Skip to main content

Originally posted at BillMoyers.com

The next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance - "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" -- remember: it's a lie. A whopper of a lie.

We coax it from the mouths of babes for the same reason our politicians wear those flag pins in their lapels -- it makes the hypocrisy go down easier, the way aspirin helps a headache go away.
 

 
"Justice for all" is a mouthwash for the morning after governor Bill Clinton took time off from his presidential campaign to fly back to Arkansas to oversee execution of a fellow who was mentally deficient. "

"Justice for all" is a breath mint Governor George W. Bush popped into his mouth after that poor Bible-believing Christian pleaded vainly for mercy before they strapped her down to die in that anteroom of Heaven known as the Huntsville State Prison.

"Justice for all" is a line item in the budget -- sequestered now by the Paul Ryans of Congress and the Fix the Debt gang of plutocratic CEOs who, with a wink-wink from our president, claim, "Oh, we can't afford that!"

Of the $100 billion spent annually on criminal justice in this country, only two to three percent goes to defend the poor. Of 97 countries, we rank 68th in access to and affordability of civil legal service.

No, we can't afford it, but just a decade ago we started shelling out $2.2 trillion for a war in Iraq born of fraud.

We can't afford it, while Dick Cheney's old outfit Halliburton raked in $40 billion worth of contracts because of that war.

We can't afford it, while the State Department doles out three billion dollars over five years in private security contracts to protect its gargantuan new embassy in Baghdad.

We can't afford it, in this golden age of corporate profits when companies pay below zero in taxes while hauling in tax breaks from Congress worth millions upon millions of dollars -- and, while, as we speak, the powerful business roundtable ratchets up a costly advertising campaign to cut corporate taxes even more.

We can't afford to defend the poor.

Oh, Gideon -- fifty years ago your trumpet was a clear, piercing cry for justice, and we've turned a deaf ear.


Watch Bill's conversations with civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson and journalistsMartin Clancy and Tim O'Brien for more context on
Gideon, as well as further exposure of current inequalities in America's criminal justice system.

Poll

Do you think the death penalty should be abolished?

93%76 votes
6%5 votes

| 81 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Click here for the mobile view of the site