Zimmerman's Smoking Gun

As reported in the The Rolling Stone, "George Zimmerman and Weaponized Racism: Bigotry alone didn't kill Trayvon Martin. 'It's the guns, stupid,' says one advocate,"  by Tim Dickinson, on 15 July  2013 --  In the aftermath of George Zimmerman's acquittal for slaying Trayvon Martin, America is engaged in another anguished conversation about race. It's an important conversation – but there's another subject we need to address to stop this from happening again, and this one is even more urgent. "Race is a part of everything that happens in America, but that misses the point," says Tom Diaz, a former senior analyst at the Violence Policy Center. "It's the guns, stupid."

Trayvon Martin is not dead because George Zimmerman is a fearful little bigot. He's dead because Zimmerman is a fearful little bigot who holstered a legal, loaded 9mm Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol in public. What, in any other civilized nation, might have been a fistfight between the two – eventually broken up by the cops – turned suddenly and legally deadly in a state that has become so firearm-friendly it's now known as the "Gunshine State."

America is not unique in its social ills. We are unique in weaponizing them. No matter how vigorous the conversation, America will not talk away racism, schizophrenia or socially maladroit young men. We can, however, choose as a society to curb weaponized racism. Weaponized insanity. Weaponized disaffection.

Instead, America is moving in the other direction, thanks to what Diaz dubs "bizarre mutations of the law" generated by the National Rifle Association. Just last week, Illinois fulfilled a decades-long crusade by the gun lobby, becoming the last of 50 states to authorize the concealed carrying of loaded guns in public. The move by the state legislature, overriding a veto by the governor, promises to fuel the epidemic of warlike gun violence in Chicago – where the city's homicide toll hit 200 this year after a bloody Fourth of July weekend in which more than 70 were shot and a dozen murdered.

Since the Newtown massacre, a few states, like Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Maryland, have stiffened their gun-control regimes. But far more states have liberalized gun rights: In Arkansas and North Dakota, it's now permissible to pack heat in church. In South Dakota, you can conceal-carry while driving a snowmobile. In Arkansas, college professors can holster a gun in the classroom. In Wyoming, judges can carry in the court.

And in Florida and 20 other states, "stand your ground" remains the law of the land – upending centuries of precedent on the concept of self-defense. As a result, fearful little armed bigots everywhere can shoot first, ask questions later, and have no fear of incarceration. They'll even get their weapons back. The "not guilty" Zimmerman will again be free to pack his trusty Kel-Tec everywhere he goes in Florida.

"We have to make a decision," says Diaz, author most recently of The Last Gun. "Is this the new normal? That people go about armed and shoot each other in the street? We seem to have fallen to a level that we're going to tolerate this kind of violence. And you have to ask yourself: What is this country going to look like 10 years from now?" (source: The Rolling Stone)


Voter Suppression Could Swing the Election

From Yes! Magazine, "How Voter Suppression Could Swing the Election: It won’t be easy to protect our votes from being sidelined and stolen this year, but here are a few simple things we can do," by Greg Palast, on 24 August 2012  --  In more than 100 years, there has not been a single case of voter identity fraud in the state of Indiana. Yet, in 2008, 145,000 legitimate voters there were turned away from the polls because they could not produce the photo IDs acceptable to state officials on a crusade against “voter fraud.”

Approximately two out of three of those voters were black. Ten of them were black and white (nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Cross). One nun, aged 98, had given up her driver’s license as had her “younger” sisters.
If someone steals your wallet, you don’t take the rest of your money and throw it in the street. If someone steals your vote, don’t just hand them the next one.

Now, 16 states have passed voter ID laws similar to Indiana’s. The story is that legislators are trying to stop an epidemic of people voting under false names or casting the ballots of dead people. But nobody’s come up with more than a tiny handful of cases where that’s happened. Taking away the votes of hundreds of thousands of people to stop one or two fake votes is like killing a flea with a shotgun.

Moreover, no fewer than 68,029 Indiana citizens, and 488,136 voters nationwide, had their absentee ballots thrown out on nutty technicalities like using the wrong size envelope or crossing out a bubble instead of filling it in.

In all, my fellow investigator, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and I found that more than 5.9 million citizens were wrongly barred from voting or having their ballots counted in 2008.

Nonetheless, Indiana, birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, was won by a black man, Barack Obama, despite the massive number of votes tossed and voters turned away.

That happened because in Indiana, and nationwide, a massive turnout of African-American voters and record registration of young voters—both groups that are hugely affected by voter ID laws—overcame efforts to block votes.

Because of all the attacks on voting I’ve reported, I’ve been asked, “Why bother? If they’re going to steal my vote, then why should I vote at all?”

The answer is, “That’s what the thieves want you to say.” If someone steals your wallet, you don’t take the rest of your money and throw it in the street. If someone steals your vote, don’t just hand them the next one.

It won’t be easy to protect our votes this year—estimates say the new restrictions could again disenfranchise as many as 6 million people. But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. protected the votes of African-Americans when voting while black meant risking your life. Our task in 2012 is far easier.

First and foremost, check your voting status. Think you’re registered to vote? Check again. Under new federal laws, secretaries of state have eliminated 22 million voters from the registries in the past two years. Check online right now.

How To Ask Candidates Questions
That Make a Difference
Tips for spreading your ideas without getting the runaround.

Do you live in a state with new ID laws? Find out what ID you need, and figure out a way to get it. It may not be easy—but that’s the point. They’re hoping that people will just throw up their hands—and throw away their votes. Do you vote at one address and register a car at another? That’s asking for trouble. Have you added your middle initial to your signature? Well, don’t.

Read the instructions on your absentee or mail-in ballot. If they tell you to fill in a bubble, don’t cross it out. If they say to use a pencil, don’t use a pen. It may seem like trivial stuff, but it killed almost half a million votes last time.

The people who don’t want your vote to count are counting on you to give up easily. Don’t do it. We can work to fix the laws after the election. But right now, the most important thing is to find out what rules are in place and make sure you follow them.

Get informed—then get going. Voting is for We the People, not Them the Ballot Bandits. (source: Yes! Magazine)

[Greg Palast wrote this article for It's Your Body, the Fall 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Greg is a widely published investigative reporter and author of several books. His latest, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, a look at the role of big money in the current election, features comics by Ted Rall. BallotBandits.org]


Chris Matthews Eviscerates Republican Reince Priebus

As reported in Esquire, "Playing the Reince Card (The Race Card's Been Played)," by Charles P. Pierce, on 27 August 2012 -- TAMPA, Fla. — All the catz 'n kittenz down by the Bay are quivery and twittery because Chris Matthews, on whose last nerve Willard Romney seems to jump with hobnailed boots, got all up in the slick, smug little grill of obvious anagram Reince Priebus this morning on Morning Joe's Playhouse over the obvious racial air-raid sirens that have echoed through Republican politics only since about half-past 1964, and which have grown especially loud these past few weeks as Willard Romney made his little fun-fun about birth certificates last week, and his campaign released an ad falsely accusing the president of "gutting welfare reform," which was an achievement of President Bill Clinton who, you may recall, was a big favorite of the Republican party back in the early to late 1990's.

If you can tear yourself away from the attempts of the hosts to tut-tut-my-good-man the whole thing to death — and poor Tom Brokaw, who freaking covered the civil-rights movement and knows good and well which party latched on to the wrong side of those events and rode them to glory, looks as though he might have a stroke — listen carefully to what Matthews says. He links the birther joke to the welfare commercials, which any thinking analyst would do, since they came hard, one upon the other, and since that was the only hymn in the modern Republican hymnal Romney had not yet sung to the approval of the choir — he'd warmed up on the melody when he was ripping up Rick Perry on the issue of immigration — his campaign was bound to get around to it eventually. Priebus dismisses the birther comment as "an attempt at levity," and chides Matthews for failing to have a sense of humor....

"We've gotten to a point in politics where any moment of levity is frowned upon by guys like you...It's a moment of levity. Everybody gets it."

Winds of Fanaticism © Wolverton,Cagle Cartoons,GOP, GOP Convention, RNC, Republican, Tampa, Isaac, Election, Presidential

Somehow, the truthless welfare commercials, which are the really deafening sirens in the current moment, disappeared from the dialogue and never come up again. There was yet another blow-up later when Priebus smirked about the president's alleged "European" policies, and Matthews went up the wall again, calling what Priebus said "insane," while Mika Brzezinski suggested that everyone "work on tone." She has her work cut out for her down here, I'll tell you that.

I am at somewhat of a loss to criticize Matthews here. That he has a class-based animus toward Romney is undeniable; Romney could breed a class-based animus in the Rothschild family. But Matthews is old enough to remember wealthy white Republicans, most of whom came from families that made things, and did not make their pile moving other people's money around the Caymans and other people's jobs to China, and who, for all their hidebound principles, nonetheless helped finance organizations like the NAACP, and who marched with them, too. He's revolted by what has happened to American conservatism and, if he's late to the game of calling it for what it is, he's at least historian enough to link its current manifestations with their historical origins. What we have in this campaign is a joining of old Republican money with the modern American financial universe, and its power applied to advance ideas straight out of the swamps of the Wallace campaign 50 years ago. It is an unholy mess, and it is precisely the unholy mess over which Reince Priebus wants to preside, and if Mika wants the tone to change, maybe she should start there.
I predict Matthews will be disciplined. I, for one, am willing to go his bail on this one. (source: Esquire)

Chris Matthews And Reince Priebus Duke It Out Over The Race Card On Morning Joe

Republican War On Women

As reported in the UK Guardian, "Outcry in America as pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges: Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion," by Ed Pilkington in New York, on 24 June 2011  --  Across the US, more and more prosecutions are being brought against women who lose their babies.

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

"Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws," said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). "It's turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights."

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state's "chemical endangerment" law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way. During her pregnancy her foetus was diagnosed with possible Down's syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favour of abortion.

The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth.

Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with "chemical endangerment" of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.

"That shocked me, it really did," Kimbrough said. "I had lost a child, that was enough."

She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars. "I'm just living one day at a time, looking after my three other kids," she said. "They say I'm a criminal, how do I answer that? I'm a good mother."

Women's rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion, in which conservative prosecutors are chipping away at hard-won freedoms by stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception. In Gibbs' case defence lawyers have argued before Mississippi's highest court that her prosecution makes no sense. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.

"If it's not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is," Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.

McDuff told the Guardian that he hoped the Gibbs prosecution was an isolated example. "I hope it's not a trend that's going to catch on. To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme."

He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution by setting up a state referendum, or ballot initiative, that would widen the definition of a person under the state's bill of rights to include a foetus from the day of conception.

Some 70 organisations across America have come together to file testimonies, known as amicus briefs, in support of Gibbs that protest against her treatment on several levels. One says that to treat "as a murderer a girl who has experienced a stillbirth serves only to increase her suffering".

Another, from a group of psychologists, laments the misunderstanding of addiction that lies behind the indictment. Gibbs did not take cocaine because she had a "depraved heart" or to "harm the foetus but to satisfy an acute psychological and physical need for that particular substance", says the brief.

Perhaps the most persuasive argument put forward in the amicus briefs is that if such prosecutions were designed to protect the unborn child, then they would be utterly counter-productive: "Prosecuting women and girls for continuing [a pregnancy] to term despite a drug addiction encourages them to terminate wanted pregnancies to avoid criminal penalties. The state could not have intended this result when it adopted the homicide statute."

Paltrow sees what is happening to Gibbs as a small taste of what would be unleashed were the constitutional right to an abortion ever overturned. "In Mississippi the use of the murder statute is creating a whole new legal standard that makes women accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies and threatens them with life imprisonment for murder."

From protection to punishment

At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties – usually abusive male partners – but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.

South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.

In other states laws designed to protect children against the damaging effects of drugs have similarly been twisted to punish childbearers. (source: UK Guardian)

GOP War on Women

The war on women, and women's reproductive rights, and their rights to basic health services is ragging. From redefining "rape" to a bill that would criminalize some miscarriages. Jill Filipovic Editor of Feministe weighs in.

GOP War on Women


BOUNCE - How Champions are Made, Matt Syed

Olympians Gone Wild

Durex advertising during the Olympics.

From Reuters, "The Olympic Village: One giant sex den? A whole lot of lovin' goes down when you cram 10,000 of the world's fittest athletes together for three weeks straight — especially once they're done competing," 9 August 2012  --  The London Games are wrapping up, and reportedly, plenty of hot-bodied athletes — freed from the pressures of competing — are spending their new found downtime having high-performance sex with each other. "Anyone who wants to be naive and say they don't know what's going on in the Village are lying to themselves," one anonymous (and grammar-challenged) gold medal-winner tells CNN. Here, a concise guide to a side of the Olympics you won't see on NBC:
A swimsuit with the Olympic rings, July 25, 2012.
What kind of antics go on?

"I've seen people having sex right out in the open. On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty," says Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the United States' women's soccer team, who estimates that 70 to 75 percent of Olympians are hooking up. The Olympic Village is intimate, after all, comprising just 3,000 apartments to accommodate over 10,000 tightly packed athletes for three weeks straight. And this isn't the first time an Olympic Village has hosted a gigantic orgy, say some athletes. American javelin thrower Breaux Greer, for instance, once boasted about having sex with three different women every day during the 2000 Games. "The athletes don't know what to expect the first time they go to the Olympics, but it just happens," says one former gold medalist in his late 30s. "As soon as you finish competing, there's no sleeping until the next day."

Why are they so sex-crazed?

"Athletes are extremists," says Solo. "When they're training, it's laser focus. When they go out for a drink, it's 20 drinks. With a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you want to build memories, whether it's sexual, partying, or on the field."

How do organizers handle it?

The International Olympic Committee has basically shrugged, stating that it "leaves it up to the discretion of each athlete, as it is a private matter." However, since the 1992 Games in Barcelona, organizers have distributed free condoms in Olympic Villages, and "in progressively copious amounts," says Bill Chappell at NPR. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, for example, about 100,000 condoms (sporting the Games' official motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger") were handed out. In 2012, Durex paid to be the official supplier, making 150,000 free condoms available to the London Games' athletes. (About 70,000 have reportedly disappeared from dispensers, so far.) As The Daily Beast points out, that's enough for every athlete to have sex 15 times during his or her Olympic Village residency.

Who's been spotted canoodling with whom?

It's all very hush-hush. In fact, the unofficial second motto of the Olympics, according to some athletes, is, "what happens in the Village stays in the Village." But the rumor mill has hinted at more than a few star-powered hookups: USA basketball's Kobe Bryant has been spotted with Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice (even though he's married). On Piers Morgan's TV show, Ryan Lochte admitted to having a friendly out-of-pool competition with teammate Michael Phelps: Lochte says he's winning handily 60-40. "The body types at this level are so well defined," says U.S. track runner Nick Symmonds. "It feels like the first day at college when you walk in and you’re looking around." (source: Reuters)


Advice For Kiprotich

London Olympic marathon medalist Abel Kirui (Kenya), Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (Kenya)

From New Vision, "Advice Kiprotich should not follow," by Paul Busharizi  -- OUR Olympic gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich would not lack advice on how to take his career forward or spend his millions if he asked for it on our street.

Ideally, Kiprotich should be looking to do two things over the next five or so years — the most productive years of his career.

The first is to maximise his earnings, preferably through winning races but also through signing some lucrative endorsement contracts. And secondly, investing the larger percentage of his earnings to tide him over a long retirement, seeing as he will retire in his 30s yet he has a long life ahead, judging from his parents’ advanced age.

Here is some of the advice Kiprotich will best be advised to steer wide of, from the bad to the worst.

7. DON'T Buy/build a big house

A house just adds to the expenses in your life, but we waive these aside by consoling ourselves that we are escaping rent, when often times, the cost of maintaining your own house is more than the rent you were paying previously.

Sure Kiprotich’s earning power has just undergone a quantum leap, but that does not mean his expenses should follow suit.

At the height of his career, former boxing champion Mike Tyson bought himself a $30m (sh75b) house that was far too big for a single black man.

The palace cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain, several thousands more in taxes annually and more thousands in manning.

When his career took a nose dive, the castle was auctioned off to pay the debts he incurred sustaining the mansion.

The reality is that assuming his career continues on its current trajectory, Kiprotich will be lucky to spend four consecutive weeks at home in the next five years.

A modest three-bedroomed house should do the trick for now.

6. DON'T Buy a farm

The investment process is about finding the best return for your money with the least possible risk.

His rural background will probably seduce him to buy himself a farm, stock it with cattle and grow maize.

But truth be told, most farms are loss-making, income-sapping vanity projects that say more about the owners’ ego than their financial benefits.

Kiprotich can well afford a few acres of land in his home area, but let him be under no illusions that he will see an adequate return in that enterprise while his career is still ongoing.

Let him see it for what it is — a sentimental trophy to assure the villagers that he has arrived.

5. DON'T Invest with every Tom, Dick and Harry

You can rest assured Kiprotich has already got people of all colours and shapes making a beaten path to his door with all manner of business proposals.

As far as I know, Kiprotich is a runner and not an investor.

He is unlikely to match the well-timed decision to overtake Kenyans Abel Kirui and Wilson Kiprotich with only a few kilometres to the end of the Olympic marathon a week ago if he turns to investing today.

He will be best served by finding himself an experienced manager who can take care of the business side of his career while he does what he does best.

4.  DON'T Move to Kampala

There will be those whispering in his ear that he should move to Kampala.

The facilities are better, the housing is better, there is more to do. These will be talking in their own self-interest: with Kiprotich in Kampala, they will have easy access to him, more specifically, easy access to his millions.

What has got Kiprotich to this point in his career is training in the relative anonymity of the Kenyan rift valley and he should continue to do so.

Kampala has done nothing to advance his career and he owes it nothing.

3.  DON'T  Buy car(s)

The boy can buy himself a car or two or even three straight off the assembly line if he chose to. He can throw in a personalised number plate, KIP RICH maybe, for good effect.

To state the obvious, he is the Olympic champion and he does not need the latest model of Mercedes or BMW or … whatever to validate him.

Kiprotich rode to Kampala in a jaguar. He should not spend his money on expensive cars

He should harbour no need to impress upon the public who he is. He is a young man who, if his career continues to rise, will not be in Uganda more than half the year.

A sensible four-wheel drive to navigate the treacherous roads of his home district will do.

The money he would have spent buying more fancy cars can be deployed to make more money.

More on that later.
2.  DON'T Retire

The man has won a gold medal; hundreds of millions of shillings are being thrown at him by a grateful nation; why should he continue to suffer in training?

Isn’t this — securing his and his family’s financial future — what it was all about? “I want to be a legend,” he said before he flew out to London.

That is what sets Kiprotich apart from the rest of us mere mortals, grovelling in mediocrity.

Going by Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Kiprotich is beyond hankering after basic needs, personal security and need for belonging. At worst, he is about building his self-esteem and at best, self-actualising his full potential as a human being.

Olympic gold medallists are made of sterner stuff than most Ugandans can even comprehend. Kiprotich is not about the money and he should keep that way.

1. DON'T Have a blast

When Ugandans get money, they think of how they are going to consume it first. The temptation to start where Bad Black left off will be overwhelming for Kiprotich.

And there are hundreds, even thousands of Ugandans, who can help spend his money.

The amount of money pledged and given to Kiprotich in the last seven days is more money than many of us earn in a year, leave alone in our careers, but he should not be under the illusion that there is such a thing as money that cannot be finished.

Kiprotich is a runner; the sooner he gets over this whole fanfare and gets back to training, the better for him and us as a country. (source: New Vision)

Olympic Stories: Uganda's Gold Medalist Stephen Kiprotich

From The Sunday Monitor, "Gratefully Ugandan; please take the loaf and give me the crumbs, it’s okay," by Nicholas Sengoba , on 21 August 2012  --  When Ugandan Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich met President Museveni last Wednesday, he continued to show his ‘un-Ugandaness.’ Winning Uganda’s second the Olympic gold medal was the first feat that set him aside from the many who were satisfied with just flying to London or taking part.

After he had been given a golden handshake of Shs200m, he said thank you and then asked the President to also consider building his parents a house. He went on to ask that a high altitude training facility is built and that there is more funding from the government. He asked that all Olympians be rewarded. When he was offered a year’s free subscription at a modern gym, he asked that other athletes are offered the same.

Unlike Kiprotich, it is characteristic of Ugandans to be grateful for whatever comes their way on the first instance and simply stop at that. You expect little or nothing at all, so when you are given some crumbs, you gladly take them and leave the loaf to the giver. To appreciate this attitude, you must look at Uganda’s turbulent history. From the 60s throughout the Amin period and the 80s to date, Ugandans have suffered various degrees of abuse by the State. Life, property and the right to stay in your country have all been denied at some point.

When asked if the psychology and attitudes of Ugandans had changed during and immediately after (the turbulent UNLF/A administration of 1979-1980), the reign of Idi Amin, Prof. Senteza Kajubi in the Africans page 83 by David Lamb, responded that “we obviously have been greatly affected by the experience of Amin and what happened afterward. We have fallen so low that I wonder if we can ever climb back”

Prof. Kajubi was peeking into the minds of many in which the experiences have implanted the notion that the most important thing is simply to be alive. Anything else that comes to one is treated as a bonus. So whatever you are given even if it is your right, you are smarter taking it and being thankful because the alternative of it being denied or being taken away without recourse is ever present.

I have spoken to journalists who have been called for questioning by the police. Many of them are grateful if they are given a soda and are not beaten as is done to common criminals. They come back praising the police for being ‘professional,’ and ‘misunderstood’ yet in actual fact, a police officer is not supposed to beat a suspect. When lawyer Charles Peter Mayiga was kidnapped by State agents and rusticated to Western Uganda then almost a week later released without charge, he was ‘grateful’ that the police returned his wallet with all its contents and had not really been treated badly despite being detained for more than the mandated 48 hours without being produced before a court of law. Mayiga is no fool he knows how the Amin government brutally murdered his sister Theresa Nanziri Bukenya. Things can get worse.

There is the case of Beatrice Anywar, a hitherto acerbic critic of the Museveni regime. When she got a car accident and the President visited her and gave her Shs8m, she was so thankful that she forgot to remind him to improve the health conditions for all Ugandans, including her constituents suffering from nodding disease. Anywar has seen former MP Patrick Kiggundu ignored and wasting away with no help after being involved in a road accident. Museveni with all his weaknesses is therefore a blessing. When former Vice President Specioza Kazibwe was talking about her experience with domestic violence, she said her husband had ‘only’ slapped her twice.

Kazibwe is no fool. She has seen women killed and maimed by their husbands so two slaps is ‘nothing.’ Those incidents tell a lot about the psyche of this nation. We have become accustomed to extremely low standards; anything slightly above ‘sea level’ is okay. The biblical equivalent is Proverbs 27:7, which says unlike those on a full stomach, bitter things taste sweet to the hungry. That is why many people from Western democracies cannot understand how we live ‘unbothered’ with corrupt dictators for years on end.

We have lived without elections so shambolic elections can do. We have had Kangaroo courts before so biased judges conducting farcical trials in open court can serve the purpose. We have had relatives disappearing without a trace, therefore it is okay when they are now killed and we are allowed to give them a decent burial.

We have seen so much failure and disappointment that we have now lowered our standards or have no standards at all in our expectations so that our hearts are not broken at the next incident of disillusionment. That is our coping strategy. Embolden yourself by going into everything expecting it to fail or come out the wrong way. If it succeeds, well and good. If it fails, your heart will be intact the way many young women get married to errant men making it loudly clear that they know all men cheat just to ready themselves in case he cheats.

The end result - lack of accountability by leaders, cynicism, mediocrity and general failure. That is Uganda’s greatest tragedy 50 years after Independence. (source: The Sunday Monitor)