Monday Morning Musing

First, I want to take a moment to remember and honor those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States.

There will be few gatherings or picnics or barbecues today, and my anger toward the Corona Virus that has impacted our lives in so many ways is growing. People should be able to come together as family and friends to share memories of those they have lost to wars. That is such an important part of grieving; crying together, laughing together, and telling stories together.

My heart is sad for them.

Now for some news items that have caught my attention over the past few days.

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is home to a military prison that is often referred to as Gitmo. Indefinite detention without trial and torture have been the hallmarks of this prison since it was established in 2002 by President George W. Bush’s administration.

I hadn’t thought much about Gitmo in recent years, but a report on NPR’s Up First on Friday brought it to mind again. More about that later, but first some facts.

It costs $380 million a year to run the U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite the fact that there are only 40 detainees there now. That number is down from the approximately 780 that have been arrested and taken there over the years. According to Guantanamo By The Numbers, an article on the ACLU website, 86% of those detained have been turned over to coalition forces as a result of a bounty system that has paid out millions of dollars.

The prison was established by President George W. Bush’s administration in 2002 during the War on Terror.

Throughout his terms of office, President Obama tried to get the prison closed and prisoners released to their own country, or brought to the U.S. to stand trial. Although his efforts to get the prison closed failed, due to strong bipartisan opposition from Congress, the number of detainees was reduced to 41.

In January 2018, President Trump signed an executive order to keep the detention camp open indefinitely, and the following May a prisoner was transferred out of the prison, reducing the number to 40. The ones remaining are people rounded up after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

After so many years and so many scandals, I wonder why we are still in the same place, just with fewer detainees. And still costing the taxpayers millions of dollars that could go elsewhere, especially now with the pandemic creating such havoc.

The NPR news segment was about the fact that the 9/11 trial which was to start next January has been postponed indefinitely.

Why has it taken so long to bring detainees to trial? I know the wheels of justice grind slowly, but this slowly? Are they rolling backwards?

And why is the military so adamant that Gitmo not be closed?

Military spending is the highest yearly budget item, and the President’s budget request of $705.4 billion for fiscal year 2021 is $1 billion higher than last year. If Gitmo was closed, that would eliminate the need for a third of that extra billion.

On another note, I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook about how tired we are of all things political. It seems the recent primary has lasted for years and we are still months away from the election. My friend pointed out that the campaigning did start earlier this time around, and Trump started campaigning right after he was elected in 2016.

That made me wonder who controls the election cycles? Who determines when candidates can make their campaigns official?

There’s lots of information on elections and voting available on the internet, but I didn’t find anything specific as to when a candidate can announce, prior to the first primary, that he or she is running for office and start the campaign ball rolling.

Party leadership has the authority to determine According to Article I, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, the authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of federal elections is up to each State, unless Congress legislates otherwise.

Just for fun, here are a few of the winning entries in the Washington Post’s annual neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

The Post’s Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

A few of the winners are:

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

I encourage you to click on this blogpost at Bytes to read all the winning entries. Quite a clever and fun list.

That’s all for me for today folks. Whatever you’re doing this Memorial Day, be safe. Be well. Be happy.

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