Saturday, December 03, 2005

Gonzo Lives! From the Mind of Mansel

Washington’s Blue Underground

“Burn down the retinas and shave the ghost!”

Those words came from the oval office as reporters stormed the steps of the White House on Friday. Karl Rove was screaming and swinging a fourteen-pound dumbbell on the desk of the president.

Rove screamed, “I can’t f-cking take it anymore. Three hundred and seventy five Iraqi’s ready for combat? What do we have to do go over there and torture the c-cks-ckers myself? Sh-t!”

Dick Cheney sat in silence mulling over the freckled face of a senate page on loan from Rick Santorum. The page stood nervously, his feet becoming clammy in anticipation and in fear of the result.

The President snorting lines of cocaine quickly answers the phone and is informed of the reporters storming past the Roosevelt room. The formerly retired Sam Donaldson loses his hairpiece in the struggle. Helen Thomas aboard a motorized scooter whizzes past Bob Woodard who was tripped up by a foaming Bill O’Reilly who keeps exposing himself.

Meanwhile in the residence first lady Laura Bush is crouched above a first century pamphlet on sobriety and tries to pick it up by using neither of her hands.

- Chris Mansel

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

STANLEY “TOOKIE" WILLIAMS: The Case Against Capital Punishment

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, co-founder of the Crips gang and convicted murderer, in the absence of the governor’s act of clemency, commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, will be put to death by lethal injection on December 13.

His claim of innocence cannot be summarily dismissed in light of the numerous reversals obtained by revelations of DNA evidence. That our system of justice is flawed has been demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt. Moreover, Williams stands as a rare and classic example of rehabilitation. He has become a powerful spokesperson against the gangster life. He has written children’s books and been nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Aside from the straightforward moral question of whether the state should be engaged in the taking of human lives, the question that must be resolved in all cases of capital punishment is this: Is it in the interest of society?

It is traditionally argued that public safety is the first interest of government. The death penalty is said to serve public safety (a) by assuring that the punished individual will do no further harm and (b) by deterring others from committing crimes that may result in the same fate.

No one denies that society has a legitimate interest in protecting itself from dangerous individuals. Where life imprisonment without parole is an option, however, as it clearly is in the Tookie Williams case, the principle of self-protection is fully served without the death penalty. Moreover, there is a compelling case that Williams’ current work against gangs has saved lives and will continued to do so by leading young people in directions other than the gangster life.

Whether he was rehabilitated by the system or simply by time and his own evolution as a human being, his is a convincing case that rehabilitation is possible. He is not the man he once was.

If there is a deterrent effect in the Williams case, it will happen when he is executed. It will be deterrence against rehabilitation and reform. It will be a very public notice that society places little value in the positive works of a condemned individual. You are the crime and no act of redemption can arrest the decree.

In the interest of society, Tookie Williams should be allowed to continue his writing and his work that may, in some measure, repair some of the harm he caused in his former life.

Society has no interest in killing for vengeance. It is time that the people of all nations moved beyond that guttural, inhumane response. It is time we banished the concept that justice cannot be served and closure cannot be achieved unless blood is spilled.

It is painful to observe the grief-born rage of victim survivors who cannot let go. They seem to believe it is their duty not to let go. They seem to believe that anger will comfort them and revenge will ease their pain. Sadly, they are wrong but they can never admit it for that also would betray their profound grief.

In truth, vengeance may be sweet in the movies but it is only a surface medicine at best. It does nothing to heal the wound or ease the sorrow of loss. The healing can never be initiated by opening another wound.

It is time we accepted what the civilized world has long recognized: The taking of human life by a nation or institution of government is a crime against humanity.


Sunday, November 27, 2005


Thundered On The Flesh: New York Stories

The steakhouse smells of shit and the waiters stand in the corners, darkened by the smoke emitting from the kitchen. Donald Rumsfeld is entertaining foreign heads of state, otherwise known as senate pages, and going on and on about the breakdown in communications since the capture of many members of the terror organizations, which were helpful in the C.I.A. drug trade. Robert Novak arrives and begins throwing peppercorns around the room. He stuffs chervil down the V-neck sweaters of the waiters and kicks at the jukebox, which only plays Carol Channing.

A waiter approaches Rumsfeld and explains he has a phone call. Karl Rove is calling and screams about the press outside the restaurant. Rove down the street in a dusty van pecks at the laptop computer and watches surveillance footage of Judith Miller and Jean Schmidt making out under a streetlight on the dark side of an abandoned Maryland highway.

The Machiavellian silence of the press core, the lack of investigative journalism, the reliability of the in-bedded reporters in Iraq twirl on the little finger of the major corporations as they meet in seclusion in New York City. Usually they will just sit around and try to remember who owns what. But today they are discussing whether or not the physical makeup of New Orleans and southern Mississippi will impact their businesses. Business a coy term to explain the root of the term, when you own major corporations and own shares in others your line of influence extends in many directions. You might own the items that fill up the shelves but not the store. You may own the company that supplies the workers but not be responsible for their safety or healthcare costs. It is a high finance way of hiding income out in the open.

The heads of the major corporations who own shares in the three corporations that are shadow companies that supply income and money laundering for the government are in New York mainly to celebrate finally taking the companies public, but soon the real guests arrive. Politicians from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the pond arrive and await information on the status of the new IPO. Members of the current administration keep up to date by phone.

- Chris Mansel