So, we finally have summer weather here in Happy Meadows. Mike isn’t taking his afternoon walk, but some days he goes out to do yard work, which he enjoys very much. I hope wherever you are the heat isn’t getting to you. Mike said he saw in the paper where the high temperature in Baghdad was 118 degrees. Mike, Judy, and Michelle were in Palm Springs one day in June a couple of years ago when it got that hot. The low temperature that night was 99. I guess you get used to whatever you have to.
There is a lot of news about the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) these days. For one thing, Senator Kelly Loeffler from Georgia is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team. She was appointed to the senate by Governor Brian Kemp a few months ago when Senator Johnny Isakson retired due to poor health. She had no experience in government or public service, but Kemp was looking for a woman who he hoped could appeal to suburban women voters who the party seems to be losing favor with for reasons that should be obvious. Her background is in business, and of course, she is a Republican. The other appeal to the Governor was that she agreed to spend 20 million dollars of her own money on her campaign for reelection this November. Thus far Mike thinks she is a lightweight who can’t do much more than say she supports President Trump. She has come out against players wearing a Black Lives Matter hashtag on their uniforms. As I’m sure you all are aware, the National Football League (NFL) has done a 180 about players using their platform to express concerns about social and racial injustice. Loeffler objects to players using the #BlackLivesMatter on the uniforms, advocating instead for the American flag. She has said that the flag is a unifying symbol which is what we need in our country right now. And of course, she stands with the Great Divider-in-Chief out of the other side of her mouth. While the flag is a worthy symbol to get behind, it seems to Mike to hearken back to the “America. Love It or Leave It” mantra of the sixties. She is substituting a revered symbol to avoid dealing with current social issues; or so it seems to Mike.
On the other hand, let’s not be confused about Black Lives Matter. As a hashtag it is kickass. As a concept it calls attention to the danger that black men are in from police officers who have killed a great many black men who didn’t need to be killed. As an organization, it is another story. Mike suggests that you investigate their political agenda to make sure you can support it before you start sending them kudos or money.
The sports page these days is radically different from what one would normally expect. I’m sure today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution had more about political action and social issues by sports figures and organizations than it did about on-field action. Of course, there is very little on-field action to report. And I never expected to see both Adolph Hitler and Louis Farrakhan both mentioned in the sports page at the same time (let alone at all), but today was the day.
But getting back to the WNBA, players are demonstrating not only a strong social conscience, but also are taking action. Atlanta Dream player Renee Montgomery announced last month that she is taking a year off from basketball to work for social justice. She said her decision was made when she learned of the murder of George Floyd. Two weeks later Dream player Tiffany Hayes said she was also taking a year away from basketball to devote herself to social action. Their role model in this was Minnesota Lynx player Maya Moore who stepped away from basketball early in 2019 to focus on criminal justice reform. She was primarily motivated to work on the case of Jonathan Irons who was released July 1 from a Missouri prison after his conviction on assault and burglary charges was overturned. He had served 23 years of a 50 year sentence. His case was an outrageous example of the way the criminal justice system has disgraced itself in the treatment of blacks. Irons was 16 at the time of the crime that he was accused of committing, but he was tried as an adult. The prosecution claimed he confessed, which he has always denied. The officer who testified to his confession interviewed him alone, took no notes, and made no recording of the interview. There were no corroborating witnesses or physical evidence to connect him to the crime. Furthermore, fingerprint evidence which could have cast doubt on his guilt was withheld from the defense. In another case. Johnny Lee Gates was released from a Georgia prison on May 15 after spending 43 years incarcerated for crimes that he did not commit. He was convicted in 1977 of armed robbery, rape, and murder in Columbus, Georgia. He was cleared by DNA evidence from the crime scene.
You may wonder how many people are incarcerated, some on death row, for crimes they did not commit. Of course, most incarcerated felons will proclaim their innocence. Thanks to DNA testing, we are now able to further investigate such claims. According to the Innocence Project, since 1989 in the USA 367 people have been exonerated of crimes in a total of 37 states. Of these the average time served was 14 years. Twenty-one had been convicted of a capital crime and had been on death row. Of the 367 convictions, 41 people had confessed. It is well-known that confessions are extracted under threat of conviction of a more serious crime or more time in prison. This happens to poor people who can’t afford a good lawyer. Remarkably, 69% of the convictions were based on a witness misidentifying the individual who was convicted. (In this regard, it is interesting that Jewish law requires 2 witnesses to testify against someone to get a conviction of a crime.) While these individuals sat in prison, the actual perpetrators of the crimes committed additional crimes. Of the 162 perpetrators who could be identified, they were convicted of 152 additional violent crimes including 35 murders and 82 sexual assaults. Of the 367 people who were wrongfully convicted, 225 were African Americans, 61% of the total. Mike had an eye-opening conversation with a detective in Madison, Wisconsin years ago. It was about an unsolved murder that occurred in Madison in the late 1960s. The detective told Mike that he had 3 prime suspects in the case, but could never quite put enough together to make a charge that they could get a conviction on. What was interesting, and disturbing, was that it was clear that it didn’t matter to the detective if they had the right guy or not. He just wanted a conviction to close the case, and would have been happy to pin it on any one of them.
So, we just got back from a trip to Good Mews to pick up little Stinkbug (Magi will be his name once he gets home.) Since yesterday he has developed conjunctivitis, so we left him there to be treated and cleared by their Extreme Vet. They offered us the opportunity to take a different cat. They are covered up with adorable black kittens right now. But Magi (Stinkbug) has stolen our hearts, so we will wait until the stars line up and he can come to his forever (ours) home. I will post more pictures when he gets home. Until then, don’t forget to wash your hands, mask up, keep a safe distance, pray for world peace, and be kind to your neighbors, and to their dogs and cats. You will hear from me again soon, but until then, so long from Happy Meadows.