Daily archives: August 26th, 2009

America: Do You Approve of Torture? Yes or No!?

Look.  We have to make a decision.  Do we approve of torture or not?

If we approve of torture, then, fine.  We’ll have to accept the fact that our men and women will be tortured.  And we must give up our right to complain or “officially protest” any torture on an American soldier.

So, which is it?  Do we approve of torture, or not?

From Carol Marin at the Sun-Times:

The feds can’t — just yet — deport Michigan restaurateur Ibrahim Parlak to his native Turkey. But they are frighteningly closer.

And the irony screams out.

On Monday, the same day Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, announced he would appoint a special counsel to investigate whether torture was used by the CIA to extract confessions from foreign suspects, a U.S. appeals court at the behest of the U.S. government ruled that it didn’t have a problem sending Parlak back to the country where he was tortured — imprisoned for 17 months, shocked with electrodes, hung by his arms and sexually violated.

A Turkish Kurd, Parlak was granted political asylum in 1992. It was before our government got cozier with Turkey, before it re-classified some of the Kurdish separatist movement as “terrorist” and before the attacks of Sept. 11. With 9/11, Ibrahim Parlak’s horror began anew.

Suddenly he looked different to the newly created Department of Homeland Security and to the Justice Department’s Immigration courts. Instead of seeing a hard-working, tax-paying Chamber of Commerce member who ran Cafe Gulistan, a small Middle Eastern restaurant in the resort town of Harbert, Mich., the feds now saw an international menace.

So, which is it?  Yes, or no?  Torture yes, or torture no?

Scott Fawell, All Smiles Out of Prison, Not Sorry About Anything

When I think about how over-scrupulous I’ve been at times during my life, I have to wonder about the apparent lack of  scruples among some pols and certain others in government.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Scott Fawell turned on Gov. George Ryan “to save the love of his life,” not because it was the right thing to do.

Well, good for him.  Losing any sleep over the six children who were killed in a fiery crash?

Not at all.


Less than a year after his release from the U.S. prison system, Scott Fawell isn’t all that sorry.

Sure, he pleaded guilty and testified against his now-imprisoned ex-boss and mentor, former GOP Gov. George Ryan. But Fawell — Ryan’s onetime chief of staff and campaign manager — says he turned against Ryan to save the woman he loves.

Yes, he understands the public’s perception that the licenses-for-bribes scandal under Ryan led to the deaths of six children in a fiery highway crash. But “do I feel any responsibility?” he says. “No I really don’t.”

And what about all those political friends that Fawell carefully cataloged in lists that the feds seized and used to put Ryan and him away?

They’ve deserted him.

“I’ve been very disappointed in the people that are friends of mine,” Fawell said. “If it was a reverse situation and one of my friends of mine came back, I would have done anything I could to help. You know, that’s friendship. And friendship should go beyond prison.”

Fawell and his co-defendant and fiancée, Andrea Coutretsis, broke six years of silence Wednesday night on WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight.” In a 25-minute interview, they tackled subjects including the despair of leaving their families for prison to the plight of Ryan’s successor, recently indicted ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and Blagojevich’s co-defendants.

Kudos to Carol Marin for landing this interview, and for conducting it so eloquently.

Watch it here.

You know what?  Stick to your scruples. Keep your soul.  Whether you believe in a Higher Power or not, you don’t want to rush in where angels fear to tread.

Nancy Reagan to Son Ron Reagan: I’ll Miss Ted Kennedy

Ron Reagan interviewed his mom, Nancy Reagan, today on Air America Radio regarding the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. It was incredibly, incredibly moving. Ron’s show comes on every day at 5:00 p.m. in the Chicagoland area.

Asking his mother how her and her late husband’s friendship with Ted Kennedy started, Mrs. Reagan responded responded, “Nobody really knew it,” that their friendship was so close. “I think they couldn’t quite conceive of two people in two different parties, how could that become a friendship? Which it, of course, did.

“Yes,” her son Ron replied.

“I think it started when we first got to Washington and Teddy asked Dad, Daddy, if he could bring his mother to the Oval Office. And Daddy, of course, said, ‘Of course.’ Which he did.

“And then after that, he asked him to speak at the Kennedy Library, which he did. And from then on, they developed this friendship.”

“Both of them respected one another,” Mrs. Reagan continued. “It was a very good friendship. It’s what there should be more of today.You know, two different parties. Enough with all this other stuff.”

Ron commented that it would be unusual today, his father and Ted Kennedy, “polar opposites politically,” that a friendship like that could begin and endure for so long.

“But it shouldn’t be,” his mother replied. “It shouldn’t be thought of as unusual. That’s my point. It just shouldn’t. They were two men who respected each other — didn’t agree, politically — but that doesn’t make any difference. You can still respect one another. And they did.”

She continued, “Ted gave the best speech about Daddy that I have ever heard. I forgot what it was, but, oh, it was a good speech. So good.”

“I got to know him better over our association over stem cell [research], because we both worked very hard for that,” Mrs. Reagan went on. “There just was a great, great friendship and respect for one another.”

“I’ll miss him,” Mrs. Reagan said.

The interview is very moving, especially when the conversation turned to President Reagan’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. A subsequent phone call Mrs. Reagan received on her birthday is also very moving.

“It was a good, solid friendship,” Mrs. Reagan said, “We need more of them today.”

Ron asks his mother if perhaps there was an “air of sympatico” between his father and Senator Kennedy because of the attempt on President Reagan’s life, and Mrs. Reagan says she “never thought about it like that. How smart you are!” she says to her son.

That was quite nice.

Mrs. Reagan also expressed her hope that health care reform would pass.

Listen to the whole interview here:

I have to say, this was one of the most touching interviews I’ve ever heard in my life. I had to pull the car over because my eyes were watering up. Gave me a whole new perspective on Mrs. Reagan, and I appreciate that.

Very moving. Very stirring.

Also, please visit the Ron Reagan show on the Web, and listen to Air America Radio.

Senator Ted Kennedy, the ‘Lion of the Senate,’ Dead at 77

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I never met Senator Edward Kennedy.  A few years back, I took my son to Washington, D.C., for a vacation, and we saw him in a Senate Hearing.  Sen. Richard Durbin was there also.

We were not able to say hello or shake his hand.  The senators were called away for a vote.

I’m just sitting with this right now.  Senator Kennedy has died.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in a political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a year-long struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy served alongside 10 presidents — his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them — compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

His only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980. More than a quarter-century later, he handed then-Sen. Barack Obama an endorsement at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, explicitly likening the young contender to President Kennedy.

To the American public, Kennedy was best known as the last surviving son of America’s most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy.

The last son has died.  Rest in peace, Senator.  Rest in peace.