Living through another Cuba

By Dennis Hartley

Image result for i am cuba (1964)

With all the dominating Trump news, I missed this passing last week:

(from the New York TImes)

Michael Ratner, a fearless civil liberties lawyer who successfully challenged the United States government’s detention of terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay without judicial review, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 72.

The cause was complications of cancer, said his brother, Bruce, a developer and an owner of the Brooklyn Nets.

As head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner oversaw litigation that, in effect, voided New York City’s wholesale stop-and-frisk policing tactic. The center also accused the federal government of complicity in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects and argued against the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, the waging of war in Iraq without the consent of Congress, the encouragement of right-wing rebels in Nicaragua and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war.

“Under his leadership, the center grew from a small but scrappy civil rights organization into one of the leading human rights organizations in the world,” David Cole, a former colleague at the center and a professor at Georgetown Law School, said in an interview this week. “He sued some of the most powerful people in the world on behalf of some of the least powerful.”

Not a peep on any of the nightly newscasts (quietly dedicating your life to human rights just isn’t sexy enough, I’m afraid). Anyway…I found out about Mr. Ratner’s passing while listening to Democracy Now this morning on the way to work. Amy Goodman had the great Noam Chomsky on the program; he lent context to Ratner’s legacy:

Well, Michael Ratner has an absolutely fabulous record. His achievements have been enormous. A tremendous courage, intelligence, dedication. A lot of achievement against huge odds. The center, which he largely—it was a major—he ran and was a major actor in, has done wonderful work all over the place—Cuba and lots of other things. So I can’t be excessive in my praise for what he achieved in his life and the inspiration that it should leave us with.

It sounds like we’ve  lost another of the good ones (*sigh*). We now return you to your regularly scheduled 24/7 Trump news cycle…

Living through another Cuba
It’s 1961 again and we are piggy in the middle
While war is polishing his drum and peace plays second fiddle

Russia and America are at each other’s throats
But don’t you cry
Just on your knees and pray, and while you’re
Down there, kiss your arse  goodbye

We’re the bulldog on the fence
While others play their tennis overhead
It’s hardly love all and somebody might
Wind up red or dead
Pour some oil on the water quick
It doesn’t really matter where from
He love me, he loves me not
He’s pulling fins from an atom bomb

This phenomenon happens every twenty years or so
If they’re not careful your watch won’t be the
Only thing with a radioactive glow
I’ll stick my fingers in my ears
And hope they make it up before too late
If we get through this lot alright
They’re due for replay, 1998

(Written by Andy Partridge)

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