was co-signed by several other workers at the company who were lied to in a similar manner). Compare that cowardice to the relative militancy of American labor unions before the 1950s, even when the more conservative AFL was around, and you may begin to see a trend in American unions. As bad as the legal environment is for unions in the US, we are at times our own worst enemies.

When unions in this country are more like this....

Instead of this.....

.....we may finally have a positive outcome for those whose labor creates the wealth of this country (or what still remains of that wealth, before it is outsourced and hidden in offshore bank accounts by the managers and owners).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Officially the World's Worst Date: Terrance McCoy

I have chronicled previously what I thought to be the world's worst date, a one Tiffany Sutton, who took to tying her man friend to his bed, stabbing him, and drinking his blood. Admittedly, that is pretty bad, although in her defense she did not stab the man to kill him and she really liked the taste of blood. Well, meet Terrance McCoy. When he's out with the ladies, and the date is not going well, he responds in a different manner--by bailing out on the dinner bill and stealing his lady's car.

Detroit man gets 2 yrs for swiping car on 1st date

Associated Press (AP)-PONTIAC, Mich. – A Detroit man has been sentenced to at least two years in prison for stealing a woman's car after skipping out on the check during their first date. Twenty-four-year-old Terrance McCoy was sentenced Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court to two to 10 years in prison.

McCoy pleaded no contest Sept. 18 to unlawfully driving away a vehicle. A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as a conviction at sentencing.

Police say McCoy dined with the 27-year-old Southfield woman on April 24 at a restaurant in Ferndale. The woman told investigators McCoy said he forgot his wallet in her car and asked for the keys. Police say McCoy then took off in the car.

Defense attorney Terri Antisdale says McCoy is a "very nice man who made a bad decision."

A "nice man who made a bad decision," eh? Sometimes I have to wonder why women even date us at all.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why Roman Polanski Should Be in Jail

As a pinko leftist scourge of humanity, I have many unholy preoccupations. Reading, making havoc, and according to some ex-Marxists murdering embryos, which I fit in between my ritualistic sacrifices to pagan gods that I unknowingly worship. Folk like us are naturally supposed to be on the side of the little person/specie, and generally speaking I try to be. One of those areas of interest and problems for me is the manner in which we incarcerate people in this country, in creative ways that would have made even Jefferson debate the legitimacy of criminal codes. We have over 2.2 million prisoners piled in our jails (local, state, and federal prisons). We have a quarter of the world's prison population with a mere five percent of the planet's overall population. We lock people up for virtually anything these days and we allow cops to shoot, tase, and basically terrorize our population under the notion of law and order. We have gone from a system that has over the past three decades increased our prison population by 300% and inverted our violent offender ratio amongst those prisoners from 60% in 1980 to 33% today (meaning the vast majority of our prisoners are non-violent offenders). All of these are facts and widely known to cops, prosecutors, or anyone involved in our criminal 'justice' system.

Nevertheless, in spite of the aforementioned, I am not someone who believes people should be given a free pass to commit crimes of violence. There are not too many crimes that are of a violent nature, compared to the non-violent ones we throw our citizens in jail for these days, but there are a few biggies. Among those, next to murder and assault, is rape. It is not just a crime of violence but of control--physical, emotional, and psychological torture. When it is committed against a child, it is compounded because that torture and abuse cannot be as easily dealt with and discerned as by an adult. The trust issues involving a child, when their trust has been violated, oftentimes will stay with him or her for the rest of their lives.

On an overcast evening in March 1977, Mr. Roman Polanski, director extraordinaire, enticed a 13 year old girl to a fake photo shoot at Jack Nicholson's home. By Polanski's own admission, he intended to have sex with the girl. To accomplish this, he inebriated and drugged the girl with alcohol and quaaludes. Upon inebriating and drugging the child, Mr. Polanski forced himself on the youngster, to which she responded, "I said, 'No, no. I don't want to go in there. No, I don't want to do this. No!', and then I didn't know what else to do," adding: "We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this." During his rape session, Mr. Polanski violated the 13 year old victim in nearly every conceivable way, even though she protested before each act, and knowing that as a (then) middle-aged man he could easily overpower and force himself on her.

By any reasonable standard, Roman Polanski is a child rapist. If anyone else committed a crime like this (i.e., a non-celebrity), and particularly in today's legal environment, he would be facing a long prison sentence, possibly for the rest of his life. Polanski, however, is an award-winning director. A beloved man. A holocaust survivor. A man whose pregnant wife was murdered in cold blood by followers of Charlie Manson. For this, Polanski has been allowed to live life as a free man for the past three decades, even though he admitted and pleaded to the crime he committed, and avoided punishment by jumping bail and exiling himself to France. Imagine if a child rapist, who so happened to be a non-descript worker, ran off to Canada to avoid punishment for a similar crime. Not only would this person be hunted down, he would be quickly extradited, prosecuted, and almost certainly convicted and sent to prison.

Mr. Polanski, of course, plays by different rules. What is even sadder is the sight of many of Hollywood's elite actors and directors coming to his defense and calling for his immediate release from Swiss authorities. Do you think Mr. Scorsese would be so supportive if that was his daughter who Polanski assaulted? And am I not the only one who finds it ironic to see Woody Allen's name among those other luminaries calling for Polanski's freedom?

If one took seriously the varied excuses for Mr. Polanski by these signatories, it would be impossible to think of worse reasons to do such an unpseakable act to a child. To illustrate, one of the arguments for letting Polanski go, according to director David Lynch, is that Switzerland is a "neutral" country and as such a place of refuge for international citizens. Really? Well, Mr. Lynch, is Switzerland neutral from the extradition treaties it signs with other countries, including our own, and therefore should not abide by its laws? And speaking of avoiding punishment by running off to other countries, where were these directors in calling for the release of General Augusto Pinochet from British authorities back in 1998 (who was imprisoned by a country he was never in charge of, based on the court order of a Spanish judge)? So, if you murder dissidents then you are a bad person, your character obfuscated by the magnitude of the crimes you commit? Well, what about raping kids? I grant you, it is not the same as having a few thousand people murdered in a coup, in such diverse ways as shooting them in the back of the head at a stadium, or throwing them out of helicopters into the ocean bound and blindfolded during Operation Condor, but when I last checked rape, especially the rape of a child, was a crime deemed by most societies as only a step below murder on the scale of wickedness. I would think it a crime that some might consider bad enough that it would overrule a person's celebrity status, but apparently not.

Yes, it is true that the victim, now in her 40s, has 'forgiven' Polanski. That is fine and good, even admirable, but if you bother to look at the victim's life and what happened to her after she was raped, it is not an uncommon story with countless other sexual assault victims. Her life and the endured abuse which followed the next couple of decades bears the mark and scar of what Polanski did to her 32 years ago.

There is a reason why we punish people for crimes like this. It seems fundamentally hypocritical for us to let Mr. Polanski get away with his crime. Even if it is just to extradite him long enough to let him go again, even if it inconveniences him on the way to another Oscar-winning movie. Even if it is all that and nothing else, it is the least he deserves and the least we could do to a man who could commit the kind of crimes we wish the worst for when committed by everyday people.

And I am aware that some would accuse me of playing the class envy card by juxtaposing Polanski's career with that of a common worker, but it is more about the nature of the offense that offends me. That he has been allowed to get away with the crime is the byproduct not of my class consciousness, but that of a court system and society which allows people like Polanski to commit heinous crimes and remain unpunished. If there is any justice in this world, Mr. Polanski would be made aware of what he has done in such a way as to guarantee he would not recommit such an offense. I cannot have a conscience and feel any other way after the decades of collected victims of Mr. Polanski's preferred behavior with the underaged at the hands of the employees of my (no longer a member of) old church.